April 28, 2017

Eagles 49, Raiders 20

The Philadelphia Eagles made their way across the country to take on the Oakland Raiders.  The Eagles were coming off a 15-7 loss to the New York Giants and the Raiders were coming off a 21-18 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.  A holding penalty on the kickoff forced the Raiders to start their first drive at their eight-yard line.  Completions to wide receivers Denarius Moore and Rod Streater moved them to the 41.  But they wouldn’t get much farther and Marquette King punted the ball away.  But there was a flag on the play and the Eagles were penalized for running into the kicker.  The Raiders were given another chance, but they couldn’t capitalize and ended up punting again.

Quarterback Nick Foles led the Eagles onto the field and they went right to work with their no huddle offense.  A screen pass to wide receiver Riley Cooper turned into a huge catch and run as he took it up the left sideline for a gain of 42 yards.  On third and 13 from the Philadelphia 49, Foles connected with wide receiver Jeff Maehl for a gain of 19 yards.  Passes to running back LeSean McCoy, wide receiver DeSean Jackson and tight end Zach Ertz set them up with a first and goal at the two-yard line.  Foles took the snap, calmly looked to his left and found tight end Brent Celek for a touchdown.  Kicker Alex Henery made the point after and the Eagles led 7-0 with 5:18 to go in the first quarter.

The Raiders started at their 20 and on third and five from the 25, quarterback Terrelle Pryor hit Streater on a crossing route that went for a big gain of 66 yards.  The drive would stall at the six and kicker Sebastian Janikowski made his 24-yard field goal attempt.  With 2:02 to go in the first quarter, the Eagles led 7-3.

The Eagles started at their 18 and two quick runs by McCoy moved them to the 33.  A short completion to McCoy and a couple of carries by running back Bryce Brown netted a first down at the 46.  Brown got the call again and this time he ran right up the middle of the already worn out Raider defense for a gain of 32 yards.  A short run by Brown and a short pass to Celek set up a third and five from the Oakland 17.  Once again, Foles had all day to find a receiver and he found Cooper in the end zone for another Eagle touchdown.  Henery made the point after and the Eagles led 14-3 with 14:17 to go in the second quarter.

What the Raiders needed to do here was take some time off the clock and keep Foles on the sideline.  That didn’t happen.  They gained 26 yards and punted again.  Also, McFadden injured his hamstring and did not return.  So, the Eagles took over at their 37.  Foles took the snap and found Cooper wide open for a 63-yard touchdown.  That was way too easy.  The Eagles now led 21-3 and the once fired up Oakland faithful were starting to boo their team.  I can’t say that I blame them for doing that.

The Raiders started at their 20 again and a run by running back Rashad Jennings and a completion to tight end Mychal Rivera moved the ball to the 41.  Another decent run by Jennings and a completion to fullback Marcel Reece moved the Raiders into Philadelphia territory.  A 35-yard scramble by Pryor set them up with a first and goal at the eight.  Jennings took it the rest of the way for a Raider touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and the Eagles now led 21-10 with 7:34 to go in the second quarter.

With the offense finally finding the end zone, maybe the defense would find a way to slow the Eagles down and the Raiders could get back into the game.  Yeah.  And maybe it’ll snow in Florida in July.  For the first two plays of this drive, the Raiders actually got to Foles for a sack and forced an incompletion.  To top that off, the Eagles were flagged for a false start.  That set up a third and 16.  But that was no problem for Foles.  He looked to his right and found Jackson for a gain of 17 and a first down at the 31.  That totally deflated the Raider defense and runs by McCoy and Brown netted another first down.  Completions to Jackson and Celek made it first goal at the 15.  From there, Foles hooked up with Ertz for another Eagle touchdown.  Henery made the point after and the Eagles now had a commanding 28-10 lead with four minutes to go in the second quarter.

Both teams punted on their next possessions and the Raiders got the ball back at their 25 with one minute remaining.  Some scrambling from Pryor and completions to Streater and Rivera got them moving in the right direction.  They managed to get down to the Philadelphia 35 and Janikowski nailed his 53-yard attempt.  At halftime the score was 28-13.  Maybe that long field goal right before the end of the half gave the Raiders a spark and they’d make some adjustments and come back and win the game.  No.  There was no spark.  There was no fire.  There wasn’t even a puff of smoke.  It was more of the same in the second half.  The Eagles scored on their next two drives and with 11 minutes to go in the third quarter, the game was out of hand as the Eagles led 42-13.  That was all I could take.  I turned on the red zone channel and watched the other games.

With this win, the Eagles improved to 4-5 and the Raiders dropped to 3-5.  For the Eagles, Nick Foles had a perfect passer rating and completed 22 0f 28 for 406 yards and seven touchdowns.  DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper and Zach Ertz led the team in receptions with five apiece.  Jackson had the most receiving yards with 150 and Cooper had the most touchdowns with three.  On the ground, Bryce Brown led the way with 54 yards on seven carries.  As a team, the Eagles rushed for 128 yards on 24 carries.  Defensively, linebacker DeMeco Ryans led the team in solo tackles with nine.

For the Raiders, Terrelle Pryor completed 22 of 41 for 288 yards and two interceptions.  He also had 94 yards rushing on ten carries.  After he left the game with a knee injury, Matt McGloin came in to mop up and he completed 7 of 15 for 87 yards.  Rashad Jennings led the team in receptions with seven and Rod Streater led the team in receiving yards with 98.  On the ground, Jennings did a good job filling in for McFadden as he ran for 102 yards on 15 carries.  Linebacker Nick Roach led the team in solo tackles with six and he was one of the few players who actually got to the quarterback.

The worst thing about seeing your favorite team get trashed is that you as a fan can’t do a damn thing about it.  I sat there and watched the offensive line get pushed around like rag dolls.  Pryor was literally running for his life as soon as the game started.  I watched the secondary get torched for seven touchdown passes.  Players were out of position and the pass rush was nonexistent.  This was like a horror movie on a football field.  So, what was the problem, Raiders?  Were you overconfident?  Did you think that since the Eagles hadn’t scored an offensive touchdown in the past two games that you could easily shut them down?

Coming into this game, the Raiders had a 3-4 record.  Those wins were over the winless Jacksonville Jaguars, the up and down San Diego Chargers and a bad Pittsburgh Steelers team.  That’s not a very impressive resume’.  Up next is a trip across the country to take on the New York Giants.  That means it’s a game in the eastern time zone against an opponent from the NFC.  I haven’t seen them win one of those match-ups in a LONG time.  If they play like they did against the Eagles, the Giants will come away with an easy win.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

 

Tim Brown and Brian Mitchell: All-Purpose Snubs?

The NFL’s top ten list in career all-purpose yards contains eight Hall of Famers. The two who are not enshrined in Canton are Tim Brown, who is fifth on the list, and Brian Mitchell, who is second.

Brown compiled 19,679 all-purpose yards during 16 seasons with the Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders and one final season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before retiring after the 2004 season. He was a receiver and a kick returner and made the Pro Bowl nine times. He is tied for 104th on Pro Football-Reference’s Career Approximate Value leaders list ahead of Hall of Famers Steve Largent, Marcus Allen, Jim Kelly, Franco Harris, Frank Gifford and Curtis Martin.

He played in one Super Bowl, with the Raiders after the 2002 season, and lost.

He likes cars.

What gives?

Brian Mitchell is second on the list with an eye-popping 23,316 all-purpose yards, just 230 behind the all-time leader, Jerry Rice, yet Mitchell played in only 223 career games. Rice played in 303.

Mitchell returned kicks, ran the ball, caught passes and frustrated the heck out of other teams while playing for the Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants from 1990 to 2003. He had 13 career returns for scores and 29 career TDs in all.

Mitchell even, in his final year, threw a touchdown pass.

He helped the Redskins win Super Bowl XXVI.

Should he get to wear a yellow blazer in August?

In the NFL all-purpose yardage guys are treated like solid utility players in baseball.  Coaches love them, fans appreciate them, but the only girl who will dance with them picks her nose and wears falsies.

This season the league’s leader in all-purpose yards is Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, a great player who could one day be in Canton. But look back at the all-purpose leaders over the past few years and you find, counting backwards, Randall Cobb, Darren Sproles, Danny Amendola, Fred Jackson, Leon Washington and Josh Cribbs. You have to go back to 2006 to find a genuine “superstar,” when Steven Jackson took the crown.

Numbers (don’t tell anyone) can sometimes call for further explanation. Mitchell led the season all-purpose yardage list four times in the 90s but back in that era some of the other leaders included Marshall Faulk, Barry Sanders, Thurman Thomas and Eric Dickerson. Running backs used to be bigger stars and carry a greater load so they ate up more of the yards. Now, in the pass-happy NFL, guys like McCoy harken back to Faulk and Thomas, players who were just as much of a threat catching as running and it would appear the future of the game belongs to those who do both.

But what about returning?

The NFL has been watering down kick and punt returns by trying to make them safer and there has even been talk of getting rid of them. Players like Chicago Bears specialist Devin Hester, who holds the league record for career kick return TDs, could be a vanishing breed. There has been serious talk, at least in Chicago, that Hester will one day be in the Hall of Fame. He has 33 career touchdowns, 19 of them on returns. Tim Brown had 105 career scores.

It’s easy to just add up numbers and make proclamations. That’s why we’re doing it.  But don’t all-purpose guys define what football really is?  Isn’t the game at its most fun when guys strap on the helmet for as many plays as possible?

Certainly, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson would have impressive return yardage if the Vikes were crazy enough to let him return kicks. Ditto, years ago, for Detroit Lions Hall of Famer Barry Sanders and, of course, Jerry Rice. So maybe Brown and Mitchell’s numbers don’t mean they were so great but just, perhaps, a little more expendable.

But was Walter Payton expendable?

The Bears Hall of Famer retired after the 1987 season as the league’s all-time leading rusher and has since been surpassed by Emmitt Smith, but Payton is third, one spot ahead of Smith, on the career APY list. This is, in part, because Payton had 539 career yards as a kick returner, with nearly all of them coming in his rookie year of 1975.

Payton also threw eight career touchdown passes. That’s right; eight TD passes as a running back. That’s more than Emmitt (1), Jim Brown (3), Barry Sanders (0), Tony Dorsett (0), Dickerson (1) and O.J. Simpson (1) combined.

We have taken the liberty of omitting Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame running back Marcus Allen from this list because he, inconveniently from our point of view, had six career TD passes. Not as many as Walter, but in his territory.

In 1983 Payton had three TD passes, so did Allen. They were ballers who lined up and got it done. Imagine them on a team with Tim Brown and Brian Mitchell. Think of a sport worried about concussions and lawsuits coming up with ways to showcase athleticism, versatility and creativity over violence. It’s football with a rugby/basketball/hockey future. No more 300 pounders and a lot fewer broken bones. A game of all-purpose players catching, running, passing and sprinting.

A backyard league of legends.