WHAT did I tell you back in November? I told you that (then) Head Coach Doug Pederson,couldn’t bench QBCarson Wentz. Well he did. And he was fired. I also told you that Wentz was the 2021 starter. Owner Jeff Lurieseems to be backing my assessment, and fueling rumors that the next HC hired, is largely based on the candidate’s desire to work with Wentz.
Not to say “I told you so” but…
For the last couple weeks I’m out here on a day-to-day, reading interactions between fans who want to argue about the QB. I don’t engage much. I mostly hang back, because I don’t want to get any stupid on me. Some are arguing that Wentz can’t play anymore. Some are perpetuating rumors that he’s “uncoachable”. Like he’s friggin Johnny Manziel, Ryan Leaf, or Jay Cutler. Can you believe this?
The truth? No matter what has come up, Wentz holds his head up, doesn’t embarrass his team, feeds his community, honors his marriage, and never makes you feel like he’s dogging it out there. In fact, he’s been routinely criticized for (Superman ball) trying to do too much. Exhibit A. Exhibit B. Exhibit C. Exhibit D. etc.
Meanwhile, all the shit talk about him is spouted by “ grown men” who won’t even apply their name to their words.
Making matters worse, are fans out there who gobble up those rumors, and spread them. This lends the illusion of merit to the rumors, due to the absence of truly substantive discourse. Honestly, the only thing that keeps this all from being sad, is that fact that:
I WAS RIGHT!
Instead of focusing on the soap opera that the local media has been trying to push, I pulled out my calculator, and applied some common sense. Philadelphia fans have long been reputed as some of the country’s most knowledgeable fans. While many have grown soft, lazy, and no longer deserving of that mantle, I work to ensure that it’s still true.
This allows me a sort of joyful, and well-earned smugness, because no matter what argument some fans make about Wentz’s 2020 season, barring injury, in 2021 he’s The Man. It won’t be QBJalen Hurts. Wentz won’t be traded. There won’t be an “open competition”. None of that bullshit.
Carson Wentz is your 2021 starting quarterback. Period. End of story. Like I TOLD you. In November. Anyone who wants to root for him to get hurt or play poorly, that’s their business. That however, would say a ton more about their character, than it would about Wentz’s skill or coachability.
I guess they’re waiting until we’re above .500. Then all those Eagles casuals will stop rooting for the Cowboys, and hop back on the bandwagon, shouting stuff like “AH bleed green no matter wut!” and “Never lost faith in Wentzlvania!”
LET’S have a conversation that no one is having right now. Just how bad is QB Carson Wentz’s back? It occurs to me that the Eagles concerns may be more physical than mental. Which would also explain why the team drafted QB Jalen Hurts as high as they did, before there was even a whisper of Wentz struggling.
Let’s run the clock back to December 2018. Wentz was diagnosed with a stress fracture of his vertebrae, and though he could have played and wanted to, the Eagles elected to shelve him and let the fracture heal without surgery.
In 2019 Wentz started all 16 games, posted a 9 – 7 mark, threw for 4,000 yards, 27 TD, just 7 picks, while leading an injury decimated team to a division win. Given what he had to work with, or more accurately, what he didn’t have to work with, it could be argued that 2019 may have been Wentz’s best football so far. No one ever mentioned his back.
Still, despite Wentz’s 2019 season, the Eagles took a QB in the second round of 2020’s Draft. Fans hated the pick when it happened. Entering Training Camp, we saw a beefier Carson Wentz. While there was a little bit of “Dad” in his middle, his shoulders and chest looked like he’d been really putting in time with the weights.
Unlike other positions, quarterbacks and aggressive weightlifting usually don’t mix well. Increasing shoulder and bicep density, has a way of altering throwing mechanics. Often unpredictably. This subject came up at the very beginning of camp, but none of us held onto it, nor even revisited it when Wentz struggled this year.
Adding up everything, the 2018 back injury, the career full of short yardage scrums, the more aggressive running in 2020, the 87 sacks over the last 2 seasons, not to mention the contortions that he goes through whenever he escapes a sack… You have to wonder if there is anything to know about Wentz’s back.
As a subject that no one is discussing, it’s of course going to generate zero questions, and zero articles. (Unless you’re smart enough to read here.) That gives the Eagles a chance to sell possibly damaged goods, (or goods predicted to have a shorter shelf-life), to a team that doesn’t do enough due diligence.
I have no inside information on this, and I’m not looking to start a rumor. I however AM still trying to understand the drafting of Hurts. Wentz didn’t struggle last year. So why the urgency in drafting a QB? Some point to his injury history and say, “Insurance Policy”. Truthfully, I said the same thing. At first.
If you just need a guy to fill in for a few games, a free agent veteran will do. Hell, just keeping QB Nate Sudfeld would’ve done! But to draft a QB in the second round? After your Franchise guy just showed the world why he’s the Franchise guy? Like I said, that trigger was pulled BEFORE Wentz struggled. They didn’t get him a tool, they got him competition.
Quarterback factory. Factory. That means that the Eagles intend to produce something they can sell. Merch they can move. So are the Eagles about to be in the business of selling lemons? Or are we about to start churning out MVP capable QB’s, and then shipping them to opponents? It’ll be interesting to see Howie do this. (See what I did there?)
THE Seattle loss was a hard pill to swallow, but our Defense kept us in that game, and kept a very mobile QB, under a fair amount of duress. DT Fletcher Cox and DE Brandon Graham, should make it difficult for Green Bay’s QB to consistently step up into his throws.
Depending on how the week shakes out, a win could put us back at the top of the division. That is, when this weeks spate of games (the Cowboys play on TUESDAY), is over. A loss combined with a giants win (over Seattle), would be a serious blow to the Eagles chances to see the post-season, from anything other than a couch.
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.
So let’s talk about the Four Things we need to focus on this week versus Green Bay :
1) Run to pass:The Eagles Offense works better when using the run to set up the pass. Running on first down helps open up passing lanes for QB Carson Wentz, and legitimizes play-action.
2) Force their QB left, and hit him: While QB Aaron Rodgers can throw moving to his left, he’s deadly moving to his right. Get him doing things he doesn’t want to do. Take the control and the confidence from him. While getting hit and sacked are part and parcel of the position, he doesn’t shake it off emotionally. So beat him to shit. Take him away from his team mentally. We’ve seen what he looks like when he checks out emotionally. That’s the guy we want to face.
3)Start fast: Beating Green Bay likely means having to win a shootout. Since the Packers are not a team that lets opponents climb back into games, the Eagles need to throw points on the board ASAP.
4) Avoid starting drives inside of our 20:Part of our problem is that we keep losing the hidden yardage/field position battle. Frequently when RB Boston Scott returns a kickoff, he fails to reach the 20. Since we don’t have a dangerous KR man, down kickoffs in the endzone. WR Greg Ward shouldn’t let any puts roll inside the 10. A fair-catch at the 11 sucks ass, but it beats a rolling ball, downed at the 2.
If we do these Four Things, the final score should be:
EAGLES 24 – Packers 21
Check back in a couple of days for Four Things Reviewed, and we’ll discuss how it went.
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 you visit this site often.) These updates will come out three times during this season: After Weeks 6, 11, and 15.
When last we left off, Dallas was 2 – 4, and leading the division. Wow right?
You know, just twelve weeks ago, this team was talked about as being a Super Bowl contender. They were simply gonna walk away with the NFC East. Just walk away with it! Today the talk is about whether or not they’re ditching injured QB Dak Prescott, to select a QB in the top five.
So that’s how that’s going.
Replacing Prescott is QB Andy Dalton. And then QB Ben “Bring It On!” DiNucci. And then QB Garrett Gilbert. And then Uncle Rico. And then QB Andy Dalton. And then…
They are a team ravaged by injuries. Aw.
Being beat to shit by injuries, just means playing in the 2020 NFL. Nobody cares. Work harder.
On defense, they aren’t playing any. No, that’s not fair. At the time of our last installment, they weren’t. Since then they’ve stopped allowing 36 points per game and now have it down to 32.6 per game. IMPROVEMENT! Did I mention the 23 – 9 loss where they got FOUR turnovers? I didn’t? Well they suffered a 9 – 23 loss where they got FOUR turnovers. And were still nearly blown out!
Washington: 4 – 7, 2nd place in the NFC East
QB Kyle Allen was lost for the season with a dislocated ankle, vs the same giants team that dislocated QB Dak Prescott’s ankle. Have no fear! QB Alex Smith will be the starter for the final leg of this journey. Thus far, he’s 2 – 1 as a starter over these last three games, despite being far from spectacular at either moving or protecting the ball.
Defensively, their last two opponents were Cincy and Dallas, both playing with back-up QB’s. Washington’s dance card is a bout to stiffen a little, so we’ll get to see just how many of these improvements were improvements, and how many were just games against stumbling opponents. To their credit, for a hot five or six minutes, this Football Team (ick) actually recaptured the top spot in the division.
Now they’re back to playing for Draft position.
New York: 4 – 7, 1st place in the NFC East
New York is out here breaking so many ankles, that maybe we should call them the New York Iversons. Frankly I’m glad that we’ve already seen them twice, and escaped with our QB. QB Daniel Jones is playing acceptable football, in the sense that he is no longer a turnover fountain.
The real story for these last few weeks, is RB Wayne Gallman. He isn’t flashy, but unlike injured starter RB Saquon Barkley, Gallman’s more consistent from one carry to the next. Barkley is one big play, and a lot of loss, no gain, short gain. Gallman’s 4.0 per carry is more like 4 yards on this carry, 3 on that one, five on this one, and so forth. That sort of production keeps 3rd downs more manageable, and doesn’t put the QB in tight spots. Gallman’s style stabilizes the offense, and makes Jones viable . The giants have a real conundrum on their hands once Barkley is healthy again.
Flying under the radar is a defense that has held opponents to 25 points or fewer for the last 6 games (20.0 ppg). I made this team my dark horse to win the East in 2020, and so far it seems like I had it read pretty well.
So that’s the state of our division rivals as our Eagles head into game 12.
SHOULD the Eagles bench QB Carson Wentz? If you answered “Yes” to that question, you may be suffering from a severe case of Stupidity. Wait, no. That’s never how it actually works. Everyone else around you,may be suffering from your severe case of Stupidity.
Remember hating WR Nelson Agholor for years? Remember calling him a bum? Remember who didn’t? That would be me. Remember hating MLB Jordan “Cowboy Killer” Hicks for being injured all the time? Remember who didn’t? That would also be me. Remember hating CB Sidney Jones and CB Rasul Douglas? And again, guess who didn’t?
How are those players looking these days? Hey, to all of you who wanted us to keep QB Nick Folesover Wentz, how is Foles working out as a starter? What is he now, 2 – 8? 2 – 9? Just to rub salt in a wound, this February, I also said in THE 12 that we should have paid SS Malcolm Jenkins? Here’s the link.
Clearly, I don’t suffer from Stupidity. Instead, I have a condition known as “Guru”. It causes me to look “down the line”, and assess before I speak. Which means, you should listen to me.
Now some of you are saying that Wentz should ride pine, because he’s having a shitty season. And it’s true, on most levels, it truly is a spectacular shit-storm of a season. It is however, only one bad season. Feel free to take a minute and look back at his career to confirm that.
Now for some math. Because I know you LOVES the Maths!
In June of 2019, Wentz signed a 4 year extension worth 128M$, with 107M$ guaranteed, and 66M$ being fully guaranteed through 2021. The Eagles can get out of the deal after 2021, if they’re willing to eat 24M$ in dead money, in 2022. That’s because Wentz has no guaranteed salary after 2021. His remaining guaranteed money is all bonus money. He has another 63M$ in pre-arranged base salaries through 2024, but not a dime of those salaries are guaranteed.
My point is, Eagles team owner Jeff Lurie is on the hook to Wentz for another 60M$ even after this 2020 season ends. Lost revenue from the COVID affected 2020 season, is threatening to shrink the NFL salary cap from 198M in 2020, to (an estimated) 186M in 2021. So for at least the next two years, Wentz will represent 12 – 18% of the Eagles salary cap. Whether he’s on the roster or not.
To relate this to you: If you had a $1,000 budget, what service would you agree to spend $120 – $180 on, if you were no longer getting that service? Oh, and keep in mind, you’d also have to pay for a replacement service at the same time. This is what fans think Lurie should do.
So here’s the 60M$ question: Would Lurie pay Wentz 34M to sit and watch football in 2021, and then 24M while on someone else’s roster in 2022? No. Not on your life. So Wentz is your 2020 AND your 2021 starter. As well as your likely starter in 2022.
Take notice of how nervous Head Coach Doug Pederson appears. Also take notice of how agitated, but otherwise calm, Wentz appears. In this business, franchise QB’s are far harder to find than a decent head coach. Especially with a guy like Assistant Head Coach Duce Staleywaiting in the wings. (Oh, you hadn’t considered that, had you?)
QB Jalen Hurts was brought here to keep asses in the seats, if Wentz gets seriously injured. That’s it. If Wentz gives the Eagles a medical reason to opt out, there’s a very talented insurance policy already on the roster.
Aside from that, Wentz is your starter. Definitely through 2021, but possibly until his deal runs out in 2024, when he’ll only be 32, and still carry a very friendly cap-hit of 32M$.
DO you see? Just like that, the Eagles are already getting better.
NOTE: I wanted to get this one in before we play the Browns today.
I wrote last week in EASILY FIXING THE EAGLES that the team’s issues stemmed from a culture without enough competition built into it. I also wrote a week prior to that, in HOW TO HELP CARSON WENTZ that he is at his best, with a hard-nosed running game, not a finesse one.
So what moves did the Eagles make?
Move The First: We signed RB Jordan Howardto the Practice Squad. For casual Eagles fans there’s a lot in that move that’s easy to miss. For someone like me, it’s all the subtle things that jump out at me. It’s all the “down the line” implications that I’m excited by. It likely won’t impact THIS game, but that’s beside the point.
Howard should have never been cut in the first place. Despite RB Miles Sanders’sobvious talent, he still could benefit from the presence of a veteran RB, to bounce things off of. RB Corey Clementfits the bill, but the Eagles spotty commitment to him, gives his voice less weight when talking to younger players.
With their treatment of Clement and cutting of Howard, the Eagles created a situation where there was no player to mentor Sanders. Thus, he’s still making small mental mistakes, that have huge impacts. Like on his blitz pick-ups, and pass route landmarks. Signing Howard, and letting Sanders see a vet do it, will help with that.
Move El Dos: Elevating RB Elijah Holyfieldfrom the Practice Squad to the Active Roster. The advertisement on Holyfield is that he will be a tough, between the Tackles runner. The film on him says different. It says that once he gets past the line of scrimmage, there’s been too much East-West running in his very short football history. At least for my taste.
That being said, he was young and playing in Carolina. The Panthers had a playbook developed for a WR small RB trying to prove a point. So coming here, may help fix some bad habits that Holyfield may have picked up there.
Those two moves by themselves are solid personnel moves. Add a veteran mentor, who has a skill that you clearly lack. Then elevate a guy from the Practice Squad, so you can get enough tape to evaluate him at season’s end, to determine pressing Draft needs. Solid GM-ing.
Now for the parts that are easy to miss.
Last week the giants made forcing-feeding us the run, look like Bluto force-feeding spinach to Popeye.
But how was the Eagles Defense supposed to practice stopping that kind of downhill run game, without selling out to stop it? Practicing against which RB? Sanders? Clement? RB Boston Scott? Holyfield was on the PS, but he isn’t the downhill runner that Howard has proven to be.
There is a role for a short yardage/back-up RB on this team. The elevation of Holyfield and signing of Howard (who mostly still knows the playbook), is a competitive situation. Two players making Practice Squad money, who want real contracts. Real careers. Suddenly the Eagles are going to be practicing better.Do you see?
For a RB to impress in practice, he has to embarrass defensive players. If a defensive player is embarrassed too often, he may lose starts. That means our LB’s and Safeties are officially on notice. If they don’t get it now, they will the first time one of them gets run over by a teammate. Do you see?
I wrote just four days ago that THIS was the way to fix the team, and it is already underway! I doubted that the Eagles could/would do it during the season. Yet here are two subtle moves, that will spur culture change in the team’s practice habits. On both sides of the ball! Practice habits are work habits. They become game habits.
WE’RE not a good team right now. To not even be .500 this deep into the season, is a solid indicator that we probably aren’t getting home-field throughout. Understand, the Eagles are a bad team in 2020, but they are not a bad organization. So fixing this will be a lot easier than you might think. In fact, I wrote about that, this February in THE 12.
Before I launch into it, let me hit the qualifiers, just to get them out of the way:
YES, we are still at the head of the division.
YES, it’s likely that with an infusion of talented veterans, this team will improve at least a little.
YES, if this team hits the postseason, it’s possible that we could get hot.
So, by no means am I throwing in the towel. I plan to be here, loud and obnoxious, every damned week with a smile. Truth is, I’ll take a bad Eagles season over no season at all. It sure beats having to endure yet another loss of something we all enjoy. Even in a bad season, I’m glad I get to root for my Eagles.
So how can I say that this will be easy to fix? First let’s identify the problem. Remember going into this season, we saw a silver lining to our constant injury situation. That silver lining was how much experience our deep bench, and Practice Squad were getting. Lots of experience up and own the roster. In small doses, that IS a great thing.
The issue is how often those players get extended snaps, and even starts. That’s what been necessary for the Eagles. On no other team would CB Avonte Maddox be a starter. Or LB’s Alex Singleton or Duke Riley. Or G’s Sua Opetaand Nate Herbig. Or T’s Jack Driscoll and Matt Pryor. That’s not to say that all of those players are trash, but none of them was penciled in start here, prior to an injury.
You wouldn’t permanently hold a metal bolt with a plastic nut. You wouldn’t long-term drive your car on a doughnut.
Yet this is what the Eagles have had to do for years now. While mixing high quality with lesser quality may buy you a little time, done over a long period, things break down much faster than if you’d mixed good with good.
People don’t compare this 2020 Eagles team against 2019’s or 2018’s. People keep comparing this Eagles team against the 2017 edition. Especially QB Carson Wentz. Given the amount of erosion that has occurred all over this team, the O-Line, RB’s, coaching staff, that’s hardly fair. It also explains what you’re seeing out there.
Now let’s start talking how to fix this. You’ve heard that iron sharpens iron. Imagine if you’re WR Jalen Reagor trying to nail down a starting spot in Training Camp, and your competition is J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Remember how Ron Jaworski said that Reagor isn’t a disciplined route runner? Didn’t TE Dallas Clark seem to play better, when he was trying to get snaps from TEZach Ertz?
The solution is simple. Establish a primary back-up, and play favorites. Don’t split snaps evenly behind the starters. Nix heavy rotation at CB, LB, WR. Starve them for snaps.Make the back-ups fight for snaps.
Again, I said all this back in February, in the article ‘STARVE THE KIDS’ . Understand, there is little chance that this can be successfully implemented during the 2020 season. And that’s fine. A bad year fits the Eagles salary cap plans better, anyway.
For example, if WR’s DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery utterly ball-out during the playoffs; or LT Jason Peters makes a few blocks that get him on Sports Center, fans will revolt when they get cut. Especially if we get hot and win the Super Bowl. So this year being a train-wreck is right on schedule.
If Head Coach Doug Pederson wants to see more passion from this team. If he wants to see more of a sense of urgency. If he wants a greater sense of focus. Then he needs to breed a sense of competition, and foster an atmosphere of hunger that drives his roster. That said, Starving The Kids is an easy fix to improve the quality of the 2021 roster. Not just that, but it can be done for free.
OVER the last two games, most Eagles fans have fallen heels-over-head for WR Travis Fulgham. Some love that he’s scored in each of the last two games. Some love that he makes big splash catches.
I love that he’s nothing special.
Seriously, there is nothing about his game that is remotely remarkable. He’s not super-fast. He doesn’t jump super-high. He doesn’t kill defenders with his first step off the line. So if he doesn’t have any amazing traits, why is he so much better than all the other young receivers we’ve drafted since Jeremy Maclin?
The thing that separates Fulgham from Eagles draft picks, is that he has a solid set of fundamentals. He comes back to the ball. He boxes out. He high-points and catches with his hands. Again, nothing special. Just the fundamentals that any receiver should have. I said should.
During Week One, QB Carson Wentz threw two interceptions. One was while trying to connect with rookie WR Jalen Reagor, and the other was an attempt to rookie WR John Hightower. Both were jumping and fading away from the ball, allowing the defender to uncut them. Remember the one to WR J.J. Arcega-Whitesidevs the Rams? Look up those three picks. I’ll wait…
(Whistling. Filing nails. Painting a still-life.)
Oh, you’re back! Did you notice what I was talking about? It jumps right out at you, doesn’t it? From now on, you will NEVER fail to notice it, and wonder how others miss it.
Although WR Alshon Jeffery has crazy leaping skills, his speed isn’t lethal, he’s not the biggest receiver, and he doesn’t have legendary hands. In fact, how would you describe Alshon’s game? Comes back to the ball. Boxes out. High-points. Makes yards after the catch. None of those things are talent based. Those are all skills. They are fundamentals which only come from teaching.
The obvious thing that fans keep missing, is that young Eagles receivers aren’t taught those basics. Fulgham learned it before he got here. Alshon, same thing. Terrell Owens? Kevin Curtis? These guys looked great next to receivers drafted, but untaught by our coaching staffs.
Speaking of which, how DOES former Eagles WR Nelson Agholor, look in Las Vegas this year? He’s only caught 10 balls, but he’s only been thrown 11 passes. That’s a 90% catch rate. Through 5 years with the Eagles, Agholor NEVER had a 90% catch rate through 5 weeks. Not in 2015 (47%), not 2016 (66%), not 2017 (69%), not 2018 (70%), nor 2019 (59%). NEVER.
Crazy what a little coaching can fix.
Some readers may say that I’ve failed to mention Fulgham’s ability to create separation with stems, speed variations in his routes, head fakes, stacking the defender, etc. Those are all skills. Those are all taught things. Every blessed one of them. Just basic fundamentals.
I love that Fulgham’s game is based on fundamentals. It means that if the Eagles decide to sign him long-term, his ability to play won’t disappear with injury, or suddenly with age. When Alshon gets back I look forward to seeing packages that feature them both on the field.
Now if only we can utilize some of that speed we added this year…
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. 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: 1 – 2 – 1 / 1st place in the NFC East / 21.0 points per game vs. 29.2 points allowed
(L) Washington 1 – 3
(L) Los Angeles Rams 3 – 1
(T) Cincinnati 1 – 2 – 1
( W) San Francisco 2 – 2
IT’S been a shit-show. Injuries (more than anything else), have derailed any sense of rhythm this team was supposed to have coming out of the gate. On Offense it’s led to inconsistencies, which have led to turnovers, which have left points on the field. On Defense it’s led to communications errors, magnified by gaps in talent, which have translated into points for the opponent.
QB (D): Why not an F for Carson Wentz? Because of context. Context means you look at the WHOLE picture, not just the stat-line. Washington was going well, until the sacks started piling up. He was bad in the Rams game. In the last two games however, Carson has put this team on his shoulders. Despite protection issues, and a lack of weapons, he’s figuring out how to keep us in games. Still, he has to get the turnovers under control. Jalen Hurtshas played 10 snaps and still has two fumbles (Neither was lost.)
RB (C ): Miles Sanders has been effective running the ball, but far from dangerous. He hasn’t established himself as a tier of the Offense, merely as an option in it. The short passing game won’t pop until that happens. Boston Scott is not a true runner and it shows, in how easy it is to stop his forward progress. Corey Clement is scarcely being utilized.
TE (C ): Seems like a high grade until you realize that the production is off, because shorter routes are being emphasized for this position. The team is scheming away fromZach Ertzin order as they audition replacements. That was going fine until Dallas Goedertended up on IR. Now the Eagles are standing in the rain, on the doorstep of the girl they just dumped, horny and somewhat humbled. “Looking for a little romance. Given half a chance.”
WR (D): The inability to stay healthy is bad enough, but the “next man up” needs to do a better job of trying to crack the starting line-up. As a group, so far they’ve caught 43 of 70 targets for 478 yards (11.1 ypc) and just 2 touchdowns. Greg Ward is the leader at this position, but he doesn’t even average 9 yards per catch. Taking what the defense gives you is one thing. Letting them dictate to you all game long, is quite another. These guys have to do a better job of getting open on intermediate and deep routes
T (D): Neither Jason Peters nor Lane Johnson has looked quite like themselves this season. With JP it’s a toe injury that put him on IR for a few games. With Johnson it’s offseason ankle surgery, that isn’t back to 100% yet. Rookie Jack Driscoll has played quite a bit of football this year, but he looks like a rookie. Three year project Jordan Mailata got his first start in the Eagles lone win. He wasn’t amazing, but there was definite promise there. Still this position has been too inconsistent to grade it highly.
G (C ): Matt Pryor and Nate Herbig won’t be mistaken for Pro Bowlers, but we haven’t lost a game since they became our starting tandem, two games ago. They aren’t the best pass blockers, but that has the upside of “encouraging” bootlegs and getting the ball out earlier.
C (D): Jason Kelcestill understands leverage and landmarks, but his ability to win at the point of attack seems greatly diminished. Also he could do a better job of shielding the scramble lane. The good news is we’ve already seen the first of his annual two wild snaps. Kelce still is a wily vet, and he can get by on that. The question is: “Can the Eagles?”
DE (C): The sack production is there, with 10 in the first 4 games. Brandon Graham is on pace for a 12 sack season. So is Josh Sweat. Derek Barnettis on pace for 10. However, the backside run stopping is dangerously lax. Regardless of who lines up there (usually Barnett or Sweat), our RDE often doesn’t set the edge. Instead, they flatten to run down it. Without second level containment on that side, the Eagles fall frequent victim to reverses or stretch runs. FYI: It happens enough for opponents to be able to scheme for and target.
DT (A): This position is the engine that drives the Defense. It is the source of our power. They are the primary reason why we are giving up just 3.8 yards per rush. They also provide the pressure that has us leading the NFL in sacks. Fletcher Coxis Fletcher Cox of course, but Malik Jackson? Him?? As a group, all four players have 14 QB hits through 4 games. Jackson owns 9 of them. As an interior lineman!
OLB (D): Opponents now know that Nate Gerry has neither the speed to cover anyone, nor the strength to take on blockers. As a Nicklebacker (ugh!) playing ZONE, he provides a level of shift-on-the-fly flexibility that’s hard to match. However, as an every down ‘backer, he’s more like shit-under-flies. On the other hand, we haven’t lost since Duke Riley became a starter. Riley has also been lackluster, to put it kindly. The only splash play made by this group was Alex Singleton’s 30 yard game sealing pic-six vs the 49ers.
MLB (C ): T.J. Edwards wasn’t setting the world on fire, but we were getting some decent football out of him inside the Tackle box. But he’s on IR now, so…(nodding) ya know… In the meantime, getting a good look at rookie Shaun Bradley can only help his development. No one said they would, but at this point, they should.
S (C): FS Rodney McLeod has been targeted 13 times for 6 completions, just 68 yards, 0 TD’s, and a red zone interception. He’s been a low-key brightspot in the Secondary this season. Jalen Mills has been a bit of a disaster at SS. Targeted 7 times for 7 completions and a TD. Plus the soft tackling. His move back outside for WK4, was a godsend. During WK4, rookie Kavon Wallace got the start, while veteran Marcus Epps got most of the snaps. They weren’t All Pro, but they showed actual promise. The grade for next quarter should be higher. Provided that Mills stays outside.
CB (C): Darius Slay is the story here. He has no picks, and is allowing completions at a rate of 66%. However, he’s also only allowed 180 yards through 4 games, and his deflection in our lone victory, stopped George Kittle from stealing it from us, in the closing seconds of the game. Jalen Mills in that game was targeted 7 times, allowing just 2 completions for all of 6 yards. Never move him to Safety again. (Love him at N/CB though.) When we stopped playing Nickell Robey-Coleman 60% of the time, we started winning, and allowing 32 points per game. That, coincided with playing Cre’Von LeBlanc a lot more. So it feels like the Eagles are finding a rhythm at the position. A per game grade would look like D, F, C, B.
LS (A): The fact that you can’t recall mentioning Rick Lovato, is always a good thing.
P (A): Cameron Johnston is out there MURDERING IT so far. He’s averaging 51.6 yards per punt, 12 of which have been returned for an average of just 5.6 yards.
K (A): Jake Elliott is 7 of 7 on extra points and 6 of 7 from the field, with his only miss being from 50+ yards.
SINCE LAST QUARTER:
We ended 2019 on a 4 – 0 tear, vs admittedly garbage ((cough) division), lever competition. We tweaked the Offense by moving around some coaches, and added a ton of speed. Injuries however, have reared their ugly heads, yet again. The difference is, now we’re so used to it, that we know how to take it in stride.
MISSION FOR THIS QUARTER:
Getting the Offensive Line and the Secondary to gel, should be the focus of these next few games. We need to be able to solidly separate ourselves from the bottom of the division. While 4 – 0 would be great and should always be the goal, coming out of these next 4 (Pittsburgh, Baltimore, New York giants, Dallas) at 2 – 2 seems more realistic.
PERENNIAL laughingstock. That’s the best way to describe the team formerly known as the Redskins. Every year for the last quarter century, you fans get geeked up in September, only to end up moaning “We’ll get ‘em next year.” by mid-October.
And as if that wasn’t bad enough, this year, owner Dan Snyder renamed your team “The Washington Football Team”. In one fell swoop, he literally turned your fan base into a fucking Abbott and Costello routine. It’s hilarious! I have to love it.
JOURNALIST: So sir, who is your favorite football team?
FAN: Football Team.
JOURNALIST: Yes. Who is your favorite?
FAN: The Football Team.
JOURNALIST: Yes, but which one?
FAN: That one!
JOURNALIST: Which one?!
FAN: The Football Team!
All across America, there are probably thousands of conversations just like that, going on every day. Fans who know your team is doing something stupid, yet trying desperately to defend it anyway. Which I suppose is habit by now for Washington fans.
JOURNALIST: Sir it’s a simple question. Which football team is your favorite?
FAN: I’m a fan of the Football Team!
JOURNALIST: From which city?
FAN: Technically they don’t represent a city.
JOURNALIST: Okay then. Which state?
FAN: It’s not really a state either.
That’s true by the way. The District of Columbia is a federal district. It technically neither a city, nor a state. Like the Redskins who technically do, but don’t have a name. They exist in a perpetual state of “Yeah, but not really. Absolutely, but not at all.”
I’m also enjoying how suddenly “woke” you all are, while still trying to justify what you’re now woke about. That irony is rich enough classify as a dessert.
JOURNALIST: Who owns your favorite team?
FAN: Dan Snyder.
JOURNALIST: Wait! You’re a Redskins fan?
FAN: Don’t call them the Redskins! That name is racist.
JOURNALIST: How long did you root for them?
FAN: All my life! Thirty-two years.
JOURNALIST: And the name just became racist?
FAN: Once they changed it, yeah. Fuck that name.
JOURNALIST: But it was okay before they changed it?
FAN: Oh yeah! Got it tattooed on my chest here. Over my heart.
JOURNALIST: And until then, you didn’t care how Native Americans felt?
JOURNALIST: Native Americans.
FAN: Which team is that? What city do they come from?
JOURNALIST: They’re indigenous people…
JOURNALIST: You used to call them Redskins!
FAN: HAIL! I mean, fuck them! I mean, fuck that name! I mean, go Football Team! Hey-yah, hey-yah!
This is what you’ve been reduced to. This is what you’ve become. Remember being proud? Yeah, that’s in the past now. You’re the Geoffrey Owens of football fans. And do you know the BEST part? Still, in all of this, you all actually think your team has a shot at winning the division. That is SO cute!
You guys should start small. Focus on developing a QB who finishes games before he starts taking pictures with the crowd. Focus on not running off a Pro Bowl caliber LT. Focus on hiring a head coach who you don’t fire every other year.
Your team is just awful. How awful? Ron Rivera signed with your team, and then was diagnosed with cancer. Actual fucking cancer! I’m not blaming your team but yes I totally am. And then to make his life easier, your team let go of a Hall of Fame caliber RB in Adrian Peterson, so that they can start J.D. Mickissic. If you didn’t know that Mickissic was your starter this Sunday, YOU’RE WELCOME!
These are all REAL things. I would make some up, but I could never match the idiocy with which your team is being run into the ground. Honestly, I think if Dan Snyder counted his balls ten times in a row, he’d never get the same number twice. That level of incompetence deserves some sort of prize. So the Eagles will give it to you.