While watching the tape of the Eagles-Seahawks game late Sunday night and then again early Monday morning, I was hoping to hear some perspective on what was going down from CBS analyst Phil Simms. Instead, I got about what I expected -- many words and zero context.
Simms is what we call at the race track a MOTO man, a Master of the Obvious. He watches what just happened and tells everybody what they just saw.
Jim Nantz asked a terrific question after Zach Ertz’s long catch-and-run touchdown that was called back because Nelson Agholor lined up off the line of scrimmage: How much, Nantz asked Simms, does a penalty like that really throw off a defense?
It should have elicited a quick answer: not at all.
Instead, Simms either did not listen to the question or did not understand it, going off on a long riff about when penalties are called in that situation, what officials let a team get away with and what they don’t. He completely missed the point his play-by-play man was making for him, a perfect setup for an easy answer.
When the Eagles got the ball back a series later, CBS had a great replay shot of an Eagles coach (Doug Pederson, they said; I couldn’t tell) gesturing wildly for Agholor to get up to the line of scrimmage and then reacting with disgust as the play starts.
Only then, when Nantz asked the question again, did Simms finally say the penalty, which obviously had to be called, had "no impact on the defense.’’
When C. J. Prosise went off on that 72-year touchdown run for Seattle, poor Jalen Mills whiffed on the tackle in the hole. But the worse sin on the play was committed by Rodney McLeod. He ran straight to the line of scrimmage from his deep safety position, just like a basketball defender flying at a player who still has his dribble. Leaving an entire side of the field open, with no angle and no way to stop his forward momentum, McLeod let Prosise escape to the outside with no chance to catch him.
If Simms noticed, he did not say. The man obviously knows football. He was nearly perfect in a Super Bowl as the Giants quarterback. But, as a viewer, I want the analyst to tell me something I don’t know, either about a play, a player or a team. Simms almost never does.
He leaves you wanting more, not unlike the 2016 Eagles, a team that at 5-5 is proving once again that Bill Parcells was wrong when he said that you are what your record says you are. That is true of some teams (the Browns certainly), but not every team.
The Eagles are last in the NFC East, with the second-best point differential. Why are they 5-5 when a 241-186 spread suggests 7-3?
There was the fumble in Detroit, the hideous third-down play call in Dallas, the buffoonery in the Meadowlands. We all know that in this town.
With six games to play and four behind Dallas, the division certainly seems out of reach. But the wild card, with so much NFC mediocrity beyond the Cowboys and Seahawks and four games at home, where the Eagles have been dominant while going 4-0, is certainly in play.
The difference between them and other teams in the division is road record. The Eagles are 1-5. The other three division teams have a combined three road losses.
So, the playoffs are still there for a team that has probably played better than its talent and achieved less than how it has played. With that, on to the Packers and Jon Gruden.