Monday, September 17, 2012

Eagles, Phillies Defy Logic

One short week ago, as I embarked on a weekend of debauchery in Las Vegas, the Philadelphia Phillies suddenly resurrected from the dead and got back in the National League Wild Card race while the Philadelphia Eagles looked beyond putrid offensively in a too-close-for-comfort opening-season victory against the hapless Cleveland Browns.

Heading into this past weekend, it looked as though the Phillies were primed to make an even bigger push taking on the dreadful Houston Astros for a four-game set, while the Eagles were going to have to protect the football and play exponentially smarter to defeat a Baltimore Ravens team that looked like a legit Super Bowl contender in week 1.

So naturally, the Phillies go out and lose three of four to literally the worst team in all of baseball thanks once again to bullpen troubles and underachieving, all but sealing their fate on this tumultuous 2012 season, while the Eagles somehow managed to improve to 2-0 despite turning the ball over four more times against Baltimore yesterday at Lincoln Financial Field.

That's right, the Phillies lost three of four to the Astros, while the Eagles are 2-0 on the season despite turning the ball over nine times in two games. Tell me those things don't defy logic.

There's really not much to say about the Phils other than they missed a golden opportunity to get even closer. They headed down to Houston three games behind St. Louis for the final Wild Card spot and had a chance to gain ground. Instead, they now sit four games back with just two weeks left in the season. You lose three of four to the worst team in baseball and you don't deserve to get in.

As for the Eagles, I just don't get it. I really don't. This team repeatedly does stupid things, whether it be horrid turnovers or killer penalties, and yet they are 2-0, defeating what many people consider one of the better teams in football yesterday. Mike Vick once again threw some truly horrid passes, including an inexcusable interception in the red zone on a 2nd and 9, where he threw across his body for no reason at all.

Don't get me wrong, Vick is electrifying and certainly in the upper half of quarterbacks in the league, but he's also a complete idiot. He threw another interception to up his total to six already this season, and he wasn't the only one making horrible plays out there.

LeSean McCoy, who did have a touchdown and was a workhorse with 25 carries, dropped a crucial pass on a 3rd and 1 and also coughed up the football for the second time already in two games, one more fumble than he had all of last year. Rookie Bryce Brown also fumbled on a 3rd down play, looking very much like the previous Brown who wore 34 for the Eagles.

Then there were the seven penalties for 58 yards, showing more lack of discipline and smarts. Yet, the Eagles made plays when it really mattered, Vick drove the team 80 yards for the game-winning score, had 371 yards passing and the defense looked stout yet again. And here we have it, with the Eagles sitting at 2-0 and leading the division despite those nine ugly turnovers.

To me, there were three players that really stood out yesterday for the Eagles. The first was Brent Celek, who had a game-high 157 yards on 8 catches and was nothing short of beastly. Celek nabbed everything thrown his direction, refused to go down easily and even bounced back up with authority after getting popped by Bernard Pollard, the guy who intercepted Vick on a would-be scoring drive. He also did this:

Then there was DeSean Jackson, who caught 7 balls for 114 yards and was clearly engaged all game. He was out there yapping and hopping around, having the type of cocky fun he does when he's at this best.

On the other side of the ball, it was DeMeco Ryans stealing the show yet again. Man, what a good trade this has been. Particularly in the second half, Ryans was all over the field, making plays and getting his nose in there to make Ray Rice earn everything he got. The guy is a stud.

I also have to give credit to both lines for the Eagles. The offensive line, a week after watching Vick get his brains beat in, did a pretty solid job overall, even with Jason Kelce and King Dunlap going down. Yes, Vick took a beating again, but the line really did protect him well and open up some holes for Shady. Not bad against a defense like the Ravens.

And the defensive line was stellar yet again, with Trent Cole and company doing a nice job hitting Flacco and somewhat containing Rice.

However, I have to admit that if I'm a Ravens fan, I'm furious at Cam Cameron today. For one thing, Baltimore scored a touchdown on its second drive of the game rather effortlessly, running the no-huddle and easily picking apart the Eagles defense. It was the type of drive that looked so easy that it made you think Philadelphia, a team that likes to rotate a lot of players in and out defensively, would have trouble containing the no-huddle all game. Yet, Cameron and the Ravens rarely ran the no-huddle the rest of the day. It was pretty baffling, to tell you the truth. They scored rather easily running it, then abandoned it.

Just like they abandoned the running game somewhat. Whereas LeSean McCoy carried the ball 25 times for Philadelphia, Ray Rice only had 16 carries despite average 6.2 yards a pop. Not exactly a wise philosophy by Cameron and company. But hey, I'll take it.

Two more notes on the Ravens:

1. That kid Justin Tucker can kill the ball. Jesus. The rookie kicker made field goals of 56, 51 and 48 yards, and all of them looked like they would have been good from 70 yards easily.

2. The Ravens entrusted Sean Considine with executing a fake punt. Naturally, the former Eagle flop tripped over his own teammate and came up short. Had he just kept his footing, it would have been an easy first down for Baltimore. Now, the Ravens surely must realize what we here in Philadelphia have known for a long time: Never trust Sean Considine with anything.

So yeah, the Phillies lose 3 of 4 agains the Astros, while the Eagles sit at 2-0 with nine turnovers on the year. The only thing logical about this past weekend was Penn State finally putting something together and destroying Navy, because Navy is terrible. Oh, and Gerald Hodges and Mike Mauti are all sorts of good, no matter who Penn State is playing.

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