Philadelphia Eagles vs. Detroit Lions Semi-Coherent Preview

Nov 26, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Philadelphia Eagles tight end Brent Celek (87) jumps over Detroit Lions strong safety Isa Abdul-Quddus (42) to score a touchdown during the second quarter of a NFL game on Thanksgiving at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 26, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Philadelphia Eagles tight end Brent Celek (87) jumps over Detroit Lions strong safety Isa Abdul-Quddus (42) to score a touchdown during the second quarter of a NFL game on Thanksgiving at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports /

A preview of the Philadelphia Eagles game against the Detroit Lions.

When the Philadelphia Eagles‘ schedule was released, most people figured that they would carry a 2-1 record into their bye week. Games against the Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears seemed winnable, while it seemed likely that they’d suffer a defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

After the Eagles traded Sam Bradford and named rookie Carson Wentz the starter, 2-1 seemed optimistic. The rookie was surely due to experience some growing pains that would cost them some wins. To the surprise of most, Wentz has played exceptionally well. Combined with a strong showing by the defense, the Eagles are 3-0.

Can they improve to 4-0? Based on the scheduled opponent, it seems very possible.

Detroit Lions

Record: 1-3 (Third place in NFC North)

Last week: Lost to Chicago Bears 17-14

Head coach: Jim Caldwell

The last time they met

Philadelphia Eagles
Nov 26, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) scores a touchdown while being pressured by Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Eric Rowe (32) during the second quarter of a NFL game on Thanksgiving at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports /

For the second straight year, the Philadelphia Eagles played on Thanksgiving. In 2014, this worked out rather well for Eagles fans. We got to watch the Eagles crush the Cowboys as we digested a delicious Thanksgiving dinner. Unfortunately, the 2015 game against the Lions didn’t go as well.

The Lions did pretty much anything they wanted against the Eagles’ defense. Calvin Johnson had three touchdown catches, and the Lions scored 45 points. The Eagles offense – led by backup quarterback Mark Sanchez – was unable to keep pace. The result was a 45-14 loss that left a sour taste in the mouths of Eagles fans as they tried to enjoy their Thanksgiving dinners.

What’s the deal with the Lions?

After a win in week one, the Lions lost their last three games. Last week’s game was especially bad, as they lost to a weak Bears team that was quarterbacked by the uninspiring Brian Hoyer.

Philadelphia Eagles
Oct 2, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) in the first quarter against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports /

The team is still waiting for quarterback Matthew Stafford to prove worthy of being the #1 overall pick in 2009. Stafford hasn’t been bad throughout his career, but he certainly hasn’t reached the level of stardom that his draft status would seem to predict. He doesn’t get much help from the skill position players around him. Running back Theo Riddick and wide receiver Golden Tate have both been disappointments this season.

The Lions haven’t been strong on defense, but they have gotten a boost from defensive tackle Kerry Hyder. After appearing in only one game last season, Hyder has broken out in 2015, with five sacks already this season.

Featured Lions player: Marvin Jones

One skill position player who hasn’t disappointed is wide receiver Marvin Jones. Jones spent his first three seasons with the Bengals. While his numbers in Cincinnati weren’t outstanding, they were good enough to make him one of the best options on the free agent market.

Philadelphia Eagles
Oct 2, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones (11) misses a pass with Chicago Bears cornerback Bryce Callahan (37) during the second half at Soldier Field. Chicago won 17-14. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

Spending big money on a wide receiver in free agency has often proven disastrous for NFL teams. Many times, the free agents were the second best receivers on their former teams, and they can’t handle the added attention from defenses. In other cases, the receiver is unable to properly adapt to a new offensive system.

Jones had been the Bengals’ second best receiver (behind A.J. Green) and it was reasonable to think that he might suffer a similar fate, especially since he was essentially replacing the retired Calvin Johnson. So far, he has surpassed expectations. With 482 yards and two touchdowns, he’s on pace for a career-best season.

Reason to hate the Lions

They ruined Thanksgiving. Only drunken dinner table conversations about politics are supposed to do that.

No more Megatron

Over the past 20 years, the Lions’ two best players have been running back Barry Sanders and wide receiver Calvin “Megatron” Johnson. Both were considered to be the very best at their respective positions; Johnson will likely join Sanders in the Hall of Fame one day.

Philadelphia Eagles
Dec 27, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) turns with the ball during the fourth quarter as San Francisco 49ers inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman (53) looks on at Ford Field. Lions win 32-17. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

They both have another thing in common: They decided to retire prematurely. Sanders surprised the football world when he abruptly retired before the 1999 season. He seemed likely to break Walter Payton‘s all-time rushing record, so it was a shock that he’d simply walk away from the game. This past offseason, Johnson similarly decided that retired life was preferable to playing out the rest of his career on the Lions.

It’s kind of a shame. After Sanders retired, the Lions annual Thanksgiving game became painful to watch. Year after year, we’d have to watch the Lions get blown out by a different opponent.

Finally, with the rise of Johnson, there was some hope that the Lions could at least be somewhat entertaining, if not outright win the game. (Why couldn’t Johnson have retired a year earlier?) Now it seems as if we’re destined for another ten years of crappy Thanksgiving Day games until the next great Lions star comes along.

Tweets of non-importance

Each week, I’ll survey Twitter to find some of the best (by which I mean worst) tweets from fans of the opposing team

If I could describe the Lions’ fan base in one word, it would be: Depressed

Key Eagles Storyline: Jim Schwartz – Coaching superstar

Jim Schwartz is regarded as an excellent defensive coordinator. Eight successful years as a defensive coach with the Titans led to him being hired as the Lions head coach in 2009. Much like most Lions head coaches, he was not successful at that job, with a 29-51 record over five seasons.

He became the Bills’ defensive coordinator and turned the Buffalo defense into one of the best in the league. However, a regime change led to him leaving the Bills and taking a year off. If the Eagles continue to excel defensively, it wouldn’t be a shock if Schwartz gets another shot at a head job.

This won’t be his first time facing the Lions since his termination (The Bills beat the Lions in 2014 and his players carried him off the field). But I suspect that he relishes getting another chance to show his former team what he can do.

The Wentz watch

Apparently, we shouldn’t be all that impressed with Carson Wentz. According to some analysts, Wentz’s success is all due to facing weak defenses and being protected by the Eagles’ coaching staff.

Philadelphia Eagles
Sep 25, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) on the sideline during action against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lincoln Financial Field. The Philadelphia Eagles won 34-3. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

Anyone who has watched the Philadelphia Eagles would know that is ridiculous. Yes, Wentz has yet to face a top defense, and the coaches have definitely put him in a position to succeed. But that implies that any quarterback would have met with similar success. Does anyone really believe that the Eagles’ offense would have looked as good if Chase Daniel was behind center?

Wentz will face tougher tests as the season goes on. He will face stronger defenses that will put more consistent pressure on him. Opponents will likely plan to take away the Philadelphia Eagles’ short passing game, and he’ll have to take more shots downfield.

Will he continue to succeed when that happens? Based on what we’ve seen from Wentz so far (for a guy who likes to “dink and dunk” he seems to have nice touch on his deep ball) there’s no reason to think he won’t.

Mocking the East

Half the fun of being an Eagles fan is when their division rivals fail. I’ll periodically take a look around the NFC East and highlight some of the misfortunes that have befallen the other division teams.

Remember when the Giants spent a lot of money on free agents and how that was supposed to make the Giants’ defense one of the best in the league?

Apparently guys like Olivier Vernon and Janoris Jenkins aren’t the difference makers the Giants expected them to be. To be fair, the Giants haven’t been awful defensively. They certainly seem to be much improved from 2015 when they were one of the worst teams in the league. But they haven’t been especially good either. They’ve given up an average of 26.5 points the past two weeks.

Next: Post Bye Week Observations


Defensive coaches have had been able to study Wentz on tape now. I’m sure they’ve come up with some ways to slow him down, and eventually he’s going to struggle. But I don’t think that’s going to happen this week. Combined with another strong effort from the Philadelphia Eagles’ defense, and they’ll improve to 4-0.

Eagles 27 – Lions 13