He’s the DT that the Eagles have put on Injured Reserve. Remember when they carted him off the field on Monday ni-, oh right. They didn’t. The Eagles put him on I.R. on Wednesday the 16th. This is Sunday morning the 20th. Quick! What’s his injury? Anybody? Anybody? His injury is sucking ass, and being pushed aside for two better players, that’s what his injury is. Please! Go to the Eagles website and get the details on this “injury”. I’ll wait…..
Over the last 5 weeks, the Eagles have allowed 124 rushing yards or more, in every game. It got really bad after the Bye week, when we allowed 144, 168, and 152 respectively. Many things factor into that. Not bringing arms to tackle attempts, holding runners up to claw at the ball, tackling shoulders instead of thighs. All of which are quickly correctable.
The biggest reason we’re getting run through however, is because we’re getting beat on the line of scrimmage. The knee jerk from fans, has been to either blame DT Fletcher Cox for falling off, or to blame the injury to DT Jordan Davis. Both are correct, but only in a round about way.
Cox was being asked to play more snaps than usual, as the coaching staff hoped he could fill the hole left by Davis, both as a presence and rotationally. As a result, we’re running Cox into the ground. In fact, we’re using him the opposite of how we should be using a player his age. (More on that in the upcoming Quarterly Report. Yes, it’s late. I know. Bear with me.)
So the Eagles added 34 year old DT Linval Joseph, and then DT Ndamukong Suh, who is 35. While Joseph is more of a space eater for the run game, Suh is a flat-out disruptor of blocking schemes. Even when he doesn’t make the play, he frequently causes havoc.
Understand, the worst of our run defense has coincided with the ramp up in snaps for Tuipulotu. Over the last three games, he’s averaged 33% of the defensive snaps. And that is not a good thing! I made it clear in last years Draft Reportthat I didn’t see selecting him as a good move. He stuck anyway.
I repeated my point about Tuipulotu in this year’s Pre-Draft Preview. My specific choice of words: “Marlon Tuipulotu played like trash, with a side order of ass last year,”. Yet he kept seeing the field this year. And the more he did, the more others like Cox were asked to compensate for everything that Tuipulotu can’t do. Which, you know, is pretty much everything.
Cox eats double teams and disrupts the pocket; DT Javon Hargrave is an ‘A’ gap penetrator who gets to QB’s; Davis is a space eating, pocket collapser. Those are our true DT’s. While DTMilton Williams can play that spot, he’s more of a DE/DT tweener. He’s coming along, but we still don’t really know who he is, just yet. Tuipulotu is just a 300 pound guy. Hell, I’M a 300 pound guy! There should be more qualifications than that, to get a roster spot.
When Davis went down, we were left with a bum (Tuipulotu), and two guys who specialize in slipping the point of attack, not holding it. That’s not saying that Cox and Hargrave can’t play the run! We all know that they can. But that’s not where their salary size comes from.
Do you realize that at worst, if Suh and Joseph don’t contribute much as players, those two, plus Cox and Hargrave, will be pouring wisdom into Davis. Meanwhile we have no timetable on Tuipulotu’s return date. Which is totally understandable without an actual injury to assess.
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!
SEASON Reviews are usually done at the end of the season. A few are also done at the halfway mark. Starting in 2017, Eaglemaniacal.com began treating the season like a game, and breaking it into four quarters.
In 2021, the NFL expanded the season to 17 games, which makes for an uneven split. So this year (at least), these Quarterly Reports will come after Weeks 5, 9, 13, and 17. (Ugh. I hate even looking at that format.)
Since football is a hard sport, we’ll take a hard look at where our team currently stands, in relation to where it started. Then we can discuss where it needs to go next.
STATUS: 5 – 0, 1st in NFC East, only undefeated team in the NFL, 27.0 apf / 17.6 apa
W Detroit 1 – 4
W Minnesota 4 – 1
W Washington 1 – 4
W Jacksonville 2 – 3
W Arizona 2 – 3
We’re 5 – 0 with no strong showings during the run. The win at Minnesota was the closest, but our Offense stalled out and didn’t produce any points after half-time. That’s not strong. Same with the game against Washington. The win over Arizona saw us put up a field goal in third, and the game winning kick at the end of the fourth, but we needed them to miss one to cement our win.
We’ve scored 24, 17, 24, and 20 points in the second quarter, in each of our first four games. However, when teams make their adjustments at the half, Offensive Coordinator Shane Steichen is doing an abysmal job of adapting. As a result the weight of the game is shifted squarely onto the Defense, instead of being a team effort.
This is unsustainable.
QB: C / Everyone is taken with the 5 – 0 start, but the reality is, that Jalen Hurtshasn’t put together a whole game, so far this season. There hasn’t been one where he didn’t hit a wall in the second half of a game. Some of that I put at the feet of the coaching staff (as I mentioned above), but some of it is Hurts. Last year after five games he’d thrown 7 TD’s, right now it’s 4. No big deal though, because he’s running for TD’s, right? Perhaps, but those yards aren’t free.
That may be why he physically seems to wear down in games. He’s a ball of energy in the first half of games, but is MUCH more demure later. Part of that may be the beating he’s taking. Five games into last year, his rushing stats were 43 – 256 – 5.9 – 3TD. That was 8.6 carries per game. This year it’s 68 – 266 – 3.9 – 6TD, for 13.6 carries per game. He’s on pace for 231 carries this year! He had 139 last year, when he led the team in rushing attempts. And he got hurt.
Maybe we need to start a mailing campaign, to tell our coaches that Hurts isn’t Harry Newman. If we use Hurts like a QB instead of a 1930’s Tailback, he might be all around sharper in the second half of games.
RB: C / Miles Sanders is 4th in the NFL in rushing yardage (87 – 414 – 4.7 – 3 – 0). He’s running harder this year, but he still doesn’t drive through his pads. Also, his receptions mostly seem to be behind the line of scrimmage and along the sideline. That’s no way to make him an effective receiver. He has just 41 yards on 10 catches, for an average of 4.1 yards per catch. He averages more running!
Kenneth Gainwell(18 – 72 – 4.0 – 2 – 0) and Boston Scott(10 – 29 – 2.9 – 1 – 0) have also disappointed catching the ball. This is another thing that I put it down to this coaching staff. Sanders and Scott used to be threats as receivers, but no Eagles RB has been that since last year. We recently added Trey Sermon, but he has just 2 carries right now.
TE: B / Dallas Goedert (29 – 24 – 335 – 13.9 – 1) is catching 82.8% of balls thrown to him, he’s running HARD after the catch, and contributing to the run game. The only knock is that many of his catches are coming on Screens. Running so many Screens has exposed the team to more ‘illegal blocker downfield’ penalties. More variation is needed.
Jack Stollhas only caught 1 pass, and that needs to be addressed. We need to make teams cover him, so they can’t double someone else. That said, in the three games he’s started, we’ve run for 210, 216, and 139 yards. Rookie Grant Calcaterra had a 40 yard grab a few weeks ago, but has been quiet since. If he’s our insurance policy for Goedert, we should include him more.
WR: B / Devonta “Skinny Batman” Smith(38 – 28 – 353 – 12. 6 – 1) has been up and down this quarter. One game with 169 yards, two with 80, two with under 20, and only averaging 10+ yards per catch in two of them. His production needs to be less erratic. A.J. “Swole Batman” Brown (45 – 28 – 436 – 15.5 – 1) except for last week, has been good for at least 5 catches, 69 yards and 13 yards per catch, every week. A young QB can hang his hat on that.
Quez “Fast Batman” Watkins (8 – 5 – 88 – 17.6 – 1) ripped off a 53 yard touchdown bomb in Week Two, and has scarcely seen a ball thrown his way since. He’s played over half the snaps this season, but again, he’s been targeted just 8 times. I don’t get it! Zach Pascal (7 – 6 – 39 – 6.5 – 0) has been a great pick-up for this team. Often lining up as an H-Back, he does a lot of the dirty work (blocking, decoy routes to pull LB’s, short routes to move the sticks).
OT: B /Lane Johnsonis a monument to quiet, yet consistent dominance.
At RT he’s as good a pass protector as just about any LT in the league. Speaking of LT, Jordan Mailatawas also dominating until his shoulder injury vs Jacksonville. Stepping in since then has been Jack Driscoll, who wouldn’t be playing if back-up Andre Dillardwasn’t on Injured Reserve. Still, third stringer Driscoll has played better than some starters in this league. No exaggeration.
OG:C / They’ve been money on 1 yard Sneak plays, but on other runs, they aren’t blowing people off the line like last year. Isaac Seumalo and Landon Dickersonhave both had to come out of games and have Sua Opeta fill in them, during this first quarter. It does not bode well that there are durability issues at this position, this early in the season.
C:A / Jason Kelce has been a the tip of the spear on this line. His game against Jacksonville was a thing of sheer beauty. His toughness at Arizona was an example to the youth. Especially for Cam “Beef” Jurgens, the guy tasked with replacing him.
DE: C / Brandon Grahamand Josh Sweat have cooled off a little, in the last couple of games. The pair combined for 5.5 sacks and 14 QB hits in the first three weeks, but have been blanked in those categories over the last two games. (Which helps explain the sharp rise in opponent scoring.) Back-ups Patrick Johnson and Tarron Jackson provide rest for the starters but not much else so far. This position needs to pick it back up, or this season is going to get real long, real fast.
DT: A / Fletcher Coxand Javon Hargravehave combined for 4 sacks, 2TFL, 9 QB hits, 1 FF, 3 FR over these first five games. Statistically, this position hasn’t recorded a sack in two weeks, but they are generally collapsing the pocket, and giving QB’s nowhere to step up when they throw.
The increased presence of rookie Jordan Davis has turned the middle of the Eagles defense into the Bermuda Triangle. Offensive players go in, but yards don’t come out. The Eagles got gashed for 181 rushing yards Week One, but since then, are giving up an average of just 86 per game.Milton Williams provides depth and versatility.
OLB: A / Hassan Reddickhas come on strong over the last three games. With 3.5 sacks, 2TFL, 4 QB hits, 3FF and 2FR, he suddenly has given the Eagles that edge pass rusher, who can speed up a QB’s internal clock. Kyzir White hasn’t started any of the last three games, but he plays over 60% of the game primarily challenging underneath passing options, and cleaning up on run plays. Patrick Johnson is listed here, but mostly plays on the line as a situational rusher.
MLB: A / After the Draft, all the chatter was about how rookie Nakobe Dean would take the starting job here and change the face of the Defense. I kept saying “Not so fast.” Well to this point Dean has seen just three defensive snaps, all of which were in Week One. The reason for that? Mr. T.J. Edwards.
Here in his fourth year, Edwards is putting the NFL on notice. His 41 tackles leads the team by a wide margin. His career high in tackles for losses is 5 in a season. Through these five games he already has 4. His career high in sacks is 2 in a season. So far he has 2 in five games. His career high in QB hits is 4, established during these five games. And he’s always on the field.
S: B / FS Marcus Epps has so far played every snap of every game this year. SS Chauncey Gardener-Johnson has played every snap but two this season. Opponents haven’t been challenging the Eagles deep, much at all, as a combination of scheme, communication and talent have made QB’s think better of it. The only knock I have, is Epps leading with a shoulder, instead of his arms on too many tackle attempts.
CB:A / Darius Slay and James Bradberry have to be the best duo in the NFL right now. With 4 interceptions (2 each), and 9 passes defensed between them, there isn’t one side for passers to favor, as they avoid the other. Nowhere is safe! In Week Two, Slay essentially put WR Justin Jefferson in street clothes all night long.
While Bradberry has played all but two downs this season, Slay has been dealing with nagging injuries. Zech MacPhearson had to step in for an injured Slay, vs Jacksonville. They targeted him twice, completed neither and decided caution was the better part of valor. Avonte Maddox is the Nickel, but has been out since Week Three.Josiah Scott has been filling in for Maddox and looking like he needs more practice.
LS: A/ Rick Lovato hasn’t had any issues.
P: B/ Arryn Siposs is averaging 45.8 yards on his 20 punts. More importantly, only 8 have been returned for 38 yards (4.7 per) . So he’s not out-kicking his coverage.
K: A/ Jake Elliott is 4/5 on field goals, and 13/14 on extra points. He was injured on a kick, but gutted out the rest of the game. The following week, Cameron Dicker was 2/2 on XP, and 2/2 on FG’s including the game winner over Arizona. Gutty. Seamless. Clutch.
PR/KR:D/ Britain Coveyhas been sort of trash as a return man. I have no idea why he keeps running AT crowds with open field on either side. He’s had a couple of muffs and is just averaging 6.1 per punt return. I rooted had for this guy in the preseason.
SINCE LAST QUARTER:
Jalen Hurts has improved as a passer. His timing, recognition, placement… All better. He now needs to be his best version for four quarters, not just two. While all the talk has been about how good Hurts would be with WR A.J. Brown, the real story was how the Defense was revamped and re-armed. It shows when the Ofense stalls out and the Defense is out there preserving wins.
MISSION FOR THIS QUARTER:
The Offense needs to carry it’s weight for four quarters. There is no reason why this team should have to participate in a shootout, to see 30 points. Hurts also has to throw more than just 4 damned touchdowns. Yes, he’s running for them, but if he wants QB money on that next contract, he needs to produce like a real QB. Otherwise we’re going to witness an ugly break-up when he accuses the Eagles of low-balling him.
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.
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.
EVERY year I repeat this one. We never do it, and we always should. (Every team should, actually.) Fuck it. I will bang this pot until someone hears me! There is no tactical advantage to using a Punter to hold on Field Goal attempts. Unless you’re Pat McAfee or Sav Rocca, you probably don’t offer much as an athlete on a football field. A back-up QB however, offers plenty.
A QB playing holder makes every FG attempt a potential opportunity for a fake. While that can be said of anyone holding, a QB’s ability to deliver ball (even under pressure), makes that potential fake all the more dangerous, and all the more real.
The most important thing it does, is it forces teams to focus on covering both Ends and both Wings, instead of trying to block a kick. Wait. Let me back up.
Because Special Teams is so rarely talked about, most people don’t know the positions. The five members of the line are T, G, C, G, T. That part you already knew. Outside of the T’s are the TE’s. Still pretty standard stuff. The players outside of the TE’s are Wing Backs (WB). Usually those are WR’s or RB’s who are good blockers, because the emphasis is on protection.
While there are always six players eligible to catch a pass on any FG attempt, not having a player that can deliver a pass, makes that threat practically toothless. Unless someone isn’t covered. A QB on the field however, gives the offense (and that’s still what it is), a player who can routinely deliver an accurate pass, even to a covered man, even with pressure in his face. No P can match that.
I’ve spent years saying that we should use WR Greg Ward as the Holder, given his QB background, and his WR legs. However, if we were to trot QB Gardner Minshewout there, opponents would think “Well what the happy fuck, is this horseshit?” At which point their focus is more on making sure that our TE’s and WB’s don’t get loose for six, than on giving up three.
And after all that, after everything you just read, you just read the REAL payoff. It’s a more relaxed Kicker who doesn’t feel like he needs to rush, because the defense is trying harder to cover, than they are to block. What would relaxing K Jake Elliott be worth to you? Yet all it would cost, is swapping out a P for a QB. That’s it.
And of course, every so often we can actually run a fake. Just to let opponents know that they need to be afraid, and stay that way.
CORNERBACKSDarius Slay and James Bradberry are seen as possibly the best starting Man-to-Man duo, in the NFL. If that’s the case, then they should be allowed to play more Man and less Zone. If that happens, then we should see them lining up closer to WR’s, instead of giving them cushions of five yards or more.
Eagles fans spent 2021 calling for the head of Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon. Whether it was the huge cushions, the lack of blitzing, the unimaginative use of the LB’s, we weren’t happy with last year’s meager 29 sacks and 12 interceptions. Eagles brass (who had assembled that roster), hinted that maybe Gannon just needed better players.
So they went out and added a premier pass rusher in LB Hasaan Reddick. Added a premier CB in Bradberry. Even added some speed with LBKyzir White. And that’s just among the proven NFL veterans! We also added two top-shelf defensive rookie talents. So “a lack of talent to work with” is no longer an excuse in Philadelphia.
Now that we have the cover men, we can shrink those cushions and make QB’s hold the ball a second or two longer. That will give our pass rush time to get their mitts on him. Or that QB can be an idiot, and throw the ball against tighter coverage. Sure, every so often that will result in a big play for the opposing offense, but it will also mean more chances at the ball for our Defense.
Giving swagger to a defense requires showing confidence in it first. If you want something to sprout, you have to water it first. Work, THEN results. There are no shortcuts. Being lazy today, only robs you in the future.
We went and got the guys. Now let’s let them play their game.
BACK in April, in my NFC East Pre-Draft Preview, I picked the Redskins to win the East, with the Eagles as my dark horse favorite. Given our strong nucleus of veteran leadership, our win in the trenches philosophy, and youth at skill positions, we have a lot of “win now” already built-in. However, a rookie coaching staff, and a second year QB, who himself was basically a rookie, left serious questions about our upward mobility.
Still, I took proper assessment of the pieces, and predicted the Eagles to push for the NFC East crown, and they did exactly that.
We’ve so far won 9 games. None of those were against teams with a winning record. Then again, it’s been half a season since we even FACED a team with a winning record. Hell, we didn’t make the schedule. We just beat who was put on it.
Also, in all fairness, three of the first six teams that our rookie head coach faced, have played in the last two Super Bowls (KC vs SF and KC vs TB). Of those three games, two were decided by just 6 points each. So maybe a little fucking slack would be appropriate here? I dunno. Seeing things in their proper context is sort of a fetish of mine.
My favorite was the NFL website itself. You know the one. The place that sometimes allows their journalists to post a headline, which is linked to a tweet. Yeah. That place. Before the season, this was their prediction for us:
I’m petty, so I screenshot that shit. I couldn’t guarantee us winning the East, but I knew that 5 win prediction was going to age like an Olsen twin, and I wanted to be able to say:
Which I’m doing now.
We destroyed their prediction, and even exceeded their ceiling for us. Right now, you could park a car in the shadow of my smugness.
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.
SEASON Reviews are usually done at the end of the season. A few are also done at the halfway mark. Starting in 2017, Eaglemaniacal.combegan treating the season like a game, and breaking it into four quarters.
In 2021, the NFL expanded the season to 17 games, which makes for an uneven split. So this year (at least), these Quarterly Reports will come after Weeks 5, 9, 13, and 17. (Ugh. I hate even looking at that format.)
NOTE: Due to the short week between games 5 and 6, this report was pushed back a week. The Second Quarter will pick up on time, after Week 9.
Since football is a hard sport, we’ll take a hard look at where our team currently stands, in relation to where it started. Then we can discuss where it needs to go next.
STATUS: 3 – 6 , 2nd place in the NFC East, (Points per game: +25.2/-24.2)
( L ) Las Vegas
( W ) Detroit
( L ) Los Angeles Chargers
Progress has been made on Offense. In all three of these games, Head Coach Nick Sirianni has made a solid commitment to running the ball. As a result, the Offense is more stable and sustains drives better. So the Defense actually gets time to rest now.
If only the Defense could get off the field without giving up touchdowns first.
QB: (D) Jalen Hurts hasn’t thrown an interception in three weeks, however he’s only been responsible for 3 scores (passing or running) during that same span. Part of that has been the establishment of our run game helping him out. He’s gone from attempting 34.6 passes per game in the first 6 games, to just 21.6 (65 total) over the last 3 games.
Unfortunately, his lower usage has only highlighted the flaws in his game. Being a one read QB, by default Hurts favors clear and easy passes. He takes as much as a route can pry from the defense. What he doesn’t do, is create with his eyes or his delivery. (If he ever learns to convincingly pump fake on a scramble, he’ll be a friggin Pro Bowler.)
Hurts is a very good triggerman, in terms of executing what’s laid out for him. If Chip Kelly were still the coach here, the Deshaun Watson trade rumors may not have gained any traction. However, most systems require a QB to think and decipher. Hurts is also easily punked and bullied out of attempting the sort of throws that separate franchise QB’s from Sam Bradford types.
Gardner Minshew came in and went 2/2 while playing hand-off machine, during mop-up time in Detroit.
RB: (B) Miles Sanders was hurt early in the game vs Vegas. Since then, the Eagles have been starting Boston Scott, and he has been productive as a runner. What he truly excels at however, is catching Screen passes and then getting lost in blockers. Unfortunately, he’s only been thrown 5 passes all season so far.
Promoted to the Active Roster is a guy who NEVER belonged on the Practice Squad in the first place, Mr. Jordan Howard. While it’s true that the Eagles have been good at running the ball in these last couple of weeks, the attitude of this run game is Howard. He’s not just running for yardage, he’s taking yardage when he’s out there. He enables the Eagles to impose their will.
While Kenneth Gainwell is playing about as much as he did when Sanders was healthy, but he’s not quite seeing the situations that he was. For example, he doesn’t get first quarter red zone action, and he hasn’t had a pass thrown his way in two games.
Overall though, the Eagles ground game has looked like a force to be reckoned with. Granted, these last three opponents weren’t the stiffest test, but for a team just finding the run, they can’t be ignored.
TE: ( C) Dallas Goedertput up 185 yards over these last 3 games (61.6), but it’s little more than window dressing. In those games, Goedert has played 161 downs, but drawn targets on just 18 of them (for 12 catches). Though his 18 targets represent nearly 1/3 of his QB’s 65 attempts over the same period, his 12 catches for no scores, indicates how little he’s been factoring into games.
Jack Stoll caught a 9 yard pass in the blowout over Detroit. He’s played quite a bit over these last two weeks, and with the resurgence of the run game, one has to wonder about how much of that success is due to his blocking. Converted QB Tyree Jacksonfinally got his feet wet vs the Chargers. He didn’t do much. Didn’t see a pass thrown his way. I think they just wanted him to get a look at game speed.
Despite giving the position credit for its contributions to the run game, More is expected from Goedert if he wants to show the world that he wasn’t just a well-protected back-up,
WR: (F) In these 3 games, Devonta Smith has seen 18 targets. The other four receivers have seen 14. Total.
OT: (B) The bookends of Lane Johnson and Jordan Mailataplayed three straight games for the first time this season. The result is a QB who doesn’t have to look at his line to know where people are, as he starts to pick his way through pressure. That has resulted in us surrendering an average of 1 sack per game, instead of 2. Which we did last quarter.
OG: (B) Lie and say that you miss Isaac Seumalo! Landon Dickerson despite being a rookie, seems like an improvement already. He doesn’t get ridden back into the QB on passing downs and, you don’t catch him standing around on run plays, since he’s always looking to hit someone.
Jack Driscoll has been plug-and-play all along the line, and has been decent to good (not great), when he plays. He doesn’t look like a long-term starter. What he looks like, is a guy who’ll hang with one team for 6 years, learn what’s needed in all of the roles, and deliver a reasonable facsimile of it, when called upon. Then he’ll sign a big free agent deal, full of guaranteed money to go elsewhere, where he’ll immediately look like a career back-up. Always amazes me when these guys leave their first team.
Nate “Too Big” Herbigfilled in for Driscoll vs Detroit and got to maul some Lions. Again, Nate is a solid (not great) interior force when called upon. He seems to have a little more upside than Driscoll, but it’s hard to feel they’re being judged accurately, when they’ve both been moved around so much, across two coaching staffs.
Given the losses taken at this position, it should be one of weakness, but it’s not. The best part, is, that it doesn’t have to be judged on a sliding scale, or a curve.
C: (B) Jason Kelcehas been holding the young guys together, and the errant snaps have been cut down due to the QB lining up under C more. It’s really a good look for the elder statesman, as he trots out what has to be his last race.
DE: (F) This position grabbed 4 sacks vs Detroit, and 0 in the other two games. There were 7 hits on the QB vs Detroit, and 0 in the other two games. Outside of the (then) 0 – 7 Lions, there have been no forced fumbles. There have been no fumble recoveries. This position practically doesn’t exist.
While a lot of the problem with our pass rush is tied to generously loose coverage, it’s impossible not to notice the lack of tackles for losses against the run, in any game NOT played vs the Lions. This means that these guys are just not being effective PERIOD.
Josh Sweatplayed better in past seasons on the right. So far this year, he’s been asked to play the left spot in the absence of Brandon Graham. I don’t think he has the strength for it. He doesn’t set the edge vs the run, and is too easy to re-route on his way to the passer.
DT: ( C) Opposing QB’s are getting rid of the ball too fast for this position to be effective pass rushers now. They are however, a big reason that over these three games, that we’ve allowed an average of 88.3 rushing yards per game. Particularly Fletcher Cox. They’ve also done a great job of keeping the MLB clean. It’s not worthy of a party, but it’s a building block.
OLB: (F) Genard Averyand Davion Taylor have been the starters during the last three games. Four really. Still, neither of them is making a noticeable impact out there. The coaching staff seems to want a long look at what Taylor has to offer, so he’s going to keep starting, regardless. Alex Singleton was benched after the win at Carolina, but with Taylor out there, Singleton would upgrade our tackle range and ball-skills.
MLB: (B) The Eagles outright cut Eric Wilson and elevated T.J. Edwards to the starting role. Edwards has been a key reason that rushing yards for our opponents have gone off a cliff, recently. He benefits from having two DT’s who command as much attention as they do, but to his credit, he does get off of blocks very well. As a result, he been a tackling machine.
S: (F) This position has produced 2 pass break-ups and some tackles in the last three games.
CB: (D) We are 3 – 0 this season when Darius Slay gets so much as a finger on the football. We are 0 – 5 when he doesn’t. Seems like the Defensive Coordinator should scheme him into positions where he can compete for the ball more.
Avonte Maddox was the only player at this position to show up in games without Detroit in them. Maddox snagged a pick vs Las Vegas, early in the game. Otherwise, over this span, we’re giving up a completion rate of 83 (88/106). Not factoring games named Detroit, the number is 87.5% (63/72).
LS: (B) Rick Lovato hasn’t blown any snaps, but he also has yet to make tackle on a coverage unit.
P: ( A) Arryn Siposs only had to punt 7 times in the last three games, with 2 fair caught and 3 returned for 36 yards. That’s 12 yards per return on punts averaging 45.7 yards in this period.
K: ( C) Jake Elliott has been 10/10 on extra points and 4/4 on field goals. The kickoff are alarming however. IN these three games, he’s kicked off 18 times, 8 were touchbacks, but 8 were returned for 222 yards (27.7). This has gotten worse since last quarter.
PR/KR: (F) WR Jalen Reagor has also disappeared on Special Teams. WR Quez Watkins averages 21 yards per kickoff return. Which again means, he should just take the touchbacks!
KC: (D) The kickoff coverage unit does a good job, but shouldn’t be put in a position to be tested so much. The 9.3 yard punt return average from last quarter needed to come down. And so it’s now up to 9.5 yards per return.
SINCE LAST QUARTER:
The Offensive coaching staff seems to be getting it! We’re running the ball, so drives are more stable, the Defense now gets to rest, and we only punt half as much anymore. The mission was to get the coaching staff to stop being our biggest obstacle and that’s halfway what happened.
Defensively, the timid woodland creature who coaches our Defense, still gets skittish when he sees his shadow. He’s going to have to be replaced. Don’t tell me how smart and hardworking he is, when he keeps repeating the same stupid, lazy patterns.
MISSION FOR THIS QUARTER:
Get to playing man-press. These weak zones have the Eagles allowing a completion percentage north of 75. If it continues, we will set the record for worst completion rate in NFL HISTORY.
Here’s a crazy truth: At 3 – 6, we’re still in the thick of the playoff race. While going 2 – 2 over the next 4 games would probably be good enough to keep those hopes alive, 3 – 1 would almost certainly do the trick