Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday Thoughts

***

I'm only halfway through reviewing the game. Last night was a weird experience for me. I haven't yelled that much at the TV all season. This game was really important so I made sure to voice my opinion. Late in the game there was a punt coming to us. DeSean saw the ball wasn't catchable. He tried to warn a teammate that the ball was in the area. That got me nervous. Then DeSean had the ball bounce his way. I screamed "Get Away!!!" as loud as humanly possible. I wondered if the neighbors might call 911 about some bizarre incident. I drank a couple of beers to calm my nerves and only got through the 1st half. I'll finish the game tonight. I do have some thoughts...

We complain a lot about the Eagles (like any good fanbase would). We want them to run the ball more and more effectively. We want them to score TDs when we get in the Red Zone. We want more creative playcalling. Mix in Mike Vick if we're actually going to have him on the roster. We want clutch play late in the game from both sides of the ball. We want Donovan McNabb to lead us to a comeback win, as a good veteran QB should be able to do.

We got all those things on Sunday night. All of them.

Was the game perfect? No, not even close. We had 3 turnovers. We got sloppy with penalties in the 2nd half (only 3 in the 1st, none real costly). Our tackling was uneven. At times we were real good, other times Bears were able to get upfield and move the chains. The pass rush was largely ineffective. We gave up a 72-yard run to a player in his first NFL game on his first NFL carry.

People are obsessing on the blown coverages. Let's talk about them. The first one was a play-action pass. Q blitzed off the edge. Gocong had Olsen on the play. Chris bit on the play fake and let Olsen get a couple of steps on him. FS Sean Jones was slow to rotate over. Cutler overthrew the ball. The very next play was 3rd/2. Asante was playing the chains. The Bears guessed he might do that and threw a slant and go. Asante bit on the pump fake and left Hester wide open for a TD. Cutler overthrew the ball once again. They settled for a FG. People talk about those plays as if the Bears lost 14 points. No. The bad throws cost them 7 points. They did kick the FG so it was only really a net of 4 points lost. That is worlds different than 14 points.

As for the coverages...we got caught with our hands in the cookie jar. Our players are taught to be aggressive. Asante is one of the biggest chance-takers in the league. Sometimes it works. Other times he gets burned. You can't tell him to play it safe. That's not his game. Gocong was the more troubling of the two in my mind. He's got to think coverage first on that play. He knows Q is blitzing. Chris is a smart guy, but that was a dumb mistake on his part.

The other blown coverage came in the 4th Qtr. The Bears had 3rd/5 from their 30 with just under 4 minutes left in the game. We stacked guys all over the LOS. Cutler dropped back and WR Johnny Knox used a double move to get Sheldon to bite. Then Knox got behind him for what would have been the go-ahead TD. Cutler overthrew the ball. I think Sheldon has got to know better on this play. I always preach "situational awareness". With no S over the top, you need to stay back and break on the ball when you see it in the air. Sheldon got greedy and that almost cost us a long TD and possibly the game.

Several analysts have pointed out that Jay was throwing cautiously all night. Better to be long downfield so that the passes don't get picked off. Only throw to guys who are real open. That cost the Bears a couple of TDs. The flip side of that is that Jay's lack of aggression also limited our chances to pick the ball. Q dropped an easy pick after pushing Greg Olsen from behind. Sheldon almost made a great INT. Those weren't errant throws so much as good defensive plays. Jay basically played keep-away with our defense. That limited his mistakes as well as costing him TDs.

The thing I'm happiest about is that we overcame some adversity and found a way to win the game. Too often we're sorting through the reasons the Eagles lost. This week the defense came up big when the offense turned the ball over. 3 turnovers led to just 3 points. That has been a weak spot all year long. The offense had a scoring drive in the 4th Qtr where the longest play was 11 yards. There were no fluke plays or generous defensive penalties. We marched the ball down the field for the go-ahead TD. Once given a lead, our defense came through. They held the Bears to 21 yards on 9 plays in the final 5:31 of the game. We also got an INT to seal the game.

This was the kind of win we needed. Our players now know that we can pull out a game in the 4th Qtr. We can also hold a late lead in a tight game. We've still got some issues to deal with. We're very banged up at CB. I don't know what to make of MLB. The offense went MIA in the 2nd Qtr and first part of the 3rd Qtr. The turnovers were frustrating, but you have to tip your hat to Peanut Tillman on 2 of them. The only DB I know of with more FFs is Mr. Brian Dawkins.

We remain in the middle of the playoff chase. We'd be seeded 5th as of today. That's based on our 5-2 record in NFC games. The division is still up for grabs between us, NYG, and the Cowgirls. We'll be playing each other the last few weeks so anything can happen. If only Shaun Suisham had hit that FG yesterday...

Here's the PHI/CHI gamebook in case anyone wants to check it out:

-- LINK --

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4 comments:

The Old Buffoon said...

Great post, Tommy, and thanks for linking the gamebook.

That's really a good looking box score. We clearly won in every category...except turnovers.

Sam pointed out on a recent igglesblog discussion that the offense had only one 3-and-out all game. That's the consistency we need to see from McNabb and co.

Cliff said...

I'll have to defer to your DGR for confirmation of this... but did we run the exact same play on D when Cutler threw the TD to his TE as we did when Cutler overthrew his TE in the beginning of the game?

If so, that's freaky because it was obvious the Bears ran the same play both times. What are the odds we were running the same exact blitz both times as well?

Joe said...

Tommy, have you noticed a correlation to Eagles Wins when McNabb scrambles. I've always felt there was a connection. So I looked at the last two seasons.

When McNabb has 0 rushing attempts (i.e. scramble), Eagles are 1-2

With 1 or 2 rushing attempts,
6 - 5 - 1

With 3 or 4 rushing attempts,
4 - 1

With 5 or 6 rushing attempts,
3 - 1

Eagles are 6-2 when McNabb rushes for more than 10 yards.
However, in these two losses, the Eagles scored over 30 points.

T_S_O_P said...

Joe

Nice work.

Watched the rewind of the MNF, and VY reminded me of young McNabb, and I do wish he'd run more.