The Eagles are on the doorstep of the playoffs, with the Cowboys standing in their way on Sunday night. Win and they are in, but it is not enough to simply defeat the Cowboys. The Eagles need to beat them. In a season full of memories, one more is not too much to ask. MNF opening day destruction of the Redskins, Nick Foles throwing 7 TDs, Shady in the snow and blowing out the Bears on SNF were great. But a loss to the Cowboys would negate all of that. This Sunday night, the 2013 Eagles can live forever by beating Dallas. Because while beating the Redskins or Giants is great, beating the Cowboys is special. The Body Bag Game and Eagles Porn and the Miracles at the Meadowlands are games that we will never forget, but Cowboys games are a different level of schadenfreude that has gone on a long time.
The “bend but don’t break defense”–also known as “zone defense with bad players”–that got the Eagles nine straight games of giving up 21 points or less finally broke against the Vikings, and in spectacular fashion. An ugly day all around, and illustrative of how this defense still has a ways to go before it is actually good, for the same reasons from earlier in the season.
Let us get the elephant out of the room first. The defense did play better in that nine game streak, but like the 4-0 end of the 2011 season they also faced bad or handcuffed offenses. The Giants (twice), Buccaneers, Raiders and Aaron Rodgers-less Packers stink; the Cardinals are mediocre and were missing their best running back, the Cowboys are above average and were missing their best running back too and the Lions game was played in conditions that warrant an asterik. The Eagles run defense is very good, but the run game is not as important as it has been in the past. (more…)
I like playing Madden as much as the next person, but it gets boring after a while because it’s too easy. So I decided to give myself a challenge: build a team around Tim Tebow. I thought about doing this with the Eagles, but I couldn’t bring myself to do so. So instead I will run the Jaguars because if Shad Khan isn’t going to take Tebow then I’m going to make him.
But how does one build a team around Tebow? Easy. By surrounding him with players with the highest intangibles, which of course is literally impossible. If it could be rated, it isn’t intangible. That’s pretty much the only criteria I will use. Actually being good is an afterthought. Tim Tebow has to put the team on his back and schlep them to glory 5.4 yards at a time. So I took over the Jaguars in owner mode so that I can’t be fired, and did a fantasy draft. The draft process was remarkably simple: sort by Intangibles, take the highest rated player. In the event of a tie, take the player rated with the highest Toughness. Draft 22 starters plus punter and kicker before drafting any backups. I laughed the whole time.
When Chip Kelly was hired there were many writers and analysts who were immediately dismissive he would succeed in the NFL or that his demolishing of the Redskins to start the season was basically a fad. Healthy skepticism is one thing, close minded “hot takes” are another. Kelly’s proven them wrong immediately. After every Eagles win, fans take to Twitter to retweet those who were hilariously wrong. But it can be a taxing exercise having to find those tweets you’ve favorited from over the summer or searching and wading through the ever growing number of ironic tweets that say similar things to what some people actually believe. Now you don’t have to. For your bookmarking pleasure, I have compiled (and will continue to add to) a cornucopia of funny then, hilarious now tweets by media members who think they know everything when they so clearly know so little. You’re welcome.
First, the finest of wines:
And so many others:
How do you defend Calvin Johnson? The short answer is, you can’t. He beats every coverage you throw at him, and everyone’s tried everything. He leads the league in yards and TDs and he missed a game. Calvin Johnson is practically immune to defense. On Sunday the Eagles are going to have to try to stop him. If you’re Billy Davis, what do you do?
The Eagles are going to throw up everything they have in their arsenal to stop Johnson, including a new look they showed against the Cardinals that (rightly) gained some attention: bracket coverage with Connor Barwin at the line of scrimmage with corner help behind him. For the most part, it worked. On eight plays, all of which turned out to be passes, Barwin lined up directly opposite a WR and double teamed him. On two of these plays Barwin went up against Michael Floyd, himself no pushover, the other six were against Larry Fitzgerald. In these eight plays, the Cardinals gained 41 yards, for an average of 5.1 yards per play, which for a defense is excellent. But that doesn’t tell the whole story.
The Eagles have struggled to sustain drives in the 4th quarter of their previous two games. They did not lose either game, in fact they have not lost any game in which they entered the 4th quarter with the lead, nor have they lost any game where they led at halftime. By Win Probability, the closest game the Eagles have led at the half was against Green Bay, where they had a 77% chance to win and were facing a third string QB. Washington never got above a 17% chance to win in the 2nd half and Arizona never got above 21% despite the offense’s inability to move the chains for large chunks of time. But two poor 4th quarter performances in a row and now some fans want to seriously explore the idea of using Michael Vick as a “closer” in situations where the Eagles should and want to run the ball on every play. (We’ll overlook that the closer is the most overrated position in sports.)
When Vick was the QB and the offense was struggling in the Red Zone, the idea was tossed around that when they got down to the Red Zone that Nick Foles could come in because he’s a better passer and wouldn’t turn the ball over like Vick was doing. Now the offense sputters in the 4th quarter for two games and it is Vick, the player fans didn’t want making decisions in the Red Zone, who should come in during crucial situations. Funny how things change.
Mike Vick as a “closer” is a bad idea.
The argument, as laid by Mark Saltveit, is: