RB Boston Scott Drew Hallowell/Philadelphia Eagles

Roots

Ladies and Gentlemen:

There have been many times in my life when I was wrong about something. 

My wife can confirm that statement. 

And she would be happy to do so…

I laid off of the Eagles last week and endorsed that position very strongly. I, We, had no reason to believe that the Eagles would do anything different. Because up until this point they hadn’t. Stubbornness, youth, lack of experience, owner meddling, weird press conferences, Covid-19, solar flares, La Nina, etc. were offered as reasons for the apparent disconnect between the Eagles coaching staff and the logic that anyone who knows anything about football was suggesting.

But the Eagles coaching staff did adapt. They ran the ball. They played aggressive defense.

Who knew that Boston Scott was a unique combination of speed and strength and that Jordan Howard was a bull who could barrel over linebackers?

Actually, we did. 

“We” meaning the six million Eagles fans across the country who have watched every game, read multiple articles and had countless conversations with friends and family.

Who knew that if you showed different defensive packages and blitzed occasionally you could confuse opposing offenses? 

See answer above. 

And add to that anyone who knows anything about football. Again!

The Eagles dominated both lines of scrimmage and the game was never in doubt. That is still the best way to win. Pure physical dominance.

Now, I know that a lot of people are saying that the Lions are 0-8 and the Eagles beat up on a bad team. But I’m guessing, before the game, that a lot of those same people were also saying that Detroit is a “plucky” team that played the Rams for four quarters and almost beat the Ravens. 

To beat another NFL team is an accomplishment. To destroy another NFL team the way the Eagles did is a building block for the future.

That being said, The Lion’s coach Dan Campbell did not help his team with some of his decisions. The first head scratcher occurred when the Lion’s decided to go for it on 4th and inches with 12 seconds left in the half? This made no sense. They had not scored a single point and this was an opportunity for them to go into halftime with at least something. Even if they made the first down, the chances of having enough time to run a play for a touchdown was minimal. Maybe they get to run one play but most likely they would have been kicking a field goal anyway. 

Then he goes of it on 4th and 11 in the third quarter? The chances of converting that under any circumstances are slim to none.

And to think I was pissed when Sirianni took the penalty in the Raiders game last week on a holding call that gave them another shot at third down as opposed to forcing them to make a tough decision at 4th and 3.  

Jalen Hurts looked a lot better under center and handing the ball off than he did running for his life and heaving balls over his receivers head. The offensive line looked a lot better when given the opportunity to dispense some punishment through run blocking than absorbing it through pass blocking. When you have 236 yards rushing everyone gets a piece of the pie. This type of performance puts the debate on whether Hurts is the answer at quarterback on hold for a at least a week. 

What I don’t think is fair or smart is to make every game, or worse, every drive a do or die statement on Hurts’ ability to be the Eagles long term answer at quarterback. After every game the questions are raised and rumors regarding Howie trading for DeShaun Watson or Russell Wilson pop up. Or even giving Gardner Mineshew a crack at the job. 

To his credit, Hurts still says all of the right things. He takes responsibility for his own performance and for that of the team. When asked about is smaller role after Sunday he simply said that he just wants to win. Leadership. Intangibles. It’s all there.

And if you watch him run you realize how strong and smart his is as a runner. The Eagles had a 90-yard drive to start the second half that was made possible when Hurts ran for 18-yards on a 3rd and 12. A couple of other runs had him breaking tackles and juking linebackers. It’s absolutely worth it to play this out. Man! I feel like I have to say this every week. We just need to get him an exceptional quarterbacks coach to help him with his accuracy and his pocket presence. If only Sid Gillman was still available…

As a side note to this, I was watching the game with my two sons. My 11-year old said on a play in the second quarter.”Why does Hurts leave the pocket? He had time, he could have stepped up.” And, earlier in the game after the third time the Eagles ran the Jalen Reagor sweep my 9-year old said “the Eagles just keep running the same play until it doesn’t work.”

I inwardly wept with joy.

The Eagles are a two point underdog at home against the Chargers. The big question is will the Eagles keep their ground attack going or will they revert back to their pass happy/RPO/have Jalen do everything for us. One would think and hope that they wouldn’t. Even if they have learned their lesson and stick to a more balanced attack I can promise you that they will have a much tougher challenge than they did last week. Not just because of the obvious reason that Los Angeles is a better team but also because this time they won’t be sneaking up on anybody. The Chargers will not be surprised by a run heavy attack and will have defensive plays designed to stop it.  

That’s why Sirianni has to keep adapting. So, after his first 15 scripted plays how does he modify his play calling? A strong running game should be the foundation but I’m worried about this guy going back to the bubble screen or running the same wide receiver sweep three times within seven minutes to the point that even my 9-year old could sniff it out. 

And what about Jonathan Gannon and the defense? Is he going to stay aggressive? He’s facing a much better quarterback, offensive line, running backs and receivers. Does he fall back into his preferred defense? 

Props to him for switching from Alex Singleton to TJ Edwards who had a big day. He blew a couple of coverages but he is a stronger tackler than the Mullet.  

So that’s the question. Will these two young coaches learn form their success, be prepared to make game day adjustments and resist their temptation to fall back into their comfort zones? 

I wouldn’t bet on it. 

Figuratively and literally. I’m laying off again this week. 

Finally, we talked about Sirianni and his flower analogy. That little fiasco of a press conference got a lot of coverage. It obviously got to the players, too.

Here is Sirianni’s post game speech to his players followed by Jason Kelce’s message as well:

https://www.philadelphiaeagles.com/video/nick-sirianni-s-locker-room-speech-after-win-over-detroit

I like the whole “each game is a round” thing like it’s some big boxing match. And Sirianni certainly has enough enthusiasm.

But I can’t help but wonder if Kelce was embracing the whole flower metaphor or mocking it. The team is certainly laughing as they break. Kelce’s dedication to this organization is beyond reproach and he has his finger on the pulse of this team. So either way, I’m going to trust him. And it sure is funny. 

As long as they keep winning.

If they win next week, rumor has it that they may even change the logo on their helmet. Here is the first look at the prototype:

Flower Helmet illustration

Yup. It’s funny. As long as they keep winning.

Roots!

Go Birds!

Eric Written by:

2 Comments

  1. Mike Smith
    November 7, 2021

    The first thing Sirianni mentioned in his post-game speech is how the Eagles physically dominated the Lions. He said it, yelled it, like 3 times. Seemed very proud of that. That’s awesome, it’s just mildly disturbing that it took him 8 weeks to realize what Eagles fans have known for decades: run the ball, control the line of scrimmage, win football games, division titles, and championships..

    Reiner, as you point out, the question is how Sirianni will now adapt his game plan to ensure he can continue to run the ball even when the other team expects it. Play action passing will be critical.

    It’s a little troubling to know how in tune my thinking is with that of a 9 yr old. I was thinking the exact same thing over the last few weeks watching Hurts: he seems to be abandoning the pocket frequently now when there is zero reason to do so. Rather than simply stepping up in the pocket. Here’s hoping he breaks that (Wentz) habit. I think Hurts has real potential. Just needs a legit offensive coordinator and a scheme that takes advantage of his talents.

  2. John
    November 7, 2021

    Perfect summation Eric. You just summed up the dozens of articles and sports talk radio shows I listened to last week. i would truly love to know how much influence on play calling exists from “management” and the analytics folk.
    One thing for sure about the Birds; good, bad or mediocre, they always manage to be interesting!

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