Behind the Mic: Sideline – For the Birds!

Up front, I want to say that Chip Kelly is a breath of fresh air as an NFL coach. He is innovative, plays an up-tempo game that the fans find interesting, and seems to win with unknowns and makes them “knowns”. He has reinvigorated professional football in Philadelphia. And by now, I am sure you are waiting for… but…

There are times when I watch a game (and I see plenty of games), I wonder what is the coach thinking? I felt that way watching the Eagles this past week against the 49’ers. The Eagles lost 26-21 but were in position to win at the end. They could have been in a better position to win the game, except, in my opinion, for some coaching decisions. Let me give you three examples:

1. All Eagles’ fans are aware that the Birds are playing with a much-depleted offensive line – center Jason Kelce is out with a hernia; guard Evan Mathis has a knee injury; and tackle Lane Johnson is suspended. That is three of five offensive line positions. I love the hurry-up offense, but with so many injuries up front, might one consider to use a “slow-it-down offense”? On Sunday, the Eagles could not sustain drives. Seven of their eleven possessions ended in less than two minutes and the reasons were that they could not block the 49’ers and they could not run the football. Sprinkle in an awful day by quarterback, Nick Foles, and the Eagles’ offense spent the majority of the time on the sidelines. Remember, all 21 points were scored by the defense and special teams. This, also, means the defense had to spend an inordinate amount of time ON the field. With the way things were going on Sunday, the big early lead, the offensive blocking woes, and the lack of any offense, might this have been a good time to slow down the hurry-up?

2. In the fourth quarter and the Eagles down by two, the 49’ers were stopped on a third-and-three. This created a field-goal try of 42 yards. The Niners, however, were called for an offensive pass interference penalty on the third down play. Decline the penalty, right? Let them kick the field goal – worst case scenario – down by five; best case – still down by two. Coach Kelly accepted the penalty and the 49’ers got a first down on the next play and eventually kicked a field goal which was eleven yards closer and allowed the continued possession to use three more minutes of precious game time.

3. Despite #1 and #2, the Eagles still had a chance to win the game. Two minutes were left in the game and the Eagles were on the 49’ers one-yard line. They have LeSean McCoy and they have Darren Sproles; one can move the pile and one can seemingly go under the pile. Instead, as Tony Dungy pointed out in a postgame show, the Eagles chose twice to throw the ball with the linebackers playing 5 yards off the line of scrimmage. At least run it once. As I am sure you have already guessed, both pass attempts were unsuccessful.

So there’s my beef. Let me repeat – I am not a coach, nor do I profess to be one. But, I did stay at a Holiday Inn once!

1. Has anyone had a classier exit from sports than Derek Jeter? There was walk-off drama in his last at-bat in Yankee Stadium and an RBI base hit in his final at-bat ever at Fenway Park. Jeter made a point of shaking every Red Sox players’ hand before the game and telling them how much he enjoyed competing against them. He even stopped at the mound to shake the pitcher’s hand because he did not get a chance to do that before the game. Jeter finished his career #6 all-time in hits, #7 in at-bats, and #9 in runs scored. And kudos to the Red Sox for honoring Jeter in a perfect way.

2. We are four weeks into the NFL season (one-quarter of the way) and there are only two undefeated teams left. Seattle and Denver, right? Uh, no. It’s Arizona and Cincinnati! This is going to be a strange, strange season. Those suicide pools, where you pick one guaranteed winner each week, but you can’t re-pick the same team again are probably done by now. This year, you could start one every four weeks.

3. The baseball playoffs started this week. If you’re a fan, expect very little sleep FOR the next three weeks or so. Night games start late, end late, and seem to take forever.

4. I watched Whitehall take apart Parkland on Friday night. Before the game, the “experts” were all picking Parkland to win and most thought rather easily. That didn’t happen. That’s why you play the game. The Zephyrs travel to Easton (both undefeated) this week. It’s on RCN-TV LIVE at 7:00 with Chris Michael and John Leone.

5. If you are interested in Lafayette football this week, show me some love on Friday night at 6:30. I will be in the Bronx to do an audio-cast of the Lafayette-Fordham Patriot League football game. The game will be televised by the CBS Sports Network (on the RCN dial), but Mike Joseph and I will be doing an audio broadcast on the internet at Watch the game on TV, turn the sound down, and use the computer to hear our biased Lafayette broadcast. Just a thought.

Gary's Picks
(Last Week – 9-4; Seasonal Record – 34-27: 56%)


Gary Laubach About Gary Laubach

Gary began his broadcasting career with Twin County in 1972. Twin County eventually became C-TEC and then RCN. Gary holds the dual role of Director of Media Services and Sports Director/Broadcaster. He currently broadcasts about 140 sports and entertainment broadcasts a year, and oversees the scheduling of all sporting events for RCN.

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