“Good seasons start with good wins.” – Sparky Anderson
Nine days ago, the general consensus of opinion amongst the 2016 Phiadelphia Eagles fanbase was, “eh.” Sure, the coaching staff was, for the most part, new. Even better, the dreck personnel that the previous regime had brought in were all but expunged but there was just something missing. The future had been put on a slight hold but, as the old adage goes, why put off tomorrow that which you can do today?
Then came a call from the Minnesota Vikings and the entire season, hell, years plus changed for a fanbase desperate to lasso the future and draw it in now.
I have never seen anything like the change in trajectory of this football team over the course of just one week. Carson Wentz, already, could walk in to any bar in the greater Philadelphia area and never pay for a drink or a meal. After a sunshine filled opening day at Lincoln Financial Field that saw the kid throw for 278 yards, a pair of touchdowns and, here’s the important part, no turnovers, a tidal wave of unbridled optimism crashed and washed over all of us. What could be may very well be. The future is now and the ride is going to be fun.
For me, I feel like I have my team back. You see, while I write and talk about what happens in, on and around the Eagles, I am mostly a maniac fan. I’m a maniac fan who never believed in anything Chip Kelly said, did or philosophized over, with the exception of his admiration for the military. The 2016 Eagles sport a smart coaching staff that I believe in. The 2016 Eagles have systems on both sides of the ball that translate to the pro level…no more unnecessary tempo and plenty of adaptability. The 2016 Eagles have purged the Kelly personnel that either can’t play or don’t fit. Culture over scheme? My ass. The 2016 Eagles have a quarterback that plays the position the way it is supposed to be played…within the pocket first, eyes downfield. Wentz has already shown vision far beyond his years.
I know. It’s one game. But yesterday’s opening day win felt better than any win during the entire last three plus years. The Eagles were coached well, played well and, believe it or not, will only get better…even this season. Sunday was only the beginning, regardless of who the opponent was.
And, so, it begins. A new dawn. A new day. A new era. These Eagles are going to surprise people this year. It’s why I’ve predicted, on the air, that they will win 10 games, even though my friend Angelo Cataldi may believe I was enjoying a nice marijuana cigarette while doing so. I’m riding this horse all the way ‘till she bucks me and I’m already enjoying every minute.
Smiling ear to ear, here are YOUR 2016 Week One NFL Notes & Musings…
Andrew Luck has now gone over 15,000 yards for his career. Only Matthew Stafford has done it faster. (Credit to John McMullen for this note.)
While I saw the Eagles defensive linemen get beat 1 on 1 most of the day by the Cleveland offensive line, looks can be deceiving. The Birds were in a mush rush most of the day in an attempt to keep the Browns’ RGIII contained. It worked. Philly did, however, unleash the dogs late in the fourth quarter when the game had appeared to be settled.
Dallas Wide Receiver Terrance Williams, if I were Jason Garrett, would spend the 1st quarter next week on the bench. Wide receivers at Cherokee High School in Marlton, NJ don’t make that mistake. In case you missed it, Williams caught a pass near the sideline with seconds remaining against the Giants and instead of running out of bounds allowing all world kicker Dan Bailey to try and win the game, he turned it up inside and the clock ran out. A typical brainless Dallas Cowboy move.
The Eagles defense played a refreshing 52 total plays on Sunday against Cleveland. Linebackers Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham, along with defensive backs Nolan Carroll and Malcolm Jenkins played 51 of those 52 snaps with the only play missed being a terrible attempt at a fake punt by the Browns.
There were, by my count, three 1 point to a pick ‘em games on Sunday. All three games were decided by one point when the GMen hung on to defeat Dallas, the Bengals topped the Jets and Oakland won a thriller down in the Big Easy against the Saints. Vegas amazes me.
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees tied Peyton Manning for first place on Sunday with his 14th 400 yard passing game. His 98 yard touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks against Oakland was the longest scoring play in Saints history.
Cincinnati wide receiver A.J. Green hauled in 12 catches for 180 yards and a touchdown on Sunday against the Jets. Incredibly, I’ve heard many refuse to consider him elite.
Raise your hand if you live outside the Massachusetts area and had New England going to in to Arizona and winning as a fairly large underdog led by Jimmy Garoppolo? Put ‘em down, liars. I believe the Cardinals are going to go backwards in 2016.
Denver running back C.J. Anderson is going to be rookie quarterback Trevor Siemian’s best friend in 2016.
Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is now 10 – 3 against the NFC East.
The Cleveland Browns have now lost their season opener 12 years in a row.
During a seven minute stretch against Tennessee, Minnesota’s defense forced three turnovers and recorded two sacks.
Sunday against Miami marked Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson’s 19th fourth quarter or overtime comeback win.
For the first time since 2012, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are above .500. This is a team on the rise and will absolutely compete with Carolina to win the NFC South.
This is the final season for the Falcons at the Georgia Dome. Next year, they move across the way to the $1.4 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The Houston defense racked up 5 sacks on Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler.
I say this rather often but no team in the NFL scouts wide receivers better than the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Kansas City rallied from a 17 point fourth quarter deficit to beat division rival San Diego 33 – 27 behind quarterback Alex Smith’s 363 yards passing. It was the Chiefs’ largest comeback in franchise history.
The AFC West is shaping up to be the best division in football and could be for a very long time. Both Kansas City and Oakland, two teams I have soaring up the charts, have very young rosters. Combine that with Denver’s talent and you’re looking at a strong division.
On Sunday, Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz caught the game winning touchdown in Dallas which brings this thought to mind…in 2010, his rookie year, he missed 13 games due to a hamstring injury. He then proceeded to have 2 or 3 good years including an excellent 2011. However, does that warrant a written autobiography and a subsequent Showtime documentary?
The Giants defeated the Cowboys in a season opener for the first time in nine attempts.
Detroit’s win on Sunday was only the second time the Lions have ever won in Indianapolis. The game also marked the third straight opening day loss for the Colts.
No Brady. No Gronkowski. No Ninkovich. No problem. The New England Patriots, with their win in Arizona, left yet another example that coaching trumps all.
How do I say this politely? The Washington Redskins’ defense is garbage.
Those wild Los Angeles football fans waited over 20 years to watch their own team play but will have to wait another week to see them score a single point after being shut out in San Francisco. It’s possible they may have to wait even longer. The Seahawks are up next for the Rams.
Congratulations to Charles Edward Kelly for a big first win with the 49ers. This is the last time I will give that arrogant bastard any praise for any reason, whatsoever.
And finally, here is the first installment of the 2016 NFL Darrentees…
The Cardinals will not make the playoffs. Step back year for them and GM Steve Keim better address the quarterback position in the coming offseason.
The Eagles will go 10 – 6 and win the NFC East. The core talent is there, the coaching staff is extremely smart and the division is weak. I also like that, for the first time in a while, the Birds are a team flying a bit under the radar.
Falcons head coach Dan Quinn, Bills head coach Rex Ryan and Rams head coach Jeff Fisher will all lose their jobs after the season. Fisher is in the final year of a five year contract with St. Louis.
I’m high on the Houston Texans this year and fully expect them to win the AFC South. I also like the Jacksonville Jaguars to make some big strides in 2016 but I’m not sure they have enough to catch Houston.
AFC Championship: Pittsburgh over New England
AFC Sleeper teams: Oakland and Kansas City
NFC Championship: Green Bay over Seattle
NFC Sleeper teams: Tampa Bay and Philadelphia
In other words…
I often get asked for an update to the Lane Johnson story I broke back in early August. The Eagles starting offensive tackle tested positive for a peptide in an amino acid he purchased on the internet. While I still can’t wrap my brain around a man with an insurmountable amount of money and access to some of the best doctors and trainers on the planet feeling the need to irresponsibly purchase a supplement on line, it is what is. According to a source at the league office, there is no concrete timetable on when the B sample result must be announced. What I do know for sure is that Johnson’s camp has appealed the positive A test and are doing their best for a reduction in games since the first offense drug, adderall, now falls under the recreational portion of the substance abuse policy, according to the new CBA. This being his second offense, would carry a ten game suspension and put a hurting on an already thin offensive line unit. You can see a full list of all banned substances here: https://nflpaweb.blob.core.windows.net/media/Default/PDFs/Active%20Players/BannedSubstanceList2015.pdf
All we can do, at this point, is wait. But I do suspect a ruling within a week or two.
Listen to me and Big Daddy Graham every Friday morning on Sportsradio 94 WIP as Football Friday gets an early start from 2 to 6am!
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