Posted: November 22nd, 2015 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 372 Comments »
I did not see this happening. The Bucs have 355 yards of offense in the 1st half. They are 6 for 9 on 3rd downs and the Red Zone hasn’t slowed them down at all.
The Eagles continue to be the kings of the “close doesn’t count” brigade. 2 almost INTs. One almost FR. A few almost pass completions. And so on.
All that means nothing.
Tampa is making plays.
Other than that, things are great.
Tampa has blown big leads before. The Eagles have made comebacks. So we’ll see what happens. But it sure doesn’t feel good right now.
Posted: November 22nd, 2015 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 367 Comments »
Make mistakes and you lose. Make plays and you win.
Sometimes the NFL is as simple as that. Take away the blocked punt from last week and there is a good chance the Eagles win. Take away any of several plays from the Dallas game and the Eagles might not win that. The Eagles are just that kind of team this year.
Most of the league is like that, actually. Tampa could have lost last week very easily, but just happened to have one more thing go their way than Dallas did (which makes us all happy).
I think the Eagles are better than the Bucs, but if the Eagles make mistakes, they will lose. Simple as that. Nobody plays a perfect game, but I’m talking about key mistakes. An illegal shift penalty that wipes out a TD is very different than one that just turns 1st/10 into 1st/15.
The Eagles have made some critical mistakes in close losses. Eliminate them and this team is winning.
That still doesn’t solve the issue that this team isn’t playing at the level we expected. This team wasn’t supposed to win. It was supposed to be outstanding. We’ve only seen flashes of that.
At this point we have to focus on just winning, ugly or not.
Here is the game preview I wrote for PE.com.
We now know the inactives.
QB Sam Bradford
RB Ryan Mathews
OL Tanner Hawkinson
OL Josh Andrews
DL Brandon Bair
LB Emmanuel Acho
DB Denzel Rice
Obviously that means big news…Ed Reynolds is active.
Oh and so is Jason Peters. He’ll be the LT, which moves Lane Johnson back to the right side. Let’s hope this version of the OL plays better than last week. Not having to face Ndamukong Suh will help. That guy is a friggin monster.
Thad Lewis will be the backup QB.
Hopefully Lewis only plays if this is a blowout and he’s handing the ball off to Kenjon Barner late in the game.
Alright Sanchez…show us whatcha got.
Posted: November 21st, 2015 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 53 Comments »
Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Matt Barkley, Mark Sanchez and Sam Bradford have all played QB for Chip Kelly in the NFL. Based on what we’ve seen so far, Kelly is still looking for his QB.
Sanchez gets his first start of the 2015 season on Sunday. He played okay last week off the bench, except for a critical INT in the end zone. Some people blame Sanchez for throwing short on the final play, but that was due to pressure after Lane Johnson missed a block. Sanchez had to throw the ball to someone and take a chance.
You don’t want to make too much of Sanchez’s performance since he came off the bench (limited practice reps) and hadn’t played since late August. It would be tough not to be rusty given those circumstances.
Sunday will give us a better idea of where Sanchez really is. He might be better than the guy we saw last year. Or he might be exactly the same guy. Regardless, there is value in seeing how he plays and knowing whether he’s strictly a backup or might be worth a longer look. Seeing Sanchez run the offense will also provide some context for judging how Bradford played.
When we talk about the other QBs, they had different circumstances. Foles was throwing to DeSean Jackson and playing behind a healthy OL in 2013. Foles/Sanchez had a banged up OL last year and had some new faces in the receiving corps. This year, you have all kinds of changes, despite what Chip Kelly thinks.
It will be interesting to see how the guys respond to Sanchez, as a leader and QB. He’s more emotional. Maybe that brings out the best in some guys. Maybe it won’t mean a thing. Sanchez also adds mobility to the mix. He can actually keep the ball in the read-option and that will have some effect on defenses.
The point of all this is for Chip Kelly to find the right guy to run his offense. The more information he gets, it should help Chip to make better decisions about the future at QB. As we get closer to the offseason, we’ll start to talk more about next year and what the Eagles can/should do.
For now, Kelly is watching Sanchez and trying to do his best with this team.
Safety Jerome Couplin was placed on IR. Ed Reynolds was added to the roster.
Reynolds did some good things this summer, bu you just question if he has the right combination of athleticism and physicality to make it in the league. We don’t even know right now if he’ll be active for the game.
If Reynolds does play, he will mostly be involved with STs.
Good to hear, but players can be a terrible source of information.
Lewis will be the backup to Sanchez on Sunday. I’m kind of hoping we don’t find out about Lewis. Let’s see a whole game out of Sanchez before we move on to future Hall of Famer Thad Lewis.
Posted: November 20th, 2015 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 91 Comments »
Brandon Graham has had a wild journey since coming to the NFL in 2010. He’s had to deal with injuries, coaching changes, scheme changes, position changes and the weight of huge expectations. There were times when Graham looked like another 1st round bust.
But he never gave up.
Graham kept grinding.
He is now the starting LB on the right side of the Eagles defense. Two years ago, he looked so lost playing LB that I thought he would never make it in the 3-4. I thought I would have a better chance of dating Megan Fox, fresh off winning her first Nobel Prize. Sadly, Megan and I are left with nothing while BG is a player on the rise.
Evaluating Graham is tough. The first thing you look for with 3-4 OLBs is sacks. Those guys are paid to get to the
QB. Graham didn’t help matters by bragging that his goal was 2 sacks per game (32 for the year). Graham has not posted great numbers. He has 4.5 sacks and 3 FFs. Both are solid numbers after 9 games.
Bill Davis doesn’t sell out to attack the QB. He rushes 5 at times and does some blitzing, but the Eagles also rush 3 or 4 a decent amount of the time. That allows Davis to keep plenty of people in coverage. Davis is more interested in a combination of pressure and coverage than just pounding the QB (anti-Buddy Ryan theory).
Graham is a good pass rusher. He’s developed into an effective coverage LB, which really shocks me. Part of Graham’s development is due to working at the craft of football. Paul Domowitch wrote a good piece on that.
Graham said he goes into every game now with a strategy. He tries to be one or two moves ahead of his opponent, tries to know what to expect from him and how to beat it.
“We talk it out a lot more,” he said. “What I used to do, especially as a young guy, it was playing the game, but not really talking it out. Like, man, what’s my next move?
“What our coach (outside linebackers coach Bill McGovern) does a great job of is, he keeps reminding me, ‘What are you thinking for the next pass-rush move or the next set or the next drive?’
“You have to switch it up as a pass-rusher. You can’t be predictable. I know I’ve been bull-rushing everybody this year. So now it’s time to really start developing and do something different.”
Graham never was big on taking notes in meetings or while watching film. But the more time he spent around rookie linebacker Jordan Hicks, the more he saw the benefit in it.
That’s right. A sixth-year player learned something from a rookie.
“Before he got hurt, Jordan always had notes,” Graham said. “He’s a student of the game. Obviously, you can tell from the way he played that he knows what’s going on out there. He was ahead of the game as a rookie.
“He motivated me to take my game to another level. I took some notes before. But now, I take them all the time and I study them as much as I can.”
There is no shame in learning from a rookie. Take inspiration wherever you can get it. You never know when someone is going to have a great idea that can benefit you.
Graham is not a dominant pass rusher, but he has become a good LB. His development has helped the Eagles defense become a good unit. And Graham can still get better. It will be interesting to see what kind of player he is in a couple of years.
Interesting numbers from Domo’s column:
* The Bucs have a league-high 10 missed kicks this season – 2 PATs and 8 FG attempts. No other team has more than seven. The Eagles have six misses – 2 PATs and 4 FG attempts.
* Bucs rookie Jameis Winston, has the third lowest third-down passer rating in the league (64.1). The only two quarterbacks with at least 50 third-down attempts whose passer rating on third down is lower than Winston’s are the Eagles’ Sam Bradford (57.6) and the Lions’ Matthew Stafford. Six of Winston’s nine interceptions have come on third down.
* Five of Winston’s nine interceptions have come on 10- to 19-yard passes between the numbers, according to Pro Football Focus.
Winston threw 2 picks last week. Before that, he’d gone a while without any. He is very talented, but is still a rookie. 3rd down defense will be key in this game. The Eagles need to limit his effectiveness and make plays when they can.
Posted: November 19th, 2015 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 62 Comments »
It sure sounds like Mark Sanchez will be starting this week (and probably on Thanksgiving). It sounds like Jason Peters might be out this week. Ryan Mathews will likely miss the game as well. Wonderful, right?
We’re at a critical juncture in the season and key players are falling like flies. This is less than ideal. Can the Eagles win this week, and going forward, if they are missing key offensive players?
History has shown that teams can overcome injuries if the backups play reasonably well and the remaining starters do their part. Sanchez isn’t your typical backup QB. He’s got plenty of experience as a starter and knows the Eagles system very well. He’s not likely to make anyone forget Ron Jaworski or Donovan McNabb any time soon, but Sanchez put up okay numbers last year and had some good moments.
Mathews has been terrific this year, but was only the workhorse in one game. DeMarco Murray normally is the guy moving the chains, with Mathews stepping in to deliver fresh legs and some long runs. Without Mathews, the Eagles will mix in more of Darren Sproles and possibly Kenjon Barner. They will miss Mathews, but should still get solid production from the RBs.
The OL remains a mystery. Chip Kelly didn’t expect Jason Peters to practice on Thursday, but JP was out there and per Lane Johnson (via Les Bowen), it sounds like Peters will try to play.
“I think his back is feeling a little bit better than it has. I guess he’s expecting to go, as far as I know,” Johnson said. “He took a lot of reps today. He looked close to normal. That’s the most he’s done in a while.”
Isn’t this uncertainty a little difficult for the o-line, which played pretty well against Dallas with Johnson at left tackle and Dennis Kelly on the right, but was a disaster area against Miami?
“It’s tough, but it’s my job, so I just go out there and try to get used to it,” Johnson said. He added that moving from side to side, back and forth, “is a lot more difficult than people think it is.”
Johnson said he isn’t expecting this week’s Peters decision to come down to the final 90 minutes before the game, as last week’s did.
“I expect it’ll be a little bit different this week,” Johnson said.
This is a real Catch-22 situation. You want Peters on the field because he’s so good. But you also want continuity. Moving around during the practice week hurts all the guys it affects. I think the OL played well at Dallas because they practiced together. Last week Peters was at LT some of the time, with Johnson going back to the right side. Then on gameday Johnson has to switch and Dennis Kelly is back in the lineup. The OL struggled.
If Peters is going to practice, let’s hope he plays.
This offense can be successful. Murray is still a good RB. Brent Celek and Zach Ertz are good TEs. Sproles can be a playmaker. The WRs aren’t having a great year, but Jordan Matthews can move the chains and Josh Huff has flashed some playmaking ability. It would really help if Nelson Agholor would get back to 100 percent and start to really contribute. He’s got the best combination of size, speed, skill and athleticism.
The key is Sanchez.
Last year Sanchez took over against Houston and then made his first start vs Carolina. The Eagles could not run the ball in that game, but Sanchez played well, going 20-37-332 with 2 TDs and no picks. The Eagles got up 45-7 before winning 45-21.
He doesn’t need to be great for the Eagles to score points and win, but he needs to limit mistakes and make some plays. Both are a challenge for Sanchez. We’ll find out just how much he’s improved since last year, if at all.
Just how different are Sanchez and Bradford? The numbers are pretty similar.
Sanchez did have one advantage last year. The offense seemed to be clicking. He took over and the offense continued to click, at first. As the competition got better, things became erratic.
This year the offense has been erratic all year. The hope is that Sanchez will somehow get the group to play more consistently.
Sanchez will need help. He needs the guys around him to quit dropping passes and having dumb penalties. Maybe the change at QB will be the spark the other players need to get going and come alive. Sometimes a QB change, whether a coach’s decision or through injury, can give a team some life.
Soon enough, we’ll find out if that’s the case with the Eagles.
Actually, the last 5 times.
As wide open as the NFC is this year, this could be another addition to that list.
Gus was a great assistant. Hasn’t worked out so far as head coach. Currently losing to 2-7 Titans and their rookie QB.