SINCE the Super Bowl, I’ve been almost dead silent. I wrote Four Things Reviewed, and a reaction article to Jonathan Gannon leaving. I haven’t even weighed in on new Defensive Coordinator Sean Desai, yet.
My silence wasn’t because I was upset over the loss. Understand, I wanted that win. I really did; but it would be a bald-faced lie, if I said the loss, or how it happened, wasn’t almost expected. The NFC Championship Game. The Super Bowl. Everyone else was so excited. Meanwhile, I’d been secretly dreading them both, since Week 18.
Standing outside for the 2018 parade, the cold turned my Wawa coffee into a slushie. I was hoping for a repeat of that, for this year. However, when Chiefs RB Jerick McKinnon slid down inside the five yard line, I felt nothing but calm. I didn’t yell, curse, or jump up. I didn’t turn off my TV, or change the channel. I watched until it was time to go write my little article.
I took that loss so well, that you would think I’d bet against the Eagles and won. People were literally asking me if I was okay. My calm was apparently too calm. I turned the page just a little bit too fast for the comfort of others. The fact is, I was able to make immediate peace with it, because that game went almost exactly as I’d truly expected it to.
We had that loss coming. And I’d said as much, MONTHS prior.
You may remember this article from September of last year PUTTING A FOOT IN DOUG’S ASS. In it, I foretold a great fall. In fact, I called it “the biggest fall of them all”. Those were my exact words. Most importantly, in that article, I told you WHY it would happen.
The NFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl. The knot in my stomach. Expecting the bill to finally come due, in one of those games, I was secretly dreading those games the entire time. The biggest fall of all, is what I predicted. I desperately hoped to be wrong. Desperately. Usually I love being right. But not always. Sometimes being able to see ahead, is a curse. And a lonely one.
How big was our fall? During the only NFL game seen around the world, we set a record for points scored (35) in a loss. Beating a record that we hung around an opponent’s neck, for our only Super Bowl win so far. Our QB played an almost flawless game, and yet the seven points from his turnover, would have been the difference. Changing that loss into a win. Our vaunted Defense, was suddenly unable to even hunt a lame QB.
Had the Eagles won with our youthful core, everyone would be using the term “beginning of a dynasty”. Instead they are saying that our “Super Bowl window” should be open for a few years. Given how close we came to winning, this was a massive faceplant. It was.
Again, we had it coming. We made that bed. As Eagles fans we see how it’s gone since Jerry Jones fired Jimmy Johnson, and we revel in it. So we should have learned: There will someday come a reckoning. ALWAYS. You never escape your own energy. And we got ourselves a taste last month.
Again, I was hoping, praying that we’d pay in some other way, or some other time, and win that game. I had hoped to freeze at another parade, outside of the Municipal Services Building. Well, not this year. That said, we’ve put the ugliness behind us. We’ve paid our Karmic debt. So now we can, and likely will, be holding up another Lombardi trophy, inside of the next few years. Afterwards, I hope we’re smarter this time.
Heck, maybe in 2024, instead of standing outside the MSB in the cold; I’ll watch the parade from my window. While seated comfortably, in the warmth of my office. Sipping on hot, gourmet coffee, brewed by my own expert hand.
Yes. That sounds about right. So how’s about I get back to writing about football.
HEADCoach Nick Sirianni has your Philadelphia Eagles entering this week as THE Number One team in the NFC. Not just the NFC East, but the whole damned National Football CONFERENCE. After last weeks dismantling of division rival Washington, we get to take on AFC South division leader, Jacksonville.
On the menu this week, is Head Coach Doug Pederson, the same man who led us to our first Super Bowl win. The same man who’s statue outside Lincoln Financial commemorates ‘The Philly Special’. That same Doug Pederson has the Jags looking and playing like a real franchise. And we’re going to beat his ass as a reward for it.
We come into this game as the only undefeated team in the NFC. A win only extends our hold on that title for another week. Losing would still leave us in first place in the East. Even if Dallas beats Washington, we lead by virtue of conference tie-breaker. Or if New York (likely) beats Chicago, we lead by virtue of a divisional tie-breaker. So any way you cut it, the East is ours for at least the next two weeks.
The point of Four Things isn’t to predict a winner, it’s to discuss which tactics would give our Eagles the best chance to win this game. So here are the Four Things that we need to focus on this week, versus the: Jaguars
1) Man Up: Doug Pederson’s scheme (same as when he was here), emphasizes movement of the ball down the field. The focus wasn’t on big plays, but on keeping the ball moving, the chains moving, the defense resting. If the opponent doesn’t have the ball, the ability to win isn’t in their hands. That subtle quicksand, Venus Fly-trap approach shows itself in Jacksonville’s QB getting the ball out of his hand quickly.
Of their top 4 starting receivers, only one of them averages 10+ yards per catch. So getting CB’s Darius Slayand James Bradberry playing man and taking away the quick throw, will immediately get the Jags off schedule, and make them improvise constantly. In a new system, with new parts, and that means mistakes. Mistakes with the football means turnovers.
2) Box Them In: They have a pair of RB’s both 210+ pounds, running behind a decent offensive line. The interior of their line has a few intangibles, but they aren’t the most stout or physical group we’ll face this year. What’s left of (former Redskin) Brandon Scherff headlines that group, but injuries have kept him to 14 games or fewer for, each of the last 5 years.
This week is operation “Stymie and Trap”. Same as last week against Washington. Have DT’s Fletcher Cox and Jordan Davis clog up the middle, and early on, mix our DE’s and DT’s to set the edges. Force everything to the arms of MLB T.J. Edwards. Later in the game, DE’s Brandon Graham and Josh Sweat can go hunting with fresher legs, against a QB that Jacksonville likes to get out on bootlegs, for throws downfield.
3) TheKerrigan Plan: The Jaguars run a 3 – 4 defense that features 262 and 275 pound OLB’s. They play like 5 – 2 DE’s than 3 – 4 LB’s, in that they don’t really cover. (One of them did pick off QB Carson Wentz throwing a Middle Screen.) For us OLB Hassan Reddick pass rushes, but he’s 235 and also drops into coverage. (More than fans like.)
When an opposing defense has that OLB defect, we can run the Kerrigan Plan. I call it that because, Washington used to run similar scheme led by OLB Ryan Kerrigan. Great pass rusher, but it was easy to complete short RB passes, and TE routes to his (and the other OLB’s) side. Worked like a charm for years. We just beat the Vikings with it.
4) Run in the Second Half: The Jaguars are a second half team. So don’t let them get the opportunity to work their mojo. Run the ball, by which I mean, hand it off to RB Miles Sanders. He averages more career yardage after contact, than any of our backs, and even RB Ezekiel Elliott. Put that to work for us! Let quicksand work in our favor.
If the Eagles lead at the half, risking QBJalen Hurts becoming Jalen hurts, is a dumb idea. We don’t need him on designed runs at that point. If the Eagles trail at the half, then we need to stabilize the Offense, and limit the Jaguars opportunity to pile on more points. In either case, we need to run the ball after the half.
* Disclaimer: No giants players were mentioned in the writing of this article.
If the Eagles do these Four Things, then we’ll be virtually impossible to beat. That being said…
The plan is to exit Sunday as the NFL’s only undefeated team. Standing in our way, is a coach who knows many of our players. Not just as players, but as men. I have some coaching in my background, so let me tell you why this week presents a very stiff challenge.
Part of Doug’s job here, was to motivate his players. To get them to push themselves. To push even when they didn’t want to. Even when it hurt. That means he had to understand what made each of them tick. To be able to get into their heads, he had to know each man’s carrot, and each man’s stick.
Every note he’s ever taken about a player. Which concepts he had to help them understand better. Which weakness he had to mask, because coaching wouldn’t fix it. All of that, will be used against us on Sunday. Which is why we need to keep it simple. If this game comes down to scheme and adjustments, Doug will kill Nick. Doug is far smarter and more experienced. He also understands game flow better, so he doesn’t have to give up play-calling. The Jags have the better coach. Period.
We need this game to come down to talent and execution. If we execute properly, the Jags just aren’t talented enough, nor well-constructed enough to keep pace. We should score easily enough, the only question is: How well will our Defense do?
Prediction: EAGLES 26 – Jaguars 23
WARNING: 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 Four Things as a gambling tool, you are trying to lose your money, and will deserve it when you do.
Check back in a couple of days for Four Things Reviewed, and we’ll discuss how this game went.
WHAT’S it like to get a foot in your ass, in a building, with a statue of you in front of it? Well, on Sunday around 5p.m. we should be able to ask former Eagles and current Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson. So far he has the Jacksonville Jaguars looking, and playing like a professional football team.
My prediction of course, seems like pure fan speculation. I have yet to even start assembling the Four Things article, for this upcoming game. So I can’t have a grounded sense of how this one will shake out, right? I mean, the Jags have the NFL’s second highest differential (+46) in points scored to points against. The Eagles come in third (+36) in that category.
Given the Eagles tendency to sleepwalk through the second half of football games, and Jacksonville coming alive after the half, this game has all the makings of a nail biter. Predicting a win this early, with no due diligence just seems like talking shit. Right? Perhaps.
But there’s a deeper narrative to this Eagles season.
The NFL schedule makers forcing us to put down Doug, the week after putting down QB Carson Wentz, almost seems cruel. It also portends that Week 11, QB Nick Foles may be starting in place of QB Matt Ryan, on the day that we face head coach Frank Reich’s Colts. (If it happens, don’t be shocked.) Do you see the pattern forming?
The Universe loves irony, and it has a poetic way of punishing those who ignore it. Nick should have stayed in Philly, but took a shaky contract, and had a horrific time in Jacksonville. Both on and off the field. (I often wonder if Philly’s better hospitals could have saved his unborn child.) During Week One, Carson beat Doug, who didn’t stick up for him here. Then last week, we pounded Carson who requested a trade, into the ground. Reich has gone from guru to damned near punchline in Indianapolis.
Now Doug gets to come back, and get a foot in his ass, at the foot of his statue. Everyone connected with the collapse of our Super Bowl team, has had to swallow bitter medicine as a result of their actions immediately following that demise. So clearly Doug has an ass whipping coming.
And don’t think for a moment that General Manager Howie Roseman won’t get his. The Universe doesn’t fuck around when it dishes. At the moment, EVERYTHING Howie does seems like genius. The world can’t pat him hard enough on the back. Which only sets him up for the biggest fall of them all. Gifted with opportunity by the Universe, they each spat in it’s face.
Understand, I’m not saying that the Universe is angry that the Eagles dynasty was shaken down. I highly doubt it cares about football or any sport. What I’m saying, is that a lot of negative energy went into destroying what was constantly advertised, as good men coming together. Hypocrisy. Being a turncoat. Ingratitude. These things scream at Karma in defiance of it. And that only ends one way.
HEAD Coach Nick Sirianni had his introductory press conference on Thursday, and the fan base has been talking about it since then. I have been listening. However, before I weighed in, I wanted to step back, and fully digest exactly what it was that we saw.
Here it is, Monday, and my chief takeaway from Sirianni’s press conference, was that the Eagles Front Office wants the coach to be the hired help, and not the true leader of the football team. Sirianni’s job is to manage just what happens in relation to X’s and O’s. Unfortunately, that’s going to become a problem sooner, rather than later.
Stripping him of the ability to even decide his 53 man roster on Sundays, gives him no leverage when a star player gets out of line, or doesn’t buy into what Sirianni sells, this coming Spring. Not even being able to tell a player that he’s suspended, and will not travel with the team, cuts Sirianni’s balls off, putting blood in the water, right at the outset.
Younger players will be brought in to help lower the salary cap, and replenish the talent pool. Coming in knowing that they can test and challenge a head coach who has to ask permission to even sit them… Former Eagles S Malcolm Jenkins, said to Rich Eisen “you just hope that the competitiveness and the culture and the egos of what that team stands for at least stays in place.” In the current climate, that can’t happen. You can expect the Eagles locker room culture to slide. And in very short order.
The silver lining is that if it doesn’t work, if the team doesn’t win, and the players don’t pan out, General Manager Howie Roseman will be the one left holding the bag. Sirianni would be collateral damage of course, but the weight will be on Roseman. Owner Jeffery Luriewill actually be more responsible, but he can’t fire himself.
Understand, the Eagles could have given Doug Pederson more rope. They didn’t. They could have brought in an experienced ex-head coach. They didn’t. They could have gone with a hot-shot Offensive Coordinator. Didn’t take that road either.
What they did, was pick a guy who has never even called plays before. Who has also never made in-game adjustments. Who has never had to be the front-man for a billion dollar franchise. And now… now he’s doing it in the nations 4th or 5th largest television market. How is this possible? Why is this happening?
Sirianni was allowed to skip a couple of rungs on his way to being a head coach. The reason he beat out more qualified candidates is (according to Lurie), “because he cares”. Yeah. Right. Before Eagles fans eat that horse shit, you’ll have to win us another Lombardi, first.
Sirianni is here because he’s too naive to realize the predicament he’s in. Remember how Robert Saleh recently opted for the Jets job over this one? The Jets. Owned by Woody Johnson, who’s only a slightly better businessman than Donald Trump. Fact is, due to Roseman’s presence, the Eagles aren’t a gig that many candidates were lining up for. Most credible options said
Former Eagles Assistant Head Coach Duce Staley was the logical replacement for Pederson. But anyone who knows anything about the man, understands that he wouldn’t stand for being a figurehead, and so he wasn’t offered the job.
From an X’s and O’s standpoint, it’s very easy to be excited about this team. From a leadership standpoint, it’s impossible to be anything besides deeply, severely, gravely concerned. At least until Lurie finds someone better at giving him head, than Howie.
HE’S a diva! He’s babied! He’s uncoachable! He hates Doug Pederson! He’s insubordinate! He wants out of Philadelphia! Why is it that everyone with something bad to say about QB Carson Wentz, isn’t man enough to own his words?
We’ve been reading rumors for over two years now, but strangely, everyone is afraid go on record. I could understand if Carson had gotten a coach fired in the past. Or if he’d gotten WR Alshon Jeffery (largely suspected of being a rumor source) booted off the team. But none of that has ever happened.
On the field, we see a guy with an injury history, playing as hard as we’ve seen ANY QB play. (And yes I’m including Jim Kelly.) We don’t see Carson arguing with teammates on the sideline. When he congratulates them, they don’t pull away from him, or give him the cold shoulder. We watched him give QB Jalen Hurts pointers, even after being benched. We watched that!
So what’s with this “other” Carson Wentz that we keep reading about, but that no one can give us proof of? I have a theory about that.
Carson Wentz is boring. Especially if you’re a sportswriter in a city known for colorful personalities. Like Andy Reid, Carson goes about his business, and then… You don’t hear from him. It’s football, family, and his Audience Of 1 food truck(s). Unless the local scribes want to write about Carson’s love for God (and they don’t), he’s of no use to them. Put bluntly, Carson doesn’t sell papers or generate clicks.
That is, until the media creates a situation where they can portray him as a bad guy. Ah-ha! Now they can challenge him, even force him, to defend his name. Except he doesn’t. He never responds to these rumors. He knows who he is, and he truly has no interest in the circus. Thus, he doesn’t participate in it. Ever. Which is only more infuriating for the media.
Remember the trade that NFL.com reporter Adam Schefter said Carson wanted? Here’s the link to refresh your memory. Remember when Schefter had to walk that shit back, because it wasn’t true? Here’s that link too. Remember when ESPN reporter Chris Mortensen said that Carson would force a trade? Here’s one more link. Since Pederson was fired, Mortensen has been eerily quiet on the subject of Carson Wentz. How ‘bout that?! Carson doesn’t respond. He just lets the truth find it’s own way to us.
Carson had nothing to say about last year’s rumors, and had even less to say about this year’s speculation. In fact, he’s been radio silent since his December 6th benching at Green Bay. He did skip his year-end exit interview with then Head Coach Doug Pederson, and the local media took off running with that.
Now don’t get me wrong, that move says a ton. But it says so much, that it’s important to clarify EXACTLY what Carson himself, meant by it. His intentions are subject to speculation by us fans. His intentions are not subject to speculation by reporters who are supposed to report facts.
Just as the media is taking liberties by speculating on his intent, I suspect that they may also be exaggerating some of his teammate’s comments. Any statement by an “anonymous source” allows the media to write whatever they like, however they like, while avoiding “lying” specifically.
Let me give you an example from NFL.com itself. This is an excerpt from yesterday’s Michael Silver article. This is his interpretation of an Aaron Rodgers quote, after losing to Tampa Bay. Keep in mind, this section was copy and pasted, with no alteration by me, save for the orange font color:
And when he spoke, I believe he delivered a message to his bosses, one I’d roughly translate thusly: Your way of doing business has to change, or maybe I should be on my way.
“[There are] a lot of guys’ futures that are uncertain,” Rodgers told reporters, “myself included. That’s what’s sad about it most … getting this far. Obviously there’s going to be an end to it at some point, whether we make it past this one or not. Just the uncertainties, (it) is tough, and the finality of it.”
In that quote, Rodgers says dick about the Packers way of doing business. Also, at no point does he suggest that he would leave. Silver entirely ignores both the text, and the subtext of Rodgers words, in order to superimpose his own. Sadly, fans will buy it because a guy at NFL.com wrote it!
There’s an awful lot of character assassination going on, based solely on rumor, from people who are supposed to be experts at verification, and factual reporting. Yet they keep coming up snake-eyes on facts. And as long as we keep letting them substitute rumor for scoop (or letting John Clark get away with reporting what he sees on ESPN) this will keep happening.
Damned shame when a fan/blogger has higher operating standards than professional journalists.
DON’T let the noise fool you. The media is selling that new Eagles Head Coach Nick Sirianni, is here to “fix” QB Carson Wentz. That’s not true. It’s not even close to true.
Eagles Owner Jeffery Lurieexpects the new staff to get Wentz “back to that elite progression”. He has never said, nor hinted that Wentz was broken. He never said, nor even hinted at Wentz’s confidence being damaged. He never said, nor even hinted at Wentz losing his love for the game. That kind of speculation has come strictly from the muckrakers, to whom Wentz hasn’t spoken, since his benching.
Lurie (for his part), when speaking about Wentz, sounds like this “This guy is tireless. He has his heart in the right place and he’s really dedicated off-season, on-season – he’s just what you want”. This is the polar opposite of what the speculation says. Lurie isn’t trying to salvage a QB. He isn’t trying to get Wentz back to being a functional starter.
Lurie expects Wentz to be elite. His quote here, tells you exactly what company he expect Wentz to keep “understand that there have been many quarterbacks in their fourth and fifth year … if you trace this, you can come up with many, many quarterbacks that have a single year where it’s just, whoa, the touchdown-to-interception ratio is not what you want. And we’re talking some great ones, like Peyton [Manning] and Ben [Roethlisberger] and guys like that.”
Nothing in that quote indicates that Lurie thinks Wentz is “broken”, or “needs fixing”. He called it “a single year”. Which is exactly what I spent the season TELLING EVERYONE. It was just a bad year. That’s how Lurie saw it, and he’s right. It’s not sexy. It’s not interesting. It doesn’t give you something to blame. It just was, what it was. A bad year. They happen.
That being the case, I suspect that Lurie (brace yourselves) may have hired Nick Sirianni to coach his entire football team. I know it seems crazy, right? Who hires a head coach, with more than just one player in mind?! That kooky Lurie. Will he ever learn? (Sigh)
(By the way, just in case an idiot stumbles across this article: The last half, of that last paragraph, was entirely sarcasm. Calm down.)
I told you in the Fourth Quarter review, that if you isolate Andy Reid’s first five years here, then subtract his best and worst seasons, he’d still be 34 – 14 (.708). Do the same with Doug Pederson and his record is 25 – 23 (.520). Lurie clearly felt that the coach was holding back the team. That’s why he moved the coach and not the player.
Don’t let the noise fool you. Nick Sirianni isn’t here to fix Carson Wentz. Nick Sirianni is here to fix the 4 – 11 – 1 Eagles.
DOUG Pedersonis Eagles history now. That much we’re sure of. What we don’t know, is who will replace him. I’ll let you in on a secret: It almost doesn’t matter. We’re going to want the same things regardless. HAHAHA!!! Who am I kidding? This is Philadelphia. We’re going to DEMAND the same things regardless.
The first thing we’re going to demand, is a Defense that isn’t “bend but don’t break”. I’d personally like a style that defends every blade of grass, and fights you for every footstep. That said, I’m knowledgeable enough to know that the NFL will have a bitch-fit if we’re that good, that fast.
What I wouldn’t mind is a 4-3 system that uses the DT’s to penetrate and cleave, uses the DE’s to contain, and allows the LB’s to flow to the ball, or be used creatively. Instead of CB’s on 40 yard cushions, employ aggressive man coverage, backed up by split S’s.
If we play a team and an 8-man box is becomes necessary, THEN we go into a Single-high. But first we give our front seven a chance to show that they can handle business. Never assume failure. That’s the first step to winning anything. We won’t become dominant if we start from meekness.
The second thing we’re going to demand, is that our Offensive Line gets fixed. We can’t “fix” QB Carson Wentz if he’s getting beat to shit, all over again. RB Miles Sanderswill never see a 1,000 yard rushing season as an Eagle, behind spotty blocking. QB Jalen Hurts? Hell, he also took a lot of abuse when Wentz went out this year. To fix the Offense, start with fixing the O-Line.
The third thing, would be to (ahem) “fix” the QB. When Carson was at his best in 2017, we had a brutal, power based, run game. At Carson’s worst in 2020, we hardly ran the ball. Super Bowl formula or 4 – 11 – 1? Which formula works best for you? You want to fix Carson? Run the damned ball. You want him to stop playing superhero ball? Run the damned ball. You want to limit sacks, and be better on 2nd and 3rd downs (like in 2017)? Run. The. Motherdamnedfucking BALL!
The fourth thing we’ll demand, is to develop a WR. This inability to develop that position has to come to an end. It has to! The last WR we drafted and turned into a 1,000 receiver, was Jeremy Maclin. We drafted him in 2009, and it wasn’t until his last year here in 2014, that he had his first 1,000 yard season. He is in fact, the last Eagles wide receiver to reach 1,000 yards.
These are things we’re going to want regardless of who is calling the plays, or who is letting his coordinator call the plays. There are other things we’ll want: A big RB, a dangerous KR, a scary LB, a QB to finish 4 or more games without a grass or turf stain on his back… These would all be nice, but they’re not at the forefront of what the fans want.
We want someone to come in, recognize what’s broken, and fix that shit, FIRST. He can be clever about his scheme, or his system, or his philosophy later. Expect a brutally honest assessment of where the Eagles stand in my Pre-Draft Preview, coming this Spring.
SEASON Reviews are usually done at the end of the season. A few are also done at the halfway mark. Starting in 2017, Eaglemaniacal.com began treating the season like a game, and breaking it into four quarters. 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: 4 – 11 – 1, 4th in the NFC East
W New Orleans Saints 12 – 4
L Arizona Cardinals 8 – 8
L Dallas Cowboys 6 – 10
L Washington Uhhh… 7 – 9
Due to events in, and inside ofour Nation’s Capitol last week, I delayed putting this article out. I imagined that you’d be too preoccupied with the real world, to give much of a damn about a report like this. That is the ONLY reason that I was able to get on here and make some edits, after learning about the firing of Head Coach Doug Pederson today.
Initially I was going to put a positive spin on missing the playoffs, and getting such a high draft pick. I wasn’t going to bullshit you, just make sure that we didn’t overlook the opportunity that being in this position affords us.
Then the firing happened.
Pederson during his tenure here, has a 42 – 37 – 1 record.
He also has a Super Bowl win, chased by three years of injuries being the excuse for diminishing results. Put another way, taking out this last season (his worst), and the SB season (his best), Pederson is 25 – 23 (.520) as a head coach. For perspective, lets look at Andy Reid’ first 5 years here.
Take out Reid’s best and worst year and you still end up with a 34 – 14 (.708) head coach. So it’s not hard to see why instead of giving Pederson the increased control that he sought, Eagles owner Jeffery Lurie, would want to opt out of the partnership.
QB – (D): This quarter Jalen Hurtshas produced 8 TD’s and 5 turnovers. If you can get him outside the pocket and moving to his right, he’s dangerous. In any other instance, he becomes a liability. What’s worse, teams seem to have already figured this out. His season finale against Washington featured him running for 2 scores, but passing 7/20 (35%), 72 yards and a pick. Nate Sudfeld saw the field for a 18 snaps in Week 17, and he looked like a guy who’d seen no snaps until Week 17.
RB – (D): In the last four games of the season, Miles Sanders’ rushing yards have gone from 115, to 64, to 57, to 0. To be fair, he was benched for the last game (Tankgate). Still, it doesn’t look good that his production has declined steadily, since Cars… Never mind. Hey, how about Boston Scott? What can I say? He started Week 17, and now we’re picking 6th overall. Well alriiiiiiight!
WR – (D): During this 4 week stretch, DeSean Jacksongraced Eagles fans with an 81 yard curtain call against Dallas. On 5 targets, 4 catches, 100 yards and TD, Alshon Jeffery showed he can still do, what it is we brought him here to do in the first place. Both will be gone next season. On the other hand, none of the young guys has emerged as a future go-to guy. Jalen Reagor hasn’t seen a 50 yard day since Week 11. Greg Ward is averaging 7.9 yards per catch, and Travis Fulgham has been on a milk carton since the Week 9 Bye.
TE – (D): The Eagles have spent the season trying to sell us Dallas Goedert as a #1, but he lacks the explosiveness or dynamism for the role. He’s Robin, not Batman. He’s like a bigger, stronger Jay Novacek. Zack Ertz had a miserable final quarter, catching 10 of 23 targets (43%) for 126 yards. In fact, his season ends with him posting a 50% catch rate for the year, and seeing his targets drop from 135 in 2019, to 72 in 2020. (But we all know what that was about.) Still, his numbers won’t make it easy for him to find a team looking pay big money to a 30 year old who’s been nicked up lately.
OT – (C): Jordan Mailata has been receiving high praise these last few weeks at LT. Some are saying that he’s the future of the spot. (I guess folks have forgotten about Andre Dillard?) Matt Pryor is trash on the edge. He’s serviceable when moved inside, but outside, pure garbage. Jack Driscollwasn’t great either, but he was a rookie, and we lost him for the year, so why sweat it?
G – (D): Isaac Seumalohas consistently lined up on the left for seven straight weeks. Hasn’t meant much, but during this quarter, he did finally play in his only win of the season. That’s 1 win in 9 starts this year. I’m just gonna leave that right there. Nate Herbighas been serviceable on the right side. (He looked better on the left though.)
C – (B): Jason Kelce kept the line together as best he could.
DE – (B): Brandon Graham despite playing an increased percentage of the snaps in the last two games, still fell short of his goal of 10 sacks this season. He got one vs Dallas, but otherwise, he really seemed to wear down as the season went on. Derek Barnett missed the last two games and didn’t impose himself in the last tow that he played. Josh Sweat had two sacks and FF vs New Orleans, was hurt early the next week, and then was injured for the final two games of the quarter. Vinny Curry started the final two games and had his strongest quarter of the season. This position did a decent job of bringing pressure, but with lax coverage behind them, they couldn’t translate into sacks and three and outs. Genard Avery played in the last three games as a rotation player, but the Eagles still don’t have a plan for him.
DT – (B): Fletcher Cox was Fletcher Cox, until a stinger vs Dallas shut his season down. Javon Hargrave stepped up in Cox’s absence and seemed to be a lot more disruptive than in the prior three quarters. He seemed more comfortable. I hope to see he and Cox return in 2021. Malik Jackson put up 12 tackles and a sack, during this quarter. That’s despite only starting one of the games. Undrafted rookie Raequan Williams made his presence felt, in very limited action. T.Y. McGill got a lot of snaps in the last two weeks, but will probably be best remembered for jumping offsides on 4th and 1, with 2:00 to go, vs Washington in a 20 – 14 loss. (But let’s put all the blame on the QB situation!)
OLB – (C): Alex Singleton recorded double digit tackles in three of four games, plus a sack and a FR. He’s much improved at reading angles and getting off blocks. More than that, he brought energy to the defense. Duke Riley missed the last two games, but had an interception vs New Orleans.
ILB – (C): T.J. Edwards has been serviceable in the middle of this defense. He arrived here with the label “athletic limitations”. Being put into this system didn’t do him any favors, in terms of developing his strong-suit. If he has one. Which was not made evident this last quarter.
S – (D): Jalen Mills is a good soldier, but he’s not special as a player. This was once again put on display this quarter. He plays sound team concept ball, helps corral ball-carriers, swarms the football, yadda yadda. He just doesn’t affect the outcome of games. Marcus Eppsstarted three of these four games, and turned it into a team-leading (how sad) two interceptions. Rookie K’Von Wallace got two starts, but it was too soon, in the wrong situation, with no teachers. Rudy Ford was unimpressive. If not for Epps, this position wouldn’t qualify for a grade.
CB – (F): Darius Slayplayed in three of these four games and finally snagged a pick, vs Dallas of all teams. Nickell Robey-Coleman continued to be a non-factor vs the pass. Michael Jacquetplayed in two of the four games and was utterly victimized vs Dallas. Grayland Arnoldplayed a lot vs Dallas, and he got the Week 17 start.
LS – (A): Rick Lovato added one more tackle to his impressive resume.
P – (D): Cam Johnston saw two games this quarter where he averaged less than 40 yards per boot. His 16 punts for 664 yards put him at 41.5 per swing of the leg, and he even had one blocked for the first time this season. It’s hard to say whether his leg wore out or whether he was affected by the air getting denser as the weather grew cooler. Either way, he was less effective.
K – (B): Jake Elliott was perfect on extra point kicks (when allowed to attempt them), and 2/3 on FG attempts. FOR THIS QUARTER! He had all of three tries, this quarter. I had no idea of that until I just looked it up! (Dear Doug, it’s decisions like this that get people FIRED! What, too soon?) Jake also stepped up and handled a couple of punts for us when injury struck at Arizona. That sort of
SINCE LAST QUARTER:
Entering the quarter with control of our own destiny, it largely felt like neither the Head Coach, General Manager, or Owner wanted to step up and declare a direction. As a result, the whole thing has been a rudderless mess. Did Lurie even want the Eagles to make the playoffs? Where does he stand on the tanking? What are his thoughts on Jalen Hurts? We have no clue about any of this.
MISSION FOR THIS QUARTER:
Without a Head Coach, I have no idea what the vision for the future is. That means I can’t even try to forecast it. What I can do is take a moment to indulge my vanity, and write about what I HOPE the mission is for this offseason. Who do I hope is the next Head Coach?
Duce Staley becomes the Head Coach. Not just because he’s an Eagles lifer. Not just because he’s been patient as promotions to Offensive Coordinator have twice passed him by.
Duce should be the coach because Carson Wentz at his best, had a VERY strong run game behind him. Duce believes in running the ball. Duce’s approach can win us another Super Bowl.
Duce should be the coach because he has gotten productivity from every RB that has been brought in here. He has found a way to reach and develop players. This has been a sore spot for the Eagles for too long. Duce can fix that.
Duce should be the coach because he (like Doug when he got here), understands where he is. He understands the nature of the media that will attack him from Day One. He already gets how the fans demand so much in terms of effort, and that you will earn our hearts forever when you deliver.
And then there’s the Rooney Rule. Wouldn’t it be nice to ignore it? To not have needed it. To see critics go
Especially in this racial/political/social climate. ESPECIALLY for a guy who deserves it, and that it’s damned well overdue for?
I want the arrogance of saying to our rivals: That the Eagles were socially progressive only by happenstance. That we were doing what we wanted to do, and being forward thinking is a side effect of just being fucking better than you. I want that.
So I hope that Duce becomes our next Head Coach. That’s our Mission For This Quarter.
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.
1) Lose the damned game!: We did a great job of doing this. Luckily, the giants were counting on us to win, so they could get into the playoffs. So yeah. Yeah. Fuck those guys. (DONE)
2) Evaluate Kelce’s heir: This never happened. C Jason Kelce played the whole game. (NOT DONE)
3) No Razzle-Dazzle:The Eagles ran not one but two WR Option passes. Neither was a big play and both were almost disasters. Then there was that ugly, and incomplete Back-side WR Screen… Silly. Just plain silly. (NOT DONE)
4) The Pocket Hurts: Hurts pocket presence was even worse this week. Yardage notwithstanding, it seems to be getting easier and easier to shut down our passing game, as Hurts fundamentals as a passer, have deteriorated with every subsequent week. Do you know the last time QB Carson Wentz completed just 35% of his passes? The answer is never. Not even as a rookie. (NOT DONE)
On The Whole:
This whole narrative that the Eagles tanked, because Head Coach Doug Pederson pulled Hurts in the 4th quarter, for third string QB Nate Sudfeld, is ridiculous. True story, nothing in Suds history indicated that he’d look as bad as he did in this game. In fact, last night he threw his first career interception.
Meanwhile, Hurts had most of the game and was horrendous out there. In most cases fans would be SCREAMING to have a QB pulled for looking as bad as he did.
What people around the NFL don’t like about the loss, is that the Eagles profited so handsomely from it. We came into the game slotted 9th in the Draft. We left it slotted in the 6th spot. Normally moving up three slots in the first round of the NFL Draft will cost you your 1st and at least a 2nd rounder.
Instead, we moved up three slots in every round, all for the price of a game that was meaningless to us. And all we had to do was disappoint someone that we already hate (the giants). So we moved up essentially for free! And let’s be real. Isn’t hilarious to be able to talk about a QB controversy that involves Suds but not Wentz?
If tanking was such a bad thing, then where was all this league-wide clamor when the Jags decided to bench QB Gardner Minshew so that they could “Tank for Trevor!” Dead silent on that one right? Dear NFL. Eat my ass, you raging fucking hypocrites.
We had a shitty season, but we ended it like a boss.
I hear you asking, “What about all the stuff that stats don’t reveal?” Well, that’s the reason for theFour 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.
1) Keep running:Well, well, well. Would you look at that. This game featured 44 pass attempts, 11 QB runs, and just 18 plays where the ball was handed off. Seems the Eagles can’t win with that formula, regardless of who the QB is. (NOT DONE)
2) Contain our mirror image: The Eagles did a good job of keeping the Cardinal QB in the pocket, and he beat us from there. While Hurts was very athletic in this game, their QB beat us by actually playing QB. Still, what’s done is done. (DONE)
3) Pray for diarrhea: There was no food poisoning, so WR DeAndre Hopkins played. Pray harder next time! Get a sweat going! (NOT DONE)
4) Control the clock: We had the ball for 32 minutes, compared to the Cardinals 27. I said we needed a 36 to 24 minute split. We we were close to that mark, and we were close in the game. Horseshoes and hand grenades. (NOT DONE)
We did 1 out of 4, Four Things. Next week we get the division rival that everybody loves to hate: The Dallas Cowboys. A win will perpetuate Jalen Hurts’ legend with the fan base. But losing and having the season officially murdered? By the Cowboys?? On his watch!?! Nope. Losing is not an option next week. Can’t do it. Can’t, do it!
On The Whole:
Amid all the high fives and handjobs that the Eagles fan base is handing out for Christmas, is the fact that we are now dead last in the division. This comes after losing what Head Coach Doug Pederson called a “must win” game, which would have allowed the Eagles to make the playoffs just by winning the next two games.
We would have controlled our own fate.
So what did we see:
Well, the sacks are back. We gave up 6. Perhaps Hurts was holding the ball too long? Or, maybe his line missed blocks. Maybe we can stop blaming the guys trying not to get hit, for getting hit, when the people paid to protect them, let people hit them instead.
Having a QB willing to run RPO’s, will open up the run game! Miles Sanders averaged just 3.76 yards per carry (many publications round it up to 3.8), in this game. Interestingly enough, Sanders had 12 carries in the first half, and just 5 in the second. Perhaps what would really open up the run game, would be actually calling runs.
Remember how QB Carson Wentz was a bum for not completing 60% of his passes in most games? Well, for the third straight week Hurts has also failed to hit that mark. Those percentages, respectively, have been 41.6, 56.6, and 54.5. Maybe there is something inherently wrong with our system, that’s making it difficult for our QB’s to be more accurate.
WR Travis Fulgham is still on a milk carton. In fact, Hurts is having trouble pushing the ball down the field to WR’s, period. I hear you ask about Jalen Reagor (2 games, 12 targets, 7 catches, 95 yards, 13.5, 0TD) and WR Greg Ward (2 games, 10 targets, 6 catches, 35 yards, 5.8, 2 TD). Before the numbers become confusing, let me state this plain: That’s 5.9 yards per target, overall. Is this a glimpse of the Eagles future?
We lost a shootout to a team that isn’t anywhere near as good as their record. Anybody heartened by this, is looking at all the wrong indicators.