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NFC East Report Week 11: Eagles fans have plenty to be thankful for this Turkey Day

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USA Today Images

NFC East Report Week 11: Eagles fans have plenty to be thankful for this Turkey Day

Each week, we'll take a look at how the Eagles' division rivals fared the previous weekend (spoiler alert: GAME OVER!) and what they have upcoming. This week the Giants make about as much sense as Ben McAdoo’s barber, Washington saw its worse choke-job since George Dubya met a pretzel, and the Cowboys, well...I’m pretty sure you heard what happened to the Cowboys.

Here’s what happened this week in the NFC East:

New York Giants (2-8)

What Happened: The Giants can't even Process correctly. A week after being hilariously humiliated by the winless 49ers, Eli Manning and Company (or what remains of the Company) went ahead and beat the previously-playoff-bound Kansas City Chiefs in overtime, 12-9. Before you ask, yes, this one was about as much fun as that score leads on.

Tough loss for Andy Reid, whose Chiefs appear to be rotting faster than your neighbor's Halloween pumpkin (and the owners of both should probably think about making a change). This game featured more interceptions thrown by non-quarterbacks (two) than it featured touchdowns (one). Allegedly, the world’s least-deserving future Hall of Famer, Eli Manning, spent the pregame “firing up the troops,” which sounds about as believable as Donald Trump saying “I believe the women.” Seriously, the only individual I can imagine being less inspiring than Eli is the guy in the red jacket and mustache on the other sideline telling reporters he’s got to do a better job. 

Despite the win, the Giants were mathematically eliminated from winning the NFC East on Sunday, which is about as shocking as the fact that Mike Lombardi can’t get an NFL front office to hire him. The realization that they've been officially knocked out before Turkey Day is funnier than JoJo blocking and flopping. Seriously, this Giants season is a lot like Charles Manson, in that I was pretty surprised to hear death didn’t officially arrive until this week. Who knew?

Positive Spin: Nothing. Seriously, there is nothing positive Giants fans should take from this victory. They didn’t even act spoiler against a legitimate rival (does any New Yorker get some emotional pleasure from a victory over Alex Smith?). There are cat videos on YouTube that can prove more productive. This was a complete and utter waste.

Roger Lewis Jr., an undrafted wide receiver only in the game because Odell Beckham, Brandon Marshall, AND Sterling Shepard are out, made a ridiculous grab to put New York in field goal range to win it. This doesn’t turn him into the next coming of Victor Cruz, but hey, there’s not a lot of silver linings this deep down in the barrel.

Negative Spin: Everything that this team does from now till the end of the season should be focused on 2018. By beating the Chiefs, the Mara’s franchise is now back into 3rd on the 2018 NFL Draft Board. That may not seem like too big a deal, except when you consider the difference between the 2nd overall pick and the 3rd can mean the difference between, say, Carson Wentz or Joey Bosa (or even worse, Donovan McNabb vs. Akili Smith). The draft is about as predictable as what-issues-Alabama-voters-care-about, but ask yourself this; is a victory in November really worth it?

This is a franchise with a lot of tough questions to ponder going into the offseason. Winning a game in Week 11 isn’t some Earth-shattering shift, but it definitely doesn’t help in any fashion.

What’s Next: Tryptophan won’t be the only thing putting people to sleep this Thursday. The Giants head to the district to take on Washington.

 

Washington (4-6)

What Happened: Imagine sitting down this Thanksgiving after spending the entire day slaving over a fantastic meal; full turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes with the little marshmallows in it, the real deal. Then, right before you’re about to dive into this incredibly delicious spread you’ve spent the past several hours pulling together, Drew Brees runs into your home, steals all your grub, and then on his way out, kicks all of your friends in the shins.

That’s essentially what happened to Kirk Cousins and his Washington squad on Sunday. Up fifteen points in New Orleans, the Washington D let Brees throw two touchdowns in the final minute, then gave up the game-winning field goal in OT to give the Saints their eighth consecutive victory and drop Dan Snyder’s squad to 4-6 on the year. Adding literal insult to injury, Jay Gruden’s crew had to put a number of players on injured reserve, including the electric Chris Thompson and the guy who is certainly NOT Alshon Jeffrey, Terrelle Pryor.

Pryor’s one season in D.C. ends with 20 catches and a touchdown. Please note that his numbers have been eclipsed by Jeffrey (whom the Iggles opted to sign instead) as well as former Washingtonian’s DeSean Jackson (who’s catching passes from Ryan Fitzpatrick) and Pierre Garcon (who’s been out since Week 8). My goodness, even Sam Hinkie made better free agent signings (looking at you, RoCo).

After the game, Cousins complained about an incorrectly-called intentional grounding penalty against him, which is justified but irrelevant (which, notably, is the same tagline for the new Justice League movie). When you blow a fifteen-point fourth quarter lead, there’s often a few issues more prevalent than the zebras.

Positive Spin: For 48 minutes, Washington beat down on a Super Bowl competitor with a Hall of Fame bound quarterback, which is comparable to saying for 99% of her swim, Chrissie Watkins had a blast. 

Meanwhile, Cousins added more evidence into the ‘sign this guy to an extension’ folder, made even more impressive by the fact that he’s doing it with a bunch of no-names at the skill positions. The NFL-leading Philadelphia Eagles laid out a pretty clear blueprint on how to upgrade the weapons around a talented quarterback; if Washington’s front office can get their act together fast enough to do the same, the path back to relevancy shouldn’t be too windy for this franchise.

Negative Spin: This team is receding faster than LeBron’s hairline, and like The King’s fro, the owner seems happy to pump money into a quick rebuild. But don’t bet on it. Two years ago they won the division, a year later they just missed the playoffs, and this year they’re bolting towards the exit faster than that lazy coworker you hate. They’ve let a number of playmakers leave and many of the replacements have failed to impress (the ageless Vernon Davis notwithstanding). Considering this franchise’s history of being more disjointed than a season arc on AquaTeen Hunger Force, the chances of a bounce-back don’t seem too good for anybody (except for us Iggles fans, naturally)

What’s Next: If Washington has any chance of getting back into the Wild Card conversation, it’ll have to get a victory Thursday night at home against the Giants. That seems unlikely, so it’s probably best for Birds fans to pull for Big Blue on Thanksgiving, in an effort to negatively impact their draft status.

 

Dallas Cowboys (5-5)

What Happened: If you're reading this, you're either a masochist Cowboys fan (oxymoron alert) or you already know. Despite playing at home, despite playing with their backs against the wall, despite Cowboys owner Jerry Jones honoring Cowboys owner Jerry Jones at halftime, and despite said owner Jerry Jones promising that his team would be better, ‘dem Boys were completely and utterly out-classed at home in front of a God and a national audience on Sunday by the future NFC East Champions.

Plenty has been said about the victory, so no need for me to get into how the Cowboys D couldn’t stop anyone come the second half, or how Dak Prescott had the worst game of his career with four turnovers, or how Dallas is now on the outside looking in on the 2017 playoffs. And I won’t even get into how they’ve only scored one touchdown in the last eight quarters, or how they’ve been outscored by 48 points the last two games, or how their offense has come to a grinding halt ever since Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension finally came through. No need to mention any of that. Lets keep it on the hush.

But is it just me, or is Dez Bryant's heart just not in it anymore? It use to be painful watching him throw a temper tantrum worse than a small toddler deprived of a happy meal, but the fact that he wasn’t seen on the sideline berating some poor wide receivers coach arguably is enough to put him in the NFLs concussion protocol. Dez, like this squad as a whole, seems a shadow of his former self. 

Meanwhile, Jones won't be suing the NFL after all, showing he has the same steel legal cajones as his President. It doesn’t matter if Sunday night was the turning point to send Dallas’ season spiraling into irrelevancy; the Jones/Goodell brouhaha is likely to dominate this team’s headlines for the remainder of the year, and I, for one, don’t have nearly enough popcorn.

Positive Spin: If you’re a Cowboys fan trying to put down the bottle this week, here’s what you need to grab onto; your squad was missing a Pro Bowl running back, a Pro Bowl offensive lineman, a Pro Bowl linebacker, AND a Pro-Bowl kicker. Despite it all, Big D was leading at halftime. Prescott, meanwhile, will presumably only get better, and therefore the gap between the Cowboys and the NFL-leading Philadelphia Eagles isn’t as wide as the 37-9 final score would lead one to believe.

Negative Spin: Every bit of that is bull. For starters, the Iggles were also missing a Pro Bowl running back, a Pro Bowl offensive lineman, a highly-rated linebacker, and their starting kicker. Shoot, the Birds had actually lost TWO kickers by the time this one hit the second quarter, and you can bet your Thanksgiving stuffing Birds fans wouldn’t have accepted that as an excuse had Doug Pederson’s squad been embarrassed Sunday night.

The Cowboys stink, for all the natural reasons we’re all very familiar with. But as currently constructed (and football-lord forgive me for typing this), they’re not a bad team. However, to suggest that they’re anywhere near being on the same level as this Eagles squad, healthy or not, is a clear indicator you’re (like Dez) probably suffering from symptoms of a concussion. Either that, or you sniff the same glue Skip Bayless uses. That guy’s a bigger joker than Mark Hamill. 

What’s Next: The Cowboys face the Los Angeles Charges tomorrow on T-Day, then have a relatively easy schedule, facing New York, Washington, and Oakland. They could win all four and still lose this division, so don’t under-appreciate how big the Birds win Sunday night was. This year, there’s plenty for Iggles fans to be thankful for.

For me, I’m thankful the Cowboys owner hasn’t fired GM Jerry Jones yet.

Are 2018 Eagles better or worse?

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USA Today Images

Are 2018 Eagles better or worse?

The Eagles won the Super Bowl last season. Does it get any better than that?

It just might.

Over the past two weeks, we’ve dissected the 2018 Eagles’ roster one position at a time. The majority of the time, we determined this year’s team was more talented than the group that won a championship. But when it comes time to put all the pieces back together again and kick off on Sept. 6 against the Atlanta Falcons, will the Eagles truly field a superior squad compared to last season?

Better

Wide receivers

Pass rushers

The Eagles are demonstrably improved in two key areas. Replacing Torrey Smith with Mike Wallace was a clear upgrade in a receiving corps that should also benefit from a healthy Alshon Jeffery and Mack Hollins having a year in the NFL under his belt. And while the defensive line as a whole has some question marks, adding three-time Pro Bowler Michael Bennett at defensive end along with the continued development of Derek Barnett could provide the Eagles a vastly scarier pass rush off the edge.

Another spot we might see a significantly elevated performance is, tight end, assuming second-round draft pick and freak athlete Dallas Goedert can come in and contribute immediately. Goedert joins Wallace and Bennett as the key newcomers for 2018.

Worse

Nickel cornerback

While there is a ton of talent at cornerback, it’s extremely unlikely anybody will be able to match the job Patrick Robinson did in the slot. Robinson was a proven option for the nickel, posting a career year with the Eagles last season. The options to replace him full-time, on the other hand — most notably Sidney Jones, Jalen Mills, Avonte Maddox or De’Vante Bausby — have next to zero NFL experience in that role. This is essentially a starting position, so Robinson’s departure in free agency is no small matter.

Another spot to keep an eye on is the vacancy at weakside linebacker following Mychal Kendricks’ release. Kendricks enjoyed a resurgent season in 2017, and the candidates to take over — Corey Nelson, Nathan Gerry, Kamu Grugier-Hill — lack name recognition. Fortunately, this is a limited role, so Kendricks isn’t as big a loss as Robinson.

The same

Offensive line
Safeties
Jim Schwartz
Doug Pederson
Howie Roseman

The great news is there’s a ton of carryover for last season’s Super Bowl champions. If you consider Jay Ajayi the lead back for that squad, which he basically was, then 19 of 22 starters are returning, along with many key backups. That is incredible continuity few NFL teams are blessed with, let alone the reigning champs.

That continuity extends to the bulk of the coaching staff as well. Schwartz and his entire defensive staff return. There were some changes on the offensive side with Frank Reich and John DeFilippo snagging new jobs, but the Eagles were able to promote from within. Most importantly, Pederson remains as head coach, and Roseman stays on to run the front office. The foundation of the franchise is the same.

The unknown

Injured players: QB, LT, MLB, PR/RB, DT

Perhaps the biggest question as to whether the Eagles are better or worse lies in the recovery of the many injured star players from a year ago, almost all of whom are expected to reprise their roles.

Can Carson Wentz recapture his MVP form? We’ve seen quarterbacks struggle in their first year back from an ACL injury. Can Jason Peters still dominate at age 36 after an ACL of his own? The franchise left tackle has battled back from worse. Will Jordan Hicks be the same after a ruptured Achilles? The young man is a student of the game, but that’s a big one. Will Darren Sproles be as electric out of the backfield and in the return game at 35 and, again, with an ACL? Throw Tim Jernigan on to the list, too. The defensive tackle is sidelined indefinitely with a back injury, hurting the Eagles’ depth up front.

Then again, the Eagles already won the Super Bowl with almost all of these guys sidelined. For everybody but Hicks, there is a clear replacement waiting in the wings should they falter. Still, it’s a concern.

Better or worse?

As is always the case, the only way to find out for sure is on the football field. And the Eagles could very well put a better squad out there, but still not repeat as champions, as luck and timing are also factors here.

That being said, some questions and concerns aside, the Eagles look like a more talented team overall. Nineteen starters are back. Two replacements, Wallace and Bennett, look like upgrades aside. Kids like Barnett, Goedert, Jones and running back Corey Clement could be on the verge of becoming stars. Best of all, the Eagles remain strong along the offensive and defensive lines and have two quarterbacks capable of leading a team to the promised land. They may not be a better team than the group that just won it all, but the 2018 Eagles sure look like a BETTER team.

More on the Eagles

Beer delivery at Citizens Bank Park via text message now available

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Aramark

Beer delivery at Citizens Bank Park via text message now available

Now you can order a beer to be delivered to your seat and you don't even need to download another phone app to make it happen.

The Phillies and Aramark announced a new pilot program at Citizens Bank Park in which fans in certain sections of the ballpark can order select beer and water by simply using messages on an Apple iPhone.

The best part? You don't need any cash. It will charge your order right to whatever credit card you have set up in your Apple Pay.

"Initially, as part of the pilot program beginning today, July 20, fans sitting in sections 142, 143, 144 and 145 at Citizens Bank Park will be able to purchase select beverages (beer and water) from the comfort of their seats using their iPhone. The pilot program will be conducted over the course of ten games (July 20-25, August 2-5)," the release says.

They even include super simple instructions:

  1. Open the iPhone Camera app
  2. Scan the QR code on the seat back
  3. Follow the prompts on the Messages text screen to place order
  4. Complete transaction with Apple Pay
  5. Enjoy the game while order is delivered to seat location

I'm curious about tipping. Any self-respecting baseball fan knows that when you order beers from one of the vendors walking the aisles you always toss him a dollar or so at the end of the transaction. Will there be an option to tip your delivery person via text message?

The Phillies are apparently the first team to give this new tech a shot.

“We look forward to joining Aramark in testing this mobile delivery service, an innovative use of Apple Business Chat that further enhances the food and beverage experience at Citizens Bank Park,” said David Buck, Phillies Executive Vice President. “With this new pilot program, food ordering and delivery is as easy as a text message, and we are excited to be the first sports facility in the country to try out this new technology.”

So buy lots of beers this summer so the Phillies make lots of money so they can afford Manny Machado this winter. All via text messaging!

You can watch a demo of how this will all work below.

More on the Phillies