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Friday, September 23, 2016

Rob’s Rants on Sports: The 2-0 Eagles; Questioning Pederson; Phillies Halt Potential Free Fall; Flyers Get Started


While you look for a comfortable spot on the “Wentz Wagon,” take a minute to read my latest sports rants:
  • At some point, the Eagles opponent can’t be an excuse for their success. I’m not sure that point came last week, but the Eagles looked good on Monday Night Football. In a somewhat dull game, Philadelphia and Carson Wentz went to 2-0 with a 29-14 victory over the Bears. The most notable thing about Wentz’s performance might have been that he certainly doesn’t shy away from contact. He was sent into an almost a complete summersault on one hit. He’ll need to learn to avoid some hits if he’s going to survive as a quarterback. But fans have to love his effort so far. More importantly, he’s not making any big mistakes. He has zero turnovers in two games. His other numbers weren’t stellar, as he was 21 of 34 for 194 yards passing with a touchdown. Those numbers might have been better, but his receivers dropped a couple passes, including what seemed like a potential touchdown to Jordan Matthews.

  • I didn’t love Doug Pederson’s play calling this week. Obviously, it worked out, but I thought he had the rookie quarterback throwing too much early in the game. The Eagles first six offensive plays were (short) passes. Maybe a little of Andy Reid’s influence showing? It’s hard to argue with a coach who is a former quarterback, especially when the Eagles win. I just think he should protect the rookie by running the ball early in the game.

  • I also didn’t agree with Pederson either time he “went for it” on fourth down. Let’s start with second time. The Eagles were up 22-7 late in the fourth quarter with the ball on the Bears 1-yard line. Kick the field goal and it’s a three-possession game. Again, it’s tough to argue because the Eagles scored a touchdown and sealed the win. I get it. Maybe Pederson can be given credit—he felt like he could put the game away, he was confident the defense could hold the Bears deep in their end to keep good field position if the offense was stopped (especially with Jay Cutler out of the game at that point), and he had sniffed out by then (or much sooner) that the Bears stink. Plus, Eagles kicker Caleb Sturgis was injured as he missed the extra-point after the Eagles previous touchdown. Although, Sturgis ended up kicking the extra-point after the touchdown on the fourth down play anyway, which was longer than what the field goal attempt would have been. Let’s go back to the first time the Eagles went for it on fourth down. The Eagles were at the Bears 28-yard line on their first possession of the game. What’s Pederson doing? A 45-yard field goal attempt isn’t exactly “no man’s land.” I know Eagles fans are ready to send Wentz to Canton—the Hall of Fame—but I think you have to help out your young quarterback and take the points. They ended up kicking a field goal later in the possession. Again, both possessions resulted in points, so it’s tough to criticize the decisions. I just think they were a couple “red flags” on the head coach that might come into play against better teams.

  • According to Matt Lombardo of NJ.com, Jordan Matthews “has at least three dropped passes through the first two games of the season” and had five last year. Matthews is the best receiver on the team—granted, that’s not high praise—and seems like a very good slot receiver in the league. But he’s got to stop dropping balls.

  • Remember the Phillies? They are still playing (for another 10 days). Give Pete Mackanin some credit as they put the brakes on what was becoming a late season swoon. On September 4, the Phils dropped to 16 games under .500. They’re only a game over .500 in the stretch of games since then through last night, but I thought there was some potential for a free fall. It’s disappointing Jeanmar Gomez is struggling, with an 11.2 ERA in his last 17 appearances. (Stat from Matt Gelb of the Inquirer.) But even if the Phillies don’t make a single move in the off-season, I’m excited to watch this young team next year. I’d like to see a veteran starting pitcher and some more power added to the lineup—every team wants that—but I think there’s reason for optimism.

  • The Flyers start training camp today, and they have seven players coming off something called the World Cup of Hockey. I welcome feedback from Flyers fans to help me understand how that makes sense. Presumably, teams didn’t have much say in the matter, but it seems odd to have players starting a long hockey season—one of the toughest, physically, in pro sports—coming off another competition. It’s just another thing about the sport that makes non-hockey fans scratch their heads. If readers are like me, looking to get into the Flyers, check out Sam Carchidi’s rundown of the team.

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