Greetings, gang! It’s an extra-special edition of Five Friday For Sures, given that the word “Five” is in the title twice.
That’s actually all it takes to say this specific episode is special. I don’t make the rules, guys.
As the Cardinals cruise into town, Carson and Co. look to continue climbing above the competition in the NFC East. While Washington oughta waltz by a weak San Francisco squad (Edit: after their bye this week, you dunce), Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay ride into Arlington to rumble with the injury-riddled Cowboys. Eli and the Giants look to lose another to the listless Los Angeles Chargers, limping to an oh-and-five start.
All roads lead home.
1) I stab somebody
As our fearless leader, Mr. Lee Gowton, let me know earlier, left guard remains ludicrously neglected. To grade Stefen Wisniewski’s game to this point as anything less than great goes against all logic. Though a lighter guard (305 lbs), Wisniewski’s gritty play has raised the level of the Eagles’ ground game—specifically, LeGarrette Blount has greatly benefitted from Stefen stepping in to Isaac Seumalo’s vacated spot (203 rushing yards over the past two games).
The Warmack/Wisniewski swapping, however, simply won’t stop. For two weeks, Warmack and Wisniewski have lined up at left guard for one drive, and waited in the wings on the next. While Philly has found fresh life under these circumstances, the stats show that this charade actually eats away at the Eagles’ efficacy:
#Eagles offense averaging 6.2 yds/play (6.0 run, 6.5 pass) w/ Stefen Wisniewski at LG; 4.9 per play (3.6 run, 6.2 pass) with Chance Warmack.— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) October 5, 2017
Drop the pretenses; play Stefen Wisniewski. And, when Doug predictably doesn’t decide on a starter for more than a single drive, I will stab somebody. Seems a decent solution and square deal, in my eyes.
2) Larry Fitzgerald leaves Philly in fits
9 targets, 6 receptions, 100 yards, and 1 touchdown. Despite the despicable absence of a five, fear should fill Philadelphia fans as memories flash across their minds. People should put Fitzgerald’s patriotism under the public eye—he’s been beating bald eagles for years. (It’s a joke please calm down.)
Those stats are Fitz’s average across seven bouts with the Birds. What merits mention is the job done by Malcolm Jenkins in the most recent meeting: In Chip’s final chapter with Philly, Fitzgerald fizzled to 3 receptions, five targets, and 43 yards under Jenkins’ fierce coverage. In a 40-17 drubbing that dropped the hammer on Kelly’s draconian regime, Jenkins’ S/CB strength shone as a singular bright spot.
But Patrick Robinson’s re-emergence as a serviceable slot corner causes quite the conundrum: who covers Larry? With rookie Rasul Douglas and much-maligned starter Jalen Mills manning the corners, keeping Malcolm as a middle-of-the-field defender helps mask the poor play of the fledgling Eagles. But say Robinson struggles: send Jenkins to the line of scrimmage, and you suffer the consequences of single-high—or substitute—safety play. Something’s gotta give.
Larry’s gonna cause Pat problems. He’s too strong, too savvy, and still has solid suddenness to his routes. Expect Eagles defensive pressure to cause QB Carson Palmer to feed Fitzgerald as well. I like 15 targets, 10 receptions, 100 yards, and .5 touchdowns (don’t ask, it’s just all gotta be oriented around five).
3) Carson keeps the ball security streak strong
Since 1997, only five first-year QBs finished with a greater sum of INTs + Fumbles than Carson Wentz’s ‘16 season. Protecting the pigskin has never been a priority for the young pro. The longest Wentz went without a turnover? Weeks 1 through 3.
Curious of Carson to kickoff his rookie campaign so safely, and only later make more mistakes—but the sophomore slinger finished this September with two turnover-free performances: against the Bolts, and against Big Blue. With an accordingly accurate and acute game against Arizona, Carson matches his career-best of three turnover-free contests.
The Cardinals have created only three takeaways to date, and Carson’s Eagles are 7-2 (7 - 2, incidentally, is five) when Wentz is without an INT. This surprisingly safe stretch for Carson continues on Sunday.
4) Haason Reddick returns to old haunts
It’s homecoming for Haason, who hailed from Haddon Heights High School in Camden before continuing his football career at Temple and as an Arizona Cardinal. Once a walk-on, Reddick rotated positions regularly as an Owl, coming to Temple as a cornerback and evolving into an EDGE defender. Scouts salivated over his athletic ability as a stand-up linebacker, justly comparing him to Jamie Collins and Ryan Shazier.
Reddick returns to Philadelphia, coming along nicely in his quarter-season as a Cardinal. After OLB Markus Golden’s gruesome injury, more growth awaits Reddick—he moves back from ‘backer to EDGE, expectations of production at his old position placed firmly on his back.
Reddick’s family will be in Philadelphia in full force, and FOX’s broadcast couldn’t consider bypassing a story as homegrown as Haason’s. Photo montage? For sure. Video of the Reddick clan clamoring in the stands? Certainly. A snarky soundbite about stepping it up against his old city? So these things must go.
5) Thank God
...that’s over. Do you have any idea how hard that was? Good grief.
Palmer bombs an early TD to John Brown and Philly’s offense struggles in the first half, until Carson heats up to start the second period. Blount rolls with a 15/90/2 line, Agholor shows out for 5/70/1, and Jordan Hicks grabs a 40-yard pick-six. Andre Ellington has 100 yards receiving, Palmer takes 3 sacks (2 for Vinny Curry), and Brent Celek—who?!—Brent Celek catches a touchdown. It’s his only catch of the day.
In all seriousness, I’m very interested to see if Wentz can continue his remarkably safe play of late. I’ll predict he fumbles the ball at least once (he averages 0.9 fumbles/game across his career)—it’s the interceptions against a talented, but under-performing secondary that intrigue me. If he avoid Patrick Peterson (likely shadowing Alshon Jeffery), he should be fine.
Jeffery? 6 targets, 2 catches, 19 yards.