It always amazes me to see the difference in the Philly reaction to an Eagles game compared to the reaction take of a relative outsider.
Mark Saltveit, who writes our immediate non-recap game recap, lives and hails from Oregon. He’s made a name for himself, locally, by writing two books on Chip Kelly, whom Mark, obviously, became familiar with during Chip’s time at Oregon. After each of the past three games – all at night… – I’ve woken up early, once-over-ed Mark’s piece that was finished at some East Coast hour with which I’m unfamiliar, and hit publish. Each time, it strikes me how reasoned and non-reactive his piece is compared to EVERYONE ELSE IN PHILADELPHIA, myself included.
Being on Twitter during an Eagles game is a special experience. Every three-and-out is a reason to fire the coach. Every drop produces a public flogging candidate. Bad calls are a sign of a fixed league. And amplifying the tenor is the fact that everyone in the media and the most influential fans follow each other, leading to a delirious echo chamber of fervor that overreacts to literally everything that happens in the game. I think it skews our ability to be reasonable. Being on Twitter during Eagles games is what I would imagine it would be like to watch a game with Angelo Cataldi– CHIP DOESN’T GO FOR IT THERE?! HE SHOULD BE FIRED! I WANT AN INQUISITION, A CONGRESSIONAL HEARING ON THIS DOPE!!!! It’s so bad that, when combined with the Eagles’ atrocious starts this season, it’s got me watching games like:
— Kyle Scott (@CrossingBroad) November 9, 2015
@CrossingBroad is there chloroform on that cloth? might make the night more bearable…
— Rob Stott (@rlstott) November 9, 2015
We’re from Philadelphia, and we panic.
My point is: Maybe the Eagles aren’t so bad. I planned on coming on here this morning and digging into the Birds for their countless gaffes and blunders that often make them unbearable to watch, even when they win. Like Bob Ford did. But after reading Mark’s piece, I have the sudden urge to praise Sam Bradford, DeMarco Murray and Chip Kelly… and now also anxiety about how I’m going to blog a playoff game with a newborn in January.
Yes, humans, things are actually looking up. The Eagles are 4-4 and their next three games come against quarterbacks Ryan Tannehill, Jameis Winston (much improved), and Matthew Stafford. Oh, if there were ever a time for a run, this is it. To the Droppings!
Happy Birthday, Mr. Sammy Pants, Happy Birthday… to… you
Sam Bradford turned 28 yesterday and ended his day with a walk-off win at a 11:58 p.m. against the Cowboys on national TV. He showed why trading for Colin Kaepernick would’ve been the height of stupidity. [I don’t think Chip ever considered it, but our ridiculous media would like you to believe he did.] The Eagles are in this thing, and Bradford had improved in three of his last four games. Last night, he took another small step for fans, but a giant leap for Samkind. After yet another disastrous start (let’s just build this into expectations from now on) in which he again nearly got Jordan Matthews killed…
… the quarterback Sam settled down nicely, and played very well in the second half and overtime. He ended 25-for-36 with 295 yards, 1 touchdown and, more importantly, no interceptions. Bradford, it seems, when not a liability, can actually help Eagles win. In fact, he looked great from the third quarter on last night. The Eagles had their tempo back and Bradford was feeling confident. Look at some of these throws:
That’s the Sam we thought we were getting. This was easily his best game as an Eagle, and perhaps his first signature win. I mean, sure, with his helmet off he still looks like Special Ed from Crank Yankers…
GONNA PARTY LIKE IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY pic.twitter.com/oX3t8e7rOK
— Kyle Scott (@CrossingBroad) November 9, 2015
… but let’s cut the guy some slack. After all, it was his birthday.
I give Sam 1.8 headlights for this game.
The game winner
Great shot from Cindy Webster of WIP:
— Cindy Webster (@CindyWeb94) November 9, 2015
Charles in charge
That’s who was running the Eagles for much of the first seven games of the season– Charles Kelly. Not Chip. Chip is the big-balled alter ego of the portly Kelly, like Matt McConaughey is the cooler Oscar-winning alter ego of rom-com star Matthew. Besides his curious, overly conservative decisions early in the season, especially with regard to kicking and fourth downs, Charles never had his team ready for games. That remained the case yesterday, as we watched an alarming six-and-out (penalty gave them the first down) on the first drive of the game. In fact, the Eagles punted on their first three drives and four of their five in the first half. Say what you will about Andy Reid, but he always had his team ready to go after a bye week.
The Eagles seem to lack intensity early. Lane Johnson laughing off an earlier false start penalty is a good example. It’s borderline inexcusable how they start games. It’s embarrassing. And it’s Charles’ fault.
@CrossingBroad will the next drive start with a swing pass to Murray or swing pass to Mathews, or a swing pass to Sproles?
— Sean Johnson (@Willseanjohn) November 9, 2015
But then, Chip showed up.
I’ll just quote Mark from his recap:
He trusted Caleb Sturgis, the guy who missed extra points earlier in the season, with a 53-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter. He went for it on fourth and goal at the one yard line. And then he risked the whole game, if not the whole season, with a run on fourth and one at Dallas’ 43 in overtime. It’s about time.
Make no mistake about it, if the Eagles don’t get that first down in overtime and leave the Cowboys with a short field on which to win the game with their highly accurate kicker, Chip is filleted today. It was the right call, to be sure, but one that takes a modicum of testicular fortitude, something we haven’t seen from Charles this season. Glad to see Chip is back. Even if he is farting on the sidelines:
— Drawzzz (@sm4099) November 9, 2015
WHOEVER SMELT IT DEALT IT!
This is sad… because the injury he got late in the game looked like one of those innocuous plays that tears something very useful in the upper arm. The Eagles have been lucky with injuries this year, so maybe this will prove to be nothing. But I don’t have a great feeling about it. Hicks reacted immediately, pounding his arm on the ground.
Play of the year candidate
Two season-changing plays, submitted for your approval:
— Philadelphia Inquirer Sports (@phillysport) November 9, 2015
The play that may have changed a season. pic.twitter.com/vV2n5P8DXz
— Joe Giglio (@JoeGiglioSports) November 9, 2015
Gonna go with Mr. McLane here. The Matthews touchdown was just the cherry on top (of Sam Bradford’s birthday ice cream– yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!). The Cowboys were on the ropes. That was less of a surprise and more of a relief. Phew, we can still root for a football team this year. The real turning point was Hicks’ pick. The Cowboys had just gained 30 yards thanks to a completion to the PESKY Cole Beasley, but it was their time to be boned by a backup QB. Lo, the Eagles take the lead, control the game, their season and the division. Biggest play of the year so far.
Greg Hardy unnecessary roughness penalties FTW
Dynamite drop-in by Tony Bruno in the middle here. For real, that’s excellent.
Look, I know Al has been doing this for a long time and perhaps a (mostly unexciting) mid-season Eagles-Cowboys tilt doesn’t move the needle for him anymore. But man, could he at least to pretend to give a shit? Even on Dan Bailey’s late field goal that doinged off the post to send the game to overtime (A HIGHLY EXCITING PLAY!) he was indifferent.
This has been my gripe about Michaels – whom I like – for several years now. I thought he had gotten better this season, but last night sleepy Al returned. He mailed it in all game. For all the shit Joe Buck takes – perhaps his inflections aren’t where some feel they should be – he always tries to capture the gravity of the moment. Al can’t hide his disdain for [insert thing*] and seems more concerned with his gambling subtext and rules grumblings – traits that make him great, by the way – than he does about the game.
*Ed Hochuli last night. What was with Chris and Al taking digs at Hochuli’s showmanship? Don’t they know he’ll mess them up those guns?
The defense overall
They’ve been a strength this season, so I’m not going to say anything bad. But I’m just going to leave this here:
“The one thing you notice about Ryan Mathews is that he seems to get the edge where DeMarco Murray does not.”
Cris Collinsworth on DeMarco Murray– the same thing idiots on Twitter ripped me for saying a month ago. Yet, Murray has improved, but not because of his ability to get outside. Rather, it’s been his ability to find holes and exploit them. Still, he’s still slower than Mathews and his supposed groin injury.
I mustache you a question
— Chris Law (@ChrisLaw) November 9, 2015
Is it worth the grief I’ll take from my wife for the next three weeks if I shave my beard down to a sweet stache? She’s very anti-mustache, and pregnant, but this is in that not really gonna be mad at you if you do it I’m just saying I would zone, right? RIGHT?! Stay tuned.
Sometimes they make it hard
And not hard as in the 2011 Cliff Lee Phillies way. Hard as in, I want to fucking hate this team right now. Before Caleb Sturgis’ go-ahead field goal, the Eagles, just barely in field goal position, took a three-yard loss on a handoff to DeMarco Murray, on second down, and then, on third down, Sam Bradford chose to throw to Miles Fucking Austin. [I hereby nominate Austin for the Bucky Fucking Dent Award for having your middle name changed to Fucking.] That was of course incomplete and led to a 53-yard field goal attempt. Thankfully, Sturgis made it and was allowed to live:
But just poor execution from the Eagles on those last few plays. Chip is really bad at the field position game, especially as it relates to kicks. This is a small example, but you can find something like this almost every week. Drives me banana sandwich.
Good try buddy, sure he heard you yelling miss from 40 feet away in a loud stadium https://t.co/WBxd5g4gLz
— Big Cat (@BarstoolBigCat) November 9, 2015
Are you even allowed to do this?
Jerry Jones’ wife looks like a pleasant person
Jerry Jones's wife looks like a ton of fun.
— Glen Macnow (@RealGlenMacnow) November 9, 2015
Way more fun in the Eagles’ box as Jeffrey Lurie gets to second base
If he’s lucky, she might even let him see her without glasses one of these days. Just torrid intimacy from these two.
Those two tenuous pass interference calls against Byron Maxwell on Dez Bryant almost make you think refs had the Cowboys at +2.5. The Eagles led by three late. That, or, you know, there’s a league mandate for the Cowboys to get to at least .500.
Those calls were the only reason this thing even went to overtime. Yet again, the Cowboys get fourth quarter, national TV gifts at home. Shocking.
Not running it back
Let me gripe: I know some would say that returning the kickoff from your own end zone with two seconds to play in a tied game is a dangerous proposition. Fine. But I hated the Eagles’ decision to not run it out at the end of regulation, especially if you’re just going to kneel it on the next play. This is a free play. The Eagles have superior specials teams and returners. Even if you’re going to try a hail mary on the next play (wayyyyy more dangerous), to me a kickoff, which in and of itself is sort of already a broken play, gives you a greater chance of scoring.
Bradford on Matthews
“I told him. I got the call from Chip and I came to the huddle and said, hey I’m coming to you, win right here. And sure enough he ran a great route and, obviously, the run after the catch was huge.”
“Oh man, so I think it was Thursday in practice he had a drop in the red zone and after that drop I think he took every rep on the offensive side of the ball and every rep on scout team going against the defense. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a starting wide receiver do that. You could see it in his eyes. His hunger to get out there and to fix it and to improve. I think everyone on our team saw the way that he worked. And like I said, I couldn’t be happier for that guy, the way he played tonight.”
Almost sounds like a leader.
Here’s Merrill Reese’s call. But one industry insider, who’s often voiced similar gripes to me about Merrill, doesn’t think he’s so great. Their email to me this morning: Watch the final call. He doesn’t identify Matthews – the Eagles top receiver – until the play is over. He’s fucking awful.
And no, that’s not Mister Steal Your Girl, Mike Missanelli.
Tweets and other stuff
The Eagles had 85 rushing yards after contact last night, their most in a game this season.
— Kevin Negandhi (@KNegandhiESPN) November 9, 2015
— Rob Tornoe (@RobTornoe) November 9, 2015
— Durry (@durrrry) November 9, 2015
First Dallas game, Eagles had 7 rushing yards.
Second Dallas game, they had 172.
— Reuben Frank (@RoobNBCS) November 9, 2015
Sadly, the only lawyer who can make an unnecessary roughness call on Greg Hardy stick is Ed Hochuli.
— Captain Obvious (@HashtagObvious) November 9, 2015
Dolphins next week.