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Friday, October 14, 2016

Rob’s Rants on Sports: Eagles Finally Falter; Expectations Too Great? Doubting “DJax” Returns; Utley, Ruiz Give Phillies Fans a Playoff Interest; Remembering the Ickey Shuffle

No one thought Carson Wentz would go the entire season without experiencing a loss or throwing an interception. They also didn’t think it would be October before he did both. Here’s my latest Rob’s Rants on sports:

  • Let’s start at the finish. The Eagles lost 24-23 in Detroit, a loss that wasn’t sealed until Wentz threw his first career interception on a long pass to Nelson Agholor in the final minute of the game. Wentz blew it. There was 1:28 left in the game. In that situation, defenses are generally going to play somewhat of a “prevent defense”—keeping everything in front of them. He needed to get his feet wet in his first end-of-game 2-minute drill with some easy passes over the middle. It’s a tough way to get your first pick—he actually got away with a couple bad passes earlier—but this is what the Eagles signed up for when they handed the reigns to a rookie. The question is how he responds this week.

  • There’s really no reason to think the Wentz Wagon isn’t still rolling. Wentz was 25 of 33 for 238 yards passing and two touchdowns. He even had a couple opportunistic runs and protected himself. He doesn’t exactly look fleet of foot, but if he can grab some yards when he has the chance it will be a plus. More importantly, he took a baby step toward answering the question of how he would react to adversity. The Eagles were down 14-0 early in the game, and there was no sign of panic from Wentz.

  • The only real concern coming from the game should be about the defense. Detroit had the ball three times in the first half, and scored three touchdowns. They went 75, 80, and 75 yards. That’s a butt whuppin’. The one turnover the Eagles got in the game was a fumble Mathew Stafford of the Lions just let slip out of his hands. The “D” halted things pretty well in the second half, but they were supposedly geared up for Jim Schwartz’s return to Detroit and came out flat.

  • I love all the coaching experts on sports radio ripping Ryan Matthews for carrying the ball in the wrong hand when he fumbled late in the fourth quarter as if he’s now a bum. I think Jon Marks calls the day after a loss “Overreaction Monday,” and this was a perfect example. It’s tough the first turnover of the season setup Detroit’s game-winning field goal. But it was the first turnover of the season, and a defender put his helmet on the ball. It was going to happen eventually.

  • Expectations for the Eagles continue to be off the charts. I actually heard a guy call Sunday’s game the worst gut punch ever. If he started watching Philadelphia sports on Saturday night, he has a point. Five weeks ago this season was all about developing Carson Wentz. It still is, people! Quite frankly, I thought it was crazy that they were favored going into Detroit, and I don’t understand how they’re favored going to Washington. It’s their second road game in a row, and a lot of people thought Washington would be very good this year. With three straight wins, they’re starting to show signs of living up to expectations. I tried picking games on my old sports blog, and it’s brutally difficult. Suffice it to say, I think expectations for the Eagles for this season need to be lowered.

  • Since the Birds are playing in D.C., bringing back DeSean Jackson when he’s a free agent next off-season has been a hot topic. I’m sure Jackson’s teammates were thrilled that he didn’t exactly shy away from talking about it this week. My guess? It won’t happen. Jeff Lurie hates drama, which Jackson brings with him, and the Eagles are known for getting rid of players too soon instead of too late. Jackson will be 30 by the end of the season. And he’s not exactly lighting it up, with 18 catches for 278 yards—102 of which came in a blowout loss to the Steelers opening week—and 1 touchdown.

  • Phillies fans still have a rooting interest in the MLB Playoffs as Carlos Ruiz and Chase Utley helped the Dodgers send the Nationals packing for the season last night. Ruiz pinch hit for Utley in the 7th inning, driving in the go-ahead run and keeping a 4-run inning going that ultimately won the game. (The fact that the inning took over an hour with 7 pitching changes is an issue baseball needs to figure out.) Fun fact—Jason I-hope-Philadelphia-never-wins-another-championship Werth got thrown out at the plate by a mile in the bottom of the 6th. Utley did his part in Game 4 with a 2-out solo home run in the bottom of the 8th to break a 5-5 tie. Even Joe Blanton pitched in, earning the win in Game 4. Unfortunately, I think the Dodgers have burned ace Clayton Kershaw for the early part of the NLCS against the Cubs (who I think win the series), pitching him on short rest in Game 4 and in relief in Game 5. I thought the latter was overkill.

  • I’m hoping Browns receiver Andrew Hawkings started a trend last week when he scored a touchdown against the Patriots and didn’t celebrate. He simply put the ball down, and, almost in military fashion, walked away. Hawkings was clearly mocking the absurdity of the NFL cracking down on any sort of taunting, otherwise known as celebrating. Of all the dumb things Roger Goodell has done to the NFL, this is by far the dumbest. People like touchdown celebrations. Thank God Roger wasn’t around earlier. We never would have had the Ickey Shuffle. Or Billy “White Shoes” Johnson’s celebrations. Or Washington’s “Fun Bunch.”

The Ickey Shuffle

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