ONE of my most frequent quotes is “Life is an I.Q. Test.” I say that a lot, and it happens to be true. For example, if SS Chauncey “CJGJ” Gardner-Johnson returns to the Eagles, it will show us how smart he is. By the way, the fact that he’s been a free agent this long, I think increases his chance of returning to the Eagles in 2023. Just saying.
He went into the free agent process thinking his services would fetch him at least 14M$ per year. So far only one Safety has netted such a deal, and CJGJ was not him. So he’s been posting and taking down messages on social media; the gist of which have been that, he feels disrespected by the offers he’s been getting. Boo-hoo.
So he’s not worth as much as he thought he’d be, and he’s butthurt over it.
Him being a twit and throwing a contract tantrum, is the reason the Saints gave him to us, for a 5th and 6th round pick. Forget a squabble over money, to them he wasn’t worth the headache.
In the end he’s still going to sign somewhere to make at least 7M$ this year, because it’s not like he’s going to retire in protest. So when he signs for under 14M, he’ll still feel like he’s underpaid, regardless of where he signs. (Hey look! It’s the world’s tiniest violin!)
This is where the I.Q. test comes in. Does he want to be underpaid on a rebuilding team, or on one that could be Super Bowl Champion inside of the next 365 days? Those are literally his choices right now. And I know what you’re thinking: “But he could go to another contender.” To that I counter with: Could he? Could he really? This article was brought to you by today’s sponsor: CONTEXT.
Chiefs are about all tapped out and won’t spend on him. Bengals would just be patching a hole created by the free agent Safety they just lost. San Fran just blew their wad on DT Javon Hargrave. Buffalo is a possibility, but CJGJ is a Florida boy, who likes nightlife. Dallas can’t afford him, because they just extended their own Safety,
Everyone else is farther away from being a Super Bowl contender.
There’s rumors that Denver is courting him, but they just hired a new head coach, and they play in the same division as QB’s Patrick Mahomes, and Justin Herbert. With as loaded as the AFC is, it’s possible that CJGJ could never take another playoff snap, over the duration of his next contract.
Or he could come back to the team that MADE him, and possibly become a champion. What do I mean by “made him”? Just this:
True or false. When CJGJ was out with a lacerated kidney last year, rookie S Reed Blankenship stepped in and looked pretty darn good out there. That statement would be TRUE. So, Chauncey might want to git his ass back here, while the gittin’ is gittin’. Because he has more ways to fail than succeed. Let’s see if he’s smart enough to see that, because Life is an I.Q. Test.
GENERALLY when I talk football, it’s about my Eagles. I tend to keep mum about our rivals, unless we have a game coming up against one of them. Otherwise, I’ve reserved most talk about them for my Pre-Draft Preview,which drops each April. (Look for it!)
In 2017 however, I decided to try something new, and give our fan base a running commentary of what the division is doing around us. This ensures that Eagles fans actually are the NFL’s best informed, and most knowledgeable fans. (Provided that you visit this site often.) These updates will come out three times during the season: After Weeks 6, 12, and 17.
This is where things are today:
Washington Commanders:2 – 4, 4th place
The Commanders score 17 points per game and give up 22. That’s the whole story with this team. That’s it. Per game, they are one stop and one score away from being a winning team. However, their big problem, is poor team culture.
The initial tone for team culture, is always set by the head coach. In this case it’s one of easy answers and finger-pointing. Where you have finger-pointing, you will also find low accountability, and a lack of unity. This was demonstrated by head Ron Rivera, when he was asked about why his team was behind other teams in the division, and he responded with “Quarterback.”
He could have said “Injuries.” His team’s best RB, Brian Robinson was shot prior to this season, but he fought to come back; and has just made his first start in one of this team’s two wins. Their best defensive player, DE Chase Young has been out since last season. They’re missing two-fifths of their offensive line.
Yet Rivera went with “Quarterback.”, seemingly dumping the whole mess on QB Carson Wentz. This is despite the fact that Wentz was traded for, because the team was already a mess, and they were hoping he could help clean it up.
With this noise going on, you’d never know that even without Chase Young, this team has five players with at least three sacks. You’d never know that this team is 57% in the red zone. You’d never know that Carson Wentz leads the division with 10 touchdown passes, despite being sacked 23 times already.
Oh! Speaking of sacks, Wentz has a broken finger on his throwing hand, and QB Taylor Heinicke will be the starter for at least the next three weeks. Also, there is no firm date for Young’s return, and the NFL is preparing to remove the owner, from the team with the stadium that literally shits on it’s fans.
Dallas Cowboys:4 – 2, 3rd place
While losing to Tampa Bay, in the season opener, QB Dak Prescott broke his thumb. A disaster for some teams, but not for the Cowboys. Stepping in for Prescott, was the man, the myth, the legend, the inevitable Hall of Famer, QB Cooper Rush. Like a velvet Mona Lisa hanging in an Applebee’s restroom, he was truly magnificent!
Rush scorched NFL scoreboards from New York to Los Angeles (both were road games!), with four touchdowns in only four weeks, whilst leading the Cowboys to four straight victories. Ever the perfect professional pocket passer, he ran only when he needed to, racking up 9 yards on 9 carries. You could not stop him, you could only hope to contain him!
Coming along for that four game ride, was the Cowboys 3rd ranked defense, which allowed 13.5 points per game, over that stretch. It was nice to see them making their small contribution to Cooper’s cause. OLB Micah Parsons racked up 6 sacks, and was being compared to Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor. It was four weeks of utter bliss!
Then there were some troubles in Philadelphia.
Unfortunately, in Rush’s last start, the clock failed his comeback effort, by not providing him with enough time. Also, there may or may not have been, three interceptions thrown by Rush. But this isn’t about assigning blame. Besides, it was Parsons fault for letting down Cooper and therefore the whole team. He isn’t nearly as good at getting sacks, when he’s made to cover receivers. There is simply no accountability with him.
So the Cowboys fell from 4 – 1 to 4 – 2. Sadly enough, Dak Prescott gets the start this week vs. Detroit. Even if the Cowboys win, it won’t be the same. There won’t be that Rush that fans get when Coopity-Coop is out there.
New York giants:5 – 1, 2nd place
Even though the prior two teams are absolute circuses, the giants are the team that makes me laugh the hardest. The funniest part is that nobody else seems to see it yet. Not the team, the media, most fans… It’s an absolute riot! After this article you will totally have a different take on their season. I guarantee it. (In my head, I can hear Bill Burr reading this article, and it’s fuckin’ awesome.)
When a team falls short in the playoffs, they go out and get more offensive or defensive firepower. They add a WR, or a TE. Maybe beef up the o-line. They add a pass rusher or strengthen their secondary. Maybe replace a shaky Kicker. The part that double-digit win teams don’t monkey with, is the QB.
A team’s entire offense runs through the QB. Everything from his pre-snap read, his cadence, his way of processing checks, the way he wants the ball snapped, the way he reads a defense, who he relies on in certain situations. And then there’s the idea that the new QB has to learn an entire play-book, and new players, while playing what would be a tougher schedule.
So winning teams don’t mess with their QB situation.
Hey, did I mention that the giants opted to not pick up the fifth year on QB Daniel Jones’s rookie deal? I didn’t? Well, the giants opted to not pick up the fifth year on QB Daniel Jones’s rookie deal. That makes him a free agent after this year. So now if they want him to come back in 2023, they have to pay the guy more than they would have, if they’d just picked up his 22M$ option.
So the giants are on the verge of either giving Daniel Jones a multi-year contract, for more than 27M$. Or, if they don’t, they have to start all over, and hope that the next guy isn’t worse. What do I mean by worse? Do you see what’s happening with QB Russell Wilson in Denver? Or they could draft the next Ryan Leafwhile hoping for a Peyton Manning.
If you’re a fan of the giants, your team is either teasing you with ONE good season, or damning you to four more years of Jones. He’s either your starter next year, or he isn’t. There isn’t a third option! Oh yeah, right now RB Saquon Barkley leads the entire NFL with 771 yards from scrimmage. (Had I led with that, giants fans would have been on the ceiling. Mentioned now, it hardly matters to them. Which goes to show, you can troll a fan base with good news.)
Now if you’re a giants fan, every win will seem like a month added to a prison sentence. If you’re a rival fan, every win makes you giggle a little. Even if they beat your team, there’s sort of a silver lining there, because you know you’ll get ‘em next time. A ten win season is the worst possible scenario for their front office. Imagine having to justify dismantling a ten win team, to 8.8 million people. That’s what they’re facing if they keep winning!
Oh yeah, and their defense is playing extremely well. Ranked 7th in the league! (To giants fans, that just felt like a stab wound.)
So that’s the state of our division rivals as our Eagles head into the Week 7 Bye. See ya in six weeks everybody!
WHAT’S it like to get a foot in your ass, in a building, with a statue of you in front of it? Well, on Sunday around 5p.m. we should be able to ask former Eagles and current Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson. So far he has the Jacksonville Jaguars looking, and playing like a professional football team.
My prediction of course, seems like pure fan speculation. I have yet to even start assembling the Four Things article, for this upcoming game. So I can’t have a grounded sense of how this one will shake out, right? I mean, the Jags have the NFL’s second highest differential (+46) in points scored to points against. The Eagles come in third (+36) in that category.
Given the Eagles tendency to sleepwalk through the second half of football games, and Jacksonville coming alive after the half, this game has all the makings of a nail biter. Predicting a win this early, with no due diligence just seems like talking shit. Right? Perhaps.
But there’s a deeper narrative to this Eagles season.
The NFL schedule makers forcing us to put down Doug, the week after putting down QB Carson Wentz, almost seems cruel. It also portends that Week 11, QB Nick Foles may be starting in place of QB Matt Ryan, on the day that we face head coach Frank Reich’s Colts. (If it happens, don’t be shocked.) Do you see the pattern forming?
The Universe loves irony, and it has a poetic way of punishing those who ignore it. Nick should have stayed in Philly, but took a shaky contract, and had a horrific time in Jacksonville. Both on and off the field. (I often wonder if Philly’s better hospitals could have saved his unborn child.) During Week One, Carson beat Doug, who didn’t stick up for him here. Then last week, we pounded Carson who requested a trade, into the ground. Reich has gone from guru to damned near punchline in Indianapolis.
Now Doug gets to come back, and get a foot in his ass, at the foot of his statue. Everyone connected with the collapse of our Super Bowl team, has had to swallow bitter medicine as a result of their actions immediately following that demise. So clearly Doug has an ass whipping coming.
And don’t think for a moment that General Manager Howie Roseman won’t get his. The Universe doesn’t fuck around when it dishes. At the moment, EVERYTHING Howie does seems like genius. The world can’t pat him hard enough on the back. Which only sets him up for the biggest fall of them all. Gifted with opportunity by the Universe, they each spat in it’s face.
Understand, I’m not saying that the Universe is angry that the Eagles dynasty was shaken down. I highly doubt it cares about football or any sport. What I’m saying, is that a lot of negative energy went into destroying what was constantly advertised, as good men coming together. Hypocrisy. Being a turncoat. Ingratitude. These things scream at Karma in defiance of it. And that only ends one way.
I’M not going to keep you in suspense. It’s QB Jalen Hurts. All the beat reporters in Philadelphia don’t have the balls to do what I’m going to do here. Let me put it plain language, so that no one can be confused by it, and so I can’t back away from it in January.
QUALIFIER: If Hurts isn’t mentally sharper in 2022, the Eagles won’t win 9 games. However, if he is better at seeing passing lanes and getting the ball out on time, the entire NFC, not just the East, is on notice. This 2022 Eagles team will be competing for a first round bye, in the playoffs.
Am I getting ahead of myself? Nope. Not at all. You saw my qualifier. I didn’t say it was an automatic. I clearly stated the one thing, and ONLY one thing, that has to happen to trigger this team’s ascension.
I hear you ask “But BEAST, what about injuries?” We will have some, and some of them will be more damaging than others. Of course if the team is decimated by injury, even with a better Hurts, we’re probably screwed. That however, won’t need to be said to smart people. (So anyone who ignores parts of article, to focus on other parts, will be removing themselves form the ‘Smart’ category.)
As for a normal amount of injuries, what sets the Eagles apart, is that everywhere that we’re strong, we’re also deep. Let’s go position by position.
QB – Hurts and Gardner Minshew. No back-ups here, just two starters.
WR – Devonta Smith, A.J. Brown, Quez Watkins, Zach Pascal. Our top four WR’s have all been starters, who have posted at least one 600 yard season. There are no untested kids here.
OT – Lane Johnson, Jordan Mialata, Andre Dillard. Dillard doesn’t start because of how good the guys in front of him are, and teams have inquired about trading for him.
C – Jason Kelceis a Hall of Famer in-waiting, backed up by an heir (Cam “Beef” Jurgens) that Kelce hand-picked, as well as a couple of guys (Jack Driscoll and Isaac Seumalo) who have been plug and play at this position.
DT – Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Milton Williamsand Jordan Davis. There are teams that don’t have one guy of this caliber at DT, and we have FOUR. (FYI: If they can get Renell Wren going, they’ll have to change the scheme to get any three of these guys out there at once.)
LB – Kyzir White, Hassan Reddick, T.J. Edwards, Nakobe Dean. Anyone who expects Dean to walk away with the starting job in camp, wasn’t paying attention to Edwards, once the team gave him over 50% of the snaps in a game. Go and look at Weeks 8 – 16. Go look.
CB – Darius Slay, James Bradberry, Avonte Maddox, and Zech McPhearson. Maddox is strictly a slot guy, but he’s Top 10 (#9) at it. McPhearson is a pup, but he’s got dawg in him.
Those are positions of outright strength for the team. Next we have some positions that aren’t deep with game-changers, but have plenty of options if the starters go down.
RB – Miles Sanders is our guy. Behind him are Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott. Neither is spectacular, but in Sander’s absence, they’ve already shown that as a duo, they can keep the Offense running.
G – Landon Dickerson is a star. Isaac Suemalo (the other starter), isn’t a star. Young Jack Driscoll has made a strong case for Suemalo’s spot, and if Driscoll wasn’t coming back from his own injury, the job might already be his. So there’s one star, and two starters battling for a job. So we’re solid.
DE – Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat. Graham is not a sack artist, but he generates hurries, and contains the run extremely well. Conversely, Josh Sweat is pass rusher more than a solid End. Derek Barnett never became the sack artist he was drafted to be, but he’s low-key pretty good vs the run. There are no stars here, but no weak links either.
Right now S has too many question marks to say that it’s an asset yet. There is also almost no depth at TE. This is why I wrote earlier that the Eagles need the experiment of moving J.J. Arcega-Whitesidefrom WR to TE, to be a success story.
Since this article was written (originally on July 16th), Training Camp has begun, and USA Today has picked us to go 11 – 6, and win the NFC East. So far so good, everything looks like it should, right about now.
I do have some concerns about Hurts though. And I’m not alone. Some guy named Brian Westbrookalso used “concerned” to describe his feelings about the team “When I’m hearing our quarterback is struggling early on in the preseason, early on in the camp, I’m absolutely concerned because I absolutely know that our quarterback has to carry us for a certain part of the season. We have to find a way to make sure Jalen Hurts is the guy and right now, based on some of the reports that are coming out of camp, he hasn’t done too well.“
It’s not just me. It’s not just BWest. As he said, reports coming out of camp. This is internal stuff, folks. Even Head Coach Nick Sirianniused the ‘C’ word. “Would you want to eliminate a couple of the turnovers? Absolutely. There’s a couple too many turnovers in there. That’s where my biggest concern is.”
So this is not me picking on Hurts. Fan, former player, and Head Coach are all concerned. So this can just be dismissed. I want to believe the kid can do it, but he’s running out of time and wasting opportunities. Game One is closer than it appears.
Do you want to know what my nightmare is? Watching Hurts be outplayed twice this year, by QB Carson Wentz. Are you up for that? Hurts has started two games against the Cowboys, and been blown out both times. Are you up for that again? Last year, Hurts (QB rating 17.5) was massively outplayed by QB Daniel Jones (QB rating 94.0), in a 7 – 13 Eagles loss. Are you up for that again? If you aren’t up for this stuff, then you need to be concerned.
THE players have returned. I watch QB Jalen Hurts joke and pal around with the fellas. Player’s children run across the field, carrying footballs. Bubble wrap appears on a helmet. All of this just SO cute! And I don’t give a damn about any of it. Because bitterness is all that I can taste.
We lost a playoff game. On national television. In humiliating fashion. Our QB was exposed for reading defenses as well as a JUGGS machine. Our Defense was as well-carved as any Thanksgiving bird to ever grace my table. Sadly, that was my last taste of real football. I’ve been walking around with this taste, this distaste, in my mouth, since Sunday January 16th.
I tried to cleanse it with some NFL games rebroadcast on NFL Network. I tried to banish it with the upstart USFL. I even sampled Canadian, hoping that a different flavor might distract me. But this taste. I can’t get this taste out of my mouth. I can’t make this go away, until I finally can get what I crave. What I need.
I need Eagles football.
I haven’t written about Training Camp yet, because it hasn’t started yet. It’s still early. Guys are running around in shorts and no pads, and that’s necessary. Trust me, I get that. It’s Level Two conditioning. I only played semi-pro, but from high school on up, some things about football are universal. Level One conditioning you do on your own, but L2 introduces competition: Are you better than him, and him, and him, and him? Can you get better? SHOW US!!!
Football however… Real football, doesn’t start until the hitting does. It’s easy for athletes to be tough guys in shorts, but repeatedly getting hit in 90 degree weather, with a fiberglass oven on your head… Not every man is built for that. I can remember showing up to camps in May, and seeing 120 – 150 guys. Each thinking he was NFL bound! Then the grind would start. By early September there’d be just 40 to 45 guys left. One of which would be me.
But the Eagles.
All the improvements we’ve supposedly made… To be honest, to this point I’m not seeing them. For instance, the offseason footwork program that Hurts went through in California. I was hoping to see him committing it to muscle memory, but he still bounces after his drops, and doesn’t consistently step into his passes, leading to this
I mentioned this back in May and so far, it looks the same. As I said, it’s early. (But I’d still like to see improvement from May.)
Aside from the hitting, I’m waiting for Friday, August 12th. In what should be a vanilla preseason game, I’m hoping to see improvement in the Eagles habits:
I want to see how often Hurts get the ball out, as his drop ends.
I want to see the Defense give up fewer 8 to 10 yard completions, inside the numbers.
I want to see a LB’s cover a TE for three seconds.
I want to see RB Kenneth Gainwell finish runs by falling forward.
I don’t need to see a ton, but I need to see something. Just a little something to tell me that 2022 will be different. And to help me to finally, begin to get this taste, out of my mouth.
PROPERLY armed, the Eagles can win the NFC East. We’ll need to do some remodeling, but not full-on rebuilding. With the current combination of the Eagles being really good at some things, and our rivals being bad at some things, the door is open. More than just a little. We just need to add the right pieces to shore up our own weaknesses, before we attempt to stroll/walk/dip through it.
We have what seems like 700 picks in this Draft, but today I’m just going to focus on these five:
Round 1: No. 15 (from MIA)
Round 1: No. 18 (from NO)
Round 2: No. 51
Round 3: No. 83
Round 3: No. 101 (from NO)
Here are the players I want to see become Eagles this week:
Round 1: No. 15 – DT Jordan Davis: Some might consider this a few picks early, others will say it’s an outright reach. There’s a good chance that he won’t even be there at 15, so I wouldn’t gamble on that. Just to be sure, I’d offer this pick (#15) and #101 to Houston, for the #13 pick, to avoid losing Davis to Baltimore at #14.
What I see is five years (rookie contract) of a space eating, run-stuffer who absorbs double-teams, and helps to keep our LB’s clean, in a division that still runs the ball. Adding this guy would upgrade the entire defense on that alone. When DT Fletcher Cox is gone next year, Davis gives us someone to build around. He’d also help keep DT Javon Hargrave effective, and let DT Milton Williams play more DE.
Round 1: No. 18 – WR Treylon Burks: The Eagles made overture after overture to free agent WR’s this offseason, all of whom turned us down. Eventually the Eagles settled for WR Zach Pascal. Yes, settled. If you think our Front Office is done trying to upgrade our WR position, then you my friend have lost the plot.
The Eagles have fast guys at WR (Watkins, Hightower). We got guys you never heard of (Allen, Cain). Guys who can’t catch (Reagor). We have clever guys (Ward), TE guys (Arcega-Whiteside), shrug-worthy guys (Pascal). What we don’t have, is a big, fast, and physical guy. And that’s where Burks comes in.
Burks is so different from WR Devonta Smith, but WOW, what a potential combo! Smith is a precise route runner who creates separation and gives the QB, friendly places to put the ball. Burks can win contested catches and shed tackle attempts. So for each of them, Safety help is needed to prevent a routine catch from turning into six points. Which would make it very hard for a defensive coordinator to write a coverage concept, that wouldn’t get shredded on a weekly basis.
Round 2: No. 51 – S Daxton Hill: Though he plays a lot of Nickel CB, he can play anywhere in the secondary. Let me reiterate: Anywhere in the secondary. He’s a DB with 4.3 speed, and it shows up on film. Many athletes leave their impressive 40 times at the Combine. This kid had his on display before he got there. Better still, he attacks the football and causes interceptions for other players off of deflections.
The F.O. chased CB Stephon Gilmore in free agency, but they didn’t chase a bunch of CB’s. Pretty much just Gilmore, because… Well because he’s him. Otherwise we have Slay, Maddox, and 7 young CB’s to evaluate. Spending a high pick on another one, only makes that evaluation more complicated.
What we need, is a FS with Jaws-like closing speed, who is nearly impossible to outrun. This could be that guy.
Round 3: No. 83 – DE Joshua Paschal: He didn’t rack up a ton of sacks in college, and he’s not a pass rush demon. What he is, is a big, assignment solid DE. He sets the edge vs the run, and gains consistent penetration, proving disruptive both as a DE, and DT. He even flashes the ability to play as a 3-4 DE.
The best thing about him, is that he doesn’t just make plays when he isn’t blocked, or when he’s poorly blocked. This guy makes plays even after beating squared up offensive linemen. He plays a man’s game already. The idea of sitting him next to Jordan Davis for the next three of four years (or longer) is a happy thought.
This is how I’d like to see the first three rounds go.
Some NFL Drafts have good fourth rounds. When we look back in 5 years, I doubt this will be one of them. This is a shallow draft, in terms of finding many difference makers at RB, TE, QB, G, and DT. That being the case, we should grab what we need, and everything from the fourth round and on, view as a lottery scratch-off.
IMPROVE the roster. That’s the mission of this, and every offseason. The first step (as always), is not to do anything stupid, which either leaves a hole, or depletes depth. Teams sometimes do that when they have plans to add X-free agent, and/or Y-draft pick. Problem is, when they land neither player X nor Y, they get left with a hole. Often gaping. So let’s not do something stupid.
If we’re smart, here are six holes we’ll avoid creating, just by re-signing guys:
G – Nate Herbig: He’s been solid everywhere we’ve put him (LG – C – RG). He has inside versatility, is more reliable than Sua Opeta, and may be a better starter thanIsaac Seumalo.
RB – Jordan Howard: His neck is a bit of a concern, but the Eagles need a bruiser, and unless the Front Office plans to trade for one, free agency is loaded with guys who either won’t come here (John Conner, Melvin Gordon, Leonard Fournette); guys who don’t run as big as their size (Peyton Barber, Kalen Ballage, Damien Williams); and the 30+ club (Latavius Murray, Brandon Bolden).
CB – Steven Nelson: Though he didn’t have the monster season that Darius Slay had, Nelson only surrendered an average of 33.9 yards per game. (Slay averaged 31.) Whether the plan is to develop Zech MacPhearsonor draft another kid, keeping Nelson around is the smart play. If we let him walk, who starts in his place?….Exactly.
OLB – Alex Singleton: The Eagles need to upgrade our pool of LB talent. No argument there. However, if the Eagles don’t re-sign Singleton, that would leave us with promising, but still raw Davion Taylor and our fingers crossed. Singleton isn’t flashy, but he hustles, and doesn’t quit on plays. His attitude is exactly what incoming rookies needs to see.
FS – Rod McLeod: We aren’t even close to having an answer at this position if we let him walk. Eagles fans want FA Tyrann Mathieu, but he’s going to have plenty of suitors. So Mathieu coming here, is far from a slam dunk. McLeod is already here and wants to come back. Why be difficult? Just take ‘Yes’ for an answer.
WR – Greg Ward: He is the most veteran player at his position, in a room full of pups. He’s also one of just TWO decent Punt Returners under contract with this team. And that’s counting Active roster, Practice Squad, and even guys on Injured Reserve.
Keep in mind, any of the players that we re-sign, we can still cut later. Re-signing these guys just means that moves made subsequently, can be done with far less risk. As for the remaining eight, I like some of them, but many of them don’t fit the Eagles big picture.
DE Derek Barnett will never produce more than 7 sacks, in a system which plays it’s CB’s off so much.
DT Hassan Ridgeway is a solid rotation guy, and I’ve been big on him for years. Unfortunately for him, he’s in Milton Williams’s way. Williams was a third round pick and unlike Ridgeway, he can be flexed out to DE.
RB Boston Scott is a gamer, but A) Someone is going to throw him more than 3 million a year, B) It shouldn’t be us, since we’ll soon have to pay RB Miles Sanders; C) Three small RB’s in Scott, Kenneth Gainwelland Jason Huntley is two too many.
CB Andre Chachere makes you notice him, but the numbers game at his position might run him out of town. Even more so, I think his style of play would be better suited to FS, but the Eagles FO is still hoping that K’Von Wallace pans out there, since they spent a draft pick on him.
The Eagles have already re-signed TE Richard Rodgers. As much as the Front Office raves about TE Tyree Jackson, his ACL tear in Week 18 means that he’ll miss OTA’s, mini-camp, and some, or all of Training Camp. Rodgers represents depth and starter insurance.
And now for some bad news. We can’t claim to be rebuilding. We did that last year, and we made the playoffs. Making the playoffs is now expected for this team. Playoffs is the floor, not the ceiling in 2022. We will not sneak up on anyone this year. Everything that this team does now, is not to build a winner, but to go further this year. This year.
We want to open Training Camp with the Eagles being more talented, and more dangerous, than when our season ended. That process begins with the start of Free Agency on March 16th. We’ll take care of our in-house business, then chase the outside. Remember, the first step (as always), is not to do anything stupid.
LAST week we went to Washington and chalked the Redskins in their home.
That win clinched a playoff berth for us, but also renders this game against the Cowboys sort of anti-climactic. Add to that, the 12 players we put on the Covid list this week, and the volume really gets turned down on this one.
We currently occupy the 7th seed which means our likely first round opponent would be the Rams. If the 49ers lose, it could catapult us from the 7th seed, alllllllll the way up the 6th seed. In which case we’d likely draw Tampa Bay. Who cares? You? Me neither.
This week a win can’t help us and a loss can’t hurt us. Which has people of three minds:
1) Rest the starters, so that we don’t lose anyone before the playoffs.
2) Play to win, because it’s Dallas.
3) Play the starters just for a half, to practice some of our weaknesses.
I’m in camp number THREE. The stakes are no longer based on the climb to the playoffs. We’re there already. The next set of stakes are IN the playoffs. There are no stakes this week. None. So just use this week as an assessment tool/study hall.
There will be stakes again, soon enough.
The point of Four Things isn’t to predict a winner, it’s to discuss which tactics will practically guarantee our Eagles this win. CAUTION: I don’t have the faintest clue as to what a point spread is, and I know even less about how it works. I know football and that’s IT. If you use FT as a gambling tool, you are trying to lose your money, and will deserve it when you do.
So let’s talk about the Four Things we need to focus on this week versus the Cowboys:
1) Understand the moment: QB Jalen Hurtsis 0 – 2 vs the Cowboys, having been blown-out both times. Getting him his first win against them, while at home? That would be big for him. Huge in fact. Because calling a QB who can’t beat Dallas, “our franchise”? Nope. Can’t do it. Hurts could use the win. That said, it shouldn’t be our focus.
Seeing the big picture, should be our focus. Use this week to practice things we suck at, and get some game experience for our deep bench. Playing the starters for the full game, or until one of them is injured, would show that Head Coach Nick Sirianni doesn’t understand the moment.
2) Dig DEEP: While a win would be nice, don’t get hung-up watching the scoreboard. Instead, here’s what you should look for: QB Reid Sinnettgetting some action; WRJ.J. Arcega-Whitesidecatching passes; CB Zech McPhearson covering WR Amari Cooper; OT Andre Dillard trying to show that he can run block; LB Patrick Johnsonand LB Shaun Bradley getting 10+ defensive snaps. And maybe a few runs from RB Kerryon Johnson!
Players you don’t know, making 2 to 4 nice plays after half-time. That’s the ideal situation.
3) Going Out In Style:If our starters beat-up on their back-ups, that’s a cheap win. It’s a chicken-shit way to win a game.
Ideally, when our starters leave this game, two things should be true: 1) Dallas’s starters are still out there, and 2) We have the lead. Regardless of how small it is.
That way it can (and WILL), be said that our starters could have won this game, had they played the whole thing.
Besides, Dallas has spent so much money on overpaying starters, that the depth on that team looks like high school JV squad. To stand any chance of winning, they’d have to leave their starters in. Their starters vs our back-ups? What a chicken-shit way to win.
4) Do some reckless shit: This is a game without consequences! Do some stuff that normally would get the coaching staff crucified for trying it. Stuff like:
Not punting all game long.
Giving LS Rick Lovatoa couple of defensive snaps at LB.
Letting WR Greg Ward play QB for a series. (He played it in college.)
Giving LT Jordan Mailata a carry in the redzone
Just something wild and crazy. Look, this is the last home game of the year for Birds fans. It’s a night game, and it’s going to be windy and about 25 degrees. Give those fans something to remember, before our team goes on the road for possibly the next 4 games.
If we do these Four Things,
It should build confidence and loosen the entire roster up. It could act to bring more joy to the hard work, of preparing to beat playoff teams. Winning this week would be great. However, this week isn’t about that. It’s about getting everyone focused on a much bigger prize.
That having been said, the last time we faced Dallas, our coaching staff called 39 passes and just 3 handoffs. THREE run plays, all day long. As a team we ran for 64 yards. Jalen Hurts ran 9 times for 35. We had 29 yards on 3 handoffs, and still we didn’t hand the ball off more. RB Jordan Howard wasn’t even on the active roster.
That is NOT the Eagles team that the Cowboys will face this Saturday Night.
This time around, vs a defensive line built to rush the passer, our O-Line needs to practice putting foot to ass. The tone of this game will be 180 degrees from the last one. Those fuckers won’t have any idea of what hit them.
PREDICTION: EAGLES 20 – Cowboys 9
Check back in a couple of days for Four Things Reviewed, and we’ll discuss how it went.
New categories include an EXCLUSIVE weekly Offensive Line Report (Rushing TD’s + 3rd and 4th downs converted:missed of 2 yards or less – sacks allowed); as well as Drive Killer (Int – FR – 4th down Tackles – FF – TD).
Drive Killer: (S ) OLB Alex Singleton(1 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 1)
Sack Leader: (S ) DE Josh Sweat(4 – 1.0 – 0 – 1)
I hear you asking, “What about all the stuff that stats don’t reveal?” Well, that’s the reason for these Four Things articles. It’s to point out what we need to address BEFORE the game. Then AFTER the game, there’s a no-bullshit assessment of whether or not the Eagles did any of what they needed to do, to ensure the win.
So how much of what I mentioned in Four Things: giants did the Eagles actually get around to doing? Well let’s see:
1) Run Jordan for Miles: Sadly, both RB Miles Sanders (7 – 45 – 6.4 – 0 – 0) and RB Jordan Howard (9 – 37 – 4.1 – 0 – 0) were injured during the game, but not before combining for 82 yard on 16 carries (5.1 ypc). When RB Boston Scott (12 – 41 – 3.4 – 1 – 0) was called on to fill-in, he added an early score.
Scott’s contribution to this team is not to be overlooked. However, the loss of pop in his legs as his usage piled up, was noticeable. Again. If Sanders and Howard are going to keep finding their way into street clothes during games, the Eagles are going to need to carry four active players at this position. (DONE)
2) Feature Devonta:Who lead the team in receiving yards? Devonta did! Who led the team in catches? Devonta did that too! Who led the team in targets? Oh my gaw- Was that Devonta? Why yes it was Devonta! Who led the team in touchdown catches? RT Lane Johnson ( 1 – 1 – 1.0 – 1) tied for the team lead with that.
This was a game where we needed our best, to be our best, and Devonta stepped up and was that. His touchdown catch had almost enough toe drag swag, to give me a foot fetish. Right Rex?(DONE)
3) Blow up the Center:We did this, but we did quite a few other things too. This factored in the most, on the interception that QB Jake Fromm (6/17 – 35.2% – 25 – 0 – 1) threw to FS Rod McLeod (1 – 0.0 – 1 – 0). Fromm couldn’t step into his throw, tried to muscle it in, and it sailed on him. Right into McLeod’s mitts.
We were getting away with doing so many different things to Fromm, that the giants pulled him in the third quarter, and sent out QB Mike Glennon (17/27 – 62.9% – 93 – 1 – 1). Glennon came out and threw two touchdowns. If you count the one to Eagles LB Alex Singleton. (DONE)
4) Be Active Pre-snap:We did some of this, but not enough of it. Fromm seemed more flustered by the speed of the game and the pass rush, than he was by the reads. While his percentage looks awful, Fromm didn’t throw the ball into dangerous places, and generally on his incompletions it was easy to understand his decision making. (NOT DONE)
So that gives us3 of the Four Things, and an easy victory to boot. Next week we get to visit Washington! Their team (at 6 – 9) is still mathematically alive for playoff contention. So of course we have to do to them, what we just did to New York.
On The Whole:
The Offense can’t afford slow starts like this. Scoring 3 points in an entire half of a game is unacceptable. Of course, that’s what will happen when the head coach gets cute.
Look, the Eagles offensive strength is running the ball. So why were 6 of our first 7 plays, passes? Simple. It was Head Coach Nick Siriannilooking to prove how clever he is. That cost us the game last time. This time he wised up.
THIS is some bullshit!! Our game against the Washington Redskins (don’t bother complaining), was postponed for two days, from Sunday to Tuesday. My biggest gripe with this is pretty the same gripe that every Eagles fan has: It robs us of two days rest and prep on the back-end for the giants game next Sunday.
If we were tanking and just running down the season, it wouldn’t matter and none of us would care. However, we are trying to make a push to qualify for the playoffs. In fact, as of today it’s still mathematically possible (though highly unlikely) that we could win the division. So anything that rocks our boat, acts as a hindrance to that effort.
What makes this so heinous, is that this hindrance was a deliberate act, handed down from the league itself. Worse, is the felling that we are being punished for the Redskins irresponsibility, while they seem to be receiving a form of clemency for it.
And honestly, what is to be gained from giving Washington two more days? They didn’t start tagging players until Tuesday the 14th. The quarantine period is 10 days. Tuesday the 21st is just 7 days from the earliest diagnoses. Some players weren’t popping until Friday the 17th. That’s just FOUR days. The CDC itself says that these windows wouldn’t be wide enough.
Players need two negative tests in 48 hours to return. If they were being watched for exposure, that’s one thing, but for those INFECTED, they can’t come back on Tuesday. They still have to quarantine because they may still be shedding virus, regardless of what the tests say about their infection state. Virus can be shed over a period of 8 – 31 days.
So the Redskins get no additional benefit from the two days. At best, all it does is slow US down.
Back in the Summer, the NFL declared that teams who didn’t follow proper protocols, and had outbreaks of Covid among their players and coaches, faced possible forfeitures as a consequence. Well, the instant that was tested, that policy flew right out the window.
Understand, the NFL is currently discussing moving other games as well. So it’s entirely possible that the giants game could also be moved. However, that ripple of a short week WILL show up in the next four. Given that we’re at the low-end of a playoff push, and ALL FOUR of these games are against division opponents, this is some ultimate fuckery.