Wentz’s first game back was imperfectly perfect.
It’s been talked about so many times already, but I just want to give my own two cents. Having Carson back out there was so amazing that it’s almost difficult to put into words.
Was his performance perfect? Definitely not. You could see how rusty he was. He missed a handful of post-snap reads, held onto the ball a little long at times, committed 2 turnovers (1 interception and 1 fumble), and was off with his ball placement on several throws.
There were plenty of good things though. His throws still look pretty clean in terms of velocity and having a tight spiral. His pre-snap adjustments continue to be one of his best attributes and they make a huge difference in this offense. The leadership, morale boost, and confidence he provides to the team is invaluable. And maybe the most remarkable thing he showed against the Colts is that he’s moving around as though he had never gotten injured. There was no hesitation or reluctance whatsoever. Compare how Wentz looks to how someone like Deshaun Watson looks, who still doesn’t look fully comfortable yet. That’s not a knock on Watson; it’s completely understandable for him to still need time. Rather, it’s just a tip of the cap to what Wentz has been able to do in his recovery.
It might be another week or two before we really see Wentz get back to the level of play he was performing at last season, but once he does and the Eagles start getting all of their weapons back healthy, it’s going to be really exciting to see.
It really sucks to see Jimmy Garoppolo go down for the year.
Most of you might know already that I am very high on the future of this 49ers team, so to see their franchise QB tear his ACL in Week 3 is a huge bummer. This was supposed to be a season of development and hope for that team, possibly making a push for the playoffs. But now those hopes have taken an enormous blow. As an Eagles fan who saw his backup QB help win the team its first Super Bowl, maybe I shouldn’t be giving up on them completely, and I’m not. They still have the best offensive mind in the league in Kyle Shanahan calling the shots and a handful of young talent. But it’s going to be a very difficult road ahead if they want to finish with a winning season. Their young players still must learn how to win, and that’s not easy when the face of the franchise isn’t behind center. And as up-and-down as Nick Foles is, he’s at least shown before that he’s capable of playing at a very high level for a few games. CJ Beathard hasn’t shown that yet.
Jay Ajayi is made of glass. He’s always hurt and has missed so many games.
Actually, that’s not true. I posted this information on Facebook last week, but I needed to include it here. The notion that Ajayi is so injury prone and consistently misses games is a total misconception. This past game against the Colts was actually the first game he’s missed due to injury since his rookie season in 2015 when he had broken ribs. Since then, despite everyone being so worried about his knee, he hasn’t missed a game due to injury until now. The issue with his knee isn’t a short-term one, it’s long-term. There’s no need to go crazy about it right now while he’s still young. Good running backs like Le’Veon Bell and David Johnson have missed a good amount of games in their careers, but they don’t get talked about as being injury prone the way that Ajayi does.
Any Given Sunday
The Buffalo Bills blew out the Minnesota Vikings. The Detroit Lions defeated the New England Patriots. The Miami Dolphins are 3-0. The Houston Texans (whom a lot of people picked to win the AFC South) are 0-3. This is the beauty of the NFL, that in any given year on any given Sunday any team can come out of nowhere and shock the world. As much as we say that a certain team is loaded with talent and another team just isn’t good, the truth is that the disparity of talent levels from the best team in the league to the worst isn’t as big as some make it out to be. This isn’t college football. For the most part, every team has talented athletes on it, and with the right scheme and game-plan any team has the chance to beat anyone. What makes a team a Super Bowl contending team is their ability to maintain that success over the course of a whole season, with some luck too of course.
The Eagles’ top picks in the 2017 NFL Draft are starting to show signs.
I still remember how controversial the selections of Derek Barnett and Sidney Jones were at the time they were picked. A good number of fans (including myself) didn’t necessarily dislike Derek Barnett as a prospect, it’s just that there were other players left on the board that we wanted more. Personally, I was screaming for Rueben Foster, Malik Hooker, or OJ Howard, all of whom I thought had more upside than Barnett. As for Jones, he was actually the player I wanted most in the 2nd round. I felt like he was worth the risk, even if you had to sit him for his rookie year as he fully recovered from the injury.
Fast forward to today, and both of them are starting to show real flashes of being impact players for this Eagles defense for a long time. Barnett still has a good amount of work to do when it comes to his pass rushing technique, but he’s already a very good run defender and he’s building a reputation of coming up big in clutch situations. Remember, he forced the fumble on Case Keenum in the NFC Championship Game just as the Vikings were in position to score, he recovered the fumble that Brandon Graham forced on Tom Brady in the Super Bowl, and he came up with the game-saving sack on Andrew Luck in Week 3.
Not to be outdone, Sidney had his moments of brilliance against the Colts as well. He had a really good pass breakup on a pass to Eric Ebron in the end zone late in the 3rd quarter, and on the very next snap he made a huge play by fighting through the cut block of Ryan Grant and then grabbing and holding up both the RT Denzelle Good and the WR Zach Pascal just long enough for Jalen Mills to come and make the tackle. Jones has been playing extremely well as the Nickel CB through 3 weeks, showing both great coverage skills, mental processing, and physicality in making tackles. One of the biggest question marks in the offseason was how the team would be able to replace Patrick Robinson in the slot, who was one of the best slot corners in the league in 2017. Sidney Jones has been the answer to those questions so far. It’s difficult not to get excited about his future. The Eagles could have the best cornerback on the team since Asante Samuel.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) September 25, 2018
Running into the Punter
There are a couple of stupid rules in the NFL, such as when the offense fumbles into the opponent’s end zone, resulting in a change of possession and a touchback (I still really want to know who in the world thought of that). And of course, there are the infamous “Roughing the Passer” penalties, which is a whole other discussion for another day. But another one that I saw a couple times in Week 3 was the “Running into the Punter” penalty. Please tell me what the player is supposed to do?! He’s running full speed to try to block the punt, which he’s allowed to do obviously, and if he’s able to make any contact with the ball then making contact with the punter is fair game. BUT, if he misses the ball and then subsequently makes contact with the punter then it’s a 5-yard penalty?!?! That does not make sense! Please tell me I’m not the only one who thinks so.
The Baker Mayfield Era has begun
It’s hard to imagine a more storybook type of debut for Baker Mayfield. He played so well in the comeback win over the Jets. It was the same kind of game that the Browns had always found ways to lose in the past, but this time it was different. Mayfield has such clean footwork and good pocket presence, and he throws a great ball. Outside of his height, he looks so similar to Brett Favre in terms of his style of play and skillset. Is it possible that Mayfield is really the one that can finally change this franchise’s fortune around? The answer is yes. He’s going to need help though. I’m still not completely sold on Hue Jackson as a head coach, so that’s a big question mark. But this is a start. I’ll tell you this much, the Browns have suddenly become a must-watch team.
Saquon Barkley could be the next Barry Sanders, but not in a good way.
Barry Sanders is the GOAT RB. I’ve always believed that. And it’s well known that the Detroit Lions pretty much wasted his career by never giving him a good offensive line or even a good enough team to be real Super Bowl contenders. Well, I’m afraid that that could happen with Saquon Barkley being on the Giants. He’s been absolutely outstanding already, but the Giants once again have a bad offensive line and a quarterback who looks like he doesn’t have much left. Barkley is consistently creating yards on his own, but there’s only so much you can consistently pick up when your blocking just isn’t there. I know it’s only 3 games into his career, and I don’t want to overreact. Do I hate seeing such a good RB on a team that I absolutely despise? Of course. But this is separate from that. As a fan of NFL football, it sucks when a great talent is on a bad team for most or all of their careers. It’s very possible that the Giants are able to eventually build a good team. But right now, I don’t have much confidence in that happening considering who their GM and Head Coach are, and if that’s the case then it’ll be a damn waste of another (potential) generational talent.
Saquon Barkley leads the league in broken tackles & is 3rd in rushing yards after contact (per Sportradar).
The Giants are #27 in rushing DVOA
— Ben Baldwin (@benbbaldwin) September 26, 2018
The Patriots will turn it around… right?
We’ve seen this plenty of times before. The Patriots get off to a relatively slow start to their season and lose a couple games that sort of surprises everyone. But somehow they figure it all out as the season goes on, win their division, and are Super Bowl contenders once again. So we should expect the same thing to happen again this season.
It very well could, but I’m not as sure anymore as I was in years prior.
I know that some of you reading this are going to think I’m foolish and just being a Patriots hater. And honestly, there might be nothing I can say that would convince you otherwise. You would just have to believe me when I say that in the past I believed in the Patriots. I may not like them, but I knew they would always be in the playoff picture in the end because they’re done it so consistently year after year.
So why do I feel like it’s different this year? Because I don’t think that all of the reports that have come out over the past year or so are merely coincidence. The rumors about friction between Belichick and Kraft, everything involving Brady and TB12, the trading of Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers that came almost out of nowhere, and now the reports that Brady considered divorcing from Belichick and that Gronkowski threatened to retire if the Patriots traded him to the Lions. It just all feels like we’re nearing the end of the dynasty.
Now I’m not saying they won’t be good. I still think they will be. They might have one of the worst rosters they’ve had in the Belichick era, but they’ll figure out a way to still have a winning season. I just don’t believe that they’ll make it to the Super Bowl this season. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and say that we’ve seen the last of the Belichick-Brady Patriots in the Super Bowl.
I know, blasphemy. But there is that saying, “Father time is undefeated”. And the Patriots certainly aren’t.
Rant time… Here we go…
I’ll finish this article off with a rant that I had written in my Power Rankings write-up I do every week for the fantasy football league I’m the commissioner of. A friend suggested I include it in here, so I will.
Quick side note, I did have to “censor” out some of the curses that were originally in it.
“My apologies, but I need to go on a rant here… so many Eagles fans are so hyped up over Corey Clement, and it’s absolutely maddening. When he was signed as an undrafted free agent last year I thought the kid had potential and I was excited to have him. And it was awesome to see him develop into a good receiver out of the backfield. But Eagles fans talk about him like he should be the lead back ahead of Jay Ajayi… GET OUT!! SERIOUSLY, STOP TALKING FOOTBALL RIGHT NOW. It drives me nuts when people make statements about a player when they obviously have no clue what they’re looking at. Clement still has numerous flaws as a runner. He has very little patience and is what you would call a “one-speed runner.” I can’t even count how many times I’ve seen him run into his own lineman or push forward into garbage without waiting for the running lane to develop. Also, people talk about him like he’s so gifted athletically. I heard the color commentator during the Eagles-Colts game say that Clement is “very elusive.” OH REALLY???? I would like to sit down with anyone that makes that claim and for them to show me more than 5 times since last season where Clement has made a defender miss in space. I’ve gone back and watched all of his touches from last season as well as this season and I haven’t seen him do it. “Well Clement is a power runner, that’s how he ran in college.” WELL I DON’T SEE HIM RUNNING THROUGH DEFENDERS EITHER! AND WHY IS HE THE PUNT RETURNER WITH SPROLES OUT WITH AN INJURY?!?! HE SUCKS AS A PUNT RETURNER!! He bobbled the first punt, fumbled the second one, and did NOTHING with any of his returns. Hmmm, I wonder why that is. Maybe it’s because HE’S NOT ELUSIVE AND DOESN’T HAVE GREAT SPEED!! Now don’t get me wrong, I won’t stop rooting for the kid. He’s an Eagle and I want him to do well. But I don’t have strong confidence that he’ll be anything more than a good complimentary back in this league. And you know what, that is PERFECTLY FINE. I just can’t stand it that so many people make him out to be something he’s not. And news flash: if Ajayi is out, he’s still not going to be the lead back. We saw that this past Sunday. He split carries with Wendell Smallwood and Josh Adams. WENDELL SMALLWOOD!! AND SMALLWOOD PLAYED BETTER THAN HIM!! Enough said. #EndRant #FlyEaglesFly #CowboysSuck”