Week 12 – Tennessee @ Philadelphia: Dismember the Titans, now it’s Dallas week!

First of all, my apologies for being M.I.A last week. The internet gods conspired against me. Life had others plans. It was either that or I spent far too long celebrating my alma mater winning Cortaca 2014 in one of the greatest endings in D3 college football history (cheap plug, go Red Dragons!)

 

Maybe it was for the best anyway, did you really want to hear from me in the aftermath of that Green Bay game? Oh, you did? Ok well here is, in a nutshell how I felt:

I knew it was coming.

Rodgers is THAT good.

I wasn’t angry, just disappointed.

Sanchez wasn’t THAT bad.

Nobody in the league right now could get within two scores of Green Bay at Lambeau.

Aside from the terrible D, everyone actually played well. Look at the box score, ignore the names. Our stats are nearly identical to Green Bay’s (bar the scoreline).

The world isn’t ending, our season isn’t over. Everyone just chill.

That was a loss that let’s you recalibrate where you are as a team as you push towards January.

We’re still 7-3 and winning our division, let’s move on.

Right, now that we have that out of the way, let’s concentrate on what lay ahead this week. To the schedule makers, it was a home game against the 2-8 Tennessee Titans. To the “professional Eagles” it was a game against the Tennessee Titans.

To the pessimists, it was the trap game of all trap games. To the real world, it was the tune-up game where we left the Green Bay debacle in the rear view mirror and had one eye on a Thanksgiving date with that team from Texas not based in Houston.

Like I mentioned, last week at Lambeau left ALOT to be desired. It left a dent. It buckled the bandwagon just a tad. It had everyone sifting through their list of Sanchez jokes to find one they haven’t used in a while. Just because I wasn’t overly concerned didn’t mean I didn’t realise the severity of it all. We needed to right the ship and we needed to make sure our playoff push didn’t get blown off course by one bad result.

Show me a team in 2014 that hasn’t played a stinker and I’ll call you a liar to your face. Even the Patriots and Packers, who are the two best teams in my opinion right now, were looking shaky. But they’re professional outfits led by professional men. They rebounded. Now was our turn.

And with a meeting with Seattle sandwiched in between NFC East bouts with the only team not actually located in the East on the horizon, what better way to shake the cobwebs off and prepare than hosting a struggling Titans squad. Today was all about the tune-up, because the next three weeks can win or lose the division. The machine needs to hit that stretch running on all cylinders.

It’s all good and well to understand we need to get our mojo back this week, but what exactly do we need to do? Sure we won, and we win big, it really wasn’t much of a contest bar a short period of time in the 2nd quarter where Tennessee manufactured some good drives. But you can’t just win the game and claim you ticked the right boxes and can be declared ready to move forward full of confidence. You need to think about what the problems are, how we can fix them, who needs to step up and did we actually achieve it today.

Shady has been disappointing, and considering he’s actually had more touches to this point than he did this time last season, you can’t blame Sproles. He needed a serious shot in the arm, and any continued struggle for our clear franchise guy would only stir the media even further. It’s been a tough week for his ego after all.

And he sure got that. His first 100 yard game for the season that also featured an end zone trip has him going into the Thanksgiving clash sitting 3rd on the league rushing table. With some mojo.

The Eagles special teams has, without question, been the hidden gem of the Eagles season. But outside of Darren Sproles, can you actually name any of the difference makers in the return game? I’d give you points if you said Chris Polk, but the offseason hope was 3rd round pick Joshua Huff out of Oregon. One of Chip’s guys that, within the walls of the Novacare Complex, could light up the game with just as much flash as the like of McCoy, Sproles, Maclin or Matthews.

But injuries and rookie nerves have held him, to this point, fairly substandard. While a season without making an impact wouldn’t be cause for concern, his comments last week (about the failed special teams effort that saw Packer Micah Hyde find the end zone on a punt return) certainly made it seem like some of that big play action might be best unleashed to ease the tension. A franchise record certainly classifies and a confidence builder!

And then there’s Sanchez. The polarising QB that, if the reaction to the Green Bay game were to be true, set the franchise and maybe even the sport back 20 years. Admit it, you either let out a small chuckle at some of his poor play or went all out and laughed openly. I would have too if he wasn’t my QB and I didn’t actually believe in him. Holy crap I sound like a Romopologist.

But among the two interceptions, a fumble that went for a TD and some poor decisions holding onto the ball last week, there was plenty of good play from the Eagles signal caller. I guess you don’t see it when the team is down several touchdowns. But in each of his three starts, his completion percentage has risen (56% vs CAR, 59% vs GB, 69% vs TEN). In each of those starts, he’s thrown for more than 300 yards. Only three other Eagles have ever done that. He himself had never done it twice in a row until this season!

He’s got a great relationship with a young exciting receiver in Jordan Matthews, developed something in each start with Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek, and has a running game to take the pressure off. He’s thrown for multiple touchdowns in each game he’s appeared in up until this game, and while he only found the end zone once today, one could argue only penalties that pushed the team backward and a few dropped passes were the only thing stopping him from doing so.

It’s been two seasons since the last time Sanchez appeared on Thanksgiving, and needless to say his confidence was not high after that eventful night that still defines his career. But going into this contest, confidence is not lacking one bit. I’m not sure it could be higher if we’re going to be honest. Better system, better support, great form. What’s not to like? It’s not perfect but it’s winning football.

We needed a tune-up, and while we mixed some bad in with the good, I’d say the silver lining of it all equals a fairly decent dress rehearsal for the run home. No more easy beats on the slate (even division foes Washington and New York will be tough) and time to play like every game is a January game.

I’m still concerned with our red zone offence, which still appears to be a problem that has the capability of costing us football games if we get caught in a shootout. We scored nine times on Sunday, for four TD’s and five field goals. As an AFL fan, a key forward having nine shots at goal for just four majors would be a cause for questioning that aspect of their ability. So I view it the same with our opportunities to score. We won’t have nine chances each week, so we need to ensure what chances we do get result in happy returns, not just three point consolation prizes.

Add our inability to stop the big play in the secondary, and the struggles with injuries at the linebacker position, and there are two areas we do need to address and I would like to think we will. But then again, I’ve said that the past 12 weeks.

12 weeks are down, and we find ourselves a near league-best 8-3, tied with the division foe we meet this week. With five games to go in the season, the division is there to be won for us. And while we can hope teams like Indianapolis and Chicago can help us out by beating our rival, the best course of action is to clearly take care of business ourselves by simply winning all the games we have in front of us, regardless of opponent or location.

And with both games against Big D still on the slate, no greater division winning claim can be made than to #BEATDallas! Game on!

Nov 23
Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia PA (69,596)

Tennessee 0 17 0 7 – 24
Philadelphia 17 10 7 9 – 43

Passing: Zach Mettenberger (TEN), 345 yds, 2 TD’s, 1 INT
Rushing: LeSean McCoy (PHI), 21 car, 130 yds, 1 TD
Receiving: Delanie Walker (TEN), 5 rec, 155 yds
Pigskin Almanac “The Real Slim Shady” award: LeSean McCoy (PHI)

About Scott Langford

Australia's Most Famous SUNY Cortland/Syracuse Alum Melbourne boy who belongs back in New York. Eagles fan who for some reason once wore a Giants Super Bowl ring. Current US collegiate athletic recruiter and advisor.

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