Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Eagles - Raiders Top 10 Takeaways: Winning Even Uglier

Ten takeaways from the game that led to the Eagles clinching homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, and yet made everyone in the fanbase convinced they aren't going to do a damn thing when they get there...

> As good as QB Nick Foles looked last week against the Giants, he was just all kinds of godawful in this game. Against a Raider defense that has been putrid for most of the year (I've seen them up close, it's been that bad, especially in the secondary), Foles was hesitant, wild high, not mobile at all in the pocket, and a clear and persistent liability. There's no way that this team wins one playoff game, let alone three, with this level of QB play.

> The left side of the offensive line is getting to be a real problem, so much that it's getting in the head of the right side. RT Lane Johnson had his worst game of the season, and while LT Hali Vaitai kept his name out of the papers, it's not as if there is such a thing as an offensive lineman who comes out looking good when the team winds up with a whopping 215 yards of total offense. I get that it was cold and windy out there, but FFS, that was terrible.

> PK Jake Elliott continued his recent string of disturbingly erratic kicking by missing a chip shot at the end of the first half. It could have been a big damned deal, and wouldn't shock me if it is when the games really matter.

> This was the second game in the last three weeks (also the Rams) where the Eagle defense scored on a meaningless lateral play at the end of the game to cover the spread. Suckout for the ages, twice? Clearly there's something going on for this squad this year.

> If you'd like to be encouraged by the defense showing up and shutting down the Raiders, especially in the second half... well, it's your prerogative. 10 points in any NFL game is impressive. But this Raider club still ran the ball well for much of the night and came in with backup OL and beatup WRs. I'll take encouraging signs, and maybe this defense is just that much better at home, but still. Not encouraging enough.

> I'm not in love with CB Jalen Mills; he gets sucked in on way too many go routes, and his closing speed on the Cooper TD was so bad, I thought he had pulled something. But he's better than the backups, assuming 2nd round pick Sidney Jones isn't ready to take the world by storm, and he doesn't hang his head after getting beat. There are many worse CB2s out there.

> How bad was Foles, and how drastic is the dropoff from QB Carson Wentz? The Eagles were 2 for 15 on third down tonight. And won the game. I'm still not entirely sure how.

> I get that the Raiders won their division last year, and that QB Derek Carr was a fairly high draft pick in 2014 with many good moments in his career. But the dude just looked like a journeyman to me for most of this game, and the fact is that the Raider QB should not be a born again guy who looks like he's always got eye makeup on. But me in the Not A Believer camp on this guy.

> As frustrating and ridiculous as much of this game was -- complete with the 2017 NFL Specialty, Phantom And Omnipresent Flags -- getting the win and creating a de facto Week 17 bye week is just huge, especially since the rest of the conference still has to go hard for seeding, with the suspect QB Panthers and Vikings in the hunt for #2. As bad as Foles was tonight, the team still won the game, with a defense that did what they had to do on short fields for nearly the entire second half. Give me the Week 15 offense with the Week 16 defense, and maybe we can luck out three games and save the magic season. Jeff Hostetler and Brad Johnson and Joe Flacco all have rings. Foles could be in the conversation with those slugs.

> Next week, it's Dallas with nothing to play for against the Eagles with nothing to play for, in front of 70K people getting their New Years Eve drink on for many hours before Amateur Hour strikes. And while you'd normally bench anyone with a pulse and get a lot of tape of QB2 Nate Sudfeld, who is absolutely the best Sudfeld in NFL history... well, Foles was just hot garbage tonight. Getting him some feel good reps might help, especially if Dallas cooperates and also throws a bunch of bench meat out there.

Anyway, congrats to the team for avoiding meaningful football in Week 17, and continuing to sell out for wins when things aren't easy. I'm still convinced that the season ended with Wentz's injury,  but I'd really, really like to be wrong...

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