Oh yeah!

Big Eagles win!

Rah rah rah!

That’s the glass half full, right? The Birds got their season back on track. They can still win the division! They’re gonna beat the Redskins next weekend! Blah blah!

Blah blah blah!

I’m going Negadelphia on this one. That game sucked. The Giants are pitiful. The Eagles fell behind 19-3 at home and needed a second-half comeback just to knock off a 3-7 football team with an atrocious quarterback and a head coach who might be less inspiring than Ben McAdoo.

Too harsh?

I don’t think so, because the Philadelphia Eagles are who we thought they were. They’re a banged-up 5-6 football team that’s going to need a miracle to finish 8-8 and slide into the playoffs. They’re not beating Los Angeles on the road and they probably aren’t beating Dallas on the road either. They need to go 3-2 down the stretch, but I think this team loses both of those games before splitting the final two against the Skins and Texans.

If you want to crown ’em, then crown their asses, but I think this is a 7-9 squad. I’m not excited about a three-point home win against the Giants, and you shouldn’t be either.

1) Forgetting how to coach

Were the Giants trying to throw this game? Are they just phoning it in for a top-five draft pick and franchise quarterback?

There’s no other possible explanation for getting Saquon Barkley just five second-half touches.

Here’s Saquon’s first half:

  • 94 rushing yards, TD
  • 33 receiving yards, TD
  • 127 all purpose yards

And Saquon’s second half:

  • 3 carries for 7 yards
  • 2 receptions for 8 yards

What exactly is Pat Shurmur trying to do there? Barkley is the best player on the field for either team, so you put the ball in his hands and he wins you the game.

He was asked about it after the game:

On Giants RB Saquon Barkley’s presence in the second half:

“I think what happened was, we had one series there and we gave it to Wayne Gallman. He did a good job running the ball; spell him a little bit. I think [Barkley] had 13 rushes and seven catches; touched the ball 20 times. And when we knock ourselves off with penalties, and then sacks, and then all that bad stuff, then you get off schedule trying to get the ball to Saquon and Odell, and the guys that need to touch it.”

On the second drive with RB Saquon Barkley in the second half of the game:

“I mean, we’re going to spell him a little bit as we go. That doesn’t matter – had nothing to do with the outcome of the game. We’re playing to get him off a couple of reps here and there.”

On the momentum shifting with RB Saquon Barkley sitting out in the second half:

“Yeah, but I thought that Wayne went in there and ran the ball well. But we also had penalties that had nothing to do with the running back.”

Jeez. Could you imagine if Doug Pederson said stuff like that? It had “nothing to do with the outcome of the game“? You got “off schedule?” There’s no schedule for the two best offensive players on your team. Saquon and OBJ should be in the mix whenever possible.

I understand that Gallman was running well on that one drive, but Gallman isn’t your building block of the future, it’s Barkley.

Other dumb things the Giants did:

  • throwing an interception at the goal line with a wide-open check down available
  • 11 penalties for 91 yards
  • burning a timeout on a 3rd and 18 when Jim Schwartz had set up his picket fence defense

And this:

2) oh my God, they ran the football

The Eagles finished with 29 rushing attempts and 28 pass attempts on the final stat sheet. 27 of those of runs went to Josh Adams and Corey Clement, but the takeaway here is that this was the closest thing we’ve seen to a 50/50 run/pass split this season.

In previous weeks, they ran the ball this many times, which includes QB scrambles and breakdowns:

  • 27
  • 24
  • 35
  • 22
  • 17
  • 31
  • 24
  • 28
  • 16
  • 12
  • 29

You can add or subtract a couple of attempts in those games because the raw box scores don’t tell the whole story when talking about called runs vs. called passes. There are QB scrambles and run/pass options and other wonky plays in the there.

But the point is that they ran the ball a healthy amount on Sunday and didn’t ask Carson Wentz to throw the ball 30+ times, which has been the scenario for a while now. The only other splits that come close to 50% were in these games:

  • Colts: 35 runs, 37 passes
  • Giants (1st game): 31 runs, 36 passes
  • Jaguars: 28 runs, 30 passes

They won all three of those games. Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not.

What was more interesting was the fact that the offensive line asked Doug Pederson to continue to the run the ball, which he listened to and acted upon. 

3) 4th and 1

Alright, I’ll give some credit where it’s due.

The fourth and one play on the game-winning drive was a well-executed bread and butter “mesh,” which you’ve seen plenty of times before. They found Nelson Agholor wide-open in the middle of the field for his only catch of the game, then went on to kick the winning field goal.

Defensively, New York is just rushing four and dropping seven back, and the mesh concept is that you basically run a pair of shallow crossing routes to hold the linebackers. That allows Agholor to just find the soft middle and sit down right between the second and third level.

Something like this:

You see shallow crosses from Golden Tate and Zach Ertz there while Agholor sort of squirts through and finds himself wide open. The Eagles love this concept and hit Ertz on this type of play in pretty much every single game.

Three relevant quotes on this play from post game:

On the Eagles’ play call on the fourth-down conversion that resulted in the game-winning field goal:

Carson Wentz: “It’s good against all coverages. We call it an ‘all-coverage beater.’ [It’s] a pure-progression play and it’s also one we’ve got a lot of reps at. We’ve repped it all offseason. You just kind of keep it simple in those situations and we executed it well.”

Back to that fourth-down completion to Agholor. It looked like you had the mesh play you guys have had so much success with. What do you like about that concept in such a big spot there? 

Doug Pederson: “We love it when teams play man. I believe the Giants ran it today and hit it for a third-down conversion. It’s a good play. It’s a man-zone play. It’s something that’s been in our offense since I’ve been here, and guys know exactly what to do. It’s well-executed. Great job by Carson hanging in there in the pocket and delivering that ball.”

On how he broke free on the fourth-and-one play:

Nelson Agholor: “I was the zone option. You have to think about it. When they see crossers coming across their face, linebackers expand. Carson does a great job with his eyes and moving guys and comes back to me and we were able to be efficient.”

Yep, nice job all around.

4) still just a guy

Josh Adams had a nice game with 22 carries for 84 yards and a touchdown.

I think some people are out here ready to claim Adams as some sort of franchise running back, but hang on – the guy was an undrafted free agent who finished as the 5th best ball carrier coming out of training camp.

The reality is that Adams is a solid downhill runner and not much else at this point in his career. He’s not going to hit the edge or turn upfield on off-tackle runs. He doesn’t catch passes out of the backfield. He’s not great in pass protection.

He’s a no-nonsense north/south ball carrier, and it’s no surprise that he’s been more effective running inside the tackles vs. outside. Case in point:

That’s 12 carries for 68 yards and a touchdown between the tackles and 9 attempts for 16 yards running outside the tackles.

Lane Johnson:

“We did run a whole lot of inside zone today. The backs were bouncing and [the Giants] were loading the box and guys were making good plays. It’s a game where we needed to run the ball to get things going. I wish it would have started week one, but it is what it is.”

I too wish it had started in week one, the inside zone and downhill running game.

Adams had 6.9 yards per attempt last season with Notre Dame, logging 1,430 yards on just 206 carries. That was the ninth-best YPC among all FCS running backs, better than guys like Royce Freeman and Jonathan Taylor, so he certainly was not some slug. It was the lack of versatility that hurt his draft stock, because he really was seen as a one-tricky pony and not a dynamic and flexible NFL type of guy.

It’s not to say that Josh Adams can’t be a solid contributor in a 1-2 running attack moving forward alongside a smaller change of pace back, but he’s got a long way to go before we anoint him the second coming of Walter Payton.

5) Carson’s comeback?

What did Carson Wentz do in the fourth quarter? He threw a couple of passes and that’s about it.

The Eagles were down 19-14 when they got the ball on their own 39 yard line at the 14:05 mark in the fourth quarter. They proceeded to run the ball six times on seven plays to score a touchdown and take the lead.

Carson’s only pass on the drive was a screen that Clement took for 23 yards.

On the game winning drive, the Eagles went 50 yards on 10 plays and chewed up a little more than five minutes of clock.

The plays:

run/pass/run/pass/run/pass/run/run/run/field goal

So Carson led scoring drives on the two 4th quarter possessions but only threw the ball four times versus 12 called runs.

It’s not to say he was bad, because he wasn’t. The roll right and dart to Alshon Jeffery was a really nice play. He hit Ertz on the numbers right at the sticks two plays later. The third pass was the 4th and 1 to Agholor and the fourth pass was the screen.

Yeah, he was better yesterday, and he didn’t turn the ball over, but the Eagles ran the ball in the fourth quarter. It wasn’t some miraculous, career-defining game for the quarterback. They actually took the ball out of his hands for the most part.

6) It’s all about us, the officiating crew

The officiating was frenetic in this game. Felt like they called a bazillion penalties in the first half, then didn’t call anything in the second half.

This whistle against the Giants was particularly appalling, a roughing the passer flag on Olivier Vernon:

All he did was put his left hand on Carson’s facemask. He didn’t grab it. He didn’t push him to the ground. That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen.

There was also a poor call against Jeffery for offensive pass interference, then the officials got the wrong number or wrong team or maybe both on a kickoff return in which there was allegedly a low block somewhere on the field.

Later in the game, the Eagles young secondary benefited from a couple of non-calls which I think could have easily been PI flags, especially the one on the endzone shot to Odell Beckham Jr.

The officials called threw 11 flags in the first half, then five in the third quarter and two in the fourth quarter, so they really just said “fuck it” and decided to let ’em play down the stretch.

7) Trying to win in these categories

Better this week, obviously:

  • won time of possession, 32:30 to 27:30
  • +1 turnover margin (Eli interception)
  • 3-11 on third down (27.3%)
  • 1-1 on fourth down
  • allowed Giants to go 5-12 on third down (41.6%)
  • lost 22 yards on 3 sacks
  • 2-3 in red zone
  • 7 penalties for 46 yards

They got the TOP back in their favor after being crushed by the Saints in that department last week.

And it was a clean game in the turnover department as well. Wentz did a better job of protecting the football.

Interestingly enough, they were actually worse on third down this week than they were last week, when they went 3-10 in New Orleans. Somehow the Eagles remain in the top half of the league with a 40.3 third down conversion percentage.

8) Doug’s best call?

I liked the fake swing pass to Golden Tate to set up a tight end screen for Dallas Goedert instead.

Obviously the decision to go for it on 4th and 1 late in the fourth quarter worked, so it was a good call. If it didn’t work it would have been a shitty call.

9) Doug’s worst call?

Wide receiver screen on third and ten on the first drive? I know you said it was difficult to integrate Tate, but that’s what you come up with? A forced screen on the opening series? Then you decide to punt instead of going for it on 4th and 5 on the opponent’s side of the field?

That was rough.

Then, in the second quarter, he called a zone read on 3rd and 2 with a quarterback coming off an ACL tear:

That’s not an RPO. There’s no pass option there. That’s an old-fashioned college zone read.

10) The section where I write about the broadcast

Thom Brennaman and Chris Spielman was the pair for this one.

I honestly don’t mind these guys. Everyone’s gonna make a few mistakes here and there, and Brennaman got the score wrong at one point in the first half:

“9-nothing Giants… (corrects himself) 12-nothing.”

I don’t blame him. I fell asleep and missed two plays to begin the third quarter.

Spielman is interesting. The four-time Pro Bowler certainly knows football, and his description of blocking scheme and gap assignment really adds to the broadcast. I feel like he sometimes goes a bit too hard, however, which is to say he could sometimes slow it down and let the game breathe a bit. I’m always going to prefer more color commentary to less color commentary, but sometimes he and Charles Davis will tip the scales too far in one direction. I think the producers can work with him better to get some of his telestrator action in on return from commercial or during timeouts or other breaks in the action. It’s really good stuff when he gets into the Xs and Os.

That’s about it for the broadcast. I was only half awake for most of the game, so I think a lot of the words just went in one ear and out the other.