I love Philadelphia Eagles fans. Their passion for their team is unmatched, which allows them to be as ruthless as a despot when evaluating their team, especially in the midst of a disappointing season.
And make no mistake about it, that’s exactly what the Eagles are in the midst of right now. For a team with this talent level to be 5-5 now — largely because of a lack of speed and dynamism at the wide receiver position — is unacceptable, and it doesn’t matter that the Eagles won the Super Bowl 20 months ago. Those fans are pissed.
It’s with that in mind that the lead item in this week’s Things I Noticed column — highlighted in a video expertly stitched together by my main man and Eagles fan Ron Schiltz — is on Philly’s biggest offensive weakness, and one way they can hold things together until the offseason, when they’ll almost assuredly use a high pick on a receiver as this might be the best draft for wideouts in a decade.
So sit back, relax, watch the video above and pray that Eagles coach Doug Pederson can find a way to coax more production out of one of the least-dynamic passing attacks in football. If the Eagles don’t, it’s hard to imagine Philadelphia rallying to make the playoffs.
Jameis reminds me of ...
I made a joke on this week’s Sunday Night Freestyle of the Yahoo Sports NFL Podcast that Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston throws a lot of “bad quarterback in a football movie” interceptions? Think of Rev in “Remember the Titans.” Either the throw is atrociously wild — where the director is actively trying to hammer home how bad the QB plays — or the ball ends up in defenders’ hands in comically unconventional ways.
Each of Winston’s four interceptions in the Buccaneers’ 34-17 loss to New Orleans on Sunday fits the bill:
Winston, 25, is in a contract year, but he’s living proof that my favorite football saying — “the contract year is undefeated” — actually isn’t undefeated, as he’s on pace to throw for a staggering 4,925 yards and 30 touchdowns, but pair those numbers with an outrageous 29 interceptions.
Winston will end up as a Doug Williams or Vinny Testaverde type — a No. 1 overall pick who bombs out with his first team only to find respect later in his career. It’s not looking like success is coming in Tampa, just like it didn’t for Williams or Testaverde.
Michael Gallup is coming into his own
According to Football Outsiders, Dallas boasts the NFL’s No. 1 offense in DVOA, and the second-year pro from Colorado State is a big reason why. This season, Gallup is on pace to finish with 67 catches, 1,085 yards and five touchdowns, which are killer numbers for a No. 2 receiver.
And while Amari Cooper — who is on pace to finish with 90 catches, 1,418 yards and 11 touchdowns — is the man in Dallas, there are many times when Gallup’s athleticism and ability to make tough catches makes you wonder if he could be a No. 1 receiver down the line.
Check out some of his highlights from the Cowboys’ 35-27 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday:
The best thing about Gallup’s season is that he’s averaging a gaudy 16.1 yards per catch, which ranks 13th in the NFL ahead of established stars like Cooper (15.8), Atlanta’s Julio Jones (14.9) and Minnesota’s Adam Thielen (14.5), not to mention emerging stars like Jacksonville’s D.J. Chark Jr. (15.6) and Tampa Bay’s Chris Godwin (14.1). Yards per catch is a good measure of a player’s explosiveness, and as you can see, there aren’t many more explosive receivers in football than the Cowboys’ 2018 third-round pick.
A bright spot for Jets’ offense: Jamison Crowder
For starters, the Raiders’ defense is giving up a healthy number of points to receivers this year (the ninth-most in football, according to Yahoo’s fantasy staff).
But more important, Crowder is kicking ass and taking names of late. He’s averaging 17 fantasy points per contest over his past three games, and he’s coming off a strong five-catch, 76-yard outing against Washington in which he looked particularly fresh and elusive:
There aren’t many redeemable parts of the Jets’ offense. But Crowder, a high-dollar free-agent pickup, is one of them.
The Steve Hutchinson Block of the Week
The recipient of the first award in this category — which is dedicated to one of my favorite offensive linemen of the past 20 years — goes to a player who compares quite well to the future Hall of Famer, Indianapolis left guard Quenton Nelson.
(Shoutout to Brandon Thorn — a tremendous follow on Twitter — for putting this on my radar.)
Appreciate the rare combination of awareness and athleticism it takes to process where the blitz is coming from, realize the free man is coming from the back side and SOMEHOW EAT UP 5 YARDS IN TIME TO WIPE THE THREAT OUT.
This is a holy bleep play from an offensive lineman if I’ve ever seen one.
Nelson is destined to make multiple Pro Bowls and All-Pro teams. Barring injury, he will be a generational guard.
This is the special teams play of 2019
This is the best individual effort from a special teamer I’ve seen all season. Watch safety A.J. Moore of the Houston Texans, No. 33, in the clip below (he’s second from the left before the snap):
Not only does Moore sniff out the fake after dropping back 3 yards post-snap, he also attacks downhill, blows past the pulling lineman and makes the tackle of Mark Andrews, a 260-pound tight end, all on his own for a 2-yard loss.
Moore, by the way, is all of 202 pounds. Not bad for a 23-year-old out of Ole Miss who went undrafted in 2018 and has since spent his career building a strong special teams resume.
Here’s what Texans coach Bill O’Brien said about him early in training camp:
"He's been fantastic in camp. I mean, he's been one of our better players on special teams and at safety,” O’Brien said. “He's really what you're looking for. He is what you are looking for on a football team – a guy that is going to come out here every day and play hard and do what you ask him to do. He brings a great attitude every day. He's just a really good teammate."
When a grizzled head coach raves this way about a player at any point — and he makes a play like Moore did Sunday — it means he’s going to have a job in this league for a long time. Pay attention, rooks.
Keith Jackson Call of the Week
We might as well call this the Andrew Catalon-Kevin Harlan award at this point, but we’ve got a new entrant — Ian Eagle!
I don’t even care that Eagle definitely spent 15 minutes before this game thinking of a signature call for a ridiculous Lamar play and the best he could come up with was Lamarkable.
The combination of Lamar’s dazzling athleticism and the way Eagle said, “Ooooh … La-MAR-kable!” with everything in his soul helped him sell it.
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