Monday, October 10, 2016

Eagles - Lions Takeaways

Nice Try, Kid
I took the Shooter Mom to the game today, and, um, rough one. Here's what I'll remember from the game.

> Ford's Field is an indoor dome, but with a ton of natural light that avoids most of the warehouse problem that makes indoor arenas problematic.

> From a presentation standpoint, the sightlines and accessibility of the venue is fine, and despite being high up, we had no issues seeing the entirety of the game. Visually, it's a good place.

> Where the place fails is from an audio standpoint. Despite the place not being full -- there were large sections of empty seats for most of the day -- they pushed up the bass to obnoxious levels, which just seems like it's catering to a demographic that isn't actually at the game.

> The audio issues don't end there. Detroit has been blessed with a massive amount of breakthrough musical acts. From Kiss to Eminem to the White Stripes to Motown, the region can claim an absurd amount of recognizable tunes that would work, and do work, in stadiums from coast to coast. Which makes the choice of generic techno thump all the more off-putting, honestly.

> Lion Fan has the same sense of Here We Go Again as Cleveland Fan. Even after going up 14-0 in the first quarter with an offense that was making every play with ease, they were fatalistic about what was to come. For reasons, but not for fatal ones, at least not today.

> Make no mistake about it: Carson Wentz played well enough to win this game, many times over. The raw numbers -- 25 of 33 for 238, 2 TDs, 1 INT -- seem fine, but don't tell the full story. He moved in the pocket effectively. His wideouts let him down repeatedly, especially late in the game when the club had to settle for field goals twice, rather than make plays in the end zone on catchable balls. The game-ending pick was a mistake, but an understandable one, and one that spoke more to Nelson Agholor's inability to fight for the ball and play DB, rather than Wentz's inaccuracy. In the grand scheme of people to blame for this loss, Wentz is way down on the list.

> The biggest culprit in this one, to me, was head coach Doug Pederson. With the game on the line with a killshot opportunity -- convert a third and 4 while up two points with less than three minutes to go -- he takes the ball out of the hands of his QB, and puts it in the hands of RB Ryan Mathews on a toss sweep. End result; loss, fumble, disaster. Wentz finishes this game with a 115 QBR; Mathews finishes with 11 carries for 42 yards, with the rushing attack only going 21 for 116 -- far from a lock, especially when you pull out Darren Sproles' 5 for 45. Wentz had converted a third down earlier in the drive. I would have kept it in his hands there, and I hope that Pederson has learned a big lesson from this failure.

> Pederson, and also maybe Wentz, also get demerits for forgetting the TE in this matchup. The offensive line spent much of this game giving Wentz all the time he needed, and TE Zach Ertz contributed 3 for 37 with no real off moments, other than a marginal OPI push off that negated a first. Detroit had given up TDs to TEs in every game prior to this one, and to forget about them in this game wasn't a positive.

> Sproles had 9 touches for 68 yards in this one, and clearly looks like the RB that Pederson trusts the most in tough situations. For fantasy honks who were looking for more Wendell Smallwood in their lives, um, no. Kenyan Barner was also MIA.

> Detroit QB Matthew Stafford went 19 for 25 for 180 and 3 TDs, the first three passing touchdowns of the year against this defense. To say they didn't show up for the first half was an obvious understatement, in that the Lions had three possessions for three long touchdown drives. You can't play half a game and win in the NFL, and why this club was so flat coming out of the bye is another big indictment of Pederson making rookie mistakes.

> Philly also had 111 penalty yards to Detroit's 18. I'm not going to claim home-field cooking on this one, but, un, 111 to 18. Yeesh. 14 flags to 2. Just not good.

> It's hard to get too upset about a road loss that takes you to 3-1 when your rookie QB plays brilliantly, but the plain and simple is that the NFC East is a lot better than expected this year, and blowing this very winnable game hurts a lot. Dallas smoked the Bengals at home, DC edged the Ravens on the road, and the path to winning the division just got a lot harder, because Dallas looks to be for real. None of us had big hopes for more than 6 to 8 wins before the year started, but after stomping the Steelers, 10 to 11 wins and a division crown seemed very possible.

Now? Well, the division games are coming, and there's a lot less to like about this defense after it slept through a really bad half of football, then failed to get stops late when it held a lead and deep down and distance opportunities. They bounced back, they held the Lions to 244 total yards after giving up 230 in the first half... but Detroit isn't good, and this was a game they'll sorely regret not winning later.

> A final note about Detroit: it's a very affordable place to watch a game, and a nice one, too. My traveling party is myself, my mom, and my very good friend Al and his mom. Saturday, we went out for Thai food and a movie, and spend less than $100 for the four of us for everything. Today, we went to the game, had concessions at the game, parked, then caught late games in Royal Oak at a Buffalo Wild Wings. Parking was half of what we paid in Chicago, concessions were low for a stadium, the BWW was a lot less than NJ, and so on, and so on. There are parts of the town that make you wonder, from obvious homeless encampments near the stadium to dicey blocks in the area, and the hotel we stayed at was a little bit overrun with uncontrolled kids doing Pool and Elevator Shenanigans into the wee hours... but we generally had about as much fun as we could have during a 1-point bitter road loss. In the seven different road games we've been to (Green Bay, Chicago, Cleveland, Tampa, St. Louis, Indy and here), this ranks above Chicago and St. Louis, and roughly comparable to Indy, Tampa and Cleveland.

So far, nothing compares to Green Bay. But you could have guessed that already, right?

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