Winning

Posted: November 19th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 218 Comments »

The Eagles are 1-3 this season against teams with winning records. Does this mean anything? Pop open a can of cold PBR and let’s talk about it.

In a word…no.

There are 3 factors for judging a game: who did you play, when did you play them, where did you play them. The Eagles beat the 8-6 Chicago Bears by 43 points. The Bears then finished the season 8-8. Chicago needed that game to make the playoffs. It was crucial for them and they were at home. The Eagles dominated the entire game and won 54-11. Nice win, but because the Bears finished 8-8 it wasn’t against a team with a winning record.

Earlier in the year the Eagles won in Green Bay 27-13. Green Bay was 5-3 entering the game, but Aaron Rodgers missed the game due to injury. That win came in the middle of a down stretch for the Packers, but they still finished 8-7-1. That was a win vs a team with a winning record.

Which win was more impressive?

I have no problem with checking a team’s record vs teams with winning records and using that as a simple tool, but it doesn’t come close to telling the whole story. Houston is now 5-5. If they win next week, the Eagles will suddenly be 2-3 against teams with winning records. The Rams are 4-6. They could get hot and finish with a winning record.

SF is 6-4 and has a win against the winning Eagles. Good for them. But the Eagles OL in that game was a huge mess. And it took Riley Cooper dropping a TD for the Niners to secure the win. Just how impressive is that? SF went to the Saints and won. New Orleans now has a losing record, but that was an impressive win because of where the game was played. It is brutally hard to win in the dome.

Seattle went 4-3 against teams with winning records during the regular season. That’s good, but not special. They went 3-0 in the postseason. That’s all that matters.

The Eagles were 2-3 in 2013. They lost so SD, KC and DEN in a row, all early in the season. After that the Eagles won vs GB and ARZ. The Eagles did go 2-1 vs .500 teams. It wasn’t as if they only beat last place opponents.

I think something more important would be to play more games against winning teams. Back in 2008 the Eagles almost made it to the Super Bowl. The team was just 9-6-1 in the regular season. They were 5-4 against teams with winning records. Those tough games got them ready for the postseason and helped them understand what the playoffs would be like.

I have written before about how the down nature of the NFC East is bad for the Eagles. You need good teams to challenge you, to push you. As much fun as it is to watch the Skins turn into a dumpster fire and Eli into an INT machine, that actually hurts the Eagles. Seattle won the SB last year and came out of the toughest division in football. The Ravens won the year before and the AFC North is always tough. That year two teams went 10-6. The Steelers were 8-8. Cleveland was just 5-11, but were very competitive after an 0-5 start.

The AFC East has been a weak division for years. I think that has hurt the Patriots and has played a part in them not winning another Super Bowl. New England knows how to beat good teams, but they aren’t getting pushed, week-in and week-out. That’s what a good division can do for you.

The regular season gets you ready for the playoffs. The more tough teams you play, the better off you are. You need to be challenged. The intensity level goes up a nothing in the postseason. You can’t just adjust to that unless the team has experienced moments or even games like that during the year.

The Eagles are 1-3 against teams with winning records. They still have Dallas (2) and Seattle left to play. That could be 3 more games, but there are no guarantees both teams finish as winners. Seattle is 6-4 and doesn’t have an easy game left on the schedule. Dallas is 7-3, but has been addicted to 8-8 finishes in recent years. If the Eagles sweep them, who knows where Dallas ends up.

Of course you can always cheer for Houston, Carolina and St. Louis to get above .500 so those wins, which aren’t impressive now, can be used in a future argument about how impressive the Eagles ended up against teams with winning records.

Simple.

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Active Day for the Eagles

Posted: November 18th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 67 Comments »

The Eagles made some moves on Tuesday.

* Earl Wolff went to IR. He’s struggled with injuries all year long. I get the feeling the team thinks Wolff might be healthier than he thinks he is. Chip Kelly has said the team will never force a player to play, but he also says the #1 ability is durability. I think the team is highly frustrated with Wolff and how he has handled this season. The Eagles thought he would challenge for a starting role. Wolff was a non-factor on defense and even STs when he did play.

My guess is that Wolff comes back in 2015, but he’ll be on a short leash. Nagging injuries won’t be tolerated for a second season.

This really is a shame. Wolff showed good potential last year.

* The Eagles signed CB Roc Carmichael to take Wolff’s spot on the roster. Carmichael isn’t anything special as a player, but he fits. He can play in the slot or outside. He is a good STs player. Carmichael was added for depth purposes and he makes sense because of that.

* The Eagles made a couple of lineup shuffles. With Carmichael being added to the CB rotation, rookie Jaylen Watkins was moved to Safety. He has taken reps at both spots so he can help the team wherever he’s needed. I still like him more as a CB than a S. I don’t think he tackles well enough to be a primary run defender. The Eagles obviously feel differently.

* RG Matt Tobin did not practice today. Per Jeff McLane, he missed time due to a concussion. Andrew Gardner was in his place as the RG. McLane also mentions that Gardner might have gotten some reps even without the injury concerns. Tobin has shown that he can be a good run blocker, but he is inconsistent with pass protection. He was beaten by a DT on the opening drive and that led to Mark Sanchez taking a big hit and being sacked.

Gardner played RG for part of the 3rd and all of the 4th quarters in the win over Houston a couple of weeks back. He was very good as a run blocker. Tobin has spent most of his time in college and the NFL blocking on the left side. Some guys handle changing sides better than others.

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I thought Bill Davis did a good job at his press conference.

He answered questions about Bradley Fletcher in a pretty honest way. He talked about some strategic moves that didn’t work so well and why that was. He talked about Marcus Smith.

I think Davis does a good job of offering honest answers to tough questions. He’s not in la-la land acting as if his unit is just fine, but he also doesn’t sit there and just needlessly rip his guys.

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Would love to see Avant go to KC or some other team that is winning games, but still needs some WR help. Really needs to be with a pocket passer in a WCO type system to thrive.

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Happy Birthday to the best Eagles LB I ever saw play…

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Misc Monday Night Stuff

Posted: November 17th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 277 Comments »

There isn’t any breaking news from today so let me touch on some topics brought up in the comments section.

* Fixing the secondary – How could Howie Roseman and Chip Kelly pass on Aqib Talib and Darrelle Revis to keep the current corners? Complicated question. Both guys had big price tags. Both guys have baggage. That combination might have been enough to scare off the Eagles. Let’s not forget they tried adding stars back in 2011 with Nnamdi and DRC and that didn’t go as planned. Kelly and Bill Davis like the current corners more than fans and the media, but they do know the position must be upgraded. Will likely be a priority this offseason to add one starting CB and maybe draft another one or two.

The team does like Jaylen Watkins but it would be very hard to project him as a starter for the future with him having played so little.

I don’t know why Nolan Carroll isn’t getting a chance at LCB. I’d like to see him out there. The coaches feel differently.

* Judging Mark Sanchez – I made the point that we need to give him time to see what he is. But don’t we know from his time in NY? No. We know who Sanchez was in those circumstances, but this is very different. He may turn out to be the same guy, but that’s not a given. I believe we need to see Sanchez play on this team in this system for a month before we know if he’s a different guy or the same guy in a different uniform and zip code.

Tiki Barber was a fumbling machine before Tom Coughlin fixed him. Then he was completely different.

Compare Marshawn Lynch the Buffalo Bill vs Lynch the Seahawk.

Circumstances and coaching can make a vast difference even with a player who has been in the league for several years.

* Should we hate Josh Huff? – He’s made mistakes and there is no denying that. He doesn’t deal well with the media, which only makes matters worse. Chip Kelly recruited him to Oregon, coached him for 3 years and then drafted him. Kelly clearly believes in Huff. I trust Chip on this one. Let’s hope the the payoff is worth the rookie mistakes.

* GB holding – I didn’t notice the Packers getting away with tons of holding, but that is something I could have missed. If they did, the Eagles OL should have done a better job of holding when they had the chance. As Bill Davis says, you adjust to how the officials are calling the game.

* Eagles vs teams with winning records – This topic needs a full post.

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Losing games like the team did on Sunday can get the best of us. Please keep things civil and friendly in the comments section. We don’t always have to agree, but don’t let things get personal. You can argue without attacking.

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Group Failure

Posted: November 17th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 277 Comments »

Don’t blame Bradley Fletcher. Or Mark Sanchez. Blame the Philadelphia Eagles. Sunday’s blowout loss was not on one player or even a few guys. That was a total team breakdown. The Eagles were outplayed on offense, defense and STs. When the bright spot for the game is that no one died, I think that gives you an idea just what an ugly day it was.

Look at how my goals shifted over time:

4pm – Win the game, constantly pressure Aaron Rodgers and make him regret ever taking the field against us.

430pm – Please don’t give up any more deep balls to Jordy Nelson

5pm – Let’s win with an exciting comeback

530pm – If we have to lose, let’s at least make it a shootout

6pm – Let’s score a TD

630pm – Keep them under 40

7pm – Keep them under 50

So I pretty much went 0 for the night. Ugh.

I really thought the Eagles would win or lose a close game. I didn’t anticipate a blowout at all. The Packers played their best game of the year and the Eagles simply had no answer. The Packers destroyed the Bears last week even worse, but it sure looked like Chicago gave up in that game. The Eagles played hard for 60 minutes. No matter what they tried, the Packers had an answer.

I’m not sure whether to be encouraged or bothered by the total team collapse. Think back to the Chargers game from last year. The Eagles lost 33-30. If the defense had just made one or two plays, the team would have won. Remember the first Dallas game. The Eagles lost that 17-3. The defense played well, but the offense was dreadful. With even a decent showing by them, the team could have won. Yesterday was a team failure.

Green Bay won every quarter. The Eagles “only” lost the 3rd quarter 9-7. That’s the bright spot. Ugh. The Packers had a TD of at least 27 yards in every quarter. Ugh.

Let’s talk about some of the mistakes.

* Mark Sanchez – Did not play well. He threw 2 INTs and was involved in 2 fumbles. Beyond those, he missed a wide open Riley Cooper for a long TD and Darren Sproles open in the flat for what might have turned into a TD. The pick that went to Julius Peppers and was returned for a TD was the low point for me. Sanchez is a veteran. He has to know better on that play. That was all on him. A lot of people are milking the bad snap play as some sort of new Butt Fumble moment. “This just proves he sucks!!!” No, it doesn’t. Let’s see him play for 6 weeks. Let’s judge a body of work, not his best or worst moments. Peyton Manning led the Broncos to 7 points yesterday. QBs can have bad moments and bad games.

* The OL – They had done a masterful job in pass pro for most of the year, but yesterday wasn’t pretty. Matt Tobin got beat early and that led to a sack that ended a promising drive. Jason Peters slipped and that freed up his man to blow up a play. Evan Mathis was called for holding on a run play (looked questionable to me). And so on.

* Jeremy Maclin – slipped on a comeback route and the pass was picked off.

* Josh Huff – dropped another pass. Failed to tackle PR Micah Hyde, who was right in front of him. Huff just whiffed and that turned into a 75-yd TD.

* Brad Smith – dropped a pass in the Red Zone. Might have set up a TD.

* Trent Cole – jumped offside on 3rd/23 which led to 3rd/18, which they converted. Ugh. Cole had a chance for a sack, but couldn’t get Rodgers down.

* Vinny Curry – failed to tackle Lacy after chasing him down yesterday on pass play. That was 7 points.

* Front seven in general – failed to win individual battles and get pressure on Rodgers. Forget sacks, they couldn’t get in his face or move him off the spot yesterday.

* Mychal Kendricks – missed tackle of someone over the middle.

* Bradley Fletcher – Got beaten repeatedly. Fell down while trying to cover Cobb on crossing route and he was wide open for easy catch and run. I think that was on a 3rd down. Cobb caught pass in front of him on 3rd down and Fletcher wasn’t able to make the tackle and force the punt. Drive kept going.

* Cary Williams – Had Cobb catch pass in front of him. Sat on his heels and Cobb moved upfield to get the 1st down. Infuriating to see that. Why wait? Go attack the ball.

* Nate Allen – got run over by Eddie Lacy on long TD play.

* STs – While Huff whiffed on what should have been a tackle, the other 10 guys on the field didn’t exactly help.

The sad thing about all of this is that I’m going off memory here. I know I’ve left some stuff out. That’s what an epic disaster Sunday was.

The funny thing about the beatdown is that it happened so quickly that it numbed me. I didn’t have time to get angry, the way I normally do when the Eagles lose, especially in a blowout. I sat here speechless, trying to figure out what was going on. I was furious when the Eagles lost to the Cardinals. That had me in a genuinely bad mood for a day or two. I’m not in a bad mood at all today. I will let go of this game very quickly.

Next week’s opponent is the Titans. They’re on Monday night football so be sure to watch so we can scout them for Sunday. Do anything you can to wipe away yesterday’s disaster from your memory.

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Dominated

Posted: November 16th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 202 Comments »

The Eagles simply got whipped on Sunday. Green Bay scored on offense, defense and STs. They controlled the LOS. They flat out dominated the Eagles and won 53-20.

Please don’t start ripping the team for playing with no heart or Chip Kelly not having the team ready to play. Those are generic criticisms sports fans use over and over without any real meaning or thought behind them. Green Bay won this game because of execution and talent, not effort. Aaron Rodgers made some sensational throws. Jordy Nelson made some impressive catches. Randall Cobb was able to elude tacklers after the catch on multiple plays. Their blockers did a great job of engaging defenders and sustaining blocks.

Domination.

This doesn’t mean the Eagles are suddenly a bad team or got exposed. Look around the NFL and just about every good has been blown out at some point this season. Green Bay lost at New Orleans 44-23.

The Eagles are still 7-3 and atop the NFC East. Dallas is also 7-3, but has a worse record within the division. This is still a good season and things are still wide open. The Eagles have to learn from the mistakes in today’s game and then quickly move on. All teams lose games. Good teams avoid losing streaks. Don’t ignore today’s problems, but also don’t obsess on today’s results. The Eagles weren’t the best team in the league after dominating the Panthers. They aren’t the worst team in the NFL after getting dominated by the Packers.

Green Bay was clearly the better team today. This was the best we’ve seen any opponent play all year. The Eagles can benefit from this. They know how well they need to play the next time they are in a big game. The Eagles have been sloppy all year, win or lose. That isn’t going to cut it in the postseason. You must be able to step your game up.

The Eagles saw what a real title contender looks like today. The Cardinals are 9-1,but I came away from that game frustrated that the Eagles didn’t win since Arizona didn’t really impress me. Today was different. I’m not even mad at the players for some of what happened today. When Rodgers plays like that, I’m not sure what you’re supposed to do.

The Eagles did make a ton of individual mistakes today and that is what turned this into a blowout. I’ll go more into that angle and talk about the play of Mark Sanchez later tonight or in the morning.

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