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Audibles From the Long Snapper: A Few on 52 & Urlacher, Urlacher, Urlacher…

| February 5th, 2018

Five Super Bowl Thoughts

  • First Half Note 1: That was a horrible half of a football. Was it entertaining? Sure. But so is college football and that is rarely good either. Blown coverages, horrible tackling, wide open receivers, college-level kicking. This game should be the showcase of the league’s two best teams. Sadly, when it comes to the 2017 season, this game may be all we got.
  • First Half Note 2: The Eagles didn’t just look tougher, they looked like they had the better sideline. And even in the two Patriots Super Bowl losses, that was never the case. Pederson was running circles around Patricia.
  • Halftime: The halftime show was one of the greatest I’ve ever seen. Oh wait, no, I was cleaning my crockpot and listening to Harry Nilsson tracks in my kitchen while some people pantomimed horn playing in the middle of a football field for no reason whatsoever. Would love to see the NFL skip this worthless musical display one year and instead replace it with a speech from the Walter Payton Man of the Year winner after a short video presentation saluting that player’s work. Why not use your largest platform to promote some of the good being done by those involved in the game instead of promoting Justin Timberlake to sell some Pepsi?
  • Second Half Note 1: Tweeted a question. If you were the Eagles, and you won the Super Bowl with Foles, would you consider offering Wentz to the Browns for their two early firsts? Watching the second half, if I were the Eagles, I would even hesitate. Wentz is a terrific player but this Eagles team is proving they can win with Foles and he’s affordable. So why not stack the roster around him?
  • Second Half Note 2: Let’s be honest. This game came down to one play, the Brandon Graham sack/fumble of Brady late in the fourth. It was the only defensive play made in this Big 12 affair.
  • Final Thought: Think about what Doug Pederson and Nick Foles and the Eagles just did. They beat (a) the defending NFC champs (b) the league’s best defense and (c) Brady & Belichick en route to the franchise’s first Super Bowl title. This is legendary stuff in Philadelphia.

All Urlacher…after the jump!

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Super Bowl 52: Four Thoughts & Game Prediction

| February 2nd, 2018


  • Nobody on earth could convince me Carson Wentz wants the Eagles to win this game. How could he? He’s a human being with human emotions. If Nick Foles wins the first Super Bowl in Eagles history, what does Wentz do to follow that? He could win 12 games a year for the next five seasons but without the ring, he’ll never reach the historical level of Foles in Philadelphia. When Jeff Hostetler beat the Bills, Phil Simms had already won a title for the Giants and established them as his team. Wentz has established his potential. Foles can establish his legacy.
  • Is there a dumber debate than Tom Brady vs. Michael Jordan; currently being argued on every conceivable sports media platform? Here’s my answer: Brady would beat Jordan at playing quarterback but Jordan would destroy Brady at basketball. (Pete Weber would kick the shit out of both of them at the local lanes.)


  • Rob Gronkowski’s line: 8 catches, 157 yards, 2 touchdowns. Why? Because when the Patriots get in tough spots against tough defenses they overly rely on Gronk to simply manhandle whomever is asked to cover him. That will happen Sunday.
  • This year has been bizarre…and bad. And that kind of year deserves the phrase “Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles”.

Philadelphia Eagles 26

New England Patriots 24

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Super Bowl 52: Three Wagers To Make Sunday Interesting

| February 1st, 2018


Gambling is silly. Gambling on the NFL is stupid. But the Super Bowl is a long day and I’m not drinking for another thirty-one days, so I’m going to have some money on it. For a terrific list of prop bets, check out this link to William Hill. (If you’re betting the Phoenix Open, I like Rickie Fowler to win, Webb Simpson for a top five and Pete Uihlein for a top ten.)


Alshon Receptions, Over/Under 4.5

My Bet: Over 

What could possibly infuriate Bears fans more than Jeffery going off in the Super Bowl? That’s why he’s going to be everywhere Sunday, so my inbox can explode going into Monday morning.


Pink’s Anthem, Over/Under 2:00

My Bet: Over (-150)

You heard her sing lately? She could take more than two minutes to sing her f’n name.


Player to Score Last Touchdown

My Bet(s): Tom Brady (20/1) & Nick Foles (22/1)

The odds are good. And these are the only guys on the field guaranteed to touch the ball. Why not float a few bucks on Foles taking a zone read to the house or Brady, the league’s best QB sneak QB, taking one over the line to ice the game?

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Championship Sunday Game Predictions

| January 19th, 2018

With ten seconds left in Vikings/Saints, I was staring down a 4-4 opening to these playoffs. Then it happened. Now I’m 3-4-1 and need to hit more than I miss over these final three games to end up in the black. Can I do it? Probably not. Because football done lost it’s damn mind.

One note on the end of Vikes/Saints: enough with the babying of pro athletes. Marcus Williams blew a playoff game. Often these playoff games are decided by a single moment, a single play, and in this case Williams committed one of the biggest gaffes in the history of the sport. For those saying “his career won’t be defined by this moment” I ask you this: how the hell do you know? Bill Buckner had one hell of a baseball career. What’s the most defining play of Tony Romo’s career? Williams is a safety. He’s not going to get too many opportunities to change this legacy. And the “Whiff Six” is his legacy.

On to the games…


Jacksonville at New England

Sunday – 2:05 pm CT

Pick: Patriots -9.5

  • Doug Marrone and Nathaniel Hackett picked the Steelers apart last weekend with one of the most dynamic play-calling exhibitions you’ll see in a postseason game. This wasn’t a “we’ll line up and do what we do” performance. Blake Bortles may have only completed 14 passes but he utilized 9 different receivers. Tommy Bohanon had 5 catches all season long. So did Ben Koyack. The Jags have decided to use their entire roster this postseason. And it’s working. But did they empty the cupboard?
  • Frankly, enough with this Jags defense. They talk a ton and make some big plays but the last two actual quarterbacks they faced – Jimmy G. and Big Ben – totaled 711 passing yards and 86 points. Jags defense built a reputation this season picking on bad quarterbacks and an historically awful early-season performance from Roethlisberger. They’re facing the best that ever did it this weekend.
  • But Jacksonville does have one element on defense required to make Brady’s life difficult: pass rush. And they have a man in the front office who knows that better than any other individual who has confronted the Belichick/Brady dynasty. But if Jax doesn’t get to Brady, lights out.

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Divisional Round Game Predictions

| January 12th, 2018

Went 2-2 ATS last week and would have been 3-1 if I’d remembered never to lay 9 points on an Andy Reid-coached team under any circumstances. Still, 2-2 is a good start. Need a 3-1 week to keep the dream of topping 7-4 alive. I’m confident.

All spreads from BETUS, Thursday evening.


Atlanta at Philadelphia

Saturday – 3:20 pm CT

Pick: Falcons -3

This is the hardest game to analyze on the weekend because it’s impossible to know what to expect from Nick Foles. But if the Falcons defense plays as fast and angry as it did against the Rams, how could anyone expect Foles to get anything done through the air? A few interceptions are likely as the Falcons continue their journey to Super Bowl redemption…maybe. Falcons 20, Eagles 14.


Tennessee at New England

Saturday – 7:15 pm CT

Pick: Patriots -13

This Titans crap has gone on long enough. Patriots 27, Titans 10.


Jacksonville at Pittsburgh

Sunday – 12:05 pm CT

Pick: Steelers -7

Here’s my hot take for the column: the Jaguars defense is overrated. Jimmy G tore them to ribbons on Christmas Eve. Since then they’ve faced the offensive juggernauts of Tennessee and Buffalo and could easily have lost to both. (Tyrod Taylor had plenty of opportunities.)

I can’t imagine a scenario where Ben Roethlisberger repeats his mid-season “maybe I don’t have it anymore” nightmare. I can imagine a scenario where Chad Henne finds his way onto the field to replace Blake Bortles. Steelers 30, Jags 10


New Orleans at Minnesota

Sunday – 3:40 pm CT

Pick: Saints +5

Last week I didn’t trust Goff. This week I don’t trust Keenum. Both had wonderful regular season but the playoffs are an entirely different animal. Every single throw carries the weight of the entire season. Is Keenum ready for that pressure?

New Orleans has the corners to limit what the Vikings receivers can do outside, allowing their front to harass the Minnesota signal caller into mistakes. Then the game falls on the arm of Drew Brees and, well, he’s just fine with that. Saints 20, Vikings 17

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If Bears Go Offensive Head Coach, Shurmur the Conservative, Uninspiring Choice

| January 4th, 2018

Three days into another boozeless, eight-week run, I have started to develop a bit of a sweet tooth. (This grows and grows as the eight weeks progress.) My go-to thirst quencher in this regard is the gelato from the fine folks at Talenti.

And they have flavors. Double Dark Chocolate is my favorite. Toasted Almond is incredible. Coffee Chocolate Chip makes your heart sing with the sweetness of an early-90s animated Disney heroine. Caramel Cookie Crunch takes you down a wild forest road where the squirrels whistle your favorite song and woodchucks protect your children as the family sleeps.

They also have Vanilla Bean. It’s steady. It’s reliable. It’s not going to make you pause that episode of Billions (starring Chicago Bears fan Chris Denham) you’re watching, turn to your girlfriend and say, “This is incredible!” But it’s not going to upset you.

Pat Shurmur is Vanilla Bean.


Resume.

Shurmur’s career is interesting.

  • He spent ten years in Philadelphia under Andy Reid, coaching tight ends, offensive line and quarterbacks. Two things about this. (1) How many coaches are in charge of three position groups during one stint with an organization? That kind of versatility is why Shurmur profiled as a successful head coach. (2) He coached Donovan McNabb to the most prolific passing resume in Eagles history.
  • He left Philly to join Steve Spagnuolo’s staff in St. Louis. 2009 did not go well, with the team winning one game being quarterbacked by Marc Bulger and Kyle Boller. After drafting Sam Bradford – the last QB to get super rich on draft day – the team improved to 7 wins with the rookie putting together a solid (if conservative) 60%, 3,512 yards, 18 TDs, 15 INTs.
  • The following season, before being hurt, Bradford’s numbers plummeted. (53.5%, 2,164 yards, 6-6.) His offensive coordinator that season? Josh McDaniels.

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Flip the Script: Bears Should Hire Eagles Quarterbacks Coach

| January 1st, 2018

At the end of the 2013 season, when Phil Emery was looking for Lovie Smith’s successor, I wrote a column endorsing Kyle Shanahan for the job. That column was met with across-the-board rejection from not only readers but friends in the media and around the league. My argument was simple. I thought Shanahan was going to be a great head coach soon enough, knew he had a terrific relationship with Jay Cutler and wanted the Bears to grab him before he became a hot commodity. Sure enough, a few years later, Shanny went on to create explosive offenses in Atlanta and become the hottest coach on the market in 2017.

John Eugene DeFilippo is that guy right now.


Resume.

Let’s just go through Flip’s career and see what he’s accomplished because it’s rather remarkable for someone who is only thirty-nine years old.

  • He began his NFL coaching career on Tom Coughlin’s staff with the New York Giants. Never a bad thing to get your first exposure to the league under one of its greatest coaches.
  • After two traumatic seasons in Oakland (‘The Kiffin/Cable Years’) he was the rookie year QB coach for Mark Sanchez in Jersey. Sanchez, coming off one year starting in college, struggled through that season but then turned everything around in the postseason. With Trubisky trusting and relying on Sanchez, Flip could probably convince him to stay on as QB coach and now the Bears would be building a similar coaching coalition to what exists in Philly.
  • Flip left the Jets, where he was splitting duties with former Bears OC Matt Cavanaugh, and returned to the college ranks. His work at San Jose State was apparently pretty damn good but who is really doing a deep dive into what’s good and not good at San Jose State?
  • He returned to the pro ranks, coaching both Derek Carr as a rookie and coordinating the Browns for a year with a quarterbacking trio of Josh McCown, Johnny Manziel and Austin Davis. That trio completed 60% of their passes for 4,156 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. That trio. Did that.
  • He’s been the QB coach for Carson Wentz and been primarily responsible for the Wentz transition from lost rookie fading down the stretch to MVP candidate. And let me tell you this. If Nick Foles takes this team deep into the playoffs, Flip will have the suitors stacking up.

The Leap.

Listen, is the jump from position coach to head coach a big one? Yes. But two things. (1) Andy Reid did it once. (2) Flip has already been a coordinator, even if only for one year, even if only for the Browns. And Flip also sounds an awful lot like a head coach. His players agree. From current Eagles backup Nate Sudfeld:

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