Monday, January 22, 2018

Top 10 Eagles - Vikings Takeaways: The Big Lii

The Big Lii
10) Unlike last week's game, the turning play in this game-- the pick forced by pressure from DE Chris Long, and the remarkably patient return for touchdown by CB Patrick Robinson -- had less to do with luck, and more to do with the actions of the football team. Which makes it look more like the middle of the season, pre-Wentz injury, when the team was playing its best ball and was the clear top team in football.

9) Speaking of such things, I've never seen a team get contributions from so many players. You can rattle off a dozen names that made key contributions on big, game-changing plays, without even really trying very hard. Perhaps that's just what happens when you rip off 38 unanswered points in a blowout NFC championship game, but the depth of this roster just went to ridiculous last night.

8) You have to take these things with a grain of salt, but the team is also genuinely likable. Julie Ertz's reaction of bursting into tears in the middle of her US women's soccer team game, Malcolm Jenkins's activism, Chris Long dedicating his paychecks, and so on, and so on. People talk about the great job that GM Howie Roseman has done, but it goes beyond football. The atmosphere into the locker room is so good, it's rehabbed other guys who were problems elsewhere.

7) Like everyone else in the fan base, I'm thrilled to see the Patriots as the favorites in two weeks. Despite struggling to put away the Jaguars, despite having their best offensive weapon concussed, because Patriots. And like everyone else in the fan base, losing again to those people and their fans would be cruelty writ large.

6) Philly Fan got their full on troll going with a mock "Skol" for "Foles" chant, because of course they would. There was also the famous "Cops are greasing light poles" and the cops warned businesses in Northeast Philly that they couldn't protect their property. We care too much about sports, but we are who we are. (And if you think that the Super Bowl will be an even crowd, and that Eagle Fan won't travel more and harder than Patriot Fan, you are on something that's pharmaceutical grade. The crowd in Jacksonville a dozen years ago was also 70/30 Philly, and that was a stupid number of Patriot SBs ago. Pent-up demand for the win.)

5) People are going to talk about the dominance of this defense, and seven points is all that and a bag of chips, but. Dominant defenses prevent yards as well as points. What the Eagles have been for the last two weeks is absolutely lights out on the plays that they absolutely had to have, the third and fourth downs in the red zone. Historically, that would be unsettling, because it doesn't give them a lot of margin for error... but in this era of the NFL, that's more or less how it manifests. When you have to have a stop and you get it.

4) Nearly as shocking as the outcome was the officiating -- clean, nearly invisible outside of ruling WR Adam Thielen's fourth down attempt in the end zone as a catch before the overrule, and failing to delay the avalanche. Contrast that to the 10-to-1 flag aid that the Patriots got in overcoming the Jaguars, and, well, yeah. The game ran as quick and as true as the play on the field, and it's a little bit sad that this is now the exception, rather than the rule.

3) As for the Vikings, not to take anything away from the Eagles, but they played a flat out terrible
game. Couldn't protect the QB on downs that mattered, couldn't generate effective pressure on third downs, abandoned the running game too early, tried nothing on special teams when the tide was going against them, ran nothing on offense that didn't seem predictable. People are going to throw Case Keenum under the bus for this one, and have doubts about the defense for not showing up when it mattered, all while talking about how they can be back next year... but when you lay an egg as big as this one, it shakes the confidence in the coaching, too. If Green Bay has healthy Aaron Rodgers for all of 2018, and their QB dance doesn't go well, what looked like a team on the rise could easily slide back down. After yesterday's game, you'd almost have to expect that to happen.

2) Finally, Foles. This was the first game he's played this year that he definitively passed the eye test, along with having numbers. The Giants game was good, but that team was a train wreck on defense. Minnesota was, up until the middle of the third quarter of the Saints game, one of the best defense in the past ten years. He carved them. He had help all over the place, but he also made plays -- the touchdown to Jeffery where he had to move in the pocket, didn't take a checkdown or a throwaway, and hit his man in stride for the definitive killshot. The Eagles were 10 for 14 on third down, and he's got a 100 passer rating in his three career playoff games. I don't know if he's going to parlay this into a starting job somewhere else eventually, but, um, damn. Dude played the game of his life at the best possible time for it.

1) Super Bowl Lie. Seems as good a time as any to actually win one. (And yes, NBC has to be thrilled that the top two seeds in the top remaining media markets won out and saved them from ratings death.)

Savor this, folks. And hope like hell that the run continues for just one more game...

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