Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Like many of you, I spent much of the day in front of the TV watching football. Here are five leftovers, with an Eagles slant:
1. Earlier in the week, we wrote about how the Eagles will have to make a decision on Jeremy Maclin in the near future. Whether they decide to keep him or not, this offense really needs to think about adding a physical pass-catching presence in the offseason.
With 7:38 remaining in yesterday’s first game, the Texans set up from their own 3, down 31-24. They put together a 15-play, 97-yard drive, taking 5:43 off the clock. Andre Johnson came up huge with four catches for 64 yards. Johnson (6-3, 230) has size. He can catch the ball in traffic. And he can work the middle of the field.
Entering Thursday’s game, Johnson had 23 catches in between the numbers within 20 yards of the line of scrimmage, per Pro Football Focus. That’s the same number as DeSean Jackson and Maclin combined. We see with the All-22 every week that Jackson consistently attracts safety help, opening up the middle of the field. But the Eagles don’t have anyone to take advantage of that. Brent Celek has been too inconsistent and has had too many drops (a team-high seven on the season). Jason Avant has great hands, but he’s 6-feet tall and doesn’t have much speed.
I know guys like Johnson don’t grow on trees, but the point is the Eagles would be wise to add a physical receiver – either in the slot, at tight end or replacing Maclin. Not only would it help them take advantage of the middle of the field, but it should help in the run game (where their current WRs are terrible blockers) and in the red zone (where the Eagles rank 30th offensively).
2. The whole “A rule’s a rule” defense doesn’t sit well with me, in reference to the play everyone will be talking about today from the Lions-Texans game. Justin Forsett’s knee was clearly down on the 81-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. But because league rules state that when a coach throws the challenge flag on a scoring it play, it negates the review, the call was allowed to stand.
As I Tweeted during the game, I simply can’t wrap my head around why that would be the punishment for breaking the rule. It’s fine to penalize Schwartz and the Lions 15 yards, but to not review the call? How does that make sense? Isn’t the point to get the call right?
It just seems completely unnecessary to me. If the rule states that all scoring plays are automatically reviewed, then go ahead and review it, get the call correct, and dock the Lions 15 yards for Schwartz’s mishap. Am I missing something here?
3. Robert Griffin’s last two games: 34-for-43 (79.1 percent) for 511 yards, eight touchdowns and one interception. After back-to-back wins over the Eagles and Cowboys, the Redskins are 5-6. They were 5-11 last season. If the Giants lose to the Packers on Sunday, Washington is suddenly one game back of first place in the NFC East, despite average talent at wide receiver and a shaky defense. Just another reminder why finding the right quarterback is more important than finding the right coach.
4. Late in the fourth quarter of the Redskins-Cowboys game, Washington safety Madieu Williams delivered a big hit on Dez Bryant and broke up a potential 56-yard touchdown. It got me thinking: When’s the last time an Eagles safety broke up a pass with a big hit? Has it happened this year? Did it happen last year?
After the 2011 season, it seemed clear that the Eagles needed to upgrade at linebacker and safety. At linebacker, they traded for DeMeco Ryans and drafted Mychal Kendricks in the second round. At safety, I really have no idea what their plan was. It never seemed that they believed Jaiquawn Jarrett could compete for a starting role. They showed some interest in Yeremiah Bell, but he signed with the Jets. They took a flier on Oshiomogho Atogwe, but he battled a hamstring injury.
So once again, they went with Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman. And that tandem hasn’t been close to good enough. They’ll be left to find a new safety (or two?) this offseason.
5. You have to wonder what the scene will be like at the Linc Monday night for Eagles-Panthers. A frustrated fan base. And a team that has put out a disappointing product week after week. But if the Birds do fall to Carolina, Jeffrey Lurie can call up Jets owner Woody Johnson, or even Jerry Jones. The Patriots dropped 35 points on the Jets – in the second quarter. A score on defense, a touchdown on special teams and three Tom Brady touchdown passes. In terms of embarrassment on national TV, that’s going to be tough to beat.
WHAT YOU MISSED
We took it easy on the holiday, but wanted to let you know how much we appreciate your support of Birds 24/7.
Plenty of links from Wednesday you might have missed:
DeSean Jackson had some candid remarks about the lack of leadership on this team.
Vinny Curry will see action for the first time Monday night. Safe to say he’s excited.
I highlighted the quality play of Fletcher Cox and the uninspired play of the receiving corps with help from the All-22.
A look at some 2012 projections shows how much the play of some key individuals has gone backwards.
But at least DeMeco Ryans is playing well. Really well, actually.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
SI.com’s Don Banks has the Eagles 27th in his power rankings:
I always find it bemusing to hear players who talk so passionately about how much admiration and loyalty they feel for their embattled head coach, but then go out on game day and all but mail in another feeble effort on his behalf. That’s the actions-speak-louder-than-words stage we’re at in Philly, where everyone knows Andy Reid is as good as gone, but nobody’s doing anything about it.
Elliot Harrison of NFL.com likes the Eagles, 27-17, over the Panthers:
My brother used to try to get me to pick the worst player cards from all the teams in Strat-O-Matic Football and play an “All-Suck Bowl.” Why this Monday-nighter prompted that memory, I couldn’t tell you. What we do know is that these are two organizations that seem rudderless at the moment. The big factor determining who will win is health — namely that of Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy. If they suit up, I like the Philadelphia Eagles at home, given Cam Newton’s shaky play this season. If it’s a Foles Bowl, the Carolina Panthers improve to 3-8.
The Eagles return to practice at Novacare. Marty Mornhinweg and Todd Bowles will address the media.
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