As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #3: Eagles vs. Lions

One by one, they started falling.

First, Dallas Goedert suffered a calf injury in warmups. Then, the dynamic duo of the “Shawns”, as in DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery, both suffered injuries, which meant that the Eagles top two starting wide receivers would be inactive for the night. Add Corey Clement’s shoulder and Tim Jernigan’s foot, and the blue tent on the Eagles sideline began to resemble a MASH unit.

To make matters worse, Carson Wentz took a hit to the ribs which made all of us wince when we saw it, and he ended up going through the concussion protocol before being allowed to return to the game.

But while injuries were the biggest conversation point after last week’s loss to the Falcons, the Eagles, for the 2nd straight week, failed to score any points in the 1st quarter. This continues a disturbing trend that dates back to last season, when Philadelphia was ranked 31st out of 32 teams when it came to first quarter scoring, averaging a paltry 3.2 points/game.

To the Birds credit, they bounced back, just as they had against Washington one week earlier, eventually taking the lead for the first time, 20-17, with 3:13 left in the game.

But that lead was short lived, as the Falcons, facing a 4th & 3 at their 46, managed to do what Julio Jones and the rest of his teammates could not do in the NFC divisional playoff game two seasons ago at the Linc…score the winning touchdown.

Jones caught a short screen pass, got a good block from fellow receiver Mohamed Sanu, and was off to the races, giving the Falcons the lead.

The Eagles had their chances on their final drive, going all the way down to the Atlanta 16 before a 4th & 8 pass to tight end Zach Ertz only earned them 7.9 yards (or something like that). The big play, or lack of it, on that drive was the catch that Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor didn’t make, which would have possibly been a touchdown and, at worst, put the Eagles in great field position with ample time left to take the lead.

But while it’s easy to criticize Agholor for that play, he did come up big in the absence of DeSean & Alshon, catching 8 receptions for 107 yards as the Eagles top wide receiver on the field.

Agholor may have to continue to play a bigger role in this week’s game against the Detroit Lions, as DeSean Jackson has been ruled out and is likely to miss next week’s game as well, which is against Green Bay on a short week.

With Alshon Jeffery (and tight end Dallas Goedert) also questionable, expect Mack Hollins as well as 2nd round draft pick JJ Arcega-Whiteside to see more playing time. Speaking of which, for all of the preseason, I thought his name was Ortega-Whiteside, which caused me to develop a craving for tacos with “Ortega” shells every time he touched the ball. Hopefully my taste for tacos reaches a climatic peak on Sunday, as that can only be a positive for the Eagles offense.

As for this week’s opponent, if you thought that the Washington Redskins have had a mediocre history as of late, that is still nothing compared to the Detroit Lions, who have won exactly ONE playoff game since they last won a championship in 1957.

One playoff win in 61 YEARS. And you thought watching the Phillies under Gabe Kapler was frustrating?

Detroit has had some winning seasons over the years, and have looked at times like they had the talent for sustained success. But if you’re a Lions fan, you must have a fetish for being teased…because every time you thought they had a chance, you were bound to end up disappointed.

The Eagles can help their cause on Sunday by actually getting off to a fast start for a change, and will need a much better game from guard Isaac Seumalo, Seumalo looked like a revolving door against the Falcons last week, which is great if you’re the Ritz-Carlton looking for a 5-star rating on TripAdvisor. Unfortunately, quite the opposite playing on the offensive line.

The Birds would do well to run the ball more often, especially if some of their skill position players won’t be playing in this game. Playing at home, especially with a tough Thursday night road game looming, I see the Eagles winning 27-20, on what will be an unusually hot mid-September day.

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

Lions at EAGLES 1:00 PM FOX

Ravens at Chiefs 1:00 PM CBS

Saints at Seahawks 4:25 PM CBS

Texans at Chargers 4:25 PM CBS

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #4: Music City Time

This team seems to be making a habit of this.

Three times in their last four home games dating back to last season, their opponent has gotten within ten yards of the end zone in the closing minutes of the game with a chance to win.

And all three times, the Eagles have come up victorious.

The first game of the three was the reason their playoff run continued last season, and one of the main reasons we can emphatically declare them Super Bowl champions for the first time.

But with the exception being the NFC Championship against the Vikings, the Eagles sit at 2-1 on this young season because their defense stiffened when it needed to, and stopped the Falcons and Colts when they were in danger of stealing the game.

The Birds could have easily been 0-3 right now, and contemplating what might have been.  But good teams find a way to win these games, which is what the Eagles are.

But how long can this go on?  How many weeks can this team expect their defense to pull a rabbit out of their hat?

To be fair, they were playing with their backup quarterback (Nick Foles) the first two weeks, though the “devil’s advocate” in me will say that this is the same backup quarterback who won them the Super Bowl last season.

In addition, the “chosen one” (Carson Wentz) was understandably a little rusty his first week back, as witnessed by his best Johnny Manziel impression, when he stared down Zach Ertz on a poorly thrown pass that was intercepted by the Colts Anthony Walker.  Luckily, Indianapolis could only muster a 31-yard field goal, which helped to mitigate the damage.

It also didn’t help that the Eagles were still playing like a “MASH” unit, with many of their starters, including wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and running backs Darron Sproles and Jay Ajayi, still out last week.  Luckily, Wendell Smallwood came up big in their place, and Bucks County rookie Josh Adams and 2nd year back Corey Clement played admirably as well.

This week, the Birds travel to Nashville to face the Titans and maybe catch a country music concert while they are there.  Not sure if Elvis will be making the trip from Graceland for the game, but it does look like many Eagles fans are hoping to make it a grand old party at the Grand Ole Opre, as many are expected to travel out to the “music city” to cheer on their Birds.

As of now, it looks like Alshon Jeffrey should be back in the lineup, which will help the Eagles and Carson Wentz get their groove back in the passing game.

It has been a long time since the days of the “Music City Miracle” for the Titans, but they currently stand at 2-1 as well and are hoping that Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota can be their future savior…if he can actually stay healthy.

This will not be an easy game for the Birds on the road, but Wentz and the crew will prevail 24-16, before partaking in any country line dancing.

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

Vikings at Rams 8:20 PM FOX/NFL Network (Thurs)

EAGLES at Titans 1:00 PM FOX

Buccaneers at Bears 1:00 PM FOX

Dolphins at Patriots 1:00 PM CBS

Bengals at Falcons 1:00 PM CBS

Ravens at Steelers 8:20 PM NBC

Chiefs at Broncos 8:15 PM ESPN (Mon)

The Last Word:

Ladies & gentlemen, meet “Gritty”, the brand new mascot that the Flyers unveiled this week.

gritty flyers mascot

At first glance, this looks like a character from “Fraggle Rock” gone awry.

Plus, as opposed to endearing (e.g the Philly Phanatic), this creature looks like something that my six year old niece and two year old nephew would be terrified of.

If this is a harbinger of things to come, the Flyers may be in for a very long season….

 

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #15: The Wentz Wagon Derailed

On the road to the Super Bowl, even the most fine-tuned automobile can encounter some setbacks.

Sometimes the setbacks are nothing more than standard maintenance…an oil change or a tire rotation every now and then to keep the car driving smoothly.

Sometimes it may be something that requires a little more time and effort to fix, but still is nothing more than a temporary delay (a set of new tires comes to mind).

But if there are more serious matters, such as if the engine or transmission goes, suddenly what was a smooth drive to one’s destination suddenly becomes a major hassle, detour, or an altogether cancellation of one’s plans.

Carson Wentz, in only his 2nd year of quarterbacking the Eagles, was the engine of this football team.  And it had been speeding down the “Autobahn” of the 2017 NFL season at warp speed, while others such as Jerry Jones and his car with the star painted on the side were in the slow lane looking on with envy.

At one time, it was Jones and his automobile which was revered on the highway.  But now, while he does his best to keep his Mercedes looking shiny and new, the truth of the matter is that it is old and clunky, and always seem to be in the shop for one reason or another.

But I digress (as I often do).  Surely, there are other key components that have helped to keep the Eagles in the fast lane.  And even after some of those parts were lost for the season (Jordan Hicks, Jason Peters, Darren Sproles), the “replacement parts” all seemed to be of genuine quality, making the car hum without skipping a beat.

But this, my friends, is different.  This isn’t just an ordinary part that can be easily replaced.  The Eagles had been searching far and wide for this part for much of their history, and seem to have finally found it.   But losing it puts a huge damper on what was an exhilarating win on the road against a very determined Rams team.  It was a victory that not only gave the Birds the NFC East championship with three games still left to play, but also catapulted them back into the top spot for the conference, thanks to a Vikings loss to the Panthers earlier on Sunday.

On Wentz’s final play of his season, he stood in the pocket and waited, waited, waited, until he found Alshon Jeffrey  open in the end zone.  The quarterback actually had an opening to run it in for a touchdown…an opening he would have normally exploited and taken the ball in himself.  Thinking back now, it was probably painful for him to move.

So the replacement engine has been installed and is ready to go.  And while everyone is aware that it is not as good as the original, that does not mean that it cannot do the job.

Nick Foles has been here before.  In 2013, it was Foles who led the Eagles to their last NFC East title, and did so while throwing 27 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions.

But much like Thomas Dolby’s  one-hit wonder, “She Blinded Me With Science”, the fear is that Foles could be a one-hit wonder on the football field as well.

After his breakout season in 2013, Foles threw 13 TD’s and 10 INT’s for the Eagles the following year before he broke his collarbone in mid-season and missed the last seven games.  Still not bad numbers, but after he was traded for Sam Bradford before the start of the 2015 season, his stint as the then St. Louis Rams quarterback did not go as well, as he finished with more interceptions than touchdowns (13 INT’s vs. 10 TD’s), and was ultimately benched for Case Keenam, who is having his own career season with the Vikings this year.

The hope is that his lack of success in St. Louis was due to the team around him not being very good.  Foles will now be the maestro for a team that has a lot of quality parts around him.  And while he does not have the ability to elude the rush like Carson Wentz did, he still has good football smarts.

At the end of last week’s game, when the Eagles needed a first down to secure a victory, it was Foles who, on 3rd & 8, threw a pass to Nelson Agholor in a spot that only Agholor could catch it.  And to his credit, he did.  That is where the football smarts of Foles can shine through, especially when he is surrounded by skilled players around him.

Back in 1999, when the Rams lost starter Trent Green for the season in a preseason game, their coach, Dick Vermeil, stood in front of the media and announced, rather prophetically, that the Rams would “rally around Kurt Warner…. and we WILL play good football”.  And they did, winning the Super Bowl for the first time in their history.

Is Nick Foles on par with Kurt Warner?  Absolutely not.  But Eagles coach Doug Pederson was basically relaying the same message to his team this week (minus the crying of course).

Carson Wentz is a huge loss for this team.  But while Nick Foles is no Wentz, he WILL play good football, as the Birds win 31-13 this week against the Giants.

The engine has been replaced and the automobile is ready to go.  And while the road to the Super Bowl just became a little more treacherous, it does not mean that the new engine won’t get them there.

Amit’s Marquee Matchups of the Week:

Chargers at Chiefs  8:30 PM  NFL Ntwrk  (Sat)

Packers at Panthers  1:00 PM  FOX

Rams at Seahawks  4:05 PM  FOX

Patriots at Steelers  4:25 PM  CBS