*Pre-editor post (forgive any typos)
I watched some of this live, and then I re-watched for study purposes -- and I still don’t get it. I don’t understand how this is happening. How is Ryan Fitzpatrick becoming the greatest QB of the modern era out of nowhere, after bouncing around the league for years, and with no running game at all?
I don’t get it. The very first play of the game, DeSean Jackson runs a simple pattern deep to the right. The safety/Malcolm Jenkins tries to undercut it as if Jackson was going to cut slash across the middle for a medium-range pass play. He guesses wrong. DJax keeps running deep. Fitzpatrick under throws the bomb to the middle of the field which allows Jackson to adjust with the cornerback running behind him…DJax adjusts, catches the pass, stops his momentum to avoid the oncoming CB/tackler, changes direction back to the middle as the CB overruns him again and Jackson darts for the end zone. Jenkins, the safety, who had quit on the play after he guessed wrong, he ran half-speed trailing the play/watching the bomb in flight, then realized if he had pursued any of this full speed he could have helped tackled Jackson 20-30 yards short of the end zone, so he tries to speed up but it’s too late. 75-yard TD to start the game, 30-40 yards on the pass, the rest DJax maneuvering through Eagles’ DBs/with the Eagles DBs looking like half-asleep keystone cops.
A little later, O.J. Howard catches a simple crossing pass that would usually be a 5-6-7 yard gain and runs by 4-5 Eagles’ defenders, breaks a couple of halfhearted tackle attempts and just strolls down the field for his own 75-yard TD.
I’m not sure how much of this action to assign to Fitzpatrick and how much goes on the Eagles totally mailing this game in on defense, until it was too late.
The Eagles played like fat, dumb, and happy Super Bowl champs on defense and they have no offense to speak of. No running game. Kamar Aiken and Josh Perkins were key parts of the passing game, and you likely don’t know who one of those guys is…and the other was just signed to the team a week or so ago. This is not a Super Bowl team. This is a pretty good team who got lucky last year (as most Super Bowl teams are, which is why they tend to disappoint the following season) – lucky that the Cowboys ran into Tyron Smith and Sean Lee injuries. Lucky to beat Atlanta in the 1st-round of the playoffs and then carried by Nick Foles after that. It doesn’t make the Eagles a bad team…it just makes them a regular ol’ ‘good’ team that got hot and the right breaks at the right time. This team is not going back to the Super Bowl. I don’t think they’re going to the playoffs. They should be 0-2 right now.
I can’t even explain Tampa Bay right now. Fitzpatrick was floating passes out to receivers who were wide-open, but more so in a way that the defensive backs didn’t seem to give a damn. Fitzpatrick did not dink and dunk the front seven, he went medium and deep looking like he was playing against a prevent defense.
I entered this tape watching session looking for clues about this Tampa Bay uprising. I walked away wondering, “What happened to the Eagles?”
I still can’t tell you what Tampa Bay is doing…I don’t understand how all these floater passes keep finding the mark unscathed by any tight coverage – this week or last week. I’m going to adjust the Bucs upward in offensive rankings, out of respect, out of the numbers being so hot…but my heart doesn’t believe it.
If Tampa Bay beats the Steelers this week then I will be the most shocked of all shocks TB has dealt me through two weeks this season.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- Watching the game from Ryan Fitzpatrick’s (27-33 for 402 yards, 4 TDs/1 INT) vantage point, I don’t see anything magical happening.
The prior two seasons, Fitz has tallied 19 TDs/20 INTs. The prior three seasons, he failed to reach over 60% completion percentage. Suddenly, with no running game, he’s completed 78.7% of his passes with 409.5 yards passing per game and 4.0 TDs passes per game?
We’ve seen this before from Fitzpatrick…white hot for Buffalo for a few games, wins the city over and gets a big contract and then falls back to earth and is given the boot. His hot 2015 with the Jets, a 10-win season/31 TD passes out of nowhere, then becomes a holdout for a big payday the following season, gets paid…then goes 3-8 with 12 TDs/17 INTs and is cut loose after the season.
Fitzpatrick has these stretches and then he always collapses…we just don’t know when either version of Fitz will happen. Could last for the year, could last one more week. Who knows? Fitzpatrick’s career would be defined as ‘erratic’ or ‘inconsistent’.
Nothing would shock me with Fitz next week…4 more TD passes, or 4 picks in a loss. Either way, Fitz is keeping the job from Jameis Winston for a while, he has to…and oh, how I will chuckle to see how Winston handles his benching.
-- Peyton Barber (16-22-0, 1-7-0/2) was not needed much, but was dreadful when called upon in this game. He’s averaging 2.6 yards per carry this season. He’s going nowhere fast…but the Bucs have nothing to replace him with.
-- You think the Bucs have no running game, and they don’t…the Eagles aren’t scaring anyone with their run attack. Jay Ajayi (7-23-1, 1-4-0/1) saved another dismal fantasy performance by stumbling in for a short TD.
Corey Clement (6-30-1, 5-55-0/6) is OK/good but nothing special.
Heck, Wendell Smallwood (7-28-0, 1-2-0/1) didn’t even play last week, and then led the team in carries this week.
This is a bad scene for a fantasy RB. You don’t know from one week to the next who’s getting the ball. It’s been that way since day-one of the Doug Pederson era. Smart for the NFL, terrible for fantasy.
-- The O.J. Howard (3-96-1/4) TD was amazing to watch…a TE running from midfield on a simple slant all the way to the left sideline and then down the sideline for a 75-yard score that was probably 90-100+ yards of actual running…and running past 5-6-7 asleep Eagles defenders and just sprinting in for a 75-yard TD. It’s what OJH brings to the table – a superior athleticism.
He’s going to have to score off big plays because he’s not scoring otherwise for fantasy, not by volume – just 4 targets this week. Just 2 targets last week.
OJH does more with less than any TE in the NFL right now. He’s averaging 30.0 yards per catch so far this season. He’s a TE1 option even if he only gets 2-3-4 targets in a game, he’s that good…and the state of fantasy TEs is that bad.
Howard is starting to dominate the snap counts at TE, pushing Cameron Brate away to nothing…which is more good news to use OJH if needed as a TE1, but also for a possible breakout game coming up – no Winston means OJH thrives!!! Winston loves Brate. Fitz likes Howard.
-- When Nick Foles (35-48 for 334 yards, 1 TD/0 INT) had to push for a comeback, he went to old reliable Zach Ertz (11-94-0/13).
He also went to TE Josh Perkins (4-57-0/6).
He didn’t go to hot shot rookie TE Dallas Goedert (0 stats).
The Goedert takeover of Ertz story hits a major speed bump this week. It’s the reason I liked OJH over Goedert as my TE2 gamble…no way Goedert is pushing past Ertz this year.
-- Isn’t this always the way with DeSean Jackson (4-129-1/4)? Couple big games, gets everyone suckered back in…and then he gets hurt or otherwise disappears.
Jackson has amazing numbers…just 4.5 targets per game so far, but back-to-back 120+ yard games and 3 TDs.
The let down has to be around the corner, right?
-- Bucs Rookie IDP DB Jordan Whitehead (6 tackles) saw some extra snaps in this game, in late during the Philly comeback attempt. He accounted himself pretty well. He’s an IDP deep sleeper now and then get excited for tackle counts if he cracks the starting lineup somehow this year. He’s a tackle machine at safety.
Snap Counts of Interest:
46 = O.J. Howard
17 = TE Auclair
13 = Brate
11 = TE Cross
72 = Agholor
62 = Aiken
35 = Sh Gibson
19 = DeAndre Carter
07 = Wallace
74 = Ertz
26 = Josh Perkins
17 = Goedert
IDPs of note
77 = Carlton Davis
67 = M.J. Stewart
36 = Jordan Whitehead
34 = Carl Nassib
04 = Nathan Gerry