Monday, September 28, 2015

Sad Sad Sam

Less lovable by the day
As I write this, Green Bay is trucking a good Kansas City defense at home. QB Aaron Rodgers is playing the game with remarkable comfort in rain, causing offsides for free plays, always going deep on those, putting up 24 points in the first half and looking for all the world like he's bored by it. Rodgers is just the best in the world at what he does, and while there are people who would rather have other QBs to win a big game, there's no other guy that I'd rather have to start a franchise.

Sam Bradford went first overall out of Oklahoma, and when he was drafted, many thought he was going to be a star. He's 6'4", ran the 40 in just under 4.8, and could make every throw, at every tempo. His pro day performance was legendary, and locked down his consensus draft status.

Bradford is two inches taller than Rodgers... but you'd never know it by looking at them. Bradford is four years younger than Rodgers, but looks remarkably closer to the end of his career at any moment. Bradford's 40-yard time is the same as Rodgers, but Rodgers buys time in the pocket with uncanny awareness, and I wouldn't trust Bradford to be aware of an oncoming forest fire. Bradford went first in his draft, while Rodgers went 24th. (Maybe Bradford's year was just terrible for QBs: the next five taken were Tim Tebow, Jimmy Claussen, Colt McCoy, Mike Kafka and John Skelton. Honestly, the third-best QB from the 2010 draft might have been Joe Webb.)

All throughout the preseason, the Eagles were over the moon on what they had with Bradford. The accuracy, we were told. They just needed to keep him healthy, which isn't exactly a reason to release both guards while drafting no one, and signing no free agents, but so be it. Every prediction about the Eagles season was entirely based under one basic point: if Bradford took all of the snaps of importance, the Eagles would be better than last year's Sanchizy mess.

Well, we're through three games of what looks to be a pretty miserable slog. The season's not over, because Darren Sproles willed it not to be, the division is terrible, and .500 might win it. If you can play your best football later in the year, that should be enough.

But with the exception of one half of football against an Atlanta team that was playing some inexplicable version of prevent without a pass rush, Bradford has looked as bad as any Eagle QB in recent memory.

He is, to put it bluntly, so tentative and telegraphing as to be borderline unwatchable. He stays with his first read way too long, especially on anything that looks like it's going short (screens), and seems like he lives in mortal fear of taking contact. He never challenges the defense deep, even on a throwaway to just put the fear of bomb or long DPI into a defense. There is absolutely no threat of him running the ball, and the instances in which the offense catches the defense in Tempo Hell are dramatically lower than even when Sanchez was below center. The Eagles won last week, with some praising Bradford with the faintest of praise by noting the lack of INTs, but it seemed more luck than skill.

I get that his best WR (Matthews) is just a slot guy, that the change from Jeremy Maclin to Nelson Agholor is anything but an even swap, that this offense has never been the same since Nero Kelly aborted DeSean Jackson for no good reason, and that Riley Cooper, Miles Austin and Josh Huff barely belong on an NFL roster. All of which was said about Bradford's teammates in St. Louis, all of which is never said about any QB of merit. Donovan McNabb went to NFC championship games with Todd Pinkston as his top WR. The Rams looked better without Bradford, and in the Eagles last year looked better without him, too.

A final word about this: no one in this town with an inkling of sense wants to see any more of Sanchez, as anything more than a kick in the ass to Bradford. Everyone knows what the team has there; a guy that can win games against terrible teams, and move the team against mediocre defenses, but who is an absolute turnover machine against anything more than that. Sanchez, another high draft pick turned unwatchable bust, is what he is. At least with Bradford, there is still the tiniest inkling of hope that he just needs to shake off the rust, learn the system, get further away from the knee injuries.

But with every snap, with every series, with every plodding execution of the smallest number of plays ever seen in a QB1 playbook, all of that melts away, drip by drip.

In a year filled with reasons to feel bad about watching football, Bradford might be the biggest.

At least no one's talking about how vital it is for him to stay healthy any more.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Golf Diaries: Above and Below Levels

This Hole Blows
It's been a good year in golf. I keep getting closer and closer to what I feel is my true level, which is a guy who shoots in the 90s with stretches of strong competence, rather than a true hack. Maybe even with a round where it all comes together, and I'm even better than that. With the year starting to run out -- I don't play when it's cold, and neither should anyone, really -- I booked a discount walking rate at my local muni course and got out on a partly cloudy morning, with three guys who obviously play there, well, all the time.

Here's the thing about golf; it's entirely on you. There's luck involved, sure, and you are battling the elements, but if the round starts to go badly, there's no coach or teammates to bail you out. Which means that your own mind is your best friend and worst enemy, and managing it is as much of a task as the course, really.

Here's something else about me: I'm very self-conscious about how I appear to others, and do everything I can to avoid seeming like a problem. So when you pair me up with three guys that are dramatically better than me, and who play at a quick pace because they always know where the ball is going, and the shortest distance between every spot on the course... well, Not Comfortable.

Some of my best times on a golf course have been while playing alone. There were a number of rounds while on assignment in Oregon, when I had weekends to myself and the ability to just go and play 36 holes if I felt like it, on courses that were abandoned due to the start of hunting season. Some part of me is just longing for those rounds again, when I was relaxed, playing at whatever pace worked best for me, and without any social pressure at all.

So the guys I went out with? Had no idea just how difficult they make the game for others, or how inconsiderate they were. The best and oldest of the players kept leaving the tee box before I'd hit, and all four of them would be off like a shot on every drive, so I was pretty much running to catch up on second shots. They bitched to the ranger about the pace of the foursome in front of us, when there really was no problem. I kept feeling like I should just quit the round, especially when the front nine kept seeing drives that didn't get off the ground.

But I kept at it, because, well, what other option does one have, really, in the middle of a round? Besides, I kept hitting enough decent recovery shots, and not scoring disasters. And finally, after a 10th hole where I couldn't escape a sand trap for love or money, I finally got to the point of not caring what anyone thought, and taking more time to address in the tee box.

Miracle of miracles, shots started happening. My short game, particularly my 8-iron bump and run chips, got me a number of nice up and downs. I played a par 5 with unnatural maturity, refusing to pull out the 3-wood for a 200 yard water carry that really isn't in my bag, and also not screwing up the set up and approach wedges where a sulking screw-up can really ruin your day. I nearly pulled off three pars in a row, which I've never done in my life, but keep getting closer and closer to doing. And while the round ended sloppy -- the 17th at Mercer East is an embarrassment of a hole, a straight par four with drainage issues where my near dead-center drive was in a near unplayable bog -- I still felt fairly good about my score and round.

The next level is close. I just need to remember that, especially when my brain is telling me something else.

Top Ten NFL Week 3 Ad Questions

Short People Got / No Money...
10) Is Cam Newton followed everywhere he goes by a random and diverse group of Panther personnel, especially when he might buy yogurt?

9) Has anyone told Burger King that when food turns black, it's more diseased than spooky?

8) Can we get Congress to legislate against daily fantasy leagues, if only to stop the incessant advertising?

7) Why is Denis Leary angry about roosters, and how does it sell trucks?

6) Is Troy Aikmann an alcoholic, seeing how he's buying cases of beer at the world's loneliest gas station?

5) Has any man, let alone any black man, ever freaked out about not being able to fold a fitted sheet?

4) Can I play Halo without having to think very much about the back story?

3) How many people have Nissan drivers killed with their competitive driving?

2) Did the dad who bought his newlywed kids McDonalds for the post-wedding getaway hate them with his whole heart, or his whole heart and soul?

1) Can DirecTV replace Petite Randy Moss with Not Black Randy Moss, since we seem to be fine with ridiculing people for things they can not change?

The Eagles Win, And It's Incredibly Depressing

Drink every checkdown
So in the aftermath of today's Eagles - Jets game, the first win of the 2015 season, I took my dog for a long walk. It's a good way to unwind and just think, because it's a time without screens, without anyone else's analysis, without noise.

And when my dog squats and relieves himself, and I scoop up his leavings, it reminds me of what I've watched. Especially when he's eaten something he shouldn't.

What we had here was a 7-point win from a team that was +3 in turnovers. Who scored on a punt return touchdown, to boot. Against a team that was missing their top RB, and their WR2, and their WR3, with a borderline QB2.

The Eagles took the early lead, and had any number of opportunities to try different things. They pretty much ran the same plays they ran against Dallas. With a running game that has become wildly predictable, there's still no carries by the WRs, no delay draws, no multi-back formations where the defense has to cover both sides of the field, no read option where the QB keeps. Against a pass rush that just didn't get there for the Jets all day, QB Sam Bradford was the same inefficient checkdown machine that he's been for everything but the second half of the Atlanta game. His final numbers -- 14 for 28 for 118, with a touchdown -- are pretty much in line with the Dallas disaster, with the exception being that there was no garbage time to add ballast, and no gut-busting interceptions. (New York didn't make plays, basically.)

There's been no breakout for TE Zach Ertz. WR Nelson Agholor looks lost. WR Josh Huff, who showed physical gifts last year, is completely MIA. WR Riley Cooper and WR Miles Austin, two guys who you would not call dangerous on a football field if they were carrying flamethrowers, get targets. The only explosive offensive play is a wheel route to a RB. There's no RB3 to grind out a clock, which is officially worrisome because RB Ryan Mathews is fumble and injury prone, and you can't use up Darren Sproles with a million touches. Bradford, despite his plus arm, doesn't look like he has the grapes to challenge a defense for anything more than checkdowns, or that his alleged better weapons and coaching has taken him above the level he showed in St. Louis.

A good team doesn't win by 7 points when they are +3 in turnovers and score on STs. A good team doesn't score about a point a possession, or go 4 for 14 on third down. A good coach doesn't follow up an utter debacle of an offensive football game with pretty much the exact same goddamn game plan.

When I woke up this morning, I tried to feel optimistic about the game, because I knew I'd be watching it. Either they'd right the ship and get back in the race for the NFC lEast, or they'd lose and we'd be one step closer to getting Nero out of town.

Instead, they piloted a third course: a win that showed their ceiling with as much certainty as the losses before it, with growing evidence that the coach, the QB, and the talent is a total washout. Only with a worse draft pick than what a total washout could deliver, and maybe with just enough wins, and the dread Rising Action, to mean that this is all going to take longer to purge.

They won. They are a game out of the division lead. They play the Slurs in DC next week, and a win there might put them back at the top of the division. The defense played their second straight plus game. If they keep getting better all year, no one will care that they stunk on ice in September.

But honestly, can you look at this team so far this year, and this game today, and feel like they could ever win a playoff game? Or even just play a game that you would enjoy watching?

Eagles - Jets Diary

Do not touch the hem of his garment
> K Cody Parkey can't get it into the end zone, but the coverage does the job

> Jets Fan is very loud; don't think many Eagle Fans made the trip to see an 0-2 trainwreck

> RB Bilial Powell for four, solid running and surge

> False start on the home team, then QB Ryan Fitzpatrick from an empty backfield to WR Jeremy Kerley to set up 3rd and 5

> Big early down for field position is Fitzpatrick from the gun to Kerley, who drops the ball, gets the catch anyway, and is short of the sticks

> The Jets punt, and PR Darren Sproles gets no chance on a high short kick with a good bounce

> QB Sam Bradford from the gun to start, internal run to Sproles, who wiggles his way through for five

> More tempo than usual, with QB Sam Bradford hitting LB David Harris on the hands for a dropped pick, but defensive holding gets a charity flag

> RB Ryan Mathews with the best running play of the year so far, going for 27 with power and good God, a hole and a burst and woo

> Bradford bounces a bad ball off Mathews, then throws another terrible ball to him that he catches for a mess of a smoke screen

> 3rd and 13 out of figgie range is a big damned deal, and it's Bradford from long clock to WR Jordan Matthews for 17

> Nice throw and catch, really big play

> From the Jet 20, it's Sproles on the long sweep left, and he's shifty for five

> Mathews for power up the gut, gets the first down and looks so much better than Murray, it's not funny

> Bradford to Sproles for a middle screen that nearly gets him killed, bad scheme with Harris ending it

> 2nd and goal from the 9 is Sproles on slow handoff left, the Jet defensive line winning every battle

> 3rd and goal from the 13 is Just Avoid A Turnover time, and Bradford from the gun misses WR Miles Austin

> The WR was actually open, but Bradford missed him, and outside of the Mathews throw, didn't look good during that drive

> Eagles 3, Jets 0, and it says something about the 2015 season that Red Zone Fail feels really good

> 40 rushing yards on the first drive is more than Green averages in an entire game this year

> Parkey's weak limp of a kick just drips out of bounds, and the Jets will start at their own 40, with the K's bad year continuing

> Powell for a yard, with LB Jordan Hicks doing damage

> Fitzpatrick to WR Quincy Enunwa for five, quick out

> 3rd and 4 from the gun is Fitzpatrick to WR Brandon Marshall, but CB Brandon Maxwell is all over it, and stops it short of the sticks for another 3 and out

> Sproles lets a punt bounce at the five, but it checks up perfectly for very solid work by the Jets STs

> From the 2, it's Bradford from the gun with borderline grounding into a blitz, with WR Nelson Agholor looking gun-shy

> Slow tempo give to Mathews for three, and the 1 of 14 third and long percentage on the year doesn't inspire confidence

> Delay of game from third and seven, and feel free to lose confidence on Cross-Eyed Sam

> Third and nine from the gun to a loud crowd is a checkdown to Sproles, who commits an act of magic to move the sticks

> Loss of five on the stretch sweep that this team should never, ever, call again because they have no guards, but the coach is a genius

> Matthews for a yard on the inner run everyone can predict, then 3rd and 13 from the gun is a miss to Agholor, but would have been called back anyway on a hold by G Allen Barbre

> P Donnie Jones gets it off despite pressure, and the erosion of the STs from last year's team continues

> Fitzpatrick to Enunwa, who drops it, and the loss of WR Eric Decker has hurt the home team so far

> 2nd and 10 is a nice catch by Kerley on a slant, not a great throw, just short of the first

> 3rd and 1 from the 46 is play action to TE Jeff Cumberland for the first, Eagles missing their starting LBs there

> Powell dances too much and sits, then its Fitzpatrick to Marshall, slung backwards by S Malcolm Jenkins for a loss

> Really nice play by the safety to set up 3rd and 17

> Fitzpatrick from the gun settles for Kerley on a safe screen, and Hicks stops it at the 50

> P Ryan Quigley continues his solid day by checking one out at the 8 yard line, and if you bet the under, that sounds like a sound move

> Predictable run to Mathews, but he wades through it for five yards

> Bradford to Matthews, looked liked Green got away with illegal motion, but it moves the sticks and ends the quarter

> Bradford from an empty backfield to TE Zach Ertz, ball was high and nearly got him killed, but he makes the catch for nine yards anyway

> Internal run to Sproles, no push, loss of two, and ye gads, this is a bad line

> 3rd and 3 is a blitz that's picked up, and Austin gets open, but Bradford isn't accurate enough, and CB Antoine Cromartie knocks it down to end the drive

> Bradford still playing pretty terrible football, really

> Long punt by Jones, Kerley makes four guys miss and gets 13 on the return

> RB Zac Stacy for a couple, then Fitzpatrick tries WR Devin Smith on a jump ball, but CB Nolan Carroll makes the play

> 3rd and 8 to get off the field sees the QB get nailed on a delayed blitz, with LB Connor Barwin doing a nice job

> Maxwell got away with a hold on the play, but at least he was close enough to do that

> Sproles with absolute magic on a punt return touchdown, the sixth of his career, and honestly, that was freaking fantastic

> Patience on a long kick, an 89-yard return where Sproles makes four guys miss, and it's suddenly Eagles 10, Jets 0

> Parkey can't kick anymore, but this offense won't make him do that much; coverage stops it at the 22

> Powell with a big hole for seven, left side of the line just collapsed

> NT Brandon Bair with a good stop to save third and short

> 3rd and 2 to get off the field again is Fitzpatrick from an emphy backfield, 3-man rush, but the QB misses Kerley and that's another three and out

> Quigley with a higher kick this time, and Sproles has to make it a fair catch

> Matthews with great effort for a yard, then Bradford hits him in the hands on a wide open wheel route, dropped and good grief

> 3rd and 9 from the gun is long clock and a drop by Austin, short of the sticks, and this offense can't overcome mistakes, because the QB is terrible and the coach insists on playing WRs who can't win against quality CBs

> Good coverage of the punt sets the Jets up at their own 27

> Screen to Powell should lose a lot more than it does

> 2nd and 10 from the gun is a checkdown to Stacy and Jets Fan is starting to boo

> 3rd and 7 is a heave from the QB under pressure, and Kerley makes a great one handed catch, but can't get both feet down

> The Jets challenge anyway, because their crowd can't accept reality, but there's no way this is getting overturned

> After the wasted time out, Quigley's sixth punt of the day leads to an immediate takedown of Sproles

> From their 25, Matthews gets 10 on the internal run that can't come as a surprise to anyone, so good execution

> Matthews again to the left, gets nothing, then Bradford from the gun has all day, then wiggles around to connect with Ertz for 21

> The TE had time to wave the ball in, so let's not compliment the QB too much

> Sproles for 2, then Bradford from the gun to Jordan Matthews for 6

> Third and 2 with pace is Sproles to the right, and he gets 12 against a misaligned defense

> From the gun, Bradford with all day, then derps a ball to WR Matthews

> Weak work by the QB to wander into pressure, really

> Bradford to RB Matthews, wheel route is wide open again, and this time the RB catches the ball and gets to the pylon

> Best ball of the day by the Eagle QB, and it's 17-0 after 25 minutes

> Fitzpatrick to Marshall for 20, and the WR tries a senseless lateral for a gift turnover to the defense

> Hicks with the on the spot recovery, and there's no way that should be overturned and bail out utter stupidity

> The refs don't reverse, and the road team has a real chance for serious separation

> Bradford misses Agholor on a fairly deep cross, and the offensive line is doing the work on pass protection

> 2nd and 10, checkdown to Sproles for no gain, but the Jets take a dumb suplex penalty for 15 as their fans go nuts

> Kind of a hateful flag, but that's the league now

> From the Jets 21, Sproles for 3, then Matthews for 8 on the sprint draw, now with a hint of subterfuge and a RB that's fast

> From the 10, Matthews with patience to the 4, and DeMarco Murray can stay hurt

> Bradford blitzed, gets it off to Jordan Matthews, just shy of the end zone

> Tempo give to Sproles, he bulls his way in, and it's 24-0 with two minutes left in the first half, and you couldn't call this expected

> Credit where due: Cooper did good work there

> G Andrew Gardner on the ground following the score, but able to walk off

> Parkey, high and short, coverage is on it

> Fitzpatrick checks down to Enunwa, and that's the 2-minute warning

> Powell moves the sticks on a wide open internal run, then the Jets take a lot of time before a slow run, stopped by DE Vinny Curry for a loss

> Enunwa with a great catch, gets up and gets more

> Sack by Barwin, set up by Curry, Jets timeout and a mistake by the QB to not get away

> 45 seconds left, and Fitzpatrick gets it to Smith, again, poor clock management

> 3rd down is a conversion to Marshall, but he can't get out of bounds, and that's the home team's final timeout

> 17 seconds to go and no timeouts, Fitzpatrick misses an open Smith in the end zone

> 12 seconds left, so a sack could save points... but Fitzpatrick finds Marshall in the end zone, and it's still a game

> Really the only weak work by the defense in the half

> RB Kenyon Barner collects a dribble kickoff and is downed before the clock ends, so Bradford has to take a knee and lose a yard from his race against Murray for total rushing yards

> Before we go announcing the return of Prosperity, Bradford is 10 of 20 for 92 yards and a score, with all of about two really good throws

> After the touchback that other teams get, it's Bradford from the gun on the wheel to Jordan Matthews, incomplete but with an 18 yard DPI flag

> G Mat Tobin in, Gardner out, which isn't likely to help

> Lots of time, checkdown to Matthews, and the WR gets to the sticks

> Slow draw to Sproles, no gain, then a sack with illegal formation, and yeah, the line is still bad

> Third and 20 is a check down to Sproles, gets 9, and that's that

> Jones to the 12, fair catch by Kerley, and the offense hasn't done enough to put this away

> Fitzpatrick to Smith on a rollout for 16, really easy play as Maxwell isn't close enough to defend

> Powell too slow, with S Nate Thurmond taking him down for a 1 yard loss

> Pass rush doesn't get there, and Marshall gets 16 on another out, defense starting to lose contain

> Bair with big pressure and a deflection, nearly a disaster for the Jets, but just an incompletion

> Fitzpatrick's pass sails high, maybe on pressure, and it's 3rd and 10

> Very important play to keep the momentum is Fitzpatrick from the gun, tries Smith on a fly, but CB Eric Rowe has it locked down

> Powell stoned Hicks on the blitz, but no harm done

> Quigley with a good punt, and Sproles can only run it out of bounds

> From the 10, smoke screen to Matthews for five, then not very fast tempo before a super telegraphed incomplete same play, and what the hell

> Third and five with the possible auto-eject is Bradford from the gun, long clock, and a forced slant to Austin doesn't work at all

> That entire series existed in a 10-foot window to short left, and would have embarrassed a high school offense

> Jones punts, good return, and this is a game that's just begging to be given away

> From the Eagles 45, it's a terrible delayed draw, but Powell gets five out of it

> Jets with tempo now, and it results in Barwin jumping for an offsides and a second and next to nothing

> Fitzpatrick tries Marshall in the end zone, but Carroll gets the deflection with no flag

> Third and inches is a QB sneak for five, because my defense is really dumb

> With tempo, Fitzpatrick from the gun and long count, with a Favrian shovel to Powell for no gain

> Powell for six yards on good running after a checkdown

> 3rd and 5 to save a long figgie at least is Fitzpatrick from the gun, trying Smith in the end zone; Rowe makes a great pick and a flag goes against the offense, so phew

> Like most things from preseason, day is night and night is day, and Rowe's been great

> Matthews for 2, then nothing, and you can sure count on this offense to burn clock

> Third and 8 from the gun is Bradford to Sproles, who drops a perfect pass for what might have been a score

> The wheel route is the only route in the Eagles playbook that gets someone open

> Jones punts, coverage is good, defense gets to do it all over again with still 21 minutes left in the game

> From their own 30, Fitzpatrick with the obvious screen to Stacy, LB Brandon Graham eats it for a loss of five

> 2nd and 15 is long clock and a ball into the dust as Bair jumped into the eye line

> 3rd and 15 from the gun is a give up screen for no gain and a chorus of boos, just a really good game for this unit so far

> Quigley to the 29, Sproles with a fair catch, and 19 minutes left

> Matthews for 6, nice quicks on the stretch draw

> Bradford to Sproles on a smoke screen from an empty backfield for a yard, just no other place for the defense to cover

> 3rd and 3 run is stuffed, and for all of the geisha work that the media wants to do for Nero, this offense has scored 17 points while being given an embarrassment of opportunities

> If the offense had just derped it up with normal tempo, this game might be over already

> From their 19 with 18 minutes left, Fitzpatrick to Smith for 11, then all day to throw into double coverage; attempted arm punt incomplete

> 2nd and 10 is Powell for 4, and third and six with 17 minutes left is a big damned deal

> Fitzpatrick to Marshall converts for 14, high throw into punishment, but he's a real WR

> From the Jets 48, empty backfield, Fitzpatrick misses Cumberland, and wow, no one's good here

> Fitzpatrick escapes a sack and gets 5 yards, and that's the end of the third quarter

> Third and 5 from the Eagle 47 is a big damned deal, and its Fitzpatrick from the gun, forcing it to Marshall, and clear holding on Maxwell for the first

> Powell for 3 before NT Bennie Logan gets him down, clock running, run, clock, run

> Fitzpatrick to Cumberland, poor throw limits RAC

> 3rd and 2 for another possible kill shot has the Jet QB trying to run for it, and the spot gets it

> Graham's tackle rolled the QB forward for the first

> 13 minutes left, and a false start makes things harder for the home team

> Indecision and a poor throw from the rollout by Fitzpatrick to Kerley

> Long clock, then Fitzpatrick to Marshall, their only weapon, for 20 and the first

> Fitzpatrick to Enunwa for 8, then Marshall for a yard on pressure from MLB DeMecco Ryans

> 3rd and 1 is Fitzpatrick keeping it for a yard and a first down, and you would have no idea that the home team was down 17 from the pace shown here

> Marshall drops a touchdown, though Jenkins had decent coverage

> Fitzpatrick to Kerley, slant for the score, and that was easy; defense overplayed Marshall

> K Nick Folk for the not automatic PAT, and it's a 16 play, 81 yard drive, 8-minute drive

> Eagles 24, Jets 14, and with 9:37 left, the defense will only have to stop 3 or 4 more possessions to get a win

> 122 to 21 on second half yards as the kickoff team takes a knee

> Loud crowd as Matthews gets 13 on the sprint draw that DeMarco Murray is too slow to run

> Detention Mode for the offense, and Matthews gets 9 to the right, two really big plays for what has been a bad sequence

> More Detention Mode, then a conversion up the middle

> Empty backfield, Bradford in Detention Mode, then Matthews with the back-breaking fumble on the sweep

> Harris with the play, and good grief

> Fitzpatrick to Powell for 11, all kinds of body language for them now, Maxwell with poor technique going for the ball

> Incompletion as Fitzpatrick is behind Kerley, then a tipped ball and Hicks gets the answer turnover

> Bair with the tip from pressure, and make no bones about it -- the defense won this game, no other unit

> With 6:28 left, Matthews for five and with many timeouts left, game is far from over

> Detention Mode from the gun for no gain to Matthews, and it's curious that the team has no other RB they want to give the ball to right now -- GM Nero strikes again

> 3rd and 5 from the gun with five minutes left is Bradford trying Agholor against CB Darelle Revis, and the best thing that could happen is an incomplete, really

> Jones takes contact but gets no flag, and Kerley returns it to the Jets 23

> Once more into the breach, dear defense

> From the gun, Fitzpatrick to Enunwa checkdown, tick tick tick

> QB hit before an incomplete, holding not called

> 3rd and 4 from the gun is a back shoulder throw to Marshall, moves the sticks and he's a beast; holding on Maxwell waved off

> Powell for 12 on great effort, but does not get out of bounds

> Batted pass after a long clock burn helps a bit

> Tipped ball on a force to Marshall, Thurmond with the pick, and a great play by the DB to get the ball and the feet down

> Guess what, a sweep on first, stopped for a loss and a timeout

> Give to Matthews, who gets seven yards and burns another Jet timeout

> Third and five for the possible kill shot is a give up run to Sproles, because it's not as if this offense can do a damned thing

> Last Jets timeout, still 3+ minutes left

> Jones with a short kick, but the coverage team is up to the task

> Fitzpatrick to Powell, 12 yards and out of bounds

> Fitzpatrick misses Enunwa high, then misses Powell to the left, and he's just trying to avoid another turnover at this point

> 3rd and 10 from the gun is good pressure, and a bailout to Powell for two on QB mobility

> Folk tries from 54 and connects, and it's still very much a game, because trying to win with only a defense is damned difficult

> 2:34 left with no timeouts is a likely onside kick

> Trickery from the Jets, with two kickers lining up for onside, but WR Siri Ajirotutu gets the recovery, and Phew

> From the Jet 48, it's a slow sweep to the left for Matthews for 2 yards, because no other play is allowed on first down

> Assuming no points on this drive, the offense will have scored 17 points on 13 possessions, and win by 7 in a game where they were +3 on turnovers

> Two minute warning, then Matthews for 2 more, and the RB had one hand on the ball just to add insanity to things

> 3rd and 6 and this will be a running play to eat clock, with as much imagination as the rest of the calls today

> Illegal subs with 12 men on offense, and I have no words for Nero's Brilliant Offense

> 3rd and 11 is another flag, because why not, false start on Ertz and good grief

> 3rd and 16 from the 46 is blocked off, but a hands to the face flag from the defense is an automatic first down, and a fitting end to an afternoon of Really Bad Football

> Two kneeldowns from Bradford, and that's a bad win for a bad team, but the upcoming schedule is a great mess of tomato cans, so, um, woo

> With Dallas losing at home, DC Still Terrible and the Giants being the Giants, hope springs pointlessly

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

NFL Picks Week 3: Pope Pocalypse

The Pterodactyls Are A Good Touch
This is the week that has been the focus of more dread in the greater Philly area than anything in recent memory, and that's because of the Papal visit. Honestly, you can not believe Teh Dumbness here. The security corridor is immense, the traffic warning signs have been up for weeks, to the point of causing delays on their own, and the grousing has been absolutely rife. Personally, I've adapted my Saturday plans (local golf course, rather than one across town), and the office where I work the day job has been angling for full shutdown not just on the Friday, but also the Monday after. It's as if there was a blizzard coinciding with a hurricane, and the logistics involved have boggled the mind.

Why? Well, no one can respect the idea of a government plan for this that will just work. The region has some of the deepest population density in America, and has scheduled big dumb public events before, but nope -- panic. Or, and this is almost as equally predictable in its charming inevitability, others are planning on treating this as a costume party with drinking.

Folks, it's a weekend. It's going to end soon enough. If you really need to sit in your basement with canned goods and bottled water, have at it. And please, please, please, find yourself some real problems.

Speaking of Real Problems, we're over .500 (woo!) for the year, but just barely, and have some work to do to get back to historical futility. Let's flip some coins. And with that... on to the picks!

* * * * *

Washington at NEW YORK (-3.5)


Can Big Blue derp up another fourth quarter lead, and give the Slurs the early lead in the clubhouse in the short bus race that is the NFC Least? Well, no, especially if they get back WR Victor Cruz to make the passing game correct. Besides, it's not as if DC has any idea how to deal with prosperity. Oh, and the idea that these two teams should play on a short week to a national audience is proof, not that you needed it, that Thursday night games are a terrible idea.

Giants 27, Slurs 20

Pittsburgh at ST. LOUIS (+2.5)


One more moment of bitter for Eagles Fan: QB Nick Foles has been fine for the Rams. He'd have been better if his WRs didn't drop 12% of passes -- the most in the league -- but if and when he gets back WR Brian Quick, that'll help. He's also getting close to RB Todd Gurley, and he's at home against one of the five worst defenses in football. While QB Ben Roethlesberger will put up numbers, the Rams will be the ones with the win, with Foles having the kind of numbers that just add salt and brine to the wound.

Rams 34, Steelers 31

San Diego at MINNESOTA (-1)


1pm Eastern / 10 am Pacific start for the Chargers, who also get to deal with the resurgent RB Adrian Peterson. I'm inclined to give the Vikings a mulligan for that terrible MNF loss to open the season, and call their win against Detroit the real level of this team. Which is to say, frisky. Especially at home.

Vikings 26, Chargers 20

Tampa at HOUSTON (-7)


Surprisingly big number for a team that won in the Bayou last week, but there's a chance that says more about the Saints than the Bucs. On the road against JJ Watt and a Texans team that's due to get something going on the ground, I think it's a long day.

Texans 23, Bucs 17

Philadelphia at NEW YORK JETS (-2)


The Jets are better everywhere that matters -- both lines, WRs, DBs -- and are at home. Philly will be desperate and the likely loss of RB DeMarco Murray to a hamstring problem will have short-term benefit, and the Jets' short week also helps, but just expecting a snapback in the middle of a trainwreck is insanity. So is caring very much about what happens to this team before HC/GM Nero Kelly gets fired. (Christmas? Thanksgiving? How about Tuesday? Tuesday's good for me.)

Jets 24, Eagles 13

New Orleans at CAROLINA (-13.5)


A bad road team even under the best of circumstances, and this isn't the best, because QB Drew Brees is dealing with a rotator cuff issue. Look for the Panthers to control clock and grind out a win that will excite exactly no one.

Panthers 24, Saints 10

Jacksonville at NEW ENGLAND (-13.5)


A big line against a Jags team that won nicely against the Dolphins last week, and the Patriot secondary can be had... but the Patriots don't mess around with young and not ready clubs on the road. Besides, they like running up the score, because they are terrible human beings, just like everyone who roots for them.

Patriots 41, Jaguars 24

CINCINNATI (+2.5) at Baltimore


Gut check time for the Ravens, but the defense isn't good enough to hang without Terrell Suggs, and the Bengals have shown resilience across the board in two starts. I think the road team wins, but even if they don't, this is the kind of divisional game where getting two points might be enough.

Bengals 24, Ravens 23

Oakland at CLEVELAND (-4.5)


As much as I want to take the road Raiders after last week's surprising win at home against Baltimore, especially with the Factory of Sadness going back to QB Josh McNown, the Browns just have a better defense and the 1pm EST advantage on a West Coast team. Besides, when your coach's name translates to Masturbate the River, you don't win back to back games.

Browns 27, Raiders 20

Indianapolis at TENNESSEE (+5.5)


Everyone thinks the Colts are just going to snap out of it, but after two games of derpery, I'm just not so sure any more. The offensive line is a mess, they have no healthy CBs, and this Titans team is frisky. I'm not saying they don't win this game, but covering the spread seems like too high of a standard, especially with a short week of preparation.

Colts 24, Titans 20

ATLANTA (-1.5) at Dallas


The Falcons go for 3-0 on the road against the crippled Cowboys, who have a half dozen injuries of note and will face the league's best WR in Julio Jones. Dallas might win this game by just putting their heads down and handing it off 50 times, but I'm not sure their RBs are good enough for that, and the Falcons defense has held up, at least early. Besides, it's not as if Dallas has a home-field advantage.

Falcons 27, Cowboys 24

San Francisco at ARIZONA (-6.5)


The Niners got exposed on defense on the road against the Steelers, and it's likely to happen again, what with Big Red's stable of wideouts. Arizona's defense also has seen QB Colin Kaepernick's act before, and will know to spy him.

Cardinals 31, Niners 17

Chicago at SEATTLE (-15)


Just about the perfect storm for blowout here. Good team that's desperate, welcoming back an incredible necessary player (S Kam Cameron, ending his holdout), facing a bad road team that's starting their back up QB. If the Hawks were 1-1, I could imagine a back-door cover, but they aren't, and this is going to be a 3-hour beatdown of frustration release.

Seahawks 34, Bears 17

BUFFALO (+2.5) at Miami


I wish I had the ability to put down money on things like "The Dolphins will not be happy they signed Ndamakung Suh." The Bills aren't historically good on the road, and both teams need this game something fierce while sitting at 1-1, but I think the road team will make fewer mistakes.

Bills 23, Dolphins 20

Denver at DETROIT (+3)


The SNF game puts the Broncos under the lights in a loud dome against an 0-2 Lions team, and I think it's going to be one of those classic Gary Kubiak is Smarter Than You games, where the Broncos try to run the ball with QB Peyton Manning under center, when the only way they can move the ball is 100% shotgun and short passing. They'll fall behind early behind coaching malfeasance, then not get all the way back against a loud crowd.

Lions 27, Broncos 26

Kansas City at GREEN BAY (-6.5)


For the record, I don't miss Andy Reid, even though he was never as exasperating as Nero; that ship had run aground, and there are more than two coaches in the world. Especially when they do things like blow home leads against a Bronco team that was ready to turtle up. On the road against the best QB in the world, they won't be able to keep up.

Packers 27, Chiefs 17

Last week: 9-7

Year to date: 16-15-1

Career: 634-646-44

Eagles Nation Reacts: Bring Out Your Stupid

Play That Stupid Music, Chip Boy
So for the past couple of days, as you might have guessed, the greater Philly area has been awash in hue and cry -- mostly cry -- about the Eagles' epic fail. Which has mostly revolved around the following points of True Dumbness.

1) Chip's Gotta Fix This!

Um, folks? The team is -- or was -- healthy during this game, and the unit that has shown the most struggle has been the most healthy. To wit, these are the *starting* offensive lineman, and that means the back ups are *worse*. While still being sentient human beings, and presumably able-bodied men in their 20s and 30s.

But don't worry. The starters will be getting hurt real soon, because that's what happens to aging players, and players on teams that are going absolutely nowhere. They check out, and don't hurry back from injury, because hurrying back from injury just means more time wasted. Injuries are going to start happening for this club any goddamned minute now.

There is no fixing this.

There might be some wins, in that going winless in the NFL is downright difficult. Maybe even a remarkable recovery all the way back to utter mediocrity, which would be enough to win a division that is clearly the worst in football now, what with all of the injuries. But in terms of actually winning a game of importance, that hasn't happened in the first two years, and it's not going to happen now.

2) People Who Say I Told You So Are The Worst!

Um, no. People who aided and abetted Nero the GM are the worst, and YOU MUST ATONE. It's kind of like how the Democratic base rejected Hilary Clinton for Barack Obama in 2008, because the latter was Wrong Wrong Wrong on Iraq, and being Wrong Wrong Wrong on Iraq just was such a powerful fail. (Note: nearly 40% of the country was *always* against the war on Iraq. Not as if the media will tell you this, but I digress.)

I don't just want Kelly fired. I also want Howard Eskin gone. And as many Philadelphia sports media people with him. And sure, that's not how this works, but let the stink of Chip stay with his geishas forever, please.

If you didn't get off the boat fast enough, you failed. Maybe you should sell shoes instead.

3) They're gonna bounce back!

Um, did you *watch* the Monday Night game, where the Jets walked into Indy and made Andrew Luck look feeble? Are you aware that the game is in New York, that this is the first actually *good* defense the team will face this year, and that Brandon Marshall will get lined up against Brandon "Nnamdi" Maxwell?

I get that the Jets are historically bad. They aren't this year. They are 2-0, and neither win was a fluke. The defense is for real. The offense has a reasonable line, tolerable skill players or better, and a QB that is good enough to beat terrible teams at home. Which is what this team is. This season is over.

4) Tebow Will Save Us! Call Tebow!

Sometimes, I think people who root for this laundry deserve what they get.

5) Play Mark Sanchez!

See Tebow.

6) It's all Anyone But Chip Kelly's Fault!

Kelly signed Maxwell, who says he was too tired to cover the game-ending slant against Dallas, and laughed when told Julio Jones' numbers. Kelly traded for Sam Bradford, who threw the back-breaking picks in a game that, as badly as the Eagles played, was still winnable. He also looks utterly terrified of throwing anything more than ten yards down the field. Kelly retained Billy Davis, who did more to ruin the season than anyone last year. Kelly couldn't throw Evan Mathis any additional money, because signing back up RBs and QBs for big money was more important. Kelly couldn't abide DeSean Jackson, or retain Jeremy Maclin, and now has no one on the team that qualifies as a downfield threat. Kelly retains Riley Cooper, and continues to play him, for reasons that can only qualify as pure stubbornness. Kelly throws away Chris Polk, and trades for injury prone guys who get injured, and so on, and so on.

For six months, we've been saying the emperor has no clothes, that the train has left the tracks, and that this franchise had utterly lost its way.

Other people watched pre-season and talked about the Super Bowl, or Tebow.

So the stupid?

It's not new.

It's just gotten more obvious.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Golf Diaries: Tap In

The 14th, from the back of the green
Linfield National is one of my favorite courses to play. It's not as if there's something all that magical about it, as the place has tee boxes that are too tight to each other, and a lot of pace issues if it's crowded. You'll spend the round not seeing cart service, dealing with a high amount of ball marks, and the drive from my place is substantial enough to not get there very often. But I just tend to play well there, and the price is usually good. Saturday, I was able to get out to play a round with my best golfing friend, and the guy I've played more rounds with than anyone. We enjoy each others company, and we're pretty equal in play, so it works out.

The game has been going better for me recently. Getting my eyeglasses right makes putting a whole hell of a lot better, and the muscle memory is starting to get to the point where my inner very mediocre (18 to 28 handicap) golfer is coming out, rather than the utter hack who only has a handful of decent shot per game to make him keep coming back. After a few rough holes to start, I put back to back pars together, just missed a third, and close the front with a 47 despite carding an 8 on a par four. I've also hit one of the best chips in my life for a tap in par, and I am, on the whole, enjoying my life very much.

We get to the back nine after a crushing delay, and I start it with an absolute bomb of a drive on a par four, the kind of shot that makes the hole into a pitch and putt par 3 that I never, ever convert. A skulled pitch stayed on the green, but a couple of putts aren't great, and I follow it up with a botched par 3 for double bogey, just an embarrassing hole to score badly on after doing so well on the day to date.

The next two holes are also a bit of a struggle, which is depressing, given that they are kind of the signature holes on the course, at least from a picturesque standpoint. I'm also ducking the pair behind us hitting up on a blind turn on a par five, which given the pace of play on the course, was borderline inexcusable, but it's not as if you get a ton of intellect out there, some weekends. So while I've had a bunch of good moments, I've also had some weak ones, and the round can go either way, really.

So we're on the par 3 14th, 132 on the card from the whites, 125 today from a slightly forward position. It's a hole where you leave the cart behind and climb steps, then hit over the cart path, and a water carry. I tell my man that the water really isn't in play, and it's not, given that it's a fairly short hole and an elevated tee, which makes him shank a shot into the drink with comedic inevitability, and I tee up my 8 iron.

Like most shots from a weak player, I don't really have the right distance for the hole. 125 from the same elevation would be fine for this club, but elevated is another story, and I've recently nuked a 7-iron a disturbingly long way, compared to what's needed here. But a 9-iron would make me think I have to kill the ball, which would just have miss-hit and water all over it. Besides, if I'm over, the hole has a natural backboard with the cut of the hill, and it's far from disastrous. So, 8-iron it is.

The contact sounds and feels the very slightest bit thin, without much of a divot, but it's as straight as an arrow, and maybe five feet right of the hole, and fifteen feet in front of it, when it lands. I've gotten enough elevation that the bounce is minor, and the ball checks up and meanders closer to the hole, finally stopping less than two feet away. My man puts his second shot on the back fringe, and as we drive up, we're joking about how far from the hole it looks like from the tee, as opposed to how close it will be when I get over it. When I walk up to it, it's maybe two feet from the cup, in an area of the green with no break. I stare it down like I've got a mortgage payment on the line, putt it a little firm, but watch it rattle down for the birdie. The rest of the round doesn't really matter, but I play well enough to break 100, without any more great moments.

Here's the thing as to why this experience got words: I'm 46. I don't work out as much as I used to, don't run as much as I used to. I have a director level job, and it's well and good, but it's not likely to make me rich. I'm not good enough at poker, or fantasy sports, or golf, or blogging, to make a serious buck at it. I'm a homeowner with a wife and two kids, good friends, a good job, and on some level, it can feel, well, sad. I've written books and songs and blogs that won't be remembered, and I don't do anything so well as to Matter with a capital M. There are parts to me (eyes, teeth, etc.) that remind me, more often than I'd like, that challenges are ahead, along with compromises and acceptance and maturity and wisdom.

And then there's golf, where occasional moments and this last month or so of play has said No, and Hell No, and Eff That, because look at that 8 iron creep to a tap in, and look at that drive on the 10th, and so on, and so on.

Getting worse at everything is a story, and our lives are stories that we tell the world.

I can tell a better one.

I can make birdies.

And I can see it whenever I want, by just closing my eyes and remembering the flight of the ball, the sun shining through the trees, the look of the ball mark on the green, and the sound when the second shot found the bottom of the cup.

Game on.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Top 13 Positive Takeaways for Eagles Fans

Clap Hard For Tinker Chip
13) If you watched today's game against Dallas, there's a reasonable chance that you have seen the worst football game ever played, so everything else is a step up

12) Evan Mathis went to a good home upstate, where he gets lots of fresh air and sunshine

11) Booing will be much less of a problem, since people without hope generally don't do that

10) Many people with the relatively common last name of Bradford, Maxwell or Murray will be able to save on jerseys soon

9) If the Eagles want to sign QB Sam Bradford to a contract extension, the price just got a lot lower

8) Kiko Alonso is really experienced at rehabbing a knee from an ACL issue

7) You kind of felt dirty rooting for DeMarco Murray anyway

6) It will be much easier to remember how to spell Maxwell as the answer to Worst Free Agent Cornerback Signing Ever than Asomugha

6) It's not as if anyone else in the NFC East is going to win a playoff game, especially with all of the injuries

5) The ex-Eagles RB having the best year is Dion Lewis, not LeSean McCoy, and DeSean Jackson is hurt, so there

4) Since the team has a really great culture and really good character guys, there won't be any finger pointing, dissension or turmoil

3) Going to San Jose for the Super Bowl would have disappointingly expensive, and the weather out there at that time of year isn't all that great

2) Now that the team hasn't won a meaningful game since last Thanksgiving, you might stop hearing about how Chip Kelly Is A Super Genius

1) Riley Cooper, Billy Davis, Chip Kelly and Jeffrey Lurie are human, and as such, will one day die

Eagles - Cowboys Diary

Getting Even More Used To This
> For some reason, Joe Buck is unshaven, which is about as exciting as Buck gets

> It's reported that DeMarco Murray stared down the Cowboys in pre-game, so, um, woo

> K Cody Parkey with a limping touchback, and he's still a concern

> Loss of a yard for RB Julien Randle and false start keeps the crowd loud

> Romo from the gun, sacked by LB Connor Barwin on a stunt, and where was that last week

> 3rd and 22 to get off the field fast is a give up run to RB Lance Dunbar; he gets 8 and that's that

> P Chris Jones gives PR Darren Sproles a chance, and he gets 14 to start things at the Green 39

> Murray for 1 inside, then a nice catch by WR Nelson Agholor for 8

> 3rd and 1 from the gun is a deep out to WR Jordan Matthews, no chance, 3 and out and that's just a terrible low success rate play call and gahhh

> For a guy with a cannon of an arm, QB Sam Bradford just has not impressed at all to date with the deep ball

> For some reason that no one will ever be able to explain, Green takes a time out on fourth and one from midfield, when a delay penalty would not have mattered at all

> Fox talks about how wonderful HC Chip Kelly is, as if that wasn't a total waste of a possession and timeout

> Randle for six, then two, as Dallas tries to get back to equilibrium

> 3rd and 2 from the gun is Romo to WR Cole Beasley, but CB Brandon Maxwell rides him down before the sticks, and that's a nice play

> Jones does great directional work for all net, and Green will start at their own 18

> Murray for 3 yards and a fast-moving cloud of dust

> Bradford for Agholor, obvious PI flag only takes five seconds to fly after the ball was released

> The penalty is still called despite by Fox color analyst Troy Aikmann waving Cowboy pom poms

> Sproles for a 4 yard loss on that sprint draw run that hasn't worked in two years, but Chip Kelly is a genius

> Bradford to Murray in the flat, makes a man miss for 6 yard checkdown

> 3rd and 8 to keep the ball is a bad drop by Matthews, and the offense is now 3 for 15 on third down this year

> So what we're saying is that the Kelly offense isn't good when it actually matters, and that they've squandered early good work by the defense that won't hold up

> Romo to WR Terrance Williams, easy slant for 15 in front of Maxwell

> Randle for 4 after an early missed tackle

> Romo with all day on play action, Randle for 14

> Randle for 5, run defense not as good as advertised

> Randle with good patience and makes LB Mychael Kendricks miss, and that's another first down

> Romo to Williams for 19, on Maxwell, and yeah, it's the same not good enough coverage from the same not good enough scheme

> Randle for 3, then TE Gavin Escobar for what should have been a score on LB DeMecco Ryans, the aging MLB that Nero just had to have back

> Blown challenge stops the score, then DT Beau Allen explodes Randle for a sign of a pulse

> Second from the 2 is a miss to Escobar, as LB Kiko Alonson has decent coverage

> Third from the 2 is redemption for Ryans, who knocks down a slow throw to Witten

> Not exactly a ballsy goal line sequence from a team that prides itself on its offensive line

> K Dan Bailey connects, 3-0 Silver with a minute left in the first

> Murray for 2, then loses 2, and yeah, maybe a power back without guards is not exactly good GM work

> 3rd and 10 is slower tempo, which doesn't exactly inspire confidence, as WR Miles Austin can't make a catch because he's, well, Miles Austin

> Romo to WR Devin Street for 18, and CB Nolan Carroll can't cover anyone, either

> Romo to RB Darren McFadden for 14, and I'm reconsidering my life choices

> Romo to TE Jeff Swayne for no gain on a play that's useless trickeration, because HC Jason Garrett can't just take beating the opponent with the easy stuff

> Romo takes a shove sack from DE Cedric Thornton, as the DL tries more to take the ball than the man, but hey, whoopie, a sack

> 3rd and 17 is a delay, then 3rd and 22 is a give up screen for 7 to McFadden, and if the NFC East is good, I'm an airplane

> Jones to Sproles, fair catch

> Bradford to Mathwes for 2, Murray for 1, and it's as if there is a terrible offensive line behind a

> 3rd and 7 is a miss to TE Zach Ertz, he's not open and the ball has to come out hot due to the weak line work

> Silver starts with a false start, then Randle makes three guys miss to make three yards

> 2nd and 12 is Romo from the gun, misses Williams as his feet weren't settled due to pressure

> 3rd and 12 and continue to cover for the piss-poor offense is Romo from the gun to Williams, who out-muscles Carroll to move the sticks; it comes back on illegal formation (lucky)

> Six flags on Silver so far, three on the o-line, which might not be as good as they say they are, either

> 3rd and 17 give up to Witten, and Alonso gets him down after 10 yards

> Sproles might need to take one back for Green to score in this game, but Jones keeps making him take fair catches

> Bradford is 3 for 7 for 17 yards, which is just hard to do, really

> Bradford to Ertz for 2 yards on the screen that should never be called again

> Bradford almost falls, Murray gets mashed for a 3-yard loss, and this OL is terrible

> 3rd and 11 is a screen to Sproles that works and is called back ASAP for the pick play on Ertz, and christ

> 3rd and 21 is a give up screen to Sproles, because Sam Bradford lives for checkdown plays that don't matter

> Beasley runs 20 yards to go nowhere, Silver takes a flag, and this game is horrible

> Romo to Witten for 5, then Randle for 2 as Fox tells us that Alonso is out for the rest of the game with a knee injury, and woo, that's just wonderful

> 3rd and 3 from the gun is a Silver excuse me time out, because Silver gets to do that after the clock goes to zero

> Empty backfield, Romo to Witten, easy conversion, and Silver just needs to be patient and use the TEs with Alonso out

> Romo to Randle on a very delayed screen, obvious men leaving early flag, Silver's 7th flag of the half

> 2nd and 15 is Romo to Witten for 11, and he's open every down, with no pressure

> Romo waits out the 2-minute warning, because this game just can't get any more exciting

> DE Vinny Curry with the free first down for jumping, then Romo from the gun to Witten for a short gain, then 15 more, because hitting TEs before the whistle is no longer allowed

> Williams with a drop, and this is not preseason, honest

> Romo tries Dunbar on a wheel route, and Kendricks stays with him just long enough to prevent a TD

> 3rd and 10 from the 44 is Romo from the gun on late count, Beasley for not enough with holding in the secondary on Ryans, and that's another gift flag

> Kendricks off, and the team now has no good LBs left, which kind of matters

> Obvious forward pass is called as a fumble, and will be reviewed and overturned, but only after this atrocity of football takes up more of our lives

> False start on Silver, everyone arguing, what a marvelous piece of work is man, how noble the mind, how gentle the spirit

> Romo from the gun, full clock as always, Witten doesn't get a call as he trips near Carroll... but hold on, we can now make flag calls minutes after the play ends

> Hands to the face for an automatic first down, and I'd be outraged if I still gave a damn

> Romo to Witten, first down, then Romo to Williams for 8, Silver moving with some speed now

> Romo from the gun, runs for 8 yards in something like 20 seconds

> Romo to Beasley, false start, and Romo trolls by throwing the ball to Green during the blown whistle

> Down to six seconds left, it's second and goal, refs move the clock back to 11 seconds with their final timeout because whatever

> Romo from the gun misses WR Bryce Butler, but of course there's a flag, because why not, really

> 5 yard contact on Maxwell, spelled A-s-o-m-u-g-h-a, and even Aikmann finds that call shifty

> First and goal from the 10 with seven seconds left from the gun, ball thrown out of the end zone with two seconds left, and hey, double coverage on the TE shows small signs of growth from Davis

> Silver 6, Green 0, and the Eagles have failed to do a damn thing in either first half of the first two games

> First half: 193 to 21 for Silver in yards, 23 minutes to 7 in time of possession, and somehow still a single possession game

> WR/KR Josh Huff meanders up to the 19, as Fox tells us that Alonso and Kendricks are both out, so this game is toast

> Bradford play action, clean pocket, first down to Agholor as Eagle Fan gives the sarcasm cheer

> Terrible play and blocking, loss of 6 for Murray, then the same thing for a loss of five, and this is the worst rushing attack I've ever seen for this laundry

> 3rd and 21 after two running plays should be a give up run for comedy's sake, and it's a screen to Sproles

> Blocked punt for touchdown, and P Donnie Jones is destroyed to boot, and yeah, the STs for this team are horrible now, too

> Jones gets helmet to helmet contact, and is killed for no flag

> Bradford into coverage for Agholor on first down, then grounds it on second down, then WR Riley Cooper goats it up on third down

> Jones is still alive, somehow, and punts

> Randle for 4 as LB Jordan Hicks celebrates a helmet-losing tackle for an ordinary game, because Culture

> Randle for the first, comes back on holding as the refs go, um, sure

> Romo to no one, then on 3rd and 13 it's a wheel route to Dunbar, who roasts Hicks, Nero's choice in the third round

> Randle stopped as Fletcher Cox has some pride, then Hicks forces a fumble as Romo is also injured

> Cox with the recovery while landing on the Dallas QB, and I'm not sure any team should be allowed to win the NFC Least

> With any sense of a pulse needing to happen on this drive, Bradford tries play action, takes a sack and so, um, nope

> 2nd and 15 is Bradford to Murray, a screen for 18, and that is the second first down of the entire damned game

> Murray for 2 yards on an out, then batted down at the line, but defensive holding for the charity first down

> Murray loses 5 on the sprint draw left that should never be called again, and keeps getting called for no goddamned good reason at all

> Murray is now 8 for -15, which is almost impossible to do, really

> Bradford tries Matthews, obvious DPI, and that's as good of a play as the Eagles can run today

> Bradford to Ertz for 9 yards, open in the middle of the field for the checkdown that he lives for

> Bradford to Sproles on a crossing route, Silver somehow getting mildly fooled by the "threat" of a running play

> Smoke screen to Huff, makes a move and gets nine

> Bradford to Murray, screen right, mild patience and power to get it down deep

> First and goal from the three with no running game is Bradford to Agholor, can't bring it down

> Bradrof from the gun, right to MLB Sean Lee, and that's as Sanchez-ish as humanly possible

> Nero's hand-picked QB, remember

> Randle for 7 as Fox discloses that Romo's done with a broken bone, which means they get to lose this game, too

> QB Brandon Weeden with a good throw to Beasley, and yeah, this game / season / coaching regime can end any minute now

> Randle for 4, Silver should just sit on the ball and milk the clock

> Randle for 3, then third and 3 to prolong the charade is Weeden from the gun to Dunbar, stopped short by Carroll

> Silver can't get it down at the 1, so there won't be a safety in this game

> Bradford for 9 worrisome yards, or would be if we cared about his health anymore

> Bradford to Matthews, can't come up with it, and he's doing that a lot this year

> Third and inches with no offensive line is a give to Murray, inside, and he actually gets it -- with post-whistle nonsense

> T Jason Peters hobbles off, and that looks like more than a play off, because why the hell not

> Bradford from the gun, throws to Murray, who hurdles CB Brandon Carr for an Anger Fueled Moment and 22 yard gain

> 15 more on Silver for post-whistle nonsense from K Dan Bailey, and wow, that may be the stupidest play in an entire game of stupid

> 3 for Murray, then Bradford stumbles while throwing to Cooper from his knees, who drops it, and that's as bad as NFL football gets

> 3rd and 8 has Bradford missing a wide-open Agholor, and Jebus Tebow could have hit that man

> K Cody Parkey hits from 46, and it won't be a shutout

> Bad STs gives Silver the ball on their own 27, 14 minutes left in this trainwreck

> McFadden for four in a scrum that takes forever

> Weeden from an empty backfield, runs for a first down, and he can do that, because the defense isn't that bright, really

> McFadden for two, then six, and the clock is starting to get dicey for two possessions and a terrible offense

> Third and 2 and have to have it is McFadden, obvious run and gets three to move the sticks

> Cox misses McFadden in the backfield, and that's a 4 yard gain that should have been a 5 yard loss

> Beasley on the smoke screen, super obvious pick not called, and Maxwell can't deal

> McFadden for nine as the defense is gassed and trashed

> Silver is better without Romo today, in that they are just going basic and letting the line win it

> Holding, then Randle for no gain, third and 11 and last chance for suckout

> Blitz, doesn't get there, and Weeden hits Escobar, who drops it for a brutal fumble that S Malcolm Jenkins returns for a first down at the Silver 30

> And... the Eagles turn it right back over, as Bradford isn't ready for the snap, and you have to be kidding me

> Refs then tell us that the play should not have happened, because the refs are as good as the game, really

> Maybe you blame C Jason Kelce for that, but FFS, everyone's horrible here

> Declined penalty, Silver gets it right back, and I have no words

> Holding, stopped run, then Weeden from the gun to Witten, and I have no idea why Silver is throwing the ball

> 3rd and 12 and let's see Mark Sanchez (?) is Weeden from the gun to Dunbar, won't get it done, holding declined, and another stand by the defense, I guess

> Sproles for a few, and Green has to go 82 yards, or about half of their entire offense to add whatever sense of drama one might have

> Bradford still, Huff for 10 checkdown yards

> Bradford to Matthews, first catch of the game, 13 preventable yards

> Bradford tries Ertz, tipped ball, third turnover the day, and yeah, I guess it's important that the TE looks terrible, too

> Third turnover in 12 snaps, LOL

> Silver false start, just to make sure everyone knows that everyone here is garbage

> McFadden for 2, Green uses first timeout because this can't last long enough

> McFadden for 2, same deal

> Weeden on the slant to Williams, terrible coverage by Maxwell, and that might be the worst case of coverage ever seen on an NFL field

> For some reason, Bradford comes back out

> Offsetting flags on a missed cross to Cooper, and by all means, Nero, keep calling his number

> Bradford to Matthews, first down, empty calorie stats to make this looks slightly less atrocious

> Bradford to Agholor, same play, same 10 yards, whoop de damn do

> Ertz for six yards, he's not as fast as the WRs on this meaningless play

> Bradford to Matthews, nice one-handed catch and his fantasy owners are mollified

> 9 more to Matthews, checkdown checkdown checkdown

> Murray for 9 inside, he's back to 0 yards for the day on 11 carries

> Murray to the 1, slow tempo because why not, and he's stopped again on a play that only his fantasy owners could care about

> Murray for a score, but G Allen Barbre with the hold, and you can hear Evan Mathis snickering from Denver

> Delay of game, because no one on the offense cares very much

> Bradford to Matthews, check down woo

> Fourth and comedy is Bradford to Matthews for a score, and you've never seen a player celebrate less, correctly

> Parkey connects for a score that puts lipstick on a decapitated pig

> Parkey can't kick a ball 10 yards, and that is that

> I honestly can not remember a worse game from my laundry, because God has blessed me with the ability to forget horrible things, which also means that I'm cursed with the ability to remain an Eagles fan

Top 10 Week 2 NFL Ad Questions

Hurt Me With Fruit
10) Are all State Farm customers insufferable slackers who saddle their doormat parents with snakes?

9) Does anyone drink a Redd's Apple Ale before being assaulted?

8) Why does JJ Watt hate wood, why does he wear his uniform and pads while chopping it, and how does this have anything to do with a wireless data plan?

7) Is NFL.com convinced that everyone who plays fantasy football is incapable of holding a human conversation?

6) Has anyone told Under Armour that every region outside of New England consider Tom Brady to be despicable, and consequently, really might not be enthused about buying his gear?

5) If I buy a Lincoln, will I find myself constantly mumbling to cows?

4) Has Mazda hired its voice over announced for maximum smugness?

3) Why does NFL Shop think that Giants Female Fan and Jets Female Fan would have skin-slapping friendship?

2) Would my Honda cost less, or would the Acura NSX ever actually ship, if Honda wasn't distracted by making robots and stop-motion wanking animation?

1) If I purchase an Audi plug-in hybrid, will I be subject to accusatory stares from everyone in my disturbingly sedate suburban neighborhood?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

NFL Week 2 Picks: The Internet Of Dumb

Let's Get Cloudy
In my day job as a marketing and advertising pro, I think a lot about what the future is going to look like. What's going on right now is an explosion of Web-connected devices, which will communicate with each other to provide more frictionless commerce and easy conservation moments. If there are motion sensor beacons, that should make, for instance, fewer people waiting at red lights, especially in times of light traffic. Wearable computers will go people fitness and heart rate trackers, and move into diagnostic. Driving will be something that humans don't do, because humans aren't very good at it, really. Besides, we'd rather be staring at our phones, anyway. It's better that way, and honestly, the words of Agent Smith in The Matrix ("You're a virus with shoes") just seems more and more like prophecy, really.

Where this matters in re the NFL is that it's being used to Increase the Dumbness, because now we know things like how fast a guy is running, or how many additional yards he ran, what with the left/right motion, or to the hundreths of a second of time that the QB had a clean pocket. None of which, well, actually matters to increase your understanding of the game. Instead of dong things like telling us a WR's catch rate, or how many times an OL has been flagged for jumping offsides on the year, or the percentage of time that a QB takes a checkdown that inflates his stats, but doesn't convert the first down.

The fact that the information will be used to make you dumber, and more weighed down with stuff that doesn't matter? Shouldn't come as any surprise to anyone, really, since this is the NFL. Phil Simms has had a long and lucrative career pouring utter idiocy in your ears. Chris Berman has spent decades making little boy noises about contact. We've spent generations listening to people who could play, but could not talk. Running into that wall faster will not make us feel better.

Speaking of running into walls, this week was going so well until the late games all went sideways, fouling the water with a hair's breadth loser. It can't happen again, can it? (Of course it can. We're running into a wall, faster.) And with that... on to the picks!

* * * * *

DENVER (+3) at Kansas City

Pure contrary pick. Bronco QB Peyton Manning looked terrible last week but won anyway, because the Denver defense is good now, and K Brandon McManus connected (Philly kid! Went to Temple!) four times, twice from 50+. This week, they get the home Chiefs with their loud crowd and their fresh sense of joie de vive, and I think HC Andy Reid derps it up something fierce. We know he's capable of it.

Broncos 26, Chiefs 20

Houston at CAROLINA (-3.5)


As I went to press, ESPN was lighting up with the news that New Schlub was going to get the start at QB for the Texans, which does not matter. Especially on the road, where the Panther front seven might win this game on their own.

Panthers 19, Texans 13

San Francisco at PITTSBURGH (-6)


Independent of the fact that the Niners are down a half dozen starters, they also get to travel across the country on a short work week, to face the Steelers on extra rest. It won't be easy, but they'll get it done, and make it more comfortable late.

Steelers 24, Niners 17

Tampa at NEW ORLEANS (-10)


Not loving the big line here, but if QB Jameis Winston isn't ready at home, really not loving his chances in a loud dome. Especially with the Saints also 0-1, and in no mood to mess around.

Saints 31, Bucs 17

DETROIT (+2.5) at Minnesota


Two teams that need a win after disappointing openers. As much as I think Minny might bounce back, the short week and the likelihood that WR Calvin Johnson might explode is too much to go against. Should be one of the better games on the early slate.

Lions 24, Vikings 23

ARIZONA (-2) at Chicago


Just not seeing the Bears being able to be patient enough on offense to avoid turnovers, and Cards QB Carson Palmer looked good enough last week to trust. This Bear defense is also still a long way from good.

Cards 27, Bears 17

NEW ENGLAND (pick 'em) at Buffalo


As impressive as the Bills looked last week, they still got a lot of help from Colt miscues (flags and turnovers), and weren't so much better in the trenches as to not have antsy moments a long time after it should have been out of reach. Against the Patriots with extra time to prepare, and a 100% Rob Gronkowski, this is not a good mix.

Patriots 24, Bills 20

San Diego at CINCINNATI (-3)


The Chargers overcame a big deficit with an aerial circus at home last week, but won't find things as easy on the road against a better defense, and one of the better secondaries in the NFL. For the Bengals, look for RB Jeremy Hill to impose his will late.

Bengals 27, Chargers 17

TENNESSEE (-1) at Cleveland


The Marcus Mariota Rookie of the Year bandwagon picks up breakneck speed in the Factory of Sadness, where the Browns will struggle with offensive skill players that aren't good enough, and a defense that will be discouraged by Mariota's quicks. That sound you hear during this game will be Bucs Fan becoming more and more inconsolable about taking the wrong QB at the top of the draft.

Titans 23, Browns 16

ATLANTA (+2.5) at New York


QB Matt Ryan has feasted on the Giants in the past, and with a new offensive scheme that allows for max protection and a higher reliance on solid WRs, he'll do more of the same on the road despite the short week. As for Big Blue, I'm still trying to figure out how they coughed up that SNF game, and so are they. This one will have aspects of shootout.

Falcons 34, Giants 31

ST LOUIS (-3) at Washington


Some of the best moments in the short career of Nick Foles have been at the expense of the Slurs, who started the year by staying close to Miami for a long time before falling apart. The Ram defense is too good to not do some things here, and Foles might even get back RB Todd Gurley, too. I think he's going to enjoy life away from Nero Kelly.

Rams 23, Slurs 17

MIAMI (-6) at Jacksonville


A lot of points to give up against a Jaguars club that has some friskiness to it, but I think the Dolphins put it away late. It'll help that neither team has enough of a fan base any more to make life hard for the offenses.

Dolphins 23, Jaguars 16

BALTIMORE (-6) at Oakland


A cagey veteran defense with a desperate need to not start the year 0-2 is a problem for the Raiders. They will at least have QB1 Derek Carr for this one; shame he doesn't have an OL yet. Baltimore's offense also has much to atone for after last week's stinker in Denver.

Ravens 24, Raiders 13

DALLAS (+5.5) at Philadelphia


Not getting why the team that's lost four of their last five, going back to last year, should be getting this much margin over a team that might just control the game with their running game. The Eagles have all kinds of advantages with injuries here, but the fact that Atlanta ran the ball effectively and only gave up one sack with a patchwork line does not fill me with confidence to cover a big number.

Eagles 31, Cowboys 27

Seattle at GREEN BAY (-3.5)


Can the defending NFC champions start the year 0-2? Yes, because they've got real issues on the offensive line, Lambeau isn't an easy place to win, and they just gave up a ton of points to a vastly worse offense then they will face this week. Besides, Green Bay is still fueled with massive hate over how they blew last year's trip to the Super Bowl.

Packers 27, Seahawks 20

NY Jets at INDIANAPOLIS (-7)


In last week's win against Cleveland, the Jets built a big lead, but they really weren't that much better in the trenches. On the road against the Colts with something to prove after last week's de-pantsing in Buffalo, it's going to get away from them. There's a reason why Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has played for a half dozen teams, and Colts QB Andrew Luck will only ever play for one.

Colts 34, Jets 20

Last week: 7-8-1

Career: 625-639-44

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Seven Reasons Why The Eagles Loss To The Falcons Is All On Chip Kelly

Get Used To This
There will be a tendency, among people who seem like they know what they are talking about, to limit the sense of how damaging the Eagles' season opening loss to the Falcons was. It's just Week One, you see. After a slow start, the offense looked fine and scored on four straight possessions. Every team won't have a dominant WR like Julio Jones to torch the secondary, and the secondary is so new, they need time to gel. Winning on the road is really hard. If they just beat Dallas next week, and Dallas won't have WR Dez Bryant, they'll be tied for first place in the division. It's a long season. Just R-E-L-A-X. Don't overreact! Chip's Got A Plan!

Um, bullspit.

Losses like this one are the reason why this franchise hasn't won a playoff game during the Obama Administration. Losses like this one prevent teams from getting first round byes, games at home, division titles. Losses like this one happen over and over and over, and HC Nero Kelly doesn't seem to ever learn from the goddamned experience.

Here are the reasons why I'm putting this loss on the coach, not the team.

1) K Cody Parkey has been nursing a hamstring all preseason. Instead of having a competent and experienced back up K around, Kelly had some assclown from Oklahoma that in no way resembled a K, because LOL preseason.

Well, Parkey's still not right. He hasn't really been right since the late section of 2014. His kickoffs weren't deep, in a dome, his kicks were shaky, and the 44 yarder that they had to have to take the lead back never had a chance. Purely on the GM/coach, purely on the guy who talks about how much STs matter. It would have been nice if Parkey made the damned kick. It would have been nicer if they actually had a healthy K.

2) WR Jordan Mathews is going to wear the goat horns for tipping a ball that ended up in a game ending pick... but why you were force feeding the man so many targets late, when the team is supposed to be deep and wide among WRs? TE Zach Ertz was gashing the Falcons, but nope, we're in force-feed mode. I get that Mathews is young and good and all, but I'm amazed the kid didn't need oxygen by that point.

3) We won't even get into how terrible the guard play was tonight, because, well, it was freaking terrible. If you honestly think QB Sam Bradford is going to stay healthy behind those turnstiles, you're out of your mind.

4) Julio Jones, 9 for 141 and 2 TDs. But by all means, keep single covering him. Don't bump him at the line. Don't make the Falcons beat you with OPI Machine Leonard Hankerson, or the federal witness protection players they have at TE. Nope, just put your not good enough CBs on an island, and run 2014 all over again, just with new names on the uniforms. And you wonder why Eagle Fan drinks.

5) If the only thing you care about is fantasy, DeMarco Murray did fine for you tonight. Two scores, 14 points. If you actually watched the game, you saw a guy that was dramatically slower than Darren Sproles, no better than Ryan Mathews, and, um, Mathews wasn't very good either. I'd rather have Chris Polk, honestly. I think Kenjon Barner might be better, and that guy doesn't belong in the NFL. Other than letting a guy over pursue him before getting in the end zone, a play that I'm pretty sure any starting RB in the NFL can make, he was garbage. And if he's garbage in week one, what's he going to be later? Especially once the not good enough *starting* OL gets hurt?

6) Oh, and remember, Chip's the guy who can't abide Evan Mathis, and needed to extend and pay the turnstiles that currently play guard for the Eagles.

7) Hey, Nero? I called out the third and one middle dive play from tempo, the one that precipitated the missed field goal, ten seconds before it happened. So did the Falcons. This just in: NFL teams scout better than Oregon's opponents. Try to mix in another play call there. The last 50 times you tried it, I think the opponents knew it was coming.

So screw measure and reasoned response. This is just more of the same mediocrity hamster wheel that's honestly got me wishing, on some level, for an 0-16 flameout... even though the division is terrible, and as two-time SB Champion Eli Manning shows, anyone can win.

On any given Sunday.

Just like Shady McCoy's new team, and Evan Mathis's new team, and Jeremy Maclin's new team, and Nick Foles' new team...

Monday, September 14, 2015

Eagles - Falcons Diary

Masterful performance, Nero
> As always, the initial first down is one of the most important plays in an Eagles game, and as usual, the Eagles didn't get one for way too damned long

> WR Julio Jones with 17 on weak work by CB Nolan Carroll, and among many charming traditions from Eagles HC Nero Kelly is how we can never put nominal CB1 on clear WR1

> S Malcolm Jenkins had a very up and down night tonight, but the early pancake block by FB Patrick DeMarco was way, way down

> If Jenkins picks off Falcons QB Matt Ryan on the end of their first drive, the Eagles win, and there's about 10 more of these moments coming

> K Mat Bryant connects from 41, and it's Red 3, Green 0 after four minutes

> ESPN continues the myth that every new stadium is going to host a Super Bowl, and every new stadium is above average, even though no fan base has ever wanted or needed one in my lifetime

> Eagles RB DeMarco Murray lost so many yards it made a holding call meaningless, which is hard to do on a running play, really

> Very, very glad so far that I broke the annual tradition of going to a game, because this would have been the one

> All day for Ryan to throw, Jones draws DPI on CB Brandon Maxwell, so, um, great

> Tempo for Red, and Ryan avoids CB Connor Barwin for 22 to White, on Maxwell again

> All day to throw, open RB in the flat, and yeah, the pass defense has to be better this year, sure

> Red has a patchwork line, not that you'd know it from this game

> Red finally makes a mistake to add five yards of space, then LB Kiko Alonso makes an amazing falling-down INT to recover for blown coverage

> The one-handed pick that was just an amazing,play, and a bit of a mistake from Ryan for not putting more arc on a ball to a wide open White

> Bradford from the gun alone to WR Josh Huff for 13 INT-baiting yards

> Bradford tries Huff again, who had his back to the QB for another near disaster, and that's been a disturbing common note to his NFL career

> Bradford tries WR Miles Austin, but the ball is a foot long and Austin isn't very good

> 3rd and 10 for another near auto-out is a check down to TE Zach Ertz, but it's not nearly long enough

> That's three possessions for one first down for a team that's supposed to be a 40-point per game pinball machine

> 3rd and 15 to get off the field and show a little teeth is a near pick by Maxwell, which is encouraging, but not exactly the end of things we'll say about him tonight

> Sproles wiped out on an internal run, and hmm, maybe wiping out the guards from last season without any draft picks or FAs of note wasn't a great idea for Nero

> Murray ran through a deep tackle as Green's guards are utter turnstiles, and pretty sure he's done talking about how this line compares to last year's

> 3rd and 9 is a miss to WR Nelson Agholor, and the worst defense in the NFL last year looks dominant, while Green looks like they are starting second-string guards for no good reason at all

> Red starts deep, and Ryan finds Jones in front of Carroll for 18 easy, easy yards

> Slant to Jones is just flip and catch and easy, for another big chunk, and it's 3-0 Red after a quarter

> Red up 126-35 in yards without getting the opening kick, and leads while losing the turnover battle

> Ryan to Jones on Maxwell on a rollout, and Red snaps it before a challenge, not that Nero takes those anyway

> Defense starting to wear down, looks slow on Ryan with a bootleg

> Third and 1 to stay in range for no good football reason, after a Red timeout, is Ryan to TE Levine Toilolo, just as easy as it could be

> Ryan to White off play action, as much time as anyone could want, Maxwell looking like Cary Williams

> First and goal, third time already, stopped on first down, Ryan from the gun to White for the stretch screen for the score

> Red 10, Green 0, and, um, Chip can go back to college any time he likes, really

> Bradford to Sproles, who might be the best Eagle tonight, which is not exactly damming with high praise

> Bradford to WR Riley Cooper to move the sticks, and this is now a throw every down offense, because the OL is getting whipped

> Bradford to Mathews for 24, another INT-ish throw, but hey, it got there

> Huff on the smoke screen for six yards, then RB Ryan Mathews drops a wide open screen that should have gotten a lot

> Bradford to Mathews sets up 4th and 1, Green goes for it, and the QB bootlegs to a wide open Ertz to keep the game a game

> Murray on the long left run that looks remarkably slower than McCoy or Sproles, and gets a middling five

> Bradford misses Ertz in the end zone, and nearly got him killed

> Third and five from the 11 is Bradford to nowhere, and that was Sanchez-esque

> K Cody Parkey connects, and it's 10-3 Red

> Parkey doesn't have last year's oomph, which means touchbacks might be a lot less prevalent, and is officially foreshadowing

> Defense as rested as they will ever be, and Ryan derps a blown screen to White

> RB Devonte Freeman for 7 yards on what looks holding-esque

> 3rd and 3 to get back in the game is Ryan from the gun to White, with Carroll getting away with borderline DPI

> If you loved obvious picks, this game was porn

> S Walter Thurmond with a dumb clip, and STs are not at 2014's otherworldly level

> Bradford to Mathews from his end zone as ESPN shows the highlight reel of QB Pain

> Murray with his best moment so far, sticking his head down and bulling for not a first down

> Third and one is a batted ball, and it says everything that everything is a quick screen because the OL is getting mauled

> P Donnie Jones fails, and that's also new and unwelcome

> Red runs twice for 8 to the edge of figgie range, and really should be winning by a lot more than seven

> Third and 2 to stay in a game for no football reason is a quick screen to move the sticks

> Run defense keeps just missing, and if that's happening in Game One, yikes

> Ryan to Jones, clear pick not called as White blocks before the pass is caught, but what the hey

> Jones for another 10, and the refs make the make-up call on White a play late

> 2 minute warning, then Ryan to TE Jacob Tamme, and honestly, game could have been over with any amount of competent Red play

> 3rd and 1 is a very badly blocked run, and Red's bad work down low is the only reason this is still a game

> Bryant connects, 13-3 with 1:05 left and two timeouts

> Bradford throws a back-breaking pick that's been hinted at all half

> Miracle sack and fumble wiped off on a flag against Alonso that is as marginal as it gets, then Ryan to Jones, touchdown, ye gads

> Bradford misses Sproles, hasn't thrown a ball more than 10 yards downfield all night, um, yup

> Give up run to Sproles, who doesn't give up and gets a first down

> Bradford trashed as T Jason Peters looks real old real fast

> Consecutive holding calls, give up runs, and as bad a half of football as the Eagles have played since the last days of Reid

> During the half, you would be forgiven for hoping that Nero took a college job already

> Sack for Cox to set up third and long after a Carroll blitz, then an INT by Thurmond, and hey, a pulse

> Just the worst kind of throw by Ryan, and there's a reason that Red isn't all that good, either

> First and goal down 17 is 4-down territory... and a screen to Murray is mercifully dropped in the flat, so, um, not much in the way of confidence inspiration there

> Second and goal is an ungainly give to Murray, but C Jason Kelce mans up and seals the edge, and that's a TD that any RB can get, so, um, yay

> Red 20, Green 10, and phew

> Ryan to Tamme for 4, then RB Tevin Coleman moves the sticks

> Red with some of the clearest pick plays ever seen for another OPI

> Small throw to WR Nick Williams, then 3rd and 11 and have to get off the field is Jenkins not making another pick, and good grief, man, make a freaking play

> P Matt Bosher hits a 62-yard punt that's all net, and good grief

> Bradford from his end zone again, and Peters continues his miserable night with a false start

> Mathews takes big punishment to get seven yards, and that will be a fine later

> Bradford to Cooper moves the sticks, and way too many of these throws look super close to INTs

> Murray gets loose, but it comes back on a hold on Celek, and honestly, I'm shocked at how slow he looks

> 1st and 18 is Mathews pinballing his way to a first on a smoke screen, who moves the chains, then hobbles off

> Bradford to Austin for 7, everything checkdown, then Murray for two on the only side that's worked in running tonight

> 3rd and 1 is have to have, and with no LBs, it's still all throw, with OPI bringing back a connection to Ertz

> This game is all OPI Pick, and Agholor was blatant

> 3rd and 11 to Mathews, who RACs his way to a first down

> Bradford to Austin, some mild mobility and a trace of zip there

> Bradford to Mathews for 8, Red defense looking gassed, then again for more, but it's holding on Kelce; fourth flag on the drive as Eagle Fan boos lustily

> Phantom flag, 2nd and 12 is Sproles in motion, and he's beautiful for a first

> Bradford misses Ertz, should have been 10, and now Peters is gimping from a roll up, and good God, that can't happen

> T Matt Tobin in, and we can only hope this is just for a single play

> Sproles for a 27 yard burst, big play by Celek and Kelce, face mask adds more, and he looks so much better than Murray on that play

> First and goal is Murray left, might have had it if he were, you know, fast

> Peters back in for second and goal, Bradford to Murray, shows good patience on both ends, and it's a ball game again

> Red 20, Green 17, after a 97-yard drive with four flags, which is officially hard to do

> LB Mychak Kendricks misses on the run blitz, but it's stopped after 2; team playing with juice

> The most obvious holding call yet on Red WR Leonard Hankerson, and that's just comedy

> 2nd and 15 should be intentional grounding in the end zone, but somehow isn't

> 3rd and 15 might be a give up run, and gets the first down anyone, because DC Billy Davis eats paste, and honestly, this was the play where I knew the comeback wasn't getting all the way there, because you can't be that goddamned stupid and win

> End of the third quarter, Red 20, Green 17

> 3rd and 4 and get the hell off the field without points is a blitz that doesn't get anywhere close, and a simple slant to White for the conversion

> Freeman for a yard loss, then Ryan to Hankerson for the first down on Thurmond, and yup, not nearly enough pass rush for this terrible secondary, same as it ever was

> Ryan for 5 yards as Green can't chase him down, then Coleman for a first, but it comes back on a hold

> Sloppy game from all concerned, including the refs

> 2nd and 14 and no pass rush for a short one to Tamme, setting up 3rd and 7 and have to not give up a touchdown

> Ryan from the gun, blitz doesn't get there, but the throw to Freeman isn't long enough, and Barwin does just enough on coverage

> Bryant from 44 connects, and it's Red 23, Green 17

> Murray for 4, and I honestly would rather have Chris Polk, and maybe Charlie Garner, Ricky Watters, or Wilbert Montgomery... today

> Bradford to Sproles for 24 down the sideline, who can't quite stay in bounds for a lot more

> Bradford to Mathews for 11, Red trying to sub and can't get it done

> Bradford to Ertz, great catch on the stretch, big chunks coming now

> Bradford to Mathews on the cross, gets all the way to the 1, should be a touchdown, not called because tempo is better

> Ryan Mathwes smashes his way in with a shove from G Allen Barbre, and while that worked, it nearly caused a fumble, concussion, and all kinds of illegalities, really

> Parkey connects, and Green leads for the only time tonight, 24-23

> Red from their 20, Ryan to Jones for 44, and yeah, the secondary is still terrible, and you'll be forgiven for thinking this is just the Cardinals game from last year

> Ryan fakes to air, then misses Hankerson as Jenkins makes a great deflection

> Draw by Coleman almost breaks it, but Kendricks gets just enough

> 3rd and 10 from long figgie range is a big damned deal, and it's Ryan from the gun to Freeman, short of the sticks

> Red kicks the figgie because you have to, and Bryant connects from 47 for the lead again

> Bradford to Mathews, who gives up yards for no good reason, then moves the sticks on another cross to the same man; only WR that everyone seems to trust (sigh)

> Mathews again for 4, everything just to gas the Red pass rush, then Agholor at the sticks for five

> 3rd and 1 is Sproles for a freebie with offsides, gains 10 and is the only Eagle RB who runs in real time

> Sproles in the flat for 14, and the spin is just clowning the LB

> Ryan Mathews on a screen gets a lot, but it comes back on yet another hold, this one on Kelce

> 1st and 20 with 4 minutes left is Bradford to Cooper, who gets 16, Red just not able to make stops

> Ryan Mathews for 3 and should have had more, then gets it again on the 3rd and 1 tempo middle run that everyone in North America called out in advance, because Nero Is A Genius

> 4th and 1 has to be a figgie to take the lead, Parkey misses from 44, and Nero's Done It Again

> Red runs for 5, Green timeout

> Coleman for 4, Red gets away with holding, second Green timeout

> 3rd and 1 is a stop by Jenkins, and yes, both of these teams were doing everything they could to lose this game

> Bosher gets it deep, Sproles back to the 15, Green has 1:49 left and one timeout

> Bradford to Sproles for 2, inbounds, not good

> Too much clock running, Red getting pressure, this doesn't look like the rest of the second half

> 3rd and 8 with 1:17 left is Bradford from the gun, deflected out of Mathews' hands and picked

> That's a terrible loss to a terrible team, but to be fair, the same thing would have been said by Red if they lost

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