Playoff Talk

Posted: December 16th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 167 Comments »

The Eagles are 9-5 and in 7th place in the NFC. The top 6 spots go to playoff teams. With some help, the Eagles can get in the playoffs. Heck, if Dallas loses to Indy or the Skins, the Eagles can still win the division by winning their final 2 games. This isn’t like some crazy 2008 scenario where the Eagles needed multiple things to happen on the final day to squeeze in. I still remember my buddy Matt talking me off the ledge that day as some of the games were back and forth. When the dust settled, the Eagles were in the playoffs and they came close to making the Super Bowl.

Some people question whether the Eagles should even want to make the playoffs. This certainly doesn’t look like a Super Bowl team. Why not get a better draft pick?

Last year the Cardinals went 10-6 and missed the playoffs. They had the #20 pick (and traded it). The Eagles won the NFC East and had the #22 pick (and traded it). The Eagles aren’t going to have a high pick no matter what. The team is 9-5. They would have the #20 pick if the season ended today. Dallas is at #25. Even if the Eagles go 9-7, the pick is still going to be in the 18-20 range. There is no “Tank for Mariota” possibility.

I believe there is always value in making the playoffs. First, you never know when the matchups are going to break right for you and you can win a game or two. You don’t have to be 13-3 to have success in the postseason. I’ll always ask for a playoff berth and then hope for some playoff magic.

I think there is also value to getting players playoff experience. Rarely does a team win the Super Bowl in their first playoff trip in an extended period. Last year was Seattle’s third trip in 4 years. The 2012 Ravens won the SB in their 5th straight year in the playoffs. The 2010 Packers won in their third trip in 4 years. There is no guarantee that making the playoffs will lead to postseason success in the future, but it certainly doesn’t seem to hurt.

Playoff football is different that regular season football. I think it is important for coaches and players to experience as much of that as possible. Just because the Eagles don’t seem likely to win the SB this year doesn’t mean there’s no value to being in the playoffs.

I think playoff trips help with culture building. It gives the coaches beliefs more validity to people, both on the inside and outside. There are some critics once again talking about Chip Kelly’s ideas and how they fit in the NFL. He’s on the verge of going to the playoffs for the second time in 2 years. Let me put that in perspective. Jeff Fisher, Mr. NFL, has made the playoffs twice in the past 12 years. The more success Kelly has, the more people will buy into his ideas.

I also think the playoffs are just fun. Yeah, it sucked losing to the Saints last year, but would you rather feel that or be a Buffalo fan who hasn’t made the playoffs since 1999. Detroit has only made it once since 1999. Skins fans have only watched their team in the playoffs 4 times in the last 22 years. The Eagles were in the playoffs 4 of the previous 6 seasons and might make it again this year.

Making the playoffs is no substitute for winning the Super Bowl, but those scenarios work hand-in-hand, not opposed to each other. This isn’t like I’m a college basketball fan bragging about NIT titles. The first step to getting to the Super Bowl is making the playoffs. I know some of you could argue that there is a benefit to bottoming out and getting a high pick. The Eagles did that in 2012 and got Lane Johnson for their troubles. This team has a lot of key pieces in place. The problems that do exist don’t have to be solved by high picks. I’d love for the Eagles to have a true, unquestioned franchise QB, but just because you draft high doesn’t mean you’ll get one. See Mark Sanchez for example 1.

This Eagles team is flawed, but I hope they still make the playoffs. You never know what will happen in January and that’s what makes it so fun.

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Monday Night Misc

Posted: December 16th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 244 Comments »

Chip Kelly had a bit of a testy press conference today. You can watch the full thing over on PE.com. I try to watch all of his PCs. A lot of times, Chip says insightful things. Other times he’s just interesting. Today was, well, testy.

That is what happens when you lose to Dallas in a big game. The fans want answers and the media goes looking for them. Is Bradley Fletcher getting benched? Why not? How is Nick Foles? What happened on on Sunday night? And so on.

Fletcher stays at LCB. I don’t fully understand this. I get that Kelly and the staff are loyal to Fletcher. He isn’t an underachiever. Fletcher is a guy maxing out his ability. He’s just not that good. He competes every play and never gets down on himself. You love the intangibles, but I don’t understand how Nolan Carroll isn’t given a shot to win the job. Kelly says they view Carroll as a starter because of his role as a Dime LB and the fact he’s on the field a lot. Carroll could easily play some LCB and then come inside for LB in the Dime. The Eagles trust their LBs and DL to play all types of different roles, but really prefer their DBs to be specialists.

Foles is still hurt. He won’t be practicing this week. In my mind, that means he’s done. He could possibly practice next week, but I don’t think they’d let him play in the season finale after being out so long. And I find it hard to believe they’d put him out there in a playoff game for his first start in months, assuming the Eagles even make the playoffs.

The Mark Sanchez theme now becomes this.

Trent Cole suffered a hand injury and may be done for the year. That would be wild. He hasn’t missed a game since 2011. You don’t know a lot when it comes to the Eagles defense except that #58 will be out there busting his hump on every single snap. It would be interesting to see how Brandon Graham would respond to getting more playing time. Would he get even more productive or would the extra snaps wear him down and limit his effectiveness?

I’m also curious how this would affect Marcus Smith. Would them leave him inside, where the team lacks ideal depth? Bryan Braman can play OLB and would be the #3 guy if that happens. Or the coaches could decide to slide Smith outside and hope that Kendricks/Matthews/Acho is good enough inside. Stay tuned to see if the report on Cole is accurate and what happens if it is true.

Kelly tried to explain some of the defensive breakdowns. A lot of the problems boiled down to the Eagles having to pick their poison and Dallas then finding the player that gave them the biggest advantage. My only complaint with this is that the Eagles could have moved the FS over to help on Dez inside the 40. Or they could have flopped Williams and Fletcher, which is what they did eventually. Those are hardly foolproof strategies, but they would have been better than what the coaches chose instead.

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The Blame Game

Posted: December 15th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 468 Comments »

There are a lot of things to talk about this week. When you lose a key game and it’s to Dallas, there are going to be lots of issues that need discussing. What happened? Why did it happens? What does it mean? What’s next/ We can’t get to them all at once so try to be patient.

First, let’s talk about the game. The Eagles lost for a variety of reasons. You can blame Mark Sanchez or Bradley Fletcher or the coaches. There were Cary Williams penalties, Brent Celek’s fumble and the non-fielded kickoff. And on and on. This was another sloppy performance in a big game. You just can’t win like that.

A lot of you are fired up after this game and you want heads to roll. I completely understand that. I was emotional last night as well. I struggled to fall asleep because my mind was racing all over the place. But it is now Monday morning. You have to let the anger go. It is time to be rational. Benching players and firing coaches isn’t going to solve anything right now.

Mark Sanchez has shown what he is…a competent starter or a good backup. That’s it. He’s 3-3 as the Eagles starter, but those losses are to SEA, GB and DAL…3 pretty good teams. I would have no problem at all bringing him back as the backup in 2015. Sanchez wasn’t awful last night. The team did score 27 points and he made some good throws. The problem is that he makes too many mistakes: missed reads, errant throws, poor pocket presence, poor situational awareness, etc.

When facing good teams, Sanchez is going to struggle. The good team is either going to have a good defense which will make life hard for him or a good offense which means he’s got to lead his offense to a lot of points.

The Eagles still might make the playoffs, but obviously aren’t going far with Sanchez. The team needs Nick Foles back. I talked about this last night and some of you ripped me for that. I’m not promising you Foles is going to come back and be the savior. I don’t know what Foles is going to do. I do know Sanchez. Foles is the best hope for now. The ideal situation would be Sanchez starting this week and then Foles getting the season finale to knock off some rust before heading into the playoffs. We don’t know that Foles will heal in time, nor do we know the Eagles make the playoffs so that scenario may be totally off.

Let’s talk about Bradley Fletcher. He’d played better in recent weeks, but got lit up last night. In his defense, that was Dez Bryant, one of the better WRs in the league. Dez is capable of making plays when you’re at your best. Jeremy Maclin feasts on mistakes by the D. Dez can tell you the ball is coming to him and you still can’t stop it at times. He’s special.

Fletcher plays hard and is the kind of guy you want to succeed, but he’s just got limitations. I have been disappointed that the coaches haven’t given Nolan Carroll more of a shot at LCB. That’s not to say Carroll would definitely be better. He might turn out to be the same guy. But I’d like to see him get a shot. We know who/what Fletcher is.

Bill Davis didn’t have his best game. I don’t understand why he wasn’t giving Fletcher more Safety help in certain situations. That said, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. You want to give a veteran QB like Romo a lot of different looks to keep him off balance. You also have to deal with the fact that Dallas has multiple weapons. You can’t shut down everyone. On Thanksgiving, the Eagles won more individual battles and that’s why the defense was so good that day. Last night, they didn’t win nearly as many battles. No matter what strategy a coach uses, he needs the players to win on the field.

Chip Kelly and the coaches will study the tape and look for solvable problems. They can’t make a franchise QB or stud CB magically appear. They can fix some little things that will help the Eagles out this week. And while we talk big picture, the focus in the NovaCare Complex will quickly shift to Washington. That is now a must-win game. The pressure will be all on the Eagles.

One of the reasons the Eagles have avoided losing streaks so well under Kelly is their ability to compartmentalize. They’ll file away the Dallas loss. That toothpaste is out of the tube and there’s no getting it back in. You have to move on and deal with what you can control. Losing to Dallas sucks, but life goes on. The team is 9-5 and still alive for the playoffs. Things could be a lot worse. I can link to some of my 2012 posts if you don’t believe me.

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Barf

Posted: December 15th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 261 Comments »

The Eagles came up small in a big game, losing to Dallas 38-27. Frustrating game. It was great to see the team battle back from being down 21-0 and actually take the lead. Unfortunately they had no answer for Dez Bryant and the Eagles turnover problem once again proved very costly.

In a word, ugh.

This doesn’t mean the season is over. This does mean the Eagles need help if they want to win the division or get a wild card berth. The key for now is to win the final 2 games and finish 11-5. That guarantees nothing, but puts them in position to take advantage of whatever breaks may come their way.

The bottom line with this team is that it is good, but not good enough to overcome the mistakes they’ve been making all year. Turnovers and coverage breakdowns are game-changing types of plays. You have to be exceptionally good to make those mistakes and beat good teams. The Eagles didn’t do that vs SF, ARZ, GB, SEA and DAL.

Let’s hope Nick Foles gets healthy in a hurry. I know he’s had his issues this year, but Mark Sanchez has really shown his limitations.

This is going to be a long, crappy week. The media will be blowing sunshine up Dallas’s skirt like nobody’s business. And there’s nothing we can say about it. They won. Barf.

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DAL 21, PHI 10 – 2nd Half

Posted: December 14th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1,184 Comments »

Dreadful 1st quarter. Whatever could go wrong, did go wrong. The Eagles came alive in the 2nd quarter, but still need to play a lot better.

The defense allowed Dallas to convert the first 4 times they faced 3rd down situations. That is the game as much as anything. You just can’t let Dallas keep their offense on the field. The Eagles did stop them the final 2 times so maybe that offers hope for the 2nd half.

The Eagles need a player or two to step up and make plays. The TEs helped the offense come alive in the 2nd Qtr. Connor Barwin got a key sack. We need more of that. And stop with the penalties. Ugh.

Go Eagles.

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