Photo via David Eulitt of the Kansas City Star
From the FanPosts. -Chris
Week three over and done with but not before tuffs of hair have been pulled out, flats of beer have been emptied and throats have been hoarsed with swearing at the TV. Although some will deny it, there were things to hang our hats on in weeks one and two and the team was learning and progressing, week three however was a completely different scenario that has some questioning whether we're even better then last year.THE GOOD
Next question? When I sat down to write this my mind is so drawn to how I'm going to separate bad from ugly that I can't even easily come up with the good. A coach will find something good every week to build off of and if we are to put faith in this coaching staff(it is only three games into the season) then we have to believe that Haley is trying to give this team an identity. As tough as it is to swallow as fans, he's trying to do it the right way, the fix it long term way. Without an identity this team will be nothing and whether you agree with the process he's using to get there he's clearly committed to it.
Special Teams! I did it I found something! The special teams were good today. Savage looked pretty good in the KR and Wade looked decent on punt returns including almost breaking one only to have it called back when an Eagle fell down all by himself but we get the block in the back call. Colquitt started out shaky but finished the game huge and again had a net average over 44 yards. This may seem like a small victory but we were awful last year on kick and punt coverage and that has definitely improved.
Jovan Belcher is a guy that not only caught my eye today but obviously Haley's too. There's a lot of questions at LB position right now outside of Vrabel who's consistently consistent so its nice to see a guy like Belcher step up. He's a monster on ST and was rewarded today with snaps with the "#1 Defense" where he was constantly around the ball. I'm not going to sit here and anoint him like so many were quick to do with Mays but the kid deserves a shout out considering where he's coming from.
Haley opened the playbook. Call it desperation or whatever else you want but Haley opened up the playbook again. The fake punt was good timing(although amounted to nothing) and the screen WR pass to Charles were great to see and a sign of a coach who we saw call plays last winter in Arizona. Whether you love Haley's play calling or not you can't deny some of the creativity that is obviously there.
Mark Bradley. After pretty much being benched against Oakland Bradley was forced into a tough spot replacing Bowe as the go to guy and I thought stepped up as much as he could. We got to see a little flash of that athleticism that I think everyone knew he had again. In fairness to him though Haley has to put him in a position to not be a yo-yo guy and keep him involved.
It may seem like I'm reaching at things for positives and thats because I am. There's enough negative reads in fanposts on gameday and the title is the good, the bad and the ugly so we have to find something good no matter how minor it may appear.
I'm going to get the Officials out of the way so we can move on because they weren't a huge factor but they were horrible once again. Not going to complain but it was awful one-sided and Philly not getting one penalty on offense, when I saw at least one drive where there were four blatant offensive line penalties, was peculiar at best. Wilcotts nailed it on the head when he said we're the losers and the Eagles are the winners and the winners get those calls and he's right. This was hardly the deciding factor in the game but had to be mentioned, that and because I needed to fill the bad section because honestly most of the "bad" in this game was "ugly".
The plays that were run. Notice that I didn't say the play calling. It's three games into the regular season so I'm not ready to throw the coach to the wolves yet but we're getting there and a lot of people here have and I understand why. When Haley opens it up we move the ball and its exciting and people cheer, look at the game threads and see for yourself. But after the game Haley says there's methods to his madness and he's trying to establish an identity for this offense and you can't blame him for it no matter how he gets there. Its not fun or nice to watch as a fan all the time but if that's the story he's sticking to then you have to give him the benefit of the doubt at this point. If that identity is still putting up 2 yards of rushing in the first half by week 17 then we can rename this segment "The angry mob, the pitchforks and the torches..." and you can call for his head.
Jovan Belcher. Right now you're saying "what, I thought he was in the good?" and you're right he's in the good for himself but as a team concept there's a "bad" there. By the end of the first half our rookie, free agent, special teams guy looked like the best ILB that we could field. Again props to him for stepping up and impressing the coaches but if I had said on September 1st that by week three our best, most hardworking and noticeable ILB on the field was Jovan Belcher you would say "we have a problem". Sure DJ has shown flashes but being demoted hasn't given him the time to really be consistent. Mays, Beisel, Demorrio all look... well I don't even know what they look because you don't notice them on the field except when theres a gaping hole in the middle of the field and then its for all the wrong reasons. Not sure what the solution is here but we need help at ILB and I hear Victor Hobson among others are looking for work.
Let Cassel throw the ball. I'm sure the limited plays and pass protection affected this but Cassel is a good passer and a solid QB. He's running a 67% completion percentage and when is given the tools around him to be a passer he makes plays. Today he did not get enough chances to do that.
Discipline. The good news is the turnovers weren't too bad today so silver star for that. The ugly news is that the penalty situation is getting worse. As bad as the refs were the stupid pass interference on screen plays, dumb holds when they didn't need to hold and grabbing a guys facemask when your defensive leader just got you off the field are just pathetic. The offensive line penalties are getting unbearable and moreso then the penalties themselves is the timing of them is even worse. Always taking away big plays or setting up first and forever or taking away second and medium and making it second and long. Somethings got to give and this can't keep getting worse.
The offensive line seemed to progress last week only to take twenty steps back this week. Besides the penalties they couldn't hold up anything. Sure the Eagles blitzed all game but we knew that was coming and supposedly prepared for it. Ive commented on it 100 times and as it stands right now Albert is adjusting to his new physique and is still doing a pretty good job, Waters is doing ok and seems committed after the comments he made at practice this week about keeping the pads on, Niswanger looks like a 300 lbs guy on rollerskates, Goff seems to be spent at guard but could maybe be a solution at center and Ndukwe isn't being used to the best of his ability because his natural position is inside. Not to mention there is currently no one on the team who can help Albert other then the oline coach. Olines need time to come together and this one has had a month and a half and it's not happening. The thing here is too this is actually a position that there are good players available. We saw how much of an impact Bobby Wade had in a short time and it's time to put that philosophy to the line.
The pass rush. Not sure what to even say here anymore, it's freakishly getting to be like last year. Our Dline is pretty stout but not getting into the backfield which I know is not their first priority but they are supposed to help. Our blitzes seem disorganized and not executed properly because I highly doubt its only a matter of physique and talent. The play calling for pressure isn't horrendous but the execution is. We need a pass rusher that demands attention to help everyone else out. I think that's been one of the keys in Donkeyland in that Dumerville has transitioned great to that outside LB and the attention he demands frees up other people. There's really no solution to this on the open market so these players need to learn faster and execute better.
We had our butts handed to us. If blowing a sure win to the Raiders wasn't eye opening enough to these players(which it clearly wasn't) and us as fans then this one is hard to miss. Sure the Eagles are one of the best teams in the league, sure they got manhandled in their own building and they were pissed about it but the fact is from the coaching staff to the gatorade bottle squirter kid no one showed they wanted this one. Mike Brown and others echoed it after the game, these people have to decide when enough is enough and no matter the opponent have to go out there and get it done. Haley had no bite on the sideline, he looked like he had had his breakfast beer roofied or something and his team came across the same way. I blurbed before the season started that this team needed an identity before it would all come together and really for themselves and their supporters they need to dig in their feet and make it happen.
There was more ugly, I'm not fooling myself or anyone else but we all saw it with our own eyes and it's been discussed at length. This team isn't and won't be fixed overnight or in one offseason but we're fans for a reason and unfortunately right now this is what we get. Lucky for us we have another six days ahead of us to get excited and our hopes up for next Sunday.