20 October 2015

Comedy of Errors

Eagles 27, Giants 7, Monday, October 19, 2015

Comedy not tragedy, of course, because the Birds won, but did anyone else feel like you were watching a three-hour episode of "C'mon man!" last night?

OK, that's not totally fair. The defense played GREAT. Speaking of...

Stud of the week: Nolan Carroll. MANY players on the D could be in this slot (we'll get to that in a
minute), but it felt like Carroll's pick-6 changed the momentum of the game in a way that the Giants could not recover from. If you recall, the G-men took the opening kick off and proceeded to saunter down the field almost unimpeded by the Birds, scoring the first seven points of the game in about 4.5 minutes of game time, with Eli completing 5 of 5. Ouch. The Birds then proceeded to go (say it with me) three-and-out. Double ouch. A great pick by DeMeco Ryans, who just wanted it more than Larry Donnell, set up the Birds first scoring drive, after which a monster play from Brandon Graham stopped the G-men on  4th down. And the Birds went three-and-out. Again. Triple ouch. And then our boy Nolan read Eli all the way, jumping a route and creating a gorgeous pick-6. It was only the beginning of the second quarter, but after that, the Eagles D and the O-line pretty much took control of the game. Astonishingly, for a team ranked near the top in run D and passing O, the Giants never really contested for the rest of the game. The D hasn't looked this good since we lost Jim Johnson. I'm serious. (Oh - and props to Nolan for covering Odell Beckham Jr. successfully most of the night too. Sure, OBJ might've been somewhat hobbled, but I still didn't want to see Byron Maxwell on him in single coverage - AND THANKFULLY I DIDN'T.)

And it was a good thing the Birds had a big night from the defense, because Sam Bradford was not brilliant. Amazingly, the Birds had MORE turnovers than the Giants, 3 pick from Sam to Eli's 2 (plus 3 fumbles to the Giants' 2). Admittedly, you can't blame Sam for all the picks. When Riley Cooper inexplicably stops on a route HE JUST RAN SUCCESSFULLY FOR A TD and Sam overthrows him and gets picked, that's not Sam's fault. And you know Riley knew the route, because HE HAD JUST RUN IT SUCCESSFULLY FOR A TD. "I must've been absent that day, Coach," won't fly, Riley. Mistakes, mistakes, mistakes. Under- and over-thrown receivers. Drops. Fumbles. Negating big defensive plays by handing the ball right back to the Giants, through picks, fumbles, or more three-and-outs.

The Birds won by 20 points, to quote Tommy Lawlor, not because of Sam but in spite of him. That'll work against bad teams like the Saints and Giants, but it will NOT work against, say the Packers. Or the Cardinals. Or the Panthers.

Last night was, of course, the game where they inducted Brian Westbrook into the Eagles hall of fame. Donovan and Wolverine were on hand, running out of the tunnel in West 36 jerseys, to share in the celebration. I remarked to Chef Spouse: "Seeing these guys makes me realize that I don't have the emotional connection to the team that I used to." And it wasn't just the marquee players. It was about David Akers, and John Runyan, and Tra Thomas, and Darwin Walker, and Troy Vincent, and Duce Staley, and Lito Sheppard, and Sheldon Brown, and even Freddie Mitchell, James Thrash, and Todd Pinkston (in case you've forgotten, the Birds' top three receivers in 2003, and THAT should make your hair stand on end). I don't have chemistry yet with the 2015 Eagles. Too many new faces. (At one point, Taylor Hart comes in, and I'm like "who the hell is THAT guy?" Just like with Brandon Bair a few weeks ago.)

And I think that's part of what's going on here for the Birds. They're still developing their team chemistry. We all want it to go faster. We NEED it to go faster (did I mention that they're playing undefeated Carolina next week?). But it takes as long as it takes. We can already see signs that things are getting better. Most of us, myself included, were ready to call for Billy Davis's head after losses to the Cowboys and PARTICULARLY to DC (oh, the humanity!) Meanwhile, the Eagles' D has quietly moved into 6th in points allowed. The O-line is patchwork and Jason Peters and Jason Kelce have not been playing all that well (Kelce, I'm looking at you after last night in particular). And they've quietly only allowed one sack in the past two games (OK, not that either the Saints or the Giants have a terrific pass rush, but Bradford has had ALL THE TIME in the world back there). And the Birds' running game is finally getting going, at least a bit. (And major props to DeMarco Murray's smarts on the Birds' final two drives last night getting the yards that were there and then getting down in bounds to keep the clock running. That's some heads-up football there.) And we've all heard that the running game is the key to Chip Kelly's offense, like, nine gajillion times. The team needs to get better overall. Sam Bradford is a HUGE question mark. So is Caleb Sturgis (although he had a better night last night). The entire receiving corps needs to up their game. But 3-3 leading the NFC East is about a million miles from where we all feared we'd be after the 0-2 start. Hopefully, things are looking up all over.

No comments: