Fortune smiles upon the Eagles. The schedule makers handed them a three-game road swing early in the season and those can often be hazardous to a team’s chances. But that three-game stretch is much less imposing when two of those teams have yet to win a game. For the second straight week, the Eagles will play a winless opponent when they head to Tampa to take on the Buccaneers.
At least they’re scheduled to take on the Buccaneers. There’s still a chance that the game may be cancelled or moved due to an outbreak of MRSA among the Bucs players. Three Bucs players have reportedly been infected with the staph bacteria that is notoriously antibiotic resistant. Guard Carl Nicks has actually been infected twice now, which is particularly worrisome. Nicks may be a good player (He’s a two-time Pro Bowler), but I can’t imagine that too many players are going to be asking to borrow his shower shoes.
What’s the Deal with the Buccaneers
The Bucs’ locker room probably isn’t a fun place to be right now. In addition to the threat of staph infection, the Bucs also have to deal with their coach Greg Schiano.
I’m not sure how many NFL coaches are fun to be around in real life. The Harbaugh brothers seem like they’d be grating presences; Hanging out with Bill Belichick is probably like hanging out with that homeless guy on the corner who is always muttering about government conspiracies; And I get the impression that a day with Chip Kelly would be a day filled with arrogant condescension.
Even in that context, Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano seems like an awful person. He was reportedly a bully while coaching at Rutgers (In his defense, if you spent eleven years at Rutgers, you’d probably be a bit pissy too), and seems to have gotten worse since moving to the NFL. Between having his players dive at quarterback’s knees and spying on his own players, Schiano hasn’t earned the greatest reputation. It wouldn’t shock me if I found out that Schiano was the one infecting his players with MRSA simply because he didn’t think they were working hard enough.
His latest act of pleasantness was to run off quarterback Josh Freeman. A few years back, Freeman was considered the Bucs’ franchise quarterback and appeared to have a bright future in the NFL. (It’s possible that the only reason we thought Freeman was any good because ESPN.com’s Bill Simmons had a very public mancrush on him. Does Simmons have that much influence on public opinion? Are we sure that Freeman didn’t suck all along, and we only thought he was good because Simmons wouldn’t shut up about it?)
Regardless of how good he might have been in 2010, Freeman undoubtedly played poorly in 2013. Some coaches might make a point to support their team’s embattled quarterback. For instance, Andy Reid is notorious for backing his quarterbacks regardless of how poorly they may be playing.
Schiano took a different approach. He did everything in his power to sabotage Freeman. He wouldn’t commit to him as the starter; he supposedly encouraged players not to vote Freeman as a captain; and most recently, there was a leak to the press about Freeman entering the NFL’s substance abuse program.
Schiano finally benched Freeman, attempted to trade him (and unsurprisingly couldn’t find a trade partner) and eventually released him.
The Bucs’ new starter is Mike Glennon, their third round draft pick in the 2013 draft. Glennon is noted for having great size, questionable decision making, and almost no mobility. If Nick Foles is the starter for the Eagles, this might be the goofiest looking pair of quarterbacks to ever face each other in an NFL game.
Featured Bucs Player: Darrelle Revis
In the offseason, the Bucs traded for former Jets All Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis. Prior to the season-ending injury he suffered in 2012, Revis was regarded as the best cornerback in the NFL. He could be assigned to cover a team’s best receiver, and that receiver would often have a minimal impact on the game.
Coming to a new team – as well as recovering from last year’s knee injury – it wasn’t clear if Revis would have the same success. Thus far, the Bucs have seemed reluctant to just have him shadow the opposition’s best receiver. That seems strange, but it isn’t unprecedented for a team to acquire a star corner and then not use him in the optimal manner.
Considering the drop off in talent between DeSean Jackson and every other Eagles receiver, it seems likely that Revis will be paying Jackson a lot of attention this week. Jackson has been talking up the matchup, saying that Revis can’t run with him. It will be interesting to see how brave Eagles quarterbacks get if they see Jackson running even with Revis. Typically, that’s a situation that calls for a long pass, but against a corner of Revis’ caliber, they might have second thoughts.
Key Eagles Storyline
The question of who is going to be the starting quarterback has been the focus for the Eagles this week. It looks like Nick Foles is going to get the nod, but Kelly has left the door open for Michael Vick to return. Vick has been practicing, but it seems doubtful that he will be at full speed by Sunday.
Kelly wisely seems to realize that a Michael Vick who can’t run well isn’t going to be an effective quarterback. (Feel free to joke that a Michael Vick who can run well isn’t particularly effective either.) If the quarterback is going to be slow and awkward, then they might as well go with the bigger, more accurate passer.
Chappelle’s Show Skit that Relates to this Week’s Game
Much like the Buccaneers, the gang at Kneehigh Park are dealing with some various diseases and sickness.
Note: While this was originally shown on basic cable television, I must warn you that the clip is not especially family friendly. Click at your own risk.
Tweet of Importance
“I beat myself up pretty bad.” What Eagle that has faced constant criticism has gradually been showing improvement? http://t.co/lVQxDkKqs9
— Reuben Frank (@RoobCSN) October 10, 2013
Nate Allen has been better the past two weeks. I have barely even noticed him on the field. That’s a marked improvement from the beginning of the season when he seemed to make a mistake on every drive. It would be better if he could take the revolutionary step of actually making a play for the team, but for now, it’s nice to at least see basic competence from the safety position.
Tweet of Importance II
#Eagles Cedric Thornton is 2nd among all defensive ends in tackles vs. the run with 16. Only J.J. Watt has more (20).
— Fly Eagles (@FlyEaglesNation) October 9, 2013
Is it a good thing or a bad thing that the former undrafted free agent is outplaying the highly touted 2012 first round draft pick (Fletcher Cox) at defensive end?
The Week in Andy
After 13 years together, many Eagles fans are feeling some Andy Reid withdrawal. I’ve decided to help them out by providing a weekly look at what Big Red is up to in Kansas City.
The scene: Running back Jamaal Charles enters Reid’s office.
Charles: Hey Andy, can I talk to you for a minute?
Reid: (Stares at Charles for a few seconds and then begins to page through a binder)
Charles: Sigh…Jamal Charles, running back.
Reid: (Nods, turns to a specific page) Thanks, Jamal. (Reads for a few seconds) How can I help you?
Charles: I know we’re winning and all, and I want to be a team player, but I was just hoping we could work in more runs this week.
Reid: More runs?
Charles: Yeah, you know running plays. The quarterback hands the ball off to me, and I run with the ball.
Reid: Oh, right. That thing we do in the fourth quarter when we’re just trying to kill the clock.
Charles: See, that’s what I’m saying. We don’t just have to run the ball in the fourth quarter. We can also do it earlier in the game too!
Reid: I thought we mixed in the run pretty well last week. What about all those short passes?
Charles: But that’s not running the ball. That’s passing.
Reid: No, those short passes are just extensions of the running game.
Charles: But why? If you want to run the ball, then why not just run the ball?
Reid: I don’t follow.
Charles: Listen, I know we’re winning, but I’m sure I can help the team even more if you give me a chance.
Reid: I’ll definitely consider it.
Charles: Thanks, coach. I really appreciate it! (Leaves the office)
Reid: (Waits until Charles is out of earshot and begins to laugh hysterically) More runs? That’ll be the day.
Final Take and Prediction
Despite their winless record, the Bucs are still dangerous. Their defense is playing well and might be able to slow the Eagles’ offense. The Eagles’ defense is going to have to step up against Glennon, but even against a rookie making his second start depending on the Eagles’ defense is a frightening prospect. There’s also the danger of this being a trap game for the Eagles with a big matchup against the Cowboys looming next week.
On the other hand, the Bucs are winless for a reason. The Eagles’ defense showed they can look respectable against weak offense last week, and I think they do it again this week.
Eagles 20-Bucs 10