Ladies and Gentlemen:
I’m not going to lie to you.
I was upset after the first seven minutes of that football game.
Punching the closet door upset.
Ah, my old nemesis the downstairs closet door. The door that I punched a hole through when my television went blank during the Super Bowl right when LeGarrette Blount was about to run the ball in for a touchdown. I patched it up but my boys love to point out the obvious scars in that door to anybody who comes over. I added another crack last season when Jalen Hurts fumbled the ball in garbage time against the Saints.
Well, after that ridiculous interception off of Dallas Goeddert’s heel I was mad. Then when Jalen Hurts fumbled I erupted.
My wife and my daughter went upstairs and my youngest son, who at this point is probably a bigger Eagles fan than I am, stayed there and put his fingers in his ears. My oldest son, the cool pre-teen that he is, didn’t blink.
Don’t you judge me.
Admittedly, I was already cooking before the game started. This was after all a playoff game in the sense that if the Eagles lost they would be realistically eliminated from the playoff race. I was at work, recorded the game, exercised a full media blackout and staved off a text barrage from the RT-er formally known as ‘R Flyin. This previously prolific Round Table contributor confessed his newfound loyalty to the Washington Football Team, who he currently works for, a few short weeks ago and involved me in some self indulgent e-mail chain.
There is only so much of his flowery bulls—t I can take on a good day. This was a playoff game.
So, yes, I was a mess and did not come out of it until the Eagles came out of it,
And come out of it they did to the tune of over 500 yards of offense.
Coach Sirianni keeps talking about the “Dog Mentality.”
When he mentioned this after the Raiders game it was laughed at.
No one is laughing now.
When the Eagles shook off the rust of having to sit for 16 days and took the game back they showed that they were still hungry. They showed that they were not going to back down from a fight. They showed that they were going to hump whomever they chose to hump.
That’s a dog for you!
Remember the last time they assumed the persona of a dog? That worked out pretty well for all of us.
A lot was made in the press about Sirianni getting on Jalen Hurts after he fumbled deep in Washington’s territory.
After the game both Sirianni and Hurts said that he responds to tough coaching. After enduring that tirade from his coach Hurts came out and played as well as he ever has.
He didn’t sulk. He didn’t blame anybody else. He did not lose his cool.
He showed his mental toughness. Which is a lot more than you can say about the guy who last played here and just handed us a first round pick by handing the ball off to Jonathan Taylor.
Number 5, who is still statistically the best quarterback the Eagles ever had, didn’t have that mental toughness.
Actually, the last quarterback to pull on a Midnight Green Jersey who demonstrated mental toughness is holding a clipboard for the Chicago Bears.
Nick Foles has not done much since he left the Eagles but he will never have to buy his own meal in Philadelphia again.
Remember St. Nick? That worked out pretty well for all of us, too.
It is pretty clear that Sirianni has his finger on the pulse of this football team. He is growing into his role as head coach. Last week I said that he called his best game ever. This one may have been better. Besides the fluke interception, the Hurts fumble, dropped passes and drive killing penalties the Eagles pretty much moved the ball at will. He put a few new wrinkles into the offense but, for the most part, still stuck to the run.
Some fans were pissed and booing when Sirianni took the field goal on 4th and 2 in the first quarter. But I believe he absolutely made the right call. The Eagles were down 10 points and had given up a touchdown and a field goal off of two turnovers. Turning the ball over on downs would have further demoralized this team. Get the points and build some momentum.
Some of my early criticism of Siriannl was the fact that he did not have a feel for momentum in his decision making and his play calling. I think that has changed. He was also right to take the field goal in the third quarter after Washington jumped off sides on the attempt and put the Eagles in a 4th and 1. The old rule in football is you never take points off of the board. Maybe that concept is a little outdated in this era of analytics but, as with the field goal in the first quarter, it was absolutely the right thing to do. The Eagles went up by two scores with that move and even though the fans were telling him to go for it he rightly took the points and kept the momentum going.
Doug Pederson’s play calling changed the game of football after the Eagles won the Super Bowl. Dougy P. became famous for going for it on fourth down and utilizing analytics. Defenses were not expecting him to make those calls in 2017 and the “balls” he demonstrated was revealed on a world stage when this little play happened:
But now, every head coach is going for it on fourth down. Every coach wants to prove how innovative they are by taking risks. 4th and 5 on the opponents 20? Go for it! I’m an aggressive play caller!
I took a particular interest in The Monday night game between the Vikings and the Bears. Had the Bears won or covered, my brothers and I would have won the weekly pot of the pick ‘em pool that I run. Matt Nagy, the coach of the Bears, went for the first down as opposed to kicking a field goal on three different possessions with his team down by two touchdowns. Late in the fourth quarter it was understandable but it feels like he sold out his defense when he chose to do that in the third quarter after the Bears defense had forced a turnover. It just destroyed their momentum particularly because the defense was playing so well. Also, many times by taking the three earlier in the game you set yourself up for a different scenario in which you would not be desperately attempting to convert low percentage fourth down plays.
I was discussing this with my client, friend, diehard Packers fan and frequent RT contributor Brendan “No Squat Jumps” Rees. He agreed and added that it only takes 30 seconds to get into field goal range. It’s certainly a lot easier to kick a field goal to win or tie than it is to score a touchdown.
Brendan also agrees with me that the Eagles should not trade for Russell Wilson. Because, and I quote, “He sucks!” Like I said, this guy is a Packers fan.
Jalen Hurts, or should I say, Pro Bowl Alternative Jalen Hurts played exceptionally well after his verbal undressing by his coach but he still does not look off of his receivers. The Dallas Goeddert catch in the second quarter, where the Eagles tight end pulled the ball out of the hands of the Football Team’s safety could have easily been an interception if not for Goeddert making the great play. Had he looked off, the safety may not have been able to get their it time.
And since I’m talking about some of the Eagles worst tendencies we have to discuss Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon. Once again he fielded a vanilla defense and did not call many blitzes or even move his personnel around. Washington Quarterback Garrett Gilbert had a higher quarterback rating than Hurts because Gannon’s defense did not bring enough pressure. Don’t get me wrong, I think the Eagles defense played a pretty good game overall. They have become effective at stopping the run and may have actually discovered a playmaker in T.J. Edwards. But I just can’t fathom why Gannon is so hell bent on playing such a passive, quasi bend-but-don’t break defense.
The Eagles are a 10-point favorite over the Giants on Sunday. This is a very short week for the Birds because of the Covid game and they will not have the same preparation schedule. It certainly could affect the game. The Giants are starting their third string quarterback, Jake Fromm, who was signed off of the Bills Practice squad late November. One thing we can be sure of is that whoever announces the game will be creaming over Fromm’s back story like they did with Gilbert this past Sunday. That could also affect the game because the Eagles defense will not have a whole lot of film on this guy.
But do you know what will have the biggest affect on this game? It’s what the Eagles choose to do. If they take this team lightly again, if they don’t pressure another third string quarterback and if they make the mental mistakes that they did in the first quarter against Washington then they will lose.
They have to approach this game with the same Dog Mentality.
Sirianni was sick as a dog but has cleared Covid protocols and will be on the sidelines to coach. Something tells me that he will bark like a dog and instill that Dog Mentality into his team. Remember that the Football Team made the mistake of not letting a sleeping dog lie and they got bit. I’m sure that the Eagles have been working like dogs to get ready for this game on such a short week so they won’t be walking off the field like a dog with his tail between his legs. I’d like to see the top dog on defense Darius Slay get another snap on offense. If he does, then he should just go back to the huddle and don’t engage in any hot doggin’. There is no doubt that they will be dog tired after this game.
As Nuchus always says,”F—ing Dogs….”
Or, Al Pacino form Dog Day Afternoon?
“Cry Havoc and let slip the Dogs of War!” – William Shakespeare
I could go on but I have to see a man about a dog.
The Eagles win but the Giants pull off a back door cover.
Finally, as we always do this time of year…Krusty?