Monday, October 31, 2011

Week 8's Trouncings and Tebowings

Normally, I try to stay away from discussing Eagles games in this forum to keep homer-ism at bay.  However, there’s only so many times that a team scores on its first six drives against a team that was highly touted defensively and coming off a 34-7 victory themselves.  Without further ado, the WD-4T for Week 8, starting with the Drubbing of Dallas.


TRIUMPH: Tony Romo attempted 8 passes in the first half, and while Jason Witten was the main target of those throws, three of them targeted… Laurent Robinson?  He ended up with five catches on 8 targets for 103 yards, including a 70-yard TD.  Miles Austin and Dez Bryant combined for 6 catches on 8 targets for 55 yards.  I’d call this more of a statement about the Eagles’ secondary doing its job on the other guys than Robinson doing something special.
TRAGEDY: The Cowboys’ defense was ranked the best against the run in the league, averaging 70 rushing yards allowed per game.  Lesean McCoy had more than that in the first quarter of this game, eventually rushing for 185 of the team’s 239 yards in the contest.  The Eagles are running on everybody, and they have a lot of unconventional stretch and cutback running plays that Dallas is not likely to face much of against other teams.  I think their defense (at least against the run) is better than it showed last night.
TREND: Yes, there’s all the talk about Desean Jackson needing a new contract and how he makes this team explosive offensively, but as far as consistent offensive production goes, it’s really Jeremy Maclin that I feel is the more important receiver in this offense.  Maclin has 13 more receptions, 56 more yards, and 2 more touchdowns than Jackson this year (including the first game of the season, in which he was still recovering from a serious illness), and had 23 more receptions and 4 more touchdowns last year.  Most importantly, though, is that Maclin netted 8 more first downs than Jackson last year and is on pace for the same advantage this year.  Team consistency from week to week depends on consistent individual production, and that’s what Maclin has brought to the table the past few years.  Just make sure you leave some room on the payroll for him.
TRAIL MIX: Assorted nibblins’ for your consumption pleasure:
After running 25 times for 253 yards last week, DeMarco Murray did not disappoint, yielding 74 yards on just 8 carries against the Eagles.  Had the Eagles not given Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan something to chew on other than another cheeseburger, Murray was well on his way to a 150+ yard day.
Here’s a gold nugget:  The last time the Eagles scored 30 points in a game without having a pass play of more than 25 yards was Week 1 – of the 2009 season.  Brian Westbrook led the team in rushing, and McNabb and Kolb combined for just 82 yards passing, as Jake Delhomme threw 4 INTs and was replaced by Matt Moore and later Josh McCown.  Also note how none of those players are on those teams anymore, and that was just two years ago.
Lastly, the Eagles held the ball for over 42 of the 60 minutes of the game.  Domination.  Although, in 2009 I recall a game in which the Dolphins held the ball for over 45 minutes and still lost to the Colts.  Curtis Painter, you fail.


TRIUMPH: Despite being replaced by Willis McGahee thus far this season and being down big for most of the game, Knowshon Moreno had a solid day, running 14 times for 69 yards.  Actually, as a team the Broncos managed almost 200 yards rushing on 30 attempts.  Unfortunately, their success was more related to the fact that the Lions have a bottom-five run defense, although they have only allowed 3 rushing touchdowns.
TRAGEDY: Although I don’t consider this to be much of an anomaly, there’s really nothing in this game that came as close to a tragedy as Tim Tebow did.  Everyone talked this week about how bad he was for the first three quarters last week, and here he was this week with this future-MVP line: 7-21, 80 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT.  Even after more than doubling his passing yardage and completing over 60 percent of his passes in the fourth quarter, he finished with an ESPN Total QBR of 3.4 out of 100, the lowest for any quarterback with a sufficient amount of plays in any game since 2008.  Unfortunately for Tebow, Rex Grossman’s 2006 season was not in the sample.
TREND: Calvin Johnson has had between 5 and 7 receptions for between 113 and 130 yards and either 0 or 1 touchdown in each of his last four games.  This comes after he scored two touchdowns per game in the first four games of the season.  One word for the opposition: hitman. 
TRAIL MIX: I heard this one on TV today and thought it was compelling:  Tebow’s average yards-per-attempt rushing yesterday (6.3), while above his career average, was not anything special when it comes to running quarterbacks.  However, what is special is that his yards-per-attempt passing in this game was less than that (4.4).  For comparison, Matthew Stafford’s YPA was 8.9 on a solid but not spectacular day throwing the ball.


TRIUMPH: Let’s be honest here:  the clear anomalous success is the fact that the Rams won this game.  I mean, they had just been beaten 34-7 by (as we saw emphasized yesterday) an average Cowboys team, and the Saints had just absolutely destroyed the Colts 62-7.  The Rams were missing Sam Bradford for a second straight week, and hadn’t won a game all year.  And then this?
TRAGEDY: A rookie set the Cowboys single-game rushing record against the Rams last week, and the Saints come marching in and run for… 56 yards on 20 carries?  I know, they were down a lot, but they weren’t down more than 10 points until the very end of the first half.  The Rams were the worst run defense in the league, and the Saints failed to take advantage.
TREND: Drew Brees is a little bit of a gunslinger, no?  He’s had 4 games of at least 2 interceptions this year already, and is coming off a career-high 22 INT’s in 2010.  In 3 of the Saints’ 8 losses since 2010, Brees has had 3 or more INT’s, and that recklessness has caused them to lose inexplicably to the Cardinals, Browns, and Rams in that span.
TRAIL MIX: This game reminded me a whole lot of the Patriots losing to the Browns 34-14 in Cleveland last year when the Pats were 6-1 and the Browns were 2-5.  Uncharacteristically poor play by an elite quarterback?  Check.  Failing to run the ball effectively when you didn’t trail by more than 10 for almost half the game?  Check.  Allowing more rushing yards than passing yards?  Check.

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