By HCR Staff | November 16, 2020
As we do every Monday, let’s wish every NFL team good luck with their COVID protocols so we might be able to finish what’s become a very interesting season.
Let’s get to it.
Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson Has Lost His Way. He’ll always have his Super Bowl win, but that achievement is getting further and further away in the rear view mirror. After that victory, many observers thought Pederson was on his way to building a dynasty with the Eagles.
Now that thought seems laughable.
Pederson is regressing. From week to week, the Eagles are inconsistent, skittish, and simply bad fundamentally. Pederson’s in-game judgment has continued its descent. It’s reached a point where there have to be analytics for the Eagles’ analytics; they’re simply that confused.
Even Pederson now is saying it’s all on him. That’s obvious.
Pederson has to get his team back to fundamentals, and that means just lining up properly before a play. Until then, they’re not worth watching.
Matt LaFleur Is Winning Games, But Something’s Still Missing With The Packers. Yesterday’s Packers win against the Jaguars helps propel the Packers back toward the playoffs, but something’s missing with this team. They keep playing down to their competition, and that won’t get them far against the better teams.
The Packers don’t seem to play with a lot of energy, passion or physicality. It’s almost as if they say “we’re the Packers, we’re NFL royalty, and you’ll roll over for us.”
We could be wrong, of course, but that’s what it feels like to us. The “too cool for school” feel is good enough to get into the playoffs (primarily because they still have a great QB), but for the coaching staff, this is a huge problem to overcome.
Is LaFleur the type of coach that can instill some passion? We don’t know. So far, we don’t see it. And until they can get some ‘juice’ going, we don’t see them getting to an elite level.
Matt Patricia Almost Blows Another 21-Point Lead. Patricia clearly doesn’t know how to properly close out a game yet, and we’re already deep into the third year of his tenure. The Detroit Lions are simply running in place as a franchise, and while they show glimpses here and there, are they really beyond where they left off with previous head coach Jim Caldwell? It doesn’t look like it to us.
Sean McDermott Brain-Locked On The Kyler Murray-DeAndre Hopkins Hail Mary. The Buffalo Bills were poised to go 8-2 and put themselves firmly in control of the AFC East, but with the failure to defend the Kyler Murray to DeAndre Hopkins “Hail Mary” touchdown pass, they’re only a half-game ahead of the surging Miami Dolphins.
McDermott, a longtime defensive coordinator, simply locked up on the play. The strategy was all wrong, and frankly, not excusable.
If you re-watch the field view of the play, you’ll see Bills defenders guarding the middle of the field, halfway between Murray and the goal line, even though there weren’t any Cardinals there. We guess McDermott felt that perhaps the Cardinals would try to run a play to the middle of the field and somehow run it into the end zone, but that was a very remote possibility.
What was more likely was Murray telling his wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Hopkins to simply run into the end zone, and Murray would just heave it up. Which is exactly what happened.
The Bills did have their three best defensive backs surrounding Hopkins, but it still wasn’t enough.
But instead of three defenders, maybe they could have had four? Or five?
Look, it was a great play by Murray and Hopkins – give them credit. But the defensive formation just looked like it could have been more beneficial to the Bills.
49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Needs To Improve Too. He’s gotten a lot of well-deserved love over the last couple of years, but right now, he also should get some constructive criticism. Simply put, Kyle Shanahan needs to get better too.
Yesterday, the Saints helped stake the 49ers to a 10-0 lead. The 49ers had the early momentum and enthusiasm, and it looked like the Saints were ready for a letdown after Week 9’s big win against the Tampa Bay Bucs.
But offensively, Shanahan couldn’t deliver anything more after starting hot with the opening drive. Yes, we know there’s injuries, but frankly, we’re not seeing the adjustments necessary to suit his personnel.
Right now, his offensive line is a mess. They don’t have a single elite player in the unit. They simply can’t do some of the things Shanahan wants them to do, but his playcalling still expects them to execute.
His wide receiver group also is a mess. His handpicked players – outside of rookie Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel – are pedestrian. Former second-round pick Dante Pettis has been cut, Trent Taylor appears shot, Kendrick Bourne has a low ceiling, and the rest are just guys.
John Lynch has the General Manager title, but make no mistake, this is Shanahan’s team. We get it – there are injuries, but that’s going to happen every year. Heck, the Saints lost quarterback Drew Brees during the game – that’s a big injury. Sean Payton had to adjust, and he did.
Shanahan is one of the game’s brightest minds, and we’re sure he’ll get it right soon. It’s just right now, he’s struggling.
Bill Belichick Serves A Master Class. This Patriots team isn’t good; their talent is down – even Belichick says so. But the man still knows how to win, and how to game plan.
Belichick took on John Harbaugh’s Ravens and gave them a beatdown. It was a clinic on how to stop the run, and how to run. The line play, on both sides, by the Patriots, was a thing of beauty. Belichick also lined up his clock management with the game plan. This was not going to be a tempo game; instead, Belichick wanted to shorten the game, and once the Ravens got down two possessions, that clock strategy caused the Ravens to get antsy, and that led to mistakes.
Belichick was like a python last night – slowly grasping and tightening around their prey until it was choked out.
He’s had a tough year thus far, but he still is one of a kind, and he proved it last night.