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*Pre-editor post (forgive any typos)
**I didn’t plan to have this be the first recap of the playoffs (I study/write one a day and publish the next day in the offseason) – but this was too much not to stop all my NFL Draft work and dive on in. So, here’s the first of wild card playoff recaps for the week…
I don’t know where to begin, so I’ll just default to my go-to move by starting out by calling everyone an idiot like the self-righteous football analyst that I am. Tell me, convince me that my ‘take’ is wrong about the following and I’ll promise to apologize and change my ways…
Seriously, how dumb an NFL head coach is Matt Nagy? I thought his 21-3 halftime lead turned 22-21 playoff 2nd-half collapse loss in the Chiefs-Titans playoff game last season was about as low as Nagy could go. Oops, we found another layer…
I knew this game was over for Chicago 7+ minutes in, on their very first possession -- on their 3rd and 4th plays of the game.
After achieving a 1st-down on their first two plays, on 1st & 10 from their own 32, play #3 for the Bears was that idiotic TE shuffle pass…a play that was run to the rather slow, backup TE Ben Braunecker. Why are you doing this? What are you expecting from this play…are you expecting Braunecker to bust through the line and out run the entire Eagles defense for a 68-yard TD with his 4.7+ backup tight end speed? If you pitched the ball to Tarik Cohen, he might have gone for -2 yards…or he might have dodged and darted for a 68-yard TD, as he has been known to do. What is not known to happen is BEN BRAUNECKER RACES UP THE MIDDLE FOR 68-YARD SCORE!!! Moronic.
Ben B. did get 6-yards out of the play, and that sounds fine, but 6-yards is like the most you could get. It’s like having a choice of what $1 scratch-off lottery ticket you want with your last dollar on earth – the one with a lot of ‘winners’ but max prize $5, or do you want the one where you can instant win one-million dollars? Nagy’s the kinda guy happy he locks down Mediterranean Ave. and Baltic Ave. in Monopoly. Why is Ben Braunecker touching the ball? Ever?
Next play, 2nd & 4, let’s keep the momentum going…hand-off to 2017 undrafted free agent who has bounced around to several teams backup RB Taquan Mizzell (1-0-0, 0-0-0/1)…for -1 yard. What in the blue hell are you thinking, man? This is the playoffs!!!! You’re down 3-0 already. You’re facing Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles. Let’s get on the scoreboard!!!!
Instead of putting his best feet forward early, Nagy gets super-cute with Ben Braunecker and Taquan Mizzell runs up the middle. Tarik Cohen has yet to touch the ball at this stage. 18:13 after kickoff…Cohen finally had the ball in his hands for the first time.
After watching the Braunecker-Mizzell 1-2 punch early on, I was done. I knew Nagy was going to do this…because he’s been doing it for weeks. You cannot wash the Andy Reid from him. Allergic to success. Addicted to clever play calls on the first series, sometimes the second -- and then a flat-line the rest of the game. Watch how KC falls in the playoffs because Reid pushes a big Damien Williams run game strategy for no reason…mixed in with shuffle passes to Demetrius Harris and double reverses to Anthony Sherman.
Later, in this game, a key 3rd & short saw Benny Cunningham (1-2-0), who has barely played this season, come in and fall short of the 1st-down.
Get this… Playoff game. Facing the defending champs. Tarik Cohen runs the ball 1 time the entire game…the same amount that Mizzell and Cunningham did. Taylor Gabriel did run the ball twice, however.
I cannot make this up…I cannot make up how stupid NFL coaching staffs are.
What…? You think Doug Pederson is better. OK, sorry but… What else does Nick Foles have to do to be your starting QB? Win 2-3 more Super Bowls off the bench? Win 2-3 more Super Bowl MVPs? I thought we were spending 25 hours a day in our offices studying football, arriving to the team facility at 1am to start work and leaving at midnight – all to win games and Super Bowls? Nick Foles keeps winning huge spotlight and huge underdog games and Doug Pederson (and entire franchise) is like, “Yeah, but Carson Wentz is a good kid and better than Foles.”
I’m not sure who is more averse to success – Nagy or Pederson? If Carson Wentz doesn’t get hurt…they likely do not win the Super Bowl last season, and then followed that with not making the playoffs this year if Wentz was healthy – and then we’d all be like, “Pederson isn’t a very good coach.” Instead, Foles saves last season and this season…and we’re all like, “Yeah, Pederson is so smart.”
So smart? He spends his whole year planning on how to bench the best QB he has! In a few weeks, he’ll be focused on TRADING HIM!!! Because if you keep Foles you might accidentally win a Super Bowl and we can’t have that…so, now, we’ll trade him away so he cannot mess things up by coming in off the bench and saving our season and winning a title. I mean, that’s what they’re essentially doing…right? It’s pure and utter insanity? How do these people get these jobs?
If you think Pederson and Nagy are bad…hell, they are considered two of the best coaches in the league!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
In other news, Mike Munchak is a hot coaching candidate, as is Bruce Arians. What the…?
As for this actual game, it was typical Matt Nagy. Play conservative and let your inferior opponent hang around too long and allow them a chance to score last to win. Nagy has been getting away with that most all season because of the actual best coach they have – Vic Fangio and his defense. However, it was against Nick Foles this time…and no mortal can stop Foles in crunch time, except his own coach, GM, and owner trying to NOT have him on the field.
OK, let’s calm down and actually talk about some of the fantasy aspect to this game. What’s that I say, Nick Foles is the first note…’calm’ and ‘gracious’ aren’t going to happen for a bit here…
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- I have the following message for all you NFL scouts and football analysts who told all of us for years that Nick Foles sucked…that he wasn’t a legit NFL starting QB. That his 7 TD pass game was because of the awesome offensive genius Chip Kelly. And that his 2013 near-record breaking season as a passer was also because of Chip Kelly. And that Foles was never going to start in the NFL again after his one whole half a year under Jeff Fisher, QB career serial killer. And that last year’s playoff run/title/MVP was because of ‘RPOs’.
Well…here’s my message to you: https://youtu.be/jXew6spm0SI
Also, it’s irrefutable -- I know football scouting and specifically QB scouting better than anyone on the planet. Certainly better than all the mainstream analysts and coaches-turned-analysts and guys who played the game and guys with gold jackets, etc.
I was on Foles in 2012 and when everyone else ignored. I was with Foles when he was forced to start for Michael Vick when everyone else bailed with impunity. I was still fighting for him…watching to see if Alex Smith would go down (when he was in KC), and then hoping Wentz would flame -- and Foles would get his chance to show how good he is. I didn’t stick by Foles just because it was my original scouting call (that he had high marks as a potential elite QB) – but that from PHI to STL to KC back to PHI, I saw that he still had the ‘it’. That he was still better than most QBs out there.
All these NFL head coaches ruining their families with excessive football study, all the coaches that just got fired – any of you could have signed Foles multiple times over the years. You didn’t see it and you get what you deserve…and, also, I know more about football scouting and QB play than you coaches…and I never coached anything beyond Upwards Flag Football for one season (and went undefeated; not that you are supposed to keep score in Upward, but come on…).
Two more things on Foles…
1) His free agent price tag and cost of acquisition just went even higher…as have the odds the Eagles turnaround and trade Carson Wentz and just go with Foles in 2019+ (doubtful but on the table).
2) If Foles leads the Eagles to the Super Bowl again, and wins the MVP again doing it – is Foles a Hall of Famer?
Now, that the Bears have lost me my final hopes at any more wager money this year…no Super Bowl appearance or title win money to cash…now, I throw my support behind another Foles Super Bowl. Fly Foles Fly!!!
-- Let’s finish out the QBs from this game with a look at Mitchell Trubisky (26-43 for 303 yards, 1 TD/0 INT)…
Stats looked OK from this game, but he didn’t play all that well (or bad). Trubisky is not getting exponentially better as the season goes on, and I don’t know that Matt Nagy will ever help him get to any next level.
Trubisky has a total skill set superior to Mahomes-Mayfield-Goff. If you laugh at that, may I remind you…you gave up on Nick Foles too. So, maybe listen to me for a moment… What Trubisky is lacking in spades against M-M-G is confidence…swagger. In college, M-M-G threw a billion passes in up-tempo offenses and were ‘the guy’ pretty much from day one. They WERE their college team. Trubisky, on the other hand, sat behind an inferior QB for three seasons, finally took over his senior year and was awesome…became the #1 pick, and was working with Jeff Fisher Jr./John Fox to waste his rookie year.
In their last six years of football…
Mahomes was a high producer at Texas Tech who eventually chased off Baker Mayfield and Davis Webb from the school/team and was handed the keys to the team and threw a billion times in the air raid. Came into the NFL and sat for a year, then tried to break every QB record his 2nd NFL season.
Mayfield got the starting job for a bit as a walk-on at Texas Tech, left because he didn’t get the nod from the coaches. Went to Oklahoma, won a Heisman, was tackled-for-a-loss by a policeman, grabbed his crotch, got drafted #1 overall, and then won a bunch of games for perpetual loser Cleveland and set the rookie passing TD record for a season.
Goff started for four years at Cal. Went #1 overall. Flopped with Jeff Fisher, then was reborn with Sean McVay and became an MVP candidate in 2018.
Trubisky mostly sat for his first three years of college, played one year at no-one-cares-about UNC and was great in his one season. The team with the #1 draft pick, Cleveland, his hometown, passed on him and so did the #2 pick 49ers, who needed a QB but traded out of the pick to avoid him. He sucked with John Fox in 2017 as a rookie. He was mostly up and down as a passer this year, except that one game he dropped 6 TD passes in 2.5 quarters of play.
Mahomes and Mayfield and Goff know they have IT…Trubisky still thinks ‘he’s ugly’, like the media says…and like Nagy treats him – like a little sensitive baby. Trubisky will never be great until he starts acting like he is…or if Nagy starts pushing him all-in with more throws more big moments.
Because Nagy babied Trubisky, they lost this game to a team with secondary/coverage issues…that’s on Nagy, not as much on Trubisky. However, Trubisky will get the blame and be a QB2 projection for fantasy 2018. I’d say like Goff coming into this year…like the #15-20 ranked QB for fantasy 2019.
I think Trubisky will keep improving, but I’m not sure we’ll see the Goff or Mahomes leap from Trubisky for a while…maybe never. Nagy has got to stop babying Trubisky – it started when he didn’t let Trubisky drop 9-10 TD passes on Tampa Bay Week 4. Nagy is too busy working on more TE shuffle passes to 3rd-string tight ends to be bothered pushing, pushing, pushing Trubisky to throw more and more and more in games…even if it would have cost them a loss or two, it would’ve set up the future. Instead, the NFC North champs got punked at home in the first-round of the playoffs.
**Coming Very Soon – College Football Metrics 2019 subscriptions will be opening up and the new season will be under way. I have been going through the East-West game prospects and beginning the first full scouting reports since December 2018, and they’ll be the first things you see out of the gates when we open up.
I’m shocked by a few of the East-West prospects…some potential ‘wow’ prospects in a game there usually isn’t as much ‘wow’ in because the more interesting prospects usually wind up at the Senior Bowl. Not this year...or the Senior Bowl is loaded! The East-West games will have our dynasty rookie draft sleeper wheels turning early.
Haskins-Grier-Lock-Stidham…other? What’s up with this oft-labeled weak QB draft class? I’m not sure it’s that weak…depends upon your perspective.We’ll be analyzing and computer grading all the top QBs and discussing what I mean by ‘perspective’.
It’s NFL Draft overload season…it’s Fantasy title defense or title chase study season… Here comes our 8th year of College Football Metrics to the rescue!**
-- And then there’s the misuse of Tarik Cohen (1-0-0, 3-27-0/5)…
Matt Nagy did it with Tyreek Hill…underutilized him – watched it firsthand under Andy Reid for early Tyreek then duplicated it when Nagy got to call plays in 2017. Why would we have expected anything different here with Cohen?
Basically, Nagy spent the whole preseason touting Trey Burton as Travis Kelce, Tarik Cohen running all kinds of plays all over the field, and speaking of Taylor Gabriel as a unique deep threat and run game option. He then basically did none of that…except for moments with Cohen here and there, which Cohen spun things into gold.
The biggest game for Nagy of the season…Cohen touches the ball once as a ball carrier and three times in the passing game. Unconscionable.
Taylor Gabriel had more carries than Cohen. Anthony Miller has as many catches and targets. Adam Shaheen had as many catches and one less target… This is your likely Coach of the Year for 2018.
Javon Wims was a star last week (and all preseason)…I’m not sure he saw the field this week, and he definitely didn’t see a target.
So, what to do with Cohen for fantasy? Assume RB2 in PPR in 2019…has RB1 PPR upside but assume Nagy will continue to be Nagy. My bet is the Bears draft an RB and trade Jordan Howard…and Cohen is pushed further in the background as the occasional, wacky gadget guy who sees 1-2 touches one game and 10-15 the next and just randomly too-low touch counts in-between.
You think Nagy has learned something? He’s didn’t learn from this season that Cohen is his best weapon BY FAR…as he had a front row seat to all the amazing things Cohen did this season. If Dallas ran Ezekiel Elliott 8 times in a loss to Seattle this weekend…would there be fire and brimstone from the media and the fans? Yes, absolutely. However, Cohen is barely used in the Bears’ biggest game and ‘yaaaawn’…actually, there will be nice articles about how great a season it was for Chicago despite the playoff loss.
-- There’s assessing talent at the RB position, as a scout…as a dynasty/fantasy GM – and then there’s the figuring out the ‘what the coaches will do’ aspect.
Tarik Cohen should be an RB1 for PPR…he’s a Pro Bowl level WR if used in such a way…he isn’t – only used heavy in certain spots with little rhyme of reason.
Then there’s the Eagles best RB Josh Adams (1-2-0)…one carry for two yards. That’s all you need to know about Doug Pederson’s mindset on such things. Pederson has been telling us this and telling us this for years – he is enslaved to no RB. He will use any RB at any given time based on matchup or what side of the bed he woke up on that day. He’s the most RBBC head coach in football today and has been for every season he’s been with Philly…why is he going to change now?
I can love Josh Adams all I want. I can see that Adams is one of the 10 most gifted RB talents in the NFL, and I can be right about that…and it won’t matter as much for fantasy because we also have to interpret what the coach is going to do. It took Nick Foles six years to gain any respect, and all by accident…and he still really doesn’t have the respect that he’s due. If NFL decision makers can be that blind on Foles…why do I expect them to ‘get it’ on Adams?
Even if Pederson does ‘get it’ on Adams, and injuries forced him to ‘get it’ on Adams midseason – he’s still going to deploy an RBBC.
We can have fantasy hope in Adams. We can see if injury propels him again, but at this stage…all we can do is dream of the potential because the 2019 fantasy reality is likely ‘RBBC’ with erratic fantasy output based on erratic touch counts.
You could argue the three best offensive players in this game – Foles, Cohen, Adams…their head coaches do not recognize their ability to change the game (besides lip service about it) and do not want to build plans around them. We need more Ben Braunecker and Nelson Agholor in our lives!! They’ll never see it coming *said into headset with their face covered by a giant laminated sheet of plays that are OH SO CLEVER*
In 2019, if Darren Sproles returns for his 100th/centennial season…Adams is an RB2-3 projection for fantasy 2019 (waiting for Sproles to get hurt to launch more excitement). That’s assuming Jay Ajayi isn’t shoved back onto the team.
-- Now do you believe me about Nick Foles? No, wait…we did that one already.
Now do you believe me about Allen Robinson (10-143-1/13)?
You got sick of me putting him as a top ‘buy low’ every week the last 4-5-6 weeks of the season as he under-performed numbers and/or was hurt the last half of the season. I watch a lot of football, and I ‘see things’…and what I see is usually smoke leading to fire. I just cannot control the timing of the thing about to happen.
Robinson is THE GUY for the Bears…and I mean that more than the obvious. Trubisky leans on him any chance he gets…kinda like Houston with DeAndre Hopkins. Whether open or not…those #1 WRs are getting the ball A LOT.
The Bears don’t know how to use Cohen beyond a few cute wheel routes here and there. Taylor Gabriel was made a second-class citizen WR as soon as ARob started feeling better from his knee surgery/rehab (around Week 6-7-8). Trey Burton was barely noticeable this season…aside from a few TDs the first few weeks. Burton-Gabriel-Cohen always took a backseat to Robinson…it’s just ARob couldn’t stay on the field for part of the season, then Chase Daniel had to play, then there was a bad 2-3 game schedule stretch of opposing shutdown corners.
ARob will be ranked a WR2 by analysts because he had an up and down 2018 output mixed with missed games, and they do not trust Trubisky…so, ARob gets dinged by proxy. ARob should be a WR1 in 2019…with upside as Trubisky improves.
-- Man, Eagles IDP CB Rasul Douglas (8 tackles, 1 PD) has been straight fire for output since getting into the starting lineup – another player only breaking out because several injuries forced him to HAVE TO play.
Basically, the Eagles initial plan for 2018 for a steaming pile of garbage and then a bunch of their supposed starters got hurt and that unleashed Josh Adams, Rasul Douglas, and Nick Foles against their own will…and ‘boom’ the Super Bowl run re-ignites.
I want Mike Lombardi’s statement, when he was an upcoming NFL exec with teams, to go onto my tombstone – “We’re one injury away from being a really good team.” Said denoting how terrible he has seen coaches be in misusing/not using the talent they were given by the personnel department.
You think an NFL team is going to hire me? You’ve got to be kidding me. I would have been pounding my fist on the desk for Nick Foles for 7+ years and I would have been fired quickly…because ‘no one else thinks that (so, what do you know).”
Two statements on my tombstone…the Lombardi one and “No one else thought that…” Actually, that second one will be on Fantasy Football Metrics tombstone when it dies a death of so many people sampling our work and immediately discounting it because Steve Mariucci, Michael Irvin, and Kurt Warner think differently. When I’ve pushed for Foles during the dark years, I’d get vile emails and Facebook posts telling me how stupid I am, and how I don’t know anything, etc. When Foles proves the world wrong, again, as he has…I get ZERO people coming back and saying, “You know I thought you were an idiot about Foles, and I sent a mean quip about it – but you were right.”
Kudos to you for ‘getting it’ with Fantasy Football Metrics and College Football Metrics pretty quickly…it was a gospel message for you. Many others have heard the good news…yet they reject it immediately for being heresy. You’re in a special class/club/cult – you found the information and put it to use. THEY keep going back to the ESPN equivalents and ramming their heads against a wall looking for safety in ‘the herd’ mentality. Congrats to you for taking the road less traveled.
…it made all the difference.