Seattle Slew

Posted: November 20th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 413 Comments »

The Eagles led the game 7-6. It felt like the teams were playing evenly. Seattle then took a 13-7 lead. The Eagles responded with a great play that would have given them a 14-13 lead, but there was a penalty flag. Nelson Agholor didn’t line up on the LOS. This didn’t affect the play at all, but the rules call for him to be on the LOS in that situation and he stupidly was a yard off. That simple moment changed the game.

The Eagles punted the ball away and Seattle responded with a FG drive, putting them up 16-7. The game never got that close again.

One little mistake had a huge impact.

That’s what happens when you are the team trying to build something and you’re going against the best team in the NFC. Even tougher, the game was on the road against the team with the best home field advantage in the league. The Seahawks are better than the Eagles. In order to beat them, you have to limit mistakes and you sure can’t wipe out 57-yard TDs.

No one would make the argument that scoring that TD to go up 14-13 meant the Eagles were definitely going to win. That was just the 2nd quarter. Seattle still could have won a blowout. But that was a huge moment. That penalty just killed the Eagles confidence and it seemed to get Seattle going.

Beyond the loss, there are injury concerns.

RT Halapoulivaati Vaitai got hit in the back of the leg and left the game. The medical staff was checking for a torn ACL. Could be something as simple as a hyperextension, but it could be bad news as well. Ryan Mathews left the game with a knee injury of his own and he was limping around after the game. Darren Sproles suffered a rib injury. There were other Eagles getting banged up. This was a costly loss. We won’t know how costly until Monday or Tuesday.

The Eagles now sit at 5-5. Some are going to talk as if the season is over. I don’t see it that way. There are 6 games left and 4 of them are at home. The Eagles can still make the playoffs if they finish strong. Say they go 3-1 at home and 1-1 on the road. That would put them at 9-7. Certainly that’s no lock for the playoffs, but it might be good enough. There are a lot of bunched up teams this year.

It is also possible that the emotion of this loss and the injuries could lead to a bad finish.

I was encouraged by how the Eagles finished. They got down 26-7 and I was thinking “Just run the damn ball and let’s get this over with.” Doug Pederson put the game in Carson Wentz’s hands and the Eagles showed some positive signs. Wentz drove them down for a TD and 2-point conversion to cut the lead to 26-15. The Eagles got the ball back with 3 minutes left. The Eagles marched all the way to the SEA 25-yard line, but a penalty wiped out that play and pushed them back to midfield, where the drive ended.

Wentz had a very up and down game, going 23-45-218 with 2 TDs and 2 INTs. There were times when he looked a bit overwhelmed. He also wasn’t getting much help. WRs had 15 yards well into the 2nd half. In case you weren’t sure, that’s not good. Agholor’s penalty wiped out a long TD pass. Making matters worse, Agholor dropped a pass that would have gone for a minimum of 30 yards.

Think about this. Back in 2014 Seattle came to Philly and beat the Eagles 24-14. That was Mark Sanchez, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy, Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz. They put up 139 yards. For the game.

Today you had a rookie QB, banged up OL, injured RBs, were on the road and that group put up 308 yards. The players kept battling. They never gave up. The 4th quarter of the 2 games could not have been more different. Sanchez and his team put up 8 yards of offense. 8 whole yards. Seattle had 79 and worked the clock. Wentz led the Eagles to 143 yards and 8 points in the 4th quarter. He got his team back into the game. Sure, they still lost, but they had Seattle nervous late in the game.

The 2014 loss unraveled that team and they lost the next 2 games. I think this is different. One of the benefits of youth is a short memory. I think Wentz will bounce back from this, as will the whole team. This group has been resilient the whole year so I expect them to keep battling.

Keep your fingers crossed on the injury front. A little luck there would help a lot.

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Halftime – SEA 16, PHI 7

Posted: November 20th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 443 Comments »

Nelson Agholor is the worst person in the history of mankind.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about the game. The Eagles are down 9 points, but they’ve done a lot of good things. The problem is that one mistake on defense resulted in a Seattle TE and one mistake on offense wiped out an Eagles TD. Two plays. Two huge moments that affected the overall game.

Russell Wilson is playing lights out. Even when the Eagles get big time pressure on him, Wilson is finding a way to get away or to get rid of the ball. He is easily the most frustrating player in the league to go against.

The Eagles need to score early in the 3rd to keep this game close. They are not going to mount some great comeback on Seattle so it is imperative to stay within a possession of them. Getting a FG or TD to open the 3rd would put the Eagles where they need to be.

I don’t know what Jim Schwartz and the defense are going to do. Wilson is just red hot the last few weeks. Even when you’re right, you can be wrong. Coming up with a takeaway would be huge.

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Game Preview – PHI at SEA

Posted: November 20th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 451 Comments »

Carson Wentz and the Eagles played well against the Falcons defense last week. Seattle runs basically the same scheme. That’s good news, right? There is one small difference. Seattle has good players.

I certainly don’t agree with that, but this is going to be a real challenge. The Eagles get one bit of good news, with DL Michael Bennett still out due to injury. Unfortunately Kam Chancellor returned last week and he’s a huge part of that secondary (literally and figuratively).

I wrote my preview for PE.com and talked about the need for another good rushing performance. I doubt the Eagles go for 208 yards again this week, but they need to run the ball a lot. You don’t want to throw the ball against Seattle too much.

  • Rookie QB
  • Poor WRs
  • Let’s their DL tee off and crowd noise helps the pass rush

Even if you run 3 times, get 8 yards and punt, that isn’t necessarily a bad possession. The key is for the Eagles defense to keep Seattle from putting up points. If Russell Wilson starts making plays, you have to open up the offense and take some chances.

As I said in the preview, this is a game where the Eagles need their stars to play like stars. Fletcher Cox has been solid for the past month. Today the Eagles need him to be huge. They need him to be regularly disruptive.

I’m curious to see if Jim Schwartz rushes 4 and focuses on coverage or if he blitzes to force Wilson to stay in the pocket. One of the real keys to this game is for the Eagles to limit big plays. Seattle has enough weapons that they can move the ball on long drives, but they are most deadly when they get the big pass plays. The Eagles DL must win the battle up front and the DBs need to plaster receivers. Wilson extends plays with his legs. DBs must cover until the whistle blows.

The Eagles really put the clamps on PIT and ATL. They will need a similar defensive effort today in order to win this game.

The offense has to limit penalties and avoid turnovers. The Seattle D is too good. You cannot help them out.

Couple of interesting notes. Tobin is normally the #3 OT. Allen Barbre is healthy and would likely move outside if there was an injury. I think the Eagles like having Isaac Seumalo active. He is bigger and more physical than Tobin so he helps the extra OL run sets.

Kamu Grugier-Hill is back and will be a big part of STs. He was very good early this year.

Nolan Carroll, Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz are all playing. All 3 need to play well today if the Eagles are going to pull off the upset.

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Keepers

Posted: November 20th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 136 Comments »

The Eagles have had a great STs unit for the past 4 years. Chip Kelly hired Dave Fipp to be the architect and the organization went out and collected a really good group of players for Fipp to coach. Three of the main cogs have been P Donnie Jones, LS Jon Dorenbos and Chris Maragos. The Eagles decided to reward all of them with new contracts.

Maragos is the youngest of the trio and he’s 29 years old. Seems weird for the Eagles to lock up older guys, even specialists. But I think this is smart. Sports science has changed things. Players who really take care of themselves can play a long time, especially if they are full-time starters who are on the field for 50 or more snaps a game.

Dorenbos, Jones and Maragos are all outstanding players and they are good off the field as well. The Eagles could try to save a few bucks by looking for young guys at these spots, but there is real value in having proven veterans who are good on the field and also provide some leadership.

Howie Roseman also made the point that by keeping these players around it helps the Eagles know what they need to get done in the offseason. That isn’t to imply that finding a new snapper would have conflicted with finding a WR, but by eliminating 3 unknowns, the Eagles won’t waste time looking for players to fill the positions. They can focus on other spots that are going to be open due to free agency or under-performance.

Roseman was asked about an extension for Bennie Logan, the team’s key free agent. Roseman wouldn’t get into specifics, but did make it sound like the Eagles have had some discussions. I’m sure they would love to keep Logan, another guy who is good on and off the field. The challenge is finding him money after paying the other guys on the DL. You would think that the team could strongly consider cutting Connor Barwin and then using that money to pay Logan.

We can worry about all that stuff in the offseason.

*****

This is pretty cool.

3 of the executives picked Wentz. Marcus Mariota got the other 2 votes.

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Know Your Enemy – SEA

Posted: November 19th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 85 Comments »

The Eagles go to Seattle on Sunday afternoon for what might be the toughest game of the year. The Seahawks are 6-2-1, which is the second best record in the NFC. Seattle remains one of the toughest places to play and the Seahawks are 4-0 at home this year.

At the same time, Seattle isn’t the juggernaut that they’ve been in previous years. They only have one blowout win, a 37-18 victory over Chip Kelly’s 49ers, who are the worst team in the conference. Seven games have been decided by seven points or less. Seattle was a play away from losing 3 of their home games. And they benefited from officiating in close wins over Atlanta and Buffalo.

I do have to point out that Seattle is trending upward. Russell Wilson is healthier than he’s been all year. The young OL is coming together. Kam Chancellor missed 4 games, but he’s back. Seattle has come a long way since the first 2 weeks of the year when they looked like a mess against Miami and the Rams.

When you think Seahawks, you think defense. Even that unit has been inconsistent. From last week during the game:

Before you go thinking their D has lost it, they are still 2nd in points allowed and 9th in yards allowed. Stud DL Michael Bennett is out and Chancellor missed some time. Those are impact players. You can’t lose them and not feel it. Even with Bennet missing time, Seattle is tied for 3rd in sacks. Speed rushers like Cliff Avril and Frank Clark are highly disruptive off the edge.

The LBs are still outstanding, with Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. The secondary remains loaded with Chancellor, some guy named Earl Thomas and arguably the best corner in the league in Richard Sherman.

Right now it is Russell Wilson and the offense you should be scared of. They have put up 31 points in 2 straight games and they did that against Rex Ryan and Bill Belichick, a pair of the best defensive gurus in the league. Wilson is out of his mind right now.

That is kinda decent.

It used to be that stopping Seattle meant good run defense and building a gameplan to force Wilson to throw. Now you’re scared of him as a passer and would prefer they try to run the ball.

Doug Baldwin feels like the NFC version of Antonio Brown, the stud WR who doesn’t look like a stud WR.

(Feel free to insert the joke about Nelson Agholor’s career stats here.)

As good as Wilson and his weapons are (TE Jimmy Graham is great at times), none of that matters if the O-line can’t block well enough to give them time. The line is getting better each week, but still is vulnerable. LT George Fant was a basketball player last year at Western Kentucky. Now he’s protecting the blind side of arguably the most valuable player in the entire league. You can bet the Eagles will test Fant early and often.

RT Garry Gilliam will have his hands full with Brandon Graham all day long. Rookie Germain Ifedi has to try and block Fletcher Cox. Second year OG Mark Glowinski will try to slow down Bennie Logan. The Eagles should have an advantage up front. They need to make it pay off.

No one is sure what to make of Seattle’s run game. Leading rusher Christine Michael was cut on Monday. Clearly the team didn’t think highly of him. That was partly done because Thomas Rawls is on the way back from injury. Seattle is also very excited about a rookie RB.

Great, Wilson now has another weapon. Ugh.

Prosise played RB and WR at Notre Dame. Seattle uses him creatively and he is a matchup nightmare. Jim Schwartz will have to come up with some interesting ways to get Prosise covered when he lines up out wide.

Seattle started slow last year (4-5) before getting red hot and getting back to the playoffs. This team has a better record than that group did, but it does feel like they are coming together and could be getting ready to go on a hot streak.

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