Gratz’s Grumblings: Week 5

Well, that’s another week of NFL football in the books. Wing filled, beer soaked, fantasy obsessive, NFL football. While I have a rock hard boner for cold weathered, playoff football I get a little depressed as the number of football Sundays shrink at a Devonta Freeman like pace. Let’s check out what the fuck happened in week 5 around the NFL.

Jamal Charles tore his ACL and will be out for the season as the Chiefs suffered a deflating 1 point loss to the Bears. One of those things that just really fucking sucks. This is the second time Charles tore an ACL, this time in his right knee. Charles is currently 28 years old and everyone knows how hard it is for rushers to perform at a high level beyond that age without  a torn ACL. It may seem dramatic but it’s appropriate to wonder if Charles will ever be able to return to form and if he does, for how long? The Chiefs find themselves in a hole at 1-4 and their season may be over. Luckily, they still have a lot of talent on this team so I don’t think a severe overhaul would be necessary. Not to make excuses for them but their schedule has just been absolutely brutal, having already faced Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and the scorching hot Bengals. They still should have been able to best the Bears with or without their star rusher and a team with their expectations should have made their other losses a lot closer. Disappointing season? Yes. Still reasonable to expect them to be successful in the near future? Not so much.

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Speaking of the scorching hot Bengals, they were about to be doused with a bucket of ice cold water, until they weren’t. They trailed Hawks 24-7 in the fourth quarter and rallied all the way back to give Mike Nugent the chance to clank one off the upright and get the W. It’s a big time win for the cats but an even bigger loss for the Seahawks. How did that happen? That’s just so crushing after an energizing, Kam Chancellor returning victory last week. At 2-3 they really cost themselves the luxury of future flukey fuck ups. However, they are a defense oriented team and if they can crack the postseason they will still be a threat to make it pretty damn far. Again, that’s if they can crack the postseason.

There is no excuse for the Ravens losing to the Browns. None. Even without Steve Smith Baltimore should have been able to win this game by at least a touchdown. Instead they’re 1-4 and in last place in the AFC North. Josh McCown had a historic 457 yard passing day. JOSH McCOWN. JOSH FUCKING McCOWN. I have no idea what’s wrong with the Ravens but honestly I don’t hate it. Saves us all the breath we’d waste debating Joe Flacco’s elite status, no matter what side you’re on.

The Patriots won. In other news Chick Fil A is scrumptious and Chris Christie is fat.

The Eagles. Chip Kelly is a bum! Chip Kelly is a genius! Fire Chip Kelly! Eagles are winning the NFC East! Honestly, nobody knows what the fuck the Eagles are about still and anybody who makes a prediction about their season is just wasting their time. The Eagles had a very nice win against the Saints but simply put the Saints suck. That’s no reason to be down or knock them, quite the opposite. Their defense is improving and can force turnovers. They almost hit 200 yards rushing in balanced attack amongst their three talented runners. Josh Huff FINALLY got into the action and caught his first NFL touchdown as he led the team in receiving. Sam Bradford has to get better, he threw two ugly red zone interceptions and those mistakes aren’t going to be as easy to recover from against better teams. Because the Eagles won by 22 points nobody seemed to care about how Caleb Sturgis ineptitude as a kicker as he missed another extra point. That kid better figure it out and fucking fast. With this team it’s a better idea to just take it week to week instead of calculating complex scenarios, just enjoy the ride and hope it doesn’t fall off the fucking tracks.

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The Broncos are scaring everyone but I’m still not too concerned. Peyton Manning hasn’t lit it up like he used to but people aren’t realizing how good their defense is playing. They create turnovers, get to the quarterback and a better defense might be even more valuable than a prolific offense come playoff time. Peyton Manning stlll isn’t bad either and they still have talented receivers. They seem to be getting a lot of flack for a team who is undefeated, with more time to figure out this offense they can be a dangerous team if they can put it all together.

Gratz’s Grumblings: Week 2, Breaking Down The Debacle In Philadelphia

For this week of Gratz’s Grumblings I will be focusing solely on the Philadelphia Eagles game against the Dallas Cowboys because well, that was the only game I watched this Sunday as I was unfortunate enough to have been there. The abysmal performance from the Eagles cannot be understated. Simply put, that was one of the worst displays of the sport I had ever seen. It’s early in the season, and there’s a lot to break down, definitely not too late to tweak things around and salvage the season, so let’s take a closer look at what the fuck is actually going on with this team after two games.

It’s no secret that the offense was atrocious. I think inept would be the correct word. Demarco Murray was held to 2 yards on 13 carries. Let me repeat that, Demarco Murray was held to 2 yards on 13 carries. However, if you talk to anyone who watched the game they would probably tell you this really didn’t fall on Murray or indicate what kind of runner he is at all. Murray had nowhere to run all game as the line played poorly. Also there was an even bigger problem than the offensive lines woes and Murray’s lack of running space…

Chip Kelly was out coached by Dallas this week and Atlanta last week. It was almost as if Dallas had the Eagles play call on each and every snap. Yes the offensive line played bad but there’s a deeper rooted problem and that is schematically the Eagles are off. This is a huge concern considering so much of Chip Kelly’s success relies on his schemes working each week. Chip Kelly has proven through two seasons that his offense isn’t a gimmick and I believe he is a smart enough coach to figure this thing out.  Whether there is enough talent to really take the offense to next level still remains to be seen. I’m really not too worried about this offense. The biggest concern for me is the line, which don’t get me wrong is a huge question mark going forward but as far as the scheme not working and getting out coached, I think Chip will figure it out.

Sam Bradford didn’t play all that bad. A lot of people are criticizing his play from yesterday but I really don’t think it’s founded. Listen, it’s hard to throw no matter who is under center when the defense knows exactly what you’re doing. The Eagles knew they couldn’t run against Dallas so were forced to pass and play catch up in the second half, what do you expect from Bradford? A Mike Vick type run of 30 yards to put them in scoring position? The red zone interception was a killer and a bad, bad play but I don’t think it’s fair to judge his performance off one mistake. With how the offense as a whole played yesterday that one interception should be at the very bottom on the list of concerns. I don’t think Bradford played particularly well but I don’t think he played poorly either. Again, it’s only his second game since 2013 so it’s going to take some time to get into a groove and get comfortable. He might not turn out to have the pro bowl season some of us thought he would under Chip Kelly but that’s not to say he won’t be effective going forward, and he’s still a whole lot better than Mark Sanchez. Also, he doesn’t exactly have the best receivers with the Eagles…

The receiving core’s ability might be limited this season. I’m sick and tired of defending Jordan Matthews. When they drafted him all I heard about was his tremendous work ethic and thirst for improvement. It was well documented that Matthews didn’t exactly have the most sound hands coming into the NFL but everybody was assured they would improve. Well guess what? He’s still dropping passes, important passes too. On one of his drops he leaped in the air for a pass he really didn’t need to jump at all for. He could have calmly put out his hands and secure the ball but he acted like a kid playing pick up football who was just trying to do too much. Don’t get me wrong I like Jordan Matthews and think he will have a fruitful career with the Eagles but his hands have to get better. It’s only his second year so it’s not really fair to hold him up to an elite standard. That’s really the problem with the receiving group as a whole, they are just young and inexperienced. As I just mentioned Matthews is in his second year and Nelson Agholar is only a rookie. You have to temper your expectations at least for this season. Josh Huff is only in his second year too but the former third rounder really isn’t showing much promise at all. Riley Cooper and Miles Austin are both on the downward sides of their careers which is OK considering they aren’t really supposed to be the focal point anyways. If the wide receivers underperform that falls mostly on Chip Kelly. These are his guys. He made the decision to let Jeremy Maclin walk. That is starting to show its ill effects as the Eagles really don’t have a respectable deep threat at the moment and its hindering them. I don’t remember Sam Bradford taking any big shots down the field because quite frankly we don’t have that type of receiver on the roster yet to throw it to, or we do and he’s not ready for that role at the moment. This hurts too, the five and six yard completions are great and all but when a defense doesn’t respect your ability to go deep it makes it much easier for them, plus it allows them to focus more on run stopping. Like the running game I think the passing game will see a lot of improvement too. If not, it’s another group of decisions you have to question about Chip Kelly. However…

It’s way, waaaay too early to start calling for Kelly’s job. Hey, even if this thing turns out to be a huge bust firing him now would only set us back another half a decade. Then, the next guy would have to bring his people in and the a new process would start and we would have an abundance of new players and recent draft picks who might be the total opposite of what they want. The bottom line is if the Eagles were unsure of Chip Kelly they should cut ties before this season. We’re pot committed at this point. Plus, at the end of the day it’s only two games, Andy Reid once took an 0-2 team to the NFC Championship so step back from the ledge. If the Eagles have a losing record this season then maybe in January we’re having a different conversation.

The defense is probably my greatest concern. I feel like a lot of people are excusing the poor defensive play due to the offense’s inability to stay on the field. That is a valid argument but I trust Chip Kelly’s ability to fix the offense more than I trust Billy Davis’ ability to fix the defense. His play calling seems off, his coverage personnel seems off and even their formations seem off.  Last week when asked why Julio Jones was able to run wild across the defense their response was because it’s hard to play him and double him because he gets lined up all over the field. So? Isn’t that the defensive coordinators job? To account for this and try to find a way to counteract it? There was a play this week where Maxwell was all alone on an island with no receiver on his side and two receivers lined up on the opposite side. It was evident that Maxwell would have no impact on that play, unless they gave it to the running back who was on Maxwells side, but still far from him and unlikely to cross paths with Maxwell. Yes the defense was on the field for a lot of the game but this wasn’t that hard of a game to plan for. Dez Bryant was out leaving the Cowboys with a weak group of playmakers. Their leading rusher from last year is now on the Eagles. Brandon Weeden is…Brandon Weeden. There is no excuse for letting Brandon Weeden go 7 for 7, none. Even when the Eagles knew the Cowboys were going to run the ball at the end of the game they still struggled to stop them. Like the offense, the scheme is off and unfortunately I’m not confident in Billy Davis’ ability to fix it. Speaking of Byron Maxwell though…

Byron Maxwell looked horrendous, again. Like really, really bad. They paid him a boatload of money not because he’s an elite cornerback, but because he was the best at his position in a weak free agency class and the Eagles needed to upgrade that position badly. If he’s unable to cover elite corners (or any corners at all) then the Eagles need to devise a plan that will put him in situations similar to where he found success in the past. That is, unless they can’t because they don’t have the Legion of Boom surrounding him. Maxwell plays better as a zone corner, not as a guy you throw on an island like Darrelle Revis. Whatever his deal is it needs to be figured out immediately.

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Yes, Sundays performance from the birds was dismal. Yes, there are huge question marks on both sides of the ball. Yes, it is early and the Eagles can still turn this thing around and salvage the season. You gotta remember our competition going forward, the Giants and Redskins don’t appear to be playoff teams and the Cowboys are going to be without both Dez Bryant and Tony Romo for an extended amount of time. Somebody has to win this division. Even the mighty Seahawks are 0-2. There’s plenty of reason to be scared silly right now but there is still a lot of football left to be played. Chip Kelly is now going to face the toughest challenge he’s ever faced in Philadelphia and the answer to whether he can handle it or not begins now.

Gratz’s Grumblings: Week 1

I’ve been waiting for the return of NFL football like a fat kid waiting for a hot pocket to cool off. It’s been excruciating, and at times painful, but when it arrived last Thursday it was all worth it. The annoying part sometimes is reading the tweets or watching the analysis the next day and seeing all the overreactions from one game. “They’re going to the Superbowl!”. “He’s a bust!”. “Fire him!”. That’s why Gratz’s Grumblings exists, to give you some perspective on things that happened around the league, one week at a time. Such as:

The Patriots didn’t appear to skip a beat as Tom Brady was sharp as usual and Gronk was beastly, collectively shredding the Steelers’ secondary to bits. In classic Patriots fashion, they chose their running back seemingly out of a hat, opening the season with Dion Lewis who missed the entire 2014 season with a broken leg. In his return to NFL action he racked up 69 yards on 15 carries and 51 yards receiving on 4 catches. As always, if the Patriots are healthy they figure to be a team playing deep into January and possibly even February.

It’s too early to begin evaluating the Steelers. Yes their defense was inept against Brady and the Pats but their bread and butter is really their offense and they’re without star running back Le’Veon Bell for another week and wide receiver Martavis Bryant for another three weeks. Once they get their full arsenal of weapons back they should start to click and be a tough team to outscore, assuming their defense improves enough at least to slow opponents down.

It’s also way too early to jump to conclusions about the Indianapolis Colts. Their performance against the Bills was ugly but when a team has so many new pieces it takes time to gel and come together. Many of their new players are older too so they didn’t exactly receive the most reps during the preseason. Although I don’t exactly agree with them being the trendy Superbowl pick just yet (mainly because of their defense), they should win their division handily and look like a different team than what was on the field week one.

Adam “Pacman” Jones should face discipline for his actions on Sunday. After a play, he ripped the helmet off rookie receiver Amari Cooper and slammed his head against it. He showed virtually zero remorse and claimed it was a “heat of the moment” incident. When you have as checkered a past as Jones does, I don’t think you get to use that excuse anymore. The officials clearly missed it as he should have been ejected from the game right then and there. He probably will receive a fine but no suspension, however I personally would support a suspension of a substantial length. What if somebody accidentally stumbled onto Coopers face with their cleats while Coopers helmet was off? Then what?

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Speaking of Pacman Jones, I’m also sick of defending Ndamukung Suh. This week after a play he “accidentally” knocked off the helmet of Redskins running back Alfred Morris with his foot while walking back after making the play. He claimed he didn’t see him. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened to Suh, so that excuse is starting to wear thin as well. You’re a world class athlete, you can bench a bajillion pounds, yet you can’t lift your leg up or move your body so you avert a human body laying next to you? If that’s the case then you shouldn’t be allowed to play in the league. The NFL has said that he didn’t do anything wrong, but I think they are just toning down the discipline to players after getting embarrassed from the recent Tom Brady sanctions getting reversed. I don’t know if Suh should necessarily be punished for this instance or not, but I will say that he should be on very, very thin ice.

I don’t care who he played, Marcus Mariota’s debut performance was downright impressive. He went 13-16, while tossing 4 tds in the process, all to different players. He also didn’t even play the fourth quarter. It’s just rare for a rookie quarterback to show that kind of comfortability on the road in his first NFL game, Marcus Mariota could be really special.

LeSean McCoy still isn’t over the fact that he was cut from the Eagles. He arranged for a group photo of “Chip Kelly rejects” including himself, Trent Cole and Todd Herremans. Whatever. Get over it dude.

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The Giants/ Cowboys game was ridiculous and frustrating. As an Eagles fan I was “rooting” for the Giants because it would appear early on that we’d be battling more with the Cowboys than the Giants for a divisional title later in the season. I’ve seen better clock management from 8 year olds playing Madden than what Eli and Todd Coughlin displayed Sunday night. Coughlin is the most conservative coach and it just doesn’t make any friggen sense. It’s one thing to continually run the ball and settle for field goals but it doesn’t take Vince Lombardi to realize that if you don’t have a defense that can hold anybody then those field goals won’t do shit for you by the end of the game. That gaffe also led to Jason Witten’s second touchdown catch which was the difference maker in a brutal fantasy loss by yours truly. Fuck you Barkow.

The Eagles gave fans many things to be happy about as well as many things to be enraged about, I’m mostly enraged though. I admit I brushed off Cody Parkey’s preseason struggles and simply thought “hey, it’s only preseason, he’ll be fine”. Yet, the nearly automatic kicker from last year missed a 44 yard field goal in a dome that would have put the Eagles back in front and in good position to close out the game. Also, something that has plagued the Eagles for the past… I don’t even know how long it’s been is the secondary. This offseason we threw a boatload of money at Byron Maxwell to come in and anchor the secondary and be our shut down corner. Well, he looked bad, really bad on Monday night. Not only was he consistently torched by Julio Jones, he was also getting beat by a 33 year old Roddy White who’s best playing days are clearly behind him. Maxwell wasn’t bad in his debut, he was fucking horrendous. Another thing I took issue with was the complete lack of discipline, accumulating 10 penalties for 88 yards, many occurring at key moments. On the bright side Kiko Alonso made what was perhaps the best catch in the NFL this weekend, making a diving end zone interception to prevent a touchdown. While the offense was out of sync the entire first half, it looked razor sharp in the second half. If they’re able to consistently replicate their offense from the second half on Monday night, the birds will be a tough team to outscore.

If you didn’t stay up for the second Monday night game, just know that Carlos Hyde is the real deal. He ran all over the Vikings accumulating 168 yards and 2 touchdowns on 26 carries, a total workhorse. The 9ers actually looked pretty good and while a lot of people completely wrote them off this season, they definitely still have enough talent to overachieve.