Tag Archives: Jay Gruden

Stay Alive and Survive: Five Numbers I Hope to See in the Box Score when Eagles-Redskins Concludes

I would be lying to you if I said I was fully confident in the outcome of today’s game.

The Eagles have not won in nearly three and a half weeks going back to Thanksgiving. Weaknesses on both sides of the ball (specifically the quarterback and secondary) have been exposed as a rather firm grip on the NFC East slipped away, but there is hopefully light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a 3-11, dysfunctional Washington Redskins team.

In three games going back to Week 1 of the 2013 season, Chip Kelly has owned Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett (so much so that we wrote a post specifically about it), averaging 31.3 points per game.

Earlier in the week, I had some bad flashbacks to a Week 16 game in D.C. in 2008 between these two teams that the Eagles lost 10-3, making their road to the playoffs a bit more difficult then, but that seemed more characteristic of an Andy Reid coached team.

Despite a rough two weeks, the Eagles have been very good against inferior teams under Chip Kelly this season, and that should ideally continue today.

Let’s take a look at five numbers I hope to see that should get the Eagles to 10-5.

  1. Robert Griffin sacked at least five¬†times — Part of the reason the first Eagles-Redskins game was so close is because of the amount of time Kirk Cousins had to throw. Cousins was not sacked once in the three-point Eagles victory, but Griffin has been dropped 28 times in seven contests this season. While this might seem like a lofty stat, the numbers back it up that it is reachable, and should it happen, it will be a long day for the Redskins offense.
  2. Less than 130 combined receiving yards between Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson — While neither of these receivers necessarily pose the matchup problem that Dez Bryant did last week, both had strong games in the Week 3 meeting combining for 16 receptions, 255 yards, and two touchdowns. The Eagles secondary has been heavily scrutinized, and rightfully so, over the past few weeks, but they tend to have a decent game when people least expect it. Against a struggling quarterback in Griffin, now would be a good time for one.
  3. One or fewer turnovers for the Eagles — Turnovers have been a noted issue all season long for this team. The only turnover free game they played was a Monday night beatdown of Carolina in early November. Zero turnovers is a lot to ask for, but in the first Redskins game, the Eagles limited the giveaways to one and will be in decent shape should they repeat that today.
  4. LeSean McCoy averaging more than four yards per carry — Some might say I have become obsessed with this statistic, but the significance cannot be understated. The Eagles are 5-0 when the Pro Bowl running back averages at least 4.1 yards per carry. They are 4-5 in other games. In the 2013 opener when Chip Kelly unveiled his NFL offense on Monday Night Football, McCoy had one of his best career games with 184 yards on 31 carries. A repeat of that today would be awesome.
  5. Josh Huff with at least 45 receiving yards — It is a shame Huff Daddy has made some of the rookie mistakes that he has because it is easy to tell that he has potential, and had they not occurred, he would likely be stealing snaps from the ineffective Riley Cooper. I am hoping that occurs today some after the rookie showed explosiveness with with a 44-yard reception against Dallas. Rise again, Huff Daddy.

There you have it, folks. We got five, 130, one, four, 45, and hopefully a nice win to move to 10-5, putting some major pressure on the Cowboys tomorrow afternoon.

The Chip Kelly fist pump was born in that magical Week 1 game in 2013, and I could use a repeat of it today as we get ready to cheer for Andrew Luck tomorrow.

Fist Pump GIF

Advertisements

Five Numbers I Hope to See Following Eagles-Redskins

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am pretty nervous for today.

That said though, I am equal parts excited, because the Eagles have a golden opportunity to take full control of the NFC East with a victory. The Cowboys may win today against the Rams, but I do not consider them competition, so a two-game lead over the Redskins would be huge.

You know the drill by now. Five Eagles numbers I hope to see in the box score when this division showdown concludes today.

  1. More than 100 rushing yards for LeSean McCoy — It seems like the Eagles running back plays some of his best game against the Skins. In the opener last year, he had 184 yards on the ground. In the second game 10 weeks later, he only posted 77 yards but scored two of the team’s three touchdowns. The century mark seems possible tomorrow. Do it, Shady.
  2. Nick Foles sacked less no more than four times — The Skins do a decent job pressuring opposing quarterbacks. I expect Foles to land on his back a few times, but the Eagles makeshift offensive line held up pretty well against the Colts, so hopefully they keep things under control here.
  3. At least three receptions for Riley Cooper — Not the receiver’s finest game last Monday, dropping a perfectly thrown touchdown pass from Foles early on. Cooper started last season slow too, but the Eagles are paying him good money to be more productive than he has been so far. Hopefully it starts later today.
  4. A minimum of one first half touchdown — As I broke down earlier in the week, the Eagles have been pretty bad in the first half and incredible in the second half. Against the Redskins last year, they were the complete opposite of that, and while a win matters more than how they win here, my hope is they get off to a nice start tomorrow and calm some nerves there.
  5. Niles Paul held below 75 yards — The fourth year tight end has been very good so far posting 86 and 99 yards respectively over the first two weeks. With Mycal Kendricks unfortunately out with a calf injury, the Skins will likely try to exploit this matchup if Emmanuel Acho or Casey Matthews is tasked with trying to keep up with Paul. I expect Paul to get some yards, but holding him in check to a decent extent would go a long way towards a home victory.

While he did not throw any last week, Kirk Cousins’ career suggests he is good for an interception (10 picks in nine games played), so hopefully we get one today.

You probably also notice that there is nothing in here about DeSean Jackson. My quick take on him:

DeSean Take

I expect DeSean to get mostly booed, and while I still kinda like the guy, that is perfectly fine. One hundred, four, three, one and 75 are the numbers I will be looking for after the Eagles hopefully ruin his ‘homecoming and improve to 3-0 for the first time since 2004.

Chip Kelly, Jim Haslett, and the Calming of Nerves Before Kickoff

I am currently writing this post while watching Chip Kelly’s old team tied with a school featuring “Washington” in its name. Go figure.

Anyway, I will cut to the chase here: I am nervous for today — Way more nervous than I anticipated being when I made my predictions before the season.

The Redskins absolutely demolished Jacksonville last Sunday while the Eagles had some problems with the same Jaguars team back in Week 1. They are currently fourth in the league in points allowed, and Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan figure to try to take advantage of a makeshift Eagles offensive line.

DeSean Jackson is back in town, and while I do not know how many snaps he will be able to play with that shoulder injury, he will be motivated to make the ones that he does play count.

Mike Shanahan is out. Jay Gruden is in. I never believed the younger Gruden to be particularly brilliant, but he is probably a better coach right now than Shanahan was throughout last season.

Most importantly, Kirk Cousins will start at quarterback for the injured Robert Griffin. That frightens me, and I would much prefer to face Griffin if given the choice. Griffin to me is like some extremely volatile stock. You have no idea what you are going to get with all of the variables, but given recent history (the Eagles were 2-0 against Griffin last season), you feel like you would have a somewhat solid plan.

Cousins seems like more of a known commodity in ways as much as that might run contrary to his limited game experience. What I mean is that while Cousins may not be capable of winning a game by himself like RG3 occasionally is, he also will not single-handedly lose one.

Billy Davis called two nice games against Griffin last season, but the Eagles have never faced Cousins before. All of this scares me.

One thing that does not scare me though is that even with the Skins’ coaching regime overhaul, Jim Haslett remains the defensive coordinator. Chip Kelly absolutely owned Haslett last season as the Eagles combined for 57 points and 845 yards in two victories against the Skins.

Haslett found a way to get a few stops late in games, but the Eagles had already poured it on enough where stalling a few times did not really matter.

Haslett is not bad at his job. He took a then moribund Saints franchise to the playoffs during his first year as head coach back in 2000, but Haslett was bad at his job against Kelly’s up-tempo offense last season.

In the Week 1 opener on Monday Night Football, it looked as if Kelly was playing chess while Haslett was struggling to grasp the simplest rules of checkers. The first half of the second game when these two teams met at Lincoln Financial Field was more of the same, and hopefully later today will be as well.

The Redskins — to their credit — made a lot of coaching and personnel changes, and I am pretty nervous for this one, but when I want to calm my nerves, I think back to last year and how Haslett still runs the Skins defense.

Some things hopefully have not changed. Do it, Chip.

Fist Pump GIF

Predicting the Eagles Record Game-By-Game

I am a little surprised I am doing this only because this exercise rarely holds up in a couple of months.

It does not so much matter where a team’s wins are from over the course of the regular season as long as they are there after Week 17. Injuries and several other variables can throw things out of whack.

At the beginning of last season, I would have told you that the Eagles would beat Dallas at home but lose to Green Bay on the road two weeks later. Nick Foles getting hurt against the Cowboys, and Aaron Rodgers not playing against the birds obviously changed that. The Eagles still split those two games, but how they did it was the contrast to what I expected.

Still, this is a fun thing to do and evaluate, so we’re going to play win-loss with the Eagles schedule starting with this Sunday against Jacksonville and going through the season finale at MetLife Stadium against the Giants.

Let’s get to it:

Jaguars Logo

Win:¬†This one reminds me of the 2008 opener where the Eagles just steamrolled an awful Rams team at Lincoln Financial Field. Nicky Foles, Shady McCoy, and Zach Ertz pick up right where they left off as Chip Kelly’s offense soars and Billy Davis’ defense gains confidence.

Colts Logo

Loss — I nearly gave the Eagles a road victory here, but I think the Colts take this one as Adam Vinatieri ends a Monday Night shootout with a game-winning field goal. Foles and Andrew Luck go back and forth all game, but the Colts need one this more after falling to the Broncos this Sunday. They find a way to get it done.

Redskins Logo

Win — DeSean Jackson catches a meaningless touchdown in the fourth quarter, but 70,000 at Lincoln Financial Field have already belted out the Eagles fight song four times. Kelly continues to own Jim Haslett’s defenses as the birds get back over .500.

Niners Logo

Win — Back in 2011, the 49ers went into Lincoln Financial Field in Game 4 and stunned an ill-prepared Eagles team with a one-point win. That Eagles team ended up not being very good, but the Eagles will turn the tables here and leave northern California riding high with a 3-1 record.

Rams Logo

Win — Lane Johnson returns just in time to keep Nick Foles upright against a staunch Rams defensive line. In a second half rout, Brandon Boykin picks off Shaun Hill and takes it to the house while Mark Sanchez gives a troll wave to Jeff Fisher on the opposing sideline. The Eagles are 4-1, their best start to a season since 2006.

Giants Logo

Win — The Giants are better than folks think and make this one tough, but Foles makes a play in the fourth quarter that Eli Manning can no longer make. The Eagles escape on Sunday Night football and open up a three game lead in the NFC East heading into their bye week.

Cardinals Logo

Loss — The Cardinals have given the Eagles fits over the past half decade and enact some revenge from last year where the Eagles may have kept them out of the playoffs. The offense finds its groove in the fourth quarter but leaves the desert with a loss.

Texans Logo

Win — Kelly vs. Bill O’Brien. Blink and risk missing an entire series J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney each sack Nick Foles once, but the Eagles win by 10 points on the road, sitting pretty at 6-2.

Panthers Logo

Win — The third Monday Night game at the Linc between these teams since 2006. With the Eagles clinging to a 28-24 lead late in the fourth quarter, Malcolm Jenkins pays homage to Lito Sheppard and intercepts a Cam Newton throw to the end zone.

Packers Logo

Loss — The defense comes in feeling good about itself, but Aaron Rodgers picks them apart. Foles keeps up most of the way, but Green Bay has too much firepower and outlasts the Eagles 31-27.

Titans

Win — The birds return home angry after the Packers game, and an overmatched Titans squad is the victim of their frustration. Jordan Matthews has a big coming out party, and the birds roll comfortably.

Cowboys Logo

Win — It is a happy Turkey Day in Jerry World for the visiting Eagles. Tony Romo keeps the Cowboys in it for a half, but Chip Kelly’s squad beats an awful Cowboys defense into submission by the time the third quarter ends. McCoy goes for 160 yards on the ground as the birds reach nine wins. Perhaps we get another GIF similar to this, (H/T @CrossingBroad)

Jerry Jones GIF

Seahawks Logo

Loss — Kelly has a few extra days to prepare for a visit from the defending Super Bowl champions, but talent wins out as Seattle gains a stranglehold on homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. The Eagles defense rises up and keeps them in the game, but the offense never completely gets on track as the Seahawks send a raucous Lincoln Financial Field crowd home disappointed with a 24-16 win.

Cowboys Logo

Win — The Eagles treat a Sunday Night national audience to a show, snapping their two-year home losing streak to the Cowboys and clinching the NFC East in the process with a 38-10 romp. The loss all but seals Jason Garrett’s fate as Dallas falls to 5-9 in a miserable season. The three-year streak of 8-8 mediocrity is over as the bottoming out begins.

Redskins Logo

Win — The Eagles start slow in Washington, but a long touchdown pass from Foles to Jeremy Maclin right before halftime wakes them up. The second half is sloppy, but Cody Parkey hits a 35-yarder with no time left to win it 23-20. The Eagles secure the number two seed as the Skins’ hope of finishing 8-8 in Jay Gruden’s first year fades away.

Giants Logo

Loss — Neither team has a ton to play for. The Eagles already know their playoff positioning, and the Giants are already eliminated. Tom Coughlin goes out on a high note, denying the Eagles a perfect 6-0 record in the division with a 26-23 win.

This puts the Eagles at 11-5 and gives them a bye on wildcard weekend for the first time since 2004 when they went to the Super Bowl.

In my season predictions for all 32 teams, I have the Eagles getting revenge against the Saints at home before succumbing to the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.

We can discuss this more over the next couple of days and throughout the beginning portion of the season. I believe the Eagles are going to be very good but are in need of another offseason to address the defense before they can take out the Seahawks.

The unit was better last year than many people realize, but it has not yet shown me it could win a road playoff game against that type of team. Should this actually end up being the NFC Championship Game, I may change my tune once there is 18 games of film and data on each team, but for as much as I want to go all in and say see you in Glendale, I think the Seahawks win that contest right now.

An NFC Championship appearance in Year 2 under Kelly would be nothing to scoff at though. It would mean that in two years he turned a 4-12 mess into a legitimate contender for the Lombardi Trophy.

In an ideal world, the Eagles get one this season before Foles’ well-deserved payday, but the window of opportunity will still be very much open.

There you have it. 11-5, a second straight NFC East title, a home playoff victory, and an appearance in the final four. I want a ring, but this is a pretty good place to start.

What say you folks? Would love to hear your predictions before Sunday.