Quadruple Option Week 2: Eagles-Colts

quadrupleoption

Welcome back to the Quadruple Option, where the upcoming game is narrowed down to its four most relevant points of focus, as arbitrarily chosen by the author. This week, the QO focuses on the Indianapolis Colts, who the Eagles are visiting on Monday Night Football to round out Week 2 on the NFL calendar.

1- Eagles Offensive Line vs Colts Pass Rush

The Eagles entered this season with one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, by any measure. Less than 30 minutes into their season opener, it became one of their biggest question marks. Evan Mathis and Allen Barbre were lost to injury within 5 plays of each other. Barbre is now done for the season, and Mathis is on Injured Reserve with the designation to return (he is eligible for the Nov. 10 game vs Carolina). Filling the two holes in the line will be Andrew Gardner at right tackle and Dennis Kelly at left guard. This state of flux for the offensive line is worrisome, but not so much when considering the absence of a Colts pass rush.

Robert Mathis, the key to the Colts’ pass rush, is out for the season with a torn achilles (and would have missed this game for a PED suspension anyway). Expected to fill his role is second year player from Germany via Florida State, Bjoern Werner. He hasn’t adapted particularly well to the NFL thus far, as became very evident to a national audience last weekend in the Sunday night game at Denver. Erik Walden, their other pass rushing linebacker, doesn’t produce at a fear-warranting level either. Jerrell Freeman, an inside linebacker, had the second-most sacks on the roster last season with 5.5, is also out for this game, and will be replaced by Josh McNary, who will be making his first start.

The Colts have no pass rush to speak of, and the Eagles’ offensive line has had a week to settle into place, as opposed to Gardner and David Molk being thrown into their roles in the middle of a game. Barring the unforeseen coming out party for Werner or Walden, this part of the game will end up being advantageous for the Eagles. Foles will have more time to throw (and second guess himself, maybe), and it opens the gameplan to longer-developing plays if necessary.

2- Colts Pass-Catchers  vs Eagles Coverage

This matchup is a little more dicey for the Eagles. The Jaguars’ passing attack got on the Eagles early through creative route design and miscommunications and mistakes in the Eagles’ secondary. This is expertly detailed by Sheil Kapadia of Birds 24/7 here. The Colts will use T.Y. Hilton in a way that attempts to confuse the deep safety in an attempt to get him open for big gains.

This has been successful against some of the better defenses in football in the past (Seattle, San Francisco), and should make Eagles fans at least a little wary, since the secondary has yet to inspire very much faith. As for the rest of the Colts’ weapons, they have Reggie Wayne, a perennial Pro Bowler who looked fine in his first game back from a torn ACL against Denver, Hakeem Nicks- who needs no introduction to Eagles fans, and tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen. In Pep Hamilton’s west coast scheme, Eagles fans will see their fair share of the top three receivers and each of those tight ends. The Eagles’ linebackers aren’t the best in coverage, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for those two.

If the Colts are going to beat the Eagles, it will be this way–as they surely aren’t going to drown them in the sweet, terrible molasses that is Trent Richardson and the rushing attack. Ahmad Bradshaw could make some noise out of the backfield, but the Eagles have been pretty strong against the run under Billy Davis (4th lowest YPC in NFL last season).

3- Andrew Luck vs Everyone

There is (arguably, I guess) no skill-position player more responsible for his team’s offensive success or failure on a week-to-week basis. You will notice this when plays inevitably break down for whatever reason, and Luck is forced to make something out of them. He appears to thrive on chaos in those situations. The Colts, while not completely bereft of talent, rely on Luck a ton.

He is one of a handful of quarterbacks who adds a great deal of value in the running game too. He also has the tendency to make some absurdly ill-advised throws, on which the Eagles will need to capitalize, because he has the habit of digging the Colts out of all different kinds of deficits.

4- Nick Foles vs Himself

Bad Foles appeared again last week. He stared into empty spaces while open, eligible receivers ran free, and would then get hit or get sacked or overthrow someone. It was like last season’s first Dallas game all over again. The offense succeeded almost in spite of Foles in the 2nd half. It’s really important not to mistake him improving on a first half of masochistic performance art as him playing well. He still missed a ton of throws and was partially bailed out by playing a terrible defense.

We know that Nick Foles can be great. We’ve seen him look rough too. The real Nick Foles is in there somewhere. If he’s going to have a bounce-back game, he’ll have plenty of time to do so against a weak Colts pass rush. Despite the fact that LeSean McCoy is the engine in this offense, Nick Foles is still the conductor. If he flounders early again, the Eagles are going to have a much harder time recovering than they did against Jacksonville.

The Verdict:

Eagles 41, Colts 20

In the simplest reduction of this, the Colts are still the worst “good” team in the AFC. There are gaping holes along the offensive line (two rookies at the guards and the center the Ravens didn’t want–all starting). Their defense can’t rush the passer. They have good corners that are at times made to look better against terrible quarterbacks. The offense has talent, and they will probably score at least two touchdowns tonight–but the Eagles operate on a different wavelength right now. I think they end up taking the Colts for a walk.

Which Eagles would make good SNL hosts?

SNL

Saturday Night Live announced the guests for the first two episodes of their 40th season earlier today. The season premiere will be hosted by Guardians of the Galaxy and (more importantly) Parks and Recreation star Chris Pratt with a highly functioning pack of Jujyfruits as the musical guest. Sarah Silverman, and Adam Levine’s side project, are guests in the second. Since all the mid-week news surrounding the Eagles is about how the offensive linemen are dropping like flies, I wanted to focus on something more fun: which Eagles would make the best hosts for SNL?

Here are a few ideas:

Malcolm Jenkins

He famously clowned Twitter with his Mother’s Day 2014 tweet, so I think he’s got a pretty good sense of humor. He’s also got some experience in front of the camera, with his summer fill-in role on NFL Network.

Sketch Idea: Malcolm Jenkins as a color commentator on a football-style broadcast of a guy trying to meet girls on Tinder. I have no real basis for this, I just think it would be funny.

Evan Mathis

Mathis is a fun interview and a noted internet fun-person, what with his fake receipts and general Twitter hijinks. He also had a great Reddit AMA. He’s the one Eagle on this list who requires the least explanation.

Sketch Idea: Evan Mathis is an ultra-competitive Pac-Man player. He likes to play the game at a machine in his favorite local pizza place. However, when he loses, he has fits of destructive rage, interrupting peoples’ meals and making them deeply uncomfortable and/or angry. However, the owners of the pizza place don’t want to kick him out, because they make a ton of money off him–so the scene continues to escalate until he completely destroys the interior of the restaurant.

Connor Barwin

SNL has more recently been appealing to the sensibilities of its more hippish and aware audience members. Why not continue the trend with Barwin, who is no stranger to hosting events with similarly regarded musical acts, and gives the impression of being pretty cultured. Barwin is also the kind of guy who does this.

Sketch Idea: Barwin is at a bar with his friends, playing a more stereotypical version of a pro football player (and very much the opposite of himself). He spends the opening portion of the skit making remarks about girls at the bar and the guys they’re with and what he could do to them. Someone runs into Barwin and spills their drink on him. Barwin (6’4, 260) asks the drink spiller if they’d like to take this inside, which confuses the guy since they’re already inside. Barwin points his head toward the dance floor, where a circle is forming, and challenges the drink-spiller to a dance-off. Barwin unzips his jacket to show a neon shirt reading “Just Dance” and pulls a white sweatband from his back pocket, and proceeds to show off a number of absurd, terrible dance moves, and loses the competition as well as his friends.

Jason Kelce

He and Barwin  fielded questions from Deadspin commenters in February and they were great. You can see his great responses here. Also, there are a lot of pictures where he is doing things like this and this. He also competed in the Wing Bowl which is the most concrete proof you ever need that someone doesn’t take themselves too seriously.

Sketch Idea: “Noah 2: Propagating the Herd”: Well, honestly, I’ve had this idea for an SNL skit since Noah got released earlier this year, and Kelce’s beard is a good fit for a character from the Old Testament. The sketch is shot as a trailer for an upcoming movie, featuring Kelce as Noah, after the flood. People who are cleverer than me could write lines for Kelce that would highlight the absurdity of the task (continuing the human race) the Noah family is faced with when the flood passes.

Well, if nothing else, now you guys know why I don’t write for SNL. In the meantime, I’ll get back to focusing on Eagles-Colts and what happens when a team with no pass rush faces a team with a decimated offensive line.

Actually, I’m not entirely sure if I’m ready for some football.

Originally posted on Delta Whiskey:

The trial of giving up things we love but know are wrong is an integral part of the human experience. Maybe it’s cigarettes, a bad relationship, or junk food. Or maybe it’s the most powerful enterprise in the sports world. 

To say I’m a fan of football would be an understatement. I’ve been watching it every single week since I was old enough to understand it. I started playing fantasy football as soon as I was old enough to be allowed on the Internet. En route to Eagles training camp, my friends and I used to play a game where we named all the backup quarterbacks in the league from memory. I could probably tell you where most NFL starters played their college ball, and I can remember a lot of them from watching them at their alma maters on Saturdays. I played Madden daily–sometimes multiple times a day–growing up. I couldn’t get enough…

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