Monday, December 13, 2010

60 Percent of DeSean is Still Faster Than Everyone Else

We all knew DeSean Jackson was fast. Really, really fast. But I'm not sure any of us really understood just how incredibly swift the third-year receiver out of Cal really is until his game-changing 91-yard touchdown, turning a seemingly routine 10-yard out into an explosive score that gave the Eagles the lead for good.

Earlier in the game, DeSean hurt his ankle on a punt return. He was clearly in discomfort, limping around the field and wincing in pain. And on the aforementioned play, it was evident he was laboring, nowhere near his top speed. Yet no Dallas Cowboy could catch him. DeSean was still able to break away from everyone, on a bum ankle no less, scampering 91 yards and distancing himself so much that he time to fall into the end zone in an excessive manner, earning a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Admittedly, I was both incredibly entertained and annoyed at the same time. I mean, damn, the man just burnt everyone on the field despite limping around, put the Eagles ahead by a touchdown and earned a little celebration. Plus, that shit was hilarious. But making David Akers kick off from the 15-yard line in a 7-point game put the team in a bad position. Just not smart by DeSean, though it's hard to be mad at him. Especially after Akers did what he seems to do every time his teammates put him in a hole — Akers bailed DeSean out by booming a tremendous kick, and the coverage team did the rest by bottling up Dallas at its own 23-yard line.

He may not be the smartest man in the world, but DeSean Jackson just may be the fastest human being to ever put on pads. Last night it was on full display. On the first play from scrimmage, Michael Vick hit DeSean for 60 yards, effortlessly flicking the ball more than 60 yards in the air. Watching Vick go deep to DeSean has become one of the most beautiful things in the world. And that was just the beginning for Jackson. DeSean put up a career-high in receiving yards, 210, and did it on just 4 catches, including the 91-yard score. That's a staggering 52.5 average per catch. 52.5! His shortest reception of the night went for 22 yards. That is frightening. It really is.

The game itself was hardly all about DeSean though, as hard as that may be to fathom. Michael Vick once again played an integral role, orchestrating a tremendous opening drive and capping it off with a 1-yard touchdown run to go up 7-0 and finishing the game 16-26 for 270 yards and 2 scores, not to mention his touchdown run. But it was another game in which Vick got absolutely pounded. King Dunlap struggled all night long, and to compound that, Andy and Marty went into one of their aggravating and stupid "we're only going to throw the ball" phases, allowing the Cowboys to just rush right upfield and attack Vick. As a result, Vick was getting killed back there.

Oh, and then there was the hit out of bounds by Anthony Spencer that drew the ire of Andy Reid, and rightfully so.

Vick, scrambling out of the pocket, was headed to the sidelines. As he was on his way out, Spencer engaged Vick while still inbounds. But then he tossed him like a rag doll, sending Vick flying into the bench dangerously. Now, given that Spencer engaged Vick inbounds, I don't think it should be a penalty to push a guy out. However, the NFL has established a pretty firm, pretty consistent precedent on these types of plays, especially when the ball-carrier is a quarterback. 99 times out of 100, a flag is thrown on that exact type of play. If Tom Brady or Peyton Manning is involved, that number goes to 200 times out of 100. Hell, the flag is even thrown most of the time when a running back or wide receiver is hit in that fashion. But because it was Michael Vick and because the NFL and the referees still don't view the man who has played quarterback better than anyone not named Tom Brady this season as a quarterback, no flag. It was absolutely ridiculous, not because it was a dirty play by Spencer, but because the referees always, always, ALWAYS throw a flag there for any other quarterback in the league. No wonder Andy was so upset. So was I. It's really getting ridiculous at this point.

Although, you know, Andy could have done his quarterback a favor and run the ball a little more to take the pressure off. But that would make too much sense.

Instead, the Eagles just kept throwing and throwing and throwing. It was infuriating because the Cowboys were having their way with the Eagles defense on the other side of the ball. Running the ball would have allowed a shaky defense to stay off the field and rest.

Right after Vick's touchdown, the Cowboys easily marched 77 yards down the field in 10 plays, aided by a personal foul penalty by the Eagles, scoring on a 1-yard pass to Jason Witten. The game did settle down a little after that, with both defenses surprisingly getting stops, but that wouldn't last long. Vick hit DeSean for another big gain, a 37-yarder, in the second quarter, which set up his first touchdown pass … to Todd Herremans. Yes, Todd Herremans.

The Cowboys answered at the end of the half with a 50-yard field goal after Vick and Jon Kitna exchanged interceptions, but before all of that, Stewart Bradley dislocated his elbow in horrid fashion.

Stew was done for the game, replaced by Jamar Chaney, and I'd be surprised if we see him again in 2010. An elbow's not supposed to bend that way.

Although Bradley has hardly played his best football this year, his absence was felt in the second half. Tashard Choice, Felix Jones and the Dallas tight ends carved up the Eagles on the first two possessions, putting up a field goal to make it 14-13 after the opening drive, then scoring a touchdown thanks to three straight runs by Jones (35 yards, -1 and 3) after Vick was intercepted on a pass that went right through Jeremy Maclin's hands. Despite an explosive start, the Eagles now found themselves down 20-14 without Stewart Bradley, with their star wide receiver banged up and with their quarterback getting killed every other play.

Then something amazing happened, something odd that has been happening a lot this season. Trailing in the 2nd half, Andy and Marty turned to the run. Big time. And it worked. LeSean McCoy ripped off a 56-yard run on the first play after Jones' touchdown, leading to an Akers field goal to make it 20-17. Then after the Eagles miraculously forced a three and out, Akers added another field goal, this one from 50 yards, to tie the game.

After another shocking three and out forced by the Birds, DeSean exploded for 91 yards, Dmitri Patterson picked off Kitna, and LeSean ripped off 16 more yards rushing to set up another Akers field goal, 30-20 Birds. The defense did allow Dallas right back in it with a touchdown — the killer play being a 4th-and-8 where it looked like they had Kitna dead to rights, only to see him escape the pressure and pick up a first down with his ancient legs — but then it was all LeSean all the time. The Eagles ran out the clock almost exclusively using McCoy in the final 4:22 — 6-yard pass, followed by runs of 12, 19, 13 and 6. The offensive line was opening gaping holes for McCoy to run through. Jason Peters, Todd Herremans and Max Jean-Gilles were particularly mauling. McCoy took advantage. When it was all said and done, Shady finished with 149 yards on 16 carries, good for a 9.3 average.

Reid and Marty have used the running game in an unconventional way all season long. Against the Colts and Texans (maybe even the Giants, I don't recall off-hand) and again last night, the play-calling skewed heavily toward pass plays in the first half with the team leading. Then, when the team fell behind in the second half, the Eagles turned to the run and took control of the game. It's been so bizarre and goes against all conventional wisdom. Historically, teams like to run the ball when they have the lead to bleed the clock and keep the other team's offense off the field. This season, the Eagles have been doing the opposite. And as maddening as it is to see pass play after pass play called early on as Vick takes a beating, the strategy has worked. The Eagles beat the Colts, Texans and Cowboys that way, and they sit atop the NFC East at 9-4. It's hard to say it's not working no matter how badly you want to reach through the TV and choke Marty and Andy while screaming, "RUN THE BALL!!!!!" early on.

The game certainly wasn't pretty. The Eagles committed costly penalties, something that's been all too common this year. The defense struggled at times, though admittedly the secondary really tightened up to the surprise of everyone at times too. Stewart Bradley was lost. Oh, and Jorrick Calvin and Chad Hall got way too much time.

For starters, I don't know what in the hell Andy Reid was trying to prove last night with all the snaps he gave Chad Hall. Chad Hall is an absolutely awful football player. He doesn't belong anywhere near the field. I know Bill Belichick can get short white guys like Wes Welker and Danny Woodhead to become stars, but that doesn't mean every short white guy will become one. Why do you think there are so few of them?

Hall has not done one damn thing all season. He's too small to do anything. And he has no business even being on this roster, let alone actually seeing the field.

Though compared to Jorrick Calvin, Hall looks like the best player in the NFL.

First off, Calvin has one job and one job only, to return kickoffs. Yet he sucks at it. Like really, really sucks at it. He doesn't follow his blockers, rarely hits the hole with any speed and makes absolutely no one miss. This is not a lie. He's averaging just 22.6 yards per return, good for 45th in the NFL. Some of that can be attributed to the terrible blocking, but still: Forty-freakin-fifth.

On top of that, the rookie out of Troy listed as a defensive back has not seen one snap in the secondary for the Eagles. This despite injuries to both starting corners, an injury to a starting safety and continued struggles by Joselio Hanson and especially fellow rookie Trevard Lindley. Jorrick Calvin is a fucking worthless player.

When you take into consideration that he didn't know the rule on the clock not starting on a kick return until you leave the end zone, then exacerbating that mistake by stupidly hitting a Cowboy all sorts of late right in front of the referee to draw a personal foul and back the Eagles up in a tight game late, his ass should be cut. Today.

I hate him so very much. What a useless player.

Basically, Jorrick Calvin is the complete opposite of DeSean Jackson.

Oh, and I almost forgot: Underwhelming rookie defensive end Brandon Graham got hurt last night too, and it turns out he's done for the season with a torn ACL.

Looks like the Eagles' best defense will be a good offense from here on out, and it probably was already. Luckily, the have plenty of swagger and talent on that side of the ball, led by none other than DeSean Jackson, who can still outrun everyone on the planet while going at just 60 percent speed.

Oh yeah, and Dallas Sucks!

No comments:

Post a Comment