Monday, October 26, 2015

Eagles - Panthers Diary

RB Coach Scapegoat Duce Staley
> The national media is making this all about Sam Bradford, and sure, what the hell, fine. Me, I wonder why it's not all about the coach/GM that brought him in, didn't improve the offensive line, babied him during pre-season rather than give him extended reps, and paid a king's ransom to get him, when he could have just kept what he had, and had $10 million more in cap space to spend on, I don't know, an actual WR1 in Jeremy Maclin. But sure, make it about Good 'Ol Captain Cross-Eyed Checkdown. That's fine.

> You will be shocked, shocked, to learn that the Panthers are undefeated because they believe in each other and play as a team. Why doesn't everyone else do that?

> Panthers win toss, defer, touchback. It's how every NFL game starts now. Good job, NFL!

> The world's worst screen pass is routinely thrown by Bradford to RB DeMarco Murray, and this game starts with that for two yards. Why it's not a pick six, I'll never know, considering you can see it for about a three count before it happens. Murray in the middle for six with some good power, ends with violence. Third and don't start the game horribly is Murray through the hole, big nice gain, with S Kurt Coleman (we remember him!) for the stop after 12. Nice start for the offensive line.

> World's Worst Screen on first, because doing the same thing over and over again is fun. From the gun against free rushers, RB Darren Sproles goes wide for four. Third and six and keep the ball for more than two minutes is Bradford from the gun, connects with TE Zach Ertz for the first, but nothing happened due to RT Lane Johnson moving pre-snap. Gahhh. Third and 11 is a mess, with DE Mario Addison with the sack, and that won't do much to LT Jason Peters' Pro Bowl aspirations. P Donnie Jones hits one deep, PR Ted Ginn fair catches it for no real good reason, and Teal will start deep.... but LB Najeh Goode gifts them with 15 yards for derpery. Smart.

> RB Jonathan Stewart for nine yards in a moving scrum, with the ball loose, but the home team retains. Second and one from the gun is a counter for massive yardage, with CB Nolan Carroll stopping it after 36 yards. Not exactly a hot start for the best unit in Green. QB Cam Newton from the gun to WR Torry Brown (nee Philly), to the one, good throw against a mush rush and yeah, Newton is good. First and avalanche is FB Mike Tolbert in with a surge, and that's a 4-play, 72-yard, 2:36 drive that just told Green that playing their usual half-assed game is going to get them slaughtered. Big push from the Teal line, and once again, Nero Kelly is a ball of fire, albeit one passing through your rectum, out of the blocks. Teal 7, Green 0.

> K Graham Gano continues his perfect night with his second touchback. Play action, deflected ball into traffic, disaster turnover with great reaction on the tipped ball. That's yet another bad moment for WR Jordan Matthews, but the ball isn't accurate from Nero's Own QB, and Teal is set up for complete avalanche.

> Newton to Ginn, possible fumble at the end of the play, with Carroll doing yeoman strip work, and who knows what the refs will decided on the replay. Ruling is a pick, and wow, what a break/great play by Carroll. The play stands, because there isn't enough to overturn it. Green at their own 6, big bullet dodged for the moment.

> Murray for four with the possibility of normalcy, whatever that is, returning. Slow tempo, loud crowd. From the gun, long clock, Bradford to Matthews, holds on for once, 4 painful yards. Third and 2 and don't just give it back you freaking doofs is Bradford actually getting to his second read, and Teal overreacting and letting WR Miles Austin collect 22 easy yards.

> Murray outside, had a little room, goes still and dies for a yard. By all means, keep force-feeding him; it's got nothing to do with why the offense is always DOA at start. Bradford with a nice play action move, gets it to true RB1 Ryan Mathews, who gets 20 and finishes with power. That was good football. Matthews again for a yard, very much a back and forth fight between these two lines. From the gun, Bradford takes a derpy coverage sack, and if the QB ever does anything decisive, I haven't seen it. RG Matt Tobin doubled a man to let DE Kawann Short through for the sack, and it's time for the weekly Peters Is Dead moment. If and when this is for real, the team's least replaceable player is gone, so feel free to throw up.

> We're back from commerce for more commerce, with Peters still dead on the turf. Yeah, this is just the worst. Non-contact injury, leg buckled, that looks career-ending. The cart comes out, and yeah, Green players look like they are at a funeral. Dennis Kelly in at RG, Tobin out to RT, and it's jailbreak time. Bradford evades pressure, misses Murray on the checkdown, and the QB looked a wee bit terrified on that play. Jones to the 11, Ginn with the fair catch.

> Stewart outside for a yard, probably a favor to run it out wide, where S Macolm Jenkins can fill. From the gun, Newton to Ginn for 7 yards, timing route against a blitz that didn't get there. Third and 2 and keep it kind of a game is Newton keeping for a lunging two yard conversion, just what he does. LB Mychal Kendricks just not quick enough to get it done.

> Newton to TE Gregg Olson, major chunk of yardage, no idea what the coverage was doing there. 28 yards and a massive amount of ease. Stewart gets three, five after contact. Newton sacked by Kendricks, kind of a coverage play despite the blitz, as Stewart got a piece, but not enough. Third and 14 and get off the field is Newton rolling out and just missing a stupidly open Ginn. Maybe the pressure from LB Brandon Graham had an effect, but still, that's pretty much an unforced error. Sproles fields a hop and goes nowhere, and Green will have it at their own 11 at the tail end of a new variety of disastrous first quarter.

> What, exactly, do you call with a robotic QB, a leaden RB1, no good WRs, and an OL that's down its best player, and playing musical chairs? Peters is said to have a lower back issue, which is better than a knee, I guess. Murray for six on a good surge from the interior line. Bradford to Ertz for the checkdown first down, and that's the end of the quarter. A better one than most for Nero!

> Sproles, like water through a dam, six yards in the middle. Bradford has time, then very quickly does not, with LB Luke Kuechly showing his quicks. Third and four and pretend that we belong on the field is a Green timeout, because even Nero understands this isn't going well and wants to talk about it. After the discussion with Bradford Speculation, it's gun work to Spoles with good time from the line, and a first. Phew.

> The Panther line ends Sproles with a loss of two, so much for the internal line winning. Bradford to Austin, a hair behind to slow progress, and eight yards. Third and 3 is fast pressure, and Bradford gets two on a doomed lunge. Fourth and one sees Green go to the line and force a Teal timeout; smart by them, really. At their own 46, just not sure I'd go for it, but Nero is what Nero does, I guess. From under center, Bradford rolls out and keeps as his screen checkdown is blown up, two yards with a moderate amount of courage, and a big amount of relief.

> Murray for three yards on a World's Worst Screen, a little power at the close. CB Josh Norman is forced to leave for a concussion test. Heh. From the gun, Murray with a hole and even a little burst, but it comes back on a hold by C Jason Kelce, not having a great game, but a little marginal, as Kuechly fell at the right time to draw the flag. Mathews gets back six to set up third and 9. Bradford to Matthews, can't hang on yet again, and I think we can retire the narrative that the second year WR has good hands and bad luck. That should have been a first down, isn't, and you have to play better than this against a good defense on the road. Jones to the 10, Ginn a non-combatant. Twenty minutes, no points, but six first downs and 110 yards. Not Green's worst effort to date!

> Stewart for seven, much more room than usual against what is supposed to be the best part of the Eagle defense. Then goes left and gets 10, and he's got 6 for 66 already. Yikes. MLB Jordan Hicks ends Stewart with violence after 3. Newton forces one to Olson, CB Byron Maxwell with the near pick, have to have that. Third and get off the field is long clock, and an awkward screen to Ginn that doesn't get the first, and honestly, Teal is just doing favors by getting away from the running game. P Brad Nortman with a weak effort, and Green starts at their own 28.

> Telegraphed slant, Norman blitzes, deflects, and nearly has a pick six. Remember the narrative of how Bradford just needed a good offensive coach? Those were good times. Mathews for four, then Bradford makes LB Thomas Davis whiff on a blitz, and connects with Ertz for 10 and the first. Big play for the QB, honestly. Johnson false starts to end the good feelings. Mathews with true burst for 22, and wow, that was a great run. Bradford rolls out, heaves it hard to avoid grounding, screen got blown up with no other option. Bradford to WR Josh Huff for six on a sit down route agains the zone. Third and four and avoid the long figgie miss is Bradford to Huff, the WR drops it, doesn't get the call. From the Teal 34, the defense has to call time to avoid 12 on the field. After commerce, K Caleb Sturgis connects from 51, and give the scrub his due; that would have been good from longer. Peters with X-rays, still on the cart and slow, But Not Dead, and might get back after the bye, basically. Sturgis with a kick out of bounds, and that's more like it, scrub!

> From the Teal 40, Newton from the gun to Olson for nine; immediate down, but still. Razzle dazzle flip to Ginn for 44 yards, and that was just absurdly easy. First and goal from the 8 is the final Teal timeout of the half, which also means they can't challenge for the next three minutes, so, um, woo. We get footage of Jerry Richardson, because Life Under Nero isn't depressing enough. Fake counter, keep to Stewart, loses a yard with the defense reading it well. Second and goal is jumping and Newton taking a dive; the refs call it encroachment on NT Bennie Logan, and Newton is laughing like a soccer player. From the four, more derpery, and two more yards on Logan. Just make it easy on them, Bennie. Six flags to zero for the home team. From the 2, Newton keeps and scores with the dangerous single arm with ball lunge, and that drive was absolutely gift wrapped. Teal 14, Green 3.

> Three and a half minutes left in the half, and Teal gets the ball to start the second, so this isn't an inconsequential possession for Green. Murray for two, no great urgency, then mucks into the line for nothing. Pretty much the game on the line for third and seven, and Bradford from the gun takes Sproles on checkdown, and Davis ends him despite a spin. Just the right time for a three and suck. Two minute warning due to Teal not having timeouts. Jones gets a good roll to eat 10 seconds off the clock.

> From the Teal 30, Newton to Ginn, 12 easy ones. Newton to Brown, committee meeting, out of bounds before the catch, should be a flag but NFL refs are the worst. Clock derpery as well, and we get a review for the obvious call, because the refs can't make an obvious call quickly. The crowd doesn't know the rule, so five yards happens for funsies. Everyone Can Feel More Stupid Now.

> From the Teal 42, first and 15 and I guess we're still playing football, it's Newton with time, tipped ball off Newton, no pick. Cox with near mayhem. Second and 15, Jenkins with the pick of the year, a lunging catch on an out route where he had great coverage, and that's the kind of play that's going to get him a Pro Bowl invite. Wow, wow, wow.

> From the Teal 39 with 73 seconds left and two timeouts, we might have a game if the offense can do anything. Bradford to Matthews, thee yards and clock running and pointless. Bradford tries the wheel route with Matthews and gets DPI on a badly thrown ball on luck. From the Teal 23, Bradford gets tipped and nearly picked, and yeesh. Bradford to Ertz, open on a cross to move the sticks, and it's first and 10 from the 11 with 28 seconds left and one timeouts. Everything in the playbook open.

> Bradford tries Sproles, and the RB makes a hash of it; Davis might be the match for him. Bradford to Matthews, can't get both feet down, nearly a great play, but not. Third down, Norman recovers and denies Ertz, and yeah, he's the best CB around. Simply great play by the DB, and impressive work by a real defense. Sturgis connects from 29, and it's 14-6 Teal. Sturgis squibs, with Teal sitting at the 29. Newton kneels, and that's the half.

> Sturgis gets lucky with KR Fozzy Whitaker dropping a returnable ball, so Teal starts at their 20. Ginn with 15 on the easy smoke screen. Slow weak keep for Stewart is a loss, with Newton taking too long. Simple cross and first for WR Jerricho Cotchery, and that was bad defense. Tempo for Teal, then long count for another slant to Ginn, and it's knife through butter drive again; 20 yards on a nice catch of a speed ball. Newton is bothered not at all by a blitz, and Olson  gets 28 and punishes Carroll at the close. First and about to not be a game any more is Tolbert for a yard as Carroll returns. Second and goal is long clock, then Tolbert breaks three tackles on a covered screen for the touchdown. Men against boys, with Jenkins not wrapping up and Maxwell completely whiffing on a freaking fullback. Gano converts, and it's 21-6 Teal.

> NBC runs the stats to show how fading the Green offense goes under Nero, as if we needed numbers to know this. Bradford nearly takes a strip sack, then stumbles for two. Murray for a yard, and no one in Teal covers Bradford for the keep, because that will never happen. Third and six from the gun is Bradford to Ertz, nice work by the line to stop the rush. Murray for four and borderline assault; TE Brent Celek not able to clear a hole on Davis. True RB1 Mathews goes 63 to the house, and wow, is he so much better of a RB than the addled mule that starts ahead of him. Kuechly overran the play, but the ability of the RB to out-run the DBs to get all the way there was impressive. Sturgis converts, and still, somehow, a game. 21-13 Teal.

> Sturgis touchback, then jailbreak pressure on Newton, just gets it away for an incomplete, and maybe the defense's head is back in this. Stewart for five, and third and dream about Mo Mentum is Newton from the gun, tipped ball, and Maxwell gets the pick and even a return. Poor throw by Newton, big break for Green, and Maxwell is just plain lucky, but better lucky than good...

> From the Teal 18 with the game very much in question, Murray loses a yard with his trademark poor vision. Bradford takes Celek on a rollout for seven yards, and it's third and four and a big damned deal. With tempo, Bradford to a very covered Celek, but it's ahead of the sticks for the first; good accuracy into a tight and very covered space, and the line is winning more of the battles. With NBC counting plays and the Panthers losing bodies, it's Murray for a yard, then another one on a long right run, and again, QB can keep for green space, and why is the roster's worst RB getting all of the meaningful touches. Third and goal from the six is Bradford to Huff, and the WR can't catch a ball on the hands. Tough catch behind him, but good players make that play, especially on the road against a real defense, and Huff just isn't a good player. Sturigs connects, and it's 21-16 Teal with 21 minutes left.

> Whitaker to the 25 as NBC shares more of Nero's lies about the salary cap; he had to do all the stuff that didn't work out, honest! Stewart for 9 with the middle of the line not doing enough. The RB gets two and the first, with Green showing a little teeth in the post-whistle. Procedure for Teal makes it harder, then long clock before Tolbert gets 11 around the corner, the Green DBs not getting off blocks. Stewart runs through contact for another first, and if Teal's smart, they just do this the basic way until Green stops it.

> From their own 48 with NBC in full Nero Apology / Media Geisha Mode, Stewart for three, then four more. Third and maybe Green's only chance this drive to stop a passing play is Newton from the gun, holding against a blitz and a throwaway, and that's one of the uglier stops you'll see. The refs can't call a number or decline the flag right away, because NFL refs are horrible now, but it's eventually worked out. Nortman's punt is caught by Sproles at the 10, and the offense has a chance to get a lead. Might I suggest using your best RB to do it?

> From the gun and alone, Bradford has time to derp around before hitting Austin for 10. World's Worst Screen to Mathews for no gain, then it's a wheel route to Ertz for 24, great throw and catch, and those are the kinds of moments that keeps hope alive. From the Green 45, Bradford is lucky to avoid grounding on backfield derpery, and that's the quarter.

> 15 minutes to go and a fighting chance for the road team, Mathews wide for not enough. Third and 10 and a big damned deal is Bradford from the gun, has time and Austin, who isn't covered on the shallow cross and gets past the sticks. Big conversion. Murray for 3, then again on a much better hole for 8, and the sticks move again; best run of the night for RB3. Long sweep for 1 just to remind us that Murray can't do that well, then long clock with a free blitzer and a miscommunication before a near pick; yeesh. Third and 9 in long figgie range is another big damned deal, and clock is such a problem that it's a timeout. Twelve minutes left. Terrible smoke screen call to Huff, does not work at all, and that's the drive. That's the best you can do after a timeout? What the blue hell, Nero? Sturgis from 50 just misses, and it probably would have been good from, I don't know, 45? Great work, Nero. Just great, great work. Still a 5 point game.

> Teal with the chance to salt it away, doesn't run it, stupidly. Holding on RT Michael Oher on an overthrow screen, then Newton to WR Devon Funches, who has tons of room against Carroll fo the first. Stewart for seven to get to 100+, then Newton to Brown for a simple slant and first, and this is looking like knife through butter time again. Newton with patience for 16, and that's just simple power and easy as hell. Newton throws it away on mushy pressure, then Stewart for 2 as DT Fletcher Cox does damage. Third and keep it a theoretical single possession game is Newton from the gun, too much time, but the coverage is good and Maxwell did good work there. This secondary can cover when the opponent doesn't have all *that* much. Gano connects, 24-16 Teal with nine minutes left.

> Teal touchback as NBC hypes next week's game, because a one possesion game in the here and now isn't as interesting as something Peyton Manning will do in a week. Murray for four as Kuechly goes down, and Teal might win this battle and lose the war, but the LB jogs off. Second and 6 is Murray actually executing the sweep well (!) and getting first down yardage.  Bradford takes a sack as Short owns him and LG Allen Barbre. 2nd and 19 is World's Worst Screen to Mathews for 4 yards. 3rd and 15 with less than 8 minutes left against a team that can run the ball well with seven minutes left is a big deal, and Bradford misses Austin at the sticks. Oh well, nice effort, I guess. Jones with a good punt, coverage team does the job, and Teal can put this away on the ground after commerce.

> Stewart for 4. Long clock, then three more in the mosh pit. Third down and maybe still have a chance is Newton from the gun, blitz doesn't get there, and Brown converts on the open cross. Clock runs. Newtown throws deep, a favor, and Jenkins has Brown covered; clock stops, but a long time later, a flag is called on Carroll, so oh well. Stewart for five, even the run blitzes not mattering. Four minutes left as Stewart mushes for three. Third and two and borderline last chance moment given the figgie and clock, is Teal power, but RB Cameron Artis-Payne is stopped on slow development, and HC Ron Rivera did Green and NBC a big favor. Fourth and one from the Teal 49 is a Green timeout with 3:18 left; I guess. Nortman punts, Sproles fair catches at his own 11, and Green has to go 89 yards and convert a 2-point PAT to force overtime. No pressure, Nero.

> Bradford from pressure, sacked, fumble, Kelce recovers and a flag on the play, which is holding. Nice drive start! Resembling the end of the Slurs game. Second down from the end zone is criminally inaccurate to a somewhat open Sproles, and it's 3rd and 16 from the 5. Bradford from the end zone derps it, DPI waived off on a non-tipped ball, and if that gets Green a first down, that's the suckout of all suckouts. First down on the Green 15 with three minutes, still a game, somehow.

> With fresh downs and a letter from the governor, Bradford from the gun gets sacked again, this time by DE Jared Allen, and so much for the idea that the line can wear a team down with a lot of snaps. Second and 16 is Bradford to Matthews for 7. Third and nine is a drop by Ertz, might have had a chance in single coverage, and you just can't have mistakes like that, yada yada yada. Fourth and fail is Bradford to Austin, open WR, high but catchable, but Miles Austin is Miles Austin, and that's your ball game.

> Stewart loses, Green timeout. Two yards, clock runs. Stewart for a few more, clock down to 23 seconds left. Newton waves his arms, Teal tries a figgie rather then do something more tricky, and Gano connects from 29 for the final score, despite LB Bryan Braman doing his best Superman impersonation. Teal 27, Green 16.

> Gano touchback, and Bradford gets to come out to pad his numbers, or add to the turnover count with some lateral derpery. Some desperate fantasy honks enjoy three throws to Sproles for 25 yards, then it ends with a knock down by Kuchley. Teal is 6-0, Green is 3-4, and the best week of the season is upon us: one with no Eagle football.

> Some fun numbers from this one: Bradford threw it 42 times for 180 yards, or less than 5 an attempt. Hard to do, really. Mathews was kept from 100 yards rushing by the only men who could do that, the Eagle coaching staff. If you'd like to continue to apologize for Bradford, a lot of drops in this one; if you'd like to not do that any more, plenty of room on that bandwagon. NBC noted he was on a one year deal anyway, which sounds like one of those things that Nero would say off the record, because he's all about Culture.

> Oh, and thanks to NBC and Nero, we now know who is responsible for RB3 getting all the touches. It's RB Coach Duce Staley's fault, because he decides the rotation. Say, not to propel a tired narrative, but isn't Duce your only black coach? Way to throw him under the bus, Nero.

> Next up: relief from terrible football, also known as the bye week. Maybe Jason Peters isn't dead! Maybe the division will stink so bad that the year can end with a home playoff loss, rather than a regular season one! Much of this game resembled football, and after the bye, Murray is sure to be faster than his coach!

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