Free agency is pretty much on the quiet front with some players still trickling on to teams, such as quarterback Blaine Gabbert to the Tennessee Titans, and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to the Los Angeles Rams. But now it’s all about the draft and filling the holes that will make or break a team. So here is my attempt at Round 1 of the NFL Draft.
Yes, there are parties for hosting, marshmallows for roasting, and caroling out in the snow.
But there’s also football for watching and talking and tweeting about. Nothing says “Home For The Holidays” like when the Cowboys Fan Faction of your family meet up with the Redskins Fan Faction of the family, mixed in with the Steeler fans and the trash talking ensues. (Which is really my family Y’all!)
And there’s also Christmas lists for wishing and hoping. For our inaugural Christmas, I asked the OurTurf writers what they wanted most for their teams for Christmas. The answers were great and I hope that these wishes go straight from this post to Santa’s ears. So, for everyone’s enjoyment, here are what some of the ladies from OurTurf’s Christmas Wishes want for their team!
It’s been said time and time again: defense wins games. The Eagles’ defense has been quite inconsistent these last few games, beginning with the Seattle Seahawks game.
I can understand that chasing after someone like quarterback Russell Wilson can be tiresome, but there’s no way that the game against the New York Giants should have been as close as it was. Five-point differential against a 2-11 team (at the time)?!
Nothing against the Giants, we all know they have a future Hall of Famer in quarterback Eli Manning. The Giants offensive line wasn’t hard to break through and yet the defense struggled for some reason. Allowing a 2-12 team over 500 yards of offense and the Eagles missing tackles is absolutely unacceptable.
Maybe it was the fact that it was a divisional game and those are always tough. Or maybe because it was their third (and final) road game in a row and it’s taken a toll on the players. Whatever the reason was, the Eagles were lucky that they had an amazing backup quarterback in Nick Foles who had a spectacular game back as a starter but luck doesn’t win championships.
The biggest concern, question mark, and complaint NFL analysts and fans alike had leading up to Sunday’s game was the offense. Would it change? Would they perform the same as they did when injured quarterback Carson Wentz was leading them?
I couldn’t stress enough to anyone who would listen was that Foles will bring his own swag to the team. He’s not in the league just to collect money. He even took a pay cut to rejoin the Philadelphia Eagles because he knows just how special this organization is. Foles threw for four touchdowns, and although it wasn’t always pretty, he was able to step-up when it counted the most.
I am more than delighted the Eagles clinched 1st round BYE and a home game for the first game of the playoffs. I’m just not happy with how it was accomplished. It’s been a long season, a grueling season filled with injuries, but it isn’t over yet.
Head coach Doug Pederson should grill them for the lackluster way they played. The Eagles fans went into this game worried about the offense but left this game with questions regarding the defense. Pederson has been asked whether he’s thought of benching the starters for either of the next two games, his answer was a simple “not sure yet”. My answer would have been “Bench them? Bench them?! Our defense didn’t show up today and you think I should bench them?!” Jim Mora-esque style.
Having the best record in the NFL does come with a few bragging rights, but I didn’t feel much like gloating today. The Eagles of old need to come back and finish this season off on a high note.
We had two weeks to recover and get prepared for this next rollercoaster ride with our beloved Seahawks. In those two weeks, I was able to come to the certain conclusion that we are never going to enjoy a predictable win. The first half was proof of my hypothesis about the season so far. The most glaring example was our five-minute flounder in the red zone which ended in zero points.
Going into halftime, the Seahawks left at least 14 points on the field because of key drops. Tight end Jimmy Graham was the culprit of two dropped passes including one in the end zone. Running back Thomas Rawls dropped another with the open field in front of him. Penalties by the offensive line stalled the drive, with guard Germaine Ifedi, committing three. The only turnover of the half by Rawls resulted in a touchdown by quarterback Eli Manning to tight end Evan Engram. Cameras showed a sideline exchange between wide receiver Doug Baldwin, offensive line coach Tom Cable, and quarterback Russell Wilson although later the situation looked like all had cooled off.
If you think beating the Giants in Denver is the task, you’d be incorrect. The task is showing that they can play as well in the second half as well as the first. Even if the score is 52-0 at the end of the first half.
Denver is the worst team on third downs in the fourth quarter. How bad? 15% bad. Not only that, the run average and passing completions drop in second halves. Playing with a big lead against the Cowboys may have skewed the numbers a tad, but not that much. Denver has scored once in the 4th and it was a pick six against quarterback Dak Prescott.
Two things are happening. There is a killer mentality missing on offense in the second half of games. When that happens, the defense has to spend more time defending the pass. The offense is dominating the time of possession in first halves. That number drops to only 26 minutes out of a possible 60 in second halves. Split it in half and you have four minutes less than our opponents. Considering all but one turnover has occurred in the second half, you can see why.
Even so, Denver’s defense has done a pretty job. Only four TDs have been allowed in a second half and two were from quarterback Phillip Rivers in week one.
The four interceptions and a fumble lost, all happened in second halves. In their last two games they went from 83% on third downs to 34%. 0 conversions on goal to go.
The 0-5 Giants have a hurt quarterback Eli Manning, are without four starting wide receivers, they have an open gate for an OL and a defense that is ranked in the bottom of the league. They don’t have more than a sliver of a chance of winning. It would take the offense handing them the ball through many mistakes. With New York missing cornerback Dominique Rogers-Cromartie and having to use a previously benched cornerback Eli Apple, yeah….it’s probably not going to happen.
There’s only two ways to have a shot of doing it themselves. First, Manning needs to keep chucking the ball (without any turnovers) and hope a DB slips a couple times to get some scores and secondly, they can generate some kind of pass rush, or at least constant pressure. Also, make quarterback Trevor Siemian throw to the sidelines. Take away his comfort zone which are passes beyond ten yards and the sidelines.
The Giants can’t give up. Be prepared for the offense to come out swinging and put up some points. The second half is when they need to know they have a shot and play like it. In addition, the Giants need to use three tight ends and just dump and go and repeat. Use them for pass protection and as slots. Denver isn’t great against tight ends.
The Broncos need to know that Manning isn’t what he once was, but he’s pretty smart with the ball. All the young defensive backs, Justin Simmons, Will Parks, Brandan Langley and BradleyRoby must mentally be on their toes. No one has been able to run against Denver, so Manning will need an air attack, even if that attack is four yards at a time.
Giants defense have allowed 19, 24, 27, 25, and 27 points in their games. They faced Prescott, and quarterbacks Matthew Stafford, Carson Wentz, Jameis Winston and Rivers. Two running teams and three passing with good QBs. They didn’t play a mile up, though. While first half Siemian could be mentioned with the above group, second half can’t. Fortunately, the second half is when defenses get gassed in Denver.
The key, easier said than done for the Giants, is to keep within a score and harass Siemian. For Denver, the key is to remember Manning is like Rivers. They hang around in games and wait to find your weakness and then they attack it. Making sure the offense shows up in the fourth is how to keep Manning from having time to mount a comeback.
Talk Broncos with Julie on Twitter // @ABroncoNole
Head coach Doug Pederson must have seen the pictures floating around social media this past week because fans were not happy with the lack of running plays that Pederson has been using. We have, arguably, two of the best running backs in LeGarette Blount and Darren Sproles, but they hadn’t touched much of the ball the first two games and Eagles fans were understandably upset so they picketed outside the practice field with signs that read “Run the Ball” and somehow word must have gotten through to the coaches because we finally saw a lot of the running game…but the Eagles wouldn’t be the Eagles without some (very avoidable) mistakes.
Nothing against the New York Giants, but there was no way the Eagles should have let them catch up, only to then take the lead after a lost fumble by tight end Zach Ertz. The appearances by the RBs proved that they are a force to reckoned with. Blount bulldozed through the Giants’ defense and racked up 67 yards, behind smaller RB Wendell Smallwood helped bringing in 71 yards. Speaking of small RBs, veteran player Darren Sproles suffered a couple nasty injuries during Sunday’s game; he tore his ACL and broke his arm resulting in him being out for the remainder of the year. His presence on the field will definitely be missed.