With the Eagles off to a 4-1 start and sitting atop the NFC East, it would pretty tough to justify any rants thrown their way this week. So this will be an anti-Eagle edition of Rob's Rants. But that doesn't mean the NFL is off the hook.
I love the NFL. Much to the chagrin of my family, I could and usually do watch it from 1 p.m. Sunday until whatever time the night game ends. Same goes for Monday Night Football. But I have never been a fan of the Thursday night games, for varying reasons. This week, our TNF antenna is up because the Eagles play in the game. It's actually a great matchup. A pair of 4-1 teams, both with exciting young quarterbacks, leading their conference and divisions. What's not to love? Here's what.
For starters, I'd like to be able to bask in the smackdown that was the win over the Cardinals. A full week of marinating in Carson Wentz's four-touchdown performance, the defense's impressive game and Kenjon Barner's returns would have been wonderful. Anyone who's been watching Eagles games for more than a decade knows they rarely win games comfortably, the kind of games you literally are not concerned about at all in the fourth quarter. Sunday was one of those non-white knuckles, agita-free kind of games that don't come along very often. Not to mention the high of a 4-1 start.
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It would be nice to revel in that a few days longer before dealing with an equally hot Panthers team. One of the beauties of the NFL is the yin and yang element of its nature. You normally have six or seven days before the next one. That allows for a 3-4 day period of mourning or celebration from the previous game. Then it's time for the lookahead, which is the slow build to the next opponent. We all get to play coaches and coordinators as we break down whoever our team is taking on next. Playing once a week with that amount of time in between makes that league unique. The NFL, for all its faults, is the only league that has not hit a saturation point with its games. You can't find one or multiple games on every night like other in-season sports. Having a four-day turnaround kills the mid-week fun.
By its very nature, football should be played only once a week. The players need at least that amount of time to heal and recharge for the next contest. The league constantly preaches players safety. Protocols and more stringent rules have been put in place to protect the players. And the decision-makers deserve kudos. But don't try to tell me you're all about the welfare of your employees on the field and then ask them to play a violent, physical toll-taking game, four days later. You're not all about the good fortunes of the players, you're about the fortunes you're lining your pockets with. If you've seen any of these games, you know the performances are not up to standard. Players rightfully are tired and beat up from the game they played four days earlier. The product is usually bad.
For the past two games, Eagles fans not in attendance or listening on the radio have been subjected to Dick Stockton and Chris Myers calling their games in consecutive weeks. This is cruel and unusual punishment. No fanbase should be forced to listen to this not-so-dynamic duo. Stockton was bad when I was a kid listening to him call the NBA and Sixers-Celtics playoff games. That was 30-something years ago. He has not improved with age. He has no feel for the moment and misses blatant plays throughout a game. Myers, who's also been around a long time as well, lacks any kind of juice, he's a cure for insomnia, and he shares Stockton's obliviousness when it comes to a big play or moment. The Eagles are too good to get the "Y" and "Z" broadcast teams. Stockton and Myers should make the Joe Buck haters reconsider their stances.
Considering the team has one reliable starting pitcher heading into the 2018 season, I'm glad one of Phillies president Andy MacPhail's priorities is the P.A. system at Citizens Bank Park. I hear Dan Baker could project as a solid No. 2 if they can just get his sound straightened out. "Now starting for the Phillies, me."
Outside the paint
We're only three preseason games in but at some point, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz are going to have to be willing to shoot the ball from outside the lane. We knew going in this was going to be an issue with Simmons and the hope was he would improve his shot this offseason. So far, we don't know because he won't pull the trigger. Fultz shot the ball better than 41 percent from three in his lone year in college at Washington. But he decided to tinker with his shot after summer league for whatever reason and whether it's the new form or a sore shoulder, he appears hesitant. Again, we're not even out of the preseason, but something to keep your eye on.