Posted: November 26th, 2014 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 108 Comments »
Philly at Dallas. Big game.
Thanksgiving afternoon. Big game.
First place in the NFC East on the line. Big game.
So what am I hinting at? This is a big game. It is still November so this isn’t some do or die moment in the season. The Eagles will do well if they can win 2 of the next 3. They could survive going 1-2, but it would make life harder on them. Rather than worrying about different scenarios, let’s steal a page from Chip Kelly and just focus on the moment.
Here is my preview for PE.com. You’ll probably be shocked, but I think DeMarco Murray is the key to the game. The Eagles don’t need to shut him down, but they need to control him and limit his production. If he goes for 120, Dallas probably wins. If he goes for 80-95, the game is a toss-up. If you hold him under 80, the Eagles are likely winners.
The problem is you can’t sell out vs the run. Bill Davis has to find a way to shut him down and still keep Dez Bryant from just destroying Bradley Fletcher. A lot of these concerns would go away if the front seven would just dominate and shut down the running and passing attacks. Is that too much to ask?
I’m both excited and nervous about the game. I love the thought of beating Dallas on national TV and putting them in 2nd place. I’m nervous about those skill players going against our defense. Could be a long day. I do like the matchup of the Eagles offense and the Dallas defense.
In the preview I talk about how the defense isn’t really better. It just looks that way. Dave from BGN did a full post on the Dallas defense and how it still is a bad unit.
The Eagles defense doesn’t need a shutout, but they do have to make some key plays. Pick off Romo or grab a Murray fumble. Heck, do both. I’m not picky. I’ll take whatever the Football Gods throw our way.
Posted: November 25th, 2014 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 220 Comments »
Thursday football games aren’t a great idea. There isn’t enough time for players to fully rest up from the prior game. And coaches don’t have enough time to review the previous game and then prepare for the upcoming opponent. Short weeks are tough.
In theory, the team with the best coaching staff should have an advantage. I would definitely take the Eagles staff over the Cowboys. That said, the Dallas coaches have done a great job this year so this isn’t like some past years when I would have given the Eagles a substantial advantage.
Jason Garrett is 2-2 in Thanksgiving games. But his wins came against a bad Miami team and an awful Oakland team. And Dallas needed comebacks to win both games.
The big challenge for Dallas is getting ready for the Eagles offense on a short week. Dallas has 2 games from last year and that experience is invaluable, but Chip Kelly is doing some things differently this year. And Mark Sanchez is a different QB than Nick Foles was.
Beyond just getting ready for the Eagles, Dallas has the challenge of dealing with the Eagles tempo on a short week. Cowboys defenders were on the field for 74 plays on Sunday night. Then they get 4 nights of sleep and it is right back to the field to face an Eagles team that would love to run 75 plays, and at a lightning fast pace.
We remember JJ Watt looking exhausted a few weeks back. Even the best conditioned athletes in the world can get worn down by the Eagles pace. That could be an issue for a Dallas defensive front that loves to rotate on a regular basis. Compounding the issue is that defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli preaches maximum effort more than any other coach in the league. One of the reasons Dallas has had more success this year is simple effort. Their players go hard every second of every play. Will they wear down?
The Eagles could have another possible advantage…Sports Science. One of the focal points for Kelly is recovery. The Eagles do everything they can to help players quickly bounce back from being worn down by games.This could help the Eagles be physically ready on a short week.
Of course all this talk goes out the window if the Eagles can’t cover Dez Bryant and Jason Witten.
Posted: November 25th, 2014 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 275 Comments »
In 2 of the last 3 weeks the Eagles have scored 43 or more points and won by 19 or more points. That is pretty friggin’ impressive and sounds like a team to be feared. In the other game, the Eagles lost by 33 and were completely dominated. That sounds like a team that got exposed.
So what do we make of the Eagles right now?
As has been the case all year, the Eagles are a talented, but flawed team. They’re too successful to be considered anything other than good. But they make too many mistakes for anyone to completely trust them. Think about Sunday.
The Eagles raced out to a 17-0 lead. I didn’t expect them to win 68-0, but it was a little concerning how quickly that turned into a 20-14 game. The score was then 27-17 at the half. An INT from Mark Sanchez is what got the ball rolling. That put the Titans at the Eagles 40. At that point, they had 12 yards and 4 punts. The good field position woke them up and they scored a quick TD. Then they had a pair of long drives that led to the other 10 points.
There was some luck in that stretch (the tipped ball that turned into a long TD), but the Eagles also were sloppy on defense and let the Titans get back in the game. I don’t know what adjustments were made at halftime, but they worked. The defense was dominant in the 3rd quarter. They allowed one yard and had a pair of takeaways. Tennessee did score another TD, but that came in the 4th quarter and was against some backups with about 5 minutes left in the game.
But just who were the Eagles shutting down? Rookies Zach Mettenberger and Bishop Sankey. Pass catchers like Delanie Walker and Justin Hunter. That’s not exactly murderer’s row.
We really can’t make too much of yesterday’s game. I don’t know how the Eagles are going to play in the next 3 weeks. They are on the road to Dallas and then host Seattle and Dallas. That will be 3 straight weeks against teams with tough, physical runners. That will be 3 straight weeks against teams that have QBs who can make plays outside the pocket. Dallas has a mediocre defense, while the Seahawks are back up to 1st in fewest yards allowed.
We’ll find out just what to make of this team in the next 3 weeks.
The answer may be good. Mark Sanchez showed vs Carolina that he can play a clean game. It is physically possible. We don’t need to go to an alternate universe. Can Sanchez do that for 1 of the 3 weeks? 2? All 3? Any? If he can play a clean game, the offense can play well against anyone. The OL seems to be getting better. LeSean McCoy is getting hot. Jeremy Maclin, Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz are all weapons.
The defense is 2nd in the league in sacks. They lead the league in FFs. Thankfully, INTs are starting to pick up. The defense will give up some yards and points, but they will make some plays as well.
The answer may be bad. The offense is a turnover machine (mostly due to QBs). The offense still has Red Zone issues (only 3-7 on Sunday). The OL hasn’t stayed healthy all year. God forbid anything happens to Jason Peters.
The defense is hurt by a bad secondary. Those guys struggle to consistently cover people. Like ya know…Dez Bryant. And the Eagles have been burned recently in the ILB/TE matchup. Both Dallas and Seattle love to get the ball to their TEs. That could make life tough for Bill Davis.
The Eagles have put themselves in good position for the stretch run. They are 8-3. They can afford to lose a game without it killing them. But the point of this time of the year is more than just winning and losing. It is seeing what kind of team you have. You want to play your best football in the final month or so.
The Eagles have shown a ton of potential to this point. They could absolutely clean their game up and take the next step as a team. That’s what we’re all hoping is going to happen. The 2008 team was 5-5-1 heading into a Thanksgiving game. They blew out the Cardinals 48-20. The next week they went to NY and beat the Giants 20-14 when the Giants were 11-1. The Eagles then closed out the season by destroying Dallas 44-6. That team won a couple of playoff games and came close to going to the Super Bowl.
Last year the Eagles were very good down the stretch, with the exception of the debacle in MIN. Philly was 4-1 in December (coming off a bye). That included the Snow Game, the SNF demolition of the Bears and their playoff hopes and the NFC East title game vs Dallas. The Lions, Bears and Boys all had winning records when the Eagles beat them.
This team is different than last year’s was. The 2013 Eagles had 4 turnovers in the month of December. They had 12 takeaways. Can you imagine the 2014 Eagles being +8 for a month? The 2013 team was ready for the stretch run. They already had the formula of running the ball and not turning it over (and being healthy). The current Eagles could get away with sloppy play vs Austin Davis, Kirk Cousins and Zach Mettenberger and still win, but that’s not likely to work vs Dallas and Seattle.
The Eagles got a big test when they went to GB and they failed miserably.
This is another test. Can the Eagles protect the ball and win big games? While I would dearly love a sweep, a more realistic goal is winning 2 of 3. If the Eagles can do that, they’ll have a great chance of winning the division. If the Eagles lose 2 of 3, just making the playoffs is less of a sure thing.
And the point isn’t to just make the playoffs. The Eagles want postseason success. As important as winning is in the next 3 weeks, the Eagles must play better. They need to start looking like a playoff team.
* * * * *
Having a return TD or two in the next 3 weeks would probably be a good thing. That’s one area where this team is deadly. They can score from just about any situation.
Posted: November 24th, 2014 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 310 Comments »
The Giants blew a couple of leads and lost to Dallas, 31-28. The one time all year I actually cheered for Big Blue and they became Big Blew It. Ugh.
Dallas and Philly are both 8-3. The Eagles are technically in 1st place because of a better division record. The winner of Thursday’s game will have 1st place all to themselves.
I can’t say watching Dallas tonight made me all that scared. That OL is terrific and they do have weapons, but Tony Romo can be erratic at times. I do think the Eagles pass rush will be better vs them than the Giants were. They gave Romo tons of time to throw, especially late in the game, and he picked them apart.
Do the Eagles have an advantage since they got to relax for part of their game while Dallas had to exert a lot of energy and emotion into coming back to beat the Giants? Interesting question with no definitive answer. The Eagles were coming off a laugher vs the Panthers when they went to Green Bay and got whipped.
The Eagles scored 43 points and won by 19 today. Yet, no one is all that excited. I think that’s a good sign. It shows where expectations are for this team. The Eagles won the division last year. They hosted a playoff game last year. This team wants more. They don’t have what it takes to be a great team right now (too many issues on defense), but this sure feels like a wide-open year in the NFL. We’ll get an idea of just how good this team is down the stretch.
Meanwhile the Skins and Giants are battling to see who can get the higher pick. We went through that in 2012 and boy is it miserable.
Posted: November 23rd, 2014 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 400 Comments »
The Eagles beat the Titans 43-24 to improve to 8-3 and remain atop the NFC East. The Eagles dominated much of the game, but made enough mistakes to keep the Titans in it longer than they should have been.
It was good to see LeSean McCoy have a big game. He was 21-130-1 and sat out most of the 4th quarter. The line blocked well and got McCoy to the second level multiple times. That’s where he can be special, with his ability to make guys miss.
Mark Sanchez threw 2 INTs. One of them was a mix-up between him and Riley Cooper. The other was a terrible throw over the middle. He did have one beautiful TD pass, a throw on the move to James Casey. Sanchez mostly played well, but still has to clean up his game as the Eagles get ready to play some tough teams in the coming weeks.
The defense was fantastic for most of the day. They stunk in the 2nd Qtr, giving up 17 points and big plays. The defense did come up with 5 sacks and 3 takeaways.
STs went back to being a good thing. Josh Huff ran the opening KO back 107 yards for a TD. Cody Parkey was 5 of 6 on FGs, with his only miss hitting the upright.
Any concerns about the Eagles having a letdown performance went away pretty quickly. Huff took the opening kick back for a TD and the Eagles quickly built up a 17-0 lead. There was a lot of fan and media talk about the Packers game from last week and the upcoming Cowboys game, but the players stayed in the moment and gave their full attention to the Titans.
This wasn’t the most efficient or clean game I’ve ever seen, but the Eagles played like the better team. Compare this to the opener vs JAX when the Eagles were sloppy and got down 17-0. There was none of that today. The 2-8 Titans had one good quarter, but the Eagles were in control throughout the game.
The Eagles seemed to come out of the game healthy, which is critical with Dallas being just 4 days from now.