It’s midnight in Chicago and I don’t want to be writing this. Here goes.
The Dallas Cowboys
This is the worst sentence I have ever written. The Cowboys beat the Eagles last night, so they are winners.
Garrett deserves as mark for his success tonight: it’s worth arguing that his job (if not his, then OC Scott Linehan’s) was on the line barring the outcome of the Eagles’ game, and he lived to survive another day. Dallas came out with one of their more creative game plans we’ve seen for Dak and company, and they knew how to attack the Eagles’ defense (though it wasn’t a mighty tricky challenge).
He even was willing to go for it on an early 4th and 1 (penalty made it 4th and 6) and had the stonesy call for a 4th and 2 fake punt. Garrett clearly heard the criticism and adjusted accordingly.
The Philadelphia Eagles
Leopards don’t change their spots, and Jason Garrett is a bad head coach. If he is retained after this season, that’s a win for the Eagles.
The Washington Football Team
Now up two games in the division (with, of course, both Eagles games remaining), Washington comfortably extended its playoff likelihood with the Eagles loss and a win against the floundering Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I am positive that Washington is not a very good football team and will do little in the playoffs, but I’m also quite certain the Eagles aren’t and wouldn’t either.
Washington also benefits from said retention of Jason Garrett.
The New York Giants
Nah I’m playing they can’t win they’re really bad.
Zach Ertz is on pace for 133 receptions and 1,402 yards this season. Both would shatter existing records for tight ends (110 receptions, 1,327 yards). He’s enjoying his best yards/game output by far in his career at over 80 yards an outing; his catch rate is equal to his career high at 72%.
He is so, so very good. And on a night in which Carson Wentz struggled to find Alshon Jeffery in space down the field, Ertz was absolutely imperative to keep Philadelphia in striking distance — though of course, it was all for naught.
Nursing an injury, Mills sat against the Cowboys, leaving Rasul Douglas to start in his place. Douglas had a shaky evening, though it wasn’t really all that bad — regardless of where you put it on the spectrum, it wasn’t any better than what Mills puts on the field every Sunday.
Mills also lead the hype huddle in the tunnel, which isn’t so much a win for Mills as it is a reminder for us: he is an emotional leader for a young secondary, and it’s unlikely we will see him lose his starting job any time soon (even into 2019). Tough to take a respected, feisty guy and bench him.
Screw every single one of you who ever doubted my fully grown man child. 56-yarder wasn’t even a question.
Leighton Vander Esch
I had love for some aspects of LVE’s game on the preview Kist & Solak Show, but I also had my apprehension of him in the passing game. Well, I’m here to take my lumps: he played a stellar game from pole to pole, highlighted by a big early interception that gave the Cowboys points when their offense looked inept out of the gate.
LVE and Jaylon Smith together prove a distressingly physical, long, and rangy duo of linebackers for the Cowboys. Still unclear if they can be expected to win without Sean Lee long-term, but I don’t imagine he’s in the 2019 plans for the defense.
The Philadelphia Eagles
I don’t like this.
If you regularly read the W/L/IDK column, you’ll known I’m averse to overly criticizing the play calling. And overall, Pederson called the game just as well as he typically has. There is a conversation to be had — the Eagles offense looks worse in 2018 after the loss of OC Frank Reich and QB coach John DeFilippo; how much did they affect the game plans? — but overall, he’s still a great play designer as compared to many offensive minds in the league.
However! He does have some favorite hits that just feel a little stale, and you saw that tonight. The screen game in long field goal range backfired for Philadelphia on multiple plays against the Cowboys, which lead to potential 4th down plays in no man’s land instead of extended drives. The emphasis on horizontal stretch plays that run short of the sticks again put Philadelphia in more 3rd down situations than you’d like to see, especially early in the game.
Doug seemed to just take the ball out of Carson’s hands in a lot of key moments, going for isolation or one-read plays with Carson stoic in the pocket instead of letting him roll out and really run the offense. They seem to need to strike a balance there.
Also, this is the best 12 personnel offense in the league and they ran the least amount of 12 personnel as they have all season. Wasn’t like they were getting Golden Tate on the field a ton, either (20% of snaps). Drafted a TE in Round 2 and simply don’t use him. I can neither explain nor excuse that.
In all seriousness, Tre ain’t good and ain’t never been good once.
For those of you who don’t know (which was me, during this game), T.Y. McGill was the defensive tackle the Eagles picked up during one of their many, many roster shufflings this season. (Honestly couldn’t tell you which.) He wore #74 and was absolutely exposed in the running game all night long. He and Treyvon Hester (#90) couldn’t buy an anchor to save their lives against the Cowboys zone flow (Hester is the culprit on the Zeke run up there).
Eagles DT depth sucks almost as bad as their safety depth and RB depth.
Eagles RB depth
What happened to Corey Clement? I know he added mass in the offseason, but why does that mean he can’t catch anymore? Has he lost all of his separation quickness? I don’t understand. Another enigma for which I simply don’t have an answer.
I don’t think Josh Adams is good. At all. But I do think he is running with confidence, and that’s more than either Clement or Smallwood have going for them. Give him the rock, bring Smallwood in to catch passes, Clement to pass protect.
I know you want to be able to hide what each RB means tendency wise, but eventually you just gotta let the players do what they’re good at.
Feels weird to put him here. He didn’t play poorly; it was just not his best game. Still the man, a great QB, and the future of the franchise. Don’t take it personally, pal (Carson reads my columns). Still good for huntin’ on Tuesday? (See, I’m asking this, because he reads my columns, because we hang out.)
You can’t convince me it’s fair to evaluate a defensive coordinator when his starting secondary in the fourth quarter is Malcolm Jenkins, Corey Graham, Avonte Maddox, Chandon Sullivan, and Rasul Douglas.
As compared to the Super Bowl defense, the defense Jim had in the fourth quarter was missing five/six starters, depending on if you count Vinny Curry/Derek Barnett as a “starter” on the defensive rotation. Yeah, I wanted him to play more zone coverage and bring confusing blitzes: but when you can’t defend the run up front and have new faces in the defensive backfield, it’s tough to get creative on the fly.
I’m not sure what he could have done, so I’m not going to sit here and call him out.
There were a lot of people who wanted Rasul Douglas to get a starting look; I was one of them. But it’s important to note: Sul getting a starting look wasn’t so much important in the sense that he was better right now than Jalen Mills or Ronald Darby, but rather that 1) he might be and, much more importantly, 2) he might be a year from now.
With Darby approaching a contract year, you need to figure out what you have with Sul; how much value you put in his ability moving forward. Philadelphia played their corners up a fair bit last night, and Sul acquitted himself decently well: he closed two Amari Cooper go routes into the sideline, compressing the throwing window to make the pitch and catch a tough proposition; he gave up a key third down on a slant release to Allen Hurns. It was as up and down as you would expect.
Sul requires further evaluation, into his third year as a player. (That’s typically when you close the book on a player, which is bad news for Dak Prescott.) How do they feel in the building about his development? I’m not positive, as this was the first significant game action he’s seen all season. We have to find out.