The Time Machine

Posted: October 9th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 276 Comments »

The Eagles have had some 2nd half struggles this season. They gave up a lot of points to the Chiefs and the Giants, especially in the 4th quarter. The Eagles lost in KC and almost blew the Giants game.

Last week the Eagles ate up the final 6:44 of the game to seal the win over the Chargers.

On Sunday the Eagles were up at halftime 21-7. They opened the 2nd half with a 5:42 drive that ended with a Jake Elliott field goal. That put the Eagles up 24-7 and it had to be disheartening to the trailing Cardinals. The Eagles were up 31-7 in the 4th quarter when they got the ball back with 11:14 left on the clock. The Eagles then had a 13-play drive that ate up 9:14.

It is awfully hard for a team to come back when they can’t get the ball back to their offense.

The Eagles have big play ability, as you saw on Sunday, but they also can move the ball methodically and really work the clock. This is important. It keeps the other offense off the field and it shortens the game. The key to this is being able to run the ball and convert on 3rd downs. Carson Wentz and the offense have been masterful on 3rd downs this year, especially the last couple of weeks.

The offensive line has done a strong job of protecting Wentz. Give him a clean pocket and he will find someone to get the ball to. Eagles receivers have gotten open and they’ve caught the ball when it comes to them. Give the coaches credit for calling good plays. It also helps that Wentz can run for a 1st down when that is needed.

A big reason for the 4-1 start is the offense’s ability to move the chains, score points and shorten games. It will be interesting to see if they can keep this up.

*****

Patrick Robinson did not have a good spring. He was up and down in the summer, until moving into the slot. That seemed to make him comfortable and he began to play well. Robinson has arguably been the Eagles best CB this season.

Jim Schwartz moved him outside against the Cardinals. Rasul Douglas wasn’t a great fit against Arizona’s speedy receivers. Robinson moved outside and the Eagles put Malcolm Jenkins in the slot against Larry Fitzgerald on a regular basis. Douglas did play. Schwartz mixed and matched throughout the game, but it was interesting to see Robinson play so much on the outside.

As for Fitzgerald, he finished 6-51, but he was 2-20 on the final drive when the Eagles were playing prevent D with a lot of backups. It is rare for Fitzgerald not to destroy the Eagles. He seems to love playing against the guys in green.

I wondered if this might happen, and also how Robinson would fare when getting out of his comfort zone. Robinson had a terrific game. He had 4 solo tackles and broke up 3 passes. One of the tackles was a 4th down stop that ended a drive. One of the other tackles came on 3rd down and forced a punt. Robinson also contributed on STs, blocking a FG at the end of the 1st half.

Robinson should have had at least one INT. I’m sure Jim Schwartz will let him know that PBUs are good, but INTs are better. Robinson also had one bad moment late, when he missed a tackle and allowed a WR to get by him.

The Panthers have some big receivers so I think Douglas will go outside and Robinson will move back to the slot. So far, Robinson has played well no matter where the Eagles have lined him up.

*****

Kenjon Barner had a great game against the Cards. He returned three punts for 110 total yards (36.7 per PR). The long run went for 76 yards and took the Eagles from their own 10-yard line to the Arizona 14-yard line. That return set up the Eagles second TD of the game.

Barner ran 5 times for 23 yards. He drew a PI penalty on a LB in the 2nd half that helped the Eagles score more points.

The team doesn’t need Barner to turn into Gale Sayers, but he can help quite a bit if he is able to contribute on offense and STs. He made key plays on Sunday, so that’s a bonus.

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Butt-Kicking

Posted: October 8th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 479 Comments »

The Eagles didn’t mess around on Sunday. They were the better team going into the game and they played like it all game long.

Carson Wentz threw 4 TD passes, including big plays to Torrey Smith and Nelson Agholor. The Eagles OL controlled the line of scrimmage for much of the game and the run game was effective. The defense gave up nothing on the ground and made the Cardinals earn every yard through the air, until backups gave up some garbage yards late in the game.

And don’t forget about STs. Dave Fipp’s units dominated. Kenjon Barner had 110 punt return yards. Patrick Robinson blocked a FG. The coverage units were outstanding.

This was a butt-kicking.

The Cardinals were lucky to be 2-2. Injuries have really hurt them and anyone watching the game today could see how flawed Arizona is. They have issues on offense, defense and STs.

The Eagles played their first complete game of the year. It wasn’t perfect, but you saw the Eagles making plays where they had been close in recent weeks. You could sense this team was going to have a breakthrough game at some point. That happened Sunday.

Today’s win improved the Eagles to 4-1 on the season. They now have a three-game winning streak. They are 2-0 in the division and 3-0 in the NFC. It is too early to think too much about playoffs, but the Eagles are winning the right games and putting themselves in good position.

There isn’t a whole lot of time to celebrate this win. The team will play at Carolina on Thursday night in a battle of 4-1 teams. That is going to be the biggest game of the year so far.

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Gameday – ARZ at PHL

Posted: October 8th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 607 Comments »

Here are your inactives for today.

No Smallwood hurts the passing game. No Watkins may or may not be a big deal. I wasn’t sure if Jim Schwartz would play him over Rasul Douglas. Now we don’t have to worry about that.

Two of the guys on the FOX pregame show picked the Eagles as their lock to win. Ugh. That makes me nervous as heck.

Here we go…

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Hidden Rivals

Posted: October 8th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 63 Comments »

Eagles-Cowboys. Eagles-Giants. Those are the two big rivalries we think of for this organization. The Cardinals were a division rival for a long time, but that changed in 2002 when they moved to the NFC West.

The Eagles and Cardinals don’t play every year, but when they do play, the games are interesting. Big plays. Weird touchdowns. Injuries. Strange matchups. Comebacks. We’ve seen it all.

I wrote a game preview for PE.com and talked about how this game has proven to be meaningful to whether the Eagles make it to the playoffs. That doesn’t mean a win today puts them in or a loss puts them out, but the recent trend is that the outcome of this game can be important.

This is a different Eagles team so we’ll see what that means.

In recent years, the Cardinals seemed to bring out the worst in the Eagles. There were times when Arizona was flat out the better team, but then there were times like 2011 when the Cardinals had no business winning, but still did.

As I talked about in the preview, the Eagles have had some good tests so far this season. Playing against the Cardinals today will be another one. Can the Eagles find a way to play a good game vs those guys? Can they continue winning and get to 4-1? How will this secondary deal with speedy receivers? Can the Eagles pass rush, without Fletcher Cox, take over a game against a poor OL?

This should be an interesting game.

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Air Attack

Posted: October 7th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 52 Comments »

The Eagles secondary better be ready on Sunday. Carson Palmer has thrown 183 passes this year. He’s been sacked 17 times. That is 200 called pass plays in four games. 50 called passes per game.

The Cardinals have no run game right now so they have to rely on Carson Palmer and the air attack to move the ball. This is going to make for one heck of a challenge for the secondary.

One bit of good news is that it sounds like Jaylen Watkins and Corey Graham will return to action. Those guys aren’t great DBs, but they are veterans and they give Jim Schwartz options. He can put together a gameplan that uses the various DBs.

Schwartz can have Graham play and then put Malcolm Jenkins on Larry Fitzgerald if he wants. Schwartz could put Watkins at CB and then move Rasul Douglas into the slot to play Fitzgerald. I don’t think that is likely, but Douglas has the size to match up well.

Schwartz can mix and match his DBs. He can rotate them if he wants. When you don’t have clear cut stud CBs, you have to be creative with your players.

Arizona presents a serious challenge because they have speedy WRs on the outside and Fitzgerald over the middle. The Eagles corners lack ideal speed so they almost have to play off and give cushion to the receivers. That can work, but requires the CBs to tackle well.

They also become susceptible to double moves. Eagles corners like to break on the ball. That’s what Schwartz wants them to do, but a well executed double move can leave the CB flying up while the receiver goes deep.

This game is going to require discipline from the DBs.

Last week there were breakdowns by multiple players in the back seven. Those mistakes have to be fixed. The Safeties must keep things in front of them. Players must take good angles to the ball. The Cardinals will struggle to score points if you force them to move the ball methodically. They need big plays.

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