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.
Crash the “A” gaps and disrupt the flow of their offense. There were just two clear instances of this being done. The first was when Hargrave made QB Dak Prescott fumble in his own end zone, which DT Fletcher Cox (0 – 0 – 0 – 0) recovered for a touchdown. The other was on a QB hurry near the first half.
Otherwise, useless LB and invisible DE play, did nothing to help the effort. Especially against the run, where the Eagles defensive front looked almost weightless at times. (NOT DONE)
2) Exploit the youth:Hurts had two drives where he remembered his legs. We scored on both. Otherwise, he seemed almost to be making a point of staying in the pocket. He also showed me something else that I think will put to bed any question of him being a Franchise QB.
If you get to see a replay of this game, look at Hurts’s head on passes. He doesn’t turn it. He’s not progressing through reads. He’s deciding where he wants to go with the ball, and holding it until the target is available. This is why defenders were able to squat on his routes and wait. His youth and inexperience were showing. Oh the irony! (NOT DONE)
3) Clear A Run Lane: Head Cock Nick Sirianni, dialed up 39 pass plays and just 3 handoffs. THREE! ALL GAME LONG! WHO DOES THAT!? Even Andy Reid (get well soon, Big Red!), would find that sort of play-calling lopsided. (NOT DONE)
4) Give Them Doubts: Hard to jump passes when you give up 7 and 8 yard cushions. I swear it’s like Jim Schwartz still coaches here! (NOT DONE)
This week we did none of the Four Things. Therefore, we were utterly, and deservedly, shit-canned on national television. Next week we get to host Andy and his 1 – 2 Chiefs, in the house that he essentially built.
On The Whole:
This was humiliation on a national stage. This game was less about how well the Cowboys played, as much as it was about how corrosive and self-destructive the Eagles were.
The Cowboys didn’t decide that we would hand the ball off 3 times and throw it 39.
The Cowboys didn’t decide to keep our CB’s on deep cushions.
The Cowboys didn’t keep dialing up 6 yard routes for us, that their CB’s were able to sit on.
The Cowboys didn’t decide to keep us in zone vs a run game that was making a point of whipping us.
The Cowboys didn’t make us commit penalty after bone-headed penalty.
The Cowboys didn’t tell us to start a one-read QB.
LAST week we dominated and still lost. Not happy about that, but our defense took a team that had scored 41 the week before, and held them to 17. The Atlanta team that we held to two FG’s in Week One, just put 25 on Tampa Bay. We allowed just 11.5 points per game, vs two talented offenses, led by QB’s who have started Super Bowls. (Both also had leads, before suffering horrifying collapses.)
Our opponent this week is giving up 24 per game, despite producing 6 turnovers in two weeks. That sounds like a leaky defense to me! Hey, Leaky Deefie, this is QBJalen Hurts. As in, Jalen hurts shitty defenses like yourself.
Last week’s loss took us from the top of the division, to third place (actually tied for second) in the division. Beating an NFC East opponent would move us up that ladder. If nature takes it’s course and Buffalo beats Washington, we’d be alone in 1st. If Washington wins, we’d be tied with them for the top spot. In any case, we need this win.
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 Dallas Cowboys:
1) Erupt, disrupt, corrupt: As efficient as the Cowboys offense is looking right now, it might be hard to believe that they have a glaring Achilles heel. BUT THEY DO! Whether it’s QB Dak Prescott stepping up into the pocket, or RB Ezekiel Elliott inside running, their best offense isn’t from Tackle to Tackle. It’s only from Guard to Guard.
Crashing the ‘A” gaps on either side of C Tyler Biadasz, will spoil their offense at the source. It doesn’t allow Prescott to step up, and doesn’t allow Elliott any room to build momentum. Let’s get Prescott running. Not bootlegging. Running. Between his rebuilt ankle, and his questionable shoulder, let’s see what his delivery looks like when he’s on the move.
2) Exploit the youth:The Cowboys defense allows about as many points (24.0) as they score (24.5). Their opponents complete 69% of their passes, and average 4.5 yards per run. Dallas also misses tackles at a rate of 11.9%. (For perspective, our Eagles miss 4.3%). Their defense is young, and under intense stress covering for injury losses.
We should use that stress to implode the unit. In the last two games, the Cowboys have struggled vs pocket QB’s. Jalen Hurts ability to run, could overwhelm Dallas’s fragile system. We need to see Hurts on some misdirection bootlegs, where he’s getting the ball to TE’s and RB’s. That way we get to eat up clock, and OUR Defense stays fresh.
3) Clear A Run Lane: Operation C.A.R.L.! If Dallas wants to start a 245 pound rookie LB at DE, against RT Lane Johnson, give’ em the match-up they want. Run the ball early to the right, to take advantage of the physical mismatch. Beat on the rookie. Lay him out a few times. Welcome him to the NFL, and take the chase right out of his legs.
Then in the second half, the Read Option and Screens will be nails in their coffin. Close your eyes and see a Cowboys blitz, countered with a RB Screen. Touchdown Sanders! Envision the argument on their sideline. Wait what?! Did Prescott just shove DE Randy Gregory? Oh my god, Randy hit him with a helmet! POPCORN! WE NEED POPCORN!
4) Give Them Doubts: We play Cover Two. So here and there, we can afford to gamble. Early in the game, our corners need to jump a couple of Prescott’s passes. Doesn’t matter if they’re complete or not. A couple of near picks, will affect him for the rest of the game. Interceptions would be great, but attempting them is more important.
We want Prescott looking for that next jump. Get him to pat the ball an extra time or two before releasing it. Get him thinking, not playing. If we can slow his release, it allows our pass rushers more time to get to him. More importantly, it takes their passing offense out of the rhythm they’ve had these last two games.
If we do these Four Things,
Offensively, if we follow FT, the Eagles would rule time of possession in the first half, keeping our Defense fresh for the second half. Defensively, if we follow FT, the bottom will drop out of the Cowboys offense. If that happens, it will strand their defense on the field. As a soft defense, we need them be on the field as much as possible.
Though the Eagles will be without DE Brandon Graham, RG Brandon Brooks, LT Jordan Mailata, and FS Rodney McLeod, this still feels like the Eagles are about to blow the Cowboys out, this Sunday.
Keep in mind, I don’t go around predicting blowouts, but this feels like the Cowboys are walking into a trap. Eagles fans just came back last week, and yet the chatter around this game seems oddly muted. There’s a stillness around this game. It feels almost unnatural. I can’t explain it, but that’s how it feels.
I don’t expect a close game.
PREDICTION: EAGLES 30 – Cowboys 16
Check back in a couple of days for Four Things Reviewed, and we’ll discuss how it went.
AS an Eagles fan, I avoid writing about rival teams or players unless it’s truly newsworthy. Otherwise, I ignore them and focus on MY team: The Philadelphia Eagles. That being said, I have dirt to dish. So pull up a chair and let’s talk some shit.
Cowboys QB Dak Prescott refuses to reveal whether or not he’s been vaccinated for Covid-19. When asked about it, he incorrectly invoked HIPAA, and then dived into a stream of meaningless double-talk. This basically says that he hasn’t gotten vaccinated. Whether he’s leaning that way or is staunchly opposed, remains to be seen.
Frankly, it’s not important one way or the other. I’d be telling you a lie to say that I cared at all.
I’m not saying that I wish Covid on the man. I don’t. What I’m here to talk about, is how truly Karmic it would be, if in his situation, he contracted Covid-19. For no damned reason at all.
He just signed one of the most lucrative contracts in NFL history, and the vaccine is totally FREE. Doesn’t cost a single red cent. Even if it wasn’t available in his neighborhood, the Cowboys medical staff would happily drive it to his home to vaccinate him. I’m sure they’d even wade through his pool to do it, as he lay on an inflatable chair.
He has NO BUSINESS getting this disease. NONE.
So if he gets it by himself and has to quarantine, his decision could cost his team one or two games. If he’s part of an outbreak, then his team may need to automatically hand over a win (or two, or three) to whomever they were scheduled to play.
Prescott could avoid all of this now, by being vaccinated. Instead, the plan is to keep QB Ben “Bring It On” DiNucci,
or preseason hall of fame QB Cooper Rush, loose and ready to go. This is because Prescott’s new deal made signing a good back-up, too expensive. (And Chicago lied to QB Andy Dalton.)
While Covid has a high survival rate, often victims are left with long-term symptoms like difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, fatigue, symptoms that worsen after physical activities, difficulty thinking or concentrating (brain fog), and lots of other crap. These people are often called Covid Long Haulers, or said to have Long Covid, or Post-acute Covid., by the CDC
Significantly more victims suffer these long-term effects, than die from the disease, and that’s what poses the bigger danger for Prescott. An NFL athlete can’t play while dragging around an oxygen tank. A QB can’t be at his best with brain fog. If walking up 10 stairs can worsen symptoms for the average person, imagine what an NFL game would do to Prescott.
If Prescott contracts Covid, even when he gets back, he may never be the same player, ever again. It could derail his career, like Guillain-Barre Syndrome did with retired C Travis Frederick. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, would be stuck with a lemon that he owes 126M$. It would be years before the Cowboys could be competitive in the free agent market.
As bad as QB Carson Wentz’s situation looks for the Eagles in 2021, Prescott not being vaccinated could make the Cowboys look a lot worse for a third of a decade. Given that Jones is no spring chicken at 78, there’s a chance that he may not even live to see the Cowboys get from under (as Jones put it), overpaying Prescott.
Again, I’m not saying that I wish Covid on him. I don’t. I’m saying, given the life choices that his fellow players make, not knowing where they’ve been, or who with… To risk that? So is this how a Franchise QB is supposed to behave? As the saying goes, play stupid games, win stupid prizes.
LOOK at that! The Bengals have converted their field from grass to mattresses. Not only has it already improved the look of their stadium, but their owner thinks it will extend, or at least not keep shortening, the lifespan of QB Joe Burrow. The team is also asking the league to allow Burrow to wear several pillows duct taped to his helmet. It’s either that or spend the money to protect him.
Steelers LB T.J. Watt increased his sack total for the third straight year in a row. Due to notching 16.5 sacks, he continues to be above criticism. This is despite sporting a missed tackle percentage of over 10 percent, in every season of his career. If only there were some sort of clue about how to fix the defense…
The carriage turned back into a pumpkin, and the horses turned back into rats, as the Browns returned to reality and went 3 – 14 this year.
Somewhere out there is a desperate Browns fan, carrying a clear, platform shoe, and searching for Princess Odell.
Ravens K Justin Tucker’s rap/opera album “Come Kick It Wit’ Me” shot to the top of the Italian pop music charts this year. Sighting how he didn’t need this “NFL boll sheed no mo’ ”, Tucker announced his retirement. After which he flipped the double-bird, as he rode away barefoot in a kiddie pool, which was situated in the bed of an El Camino. There was no water in the pool.
Raise your hand if you predicted the Lions going 14 – 3, getting a first round bye, and winning it all.
“It’s better than drinkable water!” was how one fan described the Detroit Lions Super Bowl parade. Thousands of fans came out to celebrate and cheer their team, not long before tens of thousands of muggers descended on both the fans and the players. The car-jacking of a parade float would be the low-point of the day, and perhaps the lowest in all of American history.
After a just barely failing to qualify for a wild card berth, a 9 – 8 Minnesota team is still unsure if they’re a bad team that frequently overachieves, or a good team that chokes at the slightest sign of true relevance.
As Chicago continues their search for a passer, Bears QB Justin Fields was traded to Buffalo for QB Mitch Trubisky. One Chicago football fan said “Eh, it’s good we went an’got a veteran quarterback now, ‘cause Fields played like a rookie. I mean, why din’t he just look at what Tommy Bradley does in Tampa, then come right out and copy exactly what he saw?How hard could dat be, right?? Anyways, Trubisky sounds like a good Polish name. It feels familiar. I like it.”
After another implosion in the second round of the playoffs, QB Aaron Rodgers is continuing to act like he’s doing Packers fans a favor, by allowing them to overpay him millions more than he’s ever truly deserved. Perhaps Green Bay should have double checked for a discount.
After not allowing fans in to SoFi Stadium at all in 2020, the LA Chargers opened their arms to their loyal, fickle, frequently disinterested fan base. In a stadium that seats 70,000, the Chargers drew an average of 28,000 to their games. Somewhere the ghost of Al Davis is laughing so hard, that he’s gasping for air.
Despite being heavily favored by odds-makers, the Raiders Super Bowl loss continues to confound people. Suddenly retired Raider QB Derek Carr, could not be reached for comment as he was out on his yacht. The gold one, not the one made entirely out of stacks of money. His agent Pete Rose also declined comment.
The Chiefs were expected to have a more difficult road, but no one thought they’d miss the playoffs. As a disciplinary measure for yet another violation of team player conduct policy, Andy Reid ate WR Tyreek Hill, prior to the final game of the preseason. When asked if he regretted having eaten the WR, coach Reid responded “Listen, you’d expect athlete meat to be tough, but Tyreek, he was something special. Didn’t even need a marinade. Wait. What was the question?”
The Denver Broncos are trying to decide whether to screw over either another old RB, or another young QB, during this offseason. Either way, it will most certainly cripple the team’s offense next year. Their fans of course, will again feel like they’ve been stabbed directly in the face, when the team spends their top pick on a WR.
The 49ers, who paid QB Jimmy Garoppolo 26M$ to sit and watch rookie QB Trey Lance have an up and down year, will still owe Garoppolo 27M$ next year. Worse yet, they likely have to endure at least one more year with him on the roster, as he won’t waive his no-trade clause. That is, unless he gets an offer he likes, from a team that won’t mind him throwing with his eyes closed. Still, the defense was good enough for the team to post a 10 – 7 record.
Seattle RB Rashaad Penny was surprised to learn that the team is declining to pick up his 5th year option. Penny was selected in the first round of the 2018 Draft, but didn’t get his first start until 2021. In that game, he had one carry for 8 broken tackles, and a 63 yard touchdown. It also resulted in a torn hamstring which ended his season. Tore it right off the bone! When asked whether Penny is “a bust”, GM John Schneider, shrieked, burst into tears, and attempted to answer questions. He however, couldn’t be understood through his high-pitched, racking sobs. Seattle predictably bowed out in the second round of the playoffs.
No matter how much talent Arizona adds, sub .500 is the best God will allow. In other news, QB Kyler Murray married the dancing hula girl on the dash board of J.J. Watt’s car.
It was a beautiful ceremony. When Murray stood on a chair to kiss his bride, there wasn’t a dry eye to be seen, according to Stevie Wonder, who was told that he was in attendance.
The Rams added a ton of weapons in the offseason, but neglected to help their offensive line. This led to QB Matt Stafford being lost for the year in Week Two, and also left the run game stuck in neutral since the preseason. Give you one guess what they’ll be taking with their first round pick this year. Oh wait! They won’t have a first rounder this year. Or next year. Dopes.
After partially tearing the meniscus in his right knee in training camp, it was quickly thought by both QB Carson Wentz and the Colts front office, that the smartest thing would be for Carson to just rest, relax and let that tear take 3 to 5 months to heal on its own. While the Eagles paid him 34 million dollars.
Though Wentz played only half the season, taking just under 50% of the snaps, the Colts almost rallied to make the playoffs, going 7 – 1 with Wentz starting. Pretty smart trade. Especially since Wentz didn’t count against the Colts 2021 salary cap.
On a roster that features RB’s David Johnson, Mark Ingram, and Phillip Lindsay, you probably would never guess who led the team in rushing yards. It was Texans QB Tyrod Taylor, who spent the season running for his goddamned life. In the hopes of not suffering another punctured lung, Taylor racked up a career best 836 yards. Meanwhile, R. Kelly is alleging that QB Deshaun Watson inappropriately… (No. I’m going to draw a line here. Gotta preserve a little class.)
WE WILL SUCK YOUR DICK!!!! That’s the Jaguars latest promotion to get people to come to the stadium. Lord knows no one wants to watch them play football. Look at all the upgrades! Super-fast WiFi, an impressive sound system, they put in a party deck, a pool… They’ve done everything they can to avoid improving the team. Now the team has executives slobbing knobs. And they’re all so bad at it! C’mon folks! More spit, less teeth. This is basic stuff!
The Titans were the favorite to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, until QB Ryan Tannehill tore his Achilles in Week One, and QB DeShone Kizer “Soze” stepped in and killed the whole team. Kizer continued the 0 – 15 magic that he had in Cleveland, going 0 – 7 before being benched for QB Logan Woodside… who then promptly tore his ACL, meaning that Kizer would come back out, and finish the season. Kizer went 0 – 15 (again), even though he also lost the two games started by other QB’s.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have increased their reward for information about head coach Bruce Arian’s whereabouts. Police are looking at DT Ndamukong Suh as a person of interest because, well… Because he’s fucking Ndamukong Suh! I mean come on!
With the retirement of QB Drew Brees last year, the Saints 6 – 11 season shows that they have gone back to being the hapless, talent squandering, afterthoughts that have historically always been. Fans are taking it well, saying that their relevance was nice while it lasted.
The Falcons 5 – 12 record was predicted immediately after they traded WR Julio Jones to Tennessee last year. For a team with no defense, keeping Jones to go with their other weapons, would have made outscoring opponents easy. But Atlanta said “Fuck that!” and thew their easy button out of a tenth floor window. Nowwww look at them. Just look. SMDH.
Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey spent this season being 25 going on 35. Bouncing back from an injury, while being the focal point of an offense, with a QB trying to re-hab himself from having been a Jet, did no favors for McCaffrey. His 663 yards in 10 starts, will likely have the Panthers spending yet another late round draft pick on a RB, who is ill-suited to ever being a starter. Or a contributor. These guys just can’t learn.
The NFL finally made good on its threat to banish the Jets, who can no longer be referred to, as a “professional” football team. As the NCAA has not yet agreed to take them, the Jets have no official league designation yet. The CFL hasn’t offered a verbal or written response as to whether the Jets can seek asylum in Canada. However, the CFL’s pursed lips and side-eye, have offered a very strong hint about where they stand on the issue.
Bill Belichick has coached his last game for the Patriots. He is expected to take the job in Tampa Bay, after coach Bruce Arians suddenly went missing. QB Tom Brady is telling Congress that they cannot search his house.
Buffalo WR and anti-vaxxer Cole Beasley is recovering from the Delta variant of Covid-19. Luckily his access to the best medical treatment that NFL money can buy, put the odds for a full recovery, heavily in his favor. His wife Krystin however, was not an NFL employee. Get vaccinated.
After having changed his name from Jomal Wiltz to Jamal Perry in 2020, the IRS caught up with the Dolphins CB anyway. This goes to show, if you’re going to change your name, do it before you’re on television at least 17 times a year.
For the second year in a row, Washington won 7 games! While their 8 losses are fewer than the 9 from a year ago, their 2 ties offer little in the way of optimism. Because of that, there is currently a split in their fan base. Half of their fans argue that the 7 – 8 – 2 team, is an 8 – 8 team (“Because two half wins, equals one whole one. Dummy!”). Meanwhile, other half of their fan base sees the team as 7 – 8, and thus improved over 7 – 9 (“Because thems two ties cancels theyselves out. Stupid!”). Either way, the rest of us just see a degenerate, losing team that missed the playoffs.
The giants didn’t have to depend on a division rival to get to the playoffs this year, because they used StubHub! They got a great price, on great seats, and watched the Lions model the sort of franchise New York hopes to become. Maybe next year the giants won’t go 5 – 12, and they’ll qualify for a playoff berth on their own. Hey! The giants in the playoffs! Look at me! I got jokes!
The Cowboys went 12 – 5 and easily won their division. With a 5,000 yard passer, a 1,700 yard rusher, and THREE 1,000 yard receivers, right out of the gate, Dallas took the NFL by storm. Which is why their first round dismantling in the playoffs was so surprising. The 41 – 6 walloping at the hands of QB Joe Flacco, will forever be known in NFL circles as “The Dall-Ass Whipping”.
The Carson Wentz trade didn’t yield the Eagles a first round pick, and QB Jalen Hurtswas so bad that he was benched by Week Nine. Also, Head Coach Nick Sirianni retiring mid-season to join a professional Rochambeau league, didn’t surprise as many people as you’d think.
After which the hapless Eagles managed to rally and stumble into the playoffs as a wild card. At which point they utterly shelled the Cowboys 41 – 6, before losing to Detroit in the second round.
DISCLAIMER: If you use this article for gambling or betting purposes, you’re an idiot and your money is safer with other people. Don’t be dunce. Stop gambling on sports.
LAST year the NFC East was the laughingstock of the NFL. Aggressive moves have been made to ensure that history will not be repeating itself anytime soon. While every team in the division ranks #21 or lower in the NFL power rankings, the rosters in this division are telling a different story.
Alright. So yeah, Washington is Washington. Their power moves were to sign a pair of slot receivers (Curtis Samuels and Adam Humphries), and Dr. Jekyll (Ryan Fitzpatrick) to play QB. Adding G Ereck Flowers was a sneaky good move, but hardly a transcendent one. Adding an OT and then subtracting another, was definitely not a step forward. While Washington is the early favorite to win the East, they seem to be back in self-sabotage mode.
As for the other three teams:
Dallas fans made it clear to the owner, that they were done quietly waiting for their team’s defense to improve.
In response, the Cowboys cleaned house in terms of both coaches and players. They then leaned heavy on defense in the Draft. While they may not have added free agents who are household names, they’ve sent a message from the top-down, that they are serious about getting results.
The giants took a risk adding CB Adoree Jackson, but if he can stay healthy, they have probably the best CB duo in the division. Signing Kelvin Benjamin to play TE, was a magnificent piece of outside the box thinking. Benjamin had trouble getting reliable separation from DB’s. However, if he can (very likely) gain separation on LB’s, then a Safety will have to be cheated away from a WR to help cover him. Benjamin may all at once, make the giants more explosive and help them challenge for the best TE duo in the division.
The Eagles made no fewer than FOUR non-Draft related moves. All of which look low-key at a glance. However, upon further inspection… For new DC Jonathan Gannon, signing former Vikings OLB Eric Wilson and S Anthony Harris, gives him two guys who can help quickly install his system, because they’ve played together while under Gannon. Slick move. Signing RB Kerryon Johnson was a stroke of pure genius, which I discussed in my last article (The Eagles RB’s). Then of course, there’s the addition of OLB Ryan Kerrigan.
One of my brothers speculated that Kerrigan could be Chris Long 2.0 for the Eagles. Maybe, but I doubt it. I think his real value, will be in getting young players to realize, they will have to out-produce Kerrigan, to take his spot in the rotation. He either forces them to step up, or it tells the Eagles that next year’s Draft, will be heavily spent re-arming the Defensive Line.
Getting QB Jalen Hurts a WR (Devonta Smith) that he already has chemistry with, was also a boss level move.
Nobody in the NFC East was okay with how 2020 ended. Well… I guess Washington seems to be. Honestly, watching their fans practically give each other handjobs over a 7 – 9 season, just to be bounced in the first round of the playoffs… Their “bragging” has been really hard to watch.
As for the rest of the division, none of us is looking for a repeat of 2020. The NFL had better not get caught sleeping.
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.
Rookies may contribute heavily to their team, but 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.
Now let’s look at 2021:
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. The fact is, I gave NO team’s overall offense a passing grade, and I gave NO team’s defense one either.
Instead of rating units (offense, defense, special teams), this year everyone was so weak in key areas, that I was forced to award points for positions. So if this year’s report feels different than another year’s, rest assured, it is.
Strongest Offense: PHILADELPHIA
Yeah. I was surprised too. I gave no team points for QB, as everyone either has to prove themselves (Prescott, Hurts), or they’ve been trash historically (Fitzpatrick, Jones). Of all the teams here, Philly is the only one without an immediate need for offensive line help, as they are the only team in the division who doesn’t need help at OT, and even have competition there. They also have the best TE situation in the division by far, and a complete stable of RB’s. What they lack is WR firepower, but that’s more of a playoff problem, than a regular season issue.
Weakest Offense:NEW YORK
They have one OT and a C. Everything else is in a state of unnecessary upheaval. This team’s offense used to run through RB Saquon Barkley, but that can’t happen this year, as he’s just getting back from a torn ACL. QB Daniel Jones has to step up and prove that he can carry the… Sorry. I had a laughing fit. Jones is on his last leg as a starter, and it’s the worst kept secret in all of sports. Sadly too many of the pieces just don’t complement each other. It’s awkward. It boxes lefty. This offense was ruined in the front office, and it gets worse every year.
All four teams have issues in the secondary. That can’t even be debated. Of all the teams, Washington has the least issues and the best front seven. They can play their base 4-3, but they can easily flex to a 4-3 under, or to a 3-4, without changing personnel. NY wants to be multiple, and still can’t pull it off as well as Washington can.
They not only have everyone’s coverage problem, they also can’t rush the passer. They have a pair or good young LB’s in the heart of their unit, but that wasn’t enough last year, and won’t be enough this year.
Strongest Special Teams: DALLAS
They have a pair of reliable legs. Nothing fancy, but reliability is how you win field position battles. Which in turn is partly how you win games. Especially close ones.
Weakest Special Teams:PHILADELPHIA
A Kicker who seems to be rotting away on the inside, and a Punter who’s entirely an experiment from another part of the world.
Projected Winner: WASHINGTON
Having the most solid defense in the division cannot be ignored. Their offensive woes are partly due to focusing on adding defensive talent, and partly due to a scheme which relies too heavily on being cute, instead of being smart. Last year they went 5 – 1 (out of 7 wins), under game managing QB Alex Smith. This year their starting QB likes to gamble with house money. On it’s own, this team can’t win the division. But they could get by, with a little help from their friends.
New York is a team rotting on the vine, and Dallas doesn’t think they need a defense. Besides, whenever the Cowboys see something they don’t like in the mirror, they just cover it and add another WR. QB problems be damned, there is no way a team with so much talent on it, should have finished 6-10. I meant the Cowboys of course. There is no way I could have been talking about the giants.
After taking a looooooong look all four teams over this last month, I’ve noticed that Philadelphia is not nearly as far away as many people, (including me initially) might think. Currently, they have the most complete offense, and the second most complete defense in the division. If they end up putting things together at the QB position, the Eagles will have people treating them like a team that’s missed the playoffs for the last decade, instead of the team that has won the East, two of the last four times.
LAST year Dallas finished 6 – 10 overall, and 2 – 4 in the division. It can be said that they were derailed by a number of injuries, but that was par for the course for everyone in this division. So nope! No one gets a pass because of injuries in 2020. Hey, remember this?:
Dallas was just an expensive and over-hyped bad team. Period.
But that was last year! Here’s what Dallas looks like 8 days prior to the 2021 NFL Draft.
QB:Dak Prescott returns! But just how much of him is going to make it back? About a month the press got hold of some video of his rehab process. Take a look at it. Specifically his right ankle:
He’s all arm and no mechanics from the waist down. There is no dropback. No plant. No drive. No stepping into his passes. Worse than how he looks, is the fact that this is becoming muscle memory for him. For any of you who ever played a sport, you know how hard it is to unlearn a bad habit once you pick it up. As for picking up where he left off, he spent 2020 going 2-3 as a starter, with both wins being worthy of a shrug. His win over ATL was a product of the Falcons refusing to recover an onside kick. The win over the giants was a game he started, but didn’t finish. He could have easily gone 0 – 5. Behind him are Garrett Gilbert who battled PIT in Week 9 to lose by just 5; and Ben “Bring It On” DiNucci who in Week 8 was handed an ‘L’ by PHILADELPHIA. Preseason legend Cooper Rush has also found his way back onto the roster. Prescott will probably be present, but held out of anything on-field during OTA’s and mini-camp. His first real work might not come until training camp starts in July. That said, as of this moment, this moment right here, the Cowboy have as many question marks at this position as every one of their rivals. (-)
RB:Ezekiel Elliott (for the third straight year) saw his rushing attempts, rushing yardage, rushing yards per game, rushing average, AND receiving yardage, drop again. Only twice did he top 100 rushing yards, and he was held to fewer than 50, in six games. He had just 3 rushes of 20 or more yards, and his longest catch was for just 19. His last rush of 40 yards? That was back in 2018. In fact, that was his only one since 2016. This is why Dallas is making the slow pivot to a backfield tandem with Tony Pollard. Pollard was initially considered a change of pace runner. However, in an attempt to add some explosiveness to their run game, Dallas began increasing Pollard’s snap count after the midpoint of 2020. Pollard lacks many of Elliott’s tools (power, alpha mentality, expectation of greatness). However, if he gets a hole, he has the short-area explosiveness to exploit it, although he lacks the long speed to make himself an every down threat. Rico Dowdle and Sewo Olonilua are also on the roster. (+)
WR:Amari Cooperled the team in catches, and receiving yards while posting an impressive 70% catch rate, despite everyone in Texas getting to throw him a pass last year. Rookie Ceedee Lamb posted 935 yards, while coming in second on the team in targets and catches. Michael Gallup saw over 100 targets, but still was third fiddle with just 59 catches. All three caught 5 TD’s apiece. With Lamb’s presence, Gallup now becomes expendable. Though many will try to talk up a three amigos scenario, it’s more likely that Three’s A Crowd
Cedric Wilson and Noah Brown give the Cowboys two receivers who know their system, and thus represent at least schematic depth, if not depth of talent. This is currently the best group in the division. (+)
TE:Blake Jarwin tore his ACL in the first game of the season, and was lost for 2020. So in stepped Dalton Schultz. With 63 grabs and an average of 9.7 yards per grab, Schultz was a functional outlet, and someplace safe to dump the ball off. Which is exactly why he posted a 70% catch rate. He has plenty of value as a back-up, but as a starter… not being a threat as a receiver makes him a liability to the run game. Speaking of not being a receiving threat, I guess Dallas is playing Hollywood Squares because,
they added free agent, Jeremy Sprinkle for the block! Really, blocking is pretty much all he’s good for. This is a viable position, but it doesn’t scare anyone right now. “Right now” being the operative term. (+)
OT:Tyron Smith is back after having had season-ending neck surgery, to fix an issue that has cost him games over the years. While 31 isn’t ancient, paired with that neck surgery, it’s fair to wonder how much of Smith will be returning to the field. Filling in for Smith were Brandon Knight and Cameron Fleming (now in Carolina). On the right, La’el Collins missed nearly all of 2020 with what is vaguely reported as a hip injury. At 6’4” 320, and bending over to get into a three-point stance for a living, a hip injury is no minor thing. Especially when a hip injury is reported like it’s a “hip injury”, which indicates that it may be more than a hip injury. Filling in for Collins was Terence Steele. Knight and Steele played well enough for the Cowboys to run right out and sign free agent Ty Nsekhe, for more money than Knight and Steele are making in 2021. Combined. There is talent here, but it hasn’t been stable or reliable, and that has directly cost this team games and division crowns. Expect a day two draft pick to be spent here. (-)
G:Zach Martin finished 2020 on the bench, but that was after 5 weeks of being on IR with a calf injury. He comes back in 2021 as one of the premier players in the league at his position. On the other side is Connor Williams. While he can’t be mistaken for an All-Pro, he’s a three year starter in that spot, his line-mates know what to expect from him, and so they know how to play off of him. For those who know anything about offensive lines, please explain to your friends how valuable that is. Depth consists of Connor McGovern (not to be confused with Jets C Connor McGovern). McGovern is depth, provided the Cowboys don’t also move him to the pivot. For his part, he notched 8 starts last year on the left when Martin was injured, or was slid out to the edge due to injuries. Former giant Eric Smith enters his second year in a Cowboys jersey. That is, if a draft pick doesn’t beat him out for his roster spot. (+)
C: Second-year man, Tyler Biadasz started 4 games as a rookie, during which Dak Prescott was injured and 3 losses followed. Now he will be the man in the middle, unless something totally wild happens. Behind him is Adam Redmond. In 2018, Redmond saw 96 offensive snaps in 4 games, getting no starts, despite the Cowboys having deep injury concerns on their left side in 2018. Weird. When names like John Gesek, Mark Stepnoski, and Travis Frederick, can roll off of a rival fan’s tongue, you know Biadasz will not be getting the benefit of the doubt. He has lot to live up to, and is not off to a great start in doing so. (-)
IN A NUTSHELL:This team has weapons, but it needs a triggerman who can get the ball where it needs to be. Check that video again. That’s not the look of an NFL QB. That’s not even the look of a top college QB. Maybe Prescott will make massive leaps by training camp July, but that’s only 75 days away. Sounds like a lot. It isn’t. In any case, he’ll need to be kept upright, and right now 60% of his protection looks shaky, with no real depth behind it. This is why they had to have a potential Hall of Game G, slide out to play OT. Adding Nsekhe was a good first step, but alone he doesn’t fix this unit’s Achilles heel. With all the weapons they have, (all of whom they had last year), they still finished 17th out of 32 in scoring. (-)
DE: It’s official. It’s been three seasons in a row. DeMarcus “War Daddy” Lawrence is now a shadow of himself. Even with help on the opposite side, his sack and QB hits are consistently down, and he never seems to affect games anymore. Randy Gregory recorded no starts in 2020, but looked good on spot detail with 3.5 sacks in ten games. The Cowboys have their fingers crossed that he can play 16 games with his hand in the dirt. Tarell Basham comes over from the Jets to add some rotational pass rush. While he will definitely get pressure on a QB, he’s strictly a stand-up rusher. Being unable to play from a three point stance, means not being to consistently play against the run. This position is in trouble, and anyone in sports media will tell you, and has been telling you, the exact same thing. (-)
DT:Antuan Woods is the Cowboys best player at a position that produced 1.5 sacks TOTAL, in 2020. To his credit, Woods produced a sack. He specializes in neither rushing the passer, nor stuffing the run, but he’s still the tone setter for this position thus far. Starting nine games as a rookie was Neville Gallimore. That other half sack was his. Again, neither stuffing the run, nor getting to the passer seems like his calling card. The Cowboys may be hoping for a big rebound from Trysten Hill, who opened 2020 as a starter, before tearing his ACL in Week 5. No matter. His play to that point was unremarkable. That is, when he wasn’t drawing flags and fines for a helmet to helmet hit on QB Russell Wilson on one play, and twisting the knee of RB Chris Carson, injuring him after the yet another play had ended. Real talk? Hill’s ACL tear had all the earmarks of Karma. Hill also clashed with Cowboys coaching staff in his rookie year. It will be interesting to see what kind of player the Cowboys get back from his rehab. Justin Hamilton got two starts in 2020, (and FYI, the Cowboys won both games). No one is afraid of this group. (-)
OLB:Leighton Vander Esch gives an all-out effort, but his production continues to fall off, as he continues to miss games with big injuries. Last year a broken collarbone cost him four weeks early in the season, and he was inactive for the last two games of the year. (Sean Lee remains in talks with the team, but at this moment, is still unsigned.) Keanu Neal is leaving the secondary and switching to this position. This gives the Cowboys more flexibility with coverage underneath. But how ready can Neal be at 216 pounds, to spend most of a game taking on offensive linemen? He will no doubt be targeted heavily every week, by opposing run games. That said, the position is a lot more athletic than they were at year’s end. That’s an improvement. (+)
MLB:Jaylon Smith is the second best player in the division at his position. He’s reliable, doesn’t stick to blockers, and can play in coverage as well as fight the run. Luke Gifford played a single defensive down in 2020. So yeah. Jaylon is super-reliable. (+)
S: Understanding that this position needed gentrification, the Joneses went out and added Damontae Kazee to be specific. Donovan Wilson looks to be safe at SS. Kazee has a reputation for having sticky fingers, so he likely has the inside track over Darian Thompson on the other starting gig. At 6’4’’ 215 free agent addition Jayron Kearse is tall. Good for him! (-)
CB:Trevon Diggs turned a lot of heads as a rookie in 2020. He played with tremendous confidence, whether he was making a play, or getting juiced over a mistake. Nabbing 3 picks and getting his hands on a total of 14 balls, will make teams treat him different in 2021. Anthony Brown struggled with injuries, and only started eight of the ten games he played.In fact, in five seasons he’s never started more than ten. Due to the Cowboys starting a Nickel alignment, Jourdan Lewis picked up 13 starts. Mostly in the slot.
This is also why teams elected to run on them so much. And did such a good job of it. Opting out of 2020 due to Covid-19 was former Raven Maurice Canady. The Cowboys signed him last year, but never got to take him for a spin. So in their minds, he’s still an unapplied upgrade. (+)
IN A NUTSHELL: It’s always messy when a team decides to sign a guy to serious money, and then switch his position. Neal could be in for a pretty rough ride as an undersized LB in this division. Especially on a team that struggles to rush the passer. On most teams, Basham would be a sneaky good add, but the Cowboys already lack a DE who can stack the run. Adding one more as a back-up, seriously encourages opponents to run the ball on 3rd and short. This unit is so much faster than last year’s, but nothing about this side of the ball indicates that they can win in the trenches. (-)
K:Greg Zuerlein was pretty reliable 34/41 (82.9%) with 6 of his misses (3/9) coming from 50 or greater (33.3%). Otherwise he was 31/32 (96.8%) He was 33/36 (91.6%) on extra points. (+)
P:Hunter Niswander was the punter for the final 8 games of 2020. He had just 26 punts, so it’s a small sample size, but the sample had his average punt at 47.2 yards with a net of 42.0. If we’re going to nit-pick, of his 26 punts, 9 were returned for 95 yards (10.5 ypr), indicating that he’s totally over-kicking his coverage team. Given a training camp, he should be able to shave 3 or 4 yards off of that return average. What say we meet back here in a year, and discuss how he did? Aaaand out of nowhere, the Cowboys added 32 year old Bryan Anger, because Jerry Jones wanted to blow his stimulus money on a Texan antique. (See what I did there?) Anger is likely a camp body just brought in to keep a fire lit under Niswander this preseason. (+)
IN A NUTSHELL: The legs on this unit are here to not lose the game. Just keep it close is all that’s asked of them. Should be an easy bar to reach. (+)
BOTTOM LINE:The Cowboys need a big Draft. Offensively, the QB has weapons, but is coming back from injury. The RB has spent the last THREE YEARS, regressing every year. The once vaunted offensive line, is better known for injuries these days. Their defense couldn’t stop anybody last year (28th out of 32), and the only additions to the roster so far, are role players and experiments. There’s a new DC, but most of the Cowboys problem last year, was losing battles in the trenches, and they haven’t gotten better on either side of the ball. In fact, most of the returning starters, are the same guys who were taking those whippings. But hey!
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 the season: After Weeks 3, 9, and 15. (So it’s a week late!)
Over the last three week the giants have fallen into the abyss. Yet, with a Washington loss and a Dallas loss, the giants could vault BOTH teams and take the NFC East!
Dallas:6 – 9, 2nd place
Following the re-emergence of their back-up QB, Dallas is on a three game win streak and poised (with a Week 17 Redskins loss) to win the NFC East. Provided that they beat the giants next.
Washington: 6 – 9, 1st place
Washington was on a four game tear, winning 4 of the 5 games started by QB Alex Smith. His missing the last two weeks with a leg injury, put them on a two week losing streak. They conclude the season next week, with a Dollar Store QB vs Philadelphia. They’ ll win the NFC East with a victory. The question is: Are the Eagles okay with letting them do that?
Get this. Next week, any team in the division EXCEPT us, could run off with the division. And while the Eagles don’t get to win the division, we basically get to decide it!
Do we want to tank to improve our 2021 Draft position?
Do we want to prevent a division rival from celebrating in our house?
This shit is absolutely HILARIOUS! Dear 2020, while dancing the ‘Batusi’ naked in front of my open refrigerator, I full-on, fucking salute you! When asked “What does 2020 do for an encore?” Setting this up, has to be the answer.
My hope as an Eagles fan, is that we take the “L”, improve our draft position, and hand deliver a team without a QB, directly into the thick of the 2020 playoffs. This is the ultimate “Fuck You”. Sort of our version of Major Kong riding that bomb at the end of ‘Dr. Strangelove.’
Seriously, if we’re going to miss the playoffs, Eagles fans, THIS is the way to do it.
(S) DE Brandon Graham/DE Vinny Curry: (2 – 1.0 – 0 – 0)
I hear you asking, “What about all the stuff that stats don’t reveal?” Well, that’s the reason for the Four Thingsarticles. 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 inFour Things: COWBOYS did the Eagles get around to doing? Well let’s see:
1) Run the ball: Well the Eagles got 60 rushing yards from Hurts. The problem (as always), is that they stopped handing the ball off. RB Miles Sanders had just 15 carries in this game, which doesn’t look too different from most weeks. Until you realize that 11 of those were in the first half. Back when the Eagles were still in the game. (NOT DONE)
2) Rush the passer: We didn’t get enough heat on the Cowboys back-up QB, and he picked us apart, basically looking like a dad playing catch with his kids. (NOT DONE)
3) Three sacks or fewer: We kept it to three sacks, but one of them resulted in a fumble. It was recovered by LT Jordan Mailata, but it took us out of rhythm. (DONE)
4) Cover Two, where are you?: The Eagles did shift to some of this later in the game. However, for most of it, Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz, absolutely stranded and abandoned undrafted, rookie CB Michael Jacquet out in man coverage. The result was the Cowboys offense “running a train” on his ass. This was pitiful. It was shameful. Putting that kid out there to be bitch-beat like that. (NOT DONE)
One of three this week. We end the year against Washington next week. Thank god.
On The Whole:
This week we faced a QB, not a RB who can throw. It exposed two things. The first was our piss-poor Secondary. Many blame injuries, but we were looking like this Week 2 vs the Rams with everyone healthy. Yet again our defensive system was exposed.
The second thing that was exposed was Jalen Hurts. When the Cowboys made him play from the pocket, he became a shadow. It took the Saints a half to figure out that they need to stop him from scrambling to his right. The Cardinals caught on faster. The Cowboys faster still. Three games in, and he’s already been figured out. The upcoming Redskins game might put this debate completely to bed.
To everyone who blamed QB Carson Wentzand elevated Hurts as the savior, sit here beside me. Sit. Did you notice that we only put up 17 points this week? Did you notice that the QB had 1 TD and 3 turnovers? Did you notice that Hurts, yet again didn’t complete 60% of his passes? Did you notice that Hurts again had no chemistry with his WR’s? Did you notice that of the three and a half games Hurts has played in, we’ve only won ONE? Did you realize how these numbers practically mirror Wentz’s production in some 2020 games?
Anyone who claims that Wentz was the problem, but is happy with Hurts, is totally full of shit. If the idea is for the Eagles to win, then you should still be disappointed. But I know. You want to blame the coaches for not running the ball now. And the Offensive Line for not blocking better. And the Secondary for being a bucket with no bottom. Go ahead. Let me hear it. You know you want to say it…
If Wentz didn’t get to use these “excuses” while the head coach kept saying that it wasn’t just one guy, then when Hurts claims “full ownership”, he damned sure can’t use these “excuses”. Right?
Again. Wrong. They aren’t excuses, they’re reasons. And they all are 100% true. Hurts can use them. Wentz can use them. And if we don’t fix them, then this team won’t go anywhere, with any QB. This civil war among Eagles fans has got to stop. This is not Wentz vs Hurts. This is Eagles vs sucking ass. The enemy is out there, Eagles fans. Stop arguing over the QB. Let’s fix the real problems.
THE Franchise is on the line this week. If the Eagles defeat the Cowboys this weekend, the legend of QB Jalen Hurts will have some Eagles fans anointing him with oil, and declaring him Super Bowl MVP. (Not me, but some fans.) That clamoring would be all the excuse that General Manager Howie Rosemanneeds, to do something stupid, and make us a sub .500 team for the next 3 to 4 years. Be careful what you wish for, folks. You just may get it.
Here’s the skinny on this weekend:
*An Eagles win keeps our playoff hopes alive.
*A Washington loss this week, and the giants losing either of their next two games, means if the Eagles win out, we win the division.
*An Eagles loss will mathematically eliminate us from the post-season picture.
*A Washington win this week will mathematically eliminate us from the post-season picture.
So this weekend Eagles fans, you’re rooting for the Eagles, Ravens, and Panthers.
The point of Four Thingsisn’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 Thingswe need to focus on this week versus the Cowboys:
1) Run the ball: The Cowboys don’t have an answer for running QB’s. Three times they’ve faced one this year, and they’ve given up 38, 38, and 34 points respectively. All losses. Another 60 yard day from Jalen Hurts ought to do it.
2) Rush the passer:The last two QB’s we faced are both better known for running than throwing. This week the Eagles Defense goes up against a legit QB who reads coverages, audibles effectively, exploits free plays, knows how to throw for pass interference calls, etc. Oh, and he has actual weapons. If we don’t get heat on him, he will spend the day shredding our depleted Secondary.
3) Three sacks or fewer: Hurts has played in two and a half games and already has 5 rushing fumbles. That’s tied for second in the NFL. We have to limit the number of hits he takes, as a means of protecting the ball.
4) Cover Two, where are you?: Cover Zero and Cover One, can’t be played this week. We don’t have enough experience back there. Give those young guys some help. Play them in thirds, in Cover Two, Tampa Two, and Cover Four looks.
If we do these Four Things, the final score should be:
PREDICTION: EAGLES 28 – Cowboys 17
Check back in a couple of days for Four Things Reviewed, and we’ll discuss how it went.