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I was smitten with this idea the other day, and decided to go through with it for the next few days or so…before the football news really starts going in a few weeks.
I was thinking about how we all get way too excited when we first get football news, and that includes me. I got to thinking that I should go back and re-read all the early preseason game recaps I did, and see what massive mistakes or pure genius I was onto upon witnessing the first preseason games.
So, I am going back through each Week-1 preseason game recap from 2014, and critiquing myself on the spot (my 2015 notes are in indented/block quotes). Below is an original, unfiltered, untouched up to avoid my embarrassment, Fantasy-Dynasty game recap from Week-1 of the preseason with my random comments from re-reading them today.
**Our ever-evolving, ever-updating to opening-day, Moneyball scouted, 2015 Fantasy Football e-Draft Guide and Cheat Sheets are available now. Direct link: Draft Guide 2015 options **
Note – I did not go back and re-watch these games before critiquing myself a year later. I’m just reading and reacting to what I wrote after what I saw last year. I hate re-reading my own stuff, so this will be the first time seeing it since I wrote it. Actually, it’s kinda like photo album or yearbook review. You know, where you look back and think, “What was I thinking when I wore that?”
These 2014 preseason games ‘Rewinds’ will be posting in random order. Here we go…
— Let me start this recap here: The Philadelphia Eagles are the best team in football.
I can proudly say that (above) right now, but keep in mind I have only watched six preseason games so far. When I finally watch Minnesota-Oakland, you never know, I might have a new Super Bowl favorite. For now, it’s Philly (and New Orleans) . I might argue…Philly is going to have the best defense in the NFL. They are arguably the most well coached team, with the deepest talented roster in the NFL as well.
Please ignore that ‘New Orleans’ part. However, I will say I was ‘right’ on the Eagles Defense–it’s just that they weren’t old-school ‘good’. They were new-school ‘good’ at creating turnovers and chaos. If not for the Foles injury…
Why that is important to you about Philly: (1) You may want to call Steve Stevens, and plunk down a buck or two on Philly to win it all at 28-to-1. (2) Viewing the Eagles as a great team, with a terrific defense is a big world-view change for some…make sure you’ve adjusted your FF-dials correctly (more on that in the Nick Foles section below).
The big laugh last year, and rolling into this year (from the experts) is “Ha, Ha, the Philly defense is a sieve.” Because it was a sieve for the first few weeks last season. Once that thought got cemented in simpleton-minds, it was never broken. Lost on them was the fact that the Eagles were one of the best defenses in the 2nd-half of the 2013 season. From Weeks 5-16 last year, Philly had that crushing loss to Minnesota…giving up 48 offensive points, but in the other 10 games in that 11-game span…they allowed 21 or fewer offensive points in every game. They held Dallas down in their Week-17 ‘playoff’ game, and then almost beat the unbeatable at home Saints, in their wildcard playoff game in that dome.
You remember the Eagles…preseason ADP #20+ Team-DST…and finished as the #1 Team-DST for Fantasy Football in 2014. Who could have saw that coming?
The Bears are an emerging team as well. Arguably, one of the five best offenses in the NFL, and possibly the best offense this year, and the Eagles-Defense manhandled them on the first and second strings. If not for Zach Miller (more on him in a minute), and the 417 penalties called in the 1st-quarter, the Bears would have gone nowhere, again (remember when Eagles squashed them 54-11 last year?) against the Philly-D in this preseason game.
The Bears didn’t quite ’emerge’ in 2014, but more on that later in this piece…
The Eagles run defense was stifling, and was a main reason why Matt Forte had 3 carries for -5 yards rushing in this game. Cedric Thornton (1 PD) was a brick wall. Cary Williams (1 tackle, 1 PD) is becoming one of the better/best CBs in the league. Mychal Kendricks (2 tackles) is beyond talented, and could be an IDP superstar this year. Malcolm Jenkins (3 tackles, 1 TFL) looked like he is primed for a huge season…I was wildly impressed with Jenkins in this game.
Note, I write all this on the Philly-D, but I primarily watch football games concentrating on the offense for Fantasy Football. I have to go back and study defense, but I noticed the Eagles defense most of all when I was trying to look for offensive clues on the Bears–that doesn’t normally happen for me. I said this Philly defense would be great after Week-2 last season, back when they were getting humiliated early on…and everyone hated them. Guess what? Shocker…I was right ahead of everyone again.
Before Foles went down, the Eagles were running with the top records in the NFL. They went to Indy and beat Andrew Luck. Foles’ two losses were a blink away from wins. Only when Sanchez took over did everything fall apart. The Eagles defense kept them/led them in some of the Sanchez games/wins…or Sanchez might have had a worse record than he did in relief of Foles.
— One of the main reasons why the Eagles are arguably the best team in football, and the Bears are gaining ground…is because of their coaches. I’ve learned a life lesson here with Chip Kelly and Marc Trestman.
When they first hit the scene, I was the idiot, which is not unusual. I followed the normal path: New coach comes into town. Fans and media go predictably nuts for them (and later to hate him, and run him out of town within 2-4 seasons). There is constant babble about a ‘culture change’, etc. It all makes me want to puke. We ride the same merry-go-round over and over with new coaches. I rebel against the hysteria…and I usually win. I realized I was wrong about Chip Kelly in Week 1-2 last season (when the Eagles were more being mocked). I realized I was wrong about Marc Trestman this offseason.
I think they might be the two best coaches in the NFL…which, to me, means they are two best football CEOs in the NFL…I don’t really care about X and O prowess. Kelly and Trestman are coming to the NFL from way outside the ‘norm’. The football ‘norm’ hires/re-purposes legacy coaches, or guys linked to former successful coaches like a Todd Haley, Jim Caldwell, Gary Kubiak, Norv Turner…it’s comfortable, and ‘normal’ to hire ‘safe’. No one ever gets mad at those hires. Chip Kelly and Marc Trestman are ‘radicals’. Kelly didn’t serve as an offensive coordinator under 4-7 different generations of coaches over 10-20 years…he simply changed college football as we know it, all on his own. Trestman was an incredibly bold hire. A guy passed over for years, and then went to prove himself in the CFL…a kind of Phil Jackson grinder (not saying he will win 10 Super Bowls).
It’s not just that they are ‘different’ backgrounds than the ‘norm’, but that they are also excellent ‘bosses’…and I think it was a huge advantage for them NOT growing up in the typical coaching bubble. They changed the way practices schedules were timed/designed. They have studied sleep patterns. They’ve changed player tempo on and off the field. They speak honestly, and earnestly…and ‘frustratedly’ with the media; they’re human. They don’t elevate themselves above the players…trying to ‘brand’ themselves. I don’t think they are worried about getting fired…and I think most coaches, and bosses, are worried about getting fired, and act as such. They are not in a constant panic. They are the new breed of coach and boss. Bill Parcells wouldn’t work as well today. Bill O’Brien probably won’t work long-term in Houston (but may make the playoffs this year). Jim Harbaugh may start losing his team soon…or the 49ers execs may just punt him (they already tried to trade him this offseason).
Players want to play for Philly and Chicago. Free agents take less to go there…but they want more money to go to Oakland and Buffalo. Players who are totally in it for the money won’t take a discount. Players who want a smart football culture will take a little less to go to Philly and Chicago (and New England, etc.)…and those are the types of players you want…and you are getting them at a discount. Win-win. Enjoy DeSean Jackson at $32M for two years Washington…
No one can go 16-0 in this era. No one can win the Super Bowl every year. No one can hardly build a Dynasty anymore, so eventually the fans and media will tire of Kelly and Trestman as well. These coaches will probably tire of the NFL first. Enjoy them while you have them Philly and Chicago, before you run them out of town after they don’t win a Super Bowl within their first three seasons.
Well, one down…Marc Trestman got run out of town. Chip Kelly is likely next. Here it is a year later as I re-read all the coaching commentaries I wrote in 2014, and I see some were right on, others are on the predicted track, and then some of my calls look foolish today. Whatever the case on each commentary, what struck me re-reading this is…in the end, this always comes back to your QB. As a coach, you’re about as much of a genius as your QB allows. You can’t ‘fix’ or ‘rehab’ QBs. They are either great or they are not…coaches can only box them in. You can’t tell me Mike McCarthy is exponentially better of a coach than Marc Trestman or whoever. You either have Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and Nick Foles…or you don’t.
If Russell Wilson didn’t come along, Pete Carroll and the GM would already be fired in Seattle. Those guys made deals, on purpose, for Tarvaris Jackson, Charlie Whitehurst, and Matt Flynn prior to that…on purpose to be the franchise QBs. Russell Wilson should be the highest paid QB in the league any day now…
The Chip Kelly chronicles will be my #1 coaching thing to watch in 2015. If the Eagles flop under Bradford/Sanchez, and Kelly takes heat and bails…then NFL coaches are like baseball managers–of little value beyond basic human, organizational management. You don’t need Bill Belichick…you need Tom Brady. I’m (me) theoretically more valuable to an NFL franchise than their current head coach because of my QB ‘visions’. No one in the NFL will care. I don’t care if they care as long as the readers support us!!
Watch Marc Trestman rehab his image as the new O-C in Baltimore in 2015.
— One more quick, non-FF note: If this game is an example of the new NFL…then they are going to kill the ‘golden goose’ quicker than you think. This is corporate, bureaucratic interference on full display.
There were penalties all over the place in this game. 75 yards worth called in the 1st-quarter, and another 75 yards more declined. The tight calls on the DBs were just a part of it…but the referees, or actually the NFL’s over-legislation of it, are going to make the NFL like the MLB (boring, drawn out, with too much non-action between some action) if they don’t watch it. I swear the refs had more camera time than any player in this game. They are just doing what they’re told. It was awful. It took the air out of two great teams trying to duke it out early on.
In all: 23 penalties for 193 yards, and that represents half the time this game was actually stopped for the other penalties declined and replay reviews. It was the NFL’s worst nightmare.
— Nick Foles (6-9 for 44 yards, 0 TD/2 INT) threw two picks, and you can hear the giant sucking sound on his ADP…or is it the sound of his Dynasty owner’s sphincters tightening?
You are conditioned from the media to believe that Foles is a lucky ruse…and you are waiting for that other shoe to drop. Look, he isn’t going to have 27 TDs/2 INTs this year. The 27+ part maybe, and then some, but not the 2 INTs. It’s improbable. His first pick in this game: The ball was tipped from behind as he threw it, and it wobbled right to a standing defender. It was not his intention…it was just ‘unlucky’. His 2nd INT was a horrible throw. However, in between the unlucky pick and the horrible pick…he did what he normally does…picking the defense apart. He just had to slowly swim through disjointed drives…like the one where there was a flag thrown on five consecutive plays (true).
What I’m more worried about with Foles is that the Eagles are so good, a la Seattle circa-2013, that he won’t throw much more than 30 times a game. He might not rack up a ton of 300+ yard games for FF (important to note for those with 300+ yard bonuses). he threw for 300+ one time in his final eight starts last season. He’ll be NFL great, but maybe not FF great.
Chip Kelly doesn’t appear to be as interested in beating teams by 50+ and still leaving Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in the game throwing every play…like some coaches I know. The Eagles could be some version of the Seattle offense in 2014…keep a steady hand, play smart, sit on your opponent…because you can trust your defense. I could be daydreaming all that too…it’s just a thought.
I know Andrew Luck runs that franchise, and will eventually throw 40+ times a game. Not sure that Foles + Kelly will as much in 2014…from a FF philosophy viewpoint.
Foles did get to throw a bunch last year, but he was injured in the beginning of his 8th game. In 7.25 games played last year, Foles was on pace for 28+ TD passes, and eight+ 300+ yard passing games. He was also on pace to lead the NFL with 22 picks.
Foles’ magical 2013 was a pace no one believed could keep up (and rightfully so), but then his 2014 run of INTs in his last five games played is totally believable for people–because they already made up their mind on Foles, and aren’t watching…or knowing what they are seeing.
Foles threw 8 picks in his final five games played last season. Prior to that, he threw 8 interceptions over 22 games. He’s averaging 0.59 picks per game in his last 27 games–a pace of 9.5 INTs for a season. How is this an issue? Only by taking out the slice you want to (the last five games), and ignoring the larger sample of data (the prio 22 games).
Foles threw 10 picks last year. Seven of the 10 on deep throws. Three of his 10 picks were thrown with under a minute and half left in a half or game–trying to make something happen. Foles ‘had to go’ because the Kelly short passing game harnessed Foles’ deep game. I’m not sure what Jeff FIsher will do with him. I hope he lets him loose. Foles + Bruce Arianswould be historical–I quietly hope Foles goes into free agency and joins Arizona in 2016.
Foles is 15-4 in his last 19 starts…that crazy number the mainstream, anti-Folesians whisk away. No way you can draw any conclusions there!! However, his five game turnover-fest mid-2014, despite radically low turnover paces prior–this is totally believable and represents him in the mainstream football mind.
— True 6’7″ WR, and Harold Carmichael-alike, Ifeanyi Momah (2 rec. for 15 yards and 3 targets) started at WR, and looked pretty good. Momah is a former TE for Boston College, who has battled knee injuries forever. He is a neat WR to have on the depth chart, but not likely a future star…but could have non-PPR moments as a ‘touchdown maker’.
The more a guy like Momah plays, the more I look at all the Philly offensive weapons and wonder, “Do I want any of these guys for Fantasy Football?” The Patriots have the same issue in my mind. So many solid to good weapons at WR/TE…will any of them be consistent for FF-purposes? Will I go mad trying to figure who will be ‘the guy’ each week?
Zach Ertz (4 rec. for 60 yards on 5 targets) is a nice, solid TE. On Jacksonville, you wouldn’t even know he exists. On Philly, he looks awesome at times. However, Brent Celek (1 target) is really good too…and sees as many snaps/targets. Momah is 6’7″. Riley Cooper (DNP) is a also great red-zone option. Individually, I like all of them. Together, I’m FF-scared to death.
Same goes for Jordan Matthews (4 rec. for 14 yards on 7 targets), who you know I love. How does he become a FF-2014 star surrounded by all this experienced talent? 2015-2016, sure, but right now…he’ll be on sale for 50% in October 2014 in Dynasty.
I hear people talking about Jordan Matthews having drops in this game…it’s true, he did have two botches.
He jumped up for a pass, and had it go right through his hands. Almost like he jumped up when he didn’t need to…and threw off his whole equilibrium. Regardless, he should have caught it, and looked stupid missing it. I would get more worried if I didn’t just see him a few plays before catch the ball over his shoulder on a 25+ yards throw, with a defender draped on him, and the with defenders arm in-between his…and still Matthews muscled the ball for a catch while crashing to the ground, despite the fact that three hands were on it (2 for Jordan, one for defender). They called it incomplete, but replayed showed it was catch…and then, shocker’, it was actually called defensive PI, so no one cared. official ruling: incomplete.
Later in the game, Matthews reached for a sideline pass, and dropped it, should have caught it. Nothing he did in this game helped his case as my top WR talent in this class (long term). If I see drops more, I’ll get worried. I’m not worried now. Matthews is fine, but needs to add 5-10 pounds of muscle…and probably won’t make a difference for Philly for weeks into 2014.
It is ‘so’ long ago, but last year all we heard was how Jordan Matthews was a ‘drops’ issue WR to fear. Remember this for all you Breshad Perriman fans…
There are different types of ‘drops’. WRs actively engaged, getting tons of targets, and working in danger zones, drop passes–and that’s different than like Stephen Hill or Sammie Coates who you can visually see have a hard time catching a simple pass. Jordan Matthews is an all-time leader in the SEC as a WR…playing with the worst QBs ever. Don’t tell me he’s not a great WR prospect. A year ago, people tried. Look at his ADP today in 2015. Who was right? Where’s your Sammy Watkins now?
Breshad Perriman is more fine than not. Remember, he played with awful QBs at Central Florida…like Blake Bortles. Now, let’s see what happens when he works with a real QB.