Death. Taxes. Ryan Fitzpatrick went to Harvard.
Some things in life are inevitable—and these constants add structure, familiarity, and security to our lives. Take, for example, the Patriots’ surprising Thursday night loss to the Chiefs: if not for our certainty that doomsayers, armed to their teeth with disproportionate reactions to Brady’s age and New England’s offseason moves, were right around the corner, we may actually believe their fear-mongering prophesies of demise. Even furthermore, we know the Patriots to be resilient—the past three seasons in which they lost their opener, they won the Super Bowl—and their historic unflappability helps us swallow their subpar performance.
As Week 1 snowballs into full swing this weekend, the expected and the comforting will pepper the Sunday slate. The Jets will inexplicably perform even worse than expected for the umpteenth year in a row; the Browns, for all of their revitalizing, will endure a drubbing at the hands of the division rival Steelers; Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers will pinwheel in and out of the pocket at whim and fancy, lighting up the box score and the highlight reel alike. The NFL is wonderfully the same and wonderfully different every year—and we couldn’t be more excited that it has finally arrived.
With this in mind, welcome to the Week 1 installment of Five Friday “For Sures”—a weekly piece during which I reveal five things that will most definitely occur during the Eagles’ bout incoming. Read on no further if you prefer the surprises.
1: The Fox broadcast will break down Wentz’s mechanics in video replay form before halftime.
Can a major network resist using fancy graphics, multiple camera angles, and the glorious split-screen to examine a rudimentary point of QB play? Say it with me, kids: NO!
After all of the offseason chatter regarding Wentz’s mechanics, how can Kenny Albert and Ronde Barber resist? There are magical little eye gaze thingies to draw—and the arc used to detail the path of the football has a shadow?! Sweet Christmas.
I don’t think anything can stand in the face of the rainbow spectrum nonsense that NBC uses to trace the path of the football in the QB’s release, but still: the narrative and technology align perfectly. I’m tempted to go “before the first quarter,” but I dunno how long it takes to do that animation that lets them transition from one camera angle to another, so I’ll go conservative and assume it’s a first half deal.
And remember, gang: using these graphics to detail how Wentz’s mechanics have improved is not dependent on whether they have, you know, actually improved. (They have, but still.) The true determining factor is whether or not he’s thrown like, two first downs. If so, boom. The breakdown’s a-comin’.
2: A Jalen Mills finger wag. Or seven.
This is another one that doesn’t depend on what you think it might. Remember, the Jalen Mills finger wag is not summoned by Jalen Mills defending a pass, or making a tackle in front of the sticks, or doing anything that denies the offense something they wanted. No, the true Bat signal for the Jalen Mills finger wag is anything good happening in the vicinity of Jalen Mills.
Ball hits the dirt at the feet of Terrelle Pryor? Jalen Mills finger wag. Rob Kelley breaks a Jalen Mills tackle, only to be tackled by the next defender? Jalen Mills finger wag. A Redskins fan drops his hot dog on the staircase concourse to Section 320? Jalen Mills finger wag. Do you have any idea how much unsaturated fat a stadium weiner has? Show some doggone respect for yourself, man.
Mills has been tagged as an improved player this offseason. Hopefully, he’s a little quicker and his recognition has improved. But when the regular season blows start flying, players usually revert to what they know best. And for Mills, we know what that means:
3: Nelson Agholor will drop a pass, and collective mind of Philadelphia will be lost.
This is a bold one, obviously, given Agholor’s reported improvement during training camp this season, that emboldened the front office to move on from Jordan Matthe—
Nah, I’m just kidding. It’s bold because it assumes Agholor sees enough targets to drop a pass. With the additions of Jeffery, Smith, and Hollins (oh, by the way, they’re gonna do a little T-chart with the offensive weapons we lost/gained this offseason), who knows how many targets are in the future for Agholor? Sure, he’s the slot starter in name—but with pass-catchers like Ertz, Burton, Sproles, and Hollins waiting in the wings, you have to imagine there will be a rotation at the position.
Woah. That blurb right there drifted waaay too close to actual analysis. Listen, after a 3rd and 5 slant hits Agholor’s trusty mitts on its way to the Bermuda Grass of FedExField, Philadelphia will erupt into the pent-up pandemonium of Jordan Matthews truthers and Marcus Johnson hive. Honestly, put some Stickum on those gloves and take the hit. Anything to end this Sisyphean cycle of torment, please.
4: This chain of events, in this order:
- Broadcasters mention that Carson Wentz was drafted last year with the second-overall pick
- A quick aside on the trade with the Cleveland Browns and their future with DeShone Kizer
- A cursory comparison between Wentz, Goff, and fourth-round pick and messianic figure Dak Prescott
- Dak Prescott being ready to handle the Cowboys offense in Ezekiel Elliott’s impending six-game absence
- A discussion of Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension, with thinly-veiled indignation from Ronde Barber toward Roger Goodell
- A heavily-mitigated prediction that Dallas wins the division regardless, and that Dak is a sleeper MVP candidate*
*I’m mostly making this prediction to feel better in the event that this actually does happen.
5: The actual prediction
Eagles take it, 24-13. Philly has won four of their past five season openers, and finally looks to have the personnel advantage over a recycled Washington squad. Give Alshon Jeffery a 5/94 and a touchdown, as the slow exposure of Josh Norman continues. Also give Zach Ertz a TD, as he goes 7/54.
Smallwood leads the Eagles with 12 totes for 51 yards, Wentz tosses 2 picks, and Jordan Hicks grabs one of his own as well. Fletcher Cox grabs a full sack, as does Chris Long, and Brandon Graham and Timmy Jernigan combine for a third.
What? I told you to stop reading if you preferred surprises.