Posted: November 9th, 2015 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 162 Comments »
The Eagles got their biggest win of the year on Sunday night, but it came at a price. Rookie sensation Jordan Hicks tore his pectoral muscle and is out for the year. Another day, another ILB injury.
Is this a big deal? If you take away INTs, FFs, FRs and sacks, Hicks really wasn’t that good of a player. Right? Hicks is one of the best Eagles rookie LBs in the last 30 years, if not all time. Seth Joyner and William Thomas each started about half of their rookie years and were solid. Mychal Kendricks was good in 2012. Jeremiah Trotter didn’t play as a rookie and Byron Evans only started a few games.
Maybe the best rookie LB was Ray Farmer back in 1996. He started 11 games and had 42 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT, 3 PDs, 2 FFs and 3 FRs. Farmer showed a ton of promise. Unfortunately knee injuries ended his career shortly after that. Enough of the trip down memory lane. Let’s get back to the present.
Losing Hicks is tough, but shouldn’t be a huge issue. Kiko Alonso came back from injury last night and DeMeco Ryans is on the way back. He could very well play this week. Mychal Kendricks is fully healthy now. The Eagles once again have a trio of ILBs they want to get on the field. Najee Goode is quality depth and Emmanuel Acho was re-signed. He’s become the defensive equivalent to Julian Vandervelde. Here. Gone. Here. Gone. Here. Gone. Here.
Hicks proved to be a big time playmaker and normally that’s tough to replace. The good news is that Kendricks, Alonso and Ryans all have playmaking ability. There is no guarantee they’ll produce like Hicks was, but the potential is there. Ryans was very good against the Giants a few weeks back. Alonso made an incredible pick in the opener. Kendricks is a terrific athlete who can do just about anything.
It sure is a good thing that Chip Kelly and the personnel guys made such a point of building up depth at ILB in the offseason. The Eagles have had a lot of injuries there, but they haven’t affected the overall performance of the defense.
As to Hicks, he is just a rookie. A torn pectoral muscle shouldn’t have any lingering effects and he should be ready to go in the spring. Obviously he will be key player in 2016.
There is one concern. One of the reasons Hicks fell in the draft was due to injuries. He had trouble staying healthy at Texas. He lasted half of his rookie year before getting hurt. This bears watching in the future.
There was some talk by some fans that Lane Johnson should stay at LT for the rest of the year.
Not so fast. He played well last night, but you want your 5 best OL on the field and this year that means Jason Peters at LT and Johnson at RT.
Peters is open to moving to OG at some point. Maybe that happens in the offseason. The Eagles could then spend a high pick on a RT or sign one in free agency. We’ll get into that in January…or later.
What about Dennis Kelly? I haven’t studied the All-22 yet. We’ll see how he looks upon further study. Chip said good things about him in his PC today.
Jimmy Bama’s hero is having one heck of a year.
Joking aside, a good punter can help a team in a big way. Field position is an overlooked part of the game.
If Sam has a good second half of the season, this won’t be a big deal. You’d rather have good QB play than a mid-round pick.
If Sam starts throwing end zone INTs again, this will be another reason to hate him.
Posted: November 9th, 2015 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 294 Comments »
What comes first, the chicken or the egg?
Think about some of the big plays from Sunday night. DeMarco Murray caught a pass on a wheel route and turned that into a gain of 44. Zach Ertz made a terrific catch down the right side that gained 27 yards and set up a FG. You may also remember a play in overtime where Jordan Matthews caught a pass over the middle and raced 41 yards for the winning TD.
Did Sam Bradford do something differently?
Or did his receivers just finally start making plays?
It doesn’t really matter what happened, only that the Eagles passing game came alive. There were 6 pass plays of at least 27 yards. Jordan Matthews had 3 of those plays. Finally, a game where a WR made several big plays. Riley Cooper and Miles Austin delivered long TDs vs the Skins. Josh Huff had some good plays in the win over the Saints. But Matthews was 9-133-1, the best game by an Eagles WR all year long.
Matthews has battled drops all year, but caught the ball well on Sunday night. He went up against Byron Jones, the Cowboys standout rookie DB, most of the game and got the best of him most of the time. Jones did break up a short pass in the end zone and that was a very impressive play. Not only did Matthews catch the ball, but he added RAC yards. He was fast, elusive and tough. Matthews doesn’t go down on first contact. He will break arm tackles and force you to get him down. Dallas failed to do that on the overtime play and that won the game.
Bradford has had his issues this year. But he needs help. He needs receivers to quit dropping passes and he needs them to start making plays. Both things happened last night and the results were fantastic.
Bradford didn’t throw any INTs. He generally made good decisions. That was probably his best game in terms of accuracy. He had good pocket presence. Even on the winning TD, he threw the ball just a moment before getting hit. There were several plays where I yelled “Throw it!” as a defender was closing in on him. Sam did that each time and it resulted in some key plays. Since I’m a team guy, I won’t take credit for that. I’ll let Sam have it.
Nobody is putting Bradford in the Hall of Fame just yet. He played well against Dallas, but is still 28th in the league in QB rating. He’s got to play even better if the Eagles want this to end up a successful season. Last night was a good performance. The Eagles had a makeshift OL. They were on the road. They were without a couple of key WRs. The offense still put up good numbers and made key plays. Bradford and his pass catchers were a huge part of that.
Let’s hope they build off this.
The Eagles need Agholor, Huff, Cooper and Austin to make more plays. This offense can’t be RB-TE-slot and put up big numbers on a consistent basis. The WRs have to step up. Maybe the big game from Jordan Matthews will prove to be a spark.
The offense had TD drives of 80, 95 and 90 yards. They had a 67-yard drive for a FG. Another FG drive went 45 yards. There were no short fields.
A hero I failed to acknowledge last night is Caleb Sturgis.
He hit all 3 of his extra points. He hit a chip shot 31-yard FG. His greatest moment as an Eagle came when he nailed a 53-yard FG at the 1:51 mark. That was one clutch kick.
Even more impressive, Chip Kelly said after the game that there was a bit of win on that side of the field.
A lot of people have tried to write-off the Eagles offense. The NFL solved Chip Kelly. They don’t have the right players. They haven’t drafted an OL since 1978. And on and on.
There are still issues to be fixed, but the offense isn’t nearly as bad as some try to make it out to be. The running game has really come alive. The passing game is showing real signs of life.
Lots of reasons for optimism.
Posted: November 9th, 2015 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 101 Comments »
The Eagles beat Dallas 33-27 in overtime. That’s great, but it took at least 2 years off my life. I would really appreciate the team winning in less dramatic fashion in the coming weeks.
The Eagles are 4-4 and there are reasons for optimism.
The Cowboys lost their 6th in a row to fall to 2-6. It is panic time in Big D. Their season is all but over.
There are a lot of heroes in this game, but none bigger than the Eagles OL. Lane Johnson played LT for the first time in his NFL career and had a good game. Dennis Kelly made his first start at RT since 2012 and played far better than any of us expected.
The Eagles ran for 172 yards. Sam Bradford threw for 295 yards and was only sacked once. He got hit a few times, but had plenty of time to throw.
Jordan Matthews really stepped up. He was 9-133-1. He made several big plays.
Sam Bradford played well. He was 25-36-295 with a TD and no picks. That was a step in the right direction.
Jordan Hicks made his second huge play against Dallas. In the first game, he hit Tony Romo and knocked him out. This time he picked off Matt Cassel and ran it back for a TD. That was a huge momentum shift and helped the Eagles to keep playing with the lead.
There are concerns, but we’ll get into them in the next couple of days.
For now, be happy. Huge win that puts the Eagles right back into the mix and all but ends things for Dallas.
Posted: November 8th, 2015 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1,060 Comments »
It wasn’t pretty, but the 1st half turned out okay. The Eagles offense started slow and Dez Bryant started hot. I think that had us all nervous. Things settled down after that and we are where we are.
The Eagle run game heated up and helped the offense go down for the tying TD. The defense gave up some yards, but came up big when Dallas got to FG range. A sack by Brandon Graham pushed them back and kept the game tied.
The revamped OL has played well. Greg Hardy has basically been a non-factor.
Sam Bradford and the passing game is great if you love the short stuff, but they have got to get a bit more aggressive if the Eagles are going to sustain drives and score points.
Dallas gets the ball first to start the 2nd half.
No takeaways yet for the Eagles. If they can get 1 or 2, that would be a huge help to securing the win.
Posted: November 8th, 2015 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 613 Comments »
The game is finally upon us.
Let’s take a look at the inactives.
QB T. Lewis
WR N. Agholor
OL J. Peters
DE B. Bair
LB D. Ryans
LB B. Jones
CB D. Rice
It’s disappointing to see Agholor out, but his initial prognostication had me doubting he would play this week.
Missing Ryans might not be as big a deal this week. Dallas doesn’t have a power back. The other ILB should be able to handle the Dallas run game.
It is a bit surprising to see Marcus Smith active and Brad Jones inactive. Maybe Jones is hurt. Or maybe, just maybe, Smith had a good week of practice and the coaches want him active.
This is a big game. Great chance to bury the Boys and get right back to .500.