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.
KEEP in mind, when these predictions come out, no one knows who will be drafted by which team. So this is an assessment of the team, as it is staffed by veteran players with track records.
While rookies may contribute heavily to their team, they don’t usually shake up the NFC East as a division. That being said, there’s a pretty good chance that what you see here, will be how it shakes out for the year.
If you’ve read all of the articles leading up to this, you’ll understand my conclusion. Good job! If you didn’t, you’ll likely be annoyed because YOU did a bad job of preparing. (Read the supporting articles!)
Now let’s look at 2022:
Offense, defense, special teams. Three units, multiplied times four teams, equals twelve total units in the division. Easy math, right? Out of twelve units, only three units across the division either stayed strong or got stronger. Nine units however, either stayed weak or got noticeably weaker during the free agency period. Put plainly, so far the NFC East is already weaker than it was in 2021.
Strongest Offense: DALLAS
They have all kinds of issues with their offensive line, but they have a real QB, and they have the most dangerous collection of skill players in the division. Philadelphia has a great offensive line situation, which allows for the smoke and mirrors, which they use to offset a lack of WR talent or a QB who can read a defense.
Weakest Offense: NEW YORK
Their offensive line is shit. It’s just shit! They have the least talented QB in the division. In fact, it can now be argued that he might not be as good as his new back-up (eventual replacement). Their RB clearly has his eye on the exit, and they lost their underachieving TE, and replaced him with- No. They’re about to draft a TE. They have to be. There’s no way they can be serious about going into 2022 with him as the starter.
Strongest Defense: PHILADELPHIA
This was the easiest call. In 2021 the Eagles surrendered fewer passing yards and fewer rushing yards than the Cowboys. The Cowboys allowed 21.1 points per game to the Eagles 22.6. From that, the Eagles added not just a pass rusher, but a sack artist, as well also upgrading speed at LB. The Cowboys lost a starting DE and a starting S, then replaced neither with a player of similar caliber. The other two teams aren’t even part of this conversation.
Weakest Defense: NEW YORK
New defensive coordinator, a soft secondary, and a bunch of edge players, but no real DE’s or OLB’s. This is the current state of the defensive side of the ball in New York. It’s a toolbox full of hammers and mallets, but no screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches or even a tape measure. And at some point in the next two weeks, a kid out of college will be expected to provide a spark of hope. Yikes.
Strongest Special Teams: PHILADELPHIA
Washington has the much better punting situation, but Philadelphia has a far superior kicking game. However, since punts never produce last minute wins, the edge goes to points.
Weakest Special Teams: DALLAS
New York’s punting situation isn’t “bad”, it’s more of a big question mark. The kicking situation in Dallas however, is pure comedy. This team does such an amazing job of fucking this up every year! They deserve a round of applause for the work they do. I mean c’mon, it has to be deliberate. No one is this bad, this long, without a supreme level of effort being put into it.
PROJECTED WINNER: DALLAS
You’re thinking “Philadelphia won two of these categories to Dallas’s one. So how can Dallas still be the favorite?!”
For the record I totally agree, except there’s two things nagging my mind:
The first thing is, 17 – 37, and 21 – 41. Those are the scores that Dallas has won by, in the two games Jalen Hurts started against them. Those aren’t just loses, they’re blowouts. While Dallas continues to dominate Hurts, picking the Eagles as the favorite is out of the question.
The second thing is, a two game sweep has an effective difference of four games. The make-up distance in a playoff race, between let’s say 4 – 6 vs 6 – 4, is four games. If the Cowboys sweep the Eagles again, that gap would be very hard to make up. Given that the last Eagles QB to beat Dallas was Carson Wentz, there is nothing in recent history to indicate that the Eagles will turn this around this season.
DARK HORSE WINNER: PHILADELPHIA
Overall, Philadelphia looks like the strongest team in the East. The issue is at their QB position. Which is huge. If Jalen Hurts were to take a a couple of steps forward in being able to read defenses, and utilizing his second WR, this Eagles team would sweep the division, and win it in a walk. However, until we see that for Philadelphia, QB is a huge question mark at best, and a liability at worst.
LAST year Dallas went 12 – 5 and won the NFC East. They earned a home playoff game. Then they proceeded to shit the bed 17 – 23, against a 6th seed 49ers team. People will want to critique how the last play of that game went down, but the fact is, the game shouldn’t have even been a contest. This has long been the story of the Cowboys. The larger, deeper issues are frequently ignored, in favor of shiny distractions. That said, is this the year they change the story?
With the NFL Draft being 13 days away, this is what the Cowboys roster currently looks like:
QB: Dak Prescott (11 – 5, 68.8%, 37/10) won his division, and posted career highs in completion percentage and touchdown passes. This included 13 TD’s and 0 interceptions over the final four games. He also had five games with 300+ yards passing, and five games with a completion percentage over 75.
Those stats point to him being back from the ankle injury that stole his 2020 season. Well, mostly back. One of the things that has helped Prescott in the past, has been being big and mobile, not just a big target. In an average year with 16 starts, Prescott averaged 60 rushes, 305 yards, 5.0 pyc, and 5 scores. Last season his numbers were (48 – 146 – 3.2 – 1). Keep an eye out.
Preseason Hall of Famer Cooper Rush (1 – 0, 63.8% – 3/1) added to his legend when he went undefeated in 2021. Filling in for Prescott during Week Eight, Rush put 325 yards on the Vikings, in a 20 – 16 Cowboys win. Seems that this position is worth every penny being spent on it. Ben “Bring It On” DiNucci is also still cashing his paychecks. (+)
RB: For the fifth year in a row, Ezekiel Elliott (1002/4.2/10) saw his rushing yards per game decline. He was held to fewer than 50 rushing yards in eight games last year. He only cracked the century mark twice. He did manage to rush for 1,000 yards though. That has to count for something. I guess.
Tony Pollard (719/5.5/2) is an average player. Fortunately for him, he seems to know it, so he hits holes as quickly as he can. He’s not a threat to break a 60 yard run, so he makes up for it by producing smaller chunk runs, more consistently. As long as his 205 pound frame is playing the “RB 1B” role, fans will wonder why he doesn’t get more than 8 carries per game.
Dallas also has three FB’s on the roster, most recently signing free agent Ryan Nall. They won’t keep three, so this is clearly an “iron sharpens iron” type of move. In any case, look for the team to flashback to the 1990’s, to re-emphasize lead blocking. Just the fact that they’ll be the only team doing it, will make them very hard to prepare for. Especially for a generation of defenders who wouldn’t be familiar with FB as a routine weapon. (+)
WR: I said last year that three was a crowd here, and I was right. However instead of ditching Michael Gallup (35/445/12.7/2), they traded Amari Cooper(68/865/12.7/8) to Cleveland. This means that CeeDee Lamb (79/1102/13.9/6) has graduated from Robin to Batman.
Over his first couple of years, even in a lesser role, Lamb has been plagued by drops and lapses in focus. Now that he’s going to have more intense attention focused on him, there have to be serious questions about if he’s mentally ready for the role.
Gallup lost nearly half of last year being on I.R with a calf injury. He then played in eight games before tearing his ACL, and going on I.R. again. His return goal is Week One. Which would mean no training camp. Steelers free agent James Washington (24/285/11.9/2), was signed to a one year deal. Essentially swapping out Cooper for Washington. That is clearly a step down.
There can be no arguing that this group is several steps back from what they were a year ago. That said, if Gallup can stay healthy in 2022, this trio could still be dangerous. (+)
TE: Boom! Dallas hit Dalton Schultz (78/808/10.4/8) with the franchise tag, before anyone else could take a shot at luring him away with a long-term deal. Schultz proved to be a sure-handed security blanket in 2021. While not an explosive athlete, his presence in the red zone will help provide the run game with more room to operate.
After cutting Blake Jarwin, there are bodies, but there really is no reserve talent here. Given the amount of traffic that will come Schultz’s way, this position will produce. However, if Schultz can’t stay healthy this season, this position is screwed. They are literally one player deep here. Just one. Uno. Single-ito! (-)
OT: At the moment LT Tyron Smith and swingman Terence Steele are the only real game in town. Smith hasn’t played a full season since 2015. Last year he played just 11 o f 17, and this year he’ll be 32. Not a good look! Steele has been more of a fill-in than a regular starter. Some weeks he played on the right, and when Smith was out, Steele played left.
While the talent is decent here, there is absolutely no consistency or reliability here. Making matters worse, there is no real depth. They have Isaac Alarcon, Josh Ball, and Aviante Collins. None of whom played a single down of football in 2021. (-)
G: All-Pro Zack Martin gives this line a rally point at RG, but he’s likely going to spend a good portion of 2022, helping the guy who will be working on his right-hand side. Babysitting doesn’t allow a player to operate at maximum ferocity. So expect the right-side of the line to suffer. At least early in the year.
Connor McGovern is still on the roster and started six games in 2021. However, it’s hard to pin down just how the Cowboys organization views him. At the moment he’s the clear LG, but a single flap of butterfly wings in China, might change that. Matt Farniok played a total of 23 offensive snaps, late in three games in 2021. The average score of those games: 50 – 14.
Right now it seems like there’s a weakened right, and the left is largely a question mark. Maybe the Draft is where an answer will come from, but as of this moment. This position is weak. (-)
C: Tyler Biadasz was the only lineman to start every game, so hooray for durability. He also had 9 penalties in 2021, which was second only to a guy who’s no longer a Cowboy. At this point no one seems entirely sold on Biadasz. That’s largely because he’s still being unfairly compared to Travis Frederick. A guy named Braylon Jones is the back-up. Iffy starter and no depth? (-)
In A Nutshell: The Cowboys have weapons, but right now, they lack reliable players on the offensive line. Employing a throwback wrinkle like routine lead blocking, might help the run game, but it’s going to hurt the passing game. There is no way to put a FB on the field, without taking some speed off the field. Should be interesting to watch. (-)
DE: DeMarcus Lawrence is no longer a premier pass rusher, but he can still get pressures. He also sets a pretty good edge vs the run, making things easier for those playing behind him. Free agent Donte Fowler looks to inherit the starting role vacated by Randy Gregory (DEN). Fowler had a couple of good years in 2017and 2019. The Cowboys are hoping to re-ignite that.
Dorance Armstrong will give a good effort, but is by no means a special player. Which is why Fowler was added. Tarell Basham is just a back-up. He plays from a two point stance, and at 6’4” that leaves his chest exposed at the snap. He also spends far too much time watching football, while he’s on the field. They also have some guy named Chauncey Golston. (-)
DT: Osa Odighizuwa got the fan base excited with how disruptive he can be, but his 280 pound frame seemed to wear down over just 14 weeks. No shame in that for a rookie, but this year he won’t be a rookie. Keep an eye on him. Carlos Watkins won’t cost any coaching staff a single wink of sleep. Yet Dallas re-signed him.
Neville Gallimore missed most of 2021, but once healthy, he took over for Odighizuwa, and was sort of “Meh”. Quinton Bohanna is a 360 pound gap plugger, who changes direction as well as an Applebee’s. This position is a cry for help. (-)
OLB: Defensive Rookie of the Year Micah Parsons is the total package. He pass rushes. He covers. He slices, he dices, is non-stick, and stain resistant! Parsons has been hyped as the next Lawrence Taylor, likely stemming from Parson’s 13 sacks as a rookie. That said, despite playing 904 snaps on defense, he only produced 84 tackles, and just two games with 10 or more tackles.
On the other side is Leighton Vander Neck. Sorry. Vander Esch. Injuries have rendered him half the player that he was as a rookie, which is why the Cowboys signed him to a one year “prove it” deal. Vander Esch hasn’t recorded 50 solo tackles since 2018, and playing outside in this system, will almost ensure that he doesn’t again in 2022. There is no depth here. (+)
MLB: I said last year, moving 211 pound FS Keanu Neal, to LB was stupid, and it turns out that I was right. AGAIN! Neal is now in Tampa, and now it seems that the middle will be manned by (drum roll) Luke Gifford?
Gifford played 32 defensive snaps in 2021. He only played 1 defensive snap in 2020. Maybe he won the coaching staff’s trust with those additional 31 snaps? It would not surprise me to see Vander Esch take over this spot. However until the subject comes up, I can only “speculate.” (-)
S: Jayron Kearse came into 2021 having played 73 games with just 12 starts. In 2021 he was given 15 starts, and had a pretty “meh” year. Just 2 interceptions, but he did lead the team in tackles (101). It was enough to convert last year’s prove it contract, into a two year pact.
Malik Hooker and Donovan Wilson are former starters who are under 27 years old. Both will likely compete for the other starting spot. Unless a player is drafted high here. (-)
CB: Trevon Diggs led the NFL with 11 interceptions. Cowboys fans would like for that to be the whole story, but it isn’t. He had 11 interceptions, because teams didn’t shy away from targeting him 103 times. Why not target a guy giving up 907 passing yards and 16.8 yards per catch? (For contrast the Eagles Darius Slay was targeted just 85 times, gave up 10.7 yards per catch, and just 535 yards.)
Anthony Brown’s first year under the new defensive system yielded 16 starts, 71 tackles, 3 picks and 17 passes defensed. All were career highs. Surely he’s looking forward to 2022. Jourdan Lewis started 13 games as the Nickle and also saw career highs in interceptions (3), tackles (61), and passes defensed (11). Kelvin Joseph rounds out the top four. How trash do you have to be to have played in 80 games with just 1 start, in your rookie year? Ask C.J. Goodwin. He knows. (+)
In A Nutshell: It’s the Cowboys. So whether they over or underachieve, you always expect to see a ton of talent on this team. So when looking at this unit, it’s amazing to see how hollow it is, right down the middle. Three positions: DT, MLB, and S, seem to be waiting to find salvation in the draft. Not wise. (-)
K: Chris Naggar is what people in sportscasting call, “a landmine”. Just one slip of the tongue… Dear Cowboys fans: You’ll be comforted to know that Naggar is experienced, and has never missed an NFL field goal attempt. He hit the 37 yarder that he kicked last year. He however, was just 1/2 (50%) on extra points. I have Brett Maher’s phone number if you want it… Hell, right now Bill Maher might be a better option than what you have. (-)
P: Bryan Anger was re-signed after averaging a career best 48.4 yards per punt, with 0 blocked, and opponents averaging just 6.5 yard per return (+)
In A Nutshell: I spent 4 years as a comedy writer, and even my twisted imagination couldn’t come up with something like the Cowboys Kicker situation. It’s pure comedy. For rival fans, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. (-)
The Cowboys are in trouble. They have spent so much money (QB, RB) and draft capital (WR’s, CB’s, LB’s) on peripheral players, that they haven’t made sure that they can win in the trenches. On either side of the ball. Unless something huge happens, Dallas is going to spend 2022 getting out-physicalled, and never really get a chance to find their footing in many games. The lack of quality depth (OT, TE, G, DE, DT LB, and S) means that when injuries start to hit, the drop-offs will be dramatic. This team feels 8 – 9, but we’ll call it 9 – 8 because New York is still in the division.
LAST year the Washington (insert name here), went 7 – 10 and finished third in the NFC East. The only thing more disgusting than the sewage that the stadium spewed on it’s fans, was the football that the team played on the field. Turns out that owner Dan Snyder was apparently not only cheating the fans, but the NFL shared revenue pool as well. Surely the Redsk- sorry, the newly named Commanders, have a lot to shake off.
In any case, this is what their roster looks like just 14 days before the Draft:
QB: The same Colts front office that thought they could do better than Peyton Manning (HOF), and then ran Andrew Luck out of football, has traded Carson Wentz (9 – 8, 62.4%, 27/7) to this team, after just one year with their team. Pundits are siding with the Colts (for now), but we’ll see how long that holds up.
Many question Wentz’s decision making (akaplaying “hero ball”) at times, but no one questions his talent. Posting the numbers that he did last year, given his weapons in Indy, (see above link) speaks to that. Oh, remember Wentz’s “injury prone” label? He hasn’t missed a game due to injury in 3 years now. For those keeping score, that’s 85 games played, with 8 missed to injury. Now he gets a shot to shake his “broken QB” label. Stay tuned.
Taylor Heinicke (7 – 9, 64.9%, 20/15) is an average athlete, with above average moxie. Despite having an average arm, he’s more of a gunslinger than a game manager. Translation: He’ll gamble with the football. That, more than any other reason, is why Washington felt the need to trade for Wentz. Still, there’s a ton of fight at this position. Both players have a “never say die” attitude, which could become contagious. That’s impossible to overlook. (+)
RB: Antonio Gibson (1037/4.0/7) led all NFC East RB’s in rushing yards. Unlike is rookie year, he didn’t miss a single game, and even saw incremental improvement as a receiver. He also led all NFC East RB’s in fumbles (6).
His hands and explosiveness are nowhere close to what you’d expect from a guy who played WR in college. In 16 games, he’s produced no runs longer than 27 yards. His game also seems to lack much physicality. Which might be why he continues to struggle with pass protection, and ball security.
Jaret Patterson (266/3.9/5) and J.D. MiKissic (212/4.4/2) give Washington two more backs who can catch. However, physicality, explosiveness, and creativity as runners, seem to be lacking thoughout this position. (-)
WR: Terry McLaurin (77/1053/13.7/5) is alone out there. Even with all the attention that he attracts from defenses, the next most productive players at this position, were Adam Humphries (41/383/9.3/0) gone.DeAndre Carter (24/296/12.3/3) gone. And thenCam Sims (15/211/14.1/2). You are looking at this team’s 2021 TOP four players at this position. (This is very similar to what Wentz just had in Indy.)
The Curtis Samuel (6/27/4.5/0) experiment from last season, was derailed by a groin injury. Washington has to hope that Samuel will bounce back, and 2022’s 3rd round pick Dyami Brown (12/165/13.8/0), can become a difference maker in 2022. Oh they also brought back Kelvin Harmon who spent 2019 with them, then was out of football until now. Ugh. (-)
TE: Logan Thomas (18/196/10.9/3) and John Bates (20/249/12.5/1) aren’t glamorous, but they’re stable building blocks. Thomas had his 2021 shortened by an ACL tear, but is expected back by the start of training camp. He’s not a scary receiver, but he’s reliable. He’s also a vicious blocker.
Bates saw a lot of action later in his rookie year, partly due to injuries to other players. Still, it’s valuable experience, and it gives Washington a solid knowledge base to improve the position from. Sammis Reyes is the team’s two year, lackluster experiment at TE. (+)
OT: In 2021 Washington added free agent LT Charles Leno, and he started all 17 games. On the one hand, their 2021 offensive production improved both in the run game (1,611 yards, 4.0ypc to 2,061, 4.3) and in pass protection (50 sacks to 43), from the prior season. On the other hand, letting stuff like this keep happening
shows that LT may still need some work.
Rookie Samuel Cosmi, outright won the RT job, during training camp. He however, was in and out of the line-up, due to hip and ankle injuries. Rookie Saahdiq Charles filled in during Week 8, and is all of their depth here. (-)
G: RG Brandon Scherff escaped via free agency. LG Ereck Flowers had the best year of his career, and he was still released. Jacksonville’s Andrew Norwell will fill his place, which is a laugh riot. Washington has fucked up here.
Wes Schweitzer filled in for Brandon Scherff during Weeks 3, 4, and 5. Saahdiq Charles got two starts in Scherff’s place during weeks 15 and 16. There are also a handful of young guys, but no one that the team is pushing to play. (-)
C: With Chase Roullier in the line-up, Washington averaged 230.5 passing yards per game. When he went down for the season, they averaged 177.4 passing yards per game, never once throwing for 230 during his absence.
Once Roullier was lost for the season, Tyler Larsen took over for a couple of games before being injured for two weeks during Week 11. At this point Wes Schweitzer took over. Aaand was hurt and put on I.R. in Week 12. Keith Ismael took over in Week 13. Then BEHOLD! Larsen is back to start Week 14, before being injured during that game, and lost for the year. Ismael would go on to finish the last four games as a starter. At least there’s depth. (+)
In a Nutshell: There is a ‘no quit’ vibe coming from the entire QB position. Washington had that last year, but they seriously upgraded their talent there. The interior of their line has been utterly decimated, and the edges aren’t very good. Making matters worse, most of their weapons don’t scare anyone. (-)
DE: Chase Young played just nine games before going on I.R. with a torn ACL. Up to that point however, he really wasn’t all that effective. With just 1.5 sacks, and 4 QB hits, he was on pace to achieve half of his rookie numbers. Worse still, with him in the line-up, Washington allowed 29 or more points, five times. With him on I.R. that only happened just once. Washington went 3 – 6 with him, 4 – 4 without him. Montez Sweat started off on a tear, but he ended up missing seven games, during which the team went 5 – 2. With him in the line up they were 2 – 8.
Behind Young and Sweat, Washington has Casey Toohill and James Smith-Williams. Laugh if you want, but when they both started in 2021, Washington was 4 – 0 and never allowed more than 21 points in a game. Might have something to do with Toohill and Smith-Williams playing the End position fully, and not just “pass rusher”.
In any case, Young and Sweat will be the starters for 2022. So the pass rushers will replace the Ends, and this defense will be less than it should be, leaving their fans scratching their heads over why it’s happening. Again. (-)
DT: While Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne “only” accumulated 13.5 sacks as interior linemen, they are responsible for 45 QB hits in 2021. Forty-five. As interior linemen! This is a two man wrecking crew. Provided they don’t wreck each other first.
That said, with the losses of Tim Settle and Matt Iaonnidis, Washington has gone from having top shelf starters and rock solid depth, to great starters and no depth. Seriously, the jersey numbers for the other two players are 64R and 68R. Camp bodies. The starters are All-Pro, but with no depth, they’ll wear down early in the year. (-)
OLB: Cole Holcomb played 1,021 snaps and had 142 tackles, with 2 picks last year. He’s not spectacular, but he’s a very solid player, who never comes off the field. Due to playing Landon Collins in a hybrid role, no other player saw much many snaps at this position. With Collins now gone, there is zero depth here. They are one Holcomb injury away from a complete disaster. (-)
ILB: Due to injury in 2021, Jamin Davis started 8 games, eventually fell out of favor and ended up behind David Mayo, who contributed 28 tackles. This position is doesn’t have players, it has staff members. (-)
S: Landon Collins was released because he wouldn’t take a pay cut, so that the team could afford Carson Wentz. In 2021,Kamren Curl saw 14 starts at SS, and allowed 59% of passes thrown his way to be completed, vs 73% in his rookie year.
The FS spot was manned by free agent addition Bobby McCain. McCain picked off 4 passes, defensing 9, and notched 63 tackles. All of which were career-highs. If Washington liked him enough to sign him in 2021, they will likely re-sign him for 2022. The starters (Curl and McCain) are decent and may even get better with time. (+)
CB: Kendall Fuller is the top player at this position, and he was essentially a scratching post for the first half of last season. He surrendered 60 yards or more in four of the first eight games, and allowed over 100 yards, in two of them. Things got better down the stretch, as he only allowed 60+ yards in two of the last nine.
On the other side, William Jackson gave up a touchdown pass in five straight games. He only played in 12 games. In reserve, Washington has a guy named Corn Elder, which is an absolutely terrifying name. It sounds like rape in an outhouse. (-)
In A Nutshell: Last year (during the preseason), everyone expected the defense to carry this team to the top of the NFC East. What happened instead, was that it completely collapsed. Like this.
The line has talent, but everywhere else is just loaded with depth issues, or starters who shouldn’t be. This however, is what Washington has to work with. At least for now. (-)
K: This should be Joey Slye’s job. He went 12/12 on field goals with a long of 55, and was 9/10 on extra points. Brian Johnson is also on the roster, but c’mon. Even Washington can’t cock this up. (+)
P: Tress Way averaged 48.5 yards, with no blocks in 60 boots, surrendering 9.0 yards per punt return. Not stellar, but far from bad. (+)
In A Nutshell: It’s not glamorous, but it should do. Slye gives them what looks like accuracy and range. The only question is can he do it over a longer sample period. (+)
As things stand right now, this offense is in trouble. As their QB gets to know his team, six times a year they get to go against teams that already know him. Two of those times, he goes against the team that built him. So there’s rough sledding ahead.
Defensively the coaching staff is basically the same, and we’ve already seen every trick that Washington knows. We saw it in 2020 to the tune of a 7 – 9 record. We saw it again it in 2021, to the tune of 7 – 10. In 2022, expect opposing receivers to be 7 – 11, and Washington to be 8 – 9.
LAST year the giants finished an ugly 4 – 13, and dead last in the NFC East. As a result, EVERYBODY was fired. The General Manager, the Head Coach, Gus the shoe shine guy… Everybody. The giants owner needed to find the right men to lead his organization. So he journeyed from New York, alllll the way to Buffalo and signed, it doesn’t matter. If the players are trash, the team won’t win. But are they still trash, or has there been improvement?
In any case, this is where the giants roster stands just 16 days before the 2022 NFL Draft:
QB: Let’s start with Daniel “Danny Dimes” Jones (4 – 7, 64.3%, 10/7). First the good news. Last season he threw just 7 interceptions, and his interceptions have gone from 11, to 10, to just 7 during his three year career. His fumbles have also gone down. From 19, to 10, to 7. He was third on the team in rushing yards (298), and tied for the lead in rushing touchdowns (2).
Now the bad news. His passing touchdowns have gone from 24, to 12, to 10. The team was 4 – 7 with him as the starter, marking a third straight year of being nowhere near .500 with him. He’s 12 – 25 as a starter. You know. On account of him being trash.
So the giants had to bring in somebody. Enter Tyrod Taylor (2 – 4, 60.7%, 5/5). Great move! Right away he’s the giants best player at this position. Yet he’s going to be their back-up, because starting him Week One, would be too much like making sense. If this team had a starter, they’d have excellent depth. (-)
RB: Coming back from his ACL injury, Saquon Barkley (593/3.7/2) led the team in rushing. Well he tired for the lead. Sorry, did I say tired instead of tied? I must have been thinking about the way Barkley looked in that game. Which game? Pick one. While I wouldn’t say that he’s washed up, he clearly doesn’t care about being a giant anymore.
Devontae Booker (593/4.1/2) had just as many rushing yards, and they released him. Which is hilarious. Both Booker and Barkley ran for 593 and 2 scores, but only only one them kept a job. They did add Matt Breida (125/4.8/1), who has demonstrated explosive speed in the past, but not really in the last two years. Their next most experienced player here is Gary Brightwell. He has 1 rush for 4 yards, and 8 career tackles. (-)
WR: Kenny Golladay (37/521/14.1/0) escaped Detroit, only to sign with a worse team.
He started 14 games, had a team-high 521 yards, and for the first time in his career, scored 0 touchdowns. Rookie Kadarius Toney (39/420/10.8/0) also scored zee-ro touchdowns. He also was in and out of the line-up, being inactive or just not playing for seven games.
Sterling Shepard (36/366/10.2/1) played just 7 games, intermittently throughout last season. He also took a pay cut in March to stay with the giants. Darius Slayton (26/339/13.0/2) spent two years looking like a solid #2, then absolutely cratered in 2021. Part of it can be attributed to the giants new look at the position, but part of it was Slayton just not converting opportunities (44.8% catch rate).
Robert Foster had a great 2018 season. Since then he’s been on five practice squads, including Washington (cut), and Dallas (cut). Now he’s in New York, and Philadelphia is waiting for it’s turn to cut him. Is there talent here? Yes. Is there enough talent to offset the deeper issues with this offense? No. Not remotely. (-)
TE: Ricky Seals-Jones totaled 90 catches, 1044 yards, and 10 scores. That wasn’t his 2021 season. That was his entire six year career. He’s on his fifth team in five years. He has all of fifteen career starts, and he’s a guy that the giants prioritized early in free agency? Either their front office is high, or I am. They have back-ups, but I’m not even wasting the keystrokes. (-)
OT: Andrew Thomas has been up and down during his two years in the league, but he’s more recently been up. Unfortunately, for a second consecutive year he’s needed surgery on his left ankle. Matt Peart is returning from an ACL tear that put him on I.R. He will be the starting RT, despite having never been a regular starter before.
Depth looks like well-traveled, career bench-warmer Korey Cunningham, as well as Matt Gono who warmed a bench for two years, then was out of football since 2020. This is the depth here and that’s it. No, I’m serious. This is all there is. This is everything they have here. (-)
G: New addition Mark Glowinski helped pave the way for the Colts run game for the last three years. Indy’s loss is the giants… gain? Shane Lemieux was the 2021 starter at LG, but he was lost for the year in Week One. He’ll likely reprise that role. Jamil Douglas and Ben Bredeson will keep the bench nice and toasty. (-)
C: Nick Gates was lost for year in Week Two. Gates himself said earlier this year, that he has no idea when he’ll be back. That, is likely why free agent John Feliciano was added. Though he’s been a G for seven seasons, there is talk of him moving to the pivot for New Yawk. It’s a plan that already reeks of desperation, and we haven’t even hit OTA’s yet. (-)
In A Nutshell: The new GM entered the building hitting walls with a sledghammer. Folks, this is what a rebuild looks like! Better yet, this is what a total teardown looks like. All of it. Just ripping it out. Quarterback, receivers, line, the hotdog vendor. Just all of it. So yeah, giants gon’ suck for a while. (-)
DE: Leonard Williams had 11.5 sacks in 2020, but came back down to Earth with 6.5 in 2021. In fairness he also plays the run pretty damned well. Sacks aren’t everything, but for an “Edge” player, it’s almost everything. It’s the reason Oshane Ximines was a third round pick in 2019. He had 4.5 sacks that year and not one since. He’s spent most of the last two years either on I.R. or being inactive.
Trent Harris has played fewer downs for the giants with every passing year. Enter Raymond Johnson, stage left. Maybe he steps into the vacated by free agent Lorenzo Carter. Playing a false 3 – 4 front, with nebulous designations is hurting the giants on the field, and likely keeping away defensive line free agents who could help them. (-)
(CORRECTION: The Washington QB is not named Bud Weiser. It’s Taylor Heiniken. Heinicke! Taylor Heinicke. Taylor?? Who names a boy “Taylor”?)
DT: Losing Austin Johnson was seismic. However, adding Justin Ellis was literally massive. Dexter Lawrence has been 3 sacks, 50 tackles, and 10 QB hits per year. Paired with a space eater like Ellis, that interior is going to make like hard on average run games. David Moa rounds out the depth at this position. (+)
OLB: Azeez Ojulari had 13 starts and led the team with 8 sacks, but produced just 49 tackles. Quincy Roche offers a pass rush option, to give Ojulari a breather here and there. Oshane Ximines (Edge) I suppose also fits here.
The problem here is, that the pass rushers are pass rushers only. They also have a handful of tweener players who really don’t excel in space. So they’re less like linebacker depth, and more like extra ends who can’t shed blocks. (-)
ILB: Blake Martinez is the genuine article. That said, he’s coming off of an ACL tear that cost him practically all of last year. Rookie Tae Crowder started every game, and racked up 130 stops, but he doesn’t seem like much of play-maker. Especially given that he played every defensive snap from Week Four until he cleaned out his locker. There is no depth. (-)
S: Xavier McKinney had 5 picks in his first year as a full-time starter. Julian Love is a part-timer here. This is it. The giants roster list only two players at this position and no one with a “DB” designation. That means any help/depth will be either rookie(s) or free agents found after the Draft. This team will probably lead the NFL in big plays surrendered. (-)
CB: James Bradberry gave up almost 300 more passing yards than in 2020. He was also targeted more, indicating that teams have found something on tape that they can exploit. Adoree Jackson recorded just the third interception of his 5 year career last year. To his credit, he only allowed 52% of passes thrown his way to be completed, and surrendered 50+ yards just once in his twelve starts.
While the giants would like Darnay Holmes to be a factor, he’s ended both of his seasons being injured. Which led to Aaron Robinson and Jarren Williams each getting two starts in the absence of Jackson. Both players ended up back on the bench, without being a serious part of a rotation. The starters are shaky, and the depth is a problem. (-)
In A Nutshell: Last year saw pass rushers hampered by the scheme, and a soft secondary victimized because of it. So they hired a new defensive coordinator in Don Martindale, formerly of Baltimore. Great. Problem is, he doesn’t have any tools to build with. Even worse, the new GM seems to be building with the old one’s blueprint. (-)
K: Graham Gano saw his field goal accuracy dip (29/33/87.9%), but this year he didn’t miss any extra points. Of course he only attempted 17 in 17 games. From 50+ he was 7/10, which is nothing to sneeze at. (+)
P: Ladies and gentlemen, for your viewing pleasure! Coming to the Big Apple by way of Cleveland, Ohio. Put your hands together for Jamie “The Scottish Hammer” Gillan! He enters this phase of his career with a 44.9 yard average per boot. That said, his average has dropped for two straight years (46.2, to 44.0, to 43.9). (-)
In A Nutshell: Given the slapdash approach this front office is so far showing the defense, it’s not a wonder that special teams also seems to be getting a shrug. (-)
BOTTOM LINE: The giants cleaned house at GM and head coach. They brought in Joe Schoen (from Buffalo) to be the GM, and he turned around and hired Brian Daboll (form Buffalo), who has been failing upward for almost two decades in the NFL.
Then they brought in a few former Buffalo players, but none of the good ones. And who cares?! None of this matters if Danny “March of Dimes” is still going to start eight or more games. Call it 6 – 11, with Tyrod Taylor winning four of those.
WITH ten draft picks this year, the smart move is to use them to further the Eagles youth movement. There is no sense in signing bunch of, or trading early picks for, older and more expensive players this year. Judiciously signing a few however, can add immediate bounce throughout a roster. Here are the three that we should add.
DE:Emmanuel Ogbah from Miami would be the centerpiece of my free agency mission. Getting a bigger, and more physical LDE, will allow Josh Sweat to go back to using his speed at RDE, making our Defensive Line a lot more effective. Understand though, Miami comes into free agency with more cap space than anyone, and they’ll want to keep their proven pass rusher.
Of course, while Miami has tons of cash, they’re going to have a new head coach in 2022. Also, the NFL may be trying to take the team away from owner Stephen Ross, due to allegations that he attempted to pay his last head coach, to throw games.
Vegas (and I don’t mean the Raiders), won’t look too kindly on that, with legalized gambling being a cash cow. So if Ross “dies” in 2022, don’t be shocked. I mean the guy is 81, but if saaaay, he blows his own head off (wink), and afterwards cleans his fingerprints off the shotgun, we’ll all know what’s what.
The upcoming circus that’s about to surround a 9 – 8 Dolphins team which missed the playoffs, should be enough to encourage Ogbah to move to greener pastures. While many teams can offer him a boatload of cash, no other team can offer him a chance to play with two DT’s that demand as much double-team attention. That means a ton of one-on-one opportunities for Ogbah.
Imagine it: DE Emmanuel Ogbah , DT Fletcher Cox, DT Javon Hargrave, and DE Josh Sweat. A physically stronger left side, with Sweat bringing the explosiveness that Derek Barnett always lacked from the blindside. Improved play on the back-end would make this Defense monstrous.
TE: While Jack Stoll is a good blocker, he’s no threat as a receiver. That makes Richard Rogersour go-to, behind Dallas Goedert. Rodgers is credible, but we have to do better here. (Ironically, Zach Ertz is a free agent, but I’m pretty sure we won’t be seeing him back here.)
As of today, the Cowboys, (according to Over The Cap) find themselves (-21M$) in salary cap hell, for 2022. That means 25 year old Dalton Schultz could be an easy steal, which would help us, while at the same time, harming a rival. If we can’t get him to come here, at least we should be able to bid, and drive up the price that Dallas re-signs him to.
WR: HEAR ME OUT! I know this is gonna sound crazy at first, but it makes all the sense in the world. We should bring back DeSean Jackson. (I’ll give you a minute to shake your head, and call me nuts.)
Are you done? Alright, Fine. Take another minute.
Now the explanation. Devonta Smith thinks that he would benefit from having a veteran in the locker room. That being the case, if we add a seasoned veteran, we don’t want them to hinder the Eagles youth development, by playing too many downs.Quez Watkins won’t get better from not playing. (Same with the rookie WR we should draft.)
DJax has a ton of wisdom to impart to a WR room. Especially to Smith. DJax has been a #1 threat. He’s seen double coverage, bracket coverage, shaded coverage meant to contain him, and he’s produced anyway. He’s seen ups and downs off the field. He’s taken care of his body, well enough to still be a deep threat at 87 years old. This is even more important when you realize how slender DJax is. A trait that Smith shares.
Though DJax still has an ability to be dangerous (2021: 20rec, 454yards, 22.7*ypc, 2TD), his hamstrings won’t let him play a ton of downs. Which is GREAT! He shouldn’t be a starter. He should be a role player. Which also means he shouldn’t be too expensive.
Wise, cheap, still lethal, and he won’t try to overshadow the young men we’re trying to develop. Go ahead. Find someone else who ticks all of those boxes, in this year’s free agency. I’ll wait… In fact, I’ll spot you the list so you don’t have to look for it.
Emmanuel Sanders?! Last year he was a starter in Buffalo. No way he gives up chasing a ring with QB Josh Allen, to play for a QB who can’t read defenses. NEXT! AJ. Green? He’s going back to Arizona. Next! Mohamed Sanu? He was never Batman. He wasn’t even Robin! He was Batgirl for most of his career. I don’t want Devonta learning how to be Batman, from Batgirl. Do you?
So there it is. Those are the primary three players I would target in this year’sfirst round of free agency. We’ll take a look at the post-Draft cuts, with an eye towards KR’s, and big RB’s. Then we’ll look for veteran defenders after the June 1st cuts.
ALLOW me to offer my two cents, regarding the New York giants hiring of Brian Daboll to be their head coach:
Are these people SERIOUS?! Was this really the best that they could do? Did the janitor turn them down again? Did Ray Handley refuse to take their call? Seriously, anyone who’s heated over minority coaches not getting hired, just got some fresh kindling thrown on their fires.
Eagles fans however, we basically have nothing to do but smile over this move. Sorry giants fans, you may have been better off sticking with Joe Judge, because this move may prove embarrassing. Both in the long and the short term. Embarrassing how? Here’s a quick example:
Let’s get a look at who Daboll is. First, the spin. He’s been Buffalo’s OC for the last four years and in the last two, they’ve ranked 3rd in scoring (28.4 ppg) in 2021, and 2nd (31.3ppg) in 2020. In the two years prior to that, the Bills ranked 23rd (2019) and 30th (2018), as they began developing rookie QB Josh Allen in 2018.
What we have here, is an OC who got three years to develop a QB, in one system, that didn’t take off until 2020 when they added WR Stephon Diggs. Again, this was the spin. This last couple of years is the part that the mainstream media is going to push.
Now comes the part that you’ll only get from coming here. (You have no idea how much I still love to say that.) Let’s talk about who Daboll has been, aside from only these last two years in Buffalo.
Well, Cowboys fans (because I know you come here too), he has FIVE rings. All with the Patriots. He won the first (2001) as an assistant DB coach. (Whatever that means.) He won two more (2003, 2004) as their WR coach. You know, back when Patriots WR Dieon Branch was making us forget names like Rice and Moss. (That was sarcasm, by the way. Deep, deep sarcasm.)
Daboll left the Pats for a few years, then came back as the TE’s coach. Keep in mind, TE Rob Gronkowski had already caught 38 touchdowns, and been to two Pro Bowls in three years. So I’m not sure how much coaching he needed. But it got Daboll two more rings (2014, 2016)!
So what kind of wild success did he enjoy between 2007 and 2012, after leaving New England? Well in 2007 and 2008 he coached QB’s (Chad Pennington and Brett Favre) for the Jets. After which, he was hired as the OC for Cleveland in 2009 and 2010. They ranked 29th and 31st, respectively. In 2011 he was the OC for Miami, and led their offense to being 20th in scoring. So Miami stopped paying him.
Then came 2012 with the Chiefs. Daboll was their OC and the team went 2 – 14, behind a 32nd ranked offensive unit. Head Coach Romeo Crennel was canned and Andy Reidwas hired. One of the first things Andy did, was put his arm around Daboll and walk him off a cliff.
So aside from these last two years in Buffalo, Daboll has spent the last 20 years both failing upward, and constantly being a guy in the room, when that thing that happened, happened. Didn’t do it. Might not have even witnessed it, but he was in the room. Now this guy is coaching one of my division rivals! I feel like the luckiest football fan in the WORLD!
In all likelihood this all stems from no one wanting the giants job. Start with the most media intensive market on the planet. Then add a roster with massive holes. Stir in less than 14 million in cap space, and a pinch of no quarterback. Now garnish with a rookie GM, and viola! No one wanted a bowl of New York’s Hot Mess.
So the giants owner brings in an untested guy to be GM, as an easy answer to fans. Then the GM brings in just a guy to be the coach, as an easy answer to himself. All of it based on the just the last two years in Buffalo. Which didn’t turn the corner until QB Tom Brady left New England. That folks, is a weak foundation.
A year from now, you giants fans may look back wistfully at the days of Joe Judge and 4 – 13.
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).
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: Redskins did the Eagles actually get around to doing? Well let’s see:
1) Don’t get cute: Run the ball. That was the edict. Come out running and use the running styles to compliment each other. We did both, running 34 times for 118 yards (3.4 ypc), and two scores. It wasn’t pretty or explosive, but as I said, Boston Scott isn’t a tip of the spear caliber RB. Still, we stuck to our identity and ground out yardage and scores. That was the ask. (DONE)
2) Blitz On Long Downs: There were some 5 man rushes throughout the game, but not consistently enough, as was evinced by QB Taylor Heinicke (27/36 – 75.0% – 247 – 0 – 1), starting off 11/11. We didn’t really turn up the heat on him until the second half. Even then we played such loose coverage, that Washington was a threat to win, until Heinicke’s final pass to FS Rodney McLeod. (NOT DONE)
3) Knock Taylor on his Heinicke:In the second half, we got all over this! After the half, the Defensive Front came out looking to hunt. The pressure went up, and Heinicke kept finding himself running for his life, before ending up horizontal.
While it wasn’t frequently the product of blitzing, we were definitely getting the ball out of his hand earlier, as he became decidedly aware of how much heat we were bringing.(DONE)
4) Mr. Smith goes to Washington: Running the ball would have been easier if we could have emptied the box more. That would have been easy to do if WR Devonta Smith (6 – 3 – 54 – 18.0 – 0) had seen 7 to 8 targets. However, between Smith getting merely 6 targets, WR Quez Watkins(4 – 2 – 15 – 7.5 – 0) being a non-factor, and WR Jalen Reagor (Nope!) being trash, it was hard to stretch the field horizontally to create gaps.
Also, the Eagles spent a lot of time in Bunch Formations, with the receivers close to the Tackles. That allowed defenses to pack in. (NOT DONE)
So this week we posted 2 of the Four Things and accordingly, we barely escaped with a win. BUT WE WON!!! Next week we play a practice game against the Cowboys. It has no meaning since both of us have already qualified for the playoffs.
On The Whole:
For the second week in a row, we bodied a division rival.
We made the rest of their season meaningless. We reduced next week to a chance for their starters to take a pointless injury; or sit and let a back-up destabilize their job security.
And it feels good.
What feels even better, was clinching a playoff spot, with a rookie head coach, who was being mocked (even by me) a few weeks ago, for talking about motherfucking FLOWERS. This Spring I’m planting goddamned daffodils.
Even better than that, was doing it doing it during a rebuild year. (Did you hear that New York?) With a QB who was essentially a rookie. (Did you hear that Washington?) And while it’s true that we haven’t beaten a 10 win team all year, neither has Dallas. So we’re at least as legit as our division winner.
LAST week the giants (4 -10 at the time) hadn’t yet been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. Then we came along. BOOM! We bodied the giants. This week we go to Washington, to face their “not yet mathematically eliminated” football… Can you really call that mess, a team? I mean look…
Currently we hold the 7th seed in the playoffs, but at 8 – 7, we haven’t clinched it yet. That means we have to win to defend, the spot that we’re in. A win by us and a loss by the 7 – 8 Vikings, makes the magic happen before dawn Monday morning.
A win means we climb to 9 – 7. If the Vikings fall to 7 – 9, the only other NFC teams who could also get to 9 wins, are the 7 – 8 Falcons, and the 7 – 8 Saints. Both of whom we hold head-to-head tie-breakers over. So we need to win and we need Minny to lose.
If we lose, it could be catastrophic. Especially if the Vikings win. At that point, we’d a be a game out, and they’d be the 7th seed, by virtue of deep tie-breaking procedure. If that happens, we’d have to win next week and hope, PRAY that Minny loses.
Of course all of this solves itself, if we finish running the table.
The point ofFour 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 Redskins:
1) Don’t get cute: Run the ball. That’s who we are. That’s what we do. The NFL’s best hasn’t been able to stop us, and lord knows Washington can’t. We hung 238 rushing yards on them just 2 weeks ago. So keep it simple, and just come out running. Run until they stop us. If they stop us. They won’t stop us. They can’t stop us. Run the ball.
With RB Miles Sanders out, the Eagles need complimentary running now more than ever. We’ll likely start and lean on RB Boston Scott, but our run game is less violent when he or rookie RB Kenneth Gainwell is the tip of the spear, and neither has demonstrated enough break-away speed to offset being smaller and easy to tackle.
No one knows if RB Jordan Howardwill be ready to come back from the stinger he suffered last week. If he’s going to play, he has to be ready to live up to his “Bulldozer” nickname. (Look it up.) If he can’t, my guess is that recently signed RB Kerryon Johnson will be elevated from the Practice Squad.
2) Blitz On Long Downs:Washington isn’t going to beat us by relying on dump passes to WR Adam Humphries and TE Ricky Seals-Jones. WR Terry McLaurin on the other hand is a big play guy who can swing, or kill momentum in a game. We have CB’s good enough to make life hard for him. However, it’s a lot easier to take him away as a downfield threat, if there’s no time for him to get deep.
Blitz the QB and get the ball out of his hand ASAP. I want to see more of OLB Genard Avery firing through the “B” gap. That or Avery and DE Josh Sweat leveraging the RT. Sacks here and there would be great, but what we really want, is for the QB to SEE the rush, and consistently treat the ball like a live hand grenade.
3) Knock Taylor on his Heinicke: Last time we played Washington, we played against a short notice fill-in at QB. Sadly, he looked better than he should have. Going against gunslinging QB Taylor Heinicke however, will pose a much stiffer challenge. He knows he’s not Washington’s future, so he plays every game like it’s an audition. He’s inspired to play hero-ball on every down. And that makes him dangerous.
So hit him. A lot.
The thing about auditioning constantly, is that he always needs a product (his body) to be in a condition where he can sell it. Taking extra damage for a team going nowhere? A team that he knows wants to bail on him?? No need for late hit flags, just let him know that his body is in danger. That should calm his heroic vibe, right the fuck down.
4) Mr. Smith goes to Washington: Get WR Devonta Smith7 to 8 targets. And start early! Intimidation. That’s the point of this one. To create room to run underneath, we need to push DBs’s out of the box. So give Washington the choice of giving up a 30 yard pass, or a 7 yard run.
When they go split-Safety, and the Nickle is deeper than 5 yards, then we can audible to an inside run play. That way if we have to play a bunch of smaller RB’s, we can still gash Washington for chunks of rushing yardage.
(And when we do this, can the RB PLEASE angle toward the DB, instead of the LB? That creates a much higher chance of a broken tackle or a trucked defender.)
If we do these Four Things,
It would be disrespectful to flat out say that we should practice for the playoffs against the Redskins, but we do need to polish up on a few things.
We need to get sharper at throwing Screens. The way we do it now, tends to draw downfield blocking penalties, because QB Jalen Hurts often holds the ball too long. Better acting on pick plays is also needed.
We also need to establish a second outside threat, so that when teams take away Smith in the playoffs, it’s not all GoedertGoedertGoedertGoedertGoedert.
Small things done well, will lead to our Offense being terrifyingly consistent. That said, we don’t have a lot of time to get ready for the playoffs. That is, if we want to make any noise.
PREDICTION: EAGLES 24 – Redskins 16
Check back in a couple of days for Four Things Reviewed, and we’ll discuss how it went.