Well, I could not be any happier to be wrong about a game this weekend. I figured the Falcons’ experience and emerging defense would push them past a too-injured, reduced-cohesiveness Eagles team…a Philadelphia group still trying to figure out its offense under their new/replacement QB. The divisional round of the playoffs versus an ‘already been here’ team and vastly underrated defense is no place to try to ‘right’ the Eagles’ offensive ship so to speak.
Battling the weather and the more experienced team, Nick Foles and the Eagles seized control of the game in the second half and the Philly defense had a valiant goal line stand late to push the Eagles into the NFC title game.
I could not be any happier…because of Nick Foles. The Eagles didn’t win in-spite of him…he led them to this victory. After a rocky series or two, Foles started to get in a rhythm and he helped take this game over with efficiency – a 32-28 time of possession advantage, 6-of-13 on 3rd-downs and converted a 4th-down attempt. Foles didn’t turn the ball over and got better as the game went on…as crunch time hit, Foles was a rock.
And now, you knew it was coming, the Nick Foles diatribe (how many more chances will I get?)…
Foles deserved this game and the game ahead. Not many players have been screwed more by the pathetic state of NFL scouting, empty football analysis in the media and weak coaching…than Foles has.
Foles was a non-sexy 3rd-round pick by the Eagles in 2012. When Andy Reid was forced to use Foles for an injured Michael Vick late in 2012…the football world yawned. We maintained Foles was one of the best QB prospects in his draft…better than 1st-rounders Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden. No one else believed the same. Foles had an up and down set of games in his 2012 deut and no one really cared.
Chip Kelly came in to coach Philly in 2013, and he chose Michael Vick to be his starting QB out of training camp. Vick was erratic and then got hurt…and Nick Foles was forced into the lineup and embarked on one of the greatest seasons an NFL QB has ever had, his 2nd-season…coming in cold, snubbed as the initial starter for the season.
People forget that Chip Kelly was a total NFL head coaching failure when ANYONE besides Foles was his QB. Vick was 2-4 as a starter for Kelly. Mark Sanchez 4-6. Sam Bradford 7-7. Blaine Gabbert 1-4. Colin Kaepernick 1-10…the non-Foles group was 15-31 for Chip Kelly. 13-17 were the Eagles non-Foles QBs. Nick Foles was 14-4 for Kelly…a 77.8% winning percentage, which I guess wasn’t good enough(?).
Foles was traded to the Rams in 2015 -- because Chip Kelly definitely could do better at QB and would never regret what he was about to do. Offensive genius Jeff Fisher sees how good a QB/leader Foles is that first summer together and signs him to a bigger deal to stay as a (St. Louis) Ram for a few years. Predictably, the Rams stink…and so does Foles as a Ram…constantly sacked and running an offense designed for failure – Foles is benched, blamed, and later released. Everyone in football hops on the same exact thought process – Foles was terrible all along, just made good by Chip Kelly and now it came true with the Rams.
It would take another two years for the morons in the football establishment to figure out Jeff Fisher is the problem. They were too busy applauding the Rams as a ‘sleeper’ team for years under Fisher and chuckling at his secret contract extension, a deal hidden from the public and came to light when he was later fired that same season…fired for his total ineptness as an NFL head coach. Did you see the Amazon mini-documentary? People in football think that guy is a great head coach. Normal people watched the Amazon documentary and could tell he was awful within the first episode.
They all laugh at Fisher now, but years prior they were endorsing him…and letting Foles take all the blame. Because there is such great independent thought in the NFL…no one wanted to sign Foles to start for their team after that. Not Cleveland, Buffalo, Jacksonville, or the Jets. No one would touch Foles because the NFL media makes up the minds of NFL personnel departments and Foles was a pariah, and barely drew offers to be a backup.
In what other industry would the most important position in the organization (QB) be such universl trouble to fill and yet there was a young guy who in his 2nd-year in the business almost broke the efficiency mark at his position – almost the best in the entire league’s history for a season…and then three years later can’t even get a sniff as an option for a troubled team to take a look at as a possible solution or reclamation project?
It’s so bad, Foles contemplates retirement. He figures he’s done; it’s not worth it. The NFL media and analysts killed a guy’s career with their absolutely dreadful ability to analyze talent at any position…especially QB. The media persistently mocks him and thus the fans lap it up with the same mindset…so no team will fight that peer pressure.
In one of the most brutal, macho of sports…teams are run with total cowardness of what media criticism and fan sentiment could bring down on them. Williong to risk paralysis on the field but not hear ‘criticisms’ from the football establishment. The comedy is they are scared of a media that is ALWAYS wrong. It’s like politicians and the media.
Nick Foles’ prime years now tick away…2016 with KC. 2017 backing/mentoring Carson Wentz. A career taken away…Jeff Fisher was the dagger, but the football media was the true murderer poisoning his status going back to the year he was a near MVP…they undercut him the entire way.
I’m not telling you Nick Foles is Aaron Rodgers, but he’s a heck of a lot better than some QBs who are starting in this league…some making big money as ‘face of the franchise’ types. Foles deserved better.
So, yeah…I’m excited for this win for Philly with Foles playing well as part of the help. I want Foles to go all the way as one giant middle finger to an NFL establishment that has tried to ruin his career for nothing more than they’re all awful at talent assessments and randomly echo-chambered how bad Foles was. All the same people who will still defend Jameis Winston and Ryan Tannehill, and will now force feed you Sam Darnold.
I pray Foles gets the last laugh here. It’s likely the last chance he’ll ever get unless he does pull off the miracle.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- And another thing about Nick Foles (23-30 for 246 yards, 0 TD/0 INT)…you got to watch Foles play in cold/unpleasant-to-the-passing game weather conditions with lesser receivers and running backs than Matt Ryan (22-36 for 210 yards, 1 TD/0 INT). Plus, Foles entered this games not as the entrenched starter for the last decade like Ryan. And yet, Nick Foles looks every bit as fundamentally sound as Matt Ryan, and I’d say Foles is a better QB talent all around than Ryan…always was.
The difference in their careers…Matt Ryan got pushed (#3 pick in his draft) and made into a franchise guy and he’s been good-not-great except for one season where he was awesome (2016). Overall, Ryan is a solid ‘B’ quarterback not going to the Hall of Fame, but worthy of respect. Nick Foles could’ve been that same guy, and I’d say better than Ryan – had he received the same push.
Foles never got the chance to prove me right or wrong.
In addition, Foles won’t get a chance ahead either – no one will buy into Foles as even a veteran hand to start for them. He’s been typecast as a bumbling backup. Not ready for primetime. That one ‘lucky year’. Ryan has that ‘one year’ and it defines/solidifies him…finally having ‘a year’ after like nine NFL seasons, he has ‘one year’.
Foles has no dynasty value for 2018 unless you’re the holder of Carson Wentz and want his handcuff. Actually, it’s not assured Wentz is back opening day. So, Foles might have a moment again next year too…for a couple of weeks.
-- You know what else makes me mad about NFL scouting -- who’s watching Atlanta Falcons games and thinks Devonta Freeman (10-7-0, 5-26-1/5) is magnificently better than Tevin Coleman (10-79-0, 1-14-0/1)? The Falcons…that’s who. And, they were so convinced they made Freeman one of the highest paid RBs in the league…they could’ve gotten the same type of running back for league minimum claiming Alex Collins off waivers.
Who watched this game and couldn’t see Coleman is CLEARLY more talented, more explosive than Freeman – but Coleman will not get the big deal as he’s back burnered by the Falcons and thus the league will follow suit. No one will pursue him as a starter when his free agent time hits. The only people not seeing Coleman better than/equal to Freeman…is everyone in the NFL. Another guy’s career, his earnings potential capped because of bad scouting. ‘
I know it’s bad scouting because no one could watch the tape of the high powered 2016 Falcons offense and not see how great a receiving option Coleman is…he could’ve been the Falcons’ Alvin Kamara. You know who couldn’t see it? The guy paid a ton of money to be the offensive coordinator. Why would he go look back at the successful 2016 to see the offense clicking and adapt to it? Steve Sarkisian really impressed everyone this year with his amazing offensive wizardry…it takes a great mind to take this offense down from best in the league to totally dull…but Sark did it. Kudos.
Next year…it will be more of the same…all-Freeman with some Tevin sprinkled in.
-- Speaking of awful scouting (is a theme developing or am I just cranky?)… Who thinks Jay Ajayi (15-54-0, 3-44-0/5) is a difference maker?
I loved Troy Aikman’s in-game little ‘story’ of the Eagles finding out that Ajayi was available in trade and wondered ‘what’s the catch?’…like why would Ajayi be available…like he’s so great. Aikman then pandered how lucky the Eagles were to get him…like no one else could’ve given a 4th-round pick for an RB the Dolphins wanted nothing to do with and that their running game then took off like a rocket once he left. Yes, the Eagles are amazing getting this gem Ajayi.
All this is good vibe from Aikman (who is just echoing everyone else) is predicated on the notion Ajayi is ‘great’…but he isn’t even ‘good’. If you’ve seen him try to go east-west, it’s a joke. The only thing funnier than him trying to kick an inside run outside is him trying to catch a forward pass down the field a yard or two. The guy catches a football like the ball is encased in a thin sheet of ice and he’s wearing gloves made of bacon grease. He nearly cost them this game with another classic ‘wide open drop’, where if he makes the catch he likely darts in for a 10+ yard score and puts the game away…instead, the Eagles have to settle for three because Ajayi’s hands are a nightmare.
Other than that, the Ajayi trade was awesome!
He’s going to cost the Eagles somewhere along the way. A chance at a Super Bowl title is going to fall because of this Ajayi trade, I can feel it.
They should just go with Blount-Clement. Corey Clement (1-5-0, 5-31-0/5) once again had a nice amount of touches in this game. He’s going to matter a little bit in fantasy 2018, especially if Ajayi fully faceplants or his knee gives out…as has been predicted for three+ years now.
-- I picked on Julio Jones (9-101-0/16) a lot this regular-season for all the dull, underwhelming statistical and on field performances he had (for an alleged greatest WR in the game). He woke up for the playoffs…9 catches in each game and 97.5 yards per game. Still not dominant on the field, as much as you’d think, but nicely accumulating.
In 16 games this season, Julio Jones scored a zero TDs in 14 of them. He has 5 TDs in his last 24 regular season games.
-- The Atlanta Falcons defense allowed 20 or fewer points to opponents in 10 of their last 14 games (including playoffs). In their last three games, they held opponents to 10-13-15 points…all playoff teams (CAR-LAR-PHI).
The Atlanta DST averaged 0.50 turnovers per game the first 4 games of 2017, then they had a BYE Week 5, and finished out the next 14 games (2 of them playoffs) with 1.3 turnovers per game.
In 18 games this entire season, they allowed ONE 300+ yard passer…Aaron Rodgers in Week 2.
This Falcons DST is going to be one to contend with in 2018.
-- The Eagles defense had an even better game than the Falcons here, and had a nice season overall (#4 in PPG allowed)…but I don’t see as bright a future in 2018. A much tougher schedule and they potentially lose their D-C Jim Schwartz if he finds a head coaching gig. They also lose Mychal Kendricks in free agency…a sneaky, key part of holding this defense together this year.
Snap Counts of Interest…
29 = Ajayi
20 = Blount
16 = Clement
35 = Freeman
27 = Coleman
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