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
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
What's that you say, Mrs. Robinson?
Shifty Shady has left and gone away
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.
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.