Around here we must assign blame. A team can’t simply lose– they must lose for a reason. A reason so unimaginable and inexcusable that we have to take to the airwaves and bloglines to shred the team to bits, call for the coach’s job, and demand that such and such player be ostracized from the community lest he covet our wives and eat our babies.
The Eagles are not a good team. With the exception of the defense – which isn’t perfect but is very good – there are huge problems everywhere. The offensive line is not good. Sam Bradford is not good. The running backs are inconsistent. The receivers stink. Everyone makes too many mistakes. The coach’s balls have shrunken multiple sizes this season. And the kicking game can’t be reliably counted upon to hit a makable field goal, keep the ball in bounds on kickoffs, or even make a goddamned extra point.
But, we’re from Philadelphia and we
fight need to blame someone. Who do we blame for this debacle? To the Droppings!
What a pile of poo. Seven – SEVEN! – drops?! And those are just the official ones. There seemed like more.
I’m quick to blame Sam Bradford for just about all the Eagles’ ails this year (with good reason), and though he routinely puts receivers in a position to fail, last night the blame fell squarely on the (back) shoulders of Jordan Matthews, Miles Austin, Zach Ertz, Darren Sproles, DeMarco Murray, and friends. Especially Jordan Matthews. What a dick. I tweeted during the game that he should be embarrassed, and, lo:
“It’s something that needs to be fixed. It’s embarrassing,” Matthews said. “I feel like I’m No. 1 on that list of guys who will take the responsibility on my shoulder to get it fixed. It’s not who we are as a team, it’s not who I want to be as a player. It’s got to get fixed.”
Well, that’s the first thing he did right all night.
Bradford routinely throws behind receivers, but they have to step up and bail him out once or twice. The lone interception last night was indeed thrown to Matthews’ back shoulder, but it was hardly uncatchable. And some of the drops were actually well-thrown balls– not high, not behind a receiver, but actual precision passes right to the numbers.
But though there might not be an excuse for the drops… there could be a reason:
If someone doesn’t bring this as a sign to College GameDay next week, I’m going to be very disappointed.
Bradford wasn’t awful last night. This is all relative, but he’s shown signs of improving each of the past few weeks. Slowly… and slowly… and slowly… but somewhat maybe a little bit surely, deer-in-heat-Crossing-Broad Bradford looks to be improving. Last night, besides some genuinely good throws (a perfectly placed pass to Zach Ertz along the sideline comes to mind), Bradford moved well(-ish) in the pocket, appeared less panicky than usual, didn’t turn the ball over (besides the Matthews drop), and managed not to vomit all over himself on the bench. Small victories for Sam I Am, to be sure, but he finally appeared to be an NFL quarterback.
His habit of nearly getting receivers killed remains. Here he is once again serving up Matthews’ delicious head atop a bed of arugula and sprinkled with a tart vinaigrette to opposing defensive backs:
Chef Sam is glad you enjoyed the wideout tonight. Can he offer you some dessert? Perhaps a disgruntled running back who can’t understand why his quarterback threw the ball before he was looking?
And please, feel free to wipe your mouth on Sam’s fucking sleeves– that’s what they’re there for:
Chef Sam thanks you for dining tonight:
No for real, I’m beginning to wonder if all the mis-timed passes and frantic slings from Bradford, which put receivers in precarious positions, are making the footsteps just a bit louder. Like, you can’t directly blame Sam for the drops last night, but, mixed in with the first six games of the season, you can’t help but wonder if a little for who, for what might be creeping in after receivers’ heads have been market price entrees all fall.
I give Bradford 1.2 headlights this game.
Conversation with pregnant wife
Actual exchange in the first quarter:
Pregnant wife: Can you get up and get me a glass of water?
Me: Sure. Let me just watch the Eagles’ next drive.
Pregnant wife: What does that mean– until they score a touchdown? Might be a wh…
Me: No, just their next series. Will probably only be three plays.
Pregnant wife: Oh, OK.
One play. It was one play– the interception on the bad pass which was dropped by Matthews. My pregnant wife thanks Chef Sam for the expedient service at Del Capo Receptiar.
“The Eagles are lucky to be in this game”
That was Cris Collinsworth at the end of the first quarter. Heard that before.
Noticed this early in the game, including on the interception– Eagles seemed to be aggressively going for strips early. It’s no wonder they lead the league in takeaways with 19. I’m guessing there’s some stat that tells Chips giving up a few extra yards here and there is fine if it’s balanced with more takeaways. Problem: the Eagles’ offense stinks and can’t convert them into points. Last night, they turned three turnovers into just six points.
Matt Tobin can’t block
Sure, he did an OK job filling in for Jason Peters last night, but he’s not a very good lineman.
Dennis Kelly can’t block
Great effort here by Dennis Kelly.
Caleb Sturgis can’t kick
The kicking game is costing the Eagles about seven – SEVEN! – points per game. Usually three on a missed field goal, and four on a ball that is kicked out-of-bounds and starts off an opposing drive at the 40, leading to a touchdown rather than just a field goal. Sturgis booting one out-of-bounds after kicking a 52-yard yard field was simply him bringing balance to the Eagles’ kicking force. They can’t have nice things.
Byron Maxwell can’t tackle
Byron Asomugha https://t.co/dYKBioT8Av
— Patrick (@EaglesPMC) October 26, 2015
You know what? I’m not gonna get all over him for this. Was it bad? Yeah. But the defense has been pretty great, and Maxwell has been sufficiently decent and better than Nnamdi Asomugha and Cary Williams (not saying much). He tackles like a wuss, but the Eagles got 99 problems right now, and Byron is just 31.
I like Al Michaels. I think he’s sometimes too sleepy for Sunday Night Football and often times comes across as disinterested, but I enjoy his deep knowledge of the game, the subplots – usually the line – and subtle grumbles about whatever it is Al Michaels feels like grumbling about that night.
Last night, I thought a small piece of him died when he and Cris Collinsworth had to explain the rules of the NASCAR playoffs. Like, I can’t believe I have to read this. They also lamented, on multiple occasions, the NFL’s needlessly complicated rules.
It’s a minor miracle that Jason Peters only suffered back spasms of some sort and says he’ll play against the Cowboys in two weeks. It looked like his career was ever… which would’ve probably meant the same for Bradford’s.
With peters out Bradford will now be under duress .
— Ron Jaworski (@JawsCEOQB) October 26, 2015
Dynamite drop-in, Jaws. That broadcasting school is really paying off.
— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) October 26, 2015
Ryan Mathews carried the football on just 3 of the Eagles’ final 59 plays spanning nearly 37 minutes. He gained 86 yards on those runs.
— Reuben Frank (@RoobNBCS) October 26, 2015
Eagles averaged 7.6 yards per play when Ryan Mathews was on the field.
Eagles averaged 3.5 yards per play when Mathews was not on the field.
— Reuben Frank (@RoobNBCS) October 26, 2015
There are two sides to this:
- Ryan Mathews is clearly a harder runner than Murray, doesn’t give up on plays, fights for yards, is faster, has more success, and appears to be all-around just better than Murray, so he should be playing more
- He might not be a feature back and overexposing him will throttle his effectiveness and perhaps get him hurt
One thing is certain, though: Chip Kelly needs to take some damn ownership and stop throwing Duce Staley under the bus. You call the plays, coach! It’s obvious that one running back is more effective than the other. If you want him in there, PUT HIM IN THERE! Claiming ignorance as to who’s carrying the ball is either passing the buck to the extreme or incompetence. It rolls up to you, Chip. If you think Mathews should’ve been in there, then that’s on you.
Bennie Logan penalties
Congrats to Bennie Logan on obtaining the rare double offsides. It takes a special type of person to do it two times in a row.
The ensuing Eagles drive – a quick three-and-out – happened so fast that I missed the entire thing while checking my Twitter mentions. Like, looked down, scrolled for a minute, looked up and, boom, commercial at two-minute warning. Eagles kicked upon return.
Third down play calls
We’re getting dangerously close to Fat Man territory with Chip Kelly on his third down play calls. If you’re screen game is killing it – which was often the case the first two seasons – then yeah, by all means, call one on third down. But in the absence of decent outside and downfield blocking, it’s getting old real fast watching Chip call swings passes and screens on third down. That 3rd and 9 play call in the fourth quarter – a screen pass to Josh Huff for a one-yard loss – was inexcusable. The Eagles were in field goal range, so you either throw it for a first down or run it up the middle to set up a better field goal attempt. Sturgis’ miss from 50 yards probably would’ve been a make from 47. Doubly worse, the Panthers had excellent field possession (again) and had to drive only 43 yards or so to set up their easy field goal on the next drive.
For someone who is supposedly as astute as Chip about playing the odds and thinking outside the box, he makes a lot of poor judgement calls. Where clock management was Andy Reid’s problem, field position management is Kelly’s.
Everyman has become an everyman. What happened to him?
This is the final Eagles drive (before garbage time):
First play: Sam Bradford sacked, fumbles, mercilessly recovered by Jason Kelce, penalty on Matt Tobin (declined)
Second play: Swing pass thrown behind Darren Sproles, incomplete
Third play: Sam Bradford’s pass to Jordan Matthews is so inexplicably awful that officials assume it had to have been tipped. Nope– just Bradford, whose elbow was nicked ever so slightly. Play overturned and declared a pass, opening the door for a pass interference penalty against the Panthers, giving the Eagles a first down in the way you might hand a blind man a kaleidoscope. Here, you’re not going to do anything with it, but just play around a little bit, see if it makes any cool twisty sounds.
Fourth play: Sam Bradford sacked for a six-yard loss. Mr. 69 decides to take Bradford from behind:
Fifth play: Sam Bradford completes a seven-yard pass on 2nd and 16 to Jordan Matthews, who didn’t drop it
Sixth play: Zach Ertz drops a pass on a short crossing route, incomplete
Seventh play: “Through the hands of Miles Austin!”
I have nothing against Nick or Adam, but this is the sort of forced narrative that pollutes sports talk radio airwaves. Chip’s 33-3 record and losing the National Championship at Oregon have nothing to do with his mediocre+ results thus far in the NFL. This is stupid.
Pretty sure Eagles is misspelled on Bradford’s jersey
Yeah, that’s fitting. H/T to reader Phineas
Gonna need more time on jugs during the bye week.