29 September 2014

Derpadelphia

Eagles 21, 49ers 26, Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ex-Navy Cheesehead emailed me this morning to ask what's wrong with the defense and where the o-line went.

Regarding the defense, although it's never been the same since we lost Jim Johnson, this loss is NOT on them.  They were on the field for what certainly felt like the ENTIRE game (actual time: 42 minutes and change which, for all practical purposes, *is* the entire game), and they were put in some BAD situations, like Zach Ertz's fumble that gave the ball back to the 49ers just outside the red zone and The Chippah's inexplicable acceptance of the penalty on 4th-3. They had four sacks, they forced five punts, they only allowed two touchdowns, holding the 49ers to field goals four times, and they played nearly 3/4 of the game. Not their fault.

Speaking of, Stud of the Week: Malcolm Jenkins. Three picks in three games, including a pick-6 this
week? Have I mentioned lately how grateful I am to the Saints for letting the Eagles snatch two outstanding players at a relative bargain? Four weeks - three stud of the weeks to former Saints. I think I owe Mickey Loomis a King Cake a week from his favorite bakery all 2015 carnival season long.  (Shout out to special teams, too, particularly Darren Sproles for his punt return TD and Trey Burton and Brad Smith for teaming up on the blocked punt/recovery for a TD.)

Let's deal with the officiating. Yes, there were inexplicable calls (that blocking downfield call on Riley Cooper? the pick play that wasn't a pick play that benefited the Eagles?) and missed calls (I don't have enough time to talk about all the missed holding calls), but it seemed pretty evenly bad to me (not that I was keeping formal stats). Compared to the dumpster fire that was the officiating in the Packers/Bears game, it was practically perfect.

On to the o-line. Ex-Navy Cheesehead also asked me where they'd gone. Oh I know where they are: Evan Mathis and Jason Kelce are injured (so is second-stringer Allen Barbre), and Lane Johnson has just ended his four-game suspension for using PEDs. And not a moment too soon. Jason Peters has been the only starter playing in his usual position (since Todd Herremans slid from tackle to guard), and he's a Pro Bowler and really good and all, but there's only so much one man can do. They HAVE to get better, or this is going to be a LOOOONG season.

Moving on Nick Foles, he was not good. Yeah, his receivers were not helping him (OH MY GOD RILEY COOPER CATCH THE GODDAMN TOUCHDOWN YOU DONKEY), but he had plenty of derp all on his own - holding the ball too long, overthrowing guys, missing open guys.  Two (?) months ago, someone had asked Donovan McNabb if he thought Foles was the next franchise quarterback. McNabb said, in a nutshell, that it's too early to tell. OK, he said it in a much more self-centered and self-pitying way (and FOR THE LOVE OF GOD could someone please get him some media training already to try to put the kibbosh on his foot-in-mouth disease?), but he was right. It is too early to know. Foles had a great partial season last year. He's had one good game so far this year (out of four, in case you've lost track, or you're still too hungover to do the math). That's not going to be enough.

Where have you gone, LeSean McCoy?
Bleeding Green Nation turns its lonely eyes to you
(woo-woo-woo)
What's that you say, Mrs. Robinson?
Shifty Shady has left and gone away
(hey-hey-hey)
(hey-hey)

Yes, o-line bad = BIG problem for the run game. BIG problem for the run game = REALLY REALLY BIG problem for Chip Kelly's offense. GARGANTUAN.

BUT.

Shady does not appear to be himself. Now some of it is that he likes to bounce outside and look for the home run, rather than taking the three up the middle the defense is offering, and with the current o-line, he needs to just take the three. But he also seems to have lost a step. He's too young for it to be age, so maybe there's an injury there they're not telling us about? Or with both Foles and McCoy, is lack of confidence in the o-line taking a toll on their confidence in themselves? You know, you get into that bad mental place where you take the snap (or the hand off) and you're thinking, "Why am I even bothering? I'm about to get obliterated regardless." I don't know, but I sure hope it gets fixed soon.

Here's the thing: before the season started, you KNOW you had this one marked down as a likely loss. Don't lie. I know you did, because I did, too. And don't let their early season struggles fool you - the 49ers are legitimate Super Bowl contenders this year, and the Eagles are a couple-three years out (I think). Plus all the 49ers "must-win" stuff I talked about in this week's picks post.

But losing the way the Birds did was just painful. Like "I'm really glad this is a 4 pm game rather than an 8 pm game, because I'm going to have to go get drunk IMMEDIATELY to erase the memory, and I'll need time to sober up because I have to go to work in the morning" painful.

The Birds should be able to right the ship at home against the Rams next week, and 4-1 should calm everyone down. But right now, this just feels bad.

26 September 2014

2014 Week 4

The week, our somewhat battered Eagles head to San Francisco to take on the 49ers.

Look I know the Eagles are 3-0, and the 49ers are 1-2. But there's 3-0 and then there's 3-0. Likewise, there's 1-2 and there's 1-2.

The 49ers lost the first game in their new stadium. That has to sting. And despite their second half collapses in the past three weeks, they are an excellent team. Undisciplined, but excellent.

The Eagles are operating with a patchwork-at-best offensive line. That's a problem for quarterback, Nick "Captain Badass" Foles, and for the running back combo we all hope, from week to week, will be explosive, LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles. Fletcher Cox and Mychal Kendricks are banged up. They're the best two players on D, in case you haven't been paying attention the past three weeks.

On the other hand, the Eagles keep finding a way to win. Even if the D is getting beat up. Even if the run game dies. Even if Nick has a bad day. I don't know how - apparently the Chippah is some sort of magician - but the team keeps winning. So far. But coming back in the second half against the Jaguars is not the same thing as coming back in the second half against the 49ers.

I think that probably ends this week. This is, I'm not kidding, a must-win for the 49ers. They cannot drop another game and hope to keep pace in their very tough division. And the Eagles historically don't do well traveling west. The odds are just not ever in the Eagles favor this week. I'd love to see our boys pull out another second-half comeback (which will definitely be the ONLY way they might win, since the Niners score all their points in the first half). Also, this weekend is You-Two-Calm-Down-or-I'm-Turning-Off-the-TV Dad's birthday, so an upset win would be a great present. But I don't think it's going to happen.

Niners.

In the rest of the matchups:

Giants at Washington: I know these picks are coming out AFTER this game took place, and I'll admit I had Washington. You know I'm telling the truth, because I picked wrong (so did most of the experts). What happened, Kirk Cousins? Yikes.

Panthers at Ravens: Two in a row against the AFC North? That's not nearly as terrifying as it used to be, but I still think it's going to be tough on the Panthers. Ravens.

Packers at Bears: Da Bears are looking surprisingly good so far this year, and they're at home. I think that gives them the typical home team 3 point edge. Bears.

Bills at Texans: Just about everybody has the Texans, and I'm jumping on the bandwagon.

Titans at Colts: Colts, no contest.

Lions at Jets: Lions.

Dolphins at Raiders: Dolphins.

Buccaneers at Steelers: I'm not picking the damn Bucs anymore, unless they're playing someone even worse than they are. And I'm not even sure who that would be at this point. Some high school team? Curse you, pre-season predictions that fooled me into thinking they might be something this year! Steelers.

Jaguars at Chargers: Chargers.

Falcons at Vikings: Falcons.

Saints at Cowboys: The Saints have been mortal on the road this year (so far), but if the 49ers game was any indication, Jerryworld should feel, look, and sound like the Dome this weekend. Saints.

Patriots at Chiefs: Jaws has the Chiefs, which seems like crazy talk to me (no offense, Andy). Pats.

On bye: Bengals, Broncos, Browns, Cardinals, Rams, and Seahawks

22 September 2014

Body Bag Game, Part Deux

Eagles 37, Washington 34, Sunday, September 21, 2014 

This week was the monthly football party Chez Snark, so Fellow Eagles Maniac was here (along with a bunch of other peeps). She was calling for the crash cart by the end of the game. Meanwhile, I was watching in the living room because Oscar (he's a Washington fan) was here, too, and he was yelling so loud about Chris Parker's cheap shot, illegal hit (yes, Oscar, it was definitely illegal) on Nick Foles that I couldn't hear a damn thing. In short, it was a little tense up in this joint. Speaking of our boy Nick...

Stud of the week: Duh. Nick Foles. He may look like your 12-year old paperboy, but turns out, he's secretly Captain Badass. Or, as the Chippah put it: "one tough sucker." Apparently, after being (his words) "obliterated," when he could get back up and back in the game, he had one thing to say about it: "Let's make them pay for this." And pay they did. Because Nick Foles is a f-ing WARRIOR. He took shots all afternoon and didn't miss a play, even in Chip's uptempo offense.

And he's even a nice guy. Did you see that Jordan Matthews forgot to grab the ball from his first pro toudchdown, and Foles went back to collect it for him? Awwwww....

Speaking of Jordan Matthews, breakout game for the rookie. Which after two quiet weeks was good to see, since he was supposed to be at least part of the reason we weren't supposed to worry about DJax's departure.

Jeremy Maclin showed up to play, too. And it's about time, because see above.

Call me crazy, but I felt like Foles actually played a better game because he was under more pressure. I mean, by the end of the game, the offensive line was basically one guy who's so newly signed he doesn't even have a place to live yet, the equipment manager, one of the summer interns, the biggest guy they could find in the stands, and a cardboard cut out of Chuck Bednarik. Meanwhile, Nick had spent a significant portion of the game on his back looking up at the sky, trying to dig his liver out of his spine and remember how to breathe. And he still HIT IT

It looks like Jason Kelce's hurt for real, which is a BIG problem - did you see him keep up with JMac on that long run? (OK, yeah, he negated the play thanks to a dumb and unnecessary penalty, but how many centers can truck like that?)

I don't blame Jason Peters for getting himself bounced. I would've preferred that someone less important - like maybe Cary Williams? - taking the shot, but I know it makes me feel good that the team is having NONE of someone popping their QB illegally. And thankfully, while it's likely to be result in a big fine, no suspension.

Speaking of Cary Williams, quit yer whining. You played bad. Suck it up and quit blaming a coach that has been able to in-game adjust to losing nearly his entire offensive line AND outscore opposing teams about a MILLION to zero in the second half AND it is CLEAR the team is fresher in the second half than anyone they're facing. STFU, dude. Seriously. To quote Cris Carter on Monday Night Countdown: "People don't want to be good?"

Oh - somebody remind me to buy a cake for the Saints. Malcolm Jenkins? Darren Sproles? Thanks, y'all!

To get back to the o-line, if I hear one more person complain about how Shady "went AWOL" yesterday, I'm going to hit someone. He was playing behind a decimated line of guys who'd never even played with the #1s. Of course he had a rough day. You try running against a top rated defense (yes really - DC is #4 overall, #3 against the run, at least as of week 3) when there's no one to make some holes for you. Even when you only need teeny, tiny holes, you still need SOMEWHERE to run.

And finally: #LOVEParkey! That baby faced kicker is MONEY, as in TAKE IT TO THE BANK.

18 September 2014

2014 Week 3 Picks

This week, the Eagles are hosting Washington.

As many of you know, I live in DC. This week's local DC sports media has been equal parts:
  • RG3 is a bum/the reincarnation of Akili Smith
  • QUARTERBACK CONTROVERSY!!!1!!11!!!
  • Kirk Cousins is the reincarnation of Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, and Dan Marino all rolled into one
  • WE ARE TOTALLY WINNING FIVE SUPER BOWLS THIS YEAR!!!11!!1!!1!
Slightly, but only slightly, exaggerated for comedic effect. We are not talking about a reality-based reality here.

Thing is, Kirk Cousins hung 41 points on the Jaguars. Who weren't expecting to face him. Let's all just calm down for a second, hm? He doesn't have the greatest record as the starter, y'all.

The Eagles are the better team, no contest. The Chippah is the better coach, no contest. The Eagles *should* win every divisional game this year. Nick Foles will pull his head out of his ass eventually, and it's conceivable the receivers might start, you know, RECEIVING at some point. But even if that week is not this week, they managed to play half asleep for a half and take down the Colts at home on Monday, so I have a pretty good feeling about this game. Sorry not sorry DJax.

Eagles.

In the other matchups

Buccaneers at Falcons: You know, before the season started, a lot of prognosticators had the Bucs picked to do really well - playoffs, maybe even win the division. This week? Literally no one has picked them. Except me. I know they're playing in Atlanta, and Matt Ryan looked like Tom Brady against the Saints two weeks ago. But last week, he looked like Tommy Tune (who was quite talented, don't get me wrong, but he's no NFL quarterback). Which I think is more accurate. And the Bucs have to win a game sometime, right? I AM NOT CRAZY (at least not for this reason). (And I'm getting back to this post when the game is already 28-0 in favor of the Falcons, and I'm sticking with my original pick. Because that's just honest.)

Chargers at Bills: The Bills are looking better (through two weeks) than I think anyone expected. but the Chargers just beat the Seahawks. Trap game? Nah - I think Phillip Rivers will be ready. Chargers.

Cowboys at Rams: Cowboys, goddamnit. The Rams are in trouble on the injury front.

Texans at Giants: Texans. The Giants are terrible this year.

Vikings at Saints: Saints. They may be struggling - unexpectedly - but they DO NOT lose at home.

Titans at Bengals: Bengals.

Ravens at Browns: This is much more interesting game than anyone expected it to be 2 months ago. The Ravens are kind of a mess, and the Browns beat the Saints last week. I really want to go with them...and I think I will. Despite the fact that Jaws disagrees with me.

Packers at Lions: The Pack.

 Colts at Jaguars: Colts. Another rough year for the Jags, who started their season by losing to two NFC East teams. In case you haven't been following along at home, the NFC East is TEH SUCK this year.

Raiders at Patriots: Raiders. SIKE! There is NO WAY the Patriots lose this game.

49ers at Cardinals: That loss to the Bears was rather surprising, but I don't see the 49ers getting caught out again. 49ers.

Broncos at Seahawks: You know, if they were playing in Denver, I think I would pick the Broncos. The team that loses learns more than the team that wins and all that. But they aren't. Speaking of team that don't lose at home...Seahawks.

Chiefs at Dolphins: Much as I love Andy Reid (and y'all know that), talk about getting bit by the injury bug. Dolphins.

Steelers at Panthers: Panthers.

Bears at Jets: Bears. Sorry you got picked up by such a shit team, Mike.


16 September 2014

A Luck-y Win

Eagles 30, Colts 27, Monday, September 15, 2014

(I totally stole that title from Tommy, but it was too apt not to re-use.)

Oh my God, y'all. If this continues, Chef Spouse is going to have to buy me a crash helmet. Could the Birds at least think about getting in the endzone in the first half of some game some day?

Stud of the week: Darren Sproles AGAIN. Damn - he's like a freakin' pinball out there. 152 yards
receiving, 178 total yards, touchdown, he's money, and he cost the Eagles one fifth round pick? Bargain of the century. All he does is be 4 feet of awesome. Seriously - that's him actual size over there -->

I also have to give a shout-out to rookie kicker Cody Parkey. When he missed that 38 yarder, ll I could think was "Great. We cut Alex Henery, only to sign...Alex Henery, but younger and blonde." But he pulled it together to kick the game winner - twice.

Also, Zach Ertz is going to inspire a new word for "awesome" - maybe "Ertz-some." I quote Jimmy Kempski:
Zach Ertz facts:
Zach Ertz's receptions this year: 26, 25, 26, 27, 14, 21, 24.
Zach Ertz leads the NFL in yards per catch (minimum three receptions).
Zach Ertz is tied with Julio Jones for the most receptions of 20+ yards.
Zach Ertz has as many 20+ yard receptions as 20 NFL teams.
Zach Ertz has seven receptions this season. All seven were either first downs or touchdowns.
Zach Ertz smells terrific.
I can't confirm that last one, but I'm willing to take Jimmy's word for it.

LeSean McCoy remains a perennially smiling work horse. I think he'd set himself the goal of a 2000 yard season, which may not happen, but he remains studly. The McCoy/Sproles combo is nearly unstoppable.

Sadly, not everyone was ballin' on Monday night.

Why is Nick Foles playing like someone spiked his Gatorade with Nyquil? On the up side, it seems to keep him really calm and able to shake off bad plays - or bad quarters - or even bad halves. So maybe it's intentional? Hmmm....

I'm beginning to remember why I wasn't heartbroken when Jeremy Maclin went down during training camp last year. Could he drop any more passes? Yeah, he's also had two TDs, but could he maybe NOT store his gloves in a jug of olive oil?

What happened to Riley Cooper? Is he even still playing for the Eagles?

Mychal Kendricks scared everyone to death when he went down - and then we saw Casey Matthews at linebacker and got REALLY freaked out. My 9 year old nephew Duce could kick his ass.

And on those final calls that would've set Trent Dilfer's hair on fire if he had any?

Brandon Boykin did NOT commit a penalty on the Malcolm Jenkins interception. BGN breaks it down in detail, but the tl;dr version is: five yards, mo-fos.

Now, the Eagles did get an extra 15 yards on the non-existent "horse collar" on McCoy on the Eagles' next to last drive. Then again, Fletcher Cox drew a fake horse collar last week, and we weren't crying in our beer (then again, again, the Eagles won both games).

But I have to say, when the Colts got the ball back with the score tied and about 3 1/2 minutes to go, I told Chef Spouse: "They're going to run out the clock and kick the game winning field goal in the final minutes." Only by "they," I meant "the Colts." Not sad to be wrong about that one. The Eagles' D has hardly been shut-down, but they came up big with that three-and-out when it mattered. And boy did it matter to the Colts. They haven't lost two games in a row in the Andrew Luck era, it was their home opener, they're expected to win the AFC South this year, and starting 0-2 is a bad sign. And the D came up with a big stop anyway.

Stop me if you've heard this one before, but if the Eagles could ever put together a full 60 minutes of football in all three phases of the game, they'd be nearly unstoppable. Then again, the team plays for a full 60 minutes, and you REALLY start to see that late in games, when other teams are gassed, and the Eagles are still fresh as daisies - OK, big, hulking, muscular, sweaty daisies, but you get my point.

11 September 2014

2014 Week 2 Picks

Annual Stone Harbor edition!

Yes, Chef Spouse and I are at the beach on our annual trip with the fun bunch of pirates and miscreants we join here, but I would not leave you pick-less.

This week, the Eagles travel to Indianapolis to take on the Colts on Monday Night Football.

Both teams are coming off two good quarters of football: the Eagles' comeback was enough to get them past the Jaguars, while the Colts fell short against the Broncos. The Jags, you may note, are barely playing the same sport as the Broncos.

Can the Eagles beat the Colts? Sure - I think they probably *can* beat any time except the Seahawks who, at least after week 1, look legitimately like a juggernaut. But will they?

I'll tell you, the patchwork o-line is making me really nervous. So is the fact that Foles looked out of his depth in his first season opener as the starter. Going immediately to a road Monday Night Football game is not going to help with that. I would've much preferred to see the Cowboys come to Philly for a 1 pm game this week to help solidify his confidence. Then again, the Colts have problems, too, with Andrew Luck constantly running for his life (usually pretty successfully) and Robert Mathis done for the year, which means Nick should have a decent day - or at least a little time to think.

I see the teams as pretty evenly matched in level of skills and likelihood of success this year (get into the playoffs on the strength of a weak division, don't go that far), so to me that says go with the home team - and probably by 3.

Colts.

In the other matchups:

Steelers at Ravens: Steelers. Distractions, distractions, distractions. You know, y'all could've done the right thing back over the summer and have moved on - as a team - by now.

Dolphins at Bills: The Dolphins surprised the Pats last week, and the Bills surprised the Bears (and me). Who gets it this week? Going with the Bills at home.

Lions at Panthers: Everyone seems high on the Lions after they beat the Giants - convincingly - last week. Then again, that was the Giants. They will NOT put up 35 on the Panthers, who I think are going to win this one.

Falcons at Bengals: Bengals. Speaking of not being able to put up 30+ points.

Saints at Browns: Saints. Who are going to take out their anger about their divisional loss last week on the hapless Cleveland team.

Patriots at Vikings: Speaking of taking out frustration about a loss, I also have the Pats this week.

Cardinals at Giants: Cardinals. The Giants are in a world of hurt this year.

Cowboys at Titans: Titans. Same thing on the Cowboys.

Jaguars at Washington: I don't think Washington will sleep on the Jags after last week's first half showing, and I think they'll be able to take them.

Seahawks at Chargers: Seahawks, see above RE: juggernaut.

Rams at Buccaneers: Bucs. This is looking like a tough year for the Rams.

Chiefs at Broncos: Would love to pick the Chiefs, but I just can't. I'm not that delusional about Andy Reid. Broncos.

Jets at Packers: Packers. They won't start 0-2.

Texans at Raiders: Texans. The Raiders remain really bad.

Bears at 49ers: 49ers. The Bears WILL start 0-2. But it's their own fault, because they should've beat the Bills last week.



08 September 2014

A Tale of Two Halves

Eagles 34, Jaguars 17, Sunday, September 7, 2014 
 
For the first time in I don't even know how long, we had to cancel our season-opener football party because Chef Spouse had to work this weekend. Now, by Sunday, he was working from home, but he was still working. And this was for a client that is not, shall we say, his favorite. I was watching the game on the big screen in the woman cave. He was watching with the sound off on the small TV in the kitchen while he worked. His comment at half time: "You sound even more pissed at the Eagles than I am at [client's name redacted for assholery]."

Stud of the week: for a while there, it was looking like it would be "nobody." But I have to give it to
new Eagle Darren Sproles. While the team was stinking it up in the first half, he came out in the second half all "Don't worry y'all - I got you!" And then ran 49 yards for a TD on the Eagles first possession to get them on the board. FINALLY. Welcome to Philly, baby.

I have to give a pretty big shout-out to Nickfolesian Dynamite, too. He SUCKED in the first half. Pick and two sack fumbles leading directly to two TDs. I was having flash backs to that horrible game against Dallas last October. The boos as the team headed into the locker room at half time were DEAFENING. Even on TV. The entire team was playing like someone spiked their Gatorade with Xanax.

And he just shook it off. Like "whatevs, I'm cool."

It would have been easy for the team to get down after that awful first half. Allen Hurns was giving me visions of James Stark in the season opener in 2007. Foles - well, we've already talked about that. The receivers couldn't catch. The defenders couldn't defend. The coaches didn't have a good game plan against the Jaguars. THE JAGUARS. Evan Mathias went down. Lane Johnson replacement Allen Barbre went down. PICK IN THE ENDZONE. AAAARGGHHH! Did everyone have warm milk with breakfast rather than coffee?

The second half was...well, like I expected the first half to be.

Sproles scored. Ertz scored. Mac scored. Hell, even Fletcher Cox scored (love to see a fat boy lumber into the endzone). Donnie Jones was money. Brandon Boykin was money (of course). Cody Parkey's got a LEG. Connor Barwin was Captain "DENIED" with the batted passes.

It was like there was an entirely different team playing. I have visions of the Chippah's half time speech, "Did I mention that y'all could be PLAYING IN JACKSONVILLE TOMORROW if you don't shape up? Or even worse: you can follow DeSean to DC. I'll do it. Don't test me."

Yeah, if the Eagles play against a GOOD team like they did against the Jags in the first half, there will be no coming back. But they didn't cave or fall apart or mope or Manningface. They just came out and dd what they needed to do to get the expected win.

Oh - and all the McNabb agita? As I read it, all he said was that it's too early to know if Nick Foles is a franchise QB. He had an historic year last year, but we can't know yet if that was a fluke. And Big 5 is 100% right. But the stones Nick showed Sunday give me hope.