Extra Points: Getting a Read on Eagles and Putts
Thank God for the Masters.
Holding the tournament this weekend afforded me the opportunity to do some channel surfing Sunday. I was considerably more interested in seeing Dustin Johnson deliver a historic victory at Augusta National - he became the first player to ever reach 20-under par at the Masters - than watching the Eagles' 27-17 loss to the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.
Interestingly, both events featured Austin Johnson.
Dustin Johnson's younger brother has been his caddie since 2013. That Austin Johnson played a role that extended well beyond toting Dustin's bag for 72 holes. He had an interesting way of helping him read the tricky, speedy greens at Augusta, straddling the ball while Dustin examined the line of the upcoming putt.
"We spend a lot of time working on the putting and working on our lines and how we're reading putts, and so it definitely helps, and a lot of times we read them pretty much the same," Dustin Johnson told Golf.com. "So it just reassures me that I'm seeing it correctly and feeling it right."
Maybe that's my problem.
My twice-weekly rounds routinely feature at least two three-putts - I even four-putted the third hole at Cape May National two weeks ago. I usually see breaks that aren't there, probably because of my method of reading putts. A torn meniscus in my right knee and just plain old-age soreness in my left prevent me from crouching to get the proper line, so I usually bend at the waist for a quick glance, then take my chances.
Sometimes it works out. My usual playing partner - Tom Shagren - and I have an ongoing bet in which whoever has the fewest putts during a round wins a dollar. We've been wagering for about 10 years and I think I'm up two bucks.
The other Austin Johnson also contributed to a victory Sunday.
That Austin Johnson, a Galloway Township resident and St. Augustine Prep graduate, helped the Giants' defense hold Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz and company in check. The 6-foot-4, 314-pound defensive lineman tied his season high with two tackles. The Giants held the Eagles to their lowest point total since a 27-17 loss to Washington in the season-opener.
All the hype surrounding wide receiver Alshon Jeffery's season debut was overblown. Jeffery was a non-factor. He was targeted once and Wentz's pass sailed over his head. It was part of another uninspiring effort from the franchise quarterback. Wentz completed 21 of 37 passes for 208 yards but failed to throw a touchdown pass.
Hey, look on the bright side. He didn't throw an interception or cough up a fumble for the first time this season.
Coach Doug Pederson also had a bad game. He has yet to figure out a way to use rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts effectively. Hurts appeared for two plays and continued his season-long streak of bobbling at least one snap.
Pederson again made the ridiculous decision to attempt a two-point conversion after a touchdown by running back Corey Clements cut the Giants' lead to 21-17 in the third quarter. A simple PAT would have left the Eagles needing a field goal to tie the game. Instead, Wentz was sacked on the conversion attempt.
"I'm disappointed and I'm mad," Pederson said. "It's on me, the way we played."
It was also on defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who refused to respect Giants' quarterback Daniel Jones. Jones, who had an 80-yard run against the Eagles three weeks ago, burst up the middle for a 34-yard touchdown on the Giants' first possession.
Unlike that 80-yarder, which saw him become an internet sensation by tripping and tumbling to the ground without being touched, he remained upright until he reached the end zone.
"I tried to stay on my feet this time," Jones said.
Meanwhile, the Eagles are losing their footing.
At 3-5-1, they somehow stayed in first place in the NFC East, but it likely won't last long. Next week's trip to Cleveland (6-3) marks the start of a five-game stretch against tough, non-divisional opponents Seattle (6-3), Green Bay (7-2), New Orleans (6-2) and Arizona (5-3).
It's not too farfetched to think the Eagles will be 3-10-1 after those five games.
In fact, I'll bet a dollar on it.
I picked the Giants to beat the Eagles on Sunday. Turns out I can read the Birds better than I can read putts.