What We Saw: Week 2 2018
Eagles vs. Buccaneers
When the Die-Hard Fan Dies Hard
As if it wasn’t painful enough to watch and write up the Redskins’ self-inflicted futility at the hands of the Colts’ defense, I had the distinct pleasure of viewing a separate 60 minutes of futility in the Eagles’ performance against the Buccaneers. Whether it was the absence of Mike Wallace after he went down with what looked like a broken ankle, or the absence of any competent deep threat receiver even when Wallace was playing, OR Nick Foles reluctance to make any risky deep throws, the Eagles offense looked slow, short, and frankly one-dimensional. Other than an all-around well executed 15 yard TD run in the second quarter by Corey Clement, and a Super Bowl MVP level TD throw and catch from Nick to Nelson Agholor, the Birds struggled to grind out yards all day long against the frankly sub-standard passing offense of the Buccaneers. Of course Zach Ertz and Agholor got theirs in terms of stats, but without a doubt there should be room for plenty more scoring and production in this offense. Meanwhile, one of the best offensive lines in the league couldn’t get much going on the ground despite 2 TDs, as a strong Bucs front held the Eagles RB corps to a poor 80 yards on 20 carries. In my personal opinion, this can be directly attributed to a lack of a deep threat, kind of like the guy playing opposite my birds, DeSean Jackson. Maybe the Eagles rectify that in the coming days (JOSH GORDON ANYONE???!!!) but even with the return of Carson Wentz it seems to be a glaring flaw in an otherwise sterling Eagles roster.
Stupid Mistakes and a Big Bounceback
I know what you’re thinking: 27 points to Fitzmagic and the Eagles’ D has got to be in trouble. Nope. A typical Jalen Mills gaffe and one of the most pathetic attempts at a tackle I’ve ever seen by Ronald Darby led to a 20 point first half for the Bucs. Once that nonesense was out of the way, the Eagles sturdy D-line pressured Fitzmagic and held the Bucs to 7 points in the second half. Rest easy knowing this unit is still quite elite.
Ryan “Too soon for this MVP talk” Fitzpatrick
Turns out, the biggest difference between Week One and Week Two was 37 rushing yards, a rushing touchdown, and an interception. Otherwise, the Ryan Fitzpatrick we saw in Week One was perfectly recreated in Week Two throwing for 400+ yards and four touchdowns. Fitzpatrick nearly threw as many touchdowns (4) as he did incompletions (6) (Patrick Mahomes actually did that in Week Two). DeSean Jackson made the most of his four targets once again and Mike Evans got by on sheer volume (12 targets).
Who Needs a Running Game?
Tampa Bay is a decent running game away from having what seems to be a complete offense. Peyton Barber only ran for 22 yards on 16 carries. After two poor weeks, Tampa Bay should be looking for a change – Week Three may be the first time that Ronald Jones is active as although Barber won the top role in the preseason, he has done little to retain the role since. Tampa Bay has gotten away without a running game so far, but if they want to maintain their success – they’ll need better than Barber’s 2.6 yards per carry.
Week Two continued to paint a picture of how Tampa Bay plans to utilize it’s tight ends. O.J. Howard had three catches on four targets for 96 yards and a touchdown. 75 of those yards and his touchdown came from one reception, so do not read too much into his final stat line. Cameron Brate was again without a target and only played fourteen snaps during the game. This is still somewhat of a surprise given Brate’s substantial extension in the offseason, but for now Howard as a boom or bust tight end seems to be shaping up.