By Theodore N. Beitchman
Brian Baldinger only has 70,000 Twitter followers, which is small potatoes compared to President Trump’s 46 million.
But, unlike the hallucinations that emanate from Trump’s haunted house of a brain, Baldinger’s tweets are short and pithy, sometimes sweet, sometimes not, but always to the point.
The former Eagles’ offensive lineman, who also played for the Colts and Cowboys, has evolved into one of the toughest critics in the universe of football commentators, which he hones by broadcasting college and NFL games for Compass Media.
And he is just as on-point in person, which he demonstrated this week at a lunch at Ruth’s Chris at 18th and Market.
So, do you think the Eagles have a chance to beat the Falcons this Saturday in the NFL playoffs even though the world has written them off since quarterback Carson Wentz went down with an ACL injury on Dec. 10 in Los Angeles?
Absolutely. But the overreaction against the Eagles (even though they have the best record in the NFL, 13-3) is all about missing Carson Wentz.
Wentz is Michael Jordan in a football uniform. Before he went down he was the MVP of the league.
He proved it all year.
And there was no better example of how good he was than in the opener against the Redskins when he got away from a big rush and then spotted Nelson Agholor downfield for a miraculous 58-yard touchdown throw.
I only mention how good Wentz is, even though he can’t play this Saturday, because Nick Foles has been so bad as his replacement.
Just how badly has he played?
He’s 0-for-his-last 16 in third downs! That was one of Wentz’s strong suits.
But you can’t hide your quarterback.
They beat the Falcons in 2016, and even without Wentz they can beat them on Saturday.
The Eagles have three tights ends who they have to mix up — Zach Ertz, Brett Celek and Trey Burton.
And they have four healthy running backs with Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount, Corey Clement and Wendell Smallwood.
And none could have predicted how good Agholor would be in the slot.
But the Falcons have the fastest defense in the league, and the Eagle will have to adjust to that.
The Falcons are hobbled at left guard — they put Andy Levitre on IR and Ben Garland is only a fill-in. Their center Alex Mack is also hurt (calf injury), so the Eagles’ D-line will have some opportunities to clean up.
The Eagles’ front four has to be outrageously good for the Eagles to win.
They’ve got to slow down their rushers, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Easier said than done.
Matt Ryan also presents problems at quarterback.
He’s as tough as they come.
When the Falcons go up-tempo the Eagles have to be ready because Ryan can read defenses at the line as well as anyone besides Tom Brady.
Is it at all possible that Doug Pederson will bench Nick Foles and play Nate Sudfeld the way Nick Saban benched Jalen Hurts at halftime down 13-0 against Georgia, going with a freshman QB who brought them back to win the national title?
As I tweeted during the game Monday night, “That’s what great coaches do. They adjust when what they planned isn’t working.” So, yes, I could see Pederson benching Foles if he’s down 13-0.
There seems to have been more missed calls by referees this year than ever before. What’s up with that?
The NFL rule book is like reading “Canterbury Tales!”
What kind of a difference did personnel man Joe Douglas make this year?
The drafting of Derek Barnett was all Joe.
How about Andy Reid’s Chiefs blowing a three-TD lead and losing to the Titans?
Andy got away from the run, which Eagles fans will remember he did here. And the media are killing him in Kansas City.
What one quality does Wentz have that separates him from the pack?
To him, the play is never over. That’s why he’s the MVP of the league.