Blog Archives

Making Friends with the Enemy: Oakland Raiders

MF_RaidersThis week the 3-5 Eagles will be taking on the 3-4 Raiders at The Coliseum and for the first time (Ideally of many) we’re introducing a new segment called Making Friends with the Enemy.

The idea is that we’ll bring in someone every week who is a fan of the opposing team to give us some perspective on how they see the game.

For this week, we’ve had the pleasure of asking Jason Speir—an equally obsessed Raiders fan—to enlighten us on the happenings in the Black Hole. Jason goes into the future of the team, a Houston in California, and, of course, the upcoming Eagles game. So strap on your eyepatch and get ready to plunder some knowledge!

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What to Watch For: Eagles vs San Diego Chargers

image via NFL.com. Credit to Eric Hartline (US PRESSWIRE)

image via NFL.com. Credit to Eric Hartline (US PRESSWIRE)

After last week’s fantasticly fantastic fantasticness, this week should hold more wonders for fans as the Eagles take on the San Diego Chargers in Chip Kelly’s first NFL home game. Considering the fact that the Chargers have a significant disadvantage due to time zone issues and the Eagles have only shown “About 60%” of their offense, there’s good reason to be excited. The Eagles should win.

Here’s some things to watch for as you stuff your face with pizza and fancy beer.

1. New Formations! Chip threw all sorts of curveballs offensively in the first game. He lined up the tackles in pods on the outside of the field, worked with unbalanced lines, and made his lineman hit the deck. However, most of this was done without the assistance of James Casey, who had only two plays against the Redskins. Be prepared for Chip to unleash his tight ends in a variety of fun ways today.

2. Blitzball. One way the Redskins decided to slow the Eagles down was to blitz the hell out of Vick. They released the hounds on just over 50% of Vick’s dropbacks and earned three sacks. The Eagles should expect to see a lot more blitzing this week—especially towards Lane Johnson and Todd Herremans, who obviously struggled. How do they adapt?

3. Receptive Diversity. This has nothing to do with race and everything to do with distribution. San Diego had seven different players catch a pass last Sunday and not one of them had more than three catches. This team distributes the ball under Mike McCoy and will continue to do so today. With Bradley Fletcher out and the secondary already unstable, this is a big problem for Billy Davis.

4. Sharing the load. After LeSean McCoy reminded everyone how much of a boss he is, he admitted to reporters that Bryce Brown and Chris Polk will need to get some carries in this offense. McCoy simply can’t touch the ball 32 times a game. It will be interesting to see how early and often Chip is willing to take his precious out of the game.

5. Special Teams. This unit was fantastic last week—just check out the Redskins drive chart. They almost never had a short field to work with on Monday night thanks to special teams’ excellent work. It’s easy to pass over this stuff, but it really matters. I also can’t shake the feeling that we’ll see some awesome trick plays from these guys soon.

Eagles in Fantasy Football

So fantasy football is really going into effect this week as leagues get ready to draft. I’m personally in four of them because I’m addicted and they all draft this week. With that in mind, I wanted to talk about some major players on the Eagles and what kind of fantasy impact they’ll have.

image via NFL.com. Credit to Eric Hartline (US PRESSWIRE)

image via NFL.com. Credit to Eric Hartline (US PRESSWIRE)

The first guy to discuss has to be LeSean McCoy. If you’re drafting at the top of the first round and LeSean McCoy is there around the fourth or fifth pick I’d suggest you take him. Shady is one of the best talents in the NFL and he’s absolutely going to be featured in Chip Kelly’s offense. Just consider this quote from McCoy from back in April:

“You’re going to need another back in this offense [...]Bryce [Brown] is good enough where he can play. Every team has two good backs [...] And don’t be surprised if Chris Polk gets some carries, because you’re running so much it’s like a freakin’ track meet. It’s like a relay. You need extra guys.”

How many 25 year-old star-caliber players ever say that they’ll need to be off of the field sometimes? None. There’s also the fact that McCoy gained a combined 1,600 yards and 20 TD’s in 2011 with a worse offensive line than he has now.

He’s the fourth best back to have on your team regardless of format and the best fantasy option on the Eagles by a mile.

Now that Mike Vick has been named the Eagles starter and he’ll have many more chances to call designed runs for himself, his value has seen a solid boost. The problem though is that you need to believe that Vick will be one of the top 10-12 quarterbacks in the league if you’re going to draft him and I’m just not able to take that leap.

However, as a back-up Vick is a top choice. His ceiling is high enough that if he plays well for a few weeks you could either start him or ship him off for a boatload. If he’s average, well he’s just a back-up anyway so there’s no real loss. He’s worth a pick in the 9th round.

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Empty Nest

Last week I listened to The Wooder Cooler’s fantastic podcast and Vince made a really interesting point. Regarding the Eagles’ coaching search, he commented on his desire to hire a coach that could help finish what Reid started, essentially stating the Eagles have a solid nucleus of players whose primes cannot be wasted in a long rebuilding phase.

This piqued my interests mostly because I heard my own sentiments in that statement. After years of trotting out receivers of the Thrash variety, the Eagles had a significant change in philosophy over the last few years when it came to offensive skill positions. I believed that change and influx of exciting young talent would push the Eagles over the top.

The Birds used a first-round pick on Jeremy Maclin and second-round picks on DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy. From the moment all three of these players stepped on the field, they belonged. Highlighted by long touchdowns and unprecedented ability, each made explosive plays and showed speed and athleticism that we had not seen in the Andy Reid era, and we only expected to improve from there.

Now, after Jackson’s fifth year and four years of McCoy and Maclin, do we still think this is a promising core that can bring us to the promise land? Should the Eagles try to quickly retool to win while these players are in their prime or would they be best served taking it slow and having a more thorough rebuilding process, focused on the long haul?

Let’s take a look.  Read the rest of this entry

What to Watch For: Eagles vs Falcons

Everyone knows what this week means for the Eagles. With the Birds sitting at .500, everyone in Philadelphia is waiting for this team to explode. Whether that explosion is from production on the field or the death of an era remains to be seen.

For this week, the story is about a battle the unbeatens. The Atlanta Falcons come into town with a 6-0 record after the bye. The Eagles are 13-0 coming off of the bye under the tenure of Andy Reid. Another thing to note is that, when you take a look at the numbers, Atlanta’s record isn’t quite so impressive.

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Eagles/Steelers Reaction

Well, that was a tough one.

After winning last week’s game with a missed last second field goal, the Eagles lost to the Steelers 16-14 in the closing seconds on a Shaun Suisham kick. Having had some time to digest the game, here are my thoughts.

1. Turnovers continued to hurt this team. Vick fumbled four (four!) times during the game, two of them giveaways. The stat sheet says three fumbles, but that play where Vick’s fumble was overturned was the result of pure luck more than anything. He coughed that ball up uncontested. Also, if Vick hadn’t fumbled the ball into the endzone, who knows how this game would have gone.

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The Eagles’ First Quarter Report Card

After four games, the Eagles are leading the NFC East in the most heart-wrenching, teeth gnashing, expletive filled way that I’ve ever experienced as a fan.  While last year’s squad will eternally be known as the “Dream Team” due to evil ESPN overlords that dwell at the depths of volcanoes conjuring up nonsensical story-lines to make into mass media frenzies, this Eagles team is much less exciting in comparison.

Last season the Eagles were soft and often came up empty in clutch situations at the end of the game. Dropped passes, missed tackles, and running backs deciding to pass mid-tackle dug the Eagles into a pit that they would never climb out of. The proof is easily found in their record. At this point last year, the Eagles were 1-3.

Through the first quarter of this year, the Eagles have proven to be quite the opposite: a hard-nosed bunch with an indefinable clutchness and a 3-1 record to show for it. For example, the Eagles were able to produce a go-ahead score within the last five minutes of the game against the Browns, Ravens, and Giants. Here are the numbers to show you just how impressive these drives were:

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Immediate Reaction: Eagles/Giants

Wow! Eagles win 19-17 in a last second thriller. What a win for the Birds, their 8th of the last 9 games against Big Blue. Take a deep breath and we’ll dive into some of the major points of the game.

The glass half full:

1. As we said in our preview for the game, Victor Cruz and Brandon Boykin played a large part in this game. Cruz worked Boykin in the slot for large gains on a few occasions, one of them in particular leading to a field goal. Cruz also beat Boykin for his 14 yard touchdown. Tough day for the rookie and a good job by the Giants of maximizing Cruz.

2. The run game! I’ll begin this with a little story. When I was outside of Knoxville Tennessee today a guy saw me wearing a Westbrook jersey. His words to me: “You guys need to get LeSean McCoy the ball.” Hilarious that someone ten hours away knew exactly what this team’s problem has been. It wasn’t a problem tonight. The Eagles gave McCoy the ball early and often. Runs, screens–it all helped to establish drives offensively. The play action gave Vick more time, the clock kept running, and the Eagles were gaining chunks of yards at a time as McCoy proved to be too shifty for a very talented Giants defensive line. Contributions from Bryce Brown, Stanley Havili, and a few called runs for Vick left the team with a total of 191 yards on the ground and a ratio of 36 runs to 30 passes! I’m weeping with joy right now. This is what a proud mother must feel like.

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