Monday, October 14, 2013

Eagles - Bucs Notes

Fly Eagle Fly
Once a year for the Shooter Mom's birthday, I take her to an out of town Eagles game. Last year, my good friend the Five Tool Ninja (and yes, you have to be all kinds of a site historian to recognize that name) asked if he could join in the fun with his mom, and as this made the drive to Canton and Cleveland a lot more manageable, we went for it. One win later, the tradition became more of a double event. So with the road game rules in place (those would be that we aim for the start of the season to make it a topical gift, we are not putting money in the pocket of an NFC East rival, mostly because it will hurt too much if we lose, and we will error on the side of a city we want to go to, or a team we think the Eagles can beat), away we went to Tampa for this weekend's effort against the winless Bucs. I've filed this report from various airports and planes, so forgive the disjointedness.

First off, the obvious: an 11-point road win over a team in near-mutiny against Queeq-like coach Greg Schiano is not exactly cause to start printing playoff tickets. The Tampa fan base is all out on this team; there is a palpable lack of enthusiasm for their efforts, and all of the energy in the arena was provided by the Eagles fans, of which there were literally thousands. (Probably tens of thousands, really.) Whole sections were more or less controlled by the road team, with more than a little noise being made for the Bucs on offense, and at no point did the Eagle offense look particularly rattled by crowd noise. My laundry travels.

Actual Game Stuff

> Nick Foles is doing his damn near best to cause a QB controversy. Deep balls were pretty, he didn't turn it over for the entire game, he looked off receivers and progressed down the tree, and also avoided any grounding issues. All of that against a pretty good defense coming off a bye. It's hard to say how much of this was him, and how much of it was the skill players with a strong game (more on this later), but if he gets the start next week against Dallas and wins, it's going to be very hard to take the job away from him.

> DeSean Jackson had 2 TDs and 60+ yards against CB Darelle Revis today, and if Buc Fan wants to start thinking Nnamdi Asomugha-ish thoughts about Revis, I'm OK with that. Both of DJ's catches were crosses, which spoke to the reasonable job done by the offensive line, along with Foles being accurate. That's 3 scores now for DJ from Foles in the last two games, two of them in the red zone. If he's actually getting dangerous in the red zone now, he's going to start resembling the WR1 he thinks he already is.

> I love LeSean McCoy more than words can express, but this game could have been a lot easier if he doesn't put it on the ground in the first quarter. After an opening kickoff Blur Drive that goes the length of the field in three minutes and a defensive three and out, turning the ball over and giving a Ready To Quit team life... Not Good. He had a fine day overall and remains the RB I'd choose if I was starting a team from scratch, but man alive, ball security.

> Proving once again that he's a menace in the state of Florida (remember, his collegiate career was spent making the world think Tim Tebow was a QB), Riley Cooper had a deep ball score and big overall day. We're seen way too many games into the career of a guy with baggage to think there's anything meaningful in this, but at least he kept Jeff Mahel at bay for a week. (And if Mahel is putting a fire under his cracker ass to make those plays, so much the better.)

> On the legacy front, Zach Ertz got more looks than Brent Celek, and neither got many looks at all. So much for those folks who thought Foles getting a start meant that the TEs would get fed more. (Me among them. My poor, poor, absolutely shinola on a stick fantasy team...)

> Jason Peters went off for a series, then came back to the cheers of Eagles Road Nation. Acknowledge us next time, Jason! We were worried about you!

> I can't tell you how much I like downs where the offense runs it three times in less than a minute of game play, snaps it fast, and just pancakes an exhausted defense that can't stop third and short, and can't get in subs even when they know it's coming. It's downright porny, it is.

> The fourth quarter saw the Eagles actually running clock, which is the oddest thing I've seen yet from this team. They still go no-huddle, they still get to the ball with 25 seconds on the clock, but then they all turn and stare at the sidelines as if Eagles HC Chip Kelly has blown a whistle only they can hear. Then they all seemingly count to 20 and snap the ball. Damndest thing.

> When the Eagles went for it on fourth and inches late in the fourth, it was *exactly* in front of where we were sitting. Pretty cool. As for the play itself, I subscribe to the theory that they weren't going to snap it, and that Foles just brought it back when he saw the defender move. But I could be wrong there. In any event, you have to think that if Kelly really trusted his defense, he just snaps it regular there without tomfoolery or timeout. It was nice to be on the other side of the field from a bad team costing itself the final chance at a comeback by jumping offsides, though.

> With the exception of one poor punt return that set up a Bucs TD drive, the special teams were reasonable today. P Donnie Jones stopped one at the 1, K Alex Henery connected on the one opportunity that made it a 2-score game, and no one turned it over in the return game. I realize that I'm damming with faint praise here, but for as up and down as this unit has been, not losing is kind of like winning.

> 31 points on the road, with reasonable red zone work, against a good defense with your back-up QB. Oh, and without the benefit of short fields or strong special teams work. In case you weren't aware, Kelly can coach some offense. And Foles might have a reasonably long NFL career.

> By the way, the Eagles became the third team in NFL history to have over 400 yards of offense in their first six games. But remember, Kelly's stuff doesn't work, and he's just a punk college coach who will be made humble by the NFL.

> And now for the defense... well, I suppose there is something to be said for holding Doug "The Muscle Hamster" Martin down all day. But even that accomplishment has got some taint on it, because many of Martin's runs were called back for holding flags that a home team normally gets away with. (Perhaps the zebras have it in for Schiano as well?) They also let leadfoot QB Mike Glennon convert a few downs with his legs, and that's something that should never happen when the QB is 6'-7" and white.

> Glennon, by the way, looks utterly ordinary to me, and the fact that he threw for fairly high yardage with minimal negative plays really does not fill me with confidence going into the Dallas War next week. If you need a guy to stare down a slant as if he's a caveman discovering fire, then throw it to where he was staring, Glennon's your guy. Real NFL secondaries are going to devour him.

> WR Vincent Jackson made whoever was guarding him today (and the fact that I don't know who had primary on him is all kinds of telling) look like they were bound for the CFL. I get that he does that to a lot of guys, but even later in the game, when VJ was getting double-team attention, Glennon was still able to lock on to him and move the chains.

> I had hope that this was a secretly mediocre defense, but 20 points to a rookie QB where you don't pressure him for 58 minutes, don't take away his WR1, and give up an unconscionable amount of third and long conversions... well, um, no. The Eagle defense will look like it's getting better to the people who didn't watch this game for anything but final score, but they really aren't there yet, and likely won't be a long while yet.

More Tampa Stuff

> In re the stadium... unless you are really getting into fine points, most NFL stadiums are pretty much the same. Raymond James is the eighth I've been in at this point (the full list: Veterans, Lincoln Financial, Browns, Edwin James Dome in St. Louis, Oakland Coliseum, Lambeau in Green Bay, Soldier in Chicago, and now this one), and with the possible exception for Lambeau, there really isn't a ton of difference in them. Football sight lines are what they are. If you are behind someone large, you are hosed, if the weather is bad, more so, and if a big play happens right where you are, it's all kinds of awesome. Otherwise, there are good and bad things to say about every seat and place. I liked where we were (road team side, 15 yard line), because a fair amount of the big plays in the game happened in front of us, and I wasn't down so far as to be staring at the backs of the players' heads for most of the game.

> Going to an outdoor game in Florida in mid-October? Bring sunscreen. When the sun went behind a cloud, life was much better, but that didn't happen very often. I don't feel sunburned as I write this, but others in my party are. I also do feel like I've had more than a little of my remaining years bleached out of me.

> The Bucs' mascot, Captain Fear, does not look like the most heterosexual mascot under the best of circumstances, and he's really way too femme-y when he's pinkwashed with breast cancer awareness finery. Make your own joke here.

> I know that their record and their championship happened in the Pewter Era, but some part of me always wants the Bucs to wear the creamsicle patsy jerseys. It's just such a unique identity, you know?

> To avoid rental car complications and parking snafus, we took cabs everywhere. Raymond James shares a base area with the Yankees' spring training complex, which threw us hard in the leave-out, as we went over a bridge to find a better cab stand for the ride back to the hotel. Upon finding no cab stand, we tried to call for one, got told to wait for 20 minutes. We waited, waited too long, called again, then got told to go to the cab stand. Great. Not what you want to have happen when you are trying to make it back to the airport for a flight out. Then, when we finally caught a cab, the guy had a faulty fuel gauge and literally ran out of gas as he was pulling into the station, which meant that the Ninja and I had to push him in. Tampa's Cab Industry, you did not cover yourself in glory today. But we got to the airport on time enough to eat and leave anyway.

> Tampa's airport, OTOH, is aces. Much more so than Atlanta, which is just way too damn big and off-putting. Kind of like, well, Philadelphia.

> Our single best memory of this one will be a group of loud happy Eagle hooligans who had a fantastic "Move the chains! Move the chains! Move the chains! Move the GOD DAMN chains!" routine worked out with gleeful call and response. I wish I had videotaped them. I know I was chanting along with them later in the day, especially after Buc Fans melted away from us.

> Oh, and on the off chance that anyone feels bad for Buc Fan for having their stadium invaded and their nightmare prolonged today by my rude, rude laundry... um, Brad Johnson and Warren Sapp have a Super Bowl ring over a Raider team that even Andy Reid would not have lost too, and that Super Bowl would have happened in San Diego which means I might have actually been able to go to the game, having lived in NoCal with the Shooter Brother in SoCal. 10-year-old me also remembers a Vermeil Era playoff loss with more than a little bitterness, and yes, I was rooting for that Raider team in that Super Bowl, because, well, screw the Bucs. The Eagles could play them every year for the next decade and punk them with regularity, and I'm still not going to say anything more than "Hit Them In The Face Again." Pity, my arse...

> With today's win, the Shooter Mom and I are 3-3 with a three-game winning streak. Personally, I'm 4-4. Feel the randomness! And no, we're probably not going to another game this year, no matter what. Standing outside in Northern New Jersey in February is for complete idiots and more complete idiots, especially when you are going to spend thousands of dollars for the privilege...

1 comment:

Tracer Bullet said...

Foles' deep passes are beautiful in the "object floating gently through the ether" sense rather than the "crisp NFL pass" sense, but he got the job done.

I'd planned to go to San Diego for that Super Bowl too. The Eagles can stamp on their faces everyday and twice on Sundays until the end of time.

Ads In This Size Rule