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*Pre-editor post (forgive any typos)
*Opening game of the season, I try to make the game recap open to the public – from here on in you’ll need an In-Season subscription. You’ve been forewarned!! Because there are no other games, I can take a little longer with this recap and have some fun with it. I didn’t know where I was going to go with a kinda dull game, but here we go:
OK, let’s do this…
I have several notes written down, but I don’t know where to start, per usual, so I’m just going to start typing and see what happens and we’ll see if any of it makes sense. I have so many pieces of the puzzle to discuss from this game…I hope it fits together as a completed puzzle by the end. We’ll have fun on journey anyway…
First, the Eagles deserved to lose this game.
Second, the Falcons deserved to lose this game.
Two teams with top 5-10 defenses and two bottom 5-10 offenses had a game, one of them caught the right breaks at the right times/avoided a problem at the wrong time – and thus they won the game. No one could say either team was definitively better than the other in this game. You could definitely say – neither looks like a Super Bowl team.
I’m afraid to even peek at the mainstream summations of this game. I assume it’s: (a) Nick Foles is so horrible at quarterbacking, and yet he won another game…but he sucks, we all agree, right? (b) 27 more introspective looks at the ‘Philly Special’ or ‘Philly Philly’.
Let’s go there…
You know all football coverage is designed with the assumption that everyone watching is a bunch of morons, right? It’s why you hate listening to their coverage, but also like it…because you like to hate it. You like making yourself aggravated. I do the same thing.
We live in a golden age of television, a golden age of advanced story-telling and beautiful, smart plot lines and twists. There are so many great TV shows, I can’t even watch them all. The writing is great. The acting wonderful. The stories are revealed slowly. It’s a build. It’s a wonderful time to be alive for T.V.
How is it T.V. shows became so advanced, but football coverage continues to be swirl down the drain of the utterly empty and moronic? Why isn’t football coverage getting any better?
About three hours before kickoff, I put my T.V. on NFL Network as background noise as I worked and bounced in and out of the office pre-game. Here are snippets of things I saw, in order, pregame on the NFL Network or NBC…
-- First, I tuned into NFL Network too early before pregame coverage. I came in halfway into whatever fantasy show they have. I NEVER watch fantasy shows if I can help it. I see 10-30-60 seconds randomly every so often and can never believe what I’m seeing.
So, I turn on NFL Network and there’s the fantasy show happening, and I see two things: (1) Every other player in the fantasy top 10-20 at their position is a sleeper/good play this week. (2) I literally see two hosts pretending they are trains, for a segment having something to do with ‘getting on a train’ with players. I had the sound off at first, so it literally looked like I had a live feed to what the security camera trained on the rec room of a mental institution must look like. I kicked the sound on, and there they were making train sounds, one of them started running in circles trying to do a human impersonation of a train(?) – oh, how they regaled at their comedy bit.
Who in the blue hell is this show for? Who is watching these absurd idiots acting like…idiots…and hoping for fantasy insight?
I have an eventual point to all this, not just a complaint…
The next thing I randomly see, later, are the NFL Network analysts on the panel discussing Nick Foles. Basically, Foles has never done anything except get lucky in the Super Bowl – per Kurt Warner, who uses the ‘Rams era’ Foles as a reason why he’s not good. Michael Irvin knows Foles is not good, I got that gist, but I’m not sure why he feels that way because mostly Michael Irvin is unintelligible…something about the preseason performance or something, which I know he watched and studied intently. ‘The Mooch’ rambled something incoherent about ‘those RPOs’.
Later, the three of them went to a miniature football field to run a three-man football play in slow motion while wearing suits/shirts and ties, for reasons I absolutely do not understand at all…but they do it every week I catch pregame activity on Thursday nights.
Most of the pregame was dedicated to what you would expect – how do we tear down Nick Foles and make it seem like he’s only lucky…and he’s not even ‘OK’, but he’s terrible? The NFL Network bends over backwards in effusive praise for all players, except Nick Foles. I don’t understand why he can’t be celebrated for just a moment. Or just ‘hand’s off’. Instead it’s attack-attack-attack.
Then, the next thing I see on T.V. is the ‘serious’ broadcast team analyzing the pregame on NBC…which was essentially a 90+ minute random discussion on the ‘Philly Special’.
Grown men acting like trains. Symposiums on how much Nick Foles sucks with NO ONE defending him/having an alternative opinion. A lot of ‘Philly Special’ jocularity. Then more Foles is lucky because of RPOs. Then more ‘Philly Special’ discussions from a different angle. Then more discussion on the stagnant Philly preseason offense led by Foles. Then Tony Dungy having a sit-down interview with Doug Pederson to ask the hard-hitting questions, “So…the ‘Philly Special, huh? (insert laugh track here)”
Three+ hours of pregame coverage and I did not hear one intelligent, thought-provoking sentence spoken.
Then they pan the camera to the stadium, when it was in a rain delay, and some idiot fan is sitting the stands all alone in the pouring rain with a cheap poncho on…looking like a full-scale imbecile…waiting for the game to start – because ‘he’s a true fan’!!!
…and then it hit me.
Sitting-in-an-empty-stadium-in-the-rain-wearing-a-cheap-poncho like a complete idiot is what THEY think all of us are and everything is designed in football pregame coverage to play to that. They don’t want or need smart, cutting pregame analysis/analysts…because if you say anything against Poncho Idiot’s ‘team’, he’ll cut you in the parking lot with a broken beer bottle or, more likely, he’ll make idiotic noise on social media or email you direct suggestions on how to have relations with your own self, in the biblical sense.
Paid shills are paid to shill to Poncho Idiot. I keep expecting things to be different every year, but then I see grown men acting as trains and commenting on each other’s socks on their fantasy show. Why do I continue to marvel at the nothingness NFL analysts bring to the table?
HOWEVER, most fans don’t realize this -- they think the NFL or ESPN panels are brilliant/above reproach because those guys played and/or coached the game. When I, not an ex-something in football say something to the contrary of them, some of you still get worried. New readers quickly abandon ship. How many ‘What about Sammy Watkins taking over for Tyreek Hill, and Alex Smith not being there for Tyreek?’ questions/concerns/fears did I get all summer? It was brought up because that’s all THEY kept beating into your brain. I have been the only person right on Tyreek Hill for 2+ years and THEY have been totally the opposite…and, yet, when they speak…people listen and scramble.
Why do I need to bow down to football people? I just watched a game where anyone with a brain knew Julio Jones was getting all the passes and yet Philly still single covered him most of the game? I just watched a game where the Falcons drove right down the field to start the contest and with two shots at the goal line on the opening drive, 3rd and 4th-down, the team’s most-feared weapon (Julio) wasn’t even in the game. Why do we think any of these football people are smart?
They’re not any smarter than anyone else, and probably less aware because they live in a football bubble where Poncho Idiot sits in a monsoon after paying a week’s wages to watch them do their jobs at their place of employment…a place where people worship everything they do because ‘football’. People worship football and treat the people involved like deities.
So, why will you be surprised at how THEY see/cover this game today?
Why will you panic the next time ‘they’ say something about X player?
My biggest takeaway from this game – all football coverage is totally ridiculous and fruitless, and yet we’re all going to fall in line like lemmings the next time they say something. Some of you will take up internet arms to try to prove them wrong for a moment. Why? You will never win an argument with Poncho Idiot, nor the analysts serving analysis to him.
The big takeaway…study these animals in their natural habitat – coaches, analysts Learn how to read an interpret them and use it to your fantasy and handicapping advantage. Don’t get mad at them…thank God for it. THEY literally never learn.
Don’t panic on anything after Week 1 this season when they start writing their nonsense trying to interpret things moving at a faster speed for fantasy week-to-week. Stay the course.
I already love Philly in Week 2 vs. Tampa Bay because we’ll all be treated to 10 days of ‘Foles is the worst’ all queued up and ready to run and re-run.
You know Philly is going 4-0 to start the season now, right? At TB, hosting Indy, at TEN the next three games. What will Doug Pederson do if Foles goes 4-0 (thus 11-0 in his last 11 games throwing 20+ passes in a game) and then Wentz is ready? I think the Eagles will crumble from within because unless Wentz does no wrong and wins a Super Bowl, the Foles cloud will hang over his head in Philly…not nationally, just in Philly.
One other thing to point out, my nemesis Michele Tafoya. Again, I note, she made more money in that game than I will this entire year covering football. I wish I had a job that involved ‘hearing things people said’ and repeating it. Does Tafoya ever not start a sentence with, “Al, I spoke to ____ and he said, ___”? It’s 100% meaningless things passed on – why does the network even bother wasting payroll? Again, it seems like it might be important to Poncho Idiot (who is going to name their fantasy team this now?), so we get the meaningless drivel every game.
You know what? Maybe the networks know best. I’m going to hire Michele to help me with this article and see how it goes. Welcome aboard Michele, for the rest of this article.
Back to this game, now that all that is off my chest…
The thing that people should takeaway from this game is – these are two really good NFL defenses, and pretty weak offenses. Thus, the low scoring affair, to some degree. A lot of self-inflicted wounds via drops or bad ref calls, but mostly a lot of great defensive play and terrible offensive game planning. We’ll hit on some/all of it looking at the player performances for fantasy in this game.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- I gotta start with Julio Jones (10-169-0/19)…is there a worse ‘star’ WR in the NFL today? Sure, big fantasy numbers, fantasy god, but he got two games worth of targets here to help push numbers. He essentially had two 5-85-0 games in the same game. Nice, but not ‘wow’.
The ‘wow’ was…why was Philadelphia single covering Julio between the 20s? I get it, because it worked (ATL with 12 pts, but two goal line zeros), but has anyone noticed teams are single covering Julio a lot more the past 2 seasons. I don’t think teams are afraid of him at all. I think they try to punish him, like Philly did with extra hard tackles early to throw him off his game/to send him into Julio-hiding. It worked, kinda. I’d double Julio most all game and make Ryan throw out of his comfort zone.
On the 1st drive down to the goal line, how Julio was taken out of the game by the O-C the last two plays…I would have fired Steve Sarkisian at halftime. He’s done this for two years now. And when Julio was in the goal line packages late, Philly double-covered him…which should be an offensive advantage to the Falcons! Nope, Atlanta couldn’t covert when they needed to.
It makes sense to take Julio out of the game in red zone situations because Matt Ryan tries to throw it to Julio whether he as 2 or 3 guys on him…and Julio is such a nothing in the red zone it’s comical. Julio’s on like 3-4 years/an entire football career back to Alabama of being bad at TD production (except like one season) and no one ever rags on it. They point out the TD deficiency like it’s an anomaly. Anomaly? It’s the statistical norm.
It doesn’t matter for fantasy. Ryan is throwing to Julio no matter what -- and teams are covering JJ one-on-one because they just contain him and try to play for picks or hold them to FGs. It’s fantasy gold for Julio owners and consternation for Falcons fans.
What do you think of that Michele (Tafoya)?
R.C., I spoke to Julio earlier this week -- and he told me he really wants to catch more TDs this year and he’s working hard at doing so. Back to you.
Thanks, Michele, Scintillating stuff.
-- If you own Jay Ajayi (15-62-2), and ‘how could you?’, you have 9 days to sell him off at max value – sell as an RB1.5, fast.
Ajayi didn’t start here, wasn’t a key player at any point except bleeding the clock out 4th-quarter. Played 39% of the snaps. Got lucky with some short scores. He’ll get 5-7 TDs this season, maybe. He’s LeGarrette Blount…only worse. You have to trade him while iron is hot. He’s a very average RB in an offense, once again, that purposefully hops RB-to-RB-to-RB based on situations and hot hands. It’s three years running now with Doug Pederson, why do you think it’s going to change after he won a Super Bowl with it? And with no real ‘great’ RB talent as it is.
How is that the best RB on the field Thursday was 35+ year old Darren Sproles (5-10-0, 4-22-0/7)? How’d we all just run right past this? A bunch ageists we are.
The Eagles RB that I want to own going forward is ‘none’, but in PPR it’s Sproles. He looks like he did 10 years ago. How is that possible?
R.C., I spoke to Darren Sproles at a brunch we attended this week and he told me, “Age is just a number.” Back to you R.C.
Thanks, Michele. How many zeros are on your weekly paycheck again?
-- I guess I have to talk about Nick Foles (19-34 for 117 yards, 0 TD/1 INT) because the mainstream will have a field day with lead headlines something like “Despite Foles being the worst QB in human history, the Eagles won…and they did the ‘Philly Special’, did you see it? They did it again! Oh, those cads, those scamps.”
Nothing I can say matters. If Super Bowl MVP doesn’t at least halt the critiques, what could I say now that would make this low output game OK? I wasn’t pushing Foles for fantasy Week 1.
I thought Foles was fine enough. Atlanta’s defense is really good, as I’ve been pitching…a reason to fear betting on Philly here. Foles worked through a sad Wallace-Agholor 1-2 punch with lots of nothing Jay Ajayi and Zach Ertz looking pretty weak. Not much to work with…and, yet, Foles gets another ‘W’.
Fantasy-wise, I don’t crave Foles. Too many other guys in much better offenses to play with. However, TB-IND-TEN the next three weeks could be interesting for those in desperate need in deep/2-QB leagues.
R.C., I will literally talk to anyone who will let me, so that I can excitedly report back how I did speak to football people to impress the audience as a substitute for saying anything substantial or original, but in this case I will not/never speak to Foles. I don’t want his terribleness to jump off him and attach on to me like ‘Venom’ from Spiderman. Back to you, R.C.
-- So, Matt Ryan (21-43 for 251 yards, 0 TD/1 INT) was pretty terrible here too…worse than Foles, but that doesn’t matter. The narratives are already locked in. Somehow Ryan as a red zone failure is OK, but Andy Dalton’s issues are because he’s apparently the 2nd-worst QB in the NFL (behind Foles). Why is this?
I’d accept national Foles criticism if Ryan got the same with both barrels for pretty much looking like the ‘C’ QB in this game that he has been for his entire career.
I love that Atlanta ran an RPO once early in the game and Cris Collinsworth had an orgasm…and Ryan looked like the worst dancer on the dance floor at your wedding trying to run it. You can’t just stamp ‘RPO’ on a play and things magically happen. The analysts want that to be true to undermine Nick Foles for doing it, but you have to have talent to pull it off.
R.C., I talked to Dan Quinn at the Courtyard by Marriott continental breakfast about running an RPO like the Eagles, and he said, ‘Maybe, we don’t rule anything out.’ Back to you R.C.
-- More evidence Atlanta O-C Steve Sarkisian should be fired…Tevin Coleman (9-19-1, 1-26-0/2) had two targets and one catch in this game. An extension of Sarkisian mostly ignoring TC in the passing game (and running game) last year.
The Atlanta offense has not changed one bit this offseason…just that one half-hearted, botched RPO attempt from uncomfortable-running-it Matt Ryan.
What do NFL coaches do all year in their offices for 25 hours a day/7 days a week?
R.C., I asked Steve Sarkisian at the hotel bar at 3pm about the game plan for the Philly game, and he said, “Remember when I was a respected college head coach that one time? It’s true, I tell ya!” Back to you R.C.
-- Did Calvin Ridley (0-0-0/2) even play in this game? *Checks notes* Yes, 46 snaps. Why did Atlanta use a 1st-round pick here?
R.C., I asked Calvin Ridley why he didn’t see that many targets in this game, he said – “I’m not Calvin Ridley, I’m Justin Hardy. Our target levels and usage and importance in the offense look the same, but we’re different people.” Back to you, R.C.
-- Was it me or did Zach Ertz (5-48-0/10) look like he had a piano on his back running around the field? Ertz is slow to begin with but when you see him and then see Dallas Goedert (1-4-0/3) moving…it’s no contest. I walked away thinking – Goedert-time is a lot closer than I thought.
It won’t be in 2018, but maybe in 2019 – I could see the Eagles trying to move on from Ertz. It’s not easy – Ertz is due $12M next year, $10M+ guaranteed salary cap hit if cut. He won’t be cut, he’d be traded -- and it would be the smartest thing the Eagles could do next offseason – ‘sell high’.
Goedert is the next Gronk without a Tom Brady.
-- A lot of nice defensive performances last night, a lot of talented players. I just wanted to note – Jordan Hicks (7 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 TFL) is back and looks fantastic. A top IDP LB for sure.
-- Bad news for Keanu Neal (2 tackles) – done for the season with an ACL tear. Good news for IDP sleeper Damontae Kazee (3 tackles, 1 PD). It was Kazee who replaced Neal when he went down the first…and second time.
Kazee is undersized but is a warrior. He made a TD saving one-on-one tackle on the Corey Clement big run in this game. He was the one who popped Dallas Goedert, jarring the ball loose from a catch and into the air for a pick. He’s a really natural player with a toughness twice his size.
-- In the end, this was a huge loss for the Falcons as I see them and Philly being in that 9-7 record range trying to get a final wild card…and, now, the Eagles have the huge upper hand. I thought Atlanta would be the final wild card for 2018, but I’d take that back today. I’ll go with the Panthers based on today’s ‘feelings’.
I don’t think the Eagles are a strong playoff team this season, a possible one, but not ‘strong’. However, this win was key – the Eagles have a very good shot to go 4-0 to start 2018 and only need to play .500 ball the final 12 games to get to 10 wins. This win puts a lot of pressure on Dallas to beat Carolina Sunday…something we won’t remember 17 weeks from now, but it will be huge for wild card jockeying.
Yes, Michele…you have something?
R.C., I was talking to myself and asked myself – Why did R.C. stop throwing it to me after every section like he was the first 5-6 sections? And he told me, “I felt like the joke had run its course.” I quizzically asked R.C. – “Jokes run their course? Have you not seen the mileage we at NBC got from talking about the ‘Philly Special’ 748 times an hour?”
I kid Michele Tafoya. I like and respect her, honestly. I’d rather listen to her than Cris Collinsworth being delightfully ‘surprised’ like a baby playing peek-a-boo for four hours everything that happens in a football game, and almost always wrong about every replay decision.
No hope of ever working for NBC someday.
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