31 October 2016

"Some Things Never Change...And Some Things Do"

Philadelphia Eagles 23, Dallas Cowboys 29, Sunday, October 30, 2016

You know, even with turning over the entire coaching staff (other than Dave "All I Do Is Be Awesome" Fipp), getting a shiny new QB, and replacing a bunch of the skill players, it is still the case that, when the chips are down and the game is on the line, and we need a big offensive series or a major defensive stand, Bleeding Green Nation can count on the Birds to fail to deliver, crushing our hopes and dreams in the process.

Well, at least it wasn't a tie.

Stud of the week: I'm picking Ryan Mathews, because he scored and he managed not put the ball on the turf once this week. Yes, the bar has been lowered. Substantially. I can't pick Darren Sproles every week, folks! (or can I?)

If you recall, my three keys to an Eagles victory were:
I think Jim Schwartz will figure out a way to rattle Dak and pressure him into making some mistakes, and we've seen that the D can be real ball hogs. Count on Dave Fipp to bring some special teams magic, too.
Well, they managed all three. Fipp and special teams brought the magic (a 55 yard field goal? that is, to quote my friend Reggie, "stoopid good," as was Josh Huff's 53 yard kick off return at the end of the third quarter), Dak was clearly rattled and did not actually play very well, Jordan Hicks had an end zone pick that led to an Eagles field goal (a 10 point swing) and the Birds even scored 23 points in regulation, five higher than what the Cowboys have been allowing. But it still wasn't enough to get 'er done. Why?

Tackling, or lack thereof. It's a basic football skill, right? So why can't the Birds do it? I can't even count how many times I saw Ezekiel Elliott run by the entire defense, offense, special teams, practice squad, IR list, coaching staff, equipment manager, and the intern who dispenses the Gatorade. Man, did the Birds miss Bennie Logan Sunday night. Get well soon, big man.

Secondly, the Birds are so thin on the O-line that at one point, I'm almost positive I saw Jason Peters drag a tackling sled onto the field to line up next to him at guard.

Also, NO ONE CAN CATCH THE DAMN BALL other than Darren Sproles, and, intermittently, Jordan Matthews. Oh wait, Zach Ertz can usually catch a two yard pass, but that's all you're getting from him. Could someone please sit him down and explain YAC? He seems to be utterly unfamiliar with the concept. Use a diagram or puppets if you have to. Here's the thing: he's 6'5" so statistically, he'd do better if they just handed him the ball at the line of scrimmage and he fell forward.

Too many WR screens? Hell yes (we'll get to that in a minute), but what other options does Doug Pederson have, if NONE of the receivers can get any separation downfield?

As Reuben Frank put it:
The Eagles’ desperate need for a playmaker has never been so glaring as it was Sunday night in Dallas. Wentz can throw the ball down the field, he just has nobody who can get open. And when they do get open, they drop the ball.
Yep. The Eagles need to put a priority on drafting O-line in the next few years, but they need a decent receiver, like, YESTERDAY.

Meanwhile, none of the running backs can hang onto the ball, either, other than Darren Sproles, and sometimes (only you can never tell when) Ryan Mathews. When Wendell Smallwood fumbled at the beginning of the fourth quarter, leading to the Cowboys field goal that cut the Eagles lead  to 7, I knew we were in trouble.

Pederson proceeded to follow that debacle up with an idiotic trick play that was followed by an even more idiotic screen pass (when they were NOT working) when they COULD NOT afford to lose yards, because it knocked them out of field goal range, or at least Pederson apparently thought so, which is dumb because Sturgis had already nailed one from 55 (twice, actually), but, continuing on the brain fart train, Pederson decided to punt, when letting Sturgis attempt the 53 yarder could've kept it a two-score game, and that was the final nail. The game would continue for nearly another 14 minutes (including OT), but raise your hand if you knew, right then, it had slipped away. [watches while EVERYONE raises their hands]

Bad play calling, as the private Eagles fan group I belong to universally agreed. The problem is, when the only offensive skill player you can rely on other than the QB is Darren Sproles, your options get pretty limited pretty fast. Dude's multi-talented, but he's 33, and he can only do so much.


(Does this feel familiar, or what? Shades of Donovan McNabb and three-headed "monster" that was James Thrash, Freddie Mitchell, and Todd Pinkston. Hopefully, Doug will figure out faster than Andy did that he has to get his QB some targets.)

How much trouble would one get in, really, if she up and kidnapped AJ Green? Asking for a friend....

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