Subject: NFL Picks Week 6 2017: Predictions by Football Writers
Predicting the winners of this week's NFL games.
The Bleeding Green Nation writers picks are in for Week 6 of the 2017 regular season schedule! Each week we'll predict the winners of each and every NFL game. We'll tally the results along the way and see who comes out on top at the end of the season.
After Week 5, the collective BGN Community is still in sole possession of first place. But your lead has slipped a little bit.
The Philadelphia Eagles are on the road against the Carolina Panthers this week and the entire BGN crew is taking the Birds to win ... except for one non-believer! I won’t name names, but shame on him.
Feel free to post your own predictions or discuss the writer predictions in the comments. You can also vote for who you think will win the games. I’ll tally those results in a “BGN Community” column. Vote in the polls beneath the table. (Click here if you can’t see the polls.)
Let's get to this week's picks!
Vote for YOUR picks below. (Once again, click here if you can’t see the polls.)
Subject: An early assessment of the 12 Eagles who will be free agents in 2018
Plus, an updated game-by-game notebook
By the time the week is over, the Philadelphia Eagles will have played six games, which means they’ll be darn close to halfway through the 2017 season.
(Also, please reread that and realize how time is flying like the Eagles.)
And since we’ll be near the midway point, it seems appropriate to roll out some premature thoughts on Eagles that may or may not be Eagles come 2018 — the ones that will be almost 50 percent through their respective contract seasons.
With the team soaring at 4-1 and a chance to go all the way to 5-1 atop the NFC East against the Carolina Panthers, it’s hard not to like everyone on the roster at this point. But if we were to turn our gaze to the distant days of March, how would the unrestricted free agents-to-be stack up in management’s eyes?
Well, unfortunately, Howie Roseman isn’t sharing that information at this time, so you’ll have to settle for my eyes.
WR Alshon Jeffery: What he’s lacked in eye-popping stats he’s made up for in distractions for the opponent. By that, I mean Jeffery hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire in Philly thus far, but his presence alone has done wonders in opening the middle of the field (hello, Zach Ertz) and allowing guys like Torrey Smith and Nelson Agholor to go deep. His last free agency tour indicated he wants to be an Eagle not just in 2017, and an extension seems inevitable, although I’m not so sure it’ll be Julio Jones money.
DT Tim Jernigan: Fletcher Cox’s new sidekick has been everything you could’ve hoped for — and more. Losing Bennie Logan was a subtle gut punch, but it’s safe to say Jernigan has brought just as much, if not more, fire from the interior. And locking him up alongside Cox is, to be honest, priority No. 1 if I’m advising Mr. Roseman.
RB Darren Sproles: There isn’t a dire need for Sproles to be extended per se, and that’s only because he’s aging and the Eagles have suddenly found themselves a rushing identity without, some would argue, a premier back. That said, no one is going to be upset if the ever-churning vet is back, and he should be. His Injured Reserve stint should be motivation for at least one more year, and even if the Eagles overhaul their RB corps with, say, a rookie starter in 2018, Sproles is welcome as a utility man.
OLB Nigel Bradham: Interesting call here. Bradham’s been accused of some poor play early in 2017, but the feeling here is that he’s still been a rather steady presence alongside Jordan Hicks. When he’s on, he’s on, too, and he isn’t ever afraid to get scrappy. It gets interesting, though, when you factor in Mychal Kendricks, who already has his own extension from the Chip Kelly era and has, by all accounts, returned to play-making form. I’d say Bradham, right now, is at least worth an offer as a familiar Jim Schwartz vet, but I’m also not sure losing him would be devastating.
DT Beau Allen: Full disclaimer: I’m not as in love with him as some are, even though his personality itself warrants fandom. Maybe I’m foolish for that. Maybe it’s because Jernigan has set the bar so high. To me, it comes down to this: He’s a reserve, a rotational piece, and he should be re-signed if that’s what he’s being paid to be.
RB LeGarrette Blount: Even if he started the year as hot as he’s playing now, I think most fans would agree that Blount’s chances of re-upping in Philly were never the greatest. The writing was all over his late-summer, low-risk addition — he joined the team as, at least on the surface, a rental. And yet, still, if you can bring him back on a cheap extension, something that’s feasible in a poor market for RBs, why in the world wouldn’t you consider it if he keeps it up? The guy’s still awfully nimble in space, and he’s already been responsible for some Marshawn Lynch-esque highlights.
TE Trey Burton: No one’s paying him big bucks on the open market, so lock him up. With Brent Celek probably approaching retirement, Burton makes the utmost sense as the new No. 2. Even if the Eagles pursue a more dangerous backup to Ertz, in fact, he makes sense as the No. 3, a special teamer whose bond with Carson Wentz is undeniable.
CB Patrick Robinson: You have to love what he’s done after essentially being written off as yet another “Band-Aid” in the secondary. Make no mistake: There’s still time for him to falter, and there’s no guarantee, especially considering his track record, that he’ll look the same in 2018. For now, though, appreciate his presence as a supremely underrated piece of this Eagles defense. Come free agency, I find it hard to believe he’ll get any substantive extension if only because of the starters-in-waiting (Ronald Darby, Sidney Jones), but who would be upset with a short-term deal to ensure nickel corner competition?
OLB Najee Goode: He’s been on and off the roster a handful of times already, and I think that’s bound to be the case once again. As steady as he’s been at times, his special teams presence is probably replaceable, and for that reason, there’s no rush to get him locked up.
RB Kenjon Barner: Like Goode, he falls into a similar category. His ceiling has been grazed with some big plays (see: 76-yard punt return against the Cardinals), and he’s actually a really smooth ball carrier. But even though the RB depth chart should be wide open in 2018, there’s not necessarily a pressing need for the Eagles to re-sign him. Get back to me in the summer.
FS/SS Corey Graham: Like Robinson, he’s been serviceable, for the most part. Unless he’s getting another one-year deal to compete as a backup, though, I don’t think anyone’s rushing to get something done.
K Caleb Sturgis: He really rebounded from his rough 2015 start, but as we’ve seen plenty of times in recent Eagles history, injuries can do you in if you’re a kicker. (Remember Cody Parkey?) And right now, if Jake Elliott keeps it up, there’s not much reason to fall back on Sturgis.
Week One: Eagles 30, Redskins 17: Year Two of the Carson Wentz and Doug Pederson regime started with the Birds ending a five-game losing streak to the Redskins at FedEx Field, where Jim Schwartz’s front-four rotation led the way. Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox and Tim Jernigan combined for four sacks and two forced fumbles, the second of which was returned 20 yards for a touchdown by Cox, sealing a two-score, fourth-quarter lead. After fellow cornerback Ronald Darby was carted off with an injury, Jalen Mills also aided an Eagles “D” that gave up just 64 rushing yards and three third-down conversions, intercepting Kirk Cousins on a red-zone pass when the ‘Skins trailed by two. With uneven protection and a non-existent running game, Wentz (26-39, 307 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INTs) was the victim of a Ryan Kerrigan pick six but channeled his inner Donovan McNabb on an opening-drive scramble and 58-yard TD heave to Nelson Agholor, then extended plays with tight end Zach Ertz (8 receptions, 93 yards) to set up three Caleb Sturgis field goals and a Gatorade bath for Pederson.
Week Two: Chiefs 27, Eagles 20: Late-game grit and a stout start for Jim Schwartz’s defense weren’t enough for Doug Pederson to best ex-Eagles coach Andy Reid at Arrowhead Stadium, where the Chiefs used a 53-yard touchdown run from rookie Kareem Hunt, back-to-back fourth-quarter scores and six sacks of an overburdened Carson Wentz to decide a close one. Big stands from a banged-up Eagles secondary offset a rare Darren Sproles fumble on a punt return inside Birds territory, holding Kansas City to a 6-3 halftime lead, but heavy pressure on the Eagles QB led to a tipped interception and more red-zone chances for Reid’s unit. Still, Wentz (25-46, 333 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) started efficiently (7-of-9), spread 19 first-down throws to Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Zach Ertz and scrambled his way to a team-high 55 rushing yards on another dismal day for the backfield. Down two scores with :14 left, his 9-yard TD pass to Nelson Agholor preceded a perfect onside kick from fill-in Jake Elliott, who made up for an earlier 30-yard field goal miss and set up a game-ending Hail Mary try.
Week Three: Eagles 27, Giants 24: They were without four injured starters on defense, gave up 366 passing yards to Eli Manning and lost a 14-0 lead after 21 unanswered Giants points, but Doug Pederson found — and stuck with — a rushing attack, not to mention a clutch kicker, as the Eagles sent New York to 0-3. LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement battered their way to a combined 160 yards on the ground, the former putting Philadelphia up 7-0 in the first. Clement tied the contest at 21 on a 15-yard fourth-quarter run after back-to-back-to-back TDs from the Giants — two acrobatic grabs by Odell Beckham Jr. and a 77-yarder by Sterling Shepard. But rookie kicker Jake Elliott, in his second game replacing an ailing Caleb Sturgis, was the real Eagles hero, booting a team-record 61-yard game-winning field goal as time expired. Carson Wentz (21-31, 176 yards, 1 TD) again found tight end Zach Ertz for a score, while the Eagles “D” had a goal-line stand and stout play from young cornerbacks Jalen Mills and Rasul Douglas, the latter of whom had a pick along with Patrick Robinson.
Week Four: Eagles 26, Chargers 24: With Eagles fans turning Los Angeles’ StubHub Center into an unofficial home game, Doug Pederson kept the pedal to the metal, pushing Philadelphia atop the NFC East with a run-first approach sans an injured Darren Sproles. LeGarrette Blount (16 carries, 136 yards) led the way with a 68-yard Marshawn Lynch-esque gallop on a fourth-quarter drive that prefaced a diving Wendell Smallwood (79 total yards) touchdown and helped the Eagles dominate time of possession. Corey Clement also got five third-down carries for an offense that didn’t turn the ball over and set up four field goals, including a 53-yarder, from Jake Elliott. The Chargers kept it close as Philip Rivers (347 yards) extended drives with Keenan Allen, found Tyrell Williams for a 75-yard score and pulled L.A. within two with 6:48 to go shortly after a 35-yard TD run by an untouched Austin Ekeler. But the Eagles defense set the tone with an opening-series takeaway, a Chris Long strip sack, and helped establish an early 7-0 lead on a throw from Carson Wentz (17-31, 242 yards, 1 TD) to Alshon Jeffery.
Week Five: Eagles 34, Cardinals 7: A career day for Carson Wentz (21-30, 304 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT) and a suffocating start for Jim Schwartz’s defense all but put the Cardinals away after one quarter, when the Eagles led 21-0 after consecutive Doug Pederson-scripted marches down the field. A 15-yard lob from Wentz to tight end Trey Burton started the scoring, and a 76-yard punt return from recently reacquired Kenjon Barner (133 total yards) preceded TD passes to Zach Ertz and Torrey Smith, the latter of whom went 59 yards. Arizona’s Carson Palmer found John Brown for a second-quarter TD, but otherwise, the contest was all Eagles — the D-line got in Palmer’s face, the Cards got just 31 rushing yards and Philly’s Patrick Robinson broke up pass after pass, also blocking a field goal try. Barner and LeGarrette Blount also found lanes vs. a typically feisty Arizona “D,” and receiver Nelson Agholor’s 72-yard third-quarter bomb, with a juke and backward fall into the end zone a la DeSean Jackson, was the icing on the cake. Safety Rodney McLeod forced a fumble to stop a potential last-minute Cards TD.
Subject: Your Thursday Morning Roundup
Subject: Eagles-Panthers 2017: Game Predictions
Who will win this week?
Measuring stick game.
We know the Eagles are good. They’re playing good football and their 4-1 is a testament to that.
But just how good are they? Are the Birds merely a playoff team? Or are they a legitimate title contender? While it’s still earlyish in the season, I think we’ll have a better answer to those questions after tonight.
A win will not be easy to come by. This is a tough spot for Philadelphia. There’s simply not a lot of time to prepare for Thursday night games. There’s even less time to prepare when you’re the road team.
One thing Eagles head coach Doug Pederson really deserves credit for this season is how well-prepared the team has been. They’ve gotten off to strong starts. Now we’ll have to see how the team handles this situation without as much time to prepare.
The Panthers are a tough team. They’re 4-1 as well and they have a number of talented player. Cam Newton has been looking a lot more like his 2015 NFL MVP self lately after struggling in 2016. The Panthers have some big targets for him in Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess. Tight end Ed Dickson is surprisingly coming off a big game. Running backs Jonathan Stewart, Christian McCaffrey, and Curtis Samuel are able to contribute. The latter two are also factors in the passing game.
On defense, the Panthers have some similarities to the Eagles. Carolina’s secondary isn’t spectacular, but they have a stout defensive line. Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei are strong on the interior and could cause some problems for Jason Kelce. Linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis are factors in the middle of the field.
With all of that said, this Panthers team shouldn’t be unbeatable. It’s only a few weeks ago that the New Orleans Saints came into their house and beat them by 21 points. I know it’s a division game and wacky things can happen, but still, that’s bad.
Besides, the Panthers aren’t the only team with a good quarterback in this matchup. I don’t know if you realized, but Carson Wentz is playing some pretty good football right now. He ranks top 10 in a number of categories at this position. If he can continue to stay hot, the Eagles pretty much have a chance against any team in this league. He should be able to attack a Panthers secondary that’s dealing with some injuries.
This could really be the game where Alshon Jeffery goes off. The South Carolina native will likely want to make a big impression while playing in the general vicinity of where he’s from. He’s poised for a big game in this one based on his matchup alone. Jeffery has had to deal with some very good cornerbacks in the first five games of the season: Josh Norman, Marcus Peters, Janoris Jenkins, Casey Hayward, and Patrick Peterson. James Bradberry, who the Panthers have been using to shadow receivers, is far from an elite corner. Jeffery hasn’t been the dominant force he was expected to be since signing with the Eagles — tonight is the time for that to change.
On defense, the Eagles’ cornerbacks figure to match up well with Carolina’s receivers. That’s not something you’d typically to hear about Philly’s secondary but Benjamin and Funchess are bigger, slower players. What the Eagles’ corners lack in speed they make up for in competitive physicality. They should give the Panthers pass catchers some good battles.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Panthers’ offensive line holds up without starting center Ryan Kalil. The Eagles might get Fletcher Cox, who is questionable, back for this game. The combination of Cox and Tim Jernigan could create some problems for Newton. Newton’s mobility might be able to mitigate the Eagles’ pass rush, however.
The obvious big concern that’s taken way too long to address here is the absence of Lane Johnson. Philadelphia will be without arguably their most important player (outside of Wentz) on offense. You all know by now their record with him (9-3 in their last 12) as opposed to their record without him (2-9 in their last 11). That’s a big, big loss for the Eagles’ offensive line. Halapoulivaati Vaitai really needs to step up.
I think this will be a good game. I’d be much more interested to see how this matchup between two of the NFC’s top teams would play out on a Sunday, but oh well. I can’t help but feel this game will be close. And while I think the Eagles could certainly win, I just think this is a pretty tough spot for them. I’m saying this game goes down to the wire in overtime and the Panthers win.
For more predictions, check out BGN’s weekly NFL game predictions.
Score prediction: Eagles lose in overtime, 24-21.
Bold prediction: Alshon Jeffery catches three touchdowns tonight.
Leave your own predictions in the comments. Vote in the poll below (click here if you can’t see it).
Subject: Alshon Jeffery Is Doing Just Fine, It
Subject: Eagles-Panthers Predictions
Subject: Eagles vs. Panthers 2017: Updates, time, TV schedule, predictions and more
Everything you need to know!
Welcome to NFL game day! The Philadelphia Eagles are set to face the Carolina Panthers on Thursday Night Football in Week 6 of the 2017 NFL regular season schedule. The matchup kicks off at 8:25 PM ET on Thursday at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. Read on for live updates from the game. [Click here for how to watch the Eagles vs. Panthers game via online streaming.]
Subject: The OFFICIAL Broad Street Hockey home opener tailgate
The boys are coming home, let’s kick off the season in a parking lot
The Flyers come to the Wells Fargo Center for the first time this season, and we want to throw a party for them. Beginning at 4pm on Saturday October 14th, you can find Broad Street Hockey and friends in the D lot in the southwest corner.
This is a BYO party - bring your own, well, everything. Some people may bring enough food and beverages to share, but don’t count on it. If you’re like me, you have a good friend bringing a chair for you (shoutout @Hinx), because standing is hard. Let’s sit, drink, snack, and talk about The Hockey Team the Flyers with friends new and old. I may put this song on repeat for three hours, who knows, let’s get wild.
Subject: NBC Sports Philly Did a Great Job with The Sixers Broadcast Last Night
Subject: Know Thine Eagles Enemy: Panthers Film Review
Unpacking the biggest test of the Wentz/Pederson era
We’re doing the weekly film preview a little differently, folks.
Typically, I like to go through three offensive plays, and three defensive plays—I usually grab some situational plays as well: red zone, blitz, third down, no huddle, what have you. The endeavor here is not to give you a comprehensive illustration of the opponent’s playbook. Neither of us have the time for that—I, to write; you, to read. Instead, I aim to show you guys some unique looks, distinct plays, and matchup tendencies that you can identify on the television every Sunday, and better understand what’s about to unfold on your screen.
But today, I want to go a different route—because I have a take, born of my film work. You’ve read/seen/heard a lot about this Carolina rushing attack. Cam Newton, the Panthers’ QB, represents the pinnacle of dual-threat QBs in today’s league; rookies RB Christian McCaffrey and WR Curtis Samuel both toe the line of hybrid offensive weapons; veteran RB Jonathan Stewart keeps chugging along.
The Panthers will give you a ton of backfield looks, with TEs lined up as halfbacks and fullbacks and wings, WRs motioning into the slot and through the back field, multiple RBs lined up at every spot possible, lineman pulling this way and that. It’s about as intense of window dressing as you’ll get in the NFL.
But it’s just that: window dressing. At the end of the day, the triple option and QB power and inverted veer have been around—these are recognizable concepts that defensive coordinators have been battling for years.
Sure, teams as multifarious as Carolina will bust the occasional big play with their misdirection and tomfoolery—it’s inevitable. But in order to run the triple option, you have to run basic outside zone; to run QB counter, you have to first work power plays with the RB. This running game is inventive, lively, and dangerous—but it’s also averaging 3.6 yards per carry. The bark is worse than the bite.
And I would argue that Philadelphia’s defense is readily equipped to handle such an attack as this. Carolina’s offense is scary, but this Eagle D is downright nasty, and I expect them to show out on Thursday night.*
*please, dear God, let Fletcher Cox play
Let’s take a look at an option play—and immediately, we’ve already met a problem. This option play? It’s not actually an option.
By alignment and post-snap movement, this looks like triple option from the backfield. At the first mesh point, between QB Cam Newton and RB Christian McCaffrey (#22), Cam would read the EDGE defender to the right side of the line; should he decide to keep the football, he has the option to keep it himself, or also pitch it to RB/WR Curtis Samuel (#10). The pulling TE and RG add a wrinkly to this triple option, which usually operates out of a zone blocking scheme, but utilizes a power blocking scheme in this example.
But watching Cam’s eyes, it seems to me that this isn’t triple option at all—the ball is always going to McCaffrey, no matter what. The triple option action simple serves the purpose of freezing the backside contain. Those two defenders that close on Cam and Samuel as they belly out on the triple option action? Those are two fewer defenders for which the blockers must account. They’ve been eliminated, essentially, from affecting the actual play.
In short: misdirection, baby.
But I need to push a crucial point: these defenders were not wrong. They did exactly what they were supposed to do, given the action in front of them. Run defense comes down to trusting your keys—the visual cues given to you by the combination of offensive line and backfield action. In the event this is truly triple option, those two defenders must follow Cam and Samuel into space on the “playside,” less they give up a massive play.
Go watch that third linebacker--the one next to the two defenders who play the triple option. #53 NaVorro Bowman, one of the best linebackers in the league. He begins flowing with the backfield action, but then sniffs out the play, redirects, and closes in the hole—why? He trusted his keys. Pulling linemen add extra gaps to whatever side they pull—he has to flow with those pulling lineman, to prevent them from gaining a numerical advantage on the play side.
So he does, and as the 1-tech generates good upfield push (remember this) and disrupts the pull of RG #70, Bowman can flash in the hole and force McCaffrey to bounce the ball even further outside. Bowman scrapes and pursues, his teammates set the edge in run support, and it’s a loss of two.
Knowing what you know now, understanding this play takes on a whole new meaning.
Pre-snap motion rotates Philadelphia into a clearly single-high look (they were in Cover 3 the whole time). Malcolm Jenkins spills into the box as the eight defender. This sort of a look should show up a ton on Thursday, to help account for the Panthers’ run heavy attack. An important note: KC has 7 blockers.
All keys scream: play is going to the (defensive) right! It’s an inside zone look, so all of the lineman step one direction, and the QB opens that direction, at the snap. And you’ll notice that all of the Eagles linebackers flow with that key, as they should.
But Jenkins stays home on the backside, despite the TE (potential pass-catcher) in front of him committing pretty solid to his zone block; despite the CB to his side of the field accounting for the WR spread wide. Why? Because Alex Smith is a mobile enough quarterback that the boot-action off of inside zone is a very real threat.
8 in the box v. 7 blockers? The additional number helps a defense account for mobile quarterbacks. Just as in the CAR v. SF play above, the backside defender remains disciplined in his responsibility and defends the threat of the QB keeping the football.
The issue now? 7 blockers on 7 defenders. If every blocker can fight their defender, even to a stalemate, this play should pick up at least 5 yards. Someone on the defense has to win their one-on-one battle to make a play.
Fortunately, Philadelphia has the second-best run defense in the NFL, people. Timmy Jernigan (2-tech, playside) recognizes that the center is going to try to reach block him, so he fires directly into the OL’s chest and drives him 2 yards into the backfield. We call this resetting the line of scrimmage. It forces the RB to declare a direction of travel far earlier, and far further back, than the play designed.
Vinny Curry (DE, playside) does similarly well to generate a hard edge, while Mychal Kendricks (OLB, playside) maintains excellent leverage and shucks the climbing LG, ready to handle the RB, should he bounce to the outside. RB instead decides to cut upfield (thanks, Timmy J.) and Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, and even Jernigan himself are all there to make the play.
The short version: you can’t win every single one-on-one block against this line. Can’t be done.
So double team ‘em. If you can’t beat the best interior defensive line duo in the league, then double team them, yeah? Carolina loves a running scheme called Double, or Duo--affectionately referred to as “Power without a puller”, Double is appropriately named, due to the, uh, double teams.
Out of an unbalanced line (3 TEs to the strong side, one of whom is an OL), you generate 3 double teams here: between the two interior TEs; the LT and LG; and the C and RG. The RB will take the football and immediately press the line, reading the action of the linebackers. Whichever gaps they declare to take, the back will go elsewhere, as the double teams peel off and help seal those linebackers in their spots (watch TE #65).
Double, sneakily, is a crucial concept of Carolina’s rushing attack. In most of the blocking schemes you’ll see from Carolina, there’s a lot of lateral action—pin-pull sweeps, reach blocks, arc blocks, every sort of puller. But in Double, the goal is to come off the line hot and vertical.
That vertical climb can really take advantage of a defensive line that’s in their own heads, unsure if the line is going to move left or right or two different ways at the snap. When the attack comes from both sides, right at you, it can be very difficult to drop your anchor and hold your ground—and, of the three double teams, only one needs to go awry for a crease to appear for the RB.
Welp, that didn’t go too well for Los Angeles.
MLB Jordan Hicks (#58) reads and reacts to this play with insane quickness. The moment the gap widens in front of him, he closes. While he knows this basically precludes him from making the tackle, it also forces the double team on DT Timmy Jernigan (#93) to disengage far earlier than ideal.
The congestion created by Hicks’ close forces the RB to bounce to the next gap—but Jernigan one-on-one easily presents in that gap, and the RB has to bounce it out even further. DE Vinny Curry (#75) does decently well setting an edge an ensuring that neither of his blockers can climb to the second level. OLB Nigel Bradham (#53) and Co. fly up in run support, and it’s a 1-yard gain.
When you face Carolina’s rushing attack, go straight Belichick and do your job. Hicks’ play here will never show up on the stat sheet, but he is primarily responsible for the disruption of the backfield. Everyone else fulfills their role, and the threat is bottled up.
Penetration and Disruption
Speaking of disrupting the backfield, the Panthers’ offense has the classical Achilles heel of any complex, fine-tuned machine—throw in just a grain of sand, and the cogs come to a screeching halt. There’s nothing ugly about Carolina’s offense—nobody would mistake it for smashmouth football—and as a result, if you can disrupt the action of the offensive line from the jump, you throw a wrench into the entire operation.
Carolina really struggled to generate offense against Buffalo (28 rush attempts, 77 yards, 2.8 y/a), in large part due to the attacking, upfield nature of Buffalo’s defense.
The playmaker here again doesn’t make the tackle. Playside DE Shaq Lawson (#90) is matched up against TE Ed Dickson (#84)—an obvious mismatch for Buffalo. However, Dickson does very well to get initial leverage on Lawson and prevent him from pursuing the ball-carrier.
So what does Lawson do? He works through Dickson’s down block and gets upfield, into the path of the puller, C Tyler Larson (#69). As you watch playside linebacker and eventual tackler Preston Brown (#52), you can see Brown present in the initial gap, and as he scrapes over the top to follow Stewart, Larson—who would be responsible for Brown—gets held up by Lawson, and Brown is free to make the tackle.
This is clockwork for Philadelphia’s ends. Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry both boast of the first-step explosiveness to penetrate and disrupt, and I would argue neither are even Philadelphia’s best DE against the run (Chris Long).
Pre-snap motion with a big WR into the slot as an extra blocker—you’ll see that a ton with WRs Devin Funchess and Kelvin Benjamin of Carolina. Philadelphia appropriately loads the box with plus numbers (8 defenders, 7 blockers). Brandon Graham, the playside DE (#55) shoots underneath the blocking TE Jermaine Gresham (#84) and blows up the pull of LG Alex Boone (#71). Jordan Hicks, playside LB (#58) is free to fill the gap and make an easy tackle.
When Things Go Wrong
Honestly, I just wanted to highlight this play because it’s very impressive—it still serves a worthy point, nonetheless.
Vinny Curry, the playside DE here, decides being an idiot sounds fun, and when he’s greeted by a pulling OL, he shoots underneath the OL and fails to set an edge. Preferably, he attacks the puller with power and maintains outside leverage, able to make the tackle if the RB takes the outside path, as he does here.
So now we have a problem—a puller has been mishandled. Curry did not read his keys, he did not maintain gap discipline, and the RB has escaped into open space.
Never fear! Rodney McLeod is here!
The Eagles have two of the stoutest safeties against the run in the league. McLeod, instinctive and fast to close, comes from his single-high alignment (again, he’ll be there a lot on Thursday night) 15 yards off the line of scrimmage and makes contact with the RB at a 3 yard gain.
Remember Kareem Hunt’s touchdown against Philly? How Corey Graham, backup safety, was unable to make the tackle in space that would have prevented Hunt from reaching the end zone? The hope is that the returned-to-health McLeod can help prevent the 5 yard gains from becoming 50 yard gains.
When push comes to shove, there’s enough misdirection and madness in this offense that a few big plays will be ripped off. I can almost guarantee you there will be a few play-action passes for 30+ yards. That’s simply the danger of facing an offense like this, just as the danger of facing an offense like Philadelphia’s is deciding whether or not to bring pressure. Schwartz will play this Carolina offense fast and aggressive; he will win some, and he will lose a few too.
But the Philadelphia front seven, and especially the front four*, plainly outclass the Carolina offensive line. GIFs, arrows, X’s and O’s—all of that is well and good, but chalkboard diagrams must be executed by players, and Philadelphia’s players are better than Carolina’s, in this regard. I expect Carolina to struggle to generate a consistent running game all night long.
The Panthers will likely turn to attacking one-on-one match-ups through the air, which isn’t the strength of their offense at all. If Philadelphia’s young and injured secondary can hold up another week longer, the Eagles have an excellent chance to leave Carolina with a victory.
Subject: Carson Wentz named NFL FedEx Air Player of the Week for Week 5
Now go win another.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz has officially been named “Fedex Air Player of the Week” for his Week 5 performance against the Arizona Cardinals. FedEx will now make a $2,000 donation to the USO in Wentz’s name.
Carson Wentz: 21/30 (70%), 304 yards (10.1 average), 4 TD, 1 INT, 128.3 passer rating
Cam Newton: 26/33 (78.8%), 355 yards (10.8 average), 3 TD, 0 INT, 141.8 passer rating
Alex Smith: 29/37 (78.4%), 325 yards (8.8 average), 3 TD, 0 INT, 130.2 passer rating
Wentz won’t have very long to enjoy his award. The Eagles are obviously set to face Newton’s team, the Panthers, this evening on Thursday Night Football. There’s a lot of pressure on Wentz and the Birds to win the battle between two of the NFC’s top teams.
It’d be nice to see Wentz repeat as the award winner in Week 6.
Subject: Fletcher Cox is
This would be good news.
Here’s some potentially good news before the Eagles’ game against the Carolina Panthers on Thursday Night Football: Philadelphia starting defensive tackle Fletcher is “pushing to play,” according to NFL insider Ian Rapoport. RapSheet says Cox is “to be monitored in warmups.”
Getting Cox back would be a big boost for the Eagles’ defense. Everyone already knows how good he is, but here’s a statistic from ESPN that really puts his greatness into context.
Prior to Week 5:
With Cox on the field this season (100 snaps), the Eagles have allowed 4.8 yards per play.
With him off the field (129 snaps), they've allowed 7.3 yards per play.
The combination of Cox and Tim Jernigan could be a big mismatch for the Panthers’ offensive line. Note that Carolina is starting backup center Tyler Larsen, who is dealing with a shoulder injury that caused him to miss two days of practice this week, in place of Ryan Kalil.
Rapoport also notes backup defensive tackle Beau Allen is pushing to play. Allen has been starting in place of Cox but was limited in practice all this week with a foot injury.
It’d be great for the Eagles if both players can suit up for this week’s game. The Panthers are a tough opponent and stopping Cam Newton won’t be easy. Having Cox active should make one feel better about Philly’s chances, however.
Subject: Ezekiel Elliott: Cowboys running back
Bad news for Dallas.
The Cowboys aren’t having a great bye week. Dallas is 2-3 after losing to the Green Bay Packer. Their playoff odds have dropped to under 19%. Jerry Jones angered his players with his recent comments about the national anthem. And now there’s been a major development in the on-going Ezekiel Elliott distraction.
The latest motion in Ezekiel Elliott and the NFL Players Association’s legal battle with the NFL has been decided. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans sided with the NFL and granted a stay for the injunction that was delaying Elliott’s six-game suspension, according to the Associated Press.
The court sided with the NFL in a split decision because it determined that the district court that issued the stay did not have subject matter jurisdiction, according to Gabe Feldman, the director of Tulane University’s sports law program. The appellate court also ordered the district court to dismiss the case filed by Elliott’s representatives, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero said.
In simple terms: Elliott’s 6-game suspension is potentially back on and could start to be enforced as soon as Dallas returns from their bye in Week 7.
Now, this dispute might not be over yet. Elliott is expected to fight this latest decision so it’s possible he’s able to stay on the field in the meantime.
But if his appeal is unsuccessful, Elliott could miss the following six games:
Week 7 - at San Francisco 49ers
Week 8 - at Washington Redskins
Week 10 - vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Week 11 - at Atlanta Falcons
Week 12 - vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Week 13 - vs. Los Angeles Chargers
As you can see, one of those six games is against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Cowboys are already off to a bad start in 2017. Losing Elliott, who currently ranks fourth in the NFL in rushing yards, would only make matters worse for Dallas as they try to bounce back.
2017 isn’t treating the Cowboys so kindly and that’s great for the Eagles.
Subject: Watch Malcolm Jenkins mic
Jenkins talks Wentz, Agholor, and more
Some important observations:
- How about Jenkins doing the Brian Dawkins crawl out of the tunnel! That’s respect right there.
- Gotta Jenk firing everybody up with his pre-game huddle speech.
- “Tell them to throw that over here, Larry.” — Jenkins did a really good job on Larry Fitzgerald. Fitz had three receptions for 31 yards before the Cardinals’ final drive in garbage time. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz praised him for his coverage on the infamous Eagles Killer.
- Love Jenkins’ conservation with Corey Graham. “He’s looking like Big Ben, bro.” — “He’s gonna be like a Roethlisberger, but even more agile though.” — Graham: “I don’t know he do that, bro.”
- Jenkins and Nelson Agholor would get real heated in training camp at times. Fun to see that level of competition and then have it turn around for Jenkins to be happy for his teammate when Agholor is beating their opponents instead of him.
- “On to the next, though. On to the next.” — Yep. Eagles vs. Panthers tonight.
Subject: NFL Week 6: Five Thursday
I freakin’ hate Thursday Night Games
My entire week is off schedule, man. Had to accelerate film study, move all of my posts forward, forego getting anything productive done Friday morning. And the title isn’t even alliterative anymore! Y’all know how I feel about that.
I’m definitely funnier on Fridays, too. No, I’m not saying I’m actually funny on any day of the week—never that—but it’s a lot easier to be light-hearted on Fridays. Thursdays are awful—they’re like Fridays, in that you’re exhausted, but unlike Fridays, you still have to do all of the same nonsense again tomorrow. At least Thursday Night Football helps break that monotony.
The nice thing about Thursday Night Football? There are a bunch of super easy tropes to cherry-pick for this special, not-Friday edition of Five Friday For Sures. Let’s get it poppin’.
1) OH MY GOSH DID YOU HEAR ABOUT EZEKIEL ELLIOTT
This one is a gimme, and has nothing to do with Thursday, but did you hear? Elliott’s injunction, which prevented the NFL from doling out a suspension, was repealed by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, thus opening the door once again for the NFL to suspend Ezekiel Elliott.
Essentially, Ezekiel Elliott’s injunction was deemed ‘premature,’ in that all of the options for arbitration detailed by the CBA were not exhausted. Why did Elliott seek such an injunction, then? Because it was the only option he had that prevented him from missing any games to start the season.
To recap: the Dallas Cowboys, coming off of two straight home losses, had their starting DT retire, their owner hold all of their players under anthem-standing hostage, and star running back essentially but not yet but almost suspended for six games.
It’s too bad they’re on their bye week. Only a third loss in a row could make this sweeter.
Either way, expect the pregame show to cover this development extensively, as well as a couple of references to it during the broadcast. It’s a gimme, I know—but I wanted to talk about the Cowboys’ bumbling misfortune. Can you really fault me?
2) Heresy regarding all-white uniforms
Let’s make one thing very, very clear from the jump:
If your team has an all-white iteration of their jersey, there's a 95% chance it's the best iteration of the jersey.— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) September 28, 2017
Philadelphia will be wearing all-white jerseys this evening, as the Good Lord intended. All-white is sharp as heck. All-white is clean, composed, and sleek. All-white is imposing and glorious.
Don’t get me wrong—I love the all-black uniforms as well. But, to me, those are rivalry uniforms. Like a color-out in college football, you don’t just pull out the black uniforms against the Panthers, in Carolina. No, that’s some “home-game-against-the-Giants” nonsense.
Anybody who says anything about “all-green” would have been burned at the stake in the late 17th century. I don’t want my team looking like a gaggle of animate vegetables, camouflaged in the turf between the numbers and the hashes. This isn’t guerrilla warfare in the Amazon, people. All-white for the win.
Oh, one last one: If anyone says the words “kelly green,” promptly throw them out of the establishment in which they were. Alternate jersey are just that—alternate--for a reason.
[BLG Note: Forgive Ben for being off-base with his jersey takes.]
3) A Carson Wentz to Cam Newton comparison
I’ve never been the biggest fan of the Carson-Big Ben comp. Maybe it’s because my most recent memories of Big Ben detail a progressively slower, less accurate, more confused quarterback—but Ben has never been much of a running threat, and has always impressed me more with his deep ball.
Carson and Cam? Now, that’s got some legs to it. (I know, I’m a pun genius—please hold your applause.)
Cam has always been a turnover-prone quarterback—both fumbles and interceptions—just like our young Wentz has proven himself over the onset of his career. He excels at creating outside of the pocket, and while he still runs it far more than Carson, Wentz’s numbers have been steadily climbing in that area. And finally, they both have missile launchers attached to their shoulders.
Cam’s a better athlete, and probably still has a better deep ball, but I predict Carson’s career as a playmaker and offensive focal point follows Newton’s more closely than it does Roethlisberger’s. It popped out to me undeniably on tape, and as the two duel this evening, I expect the broadcasters to notice it as well.
4) Wait, Jiminy Christmas, Tony Romo is calling this game
Holy Hannah, what am I doing? How dare I, a disgraceful charlatan, insult the sanctity of Tony’s foresight with these facetious prognostications?
For those of you who don’t know, Tony Romo, the ex-Cowboys QB and first-year CBS broadcast, can see the future. He’s gained notoriety within football circles everywhere for his ability to predict the play call, audible, or play result, given his keen eye for alignment and advantages pre-snap. Plainly, he’s still fresh out of the film room, and his mind defaults every play to gleaning as much information as possible.
It makes for such a refreshing broadcast—though, I must admit, I’ve only heard snippets, and never sat through a live game. Tony brings a liveliness to the booth unrivaled by his grizzled and soporific peers, who have long since lost their edge. Granted, Jim Nantz is probably sick and tired of Romo interrupting him, but it’s Jim—who cares?
Are we allowed to like Tony know? Obviously, when he was a crippling-mistake-prone, refs-in-the-back-pocket Cowboy QB, he was detestable; loathsome; the enemy. But I’m not afraid of saying it, now that he’s moved on: I like Romo. And I don’t care what you think.
5) That’s not true I crave approval please love me
I’ve got a good feeling about Philadelphia tonight (which is never a good thing). This team is young and inexperienced, which can certainly spell doom on such a short week—however! Pederson and Wentz both recognize this game, in my estimation, as the most important to date of their intertwined careers. They’ll come ready to show, on a national stage, Philadelphia is here to compete for more than 16 weeks.
The loss of Lane hurts, but expect Philadelphia to get the quick passing game moving early. I like Agholor’s match-ups tonight, out of the slot and down the seam against an depleted safety corps: give him 6 catches, 96 yards, and a touchdown.
If there’s a week for Alshon to dominate, it’s this one—but I’m still in a “believe it when I see it” holding pattern with the presumed WR1 of this offense. As such, give him 5 catches for 49 yards. Two targets in the end zone both fall incomplete.
I like Timmy Jernigan (and Fletcher Cox, depending on health) to take over this game from the interior. Even if it isn’t in the box score, their disruption is key to Philadelphia’s success. As such, let Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham feast on the mayhem caused by their DT teammates: 16 tackles, 3 TFLs, and a sack between the two of them.
I like Rasul Douglas for a pick tonight, Corey Clement for a touchdown, and Barner for another 50+ yard kickoff/punt return. Philadelphia walks out of Carolina with a 31-20 victory, the unquestioned team-to-beat in the NFC.
Subject: Eagles-Panthers Inactives: Fletcher Cox is officially ACTIVE
Looking at who’s in and who’s out.
The good news is that starting defensive tackle Fletcher Cox is officially ACTIVE despite being ruled questionable to play in this game. Cox hasn’t played since suffering a calf injury in Week 3. His return is a big boost for the Eagles’ defense. It’ll be interesting to see if the Eagles limit his snaps.
Backup defensive tackle Beau Allen is also ACTIVE. Allen had been starting place of Cox but he suffered a foot injury in Week 5. Allen was questionable to play in this game after being limited in practice all week.
Running back Wendell Smallwood is OUT. He hasn’t practiced since suffering a knee injury in Week 4. The full extent of his injury isn’t clear but he’s missed two games now.
Lane Johnson is obviously inactive after being ruled out on Wednesday. Halapoulivaati Vaitai is set to start in his place at right tackle.
Offensive lineman Isaac Seumalo is active after being a healthy scratch the past few weeks. Doug Pederson said he’s going to be the backup offensive tackle if Jason Peters or Vaitai get hurt during tonight’s game.
Safety Jaylen Watkins is still inactive. He’s been a full participant in practice last week but he was ruled questionable heading into this game.
Here’s a look at all seven inactive names, along with some brief analysis.
Philadelphia Eagles Inactive List
OT Lane Johnson - Injury.
RB Wendell Smallwood - Injury.
CB Ronald Darby - Injury.
DT Destiny Vaeao - Injury.
S Jaylen Watkins - Injury.
DT Elijah Qualls - Fifth defensive tackle.
WR Shelton Gibson - Sixth wide receiver.
Carolina Panthers Inactive List
Subject: Eagles-Panthers Week 6 Live Thread
Subject: Eagles vs. Panthers 2017: First quarter score updates
The Philadelphia Eagles continue their 2017 regular season schedule with a road game against the Carolina Panthers.
IT’S TIME FOR PHILADELPHIA EAGLES FOOTBALL! The Eagles are kicking off their sixth game of the 2017 regular season schedule with a matchup against the Carolina Panthers on Thursday Night Football. Tonight’s game begins at 8:25 PM Eastern.
The Eagles can advance to 5-1 by beating the 4-1 Panthers. This is a big opportunity for the Eagles to prove they’re the real deal.
Check out the Eagles-Panthers BGN Radio pregame show below (click here if you can’t see it). Stay tuned for the postgame show immediately after the final whistle.
BGN Radio LIVE at The Casino at Delaware Park - #Eagles vs #Panthers Pregame ShowPosted by Bleeding Green Nation: For Philadelphia Eagles Fans on Thursday, October 12, 2017
LET’S DO IT!
Here is some basic information to help guide you through the game:
- How to watch the game - TV schedule and online streaming information;
- Follow me on Twitter: @BrandonGowton;
- Follow along with Panthers fans at Cat Scratch Reader;
- Live game stats;
- Full NFL scoreboard;
- Eagles full regular season schedule;
- Current Eagles depth chart and roster;
LIVE TWITTER FEED
(Note: if the Twitter feed isn't showing up for you, click here.)
Use this open thread as a place to discuss the first quarter!
Subject: Eagles-Panthers updates for the second quarter
After the first quarter, the Eagles and Panthers are tied at 3-3.
Here is some basic information to help guide you through the game:
- How to watch the game - TV schedule and online streaming information;
- Follow me on Twitter: @BrandonGowton;
- Follow along with Panthers fans at Cat Scratch Reader;
- Live game stats;
- Full NFL scoreboard;
- Eagles full regular season schedule;
- Current Eagles depth chart and roster;
LIVE TWITTER FEED
(Note: if the Twitter feed isn't showing up for you, click here.)
Use this open thread as a place to discuss the game!