21 September 2015

Dazed and Confused

Eagles 10, Cowboys 20, Sunday, September 20, 2015

As in me, at 7 pm last night, and as it what former Oklahoma roomies San Bradford and DeMarco Murray looked like yesterday afternoon.

Stud of the game: Yes, there was one! Continuing the Eagles tradition of the number 58 =
awesomesauce, rookie Jordan Hicks got called on when both Kiko Alonso and Mychal Kendricks went down to injury and turned in an excellent seven tackle, one sack, one forced fumble (that was recovered by Fletcher Cox and led to the Eagles longest drive of the day...which ended in a Bradford pick in the endzone. But that's not Jordan's fault) debut. He and Malcolm Jenkins (who also had a recovered fumble that could've put the Birds in scoring position if Sam Bradford hadn't immediately fumbled it back - also not Malcolm's fault) were pretty much the only bright spots in an otherwise dismal performance.

Where to begin? How about with the offense?

NO run game to speak of.  The thing about an up-tempo offense is that you HAVE to be able to to move the ball on the ground for it to work. A successful running attack is NOT optional. Andy Reid could get away with putting the entire game on Donovan McNabb's arm (and legs) periodically and have it mostly work (a least up through 2008). Sam Bradford, to state the obvious, is not Donovan McNabb. The temptation is to blame new linemen Allan Barbre and Andrew Gardner, but nobody was doing a good job, not even pro bowlers Jason Peters and Jason Kelce. When even Darren Sproles can't get going, there's a serious issue.

Last week, Sam Bradford had a rough first half, and I could feel the early stirrings of panic. What if his flashes in his rookie year with the Rams were the exception, rather than the rule? And then he came out in the second half and played well. Yeah, he doesn't have a big arm, but he got the ball out accurately and quickly, and the pick that ended the game for the Eagles was on Jordan Matthews, not him. Maybe he just needed a little more time than 1/2 of one pre-season game to knock the rust off. Well, this week, he stunk it up. Oh, he had help: pretty much every Eagles wideout dropped at least one pass that was RIGHT to him, and the pick that ended the game for the Birds was once again, not his fault (Zach Ertz, please report to the woodshed). But missing a wide-open Riley Cooper in the endzone? Sam's fault. Throwing a pick RIGHT TO Sean Lee in the endzone? Also Sam's fault.

Chip Kelly's "high-powered" offense put up three points. Don't give me "ten" - that TD at the end of the game was garbage time and you know it (realistically, the whole game was garbage time, if we're being honest - the Birds looked totally overmatched pretty much from the start).

And after being a highlight of the 2014 season, special teams wasn't all that special last week, and this week, allowed Danny McCray to rip through the line and block Donny Jones's punt, giving the Cowboys their first TD and opening up their lead to the ultimate margin of victory, ten points.  At least Cody Parkey knocked through a 46 yarder with ease. See? If he actually has a minute to get set, he's still a good kicker!

The D did play well. Against a team that was missing its top wideout and, after early in the third quarter, it's Pro Bowl, franchise quarterback. Still, they didn't give up an offensive TD until the final five minutes of the game, and that was after they'd been on the field for what seemed like 50 of the elapsed 55 game minutes (see above RE: no run game). But if the offense continually goes three-and-out, they are going to give up points eventually. It's inevitable.

Can the Birds turn it around? I have no idea. The division is weak this year - the Cowboys are hobbled by injury, the Giants are just as bad as the Eagles are (maybe worse), and DC...remains DC (despite their upset win over the Rams yesterday). Does anyone truly believe they're going to the playoffs with Kirk Cousins? So it's still anyone's to take (possibly with 7 wins, oh, the humanity). But watching the Seahawks/Packers game last night, do any of us really believe that, even if the Birds do pull it together to win the division, they are going anywhere in the playoffs? After the past two weeks, and in comparison to the excellent football played last night, they don't even look like a professional football team at this point.

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