As Broad & Pattison Turns 2015 Week #3: Eagles at Jets

While there are many who will be making a pilgrimage to center city Philadelphia this weekend because of their faith, there are also many in the “New Church of thy Chip” congregation who have started to lose faith, hope, and have been overcome by a sense of despair after what took place at the Linc on Sunday afternoon.

And who can blame them?  The Eagles running game amassed a total of seven yards rushing on Sunday, which was surpassed only by a fan who managed to run out onto the field during the 2nd half to offer some “words of encouragement” to the Eagles defense.  Unfortunately, the fifty yards he gained on one carry were nullified due to a disorderly conduct penalty and, most likely, a hefty fine as well.

But placing blame for the lack of offense on the shoulders of Eagles running backs DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, and Darron Sproles would surely be an injustice.  The Eagles could have had Jim Brown, Eric Dickerson, and Barry Sanders on the roster and it wouldn’t have made a bit of difference on Sunday.  No, the lack of offense falls on no one else but the offensive line, which was nothing if not plain offensive.

It seemed like the line was missing blocks on every play, but perhaps that is a byproduct of both of the starting guards from last season, Todd Herremans and Evan Mathis, being released before the 2015 season began.

Mathis was not happy with his contract, but it was a boneheaded move on his part not too show up for the offseason OTA’s (Organized Team Activities), as no one else was going to give him the money that the Eagles were paying him.  But the Eagles would have been better off on Sunday having an unhappy Mathis playing guard than either Allen Barbre or Andrew Gardner.

But the bigger problem is that it wasn’t just the guards that didn’t play well.  The whole offensive line, including tight end Brent Celek and Jason Kelce, two players who are usually very reliable, chose Sunday to have one of the worst games of their careers.

The “New Church of thy Chip” preaches that “culture beats scheme”.  But on Sunday, the Eagles “culture club” looked like they had ‘Boy George” out there playing on the offensive line.  Rumor has it that Boy George wanted to make like a “Karma Chameleon” and disappear without being noticed after that performance.

But while the offensive line was the biggest problem, there was enough blame to go around.  Quarterback Sam Bradford did not have enough time to throw for most of the afternoon, but when he did, he did nothing to make us forget about Nick Foles.  Of course, Foles did not do enough here to make us forget about Michael Vick, and Vick did not do enough to make us forget about Donovan McNabb (you see where I’m going with this).

Bradford’s biggest mistake was the interception he threw in the end zone to Sean Lee, on a pass intended for Zach Ertz that prevented the Eagles from getting back in the game.  Bradford’s claim to fame so far is that he looks like famous actor Keanu Reeves, but Birds fans are still waiting for him and Chip to take us on an “EXCELLENT adventure”. Unfortunately, through two games, this season has been nothing but “BOGUS dude!”

Then there is the defense, which played respectably considering how much time they were on the field.  But the biggest concern is that their prized free agent signing, Bryon Maxwell, may turn out to be this year’s Nnamdi Asomugha.

Asomugha, as you may recall, was the Eagles prized free agent cornerback signing before the 2011 season.  But after his two years here, he was probably best known for being a guy who ate his lunch in his car during practices.

I personally have no clue where Byron Maxwell eats his lunch, but he has been feasted on one too many times by both the Falcons and the Cowboys thus far.

This week, the Eagles are at a crossroads of sorts.  Win against the Jets (which does not seem to be the “gimme” it once was), and it gives the fans a glimmer of hope for at least another week.  Lose, and a football season that once held the promise of a deep playoff run may unfortunately be over before the leaves have fallen off the trees.

Lose, and there will be a plethora of unanswered questions concerning the players, the coaching staff, and the management.  Lose, and basically everything that has taken place over the last three years of the Chip Kelly regime will have to be questioned.

Lose, and one has to wonder if Vince Lombardi has actually put a curse on the Eagles for being the only team ever to defeat his Packers in a championship game (1960), which was ironically, the last time this team has won it all.

Lose, and it will be a long and cold fall and winter, no matter what global warming, El Nino, and El Nina may do.

Surely, the Eagles cannot start 0-3 while the Jets start 3-0, right?  That is only supposed to take place in some parallel universe in the twilight zone that is conjured up by someone with a very sick mind.

Perhaps, to put a positive spin on it, what this team needs is time to jell.  Perhaps it might take even a 1-3 start before this team starts clicking on all cylinders, much like they did in Chip Kelly’s 1st season.

While I have no idea what the score may be, I’m predicting, strictly based on “keeping the faith”, that the Eagles win this Sunday.  Lose, and Lincoln Financial Field will not need any fencing nor security like that which will surround center city this weekend, since the fans probably won’t care to show up to the remaining games…

Amit’s Marquee Matchups of the Week (all times in EST and on Sunday unless noted otherwise):

Chiefs at Packers 8:30 PM ESPN (Mon) – Game of the Week

Falcons at Cowboys 1:00 PM FOX

49ers at Cardinals 4:05 PM FOX

Bills at Dolphins 4:25 PM CBS

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As Broad & Pattison Turns 2015 Week #2: Eagles vs. Cowboys

Perhaps they thought that it would come easy.

Perhaps they, with their fast-paced offense, their interchangeable parts, and their mad scientist like coach, who seems at times like he spends his nights somewhere in the catacombs of the Novacare Complex trying to concoct some magic potion which will create the ideal football player and the ideal scheme, thought that the “not quite ready for primetime” Atlanta Falcons would be in awe.

Perhaps thoughts of enjoying the nightlife of Buckhead or Midtown, or taking in a tour of the Coca-Cola factory while wearing coke bottle glasses (rose colored no less) was on their minds.

But whatever their assumptions may have been proved to be incorrect.  For the first half, the Atlanta Falcons treated the Eagles like a ragdoll, imposing their will freely and moving the ball without much resistance, while the Birds offense moved slower than an Old City carriage ride.

Give the Falcons credit. They came to play with first year head coach, and former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator, Dan Quinn at the helm.  Even their docile fans, who usually seem more interested in the goings on of their favorite SEC college team, actually got off their hands to make some noise and support the home team.  Atlanta is, after all, an organization who was fined for pumping in crowd noise through the speakers at Falcons games, since the crowd in attendance seems to have better things to do (cheer at an NFL game…what a novel concept).

But with the Eagles down by seventeen at halftime (just as they were in last year’s opener against Jacksonville), they finally woke up to the fact that the 2015 regular season had begun and stormed back to take a 24-23 lead halfway through the 4th quarter.  But penalties that plagued them throughout the game continued to rear their ugly head, and the kicker who was heavily reliable in 2014 suddenly has become very “Clark Kent-ish”, as Cody Parkey sailed a makeable 44-yard field goal wide right.

Even with their bad start, this game was there for the Eagles taking. But another area of concern, one that many thought had been addressed in the off-season, was the play of the secondary.

The Birds signed top free-agent cornerback Byron Maxwell away from Seattle in the offseason to shore up their cornerback play.  But flip the syllables of his first name, and Byron becomes “Ron-by” Maxwell, which is ironically what Atlanta receivers did all game.

Add to that the erratic play of the offensive line, and the defensive line’s inability to garner enough pressure on Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan without blitzing, and you have all the makings of a well deserved loss.

But while there is no such thing in the NFL as a “good” loss, perhaps this is precisely what the Eagles needed.  Perhaps an 0-1 start is the catalyst for the Birds to come out ready to play every week from here on in.  And what better opponent to take their frustrations out on as the Cowboys come to town for the home opener.

Dallas squeaked out a late victory against the Giants on Sunday night after Eli Manning made some boneheaded clock management decisions while attempting to score, not score, run out the clock, etc.  What he was ACTUALLY trying to do is anybody’s guess, but either way, it resulted in a gift win for the ‘Boys, and had all the “Romo-sexuals” (my name for the unofficial Tony Romo fan club) partying in Arlington late into the night.

One would hope that the Eagles are not as generous and hospitable come Sunday at 4:25 PM.  This contest will be the marquee FOX late game, and with roughly 99.2% of the inhabitants of the continental United States able to watch it (as well as those in Alaska and Hawaii), it is a chance for the Birds to show that they are ready for primetime in the 3rd season of the Chip Kelly experiment (not to be confused with the Alan Parsons Project).

The Eagles would do well to get off to a fast start, as anything less would not only bring out the boobirds, but a disturbing, nagging fear that perhaps last year’s 1-3 finish was more than an anomaly.

But as MAD Magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman once said “What…Me Worry?”.  Birds win 38-24, and order is restored in the force…or at least in the Delaware Valley for one more week.

Amit’s Marquee Matchups of the Week (all times in EST and on Sunday unless noted otherwise):

Seahawks at Packers 8:30 PM NBC – Game of the Week

Broncos at Chiefs 8:25 PM CBS/NFL Network (Thurs)

Patriots at Bills 1:00 PM CBS

Chargers at Bengals 1:00 PM CBS

49ers at Steelers 1:00 PM FOX

Cowboys at EAGLES 4:25 PM FOX

As Broad & Pattison Turns 2015 Week #1: Eagles at Falcons

Last Thanksgiving, just around the time your Uncle Bud was devouring another helping of pumpkin pie, the Eagles were putting the finishing touches on devouring the Dallas Cowboys on the road in “Jerry World”, 33-10.  The win put the Birds at 9-3 on the season, in what looked to be a promising deep run in the playoffs. And then, just like that, it was all over….

The Birds lost their next three games, only to win a meaningless season finale and end the season 10-6, while the Cowboys, whom they had beaten so resoundingly on Thanksgiving, picked themselves up off the mat, came to Philadelphia and exacted revenge against the Birds a few weeks later.  Along with stopping to pickup a cheesesteak “wit” on their way out, the win propelled the Cowboys to an NFC East title, while the Eagles were left in a state of confusion trying to figure out what went wrong.

What did go wrong was that the achilles heel of the team, the secondary, which was held together with some old bandaids and some string, finally came undone and was blatantly exposed during the last quarter of the season.

But a new season brings with it unbridled optimism and hope, and as the Eagles commence their 83rd year of existence, and their 54th straight year without starting the season as defending champions, the anticipation for 2015 is as high as it has ever been for an Eagles team.

This city has always been, first and foremost, a football town, regardless of which teams experienced success or failure during the past year.  But the fact that the other three major teams have decided to partake in a “Great Recession” of sorts when it comes to success in their respective sports, only makes the Eagles a more attractive product as the summer slowly turns to fall.

The Sixers and Flyers of the upcoming season, as well as the Phillies of 2016 will all began their seasons with very little hope of contending for a title.  Meanwhile, the Birds under Chip Kelly, have undergone back-to-back 10-6 seasons, and are the only game in town who has had a winning record over the last year.

But while Chip Kelly’s double digit win total in his first two years is impressive, it has only resulted in one playoff appearance and zero playoff wins.  And last year’s December collapse must have signaled to the former Oregon coach that it was imperative that changes be made.  And did he ever…

Some coaches replace poor performing players by replenishing talent through the draft.  Others who feel that they are close to reaching the Super Bowl will tinker with their roster by adding a few missing pieces through free agency (as Andy Reid did in 2004 when he acquired Terrell Owens and Jevon Kearse).  But Kelly did not just replenish or tinker – he replaced even his CORE players.

Gone is Nick Foles, holder of the NFL best touchdown-interception ratio of all time (27 touchdowns and 2 interceptions from 2013) and LeSean McCoy, who, while lightening fast when in the open field, never met a dance move he didn’t like while waiting in the backfield for a hole to open.  His dancing in the backfield led to 78 rushing plays that resulted in no gain or a loss – just too many for a star running back.

No one expected Foles to replicate his record breaking numbers going forward, but he certainly didn’t come close in 2014, throwing 13 touchdowns but also 10 interceptions, which represent some very pedestrian numbers.

McCoy’s losses in the backfield weren’t the only thing that drove Chip Kelly mad, but also his “me first” persona, which clearly showed itself when McCoy was traded.

First, McCoy seemed to allege that Kelly was racist, then backtracked when he was questioned further on it, in his usual, ‘how dare you question me’ demeanor.  McCoy looked stupid making the comment to began with, considering that Chip has brought in many black players through the draft and free agency, including McCoy’s replacement, DeMarco Murray.

The Birds also replaced their cornerback tandem of Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher by acquiring Seahawks cornerback Byron Maxwell in free agency and elevating backup Nolan Carroll to starter.  But will it be enough?

While the defensive line still remains a strength of the team, the Birds still don’t have much depth in the secondary or at linebacker, and an injury could leave them vulnerable in these areas.

On the offensive side, at least a healthy Sam Bradford, who was brought over in the Nick Foles trade, does seem like the real deal.  Bradford was outstanding in the Eagles 3rd preseason game, going 10 for 10 and displaying the accuracy that made him an attractive commodity to the Eagles in the first place.

The Eagles will start their season on Monday night this year (just as they did two years ago in Chip Kelly’s inaugural season) down in Atlanta.  The Falcons are coming off a 6-10 season, but with new head coach Dan Quinn, formerly the Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator, they will be looking to make a statement in their dome against a quality opponent.

Atlanta has Matt Ryan at quarterback and the dangerous receiving tandem of Julio Jones and Roddy White, who should give the Eagles new look secondary a good test come Monday night.  The Birds will pull this game out, 40-30, but it won’t be as close as the score might state.

Amit’s Marquee Matchups of the Week (all times in EST and on Sunday unless otherwise noted):

Steelers at Patriots 8:30 PM NBC (Thurs) – Game of the Week

Chiefs at Texans 1:00 PM CBS

Colts at Bills 1:00 PM CBS

Lions at Chargers 4:05 PM FOX

Ravens at Broncos 4:25 PM CBS