10 Observations: An Eagles Slant To the Playoffs
Here are 10 observations with an Eagles slant from Sunday’s conference title games:
1. I think if the Seahawks and 49ers played 10 times, they would probably split five and five. Or maybe San Francisco would win six and Seattle would win four. But the Seahawks made the big play at the end to advance. If Broncos-Seahawks comes close to being as entertaining as the NFC title game, we’ll all be happy. Denver opens as a 2.5-point favorite. My initial thought? Peyton Manning, for as well as he played yesterday, is going to have a tough time against that Seattle defense. On the other hand, while the Seahawks’ offense got things going in the second half, they have been up-and-down on that side of the ball. I think we have ourselves a good matchup for Super Bowl XLVII.
2. Even though the 49ers are not moving on, a lot of talk today will be about Colin Kaepernick. For much of the evening, he carried San Francisco’s offense, running 11 times for 130 yards and completing 14 of 24 passes for 153. But he faltered late. The 49ers’ last four drives ended in a punt, a fumble and two interceptions. I didn’t have a problem with Kaepernick’s final throw. That was just a great play by Richard Sherman. But the earlier one where he didn’t see Kam Chancellor dropping was a bad throw/bad read and led directly to a Seahawks field goal.
3. Having said that, Kaepernick had some spectacular moments. He looked like Randall Cunningham with his long strides on a 58-yard pickup in the second quarter. And Kaepernick somehow found Anquan Boldin for a 26-yard TD in the third. I realize it’s tough to win when your QB turns it over three times, but Kaepernick deserves credit for the plays he made as well.
4. If you’re tired of re-hashing the whole Brandon Graham over Earl Thomas thing, I’ve got a new hipster draft complaint for you to recite: Daniel Te’o-Nesheim over NaVorro Bowman. That one was also in the 2010 draft. The Eagles took Te’o-Nesheim with the 86th overall pick (third round), and he lasted one year (one sack) in Philadelphia before moving on to Tampa. Bowman, meanwhile, went five picks later to the 49ers. What a game and what a season for the Penn State product. Bowman suffered a knee injury in the second half, but finished with 14 tackles, a sack and a QB hit. He was everywhere during that game.
5. One more draft note: I wonder how much interest the Eagles had in Patriots outside linebacker Jamie Collins. He seems to have a Connor Barwin-ish skill set. Collins (6-3, 250, 33 3/4-inch arms) had the measurables the Eagles value. He was taken in the second round with the 52nd pick. Maybe if he slipped to No. 67, Collins would have been the Eagles’ choice instead of Bennie Logan? Something I’ll try to look into.
6. I hear a lot of excuses being made for Tom Brady – most notably that he doesn’t have a lot of weapons around him. If you’re comparing his supporting cast to Manning’s Broncos, sure, that’s true. But I must have been watching a different game than many of you. I thought Brady left a lot of plays on the field. Early on, he had Julian Edelman open deep and missed him. Later in the first half, he missed Edelman deep again. The Broncos had the 21st-ranked pass defense in the league during the regular season and were playing without starting cornerback Chris Harris. You have to do better than three points in three quarters if you’re Brady – especially with Manning on the opposite sideline. If a younger QB (Nick Foles?) played that game, he’d be getting criticized today.
7. Speaking of Foles, in the loss to the Saints, he took a costly sack that made Alex Henery try a 48-yard field goal that he missed. Did you notice a similar sequence in the Patriots-Broncos game? Brady took a sack and lost 11 yards, setting up a 47-yard Stephen Gostkowski attempt. The only difference? He made his. The moral of the story: Playing QB is hard, and even one of the greatest of all-time makes some mistakes that Eagles fans see from their second-year signal-caller.
8. While Sherman is stealing a lot of headlines this morning, a huge play that deserves some attention is Marshawn Lynch’s 40-yard TD run. Here were the Seahawks’ possessions before that score: fumble, punt, punt, field goal, turnover on downs. Lynch met rookie safety Eric Reid in the hole, bounced it to his right and took off for the score. Big play at a big time.
Serious question though: Where does one even get something like this?
If I told you that you had to somehow obtain a Skittles costume in 48 hours, would you be able to do it? I wouldn’t know where to begin.
9. If you’re looking for a reason why Sherman went off post-game like he did, this might provide some of the explanation:
Sherman is bitter toward Harbaugh because Harbaugh trashed Sherman before the 2011 draft. That’s the story.
— Jason Cole (@JasonPhilCole) January 20, 2014
Harbaugh, of course, coached Sherman at Stanford.
By the way, no one goes from “I’m throwing a tantrum! Leave me alone!” to “Hey! Everybody on the sideline back up!” quicker than Harbaugh. One second he’s going nuts pleading for a Russell Wilson intentional grounding penalty. The next, he’s telling everyone to calm down.
10. And some quick-hitters to close it out:
* Love this, and I wonder if the Eagles have a similar policy:
Asked Jermaine Kearse about the go-ahead TD. That wasn’t the play called. Automatic adjustment. See the flag, run four verticals.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) January 20, 2014
Wilson knew he had an offsides penalty and decided to take a shot downfield to Kearse for a 35-yard TD. Smart play by the Seahawks, and it gave them their first lead of the game in the fourth quarter.
* I see a lot of people on various social media platforms ripping How I Met Your Mother for recent episodes. I maintain that show was always horrible and never funny. It pains me that so many people have backed it over the years.
* Hey Chevy, ripping on veggie burgers? Really? That’s the best you could do? They are a great source of protein, and if you find the right ones, they’re delicious. Said in a better way:
A Man. A Man and His Truck. A Man and His Truck and a Tragic Heart Attack at Age 52.
— Patrick Daugherty (@RotoPat) January 20, 2014
* I am not sad that the 12th Man thing is over since the Super Bowl will be played in New Jersey. I get that it’s loud in Seattle, but that was a classic case of the media running a storyline into the ground.
* I thought Erin Andrews did a brilliant job with her follow-up to Sherman after the game: “Who was talking about you?” she said in a “What the *&^% are you even talking about?” tone.
* Poor Phil Simms was getting ripped up and down my Twitter timeline during the first game.
As I said…
I really feel like 2015 could be the year Phil Simms completes a sentence.
— Sheil Kapadia (@SheilKapadia) January 19, 2014
* The mesh (or rub/pick) play that the Broncos and Patriots ran all game long should look familiar. That was a staple in the Eagles’ offense against man coverage all season long.
* I’m down in Mobile, Ala. for the Senior Bowl, but flew into Gulfport, Miss. As I took a shuttle from the airport to my rental car, a sign on the side of the road said: Welcome to Mississippi: The Birthplace Of American Music. Seconds later, the shuttle drive was bumping Milli Vanilli’s Blame It On the Rain through the speakers. I’m not going to lie. I was singing along in my head.
* Following the Broncos’ win, the cameras showed Eli Manning celebrating with his Dad at the game. Why do I feel like if that were an Eagles QB cheering for his brother’s victory we’d be talking about it all day on sports-talk radio? Especially if that QB was coming off a 27-interception season.
* I think Terrance Knighton would have been a better nose tackle option for the Eagles than Isaac Sopoaga when both were free agents last offseason. Then again, I’m not sure Pot Roast would have been all that crazy about the smoothies and nutritional guidelines at the NovaCare Complex. Either way, he played a fantastic game vs. New England.