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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Rob’s Rants on Sports: Eagles Drop Second Straight; Pederson’s “Andy Reid” Moment; Bradford Returns; Looking Ahead to the Vikings; more

It was an ugly week for Philadelphia sports, and, as always, it starts with the Eagles.

  • The long awaited suspension of Eagles offensive lineman Lane Johnson finally took effect this week, and the result was as ugly as fans feared.  The first play from scrimmage saw Carson Wentz sacked with a torn jersey. It was an omen of things to come as he was sacked a total of 5 times on Sunday. He was sacked a total of 7 times in the previous 4 games. Potentially worse news came from Ron Jaworski. Talking to Mike Missanelli on 97.5, “Jaws” said that of the 27 times Carson Wentz dropped back to pass, Johnson’s replacement, rookie offensive lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai, was left on his own only 8 times. In other words, the Eagles were already giving him help, and, well, it didn’t help.

  • Earlier in the interview, Jaworski may have offered the stat of the week to illustrate the ugliness of the Eagles’ loss. He said that teams that have a kickoff return and interception return for a touchdown in the same game—which the Birds had on Sunday—have “about a 99 percent win percentage.” He did not site a source, but it didn’t sound like he was using hyperbole.

  • I didn’t think Wentz was horrible or even bad, throwing 11 of 22 for 179 yards. Obviously, they aren’t great numbers, but he didn’t turn the ball over and he was pressured all game.

  • No one is “worried” that Jim Schwartz will soon be leaving for a head coaching job this week. Yes, the defense scored a touchdown, but giving up 135 yards rushing to Matt Jones—the second-year player has topped 65 yards only two other times, against St. Louis and Cleveland—was ugly.

  • Doug Pederson had his first Andy Reid-esque moment, punting the ball from about midfield despite being down 7 with less than 2 minutes left in the game and 2 timeouts. I understand it was 4th-and-24 and Freddie Mitchell wasn’t in the stadium. But you can’t punt the ball there. You’re not getting it back. They punted from their own 40-yard line with 1:38 left. Best case scenario, the Eagles get the ball back about where they started with a fresh set of downs and 40 seconds left. And no timeouts. It was the New Orleans playoff game all over (albeit, in a less important game). You have the ball, you have control on some level. Take the shot.

  • With Minnesota coming to town, it’s impossible not to think about the Eagles trade of Sam Bradford. It’s far too early to evaluate it, and, obviously, it wasn’t a trade involving Wentz. But, let’s face reality, the trade will be judged based on the performance of the two quarterbacks. People suddenly seem to want to call it a “win-win,” when just six weeks ago they were saying Minnesota got fleeced. With the Vikings 5-0, getting 4 wins with Bradford at QB, the adjustment isn’t surprising. I said all along that it was the right move given that the Eagles drafted Wentz, but the idea that Minnesota got robbed never made sense. According to ESPN, entering this week, Bradford is 5th in the league in quarterback rankings. His numbers aren’t stellar, but he has 6 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and, again, his team is undefeated. He’s also 1st in completion percentage. Yes, Minnesota’s got a great defense. But Bradford is still young. The biggest knock on him, besides being injury prone, is that he’s “Check-down Charlie.” (He’s actually 6th in passing yards per attempt.) At 5-0, I don’t think Minnesota cares. The first round draft pick they gave up next year for Bradford isn’t looking quite as good as Eagles fans thought it would be, and the conditional fourth rounder the following year is hit or miss. I still say Minnesota could end up with the better end of this trade.

  • Once again, I don’t understand the confidence about the Eagles going into this game. Even factoring in the 3 points given to home teams, Minnesota being favored by 3 seems low. I think the final score from last week is deceiving, and the Eagles hot start is still lingering. The Vikings defense is ranked 2nd in the league—the Eagles are 3rd—and they’re only giving up 12.6 points per game, which should be concerning for Philadelphia after last week.

  • The Sixers finally open up next week. Injuries and little TV coverage has made it tough to build excitement recently, but at least Joel Embiid has increased his minutes. Jahlil Okafor will reportedly play in the opener, though Nerlens Noel apparently will not. The injuries are frustrating, but I’m just ready to finally care about NBA basketball again.

  • The NHL schedule didn’t help a newbie like me get into the game, starting the Flyers on the West coast. I imagine they get some credit for rallying from a 4-0 deficit in Chicago to tie it up before they dropped the game, 7-4. I heard Steve Coats say they have two good goalies, which usually means they don’t have one. Hopefully, he’s right.

  • Sean McDonough admitted on Monday Night Football that the game was unwatchable (because of penalties). Experts struggle to understand TV ratings, but they’re down for football. I think Thursday night games are the culprit. Sunday used to be all about football, and the Monday night games capped off the gluttony. Then they added Sunday night games, and Thursdays were a nice bonus for a few weeks at the end of the season when most shows go to reruns around the holidays. Now, for me at least, Thursday night games are irrelevant unless a team I specifically care about is playing, because I’ve already given two nights to the NFL if I even watch MNF since the league drives the best match-ups to Sunday night, leaving terrible games on Monday.

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