The Philadelphia Eagles were off Sunday after defeating the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday evening. But even though it was a day of rest, the team was still impacted. Here’s an Eagles slant to NFL Week 1. (Don’t forget to check out more thoughts on the latest episode of BGN Radio.)
1 - The Eagles’ Week 2 opponent might be tougher than expected
If you were taking the Buccaneers lightly heading into this season, well, it’d be hard to blame you.
Tampa Bay has finished fourth in the NFC South six out of the last seven years. They’ve averaged 5.3 wins per season during that stretch.
It’s entirely possible the Bucs are going to have another bad year. But they certainly did not have a bad start to the 2018 season by going to New Orleans and beating the Saints, 48-40.
Taking play-calling duties away from head coach Dirk Koetter and giving them to offensive coordinator Todd Monken has clearly paid early dividends. The Bucs put up 529 total yards of offense on Sunday.
And they did it with a backup quarterback starting! Jameis Winston is serving a three-game suspension so it’s Ryan Fitzpatrick under center for Tampa. The 36-year-old is the definition of a journeyman quarterback but he sure didn’t play like one against the Saints. Fitzpatrick completed 21 of his 28 attempts for 417 yards (whopping 14.9 average), four touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a near-perfect 156.3 passer rating. Wowza.
Based on some of the tweets and BGN comments I saw on Sunday, there’s already some worry about the Eagles not being able to beat the Bucs. That’s not totally unfounded, but I can’t help but point how I think some people just like to worry.
If the Bucs had gotten killed by the Saints, some people would say: “Oh man, the Bucs will be desperate to get a win at home.”
Yet if the Bucs play well, which they did, it becomes: “Oh man, the Bucs are going to be real tough for the Eagles to beat.”
Allow me to attempt to alleviate your worries a little bit. As divisional opponents, the Bucs and Saints typically always play each other tough. This is something I even hinted at prior to this week’s game, so I’m not just saying that in hindsight. Including yesterday, eight out of the last nine Saints-Bucs meetings have been one-possession affairs. The Bucs are 4-5 in those nine games.
Make no mistake, the Bucs have some legitimate weapons. The Eagles know one of them all too well, although DeSean Jackson did suffer a concussion and might not be able to play. We’ll see.
It goes without saying that the Eagles might need more than just 18 points from their offense this week. I can’t help but feel their defense will fare significantly better against Tampa Bay’s offense than the Saints’ did, though.
2 - Dak is bad
I addressed this more at length in my Cowboys-Panthers recap but, yeah, I’m pretty comfortable saying Dak Prescott isn’t good.
There’s no denying he’s had success in the past when everything is going right for him, but that’s the problem. No quarterback is always going to have the perfect situation around him. The best quarterbacks make due with what they have and find ways to overcome adversity. That’s not something Prescott has done.
Prescott has merely THREE 300-yard passing games to his name through 34 NFL starts. The Cowboys been at their best when he hasn’t had to be counted on to do his primary job, which is to throw the ball.
Prescott is hardly the Cowboys’ only problem. Their offensive line is having issues. Sean Lee didn’t look like vintage Sean Lee against the Panthers. And so on.
But in a league all about quarterbacks, it’s nice to know the Cowboys have one who just isn’t very threatening.
3 - The Giants are still not good
Speaking of nonthreatening quarterbacks, a 36-year-old Eli Manning playing behind a porous New York offensive line isn’t scaring anybody.
You can talk about the Giants’ offensive weapons all you want. And it’s true: Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. will make some big plays. But their full potential will also be limited by this bad Giants o-line.
4 - Washington does indeed look like the second best team in the NFC East
Entering the season, the feeling here was that Washington was going to be the biggest threat to the Eagles in the NFC East. It’s obviously early, but it’s looking like that’s going to be the case.
Washington simply has the second best head coach and the second best starting quarterback in the division. There’s a significant drop off from them to the Cowboys and the Giants in that regard.
I hardly think Washington is going to be some unstoppable juggernaut since Alex Smith will ultimately limit their ceiling. But they could prove to be a nuisance.
5 - Ravens draft pick watch is off to a bad start
It bears watching how the Ravens perform this year since the Eagles own their 2019 second-round pick. Eagles fans should be rooting for Baltimore to lose a lot so that pick becomes as high as it can possibly be.
Unfortunately for Philadelphia, the Ravens streamrolled Buffalo, 47-3.
On a related note: WTF are the Bills doing?
6 - Aaron Rodgers is still Aaron Rodgers
But then Rodgers, who was less than 100% health wise, came back and helped the Packers overcome a 20-point deficit to beat Chicago, 24-23.
Aaron Rodgers: still really freaking good.
As long as he’s playing, the Packers are always a threat in the NFC. The Eagles really benefited from him getting hurt last year.
7 - Sam Bradford continues to steal money
The Cardinals are one of the dumbest teams in the NFL.
Signing Sam Bradford will predictably be such a waste of resources and time for them. And it’ll never not be insane that they gave this guy a RAISE from what he made last year despite the fact he played in one game for Minnesota in 2017.
If the Cardinals were going to be unwise about their resource allocation, why couldn’t they do it in a way that at least helped the Eagles? Couldn’t you have traded a first-round pick or two for the Eagles’ Super Bowl MVP, Arizona? Isn’t that at least a better sell than Bradford?
Bradford’s final line against Washington: 20/34, 153 yards (putrid 4.5 average), 0 TD, 1 INT, 57.6 passer rating.
8 - The Saints are some frauds!
OK, so I wouldn’t go as far to seriously call the Saints frauds. I still think they’re going to be pretty good. Besides, there’s a historical precedent for their defense struggling in Week 1 for some reason:
Update: here are the passing stats for QBs against the Saints in each of the last week 1 games since 2010. New Orleans week 1 defense turns every QB into a better version of Brady 2007. pic.twitter.com/oyCWXTzW2V— Football Perspective (@fbgchase) September 9, 2018
But I think it’s entirely possible that defense isn’t going to be as good as it was last year.
This has happened to the Saints before. They went from having a bunch of terrible defenses to a really good one in 2013 (remember Rob Ryan?!). Then the defense dropped off again. Maybe that’s what’s happening here.
9 - One of the Eagles’ upcoming opponents got really banged up
The Carolina Panthers might be without some key players when they play the Eagles in Week 7.
Veteran tight end Greg Olsen, one of Cam Newton’s most trusty weapons, left Sunday’s game early. After the game, he was seen using crutches and wearing a boot on his surgically-repaired foot. Not a great sign for him.
Starting right tackle Daryl Williams, who tore his MCL and dislocated his kneecap over the summer, had to be carted off the field on Sunday. His replacement, Corey Robinson, mightily struggled to protect Newton while going up against DeMarcus Lawrence.
Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly also got banged up against the Cowboys but it turns out he merely hyper-extended his knee. It could’ve been worse for him.
10 - The Jaguars are still bad with Blake Bortles
The Eagles play the Jags in Week 8. And while Jacksonsville’s defense is no slouch, Bortles certainly is.
Bortles made the routine look impossible while going up against the Giants on Sunday. It was frustrating to root for him to do well. I can’t imagine how Jags fans deal with this on a weekly basis.
Bortles clearly limits the ceiling for this Jags team. He makes the games winnable for their opponents.
In other Jags news, Leonard Fournette suffered a hamstring injury and did not return. Could be a significant blow for a team that relies so heavily upon the run.
11 - The Browns are finally seeing the pay off from the Carson Wentz trade
The Browns will NOT go 0-16 this season.
It’s finally safe to say the Browns won the trade.
Kudos to Browns fans for still having a sense of humor though: