Sunday, December 17, 2017

Eagles - Giants Takeaways: Winning Pretty Ugly

For the next little while at least
Today's game was watched from a recumbent bike seat, as I attempted to make up for lost time on fitness goals for the year. It's fun to translate nervous energy over your team looking for all the world like they peaked at the wrong time into burned calories!

And with that, on to the most salient points to my eyes from this slog.

> HC Doug Pederson needs to understand that (a) QB2 Nick Foles isn't going to get you those automatic sneak first downs the way the late lamented Carson Wentz did, and (b) RB LeGarrete Blount has been secretly terrible in short yardage most of the year. I'm all for aggro play calling on fourth down but know your personnel.

> This was the third straight game that the defense made the opposition look like world beaters, and I'm starting to really worry about this unit. Was November just a matter of home cooking against terrible QBs? Russell Wilson, Jared Goff, and Eli Manning have all gone for big numbers, and you can't even blame Game Script or Prevent Defense on it. If the pass rush doesn't get there, the secondary is getting beat.

> The team doesn't escape with this win without the oft-maligned special teams. A blocked PAT, a blocked FG, and a blocked punt really make that much of a difference and kept Big Blue from settling for a last-minute figgie to re-take the lead. To go 12-2, you need some breaks, and some of them, you also create.

> It's rare that you win a road game while getting out-gained by 160 yards, but that was just the way this one went. Every time you thought the Eagles had gotten past their early snooze, the refs or Blue would make a play, mostly the same stupid slant play they made a couple of dozen times before. I miss the early season secondary.

> Blue had 23 carries for 65 yards today, which sounds bad but really isn't for these slugs. Giving up 29 points to a team whose best pass-catching threat is a butter-fingered rookie TE really doesn't speak for playoff hopes.

> The other big reason an 11-2 team was able to get past a 2-11 one: red zone offense. Nick Foles was great at this today, following the Wentzian model of sharing the wealth. When Blue had to have it late, QB Eli Manning couldn't deliver.

> Really rough day for CBs Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills. Neither man looks hurt or gun-shy, but both guys were really bad in this one, with sloppy tackling, repeat penalties, and overall shakiness. This team is going to need a lot more from both guys if it's going to take advantage of its seed.

> With the win, the Eagles clinch a first-round bye as no worse than the #2 seed in the NFL, but keeping the foot on the gas is necessary due to the Vikings beating the garbage out of a, well, garbage Bengals team today. Philly has Oakland and Dallas left, while Minny goes to Green Bay and finishes with Chicago. If both teams win out, the Eagles are the 1 seed, and it's looking more and more critical to be that, frankly.

> If Giants CB Eli Apple is in the NFL in 2 years, I'm an airplane. Dude just doesn't want to tackle and isn't nearly good enough to make up for that critical failing.

> Great day for the Eagle offensive line on downfield blocking. C Jason Kelce especially seemed to be spry and useful at destroying DBs which is honestly not something you expect a center to have the quicks to pull off.

> By far the most encouraging sign from the win, and the one you will hear the most about, is QB Nick Foles collecting 4 TDs with no turnovers. But from the eye test, he's still wooden, and why Blue would give credence to him being a threat to run, we'll never know.

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