Black Quarterback: The Long Way to Go Episode
By Brandon Simmons
Is Philly Super Bowl or Super Bust
Even after the 24-10 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the Philadelphia Eagles remain one of the top 2 teams in the NFC and poised to get a first round bye in the playoffs. In fact, they have had a great run this entire season, running on a 9 game win streak prior to Sunday’s game. As many analysts are predicting an Eagles Super Bowl appearance – the first since the 2004 season – could they real really achieve this or will it be bust?
The Eagles have been powerful on both sides of the ball, ranking 3rd and 4th in offense and defense respectively. When it comes to the ground game, they are also putting up great numbers on both sides as they are 2nd overall running the ball and the boast the number one rushing defense. Much of this success can be attributed to quarterback, and MVP candidate, Carson Wentz but there are so many pieces around him that has elevated this team. Running backs Legarette Blount and Jay Ajayi gives the tema their running attack; wide receivers Alshon Jeffery spearheads the aerial attack; defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and safety Malcolm Jenkins is pushing the defense to be one of the top units in the league. But their opponents have not been close to any of that explosion.
Most of the Eagles’ opponents have been fairly lightweight. The most win they have had was a 28-23 win over the Carolina Panthers. They lost to a Kansas City Chiefs team earlier in the season, but that was when the Chiefs were actually worth something at the time. On the flip side of that, they beat a Los Angeles Chargers team that was struggling at the beginning of the year but on fire right now. They blew out the Dallas Cowboys on the road but some will point out the Cowboys were struggling without running back Ezekiel Elliot. They will probably also discredit the blowout wins against the Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears.
For the most part, the Eagles have really been a consistent threat this whole season but will be tested. Three of their final four games will be against teams in the playoff hunt: 1 game on the road against the LA Rams and their last 2 home games against the Oakland Raiders and Cowboys. The Rams game will be the most important game for them this season. It puts the Eagles on the road again, this time, against a much stronger opponent. The Seahawks loss was just Philadelphia playing in a hostile environment, which they will see during these playoffs, likely in other places. This loss can be a learning experience, but for a team that is as stacked on paper as the Eagles, it should not have been a loss. They are only 1 game above the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams for the 2nd seed and hold the same record with the Minnesota Vikings, who appear to have an easier schedule. This is not a team that will lose the division and they will get a win with their opening game. But if they want a strong run in the postseason, they will need a strong run in the regular season.
It would be nice to go one year without watching the New England Patriots flex their Tom Brady privilege; but here we are again watching Brady do get away with everything other players get chastised for. Sunday, after he threw an incomplete pass on a third down play, Brady went to the sideline and was seen blowing up on offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. After the game, Brady played it off as just football and it seems like so did the whole world. There were no meme or criticism of maturity; just the usual Tom will be Tom or passion argument. The thing is, people have just gotten use to letting New England off the hook with so many things, it’s unusual to really blast them for anything and it sticks. Another example, would be Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski delivering a late hit in the same game. Nobody really jumped over him to called for his suspension, even though he received one the next day.
As much criticism that’s been hurled their way, they’ve always been able to dodge it. It’s the Patriot way.
Pledging and Kneeling
Last week, the NFL announced they will pledge $89 million towards social justice issues coordinated by players in the NFL’s Player Coalition. The group was set up to address the need of protesting social/racial injustice. This was an alleged attempt to prevent players from protesting these issues during the national anthem, but no agreement was made. Ironically, what was probably thought of as a “peaceful” gesture. has seemed to cause some rumbling amongst the players. Several players have reportedly broken off from the coalition including Los Angeles Chargers offensive lineman Russell Okung and San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid. Reid has been the most vocal of the dissenting group, requesting the leaders – Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and former NFL wide receiver Anquan Bolden – to not speak for the rest of the group. There has been rumblings amongst the social media world, this appears to be hush money. Of course it doesn’t help when, according to Yahoo.com, Jenkins did not raise his fist during the national anthem before Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks. But fellow Eagles teammate, Torrey Smith, tweeted out his support for Jenkins saying the money solution was not perfect but will go a “long way” to make some change happen.
To be fair, Reid and Jenkins both have a space to be right in how they’re going about this. Having this money go towards programs and initiatives that will combat the very thing players are protesting is a win. It’s definitely a surprise considering what it appeared the owners were willing to: which was nothing at all. However, for players like Reid, who will likely continue to protest, they are important because awareness will always be needed. Social injustice is an issue bigger than what the $89 millon can cover.
Sports Illustrated covers – Shout to Colin Kapernick and Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt for their Sports Illustrated honors. Kaep was named the recipient of the 2017 Muhammed Ali Legacy Award while Watt will receive 2017 co-Sportsperson of the year Award, sharing that with Houston Astro and World Series MVP, Jose Altuve.
Bengals disappoint Burfict – The Cincinatti Bengals are something else; especially after Monday night’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Not only did their star linebacker, Vontaze Burfict get laid out by Steelers rookie Juju Smith-Schuster, but the Bengals ended up blowing a 17 point lead in the 2nd half and losing the game 23-20. Burfict got embarrassed on national TV just so the Bengals offense could do what the Bengals offense does and fail to score points. It’s a cold world brother.
It’s a lot of playoff football being in Week 14, even with some of the teams that might not make it. The New Orleans Saints will visit Atlanta to poke a hole in the Falcons’ playoff hopes. The Carolina Panthers will welcome the Minnesota Vikings to try and make their own division movement happen as well as gain some ground in the Wild Card seeding. The biggest matchup just might be the Eagles on the road against the Los Angeles Rams. The Eagles have that 2 seed right now while the Rams are one spot at the 3. Both teams could still win their divisions; however, a win in this game could shift some things in the Wild Card and going forward in the playoffs. But until then…I’ll holla.
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