Tag Archives: Riley Cooper

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

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That Sucked: Eagles-Cowboys Haiku

The opening kickoff was fumbled, and with it slowly went the Eagles grip on the NFC East — for now at least.

You all watched the game. Mark Sanchez was bad. The secondary was worse.

For much of the night, the Eagles looked unprepared as Chip Kelly and Billy Davis seemed a step behind Jason Garrett. It’s hard to win against a 9-4 when you turn the ball over four times.

I quite honestly am exhausted and not in the mood to spend a ton of time talking about it, preferring to look ahead at some of the scenarios and way the Eagles can get help to the playoffs.

Let’s hit the haiku and hope tonight wasn’t the final game at the Linc this season.

Dez Bryant goes wild

Secondary needs rebuilt

Save us Andrew Luck

 

Five Numbers I Hope to See in the Box Score When Eagles-Cowboys Concludes

I would be lying if I said I had a great feel for what is about to transpire later today as the Eagles and Cowboys do battle down in Texas with the winner at least temporarily claiming sole possession of first place in the NfC East.

I was pretty sure the Eagles would lose to the Packers 11 days ago, and I was certain they would win last Sunday, but this one is really tough to pin down.

While I have gone back and forth throughout the week, I am on record in another post this morning as picking the Eagles 30-27, and here are five numbers I hope to see that could get them there:

  1. Less than 60 rushing yards for DeMarco Murray — The Cowboys running back already has 268 carries over 11 games. Last year, he only had 217 in 14 games. Dallas will try to pound him to make things easier and more balanced for Tony Romo and company, but the Eagles run defense should hopefully be up to the task. In 17 of his last 18 games, Murray has rushed for at least 63 yards. The one game he didn’t? The season finale last year against the Eagles where he only ran for 48 yards on 17 carries.
  2. Tony Romo sacked more than two times — In 10 starts this season, the Cowboys quarterback is 7-0 when sacked two times or less and 1-2 when sacked three or more times. You hearing this Connor Barwin? The Eagles pass rush will have to be much better than it was two weeks ago against Aaron Rodgers when the Packers signal caller had all day to throw, but getting to Romo and his bad back a few times could go a long way.
  3. Josh Huff returning a kickoff 35 yards or more — After what has been a tough rookie season featuring a shoulder injury and some rough mistakes, Huff Daddy rose up last week and took the opening kickoff to the house against the Titans. Expecting that again today might be a bit much, but if Huff can have a couple decent returns that shorten the field for Sanchez and the Eagles offense, it would be a big help. A shorter field means less hypothetical throws to make mistakes on before reaching the end zone.
  4. Mark Sanchez only throwing one interception — As usual, I am budgeting at least one interception for Sanchez, because well, that’s what he has done throughout his career, but any more than that could swing this game in the Cowboys favor. One of the picks last Sunday may have been more Riley Cooper’s fault than the responsibility of the quarterback, but for however much longer he holds this job, Sanchez has to start doing a better job taking care of the football for the Eagles to have success against some of the upcoming teams on their schedule.
  5. At least 80 receiving yards for Jordan Matthews — This might seem like a high expectation to put on a rookie, but in his last three games with Sanchez, Matthews has posted 138, 107, and 77 yards respectively with no less than five catches in each game. There is no reason that strong rapport shouldn’t continue today, and the Eagles will be in great shape if it does should this one turn into the shootout many expect.

There you have it, folks. Sixty, two, 35, one, 80, and hopefully a huge road victory go along with delicious food.

Happy Thanksgiving, folks. Let’s win another big game in Dallas.

Take it away, Chip.

Fist Pump GIF

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.

The (Tons of) Good, The (Bit of) Bad, and The (Holy Crap that was Downright) Scary

I cannot think of a more appropriate title for the 31-21 beatdown that the Eagles just administered to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

I will inevitably leave one or two things off this list that you believe belongs (feel free to let me know in the comments), and I unfortunately do not have video or pictures to document the plays, but I wanted to get some quick hitters out there.

Let’s hit it and go through each category:

The Good: 

  • Nick Foles’ quick slant to Jeremy Maclin for a first down on the initial touchdown drive.
  • Foles’ completion to Riley Cooper on a slant late in the first quarter for a first down.
  • LeSean McCoy looking explosive on an outside zone read.
  • Maclin catching six balls(one less than the Steelers team combined) for 43 yards in the first half (Much more on him later)
  • Brent Celek making epic catches while losing his helmet — Still chugging along after seven years
  • My dude Zach Ertz being my dude with two nice catches for 24 yards.
  • The double screen to McCoy on the first touchdown that completely baffled two of the game’s best defensive minds in Mike Tomlin and Dick LeBeau.
  • Darren Sproles looking like he still has a ton left in the tank, averaging 5.33 yards per carry.
  • Malcolm Jenkins finishing plays with a few nice pass breakups — Part of the reason they signed him for his coverage skills.
  • Nolan Carroll erasing the memories of Roc Carmichael and Curtis Marsh with an interception.
  • Vinny Curry hungry.
  • Brandon Graham hungrier.
  • Marcus Smith more comfortable throughout the third quarter.
  • Alex Henery hitting a 36-yard field goal late in the second quarter. (I wish this was all I had to write about him)
  • Henery putting kickoffs in the end zone. Cody Parkey also putting kickoffs in the end zone.
  • Mark Sanchez threading the needle to Trey Burton, looking like one of the better backup quarterbacks in the league.
  • Ed Hoculi (His presence more than how the game was actually called)
  • This picture SmoothiesChip: “Yo dawgy, nice drive, we getting smoothies after the game, what flavor you want?” Nick: “Doesn’t matter to me, coach, just trying to be the best smoothie eater I can be every day. Appreciate you asking for my input though.”

The Bad

  • Foles’ interception right to Troy Polamalu on a screen pass gone wrong when Sproles fell.
  • A few running plays blown up, specifically McCoy losing five yards on the fourth play of the game.
  • A few drops by Cooper on what appeared to be catchable passes from Foles. Haul those in, Coop Dawgy.
  • On the other side of that, Foles was juuust a hair off on a few balls, specifically a wheel route to Sproles that would have gone for a touchdown.
  • Antonio Brown lighting up the Eagles backups.
  • Curtis Marsh
  • Yellow flags, yellow flags, and more yellow flags.
  • Brian Baldinger calling Allen Barbre “Barber” again.
  • Henery inexplicably missing a 31-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. I said he would win the job, so I need to stick to my guns there, but the leash just got way shorter. We officially have a problem. I am researching free agent kickers as I write.

The Scary: 

  • LeSean McCoy had an x-ray on his thumb after scoring a sweet touchdown. Thankfully doesn’t appear to be an issue.
  • For a moment, it looked like Jeremy Maclin’s season ended before it started as he planed his foot and crumpled to the ground in the second quarter. Thankfully, as the broadcast went to commercial and Eagles Nation held their collective breath, Maclin walked off the field under his own power and returned the next series to make a few more receptions. I can’t pretend to go inside a player’s head, but I imagine if I were Maclin, I would be rather scared every time I made a hard cut. Unfortunately, I think we are in store for a few more scares like that this season. Let’s hope they are just that — Brief scares and nothing more.

Pretty eventful for a preseason game. Do not be misled by the final score. The Steelers put together some nice drives in the fourth quarter, but the Eagles at one point held a 31-7 lead as their backups on offense marched down the field against the Steelers defense.  (Specific stats here if you desire them)

Overall, the offense got us pumped up, the defense eased a few concerns, the supposed starting kicker jeopardized his job in the fourth quarter, and the number one wide receiver nearly gave us a heart attack.

We’ll have more to talk about later, but this seems like enough to digest and think over for now.

The Eagles Host the Steelers in a Preseason Game Tonight and I Would Like to See These Five Things Happen

The Eagles play their third preseason game at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers tonight, and for all intents and purposes, it is their final exhibition contest.

Yes, they still face the Jets at Lincoln Financial Field a week from today. I get that the fourth preseason game is a night for guys locked in position battles and in some cases fighting for their football lives.

That is nothing to joke about, but tonight is the last time that the Eagles starters will be on the field together before the opener against Jacksonville on September 7th.

The third preseason game — for that reason — is often considered the most important of the bunch.

This is only my opinion, but it seems that the Steelers have lost some luster over the past two or three years. They are coming off uncharacteristic back-to-back 8-8 seasons and lost a playoff game to Tim Tebow the year before that.

Still, Ben Roethlisberger is fresh off a nice outing last week against the Giants that featured a 76-yard touchdown pass to star wide receiver Antonio Brown. I expect them to compete in a solid AFC North division this year, making them a solid opponent for the final dress rehearsal.

As I mentioned before, we can worry about sorting out the bottom of the roster next week. I’m mainly focused on the starters in this one, so without further ado, here are five things I’m looking for tonight.

  1. A clean game from Allen Barbre — I was not concerned with Lane Johnson’s replacement for the first four games at the beginning of camp. I am now. It is often difficult to evaluate offensive line play without coaches tape, but it doesn’t require an offensive line guru to know that Barbre has looked shaky through two games at right tackle. He played well when called upon to step in for Jason Peters against the Packers last season. Hopefully that Barbre shows up against Jacksonville (and three more times after that), but I would like to see that Barbre tonight.
  2. A made field goal by Alex Henery — If this sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Henery is 0-for-1 on field goals this preseason, and I would like to see him change that even if it comes on a chip shot. I explored the Henery issue more in-depth a few days ago. Even with the acquisition of rookie Cody Parkey, I still expect Henery to enter the season as the Eagles kicker. He has the power to prove a lot of people wrong but needs to make the team to do that and another missed field goal would give Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman more to ponder there.
  3. Maclin, Cooper, and Matthews Catching Passes from Nick Foles — Tonight marks the first time ever that this trio is on the field together. Unsurprisingly, Nick Foles looked good targeting fringe-level receivers last Friday in New England. The wide receiver position remains a question mark for many fans. Foles has a chance to throw to the big boys and ease some concerns about them in the process.
  4. Marcus Smith generates a pass rush — Smith seems to be the most popular overreaction topic right now with some folks already declaring him a bust and drawing comparisons to the infamous Brandon Graham over Earl Thomas decision by the Andy Reid regime in 2010. My take: Smith looked pretty good against the Bears and not so good last week against the Patriots. I like a lot of the instincts I see in terms of knowing where to be, but he needs to be coached up as a pass-rusher. I am guessing a hurry or sack would feel really good, and with how long Big Ben sometimes holds the ball, maybe he will get one.
  5. Nolan Carroll to erase memories of Roc Carmichael and Curtis Marsh — Carmichael and Marsh are good guys and bad NFL cornerbacks. Carroll was signed away from the Dolphins to be a decent NFL cornerback, expected to provide depth in the secondary and maybe push Cary Williams or Bradley Fletcher for a starting job. I don’t need to see anything spectacular tomorrow night. Just get through the game healthy and don’t get toasted doing it.

Aside from a few bumps and bruises and rookie Josh Huff suffering a shoulder injury, the Eagles are relatively healthy for late August standards.

Let’s do it one more time while accomplishing these things and worry about figuring out the last few roster spots this time next week.

The Eagles are Playing Chicago (?) to Open the Preseason; That’s Weird and Awesome

Football is kinda back, and the Eagles are in the windy city to begin preseason play against the Chicago Bears at 8 p.m. tonight.

If the location and opponent catches anyone off guard, I feel you. When the game kicks off at Soldier Field, it will mark the first time the Eagles have played an exhibition game against an NFC opponent other than the Panthers in quite some time.

All three of the contests against the Panthers were at home, so it’s a bit weird to see the Eagles travel this far, but to be honest I like it.

2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Patriots Steelers Raiders Ravens Steelers Patriots Jaguars Ravens Steelers Patriots
Ravens Ravens Browns Panthers Panthers Colts Bengals Steelers Patriots Panthers
Steelers Bengals Ravens Steelers Patriots Jaguars Chiefs Browns Browns Jaguars
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Jets

The birds won’t see the Bears this season unless the two squads meet in the playoffs, and this is a nice change of pace instead of seeing the Browns or Jaguars.

The Bears were one of only three teams to outscore the Eagles last season and the only team in the NFC to accomplish the feat. I have no idea how long Marc Trestman plans on playing his starters, but seeing Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey, and co. should be a nice test for Billy Davis’ defense.

The final record from last season may read 8-8, but Chicago was seconds away from an NFC North division title and home playoff game. Then, Aaron Rodgers escaped a sack, everyone completely lost track of Randall Cobb, and the Bears, like the Cowboys would be a few hours later at the hands of the Eagles, watched their season conclude in heartbreaking fashion in their house with no playoffs.

Of course, the Bears could have made that finale against the Packers irrelevant had they simply defeated an Eagles team the week before with little to truly play for that night.

That may be my favorite part about seeing the Bears again in a meaningless game as it allows me to reminisce back to that magical late December night last winter.

That night was supposed to be relatively ‘meaningless’ for the Eagles. Win or lose, they would have to wait a week to punch their ticket to the Promised Land. A funny thing happened though — The Eagles made the game anything but meaningless for themselves and the folks in attendance — myself included, who had never before been able to experience the atmosphere of a Sunday Night NFL game.

Eagles Ticket

It was a complete ass-kicking from start to finish with an overmatched Bears team never standing a chance. Trent Cole sacked Jay Cutler on the game’s third play. Nick Foles found Riley Cooper in the back of the end zone seven plays later. Devin Hester then fumbled the kickoff, and before you could blink, it was 14-0, and then 21-0, and then 24-0.

The rout was on, and it was only just beginning. There was a safety, and then Cutler got pummeled some more, and a Brandon Boykin pick six.

With eight minutes remaining in the Bears’ misery and the Eagles leading 47-11 after Boykin took a Cutler pass 54 yards the other way, the young cornerback and Chip Kelly were displayed on the Lincoln Financial Field video boards mid-hug. New era indeed.

“Rock and Roll all Night” by Kiss blasted through the stadium, and fans who earlier that afternoon were bummed they would have to wait another week to win the division, went wild. Absorbing, the moment, it was hard to believe that less than two months ago the Eagles had been caught in an ugly stretch that saw their winless streak at home reach 10.

I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way to act at football games, but as the performance of the team slipped in 2011 and 2012, the place seemed to take on too much of a country club atmosphere.

Not on that night. For the first time in over three years, the Linc was happy again, and as Kiss faded out and anti-Cowboys chants reverberated around the stadium on a glorious December evening past 11 p.m. there wasn’t a person there who didn’t believe the division was ours and that there would be a playoff game back here two weeks later.

Even though we had to wait another week for the ultimate prize, that electric night brought us “We’re from Philadelphia and we fight,” and “We want Dallas.”

Even if this one is truly meaningless and in your house, it’s good to see you again so soon, Bears.

Chip GIF

Editor’s Note: I would like to produce some more serious and analytical #content when time permits. I realize there has been a mix of trolly, tongue-and-cheek, repetitive, and sentimental so far, but I promise you that when something an important topic is explored thoroughly, it will be done well. Here is a post I did on Nick Foles with a ton of data that you can check out (because you can never have too many Nick Foles think pieces)