Each week Patrick and Dave discuss the week that was and will be. It's Two Guys Internetting Football!
Dave: Last week we talked about how beating the Saints probably wouldn't tell us much, but could be mildly encouraging. Well, they didn't just beat the Saints, they beat the Saints, and there's a few things to like going forward. After a month of mostly trying to shove a square peg through a round hole, Chip Kelly changed the look of his offense, going with two tight ends for a decent portion of the game and doing well with it. And the run blocking looked a little more simplified and effective.
Heading into Monday night, the question is, how much of this is probably fools gold, and how much of this is probably the coaching staff and players finally getting it right?
Patrick: Here's my hot take: it doesn't matter. What matters is that the players will (hopefully) think that it's fixed, and that mental side of things could be more important than scheme. Yes, the Saints are a very bad team, and that definitely helps, but the Eagles weren't losing games because they were worse than Dallas or Washington. They were losing because they couldn't get out of their own way.
That said, they're going to need scheme and confidence on Monday. This game feels like it could be the Washington game all over again, and I don't love the idea of Sam Bradford having to win a shootout. That said, Chip always seems to have Tom Coughlin's number, so who knows.
Dave: Well, I would say that despite the lopsided win, there were still moments of the Eagles shooting themselves in the foot. Bradford's interceptions were terrible, and a big reason why they only scored one touchdown in five red zone trips. That's got to improve if this team is going to really turn it around. After complaining about his playing time, DeMarco Murray got over twice the carries that Ryan Mathews did even though Mathews looked good throughout the game and Murray only looked good in spurts. If this week is a struggle, is Murray still going to get more carries? And Riley Cooper got thrown to way too much for my liking.
But at least Josh Huff looked like a real NFL WR and Zach Ertz had a nice game too.
Patrick: The Mathews vs. Murray thing is really interesting. It seems like the coaches feel like they need to play the big money guy more snaps, even though Mathews has clearly looked better. It seems like that preseason hamstring injury is still really bugging Murray. So I'm not sure why the coaching staff isn't just letting him rest it until he's better. Mathews and Sproles are more than capable.
I'm gonna go out on a limb and say I'm less worried about Murray's prospects this season--especially late in the year--than you are. Would I be right?
Dave: I'm not worried about Murray because I expected him to be less effective and to miss time, and he's done both of those. So I can't worry about a guy meeting expectations. It's almost like he's got a history of injuries and is coming off a huge workload. Funny how that works. It's why I never liked the signing.
If the coaches are playing guys because of their paycheck, that's obviously a problem. But I think it's too early to say that's what they are doing*, we're only really talking about one game. The offensive line was having it's best run blocking game, so I can understand the desire to give him carries and see what he can do. If Monday is a close game and Murray is still getting twice the carries that Mathews is and clearly playing worse, then it's an issue. For now it's just a coach trying to get his guy going, but it's very much worth monitoring.
*At running back. At wide receiver.... I'm fed up with Riley Cooper and Miles Austin being targeted on 3rd down. Partly because no one else has really established themselves as a better alternative. Jordan Matthews has been disappointing, and he's the best of the bunch. Josh Huff had a nice game against the worst pass defense in the league, but other than that has been invisible. Nelson Agholor has been invisible except for a handful of plays. Some of that is on Bradford playing terribly for entire halves, because WRs have been open and they can't do anything if they don't have the ball.
So here we are entering Week 6, with a division rival primetime game and we're still searching for the same answers we were in August.
Patrick: A lot of us (myself included) were really expecting a whole lot more from the receivers. I really thought Josh Huff would have a good year, and I thought Jordan Matthews would be on his way to 1,000 yards. And so far, pretty much all the plays that stick out from Agholor have been penalties in big spots. There's obviously still time, but we're close to the point in the season where not much else will change, and what you see is what you get for the rest of the year. It seems like Bradford likes Miles Austin, he just can't hit him. And that's all to say nothing about the drops.
We've talked a lot this season about Bradford not getting much help from the players around him, and it's true. But not really having one consistent go-to receiver has been an issue. There isn't a receiver (excluding Darren Sproles) where you can say "Yep, Bradford's gonna be looking for him on this play". Although I am willing to conceded that, for Huff, Matthews and Agholor, it probably has more to do with youth than anything else.
Patrick: I don't love the Eagles offense matching up against this Giants defense. And I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I don't trust Bradford in a shootout with Eli.
That said, I trust the Eagles defense enough and think the Eagles can gut this one out.
Dave: Yeah maybe I'm being biased, but I think the Eagles win too. We've seen Kelly adapt his offense during the season before. In 2013 started off with almost every play being three WRs, but by season's end was using two tight ends more. Last season he had his QB under center when the need arose, and we've seen some of that this year too. Going to two tight ends against the Saints was a really encouraging adjustment. Hopefully we see more of that this week.
And both teams have lost games by hurting themselves, Monday will probably be no different. It feels so lazy and cliche to say, but it does feel like the team that makes the fewest mistakes will not lose.