Ladies and Gentlemen:
There are well over one million kids playing high school football in the United States of America.
There are 129 schools in the College Football FBS Subdivision. That is 129 colleges that recruit the best high school players in the country. Each of those college teams have anywhere from 65 to 105 players on their rosters. For the sake of averages let’s say there are 85 football players on 129 teams which gives you a talent pool of 10,965 players.
There are 32 NFL Teams each with an active roster of 53 players and 16 on the practice squad.
That means that there are approximately 2,200 active NFL players at any given time.
So, to even make it onto an NFL team from high school and a major college football program you basically have a 1 in 500 shot.
Every player that takes the field is among this elite group of athletes.
The best of the best.
Which leads to the following question:
Why would you ever take another NFL Team lightly?
Why would you ignore the fact that even the guys who make the practice squad have gone through a screening process that eliminated anywhere from 8,000 to 998,000 of the other participants.
You only do that if you are cocky. Or stupid.
I don’t think Nick Sirianni and the Eagles players are stupid.
But I do think that they got a little cocky.
I think they started to feel a little too good about what they had accomplished, read their own press clippings and took the New York Giants for granted.
You can’t ever take your opponent for granted. Not in the NFL.
“You think you can win on talent alone? Gentlemen, you don’t have enough talent to win on talent alone.”
Actually, I think Mark Schlereth who did the color for the game said it very well:
“It’s not how you deal with adversity, it’s how you deal with success”
Old habits die hard and the two leaders of the Eagles offense, Nick Sirianni and Jalen Hurts, reverted to some of their old, bad habits.
Sirianni got away from the run early in the game. Yes, the Giants were loading the box and were showing looks that the Eagles had not seen before but much of the success that this team experienced over the last four weeks occurred because they were able to run the football even when the opposing defense knew that that was exactly what they were going to do. He called more runs in the second half and the Birds rushed for 100 yards in the third quarter alone. At his press conference he admitted that he may have gotten away from the run too early because he thought they saw some opportunities in those new looks from the Giants.
Hurts was trying to force the ball into his covered receivers, running the ball himself out of the RPOs and making terrible decisions all day. He still does not look off of his receivers and the Giants safeties were able to read his eyes the whole game. And that interception that he threw right at the end of the first half? You know, the one that had the ball been thrown away instead would have probably given the Eagles three points? They teach kids not to do that in Pop Warner. Completely, utterly, totally unacceptable.
But even after three interceptions and a Boston Scott fumble the Eagles still had a chance to win the game. If not for two Jalen Reagor dropped passes they absolutely could have.
Reagor was targeted two more times on that drive and both throws were almost intercepted. Actually, he was targeted more than any other Eagles receiver in the game.
Why were the Eagles trying so hard to get the ball to Jalen Reagor? Why did they abandon the run, the secret sauce to their success?
Could coach Nick Sirianni, Jalen Hurts and the Eagles be under the influence of a higher authority?
Not that “Higher Authority.”
Could the Eagles offense be under the influence of Howie Roseman and Jeffrey Lurie?
We know that Roseman decides who is on the roster. We know that Reagor was his first round pick. We know that Justin Jefferson, the wide receiver that was picked by the Vikings right after the Eagles selected Reagor, was just named NFC Offensive Player of the month.
We know that Jeffrey Lurie wants the Eagles to have a “dynamic” passing offense.
Is it possible that Roseman and Lurie told Coach Sirianni that the Eagles needed to get Reagor involved in a rejuvenated passing attack?
I know that this sounds insane and I would be inclined to think not since the Eagles finally started winning when they committed to running the ball. However, Jeffrey Lurie is now known for his meddling with day-to-day football operations and Howie Roseman has to be tired of seeing the video of the Vikings front office laughing at him for picking Reagor over Jefferson. Or, for that matter, any of the endless highlights of D.K. Metcalf from the last three seasons.
Think about that. Let it marinate.
When Andy Reid was head coach he had no problem demoting or cutting a high round draft pick who did not perform well. He also had the final say over his roster. So did Chip Kelly after winning his power struggle with Howie. Doug Pederson? Not so much. Even after he won the franchise’s first Super Bowl. Nick Sirianni? Not even close.
Like I said, I am inclined to believe otherwise but, like Eagles defensive end Derek Barnett, once you get a reputation for doing something bad, it’s hard to shake.
Of course, with Hurts just completing his worst game ever, the clamor regarding whether he should be the Eagles starting quarterback going forward just got louder. The idea of the Eagles trading for Russell Wilson is now even more fashionable than those high waisted Mom Jeans.
I have covered this issue ad nauseam. So, let’s just compare the stats of each player through the first 12 games of this season:
Russell Wilson: 2612 passing yards, 15 TDs, 12 INTs, 87.5 QBR, 707 RUSH YD, 2 RUSH TD
Jalen Hurts: 2435 passing yards, 13 TDs, 8 INTs, 83.9 QBR, 695 RUSH YD, 8 RUSH TD
Wow. Those stats look pretty comparable. I’m not sure I would trade two first round draft picks to get a lot more of the same in a guy who is already 10 years in to his career.
Wait, on second look, those stats above don’t belong to Russell Wilson they actually belong to former MVP Lamar Jackson.
Bait and switch!
I wonder how many first round draft picks it would take to get him.
Full disclosure: Lamar Jackson missed two games so keep in that in mind regarding the stats where he both leads and trails Jalen Hurts.
The Birds are a 6.5 favorite against the Jets as they take their second consecutive trip up I 95 to the Meadowlands. The Jets are coming off of their third win of the season and have been playing better as of late. Their General Manager is Joe Douglas who played a major role in the Eagles personnel decisions in 2017. He is still very popular in Philadelphia and his recent drafts are bearing some fruit for the Jets.
On paper the Eagles are better but the Jets have pulled off wins against both Cincinnati and Tennessee in a season where no team seems dominant and major upsets happen every week. And, Zach Wilson has started to show some flashes. Will he be the latest quarterback to have a career day while facing the Philadelphia Eagles?
And what about the Eagles quarterback situation? Jalen Hurts is nursing a sore ankle so will he play or do we get our first look at John Holmes…I mean Gardner Minshew (sorry, it’s the mustache)? Minshew is a capable back-up and I believe that Sirianni will tailor his play calling to suit him if he is called into action. He did take half of the snaps with the first team. Apparently this is a game time decision.
It’s not just Hurts. Kelce is not 100%, Jack Driscoll is out for the year and the only truly healthy running back is Kenny Gainwell. Still, one would think that the Birds have enough firepower to win on offense and with their defense facing a rookie quarterback. But, with how inconsistent they have been, all of those injuries and the large spread I am laying off
Although, if Minshew plays he’ll have the benefit of an opposing team that does not have any film on him from this season. That and he has proved himself to be a decent quarterback when he started for Jacksonville. I could totally see Minshew playing well, the Eagles winning and we have ourselves a full blown quarterback controversy, once again, in Philadelphia. Can I lay a bet on that scenario happening? Because if I could, I would bet the ranch.
I think it’s safe to say that the Eagles will not take the Jets or any team lightly going forward.
To do it once is cocky.
But if you do it again?
Well that’s just stupid.