Good start or no, Philadelphia football fans should remember not to count their owls before they’re delivered.
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” –Albus Dumbledore
Dumbledore knew the score, and it applies to Eagles football, too. Sure, giving up my emotional investment in the team’s actual real-world success and deciding to care instead about how all the individual Eagles are performing in the fantasy-league realm is purely a matter of my subjective inner experience—but that doesn’t mean my fandom is any less fervent.
Because here’s the thing: When the team is winning, everything is wine and roses and I forget that fantasy football even exists, choosing instead to marvel at the beauty and precision of this new offense. But when things turn sour and the defense—excuse me, “the team”—loses the game... well, at least I have my fantasy football team to turn to. That’s when I become the fantasy football version of Dobby, content to slave over my iPhone screen, waiting in vain for my running back to score a touchdown. When the both the Eagles and my fantasy team lose, you may as well call me Sirius Black, because I’ll be living in solitude for the rest of the night.
Of course, I looked like an idiot after that Week 1 dismantling of Washington. But, as I suspected, those early interceptions were more a result of RGIII’s rust than they were the defense’s ability. That much was made clear when Philip Rivers and his formidable receiving corp of Eddie “He Still Plays?” Royal, 90-year-old Antonio Gates, and the actually-talented Malcolm Floyd came to town. And Holy Hagrid, that defense looked bad. Nobody would have confused this ragtag crew for the Brian Dawkins-led defense of the early 2000s, but this bad? According to NFL.com, they rank 30th in total yards allowed with 921 through two games, 31st in passing yards allowed per game, and 28th in points allowed per game.
The most frustrating of these defensive struggles is that they threaten to negate all of the offense’s dominance. After all, what good is a high-scoring offense when the defense can’t hold an opponent? The Eagles offense, by contrast, ranks second in the league in yards earned, with 954 over two games and third in points scored per game, with 31.5. Everyone knew about Chip Kelly’s offensive pedigree coming out of Oregon. Now Kelly—along with defensive coordinator Billy Davis—has got to figure out a way to at least hold opponents to one or two field goals.
Going into tonight’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs, I’d expect to see a lot of aggressive blitz packages (to try and mask the defense’s inefficiencies) along with the usual diet of awesome Mike Vick plays. That being said, here’s how I see the Sorcerer’s Stone being carried:
Who’s Harry? The guy I want going after the Golden Snitch in Week 3: Vick. Did anyone expect him to be this good? Through two weeks, Vick is the No. 3-ranked quarterback, ahead of guys like Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford. He’s scored three times in both games this season, and he’s averaging a whopping 10.3 yard per attempt, meaning he’s attacking defenses aggressively.
It was tough to put Vick here over DJax, but the Chiefs secondary might contain Jackson a bit. I know: The Chiefs got absolutely burned by the Cowboys’ Dez Bryant last week. But Jackson is a different type of player. I expect the physical Kansas City cornerbacks to limit him to the point where he’ll be a bit less productive than thus far.
But that won’t matter for Vick; he’s got plenty of other weapons to throw to. (Cheat sheet: If you have Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith, he’s worth a start too. Basically any QB going up against this Birds D is a safe bet.)
Who’s Voldemort? Here’s who I don’t want to play Quidditch with in Week 3: the Philadelphia Eagles defense. They looked good in that win over Washington, but, as I suspected, that was more a result of RGIII’s rust than of this unit’s ability. They were absolutely shredded by the Chargers in Week 2 to the tune of -2 points. That’s right: negative two. The secondary looked awful, the pass rush was ineffective, and pretty much everyone forgot how to tackle. They looked like the 2011 Eagles D, just with less recognizable names. While Alex Smith is certainly nobody’s idea of a gunslinger, he’s extremely smart and careful with the football, and excels at limiting turnovers. I expect him to pick apart this Eagles D, even if he has to dink and dunk his way to the end zone. Avoid this defense at all costs. (And consider a larger question: Will the team’s high-scoring offense be wasted by the defense, killing any playoff aspirations?)
Who’s Snape? The guy I just can’t figure out in Week 3: Alex Henery. It all comes down to field goals. If he gets a bunch of attempts, as was the case last week, he’ll be a valuable part of your team. But if the offense is so potent that they score on ever drive, only leaving Henery extra-point opportunities, than he won’t be of much use. My suspicion is that, against a pretty good Chiefs defense, we’ll be seeing the former. Start him, but don’t bank your team’s success on this 26-year-old. (Then again, do you ever bank your team’s success on a kicker?)
Savage Love: Sondheim is solace