Shaming

Posted: December 5th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 117 Comments »

Chip Kelly didn’t believe in watching game tape as a team. He let the positional assistants do that with their groups. Doug Pederson comes from the Andy Reid school of coaching. There is some tape watching done as a team. I would suggest Pederson do that today, with an emphasis on critical and stupid errors. Players need to know that certain mistakes are not acceptable.

No team or player is perfect. A coach has to choose what is acceptable for his team. Here are some of the errors I would point out.

Carson Wentz didn’t get hit on the play. A block from Zach Ertz wouldn’t have made much of a difference, if any. But this is football. This is a physical, tough game. When you have a chance to hit an opponent and you’re 250 pounds, you sure as hell better do it. The next time that guy goes to chase someone, he might go slower because he’s focused on not getting lit up. Doing nothing there is simply unacceptable.

Unless there is some unknown factor I’m missing, Zach Ertz should be embarrassed by that. I know he was injured in the season opener, but this is December and the season is on the line. This is the time to sell out. He needs the team watching that and to have Pederson point out that is not Eagles football. If this team is 10-2 maybe you laugh at that play. But this team is 5-7 and there’s nothing funny about that.

Nigel Bradham had 2 penalties, one for a horse collar tackle and one for hitting a player out of bounds. Dumb. Times 2. He handed the Bengals 30 yards. They were already getting chunks of yards yesterday. You can’t help them out with yards and 1st downs. I would have considered benching him after the second penalty. Repeat stupidity is something I wouldn’t handle well.

He made other mental errors in the game. Bradham is really talented, but he has to play smarter. This team isn’t good enough to make stupid errors and still win on a regular basis.

Allen Barbre had false start issues. I don’t know if Jason Kelce or Carson Wentz was doing something weird, but Barbre is the one who went early twice. Can’t have that on a day when the offense is struggling to get yards and score points.

I would show Wentz’s 3 INTs and the 3 other passes that should have been INTs. The QB can’t be giving the ball away. Throw the ball out of bounds or into the turf. Punts aren’t the worst thing you can do. Don’t throw it to the other team.

Buddy Ryan said he knew his Bears defense was going to be great when they took responsibility for mistakes on their own. They would watch the tape and the players would talk about what they did wrong with Buddy having to point anything out or question what happened. The players held themselves accountable to each other.

Back in 1999 rookie coach Andy Reid cut DT Bill Johnson after an embarrassing 33-7 loss to the Carolina Panthers. That was a miserable game. Afterward, Johnson was joking around in the locker room. Reid found that unacceptable and cut him the next day. Johnson was a popular player and his teammates weren’t happy, but Reid’s message came through loud and clear.

I’m not saying Pederson should necessarily cut someone. You only do that if you feel like the player deserves it and the move will send the right message. But the time has come for Pederson to take a tougher tone with this team. He needs to get players out of their comfort zone. The most obvious ways to do that are cutting playing time, taking their jobs or calling them out in front of their teammates.

Pederson talked to his team after the Monday night loss, but the message either didn’t get through or didn’t stick with them. He needs to change up the delivery and make things more personal. This team needs to play better. And smarter. And tougher.

*****

The heat is really getting turned up on Pederson, but he’s figuring this team out as the season plays out. No coach knows his team completely, let alone a new coach dealing with a lot of new faces.

The last month will give us a good idea about his ability to get through to his players when things are not going well.

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Bad Day

Posted: December 4th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 175 Comments »

The Eagles played their worst game of the year on a Sunday when they were supposed to win. Instead the team was down 29-0 at one point, eventually losing 32-14. This is now the low point of the season.

There were very few positives to take away from a game like this. The defense couldn’t stop the Bengals for most of the game. Cincy scored on their first 6 possessions. That’s an astounding stat for a team with a mediocre OL and missing their best WR and RB. The highlight for the Eagles offense in the first 40 minutes of the game was a missed FG.

This was an embarrassing performance.

The 2016 season isn’t over mathematically, but it’s not far off. The Eagles were a long shot to make the playoffs even before today, but it was discouraging to see the team play so poorly in a game they needed to win.

Carson Wentz played one of his worst games of the year. He threw 3 INTs and was lucky the Bengals dropped several others. He made bad decisions and some bad throws as well. He finished the game 36-60-308. Throwing 60 passes was not the formula for winning this game, but that’s what happens when you fall behind 29-0 and have to play desperate football.

A few people hit me up on Twitter asking if they should worry about Wentz.

No.

All players have bad games. That’s especially true for a rookie QB playing in a game without his best WR. It also didn’t help matters that his defense couldn’t get a stop. That put a lot of pressure on Wentz and he didn’t respond well. Please understand that a bad game is a bad game. It doesn’t define a player. Wentz has had too many good games and too many good moments for anyone to panic in regard to him. Wentz is the real deal. I can’t guarantee you that he will be an elite QB and lead the Eagles to titles, but he looks like a franchise QB, someone you build a team around.

Who do we blame today’s debacle on? Everyone.

Doug Pederson did not have a good day. Nor did Jim Schwartz. Nor did the OL or the RBs or the WRs. Or the DL or the LBs or the DBs. This was a bad team loss. Everyone had a hand in it. So how does this get fixed? Can this be fixed this season?

First, the Eagles need some key guys to get healthy. Jordan Matthews is a critical piece of the passing game. The offense missed him in a big way. It would help to get Ryan Mathews back at RB. Wendell Smallwood has played well this year, but Mathews is a better player right now. Getting Big V back at RT would allow Allen Barbre to move back to LG and would help the O-line out.

I don’t know what the solution is on defense. Last week the Eagles couldn’t get the Packers into 3rd/long very much and that made life less challenging for Aaron Rodgers. Today the Eagles got Cincy into 3rd/longs. Unfortunately that meant nothing. 3rd/9 led to a 23-yard gain. 3rd/8 led to a 50-yard gain. 3rd/11 resulted in a 21-yard pass play. And on and on and on.

The coverage wasn’t awful on those plays. There were some where the DBs were in the right spots. They just never seem to be able to find the ball to make a play on it. That’s what happens when a unit struggles. The rush almost gets there. The DB just misses the ball. Someone almost makes a big tackle. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, as the old saying goes. The Eagles D just isn’t making key plays to get off the field.

I talked early in the season about how Doug Pederson had a knack for pushing the right buttons. He made the right decisions and knew what to say to get the best out of his team. That is not the case right now. Pederson doesn’t seem to know what to say or do to get the team out of this funk. More than a few of you want to know if he’s the right guy for the job. We aren’t going to know the answer to that this season, whether the Eagles go 9-7 or 5-11. You need time to accurately evaluate a coach.

Pederson needs to figure out something to get this team back on track. Whether the team can close with any kind of a winning streak or not, they just need to play better. You can live with a loss if you play well, but the other team is just better. That’s not happening right now. The Eagles are playing their worst football of the year. They should be getting better, but that’s not the case.

We all agree the Eagles need more talent, but the current group should be playing better. That’s on the players, the coaches…everybody has a piece of this failure pie.

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Halftime – CIN 19, PHI 0

Posted: December 4th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 333 Comments »

I thought this might be an ugly game, but I didn’t see the Bengals whipping the Eagles. Unfortunately that is exactly what’s happening.

Highlights so far today:

  • Trey Burton has 3 catches for 34 yards.
  • Nelson Agholor hasn’t dropped a pass.
  • The Cincy PK missed an extra point.

That should give you an idea how bad this performance is.

Doug Pederson better wake this team up in a big way or he is going to feel a level of heat he’s never imagined.

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Gameday – PHI at CIN

Posted: December 4th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 220 Comments »

Big news. Jordan Matthews is out.

Not good.

He is far and away the Eagles best receiver. So what happens now? Nelson Agholor is playing and will have a big shot at redemption. This could actually be huge for him. It gives him a chance to get passes thrown his way. Sometimes being put in a tough situation brings out the best in a player. Agholor won’t just be playing for himself. His team needs him.

Neither the Bengals nor the Eagles have been scoring much recently so this becomes a defensive struggle with focus on the run game. The Eagles run the ball better and defend the run better so that should give them an advantage in this type of game. With Matthews out, the Eagles should run more than they usually do. RB Ryan Mathews is also out so that means extra work for Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles. This could also be a game to mix in more QB runs. Watch for that.

Donnie Jones is going to be a key player in this game. Punting is not a bad thing when you have a good defense and the other team struggles to score points. If the Eagles can play field position football and good defense, that helps in a game like this.

I wrote my game preview for PE.com, but that was before the Jordan Matthews news. His absence does change things.

This is a huge game for the Eagles. It will be interesting to see how the team responds. The last 2 weeks they lost to guys who will one day be in the Hall of Fame. Andy Dalton isn’t on that level. The defense has to make some plays today. The offense has to find a way to score points. It wouldn’t hurt if Sproles could break a long punt return to help the offense out. Every point could be critical in a game like this.

One note to Doug Pederson…don’t go for it in scoring territory. Kick the FG and put points on the board. Put pressure on Cincy to have to score.

This doesn’t have to be pretty. The Eagles just have to find a way to win.

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Know Your Enemy – The Bungles

Posted: December 4th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 30 Comments »

I don’t mean to taunt them by going to the old name of the Bungles. That’s just the way they’ve played this year. Cincy started 8-0 last year. They are 3-7-1 this season, with the only win since September coming against the winless Browns. Yikes.

What’s gone wrong?

A better question might be “what hasn’t gone wrong?”. Injuries. Coaching changes. Underachieving veterans. Underachieving rookies. Struggling kicker. You name it and the 2016 Bengals have probably been hurt by it. Very weird. They almost have a vibe of the 2012 Eagles. Andy Reid’s tenure was winding down and when things went wrong, they went really wrong. That team started 3-1 and finished 4-12. The Bengals started 2-2 and have gone just 1-5-1 since. Is this the final season for Marvin Lewis?

Lewis has done a terrific job in Cincy, building a consistent winner and keeping his players out of trouble in recent years. The old Bengals lost a lot and got in all kinds of trouble.The problem with Cincy’s success is that their coaching staff has been raided several times in recent years. As we saw with Reid, you can’t lose great assistant after great assistant and replace them with the same caliber of players. There is a reason that the Eagles weren’t as good after losing Ron Rivera, Leslie Frazier, Brad Childress, Steve Spagnuolo and John Harbaugh. It feels like coaching attrition is hurting the Bengals this year.

QB Andy Dalton has been tough to evaluate since joining the league. There are times when he looks like a stud and other times when he looks like the lost Detmer brother. Here is an in-depth piece on Dalton, covering the good and bad. Right now he’s struggling.

One of the key reasons is that RB Gio Bernard is on IR and elite receiver A.J. Green is hurt. He is reportedly targeting a return in Week 14 so the Eagles may catch a huge break (Don’t drop it!!!) in missing him. There was a point this season when Bernard and Green made up 45 percent of Dalton’s targets. That seems nuts to me. You want to feed good players, but you have to spread the ball better than that.

The OL has had issues. C Russell Bodine was so bad that he just got benched. RT Cedric Ogbuehi has not played well. I’ve seen LG Clint Boling have some problems. This group has been disappointing after being a strength in previous seasons.

The defense can’t seem to stop the run (28th in the league). In 3 of the past 7 games, they have given up 180 or more rushing yards. That’s not good. When you can’t stop the run, that leads to other issues. Opposing QBs have a rating of 92.2 this season. Sacks and INTs are down from last year. The Bengals have been better in recent weeks, just giving up 56 points in the past 3 games.

It is hard to win close games when PK Mike Nugent is so unreliable. He has missed 5 FGs and 4 extra points this year.

*****

The Bengals and Eagles have a weird history. Cincy won in 2012, 34-13. It was a close game for a half, but the Eagles fell apart in the 2nd half. I think we all remember the highly frustrating 13-13 tie back in 2008. Cincy won in the 2004 season finale, 38-10. The Eagles rested starters so this was Koy Detmer at QB, Eric McCoo at RB and Freddie Mitchell as the key receiver.

You have to go all the way back to 2000 to find the Eagles winning. The score was 16-7 and that was an ugly game.

The best game was back in 1997. The Eagles beat Cincy 44-42 with Bobby Hoying playing the best game of his career. He was 26-42-313 with 4 TDs. Irving Fryar was 7-122. Talk about fool’s gold. I thought Hoying was going to be a stud and he and Fryar would have some really good games after that.

*****

The Eagles will need to run the ball to win on Sunday. The OL has to open holes for Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles. Brandin Brooks will be back at RG so the line will be all veterans.

Jeff Stoutland did a video piece on rookies Isaac Seumalo and Halapoulivaati Vaitai for PE.com. You can see that those 2 guys have the physical traits needed to be good starters in the NFL.

*****

Here is my preview of the game for PE.com.

This is a game the Eagles need to win.

Ugh. That certainly doesn’t help.

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