Last week, I composed a little piece on the five most important things for the Eagles to avoid in their match-up with the Green Bay Packers yesterday. Let’s take a look at them and see how everything panned out. Shall we? View full article »
Tag Archive: Aaron Rodgers
The Eagles play the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, the team that many say no one wanted to play.
Fair enough. The Packers are 5th in overall passing, 5th in passing defense, and 5th in overall defense. That’s a lot of “5ths”. Let’s stick with the number five (No Donovan McNabb mentions here, I promise) and have a quick chat about what the Eagles cannot let happen when they host the Pack at the Linc late Sunday afternoon. View full article »
Happy New Year! And happy NFL Sunday!
The Christmas holidays, combined with my commitment to NBC last week, prevented me from posting my Week 16 choices. I am happy to report, however, that I posted a 2-0 record last week!
I know what you’re saying. In fact, you may be saying a couple of things. One, there is no proof that I went 2-0. And two, this column is called “Take Three”, so I should have bet three games.
Well, I did. Pick number three was the Philadelphia Eagles giving two touchdowns to the Minnesota Vikings, but that game was declared a “no-action” as a result of the postponement from Sunday to Tuesday…
Anyway, my Colts pick (-3) over the Raiders and the Pats (-9) over the Bills puts me at 44-37-0 for the year. I would love to get to ten games above .500 in the final week of the regular season, and so here is my attempt to do exactly that with my picks for Week 17! View full article »
What can be said that hasn’t been said… that you haven’t read… that you haven’t felt.
The Philadelphia Eagles did not play well enough to win in their 38-31 victory, but somehow, the Birds are one win away, or one Giant loss, from their first NFC East Championship since 2006. (It has been awhile, hasn’t it?)
I’m not going to sit here on a Monday night and recap a game that you’ve watched the highlights for a dozen times. That would be wasteful.
What I will do is look beyond the despair and euphoria we lived through yesterday as a fan base, and reflect on the positives and negatives that will affect the final two games of the regular season and beyond. There are surely plenty of them, but I’ll try to keep it short.
We can certainly revel in the last eight minutes of yesterday’s
impossible improbable comeback. The Eagles showed they have bounce back ability deep in a big game, when most people saw an opportunity to change the channel. Michael Vick had 94 rushing yards and a touchdown in the final quarter of the game, and Brent Celek and Jeremy Maclin capitalized on secondary mistakes to make huge plays.
We can’t revel in the first 52 minutes, where blown coverage in the Eagles’ secondary, especially where Dimitri Patterson was involved, helped the Giants immensely. Say what you will about Eli Manning and his 20 interceptions, but he was able to pick on the right defenders at the right time and move the ball effectively in the first half.
Continuing with mistakes, there were three plays where Andy Reid could have thrown the red challenge flag and won, but opted not to. There was also a blown call by referees at the end of the first half that allowed the Giants to get another quick opportunity in the red zone. They scored a touchdown on that play,when Dimitri Patterson gave Hakeem Nicks way too much room in a short-field situation.
The Birds have allowed 30 passing touchdowns this year, including three yesterday, and were disappointing in the red zone again. They remain the worst in the league in that defensive category. I’m still waiting for that to come back and be the dagger in a big game. I just hope it’s not in the playoffs. Hell, it should have been yesterday.
On the defensive side, the Eagles were sharper in the second half. Mistakes were minimal and the Giants could only muster one touchdown, and that was off a turnover in the Eagles zone. Rookie 7th round pick Jamar Chaney got his first start at middle linebacker with Stewart Bradley out the rest of the season. In case you missed it in all of the excitement, he had 16 tackles and only a couple of mistakes. Not bad for a young 7th rounder.
The bad news for the defense (other than allowing the most touchdowns through the air in the Andy Reid era), they lost another defensive starter in safety Nate Allen, who tore his patellar tendon in his right knee. The injury is serious enough to keep him out possibly after the beginning of training camp next July.
That makes it three starters on the defense that have been lost in two short weeks. The aforementioned Bradley is on that list, as is rookie defensive lineman Brandon Graham, who tore his ACL. If you throw Ellis Hobbs in there, the Birds are falling from flight too quickly on the other side of the ball. The Eagles will likely sign a player tomorrow to join their secondary in the wake of Allen’s injury.
If you consider all of this, plus the fact that the Eagles are a win or a Giants loss away from a playoff birth and the NFC East division, where does that put them in your mind? Is the explosing Eagles offense featuring Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson enough to carry the Eagles through the postseason? Are you still worried about the playcalling and decision making of Andy Reid and the coaching staff? Are the defensive ailments becoming too much (terrible red zone percentage, injuries, youth and inexperience in the secondary) to overcome?
There are a lot of questions and not many answers. The closest thing to a response would be 10 wins and four losses, but that means nothing in the second season.
What is true is that incredible minutes following 52 dismal ones won’t fly in the playoffs. This is the NFL…
…and the Eagles can’t play every game in the Meadowlands.
Other observations from Week 15, in no particular order.
- I said last week that Matt Cassel was the most important player on the Kansas City Chiefs. I wasn’t kidding.
- From the “awesome sign” department: “Joe Namath, Joe Montana, Joe Webb?” One of the best signs I’ve seen this season. ESPN showed a fan holding it up after Minnesota Vikings quarterback Joe Webb’s rushing touchdown in the third quarter against the Bears Monday night. Good for him.
- Tom Coughlin’s tirade on rookie punter Matt Dodge was hilarious, but I do feel bad for the kid… I’m also thankful for his actions.
- Rex Grossman’s four touchdowns were impressive, but he still wasn’t the solution for the Redskins, and benching Donovan McNabb was a mistake and an insult.
- Staying with the ‘Skins, Mike Shanahan sending out McNabb as a captain for the coin toss was despicable, tasteless, and heartless. His handling of the team and his son’s handling of the offense is something to take a look at when the final fingers are pointed at season’s end.
- Dan Snyder is clueless and he should sell the Redskins or stay the hell out of football decisions. He’d be a great hands-off owner.
- Matt Flynn performed as well as Aaron Rodgers would have in the Packers 31-27 loss against the Patriots last night… until that final 30 seconds, where Flynn’s youth and inexperience cost the Pack the chance to steal one from the likely representative for the AFC in the Super Bowl.
- The New York Jets aren’t dead, but they’ve had too many close games this year to get deep in the playoffs. We’ll see if I’m on to something… because they’ll be there.
- Classy move by Jeff Fisher to give Mike Heimerdinger the game ball yesterday. Heimerdinger was diagnosed with cancer in November and has continued to remain with the team. A touching moment for a team that has struggled mightily this year.
- I love Andy Reid’s enthusiasm this season. I guess having a young team can… well… make you feel young again. I’m loving it, Big Red. I’m loving it.
If I covered every key matchup in the NFL this Sunday, I would be writing for quite awhile.
In 16 days, we’ll know which playoff scenarios come true, and which will fade into oblivion. There are seven games in this jam-packed weekend that could give us some answers before those days are up. At the moment, the Patriots are the only team to have clinched a playoff spot. It’s almost safe to say they’ve all but clinched the AFC East as well. The other seven divisions are all up for grabs, making this the juiciest weekend of football I’ve seen in a long time.
Jacksonville (8-5) @ Indianapolis (7-6), 1:00 pm, CBS
Peyton Manning isn’t used to his back being up against the wall until at least the playoffs. He and the Indianapolis Colts will have to adapt accordingly if they want to see the playoffs at all. The Colts will see the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday in their second meeting of the season. If the Colts lose to the Jags (like they did in Week 4), it will give David Garrard’s team their first division title since 1999, when current Giants coach Tom Coughlin was at the helm.
With the Ravens and the Jets unlikely to lose their Wild Card spots, the Colts have no consolation prize to rely on. The team has been plagued with injuries. 11 Colts have been placed on injured reserve including tackle Tony Ugoh, wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez, safety Bob Sanders, and tight end Dallas Clark, who arguably served as Manning’s favorite target in recent years. 13 players are currently on their injury report. The inability to stay healthy is reminiscent of the woes of the 2010 Boston Red Sox. It’s just a case of bad luck.
But that doesn’t mean the team is down and out. They have lost four of their games by three points or less, and at least they were able to put an end to a three-game losing streak by squeaking out a victory against the Tennessee Titans last week.
Let’s put it this way… this whole blurb has been about the Colts. If they don’t come through on Sunday, it will be all about the Jags as Peyton Manning will be forced to sit home in January for only the third time in his storied career. Think about that for a second… wow.
Philadelphia (9-4) @ New York Giants (9-4), 1:00 pm, FOX
I love these divisional games coming in at the end of the season, especially in the NFC East, where the games just feel like they mean more than they do in other divisions. They garner more attention, they bring in high ratings, and there’s always a storyline or twelve to chit-chat about at the water cooler. Sweet…
The Birds (9-4) will take on the New York Football Giants, a team with the same record and a lot to play for in a hotly contested division and conference. The Giants will look to stop the broken record, having lost their last five against Philadelphia. And despite a strong rushing tandem in Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs, the Eagles defense had their number five weeks ago, when they held them to a dismal 61 yards.
Giants QB Eli Manning leads the league in interceptions with 19, and is probably hoping that injury-ridden Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel misses his fourth game in a row. Samuel picked off Manning twice in their first meeting this season. With or without Samuel the Birds will have to play better on defense, especially in the red zone. The team ranks last in red zone defense, allowing a touchdown on 78.8 percent of opponents’ possessions inside the 20-yard line.
Michael Vick is ready to go, despite taking a few tough hits from defensive end Anthony Spencer in Week 14. His favorite target, DeSean Jackson, would love to repeat his four-catch, 210 yard performance last week. The Giants defense, however, have played the Eagles a lot better than most teams this season. They held Michael Vick to only one passing touchdown in Week 10, and monster defensive end Justin Tuck had all three sacks on Vick in that matchup.
The Giants blew an early fourth quarter lead in Week 10, allowing the Eagles to score the last 11 points in a 27-17 victory. Another loss would allow the Eagles to control their own destiny, and place them in a good position to work towards a first-round bye.
But what do you say we just worry about Sunday for now?
Other BIG matchups in Week 15:
- New Orleans (10-2) @ Baltimore (9-4), 1:00 pm, FOX: A battle of two potential playoff monsters that have done a helluva job staying under the radar. Each team is just one game back in their respective divisions. And uh, hey, did you forget that the Saints are the defending Super Bowl Champions? If so, you aren’t the only one.
- Kansas City (8-5) @ Saint Louis (6-7), 1:00 pm, CBS: The San Diego Chargers are making their typical December push with Philip Rivers at quarterback. He is 20-1 in games in December and January, and that doesn’t bode well for the Chiefs. At 8-5, they remain one-half game ahead of the Bolts for the division lead, but that could fade away for good if the Sam Bradford-led Rams have anything to say about it. At 6-7, the Rams are still playing for something. In fact, they’re playing for the NFC West crown… and while that’s a bit sad, it’s what happens when you have four awful teams playing in the same division. Regardless, there is plenty of motivation for both teams to win on Sunday, but even more urgency.
- Atlanta (11-2) @ Seattle (6-7), 4:05, FOX: The Rams division “foe” is the Seattle Seahawks, who share their regular season record. They, too, will playing a division leader in the seemingly unstoppable Atlanta Falcons. Maybe the only good news for Pete Carroll’s team is they aren’t playing in the Georgia Dome, where Matt Ryan is 19-1 as a starter. The Seahawks will need to play better defense, they give up more than 25 points a game. Ironically, that’s the same number that the Falcons score. It could get ugly fast.
- New York Jets (9-4) @ Pittsburgh (10-3). 4:15 pm, CBS: The Jets are a loss away from an official free fall in the AFC. Mark Sanchez cannot complete just 39 percent of his passes again. In fact, the Jets are 11-2 when Sanchez’s passer rating surpasses 80, so it usually doesn’t take much. The Steelers, on the other hand are primed for a playoff run. They’ve won five of their last six. A little storyline to watch… Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes returns to Heinz Field for the first time since being traded. It could be interesting.
- Green Bay (8-5) at New England (11-2), 8:20, NBC: Aaron Rodgers will likely sit out as a result of his concussion last week against the Lions. It probably wouldn’t matter anyway. Bill Belicheck is 10-0 in the snow, and guess what the forecast is calling for in Foxboro… yep.
Enjoy Week 15 folks! My “Take Three” column will be posted Sunday morning.