December 05, 2017

What they're saying: Wentz, Pederson deserve credit ... and blame

Eagles NFL
120517_Carson-Wentz-practice_AP Matt Rourke/AP

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.

There are many different ways of reacting to the Eagles' 24-10 loss to the Seahawks on Sunday night. But if you're an Eagles fan, the best way to keep yourself from going insane is to take a step back and try to see the forest through the trees. 

The Eagles still control their own destiny, and if they win out, they'll retake the top playoff seed from the Vikings (by winning the third or fourth tiebreaker). Beyond that, there's also a belief that the loss, their first since Week 2, could actually wind up benefitting the Birds. 

First, to run the table and win the Super Bowl, the Eagles would have needed to win seven more games the rest of the way, putting their win streak at sixteen games. And with each mounting win, the pressure would've only increased. This way, the Eagles get the loss out of their system – at least, that's the hope.

There's also the idea that they needed to deal with some adversity. After rolling through the middle part of the schedule, in other words, the Eagles needed a reality check. Head coach Doug Pederson admitted as much on Monday.

"We need games where we get hit in the mouth and have to fight and battle and scratch," he said. 

Finally, and this ties into what Pederson said, the loss on Sunday could help prepare the Eagles for January football. Neither the coach nor the quarterback have been to the playoffs before, and their trip to Seattle was the closest thing to a playoff environment this team has seen.

This week in Los Angeles, the environment may be a bit more friendly, but that's about it. 

The 9-3 Rams are better than the Seahawks, and what once looked like merely a battle between the top two picks from the 2016 NFL Draft has quickly morphed into a battle for NFC supremacy (and a possible NFC title game preview).

In today's edition of What They're Saying, we'll start with a look back at the Seahawks game before turning our attention to the Rams. 

Forward thinking

Rhett Allain | Wired

Doug Pederson said he didn't have enough information at the time to confidently challenge Russell Wilson's crucial third-down lateral on Sunday night – his best argument being that he (correctly) believed he had enough on his earlier challenge and still lost. 

But now, thanks to Wired's Rhett Allain, we not only have proof that it was a forward lateral, we also have an explanation as to why it was so difficult to tell in real time whether Wilson's play was legal or not. 

It's OK if you thought it was a backward pass. It's also OK if Russell Wilson thought it was a backward pass—because in the reference frame of the quarterback, it is a backward pass. Let me give a simple analogy.

Suppose you are in a car driving 30 mph along a road. While it's driving, you take a football and throw it backward from car with a speed of 10 mph. From your viewpoint (in the car moving 30 mph), it looks like the ball is traveling in the backward direction at 10 mph. However, if you were on the ground (and stationary) looking at the car, the ball would still be moving forward with a speed of 20 mph (30 mph – 10 mph = 20 mph).

This is exactly what's going on here.  [wired.com]

I highly recommend checking out the full post, which includes a chart tracking Wilson's path down the field as well as the flight of the ball. 

Sailing away

Jeff McLane | The Philadelphia Inquirer

In addition to some questionable decisions from Pederson, we also saw some less-than-desirable throws from Carson Wentz. And while Wentz has been better with his accuracy in 2017, he's been known to sail some throws in the past. 

Last year, Wentz sometimes sailed downfield passes over his receivers’ heads. He had a few similar-type miscues early this season, but mostly he has been accurate beyond 20 yards.

When he misses, it’s often when he has time and a clean pocket. He worked to fine-tune his mechanics this off-season, to keep his right foot under his shoulder so that he would overstride less. Pederson was asked if the overthrow to Agholor had anything to do with faulty mechanics.  [philly.com]

The blame game

Geoff Mosher | FanRag

There was plenty of blame to go around in the loss, as we just saw with the previous two items. So why does it feel like most of it is being pointed in the direction of the head coach?

The inevitable civil war following this loss squarely pits the Carson Wentz apologists against Doug Pederson supporters, as if the defeat can only be attributed to one.

The reality is, just as both are equally responsible for the team’s 10 wins in 11 games, the accountability for their transgressions against Seattle should be spread evenly...

For whatever reason — popularity, most likely — criticism seems to come down less harshly and with less vitriol on Wentz than Pederson. It almost seems as if there’s some level of discomfort for some in acknowledging that Wentz made some ridiculously good throws but also some very egregious, momentum-changing mistakes.  [fanragsports.com]

No reason to panic

Dan Graziano | ESPN.com

Now that you've had Monday to overreact, here's a reminder that losing to the Seahawks doesn't mean the end is near.

The Eagles aren't any worse today than they were three days ago, and Sunday night's loss doesn't mean we were overrating them. You still saw enough miracle plays from young Carson Wentz to supplement the case that he's the league's next big thing. He's still going to refuse to let teams get comfortable on third down or even when they have their arms around him in the backfield. But if you thought there was no chance Russell Wilson and the still-formidable Seattle defense weren't going to make life tough on the Eagles at home, then you haven't been paying much attention these past five or six years. The Eagles should just keep doing what they do. Their playoff chances are still better than Seattle's, and if they see them again this season, it'll be in Philly and likely a different story.  [espn.com]

Underdogs in LA?

OddsShark

Despite opening as a 2.5-point favorite (according to OddsShark), most books currently have the Eagles as underdogs for this week's game against the Rams. We'll see how this changes throughout the week, but last week the Eagles opened as a field-goal favorite in Seattle and, by the end of the week, saw that line increase to six.

•  Opening (OddsShark): Eagles -2.5
•  Intertops: Rams -2.5
•  BetOnline: Rams -2
•  TopBet: Rams -2
•  SportsBetting: Rams -2
•  GTBets: Rams -2
•  MyBookie: Rams -2
•  BetNow: Rams -2.5
•  5Dimes: Rams -1
•  SportBet: Rams -1 (-120)
   [oddsshark.com]

No place like home

Rich Hammond | Orange County Register

It's not entirely, surprising to see the home team favored in this matchup ... but are the Rams really the home team?


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