Monday, November 7, 2016

The Eagles are about where they should be

It is really, really hard to win football games in the National Football League.

It is easy to jump to conclusions.

That's where the fans come in, myself included.

We all through the Eagles would struggle to be a .500 club this year - even more so when the team jettisoned expected starting QB Sam Bradford a week before opening day, then doubled down on their bet by installing untested rookie Carson Wentz as the starter and the new face of the team.

So of course we all jumped to conclusion that the team would struggle mightily, then instead struggled to put out tongues back in our mouths as Wentz was brillian in leading the Eagles to a 3-0 start, including a thumping of a Steelers team many believed to be a legitimate contender to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.

We overreacted. That's also what fans do.

Since then the Eagles have lost four of five, and now sit at 4-4. Yep, they're a .500 team, about where many thought they might be at this point in the season.

But there are recurring themes to this team, emblematic of a first-year coach and first-year quarterback.

For the first three weeks Doug Pederson could do nothing wrong. He was a revelation. The past month he's been the second coming of Andy Reid. Questionable decision, questionable play calls, all leading to losses.

Went has now had the ball in his hands with a chance to tie or give the Eagles a win in all four of their losses. He has delivered in the clutch in none of them.

That should not come as a surprise, especially considering the limited weapons he has at his disposal.

All of which makes Pederson's go-for-broke style of gambling on fourth down all the more curious, even if it does make for interesting sports talk radio.

Yesterday the Eagles left nine points out their on the field, two of this instances directly related to the coach's decision to go for it on fourth down instead of kicking a field goal, on the road, against a division rival. The other field goal attempt was blocked.

Pederson then followed up with what even charitably be described as questionable play calls. Yesterday he suddenly developed an affinity for the run-option, and having his rookie QB try to snooker the Giants by keeping the ball and lumbering around the end. Let's just say it did not work out.

Wentz had his own issues at the start of the game, when he uncorked two interceptions that Eli Manning and the Giants quickly turned into touchdowns to kick-start the G-Men to a 14-0 lead that the Eagles would never overcome.

Not that they did not have their chances.

But Pederson decided to gamble. He went for it on fourth down instead of kicking field goals.

Even then, the bottom line once again is that Carson Wentz had the ball with a chance to deliver a score that could have tied the game, just as he had in three previous losses.

Wentz and the Eagles didn't get it done.

They are 0-3 in the division, 4-4 overall.

Realistically, this is about where they should be, despite the fact that, yes, they could have conceivably won all eight games they've played.

But they didn't. Pederson didn't make the right decisions, or the right calls. Wentz didn't deliver in the crunch, saddles with what at best can be described as pedestrian receivers.

Bill Parcells once famously said "You are what your record says you are."

The Eagles are 4-4.

Seems about right.

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