26 September 2016

"He's Got the Juice"

Eagles 34, Steelers 3, Sunday, September 25, 2016

Well, that was unexpected. EVERYONE and I mean EVERYONE predicted the Steelers would win this game. I myself was only hoping that the Eagles wouldn't get embarrassed.

Well, some people got embarrassed at the Linc Sunday afternoon, but it wasn't the guys in midnight green.

Stud of the week: once again, I am not picking Carson Wentz, despite the fact that, as Reuben Frank
Aw! Look how excited Connor Barwin is!
points out
: "Wentz has managed to put together one of the finest three-game stretches in Eagles history, not just by a rookie but by any quarterback." No, the guy I want to recognize this week is Darren Sproles. The 33 year old running back has been looking like he's lost a step or two of late, and with Ryan Matthews iffy at best, many of us were getting a little anxious about the Birds' running game. And then, on the first drive of the second half, with the Eagles up 13-3, but the game certainly far from out of control, Wentz rolled right in response to defensive pressure, Sproles saw his QB scrambling and went with him, and Wentz dropped a sweet pass right into his hands right in stride, he juked about 9000 times and shook off ALL THE STEELERS and scampered 73 yards into the end zone. With that, the rout was on.

I have to give a shout-out to rookie Wendell Smallwood and Kenjon Barner for stepping up when Ryan Matthew's bum ankle meant he couldn't go. The Steelers aren't the Bears - they aren't the Browns. They have a good defense and were - and still are - a popular pick for Super Bowl 51. Those guys combined for 121 yards on the ground against a good team.

While the Birds' offense obviously had a good day, we need to talk about the D for a minute.

I'm pretty sure that at least 7 guys were wearing #27 yesterday, because Malcolm Jenkins was all over the damn field, flying to the ball, tackling guys, and knocking away passes. Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry, Bennie Logan, and Brandon Graham got consistent pressure on Big Ben all day. He never looked comfortable in the pocket, and when the Steelers got into must-pass situations (basically the entire second half), they stayed in his face, and forced about a zillion incompletions.

Despite giving up a few big plays, rookie Jalen Mills continues to impress, too, fighting, learning, never giving up, and never making the same mistake twice. Also gotta love the kelly green hair.

And when the Birds do give up a big pass play, it ends there. YAC? No YAC for you! Guys are actually tackling well and consistently.

Let me just let Jim Schwartz sum it up:

I know just how you feel, Jim.

We also need to talk about Carson Wentz. The kid is playing lights out right now. Like historically good. That quote in the title of the post? Brent Celek, as reported by Sam Donnellon. Celek's not wrong. We all know eventually he'll throw a pick. Eventually, he'll have a down game. Eventually, the Birds will have to play from behind. Eventually, he'll have to make some sort of mistake. Right? I mean, he's not a robot. Or is he? What he's doing is unprecedented. To quote NFL.com: "Wentz is the first rookie in NFL history without an interception in his first 100 pass attempts to begin a career." Small nothing school, heart-warming back story, goofy smile, big risk trading up to get him (and ninja move by Howie Roseman in getting the Birds' 2017 picks BACK in the Sam Bradford trade) and all, this guy looks to me like the future.

What is that strange emotion? Is it....hope?

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