Playoff Perspective

Posted: January 7th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 243 Comments »

Wild Card Weekend is in the books.

ATL 26
LAR 13

NO 31
CAR 26

Do you feel better or worse about the Eagles now?

I came away feeling better.

If any of the teams had played at a high level, it would have been disconcerting. That just wasn’t the case. The Falcons pulled off the upset, but had plenty of help from the Rams. LA was very sloppy, turning the ball over twice and making more mistakes than they normally do.

Atlanta ran the ball pretty well and played good defense. Still, the Rams helped them out by having some playoff jitters. Todd Gurley was a weapon in the passing game all year. He was targeted 10 times on Saturday and only produced 10 yards. That’s not good. Give LB Deion Jones some credit for sure, but part of that was on Gurley, Goff and the Rams.

The Saints are the team that everyone wants to proclaim as the team to beat. They have a pair of outstanding RBs. They play solid defense. And they have Drew Brees. But something still feels off with this team and you could see that on Sunday.

New Orleans got out to a 21-6 lead. They still couldn’t put the game away. Carolina had a chance to win at the end.

The Panthers took away the Saints dominant run game and forced Brees to beat them. The future Hall of Fame QB was 23-33-376 and played really well. As good as he was, Carolina had that game right there for the taking. They just couldn’t make the key plays on that final drive.

And it wasn’t like Carolina played great. They dropped a TD on the opening series. That was followed by a missed FG (25-yarder!!!). Cam Newton was late on a throw to Greg Olsen that could have been a TD. The Panthers dropped a potential INT and later picked off a pass they should have dropped.

The Saints won a tough game and should certainly be happy about that, but they hardly looked like a juggernaut.

The Eagles can win on Saturday, when they host the Falcons. You can’t assume that will happen just because the Eagles are the higher seed and beat the Falcons a year ago. The playoffs are a whole other season. Just because something happened in October or November doesn’t mean it will hold true in January.

One of the issues for the Rams was a lack of playoff experience. They had six players with playoff experience and none amongst the stars (Goff, Gurley, Kupp, Woods, Donald, Quinn, Johnson). By comparison, the Eagles have four players who have been Super Bowl champions.

As I see it, the NFC is wide open. There is no clear favorite.

That’s a good thing with Nick Foles at the helm. He’s not going to beat any juggernaut teams. It also is frustrating to not have Wentz playing because the Eagles might be serious favorites with him against this group.

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The Eagles played great defense in 1980 and 2000.

The game in 1995 was one of those Perfect Night scenarios. Detroit just kept turning the ball over and the Eagles just kept making plays. The score was 58-37 and the game wasn’t even that close. If Ray Rhodes didn’t call off the dogs, might have scored 70. One of my all-time favorite games. Absolute madness.

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Cool piece here from PE.com. Another segment of the Unscripted series, a behind the scenes look at the final four regular season games. Love pieces like this.

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Atlanta It Is

Posted: January 6th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 393 Comments »

The Falcons went to LA and beat the Rams. Their reward, a trip to Philly next Saturday.

Atlanta is the favorite according to the oddsmakers. That’s just fine. The Eagles will use that as motivation.

This is the best possible situation. The Falcons are a good, but flawed team. The Eagles beat them a year ago and really stifled that offense. Doesn’t guarantee it will happen again, but this is better than facing the Panthers or Saints.

I don’t know about you, but I’m already excited. Playoff football is a whole other level of intensity.

*****

Big Red lost an ugly one in the early game.

What’s the point in having Kareem Hunt if you don’t feed him the ball?

Ugh.

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Getting Poached

Posted: January 6th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 348 Comments »

With winning comes being wanted.

I don’t really see the fit with Jim Schwartz, but I don’t blame him for talking to them. There are only 32 coaching jobs so candidates can’t be picky. He is supposedly still in the running for the Giants job. There was talk of him as the favorite, but that seems to have died down.

Flip makes more sense, if the Cardinals want to draft and develop a young QB. They have the 15th overall pick, which isn’t ideal, but there still could be a QB or two worth taking a chance on. The Cardinals have had good defenses in recent years with different defensive coordinators. That organization needs a young QB to build around more than anything. The Rams, Niners and Seahawks have stud QBs. If you’re going to compete with them you need a QB.

This makes total sense to me. Flip could work with Mitchell Trubisky, who showed real promise this year. The Bears have some good OL pieces and talented RBs. They need to develop some receivers, but that offense could take a big step forward with the right coach.

If I had to guess right now, I’d lean toward Schwartz returning and Flip getting a job.

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Texans GM Rick Smith is taking a year off to help his wife deal with breast cancer. Smith might never be coming back so the team is looking for a replacement.

Douglas is ready to be a GM. His time with the Ravens helped him learn how to evaluate and assess talent. He spent time with the Bears and saw how things worked in a different organization.

Douglas has been with the Eagles for more than a year now. He has seen how Howie Roseman works aggressively as a trader and dealmaker. That’s something Douglas hadn’t been exposed to previously. Douglas has also learned how to deal with the media, something a GM must do.

The Eagles could offer Douglas more money or a new title, but he wants control. Douglas wants to be The Guy, as all personnel men do. That isn’t going to happen with Roseman in place. Roseman has given up some power, but he’s not giving up complete control.

Losing Douglas would hurt. He’s helped the Eagles to bring in some good football players. At the same time, I don’t think his value has risen to the point where he is irreplaceable. The Eagles should do what they can to try to keep Douglas around, but he’s going to leave at some point. Some team will have the right situation and make him the right offer.

We’ll see if Houston is that team.

I certainly hope not.

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Chase Stuart of Football Perspective is an analytics guru. He posted some team efficiency rankings today.

The Eagles were 11th in passing offense, 7th in rushing offense, 5th in pass defense and 6th in run defense. They came in 4th overall, behind New Orleans, Minnesota and Jacksonville.

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Here are some of my thoughts on Wild Card Weekend.  Go Falcons.

There is hope…

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Big Honor for the Big Boys

Posted: January 5th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 85 Comments »

Carson Wentz gets most of the attention, but the Eagles don’t win 13 games and score eleventy billion points without the Big Sexies doing a good job up front. Today, a couple of them got the recognition they deserved.

Kelce is All-Pro, but wasn’t voted a starter on the Pro Bowl. What’s the difference? The All-Pro teams are selected by people who know the game well. The Pro Bowl is more of a popularity contest. It is still an honor to be voted to the Pro Bowl, but being an All-Pro player is special.

Johnson made both teams, which tells you just how amazing of a season he had.

How crazy is that?

Some will argue that Wentz should have been the top QB. Losing out to Tom Brady, who is having a great season, is hardly something to feel bad about. If Wentz started 15 or 16 games, he would have gotten more support.

As for the rest of the team…

The only player who can feel somewhat robbed is Zach Ertz. He has developed into one of the best TEs in the league. The problem is that Rob Gronkowski is going to be the All-Pro guy. Everyone else is fighting for second place. Travis Kelce got the nod for that. He posted better numbers than Ertz and is a more physically dominant player so I can see where he was selected. Still, it is surprising that Ertz didn’t get any votes.

Back to the OL for a second.

Four of the five primary starters had a good season. Kelce and Johnson were All-Pro. Brandon Brooks was a Pro Bowl selection. Stefen Wisniewski didn’t play at that level, but had a good season. He brought stability and cohesion to the OL.

Halapoulivaati Vaitai was inconsistent and the weakest starter. He was still an effective starter. Think back to Demetress Bell in 2012 for an idea of what an ineffective LT looks like. Vaitai was good at times, but got beaten more often than you want.

The Eagles need the OL to get back to playing good football. They were too up and down late in the season and that hurt the offense. Foles got hit more than you want and the holes just were there in the run game.

Kelce and Johnson need to lead the way and to play like All-Pros if the team is going to have postseason success. Your best players must shine.

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Good pieces from PE.com.

Greg Cosell shows you how Nick Foles has success.

As he shows, one of the real keys is having things work in rhythm. That means a good snap, good blocking and receiver running good routes. When Foles can plant his back foot and throw on time, the offense looks good. That just wasn’t happening enough in the last two weeks.

Dave Fipp breaks down the STs highlights of the year.

The team could sure use a big play from Fipp’s STs next week. Would love to see him come up with a great design that can impact the game.

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Is Doug Ready?

Posted: January 4th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 162 Comments »

We talk a lot about Nick Foles and whether the Eagles are ready for the postseason. There is also the question of how Doug Pederson will do.

Pederson guided the Eagles to a 7-9 record in 2016 and a 13-3 record this season. He should be a strong candidate for Coach of the Year. I think in his two seasons he has proven that he can motivate and lead a team. He can put together an effective gameplan and is a good play-caller. This year he’s taken a big step forward with strategy and being aggressive. Pederson is a quality head coach.

Coaches, like QBs, are heavily evaluated on what they do in the postseason. Who is a better head coach, Marty Schottenheimer or Tom Coughlin? I would take Schottenheimer in a second, but Coughlin has two rings and is the guy who most people would choose.

Not having Carson Wentz changes things in a big way, but Pederson will still be judged on how his team plays. If they win a game or two, his reputation will grow even bigger. If they lose in the divisional round, but the game is competitive, he’ll get credit for doing his best. If the team lays an egg, the critics will be talking about how Wentz carries him and Pederson is an average coach.

If the Eagles win the Super Bowl, Pederson is made Lord of Pennsylvania and rules the region for the rest of his life.

Is Pederson ready for the postseason?

He was the offensive coordinator in KC from 2013-2015. The Chiefs went 1-2 and never advanced to the AFC title game. As an assistant in Philly from 2009-2012, Pederson was 0-2 in playoff games. Those losses came in the wild card round in 2009 and 2010. You have to go all the way back to 1996 and 1997 to see him as part of teams having real postseason success. The Packers won the Super Bowl in 1996 and then lost in the Super Bowl in 1997.

Coaches don’t need a ton of experience to do well in the playoffs. It doesn’t hurt, obviously, but it isn’t a requirement.

One of the things I like most about Pederson is that he seems to be his own man. He spent a lot of time with Andy Reid, but is far from a clone of Big Red. Pederson mixes in offensive concepts from Chip Kelly and college coaches. He has a very open mind to analytics and was aggressive on 4th downs this year. Pederson seems to be more open-minded than most coaches.

I hope Pederson has learned from the playoff teams he’s been a part of over the years. He seems to be a coach who is able to honestly evaluate what happens and adjust accordingly. We’ll have to wait and see if he can take those lessons and turn them into positive results.

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I disagree with Brandon here.

Kamu had an unfair advantage. He was kicking the ball and knew exactly where it would go. That had to make it easier for him to go down and make the tackle.

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This has nothing to do with the Eagles. Just, wow.

One unpleasant thought…Belichick leaves the Patriots when the season is over. He goes to the Giants and takes over as coach. He wouldn’t have Tom Brady, but I don’t think you’d want any part of dealing with BB in your division.

Sounds like it is going to be a wild offseason in Beantown.

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