Sunday, October 29, 2017

Eagles - Niners Takeaways: Humdrum Beatdown

To be fair, Niner Fan said this in Week 1
For the second time in six days, the Eagles won a home game by a lot against a team they should beat by a lot. With the win they got to 7-1, on top of the football world, and it says something to the expectations involved, and today's utterly moribund opponent, that a 23-point win comes with some concerns. Here's mine.

10) Let's start with the positives for head coach Doug Pederson; he's clearly coaching up guys who weren't very good for this team just a year ago. WR Nelson Agholor is the obvious pick here, but the more important player moving forward is LB Mychal Kendricks, who is going to have to do lots of good things with LB Jordan Hicks seemingly done for the year. Kendricks was a beast today, but it was more than the physicality; he's also making plays in pass coverage that he's never pulled off before. On a day where the defense was dominant, Kendricks was one of the bigger reasons why.

9) Pederson's play calling, despite the team's 7-1 record, stills leave a lot to be desired. He always goes safe after a negative play, keeps trying to establish RB LeGarrette Blount on plays that aren't very suited to his skill set, and in general, surprises no one with the play calls. San Francisco was in this game for nearly an entire half, and really shouldn't have been. Pederson's part of the reason why.

8) If you'd like to ignore the NFL, there really isn't a better part of the country to do it outside of the Bay Area. The Niners are now off to the worst start in their history, and Oakland just got absolutely punked by Buffalo; the latter is also leaving fairly soon. I'm thrilled with how this year has been going, but living out here just means the games don't feel as exciting. No one really cares; I watched this game from a stationary bike in a gym, and very few of the monitors were on the Niners.

7) Speaking of SF, they start rookie QB CJ Beathard, and man alive, he's.. not good. I get that he's mobile and willing to take a beating, but the accuracy isn't there, and there's nothing about him that says he's more than a QB2 that you never want to see. I'm not sure the Niners have any better ideas, but at least QB Brian Hoyer has, at times, resembled an NFL starter. I'd probably start him as well, because 0-8 is 0-8. But teams that don't win games have guys who give up and free agents you don't want, and it really wouldn't surprise me if this SF team completes perfection with 8 more whiffs.

6) Not QB Carson Wentz's best day. He held the ball too long too often, perhaps trying to recreate last Monday night's magic, missed some open guys, and threw a bad pick on what might have been a miscommunication with rookie WR Mack Hollins. But it says something to his development as a QB that on a wet day with middling OL work, he winds up 18 of 32 for 211, 2 TDs, a 2-point conversion and 7 yards on 2 runs. If this is the floor now, we remain thrilled.

5) One more for the Peterson's a great coach outside of Game Day: Zach Ertz continues to treat the end zone in 2017 like it was the first down sticks. For a guy who just had the yips for his entire career before this year, this continues to be a welcome transformation.

4) Great game for DE Vinny Curry, who is really coming into his own this year as an all-around disruptive force. Curry was all over this game, isn't a one trick rush the passer pony any more, and has given this team a fantastic rotation of edge rushers. Kudos to rookie DE Derek Barnett, who seems to be catching up to NFL speed just in time, too.

3) The Eagle touchdown celebrations with baseball pantomime is downright inspired, and today's bit (Ertz throwing a bean ball at WR Alshon Jeffery after the latter's TD, and Jeffery charging the mound) made me LOL. It's really not a small thing that this team seems to enjoy each other's company to this level.

2) CB Jalen Mills gets targeted a ton, and has really held up against the pressure. SF clearly doesn't present much in the way of difficulties here, but it was still fun to see the green-topped CB take one to the house. With presumptive CB1 Ronald Darby getting close to returning, and maybe even some late season help from stash CB draft pick Sidney Jones, the team's shockingly good unit might get even better soon.

1) Put the credit for this game squarely where it belongs: on the defense. The only score they gave up was a short field TD after Wentz's lone pick, they turned the game around with turnovers in the first half, and the season-low yards allowed was even more impressive after you factor out a fair amount of Beathard just running for his life. For a dreary day against a dreary opponent, they were everything you could ask for.

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