17 October 2016

It May Be Time to Revise Expectations

Eagles 20, Washington Football Team 27, Sunday, October 16, 2016

Who knew Lane Johnson was the key to everything?

Stud of the week: Making his first appearance, Wendell Smallwood. Way to go, rookie! He did not
have a great day on the ground (4 attempts to 6 yards, and no that's not a typo) or through the air (1 reception for 14 yards), but he did run back a kickoff 86 yards for a TD to give the Birds their first points of the game, which was quickly followed by a Malcolm Jenkins pick-6 that gave us all a (false) sense of hope.

The rest of the game? If you look up "hot mess" in the dictionary, there's a link to video of Ryan Kerrigan sacking Carson Wentz (almost completely removing his jersey in the process) on the Eagles first possession, and that pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the game.

The offensive line couldn't block. The receivers couldn't catch. The backs couldn't find holes. Wentz had a down game, overthrowing a lot of guys (it's early to panic, but he may be regressing to the rookie norm). The defensive line couldn't pressure Kirk Cousins. The secondary couldn't cover. At least special teams did a good job, but I don't want to see Donnie Jones 4,546,235 times in a quarter.

If you'll recall, when I picked this game as a Birds' close win so optimistically only four days ago, I was worried about the offensive line. So that was prescient, because Halapoulivaati Vaitai did not have a good day (in case you were lucky enough to be in a coma or attending your mother's funeral yesterday afternoon). He did OK when they gave him help, but when they didn't, Ryan Kerrigan was up in Wentz's face in a nanosecond every snap.

All of a sudden, WFT remembered how to stop the run and tackle. Just our luck. And the Birds' D, as I mentioned, suddenly forgot how to get to the QB. If you can pressure Kirk Cousins, he makes mistakes, like the pick-6 to Malcolm Jenkins. If not, he looks like freakin' John Elway back there. Meanwhile, the WFT receivers were running wild all over the damn field, with no one in midnight green anywhere near them. DeSean Jackson is going to get his catches, sure, but so did Pierre Garcon AND Jamison Crowder AND Vernon Davis AND some guy named Chris Thompson who might've just been a fan who happened to wander onto the field.

And penalties. OK, sure, the officiating last week in Detroit was, like, historically bad. They really should be able to keep track of which team is on offense and which is on defense. That seems like a minimum standard to be a professional referee, right? But this week, the zebras were within a normal range of deviation bad. Yes, there was one DREADFUL block in the back penalty called on Wendell Smallwood that really didn't happen and killed a big gain on 3rd down after which the Eagles ended up punting...again (4,546,236 and counting). And there was plenty of holding called where there was obvious offsetting holding from the WFT. But this is now THREE games in a row with a ridiculous amount of penalties. You can't win that way, guys, not consistently.

I guess one bright spot is that the game was a lot more lopsided watching it than the score reflects. The Eagles were able to keep battling even though it seemed pretty obvious after the first half that they were going to lose. The defense woke up and only allowed two field goals after the half (of course,  they had already given up 21 points and were down by 10, so it was too little too late). Despite being nearly decapitated a number of times, Carson Wentz didn't panic or make a ton of mistakes (although taking those sacks at the end....ouch), and it is only his fifth start (although if you want to scare the shit out of him, show up at his house in two weeks dressed as #91 in the burgundy and gold).

Just as a reminder, here are the current NFC East standings:

Read it and weep, Birdgang.

Also, the road doesn't get easier. The Eagles face the undefeated Vikings next week (and you KNOW Sam Bradford wants to burn his old team), and the current combined record of their next six opponents is 24-9. Yikes.

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