By Steve Olenski and Joe Vallee
By Steve Olenski and Joe Vallee
Good morning Campers,
Or is it?
Yeah, letâ€™s not kid ourselves. Yesterday was a rough one. Enough jibber jabber. You (and we) just want to get to the nitty gritty.
Letâ€™s get to gettingâ€¦.
Hereâ€™s some First Half Lowlights, while I was at an airport en route to SF.
-Didn’t take long for the Bucs to get off and running, with DeSean Jackson sprinting untouched on his way to end zone for a 75-yard TD. It would be a precursor of things to come.
*Is it me or re there an inordinate amount of commercials and promos this year? Holy Moses.
*When your punter is your MVP things are not going well and Cameron Johnston is clearly the Eagles MVP at least through a game and a half.
*How in the world was the Foles fumble an actual fumble? He clearly he had possession and his arm was going forward. Did I miss something? How was that not called an incomplete pass?
*Dear Jalen Mills: This just in, you ain’t very good. Hey, I like the guy. My son and I met him a few years ago at a Sixers game. Super nice guy. So is my nephew, but I don’t want him playing corner for the Eagles, either.
*But in truth, the entire Birds secondary looked average at best during the first half. Missed tackles, blown assignments. They looked like they were still playing in the pre-season.
*Where was Big D? I realize he’s a rookie but where was Dallas Goedert? Why was someone named Perkins (Marlon?) playing ahead of him and dropping passes as a bonus?
Thanks Steve. Safe travels!
For me, there were several key moments during this game that stuck out for me.
-DeSean Jackson has had a vendetta against the Eagles ever since they cut him 2014. The moment he scored that opening touchdown, I knew the Birds were in trouble. If his wish is to make the Birds pay for what transpired way back when, he has accomplished his goal beyond his wildest imagination. Is he talented? Without question? Did he have some phenomenal moments for the Eagles? Absolutely. I also remember when he (like other previous Eagles WRs) made his contract issues a distraction back in 2011, and the Eagles narrowly missed the playoffs by a game to the Giants, who promptly won another Super Bowl. Steve discussed it here.
Of course, you canâ€™t pin all of that on him, but Jacksonâ€™s drama and baggage got old. The allegations that he had gang connections didnâ€™t help his reputation, either. Heâ€™s older now, so maybe heâ€™s grown up, but I just canâ€™t see him being the type of player who would buy into what Doug Pederson is selling. A lot of those players werenâ€™t. My only regret in hindsight is that the Eagles got nothing for him. At all. Nice going, Chip.
For the record, and people still think Iâ€™m crazy for saying this, but I had no problem letting Jackson go four years ago, and I still stand by that.
Injuries to Jason Peters and Jay Ajayi on the very first drive- Itâ€™s become a microcosm for what this team is struggling with right now. Peters is a shoe in for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. No question about it. However, it doesnâ€™t take a rocket scientist to notice his body breaking down with more regularity. Ajayi returned from a lower back injury, but Mike Wallace, who the Eagles have been trying to get more involved in their offense, limped around with a boot on his foot after the game. The Eagles canâ€™t take many more hits like this.
Drive 2- No, itâ€™s not Incubusâ€™ plan to rival Metallicaâ€™s Unforgiven trilogy. It will be hard pressed to find a drive with so many crucial penalties. There was the illegal block on Corey Clementâ€™s 43-yard return, which was nullified. Before it was over, an illegal block and tripping penalty saw Nick Foles and company at 3rd and 41. Thatâ€™s not a misprint. The game turned out to be a one-possession affair, and that was brutal. Very rarely did the Birds commit stupid penalties in 2017, but it seems every faux pas is consequential so far in this new season.
The 75-Yard Special: Parts 1 and 2 (or The Vindication of Izel Jenkins) – Somewhere, the man they called â€œToastâ€ is smiling, because that moniker could be used to describe the entire Birds secondary on Sunday. The Birds eventually tied the game, but the sequel to Tampa Bayâ€™s opening drive turned the momentum in their favor and they never really looked back.
Speaking of looking backâ€¦.
Did anybody else feel like nails were digging into a chalkboard whenever Ronde Barber spoke during the broadcast? Maybe itâ€™s because Iâ€™m having flashbacks of him running down the field at The Vet (if you donâ€™t know what Iâ€™m talking about, Google it), but it seemed Kenny Albert barely got a word in the whole game. My Lord, I will always hate Tampa Bay.
-Over the last year, Jake Elliott has kicked some of the most memorable field goals ever for the Eagles. That being said, why do I feel so uneasy whenever he is called upon?
-The Eagles miss LeGarrette Blount. Badly. Yes, he got a great deal with the Lions and the Birds couldnâ€™t keep everybody. Understood. Corey Clement has great potential and continues to impress. Nobody has a crystal ball, but with Jay Ajayi somewhat of a question mark on any given day and the combined injuries to Alshon Jeffery, Darren Sproles, Mack Hollins and now Wallace, you wish there was some kind of way the team could have tried to keep him.
As it turns out, Blountâ€™s teammates on Detroit missed him yesterday afternoon as well. Go figure.
The Return of Doug Reid?
Oddly enough, this game had the same feeling as last yearâ€™s Week 2 loss against Andy and the Chiefs for several reasons. In both contests, it never seemed the Eagles were in control of the game. Second, Doug Pederson failed to make adjustments that mightâ€™ve changed the outcome of the game. Yes, his offense is limited, and they werenâ€™t always executing his plays, but calling a run for Wendell Smallwood on 3rd and 11 near the end of the first half? One of the reasons Pederson was so effective last year was because of his ability to switch things up if something was stagnantâ€”unlike his mentor who is mentioned above. This also falls on the defense as well. Hopefully, these patterns wonâ€™t repeat themselves in the coming weeks.
Today on Things You Thought Youâ€™d Never Hear:
â€œGood thing Nelson Agholor is so dependable. I donâ€™t even want to think about where this offense would be if he wasnâ€™t on the field.â€
A Final Word: Yes, itâ€™s a surprise to someâ€”the Eagles lost a game, but it was bound to happen sooner or later. They were outplayed. Plain and simple. Better it happens now and not down the line. The Patriots, Panthers, Falcons and several other teams with high expectations for 2018 are in the same position as the Birds right now. Nick Foles played well enough to win, but by the time the team got into somewhat of an offensive groove, they were down by 20 points. That falls on the defense as a whole. Giving up 7.5 yards per offensive snaps and becoming the only team in Eagles history to give up two 75-yard touchdown receptions in one half? Allowing 35-year old Ryan Fitzpatrick to throw four touchdowns? Thatâ€™s inexcusable. Theyâ€™re better than that.
People not might want to hear this, but the Eagles squad weâ€™re currently watching is a different team with different players than your Super Bowl champs. Sometimes, it takes a bit for chemistry to develop. Sometimes, chemistry doesnâ€™t develop at all. Moreover, all of this will not be cured by the eventual return of Carson Wentz. With or without him, the team has beaten themselves on numerous occasions so far this year, and that has to change if they want to duplicate last yearâ€™s success.
It wonâ€™t get any easier. The Birds probably wonâ€™t get any teamâ€™s â€œB Gameâ€ this year. Chances are, the opposition will play them as if itâ€™s their own personal Super Bowl. With Tampa Bay and the L.A. Rams both currently undefeated, the Eagles need to stay close to the top of the pack. Itâ€™s still early, but the goal is to secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The difference could very well result in another Super Bowl or a missed opportunity. Frank Reich and the Colts come into town next weekend. As the Birds former offensive coordinator, this could give him a tremendous advantage. The Eagles donâ€™t want to start off 1-2.
See you next week. And just remember, whenever you hear somebody slight our Super Bowl champions, you know what to tell them:
â€œNo one likes us, we donâ€™t care.â€
Contact Joe Vallee at email@example.com
Contact Steve Olenski at firstname.lastname@example.org