11 November 2016

On Hiatus

This blog is on hiatus for the time being. I'm not sure when - or if - I'll be back.

Football doesn't seem very important right now.


07 November 2016

A Tale of Two Turnovers

Philadelphia Eagles 23, New York Giants 28, Sunday, November 6, 2016

"But wait!" you say. "Didn't BOTH teams have two turnovers?"

They did, but Results May Vary.

Was hoping to get a pic of the pick, but this will have to do
Stud of the week: Jordan Hicks. It's been great to the see sophomore linebacker back on the field this year. He recorded five solo tackles, two assists, and a critical pick that gave the Birds a chance to win it at the end. It's not *his* fault they couldn't do anything with it. Shout out also to Nigel Bradham who was involved in TEN tackles. Even Troy and Joe, The Idiot Twins (who were commentating) were impressed. (And for Troy apologists, I refer you to BGN's weekly 10 Things post - be sure to read to the end.)

So about those turnovers: the G-men got two in the FIRST QUARTER and scored TDs off BOTH. The Birds answered with two of their own, but points? One three-and-out, one turnover on downs. Lots of other stuff went wrong, too, but that difference right there is huge in a game that was won by five points.

A few other thoughts:

Where have they been hiding Bryce Treggs? I get that he's a rookie and all, but he's the only receiver who seems to have any downfield speed. What's the holdup? Particularly when Nelson Agholor is the other option. Oh, and Jordan Matthews? A fade route is going to mean that the ball gets thrown OUTSIDE. I feel like I shouldn't have to be telling you this at this point in your career, but as the final Eagles offensive play of the game clearly showed, you haven't learned this yet. Consider yourself informed.

Can we ask Zach Ertz to retrace his steps so he can find his lost ability to break a single tackle?

Where did Wendell Smallwood go? I remember him playing well early in the season, but all of a sudden, Darren Sproles is the #1 back. Look, I love the guy, too, but he's 33. Making him the #1 back does not seem smart, at least to me.

Also, Dougie P, I like the idea of going for it on fourth down BUT NOT EARLY IN THE GAME WHEN YOU'RE LOOKING AT A NEAR-CERTAIN FIELD GOAL. TWICE. TAKE THE POINTS, SON. Do I need to remind you the Birds lost by 5?

As Tommy Lawlor puts it:
This is a really frustrating Eagles team right now.
Two things: I feel like I've heard that before, and you nailed it there, man. He also mentions that they either need to play more consistently with the existing roster or go ahead and keep playing erratically, but upgrade the talent. To quote him again:
...we have a solid group of players that makes costly mistakes and just isn’t good enough to overcome them.
PREACH.

Given that it's week 9, I don't know about you, but I'm voting for option 1 for now, and urging the Front Office to consider option 2 in the off season, aka, we're at the stage in the season where you gotta dance with the one whut brung you.

I am happy to see the NFC East return to former glory with the *worst* team in the division being at .500, but I'm not happy that that team is the Eagles. The way the Cowboys are playing right now, the division is out of reach, which after the Eagles' hot start is pretty disappointing. Ah well, on to the Falcons.

Finally, as I hope you're already aware, tomorrow, Tuesday, November 8, is election day. Voting is one of our most important rights and duties as citizens of a democratic republic. I urge ALL my readers, no matter who you plan to support, to exercise your right to vote. Not sure where to go? As long as you know your address, the League of Women Voters can hook you up with the details of your polling location, and the National Association of Secretaries of State can answer any questions you have about voting rules and requirements in your state (including WHEN the polls are open). VOTE! It's really, really important.

03 November 2016

2016 Week 9 Picks

Man, did I get annihilated on my picks last week. Chef Spouse says it's because he followed me, and he's literally in last place in his office weekly Pick 'Em pool this year. So maybe I should lie to him and say I didn't make any picks this week? Hmmm....bears experimenting.

The other thing I've been noticing is that when I pick the Eagles to win, they lose, and when I pick them to lose, they win.

You know what that means, right?  Damn right I'm picking the Giants this week.

And a brief note on the Josh Huff situation. I only know what I've read in the sports media, but given my relative lack of information, it seems like the front office did the right thing. Now I just wish the league as a whole would take domestic violence as seriously as they take being pulled over for speeding while carrying some chronic and a gun.

In the rest of the matchups:

Falcons at Buccaneers: Falcons

Steelers at Ravens: Steelers

Cowboys at Browns: Cowboys

Jaguars at Chiefs: Chiefs

Jets at Dolphins: Dolphins

Lions at Vikings: Vikings

Panthers at Rams: Panthers

Saints at 49ers: Saints

Titans at Chargers: Chargers

Colts at Packers: Packers

Raiders ar Broncos: Raiders

Bills at Seahawks: Seahawks

On bye: Bears, Bengals, Cardinals, Patriots, Texans, Washington Football Team

31 October 2016

"Some Things Never Change...And Some Things Do"

Philadelphia Eagles 23, Dallas Cowboys 29, Sunday, October 30, 2016

You know, even with turning over the entire coaching staff (other than Dave "All I Do Is Be Awesome" Fipp), getting a shiny new QB, and replacing a bunch of the skill players, it is still the case that, when the chips are down and the game is on the line, and we need a big offensive series or a major defensive stand, Bleeding Green Nation can count on the Birds to fail to deliver, crushing our hopes and dreams in the process.

Well, at least it wasn't a tie.

Stud of the week: I'm picking Ryan Mathews, because he scored and he managed not put the ball on the turf once this week. Yes, the bar has been lowered. Substantially. I can't pick Darren Sproles every week, folks! (or can I?)

If you recall, my three keys to an Eagles victory were:
I think Jim Schwartz will figure out a way to rattle Dak and pressure him into making some mistakes, and we've seen that the D can be real ball hogs. Count on Dave Fipp to bring some special teams magic, too.
Well, they managed all three. Fipp and special teams brought the magic (a 55 yard field goal? that is, to quote my friend Reggie, "stoopid good," as was Josh Huff's 53 yard kick off return at the end of the third quarter), Dak was clearly rattled and did not actually play very well, Jordan Hicks had an end zone pick that led to an Eagles field goal (a 10 point swing) and the Birds even scored 23 points in regulation, five higher than what the Cowboys have been allowing. But it still wasn't enough to get 'er done. Why?

Tackling, or lack thereof. It's a basic football skill, right? So why can't the Birds do it? I can't even count how many times I saw Ezekiel Elliott run by the entire defense, offense, special teams, practice squad, IR list, coaching staff, equipment manager, and the intern who dispenses the Gatorade. Man, did the Birds miss Bennie Logan Sunday night. Get well soon, big man.

Secondly, the Birds are so thin on the O-line that at one point, I'm almost positive I saw Jason Peters drag a tackling sled onto the field to line up next to him at guard.

Also, NO ONE CAN CATCH THE DAMN BALL other than Darren Sproles, and, intermittently, Jordan Matthews. Oh wait, Zach Ertz can usually catch a two yard pass, but that's all you're getting from him. Could someone please sit him down and explain YAC? He seems to be utterly unfamiliar with the concept. Use a diagram or puppets if you have to. Here's the thing: he's 6'5" so statistically, he'd do better if they just handed him the ball at the line of scrimmage and he fell forward.

Too many WR screens? Hell yes (we'll get to that in a minute), but what other options does Doug Pederson have, if NONE of the receivers can get any separation downfield?

As Reuben Frank put it:
The Eagles’ desperate need for a playmaker has never been so glaring as it was Sunday night in Dallas. Wentz can throw the ball down the field, he just has nobody who can get open. And when they do get open, they drop the ball.
Yep. The Eagles need to put a priority on drafting O-line in the next few years, but they need a decent receiver, like, YESTERDAY.

Meanwhile, none of the running backs can hang onto the ball, either, other than Darren Sproles, and sometimes (only you can never tell when) Ryan Mathews. When Wendell Smallwood fumbled at the beginning of the fourth quarter, leading to the Cowboys field goal that cut the Eagles lead  to 7, I knew we were in trouble.

Pederson proceeded to follow that debacle up with an idiotic trick play that was followed by an even more idiotic screen pass (when they were NOT working) when they COULD NOT afford to lose yards, because it knocked them out of field goal range, or at least Pederson apparently thought so, which is dumb because Sturgis had already nailed one from 55 (twice, actually), but, continuing on the brain fart train, Pederson decided to punt, when letting Sturgis attempt the 53 yarder could've kept it a two-score game, and that was the final nail. The game would continue for nearly another 14 minutes (including OT), but raise your hand if you knew, right then, it had slipped away. [watches while EVERYONE raises their hands]

Bad play calling, as the private Eagles fan group I belong to universally agreed. The problem is, when the only offensive skill player you can rely on other than the QB is Darren Sproles, your options get pretty limited pretty fast. Dude's multi-talented, but he's 33, and he can only do so much.

MUST. GET. DECENT. RECEIVER. ASAP.

(Does this feel familiar, or what? Shades of Donovan McNabb and three-headed "monster" that was James Thrash, Freddie Mitchell, and Todd Pinkston. Hopefully, Doug will figure out faster than Andy did that he has to get his QB some targets.)

How much trouble would one get in, really, if she up and kidnapped AJ Green? Asking for a friend....





27 October 2016

2016 Week 8 Picks

DALLAS WEEK!

Time to get your hate on.

And at the beginning of the season who would've guessed that, with two rookie starting QBs, these two teams would be playing IN PRIME TIME for the mid-season lead of the NFC East?

(Not me.)

Dak Prescott is playing, as we all know, extremely well. Meanwhile, the Dallas D, although not top-ranked and not terribly successful causing turnovers or pressuring QBs, is holding opposing teams under 18 points. If you can do that, you'll win a lot of games.

Meanwhile, the Birds are hot and cold.  Sometimes the D looks like world-beaters - and sometimes they *get* beat like a redheaded stepchild. Carson Wentz, turns out, does throw picks. PENALTIES PENALTIES PENALTIES.

What's going to happen Sunday night? This season, it does seem like the Eagles play up - or down - to the competition, and the 2016 Cowboys are no joke, so I hope we'll see the GOOD Eagles this week.

Pretty much everybody has the Cowboys, but I have a good feeling about this one, so I'm going Eagles. I think Jim Schwartz will figure out a way to rattle Dak and pressure him into making some mistakes, and we've seen that the D can be real ball hogs. Count on Dave Fipp to bring some special teams magic, too. (And F Dallas.)

In the other matchups:

Jaguars at Titans: Titans

DC "at" Bengals: DC

Chiefs at Colts: Colts (upset pick, well upset pick aside from the Birds, that is)

Raiders at Buccaneers: Bucs

Seahawks at Saints: Seahawks

Lions at Texans: Lions

Jets at Browns: Jets (hey, Cleveland, you can't win them all, unless you're Boston and willing to make an actual pact with the devil)

Patriots at Bills: Bills (another upset pick)

Cardinals at Panthers: Cards

Chargers at Broncos: Broncos

Packers at Falcons:  Packers

Vikings at Bears: Vikings

On bye: 49ers, Dolphins, Giants, Rams, Ravens, Steelers












24 October 2016

Are We *Sure* These Are Both Professional Football Teams?

Philadelphia Eagles 21, Minnesota Vikings 10, Sunday, October 23, 2016

But the real winners are the research assistants for ESPN's Monday Night Countdown "C'mon Man!" segment, who just have to play the not even 3 minutes of game time in the first quarter that saw a total of FOUR turnovers and a recovered fumble, and they're done for the day. It's Miller Time! Fellow Eagles Maniac and I were pretty much watching the game through our fingers at that point.

Stud of the Week: Making his first appearance of the year, Josh Huff. After a mess of a first quarterin which both teams were scoreless, the Vikings had finally managed to get in range to kick a field goal. On the ensuing kick-off, Huff fielded the ball at the Philly 2 yard line (generally a very bad idea), and streaked 98 yards for a touchdown (assisted by excellent blocks from tight ends Zach Ertz and Brent Celek, which BGN breaks down very nicely). The Eagles never again surrendered the lead to what had been the only remaining undefeated team, and in fact gave up no more points aside from a garbage-time TD. (Also, Dave Fipp's work with special teams continues to be quietly excellent. Caleb Sturgis made all his attempts and Donnie Long Ball Jones had another solid punting day.)

After last week, I was worried about the O-line. The Vikings have a VERY good defense, and the o-line (Halapoulivaati Vaitai in particular), was not brilliant last week. Stefan Wisniewski even took the uncharacteristic (at least in the Birds' locker room) step of calling Vaitai and the coaching staff out publicly after his dreadful performance against the Washington Football Team (admittedly, Wisniewski is not exactly a disinterested party here). Mercifully,Vaitai was better this week. The whole line was better this week.

Another encouraging sign: Carson Wentz threw two picks that were 100% his fault. They didn't get tipped, or bounce out of a receiver's hands, and nobody zigged when he should've zagged. Nope. Wentz just threw it to a Vikings defender. Twice. So why is that encouraging? Because he didn't lose his shit over it. One of the key things rookies, particularly rookie QBs, need to learn is how to let bad plays go and move on to the next snap. And he did. And when the Birds' got the penalty on the extra point and decided "what the hell, let's go for 2!" he executed an excellent QB keeper for the score.

The real story of the game, though, was the defense. Great moments included:

The entire defense escorting Malcolm Jenkins down the field after his pick, even if the TD was called back because he was touched down.

Connor Barwin stripping the ball from Sam Bradford and Beau Allen picking it up. A fat boy defensive TD would've been great, but on a day when his breast cancer survivor mom was there and he was wearing a pink ribbon in his increasingly long ponytail (that he's growing out to donate to Locks of Love), it was still pretty sweet.

FOUR FORCED FUMBLES. FOUR.

SIX SACKS. SIX.

Jordan Hicks had EIGHT SOLO TACKLES. EIGHT (plus three assists). Good to see him worthy of his #58 again. Proud tradition to uphold there, sophomore.

Stopping the Vikings on 3-1 and 4-1 from the Birds' 6 at the beginning of the fourth quarter. NO POINTS FOR YOU.

The Birds' have a top-ranked defense. The last two weeks, they haven't played like that. This week, they did. And hey! Look at the score!

A not-so-great moment? Ryan Matthews can't hold on to the damn ball. I don't care how his ankle is feeling if he keeps putting the ball on the turf in critical situations.

This now sets up a HUGE contest in prime time against the Cowboys next Sunday night about which I'm sure the NFL schedulers are giggling with glee. Eagles/Cowboys pretty much always merits one prime time slot - both teams have passionate nation-wide fan bases - but the NFL has to be particularly pleased with their luck this year, with a matchup of two hot rookie quarterbacks in Wentz and Prescott and two well-ranked defenses (the Eagles currently coming in at #5, and the Cowboys in the mid-teens). So we all enjoy the win for, like, 10 more minutes and then start freaking out, right?



20 October 2016

2016 Week 7 Picks

This week, the Eagles host the undefeated Vikings, aka The Revenge of The Bradford.

I still think trading Sam Bradford was the right thing to do, particularly given what Howie got for him and how well Carson Wentz is doing (let's put it this way: Wentz is NOT the reason the Eagles have dropped the last two). Still, it stings, at least a little. He's playing great for them WITHOUT Adrian Peterson, and their defense has been solid so far, too.

Meanwhile, while the Birds have a potentially terrific rookie QB, there are too many holes - and not enough depth - all over the place. The o-line. The wideouts. The secondary. This could be a great team someday, but that day is not this day.

Anyone think the Birds are going to win?

Yeah, me neither.

Vikings.

In the rest of the matchups:

Bears at Packers: Packers

Giants "at" Rams (in reality, in London): The Giants are a better team, but I think the Josh Brown mess is going to blow back on them. Rams, for my upset pick

Saints at Chiefs: Chiefs

Colts at Titans: Titans

Browns at Bengals: Bengals

DC at Lions: DC

Raiders at Jaguars: Raiders

Bills at Dolphins: Bills

Ravens at Jets: Ravens

Buccaneers at 49ers: 49ers

Chargers at Falcons: Falcons

Patriots at Steelers: Pats

Seahawks at Cardinals: Seahawks

Texans at Broncos: Broncos

On bye: Cowboys, Panthers