I thought Denver had the NFL’s best defense. Then last night happened, a 23-10 home loss against the previously winless Giants.
To be fair, New York wasn’t exactly an offensive juggernaut on Sunday night. Eli Manning threw for only 128 yards and the Broncos turned it over three times in the defeat. Where the Giants excelled was with their 32nd ranked running game, adding 148 ground yards against the league’s best run defense.
For what it’s worth, the Broncos didn’t allow a rushing touchdown in the loss and still haven’t allowed one this season. The Giants scored on a touchdown pass, a bunch of field goals, and a 43-yard pick-six.
But the rushing yards did enough damage to knock Denver down to second place in yards-per-game allowed on the ground:
You see the Birds are now first in that YPG number and first in attempts per game, because they essentially shut down your running game and force you to throw the ball.
They lead the league in making opponents one-dimensional. Continue Reading
Late last Thursday night, somewhere over Virginia, Doug Pederson had a private moment. He took a sip of stiff whiskey and let it linger for just a brief moment. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He thought about his 5-1 team flexing its superiority over the Panthers, and then said to himself, “Gosh, I’m the fucking man.” Actually, I have no idea if that’s true. Aside from word “gosh,” he probably didn’t say or do anything close to that—but he should have. Pederson, in my book, is the fucking man right now.
He has his team firmly entrenched atop the NFC East through six weeks and has this city dreaming of possible first round bye scenarios, which have become increasingly more realistic after the Aaron Rodgers injury and another bad Atlanta loss at home. Name a better team in the NFC right now–you can’t.
Making game by game predictions before the season is a pointless exercise because the football season is fluid and things often change on a dime, but there was no way even the most optimistic of fans saw this start coming. Yet, here we are. The offense can throw it and run it. The defense is nasty, physical, and consistently makes plays. Special teams? The return and coverage units are strong, and, if need be, they possess the ability to bang 60-yard field goals right in the face of the opposition. All of this, by the way, is happening despite a rash of injuries to key contributors. Not bad for a coach most people had no confidence in a month ago. “Fuck that guy,” I believe, was the popular sentiment after that Week 2 loss at Kansas City. Seems like a long time ago.
In fact, I think we owe Pederson an apology. Personally, I was pretty hard on him. But now? I don’t even know how to adequately explain the way I feel. Let me put it to you this way. If he was standing directly across from me and exhaled into my face, I would breathe it in and let it be in me. Is that weird? Yeah, I guess it is, but whatever. Anyway, no hyperbole, no bullshit here–he has to be THE front-runner for NFL Coach of the Year Award. That is a sentence I never thought I’d write.
Start with the competition. Who else would even be in consideration right now? Maybe Rams rookie head coach Sean McVay? Maybe. But the argument for Pederson is as strong. He was hired, in part, to oversee the development of a young quarterback. The team went out and drafted Carson Wentz, watched him show promise in year one, and is now watching him blossom into a quarterback on the brink of stardom. Wentz’s statistical output has jumped in almost every major category across the board from his rookie season. His touchdown percentage, passer rating, yards per attempt, touchdown to interception ratio are all up, while he’s emerged as the unquestioned leader of this team. Wentz’s talent is primarily to credit, but Pederson deserves a stiff, congratulatory slap on the ass for his young quarterback’s success this season.
Looking at Pederson through a larger lens, his offense has been efficient, dynamic, and diverse this season. The Eagles are third in the league in total yards per game (383.2), ninth in pass yards per game (250.7), fifth in rush yards per game (132.5), and sixth in points per game (27.5). They’re also first in the league in time of possession at over 34 minutes per game and first in third down conversion percentage (50.6). It’s incredible. While I’ll give the majority of the credit for the defense’s success to Jim Schwartz, there’s something to be said when all units across the board are playing with the energy, effort, and edge this team is right now.
Of course, it’s no certainty that the Eagles keep this up, but things look good. The Eagles will have had 10 full days to prepare for their Monday Night Football showdown with Washington, and key players such as Lane Johnson, Ronald Darby, and Wendell Smallwood could be back for it. They will play six of their last 10 games at home and will face teams with a combined 22-33 record so far this season. While I don’t have any idea what he was thinking on that flight home from Carolina, I can tell you one thing–it’s a great time to be Doug Pederson. He’s the fucking man.
Joel Embiid. Drafted then injured. Ben Simmons. Drafted then injured. Markelle Fultz. Drafted then ???
Sixers head coach Brett Brown made some news over the weekend with the announcement that top overall pick Markelle Fultz will not start to begin the season. This move is leading some to wonder if Fultz is hurt than the team is leading on.
There was more injury news for Embiid over the weekend as well. He had his left knee rehabbed and he didn’t practice, but is expected to play in the season opener on Wednesday.
From injuries to roster moves, the Sixers waived Kris Humphries and Emeka Okafor, among other players.
The team opens the regular season on Wednesday night against the Wizards.
It was an Eagles-free weekend, let’s see what went down.
Kyle, Adam and Russ discuss how the NFC is breaking for the Eagles, the Flyers’ home opener win, and Markelle Fultz on the bench. Continue Reading
It’s only taken five games, but the Flyers have an identity.
It’s one that has been slowly building since Ron Hextall took over as general manager a little more than three years ago, but it’s here. Now. And it’s sexy.
“You talk a little bit about an identity, it’s four lines, it’s six D, you know it’s everybody that is in the lineup just going out and doing their job,” Dave Hakstol said. “[Is it] sustainable? That’s the way we have to play.”
It was on full display in the home opener, and although the same schedule makers were cursed by fans for a four-game, Western Conference road trip to start the season, they created a perfect storm for the Flyers to have a great chance for success in their first game in front of the fans.
The Flyers beat up/abused/spanked/annihilated/embarrassed/ (choose your favorite verb) the Washington Capitals 8-2 – a D.C. team playing its third game in four nights, and the back end of a back-to-back set with travel involved.
So, yes, grains of salt and all that.
But it’s hard to ignore the collective work of the Flyers through five games. This team skates. This team keeps coming. This team is – to steal a word from Peter Laviolette – relentless.
Will we have our moments of frustration, exasperation and agitation (I’ll take false rhymes for 800, Alex)? Of course, but if nothing else, this Flyers team is going to be fun to watch, fun to cheer for, and fun to follow.
And Opening Night was the appetizer. Just ask Capitals coach Barry Trotz what it was like playing against the Flyers last night: “It just kept coming down our throat,” he said.
Umm… to the takeaways: Continue Reading
Joel Embiid straight up destroyed Hassan Whitside on social media after the Sixers beat the Heat in their last preseason game.
If you’ll recall, last year, Whiteside criticized Embiid for his “gimmick” Twitter account and campaigning for All-Star Game votes. Embiid responded somewhat tongue-in-cheek by voting for both himself and Whiteside.
Last night, with both players putting up fairly pedestrian numbers in limited minutes (Embiid had 5 points and 7 rebounds in 14 minutes, Whiteside had 7 and 3 in 10), things got taken to a new level. It all started with this Tweet from Bleacher Report:
Embiid draws a foul and tells the Heat to take Whiteside out 😂 pic.twitter.com/VwZnpLPVAA
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 14, 2017
Whiteside called bullshit: Continue Reading
Yesssssssssssss. We have a good football team. The Eagles are now the favorite to win the division and can compete for a bye.
The win over the Panthers slots them as the fourth best team in the conference. The updated list:
Moving right on up.
I think the Eagles are better than the Cowboys, but it will be settled on the field, so there’s no reason to jump the gun. I’d rather savor the sweet taste of Dallas tears and ceremonially move the Birds up the chart. We’re going full video game style here. We’ll have to wait until the playoffs to play the top two teams, however. To me, the Packers get the number one seed solely on the merit of Aaron Rodgers, and the Falcons are so damn talented. Are the Eagles in that league yet? Maybe. Last night was damn impressive, but I think the Panthers were a touch overrated, as backed by that -3 line, which would’ve been much higher if they were legitimately a top team playing at home.
This was an excellent game all-around. The Eagles have proven themselves to be for real.
To the Droppings! Continue Reading
“Under fire, when I watch Carson Wentz, I see deer-in-headlights. And I still do. I don’t see the moxy, I don’t see the feel, I don’t see the command for playing that position that I always see in Dak Prescott.”
Words of wisdom from the king troll Skip Bayless, who totally nailed that take this week.
Wentz threw three touchdown passes in the Eagles’ 28-23 Thursday night win, moving the Birds to the top of the NFC with a third road victory in just six games.
But the game ball goes to the defense, which put the second-year quarterback in business with two crucial takeaways in the Carolina half of the field. The offense, which was ineffective at times, capitalized on that pair of Panther mistakes en route to a 12-point fourth quarter lead. After a couple of stalled late drives, Jim Schwartz’s unit again stepped up to the plate, holding twice to seal the road win and eliminate any doubts as to whether this team is a playoff contender.
Thursday Night Football usually sucks, but this game didn’t! Continue Reading