Sunday’s NFC Championship Game between the Eagles and 49ers was over before it started, an anticlimactic four quarters offering little in the way of drama. The game was all but handed to Philadelphia when quarterback Brock Purdy injured his elbow on the opening drive, only for his backup, Josh Johnson, to suffer a concussion early in the second half.
Barely able to grip a ball, much less throw a downfield pass with any zip or accuracy, Purdy returned but only threw two more passes, limiting San Francisco’s offense to running plays and, on one occasion, a pass from running back Christian McCaffrey out of the wildcat formation. Rather than empty the playbook, racking his brain for any remote trickery that might throw the Eagles’ unsuspecting defense for a loop, coach Kyle Shanahan played it surprisingly conservative, conceding the game with repeated hand-offs to McCaffrey, letting the clock run out on a season that was doomed the minute Haason Reddick made contact with Purdy’s arm.
Keep in mind, the Niners were already down to their third-string quarterback, losing starter Trey Lance and later Jimmy Garoppolo to injury. Even with talent galore on both sides of the ball, there are only so many rabbits a team can pull out of its hat, with the Niners, after weeks of getting by on smoke and mirrors, finally succumbing to natural selection, swallowed whole by a better, healthier opponent peaking at precisely the right time.
If anyone can relate, it’s Quinnen Williams, who experienced a similar phenomenon with the Jets this season, anchoring what was one of the league’s best defenses, only to be undermined at every turn by a hopelessly misguided offense that couldn’t hold up its end of the bargain. Williams, against his better judgment, pressed send on the following tweet, which he would later delete for obvious reasons.
Williams’ criticism may come off as harsh and unnecessary, but anyone who watched the Jets this year can understand where his frustration is coming from, watching his season go up in flames amid a burning tire wreck of poor quarterback play and an overwhelmed offensive coordinator (Mike LaFleur) who couldn’t stop the bleeding.
Fortunately for Williams, better times could be ahead with the Jets expected to address their quarterback deficiency this offseason, perhaps by trading for one of Derek Carr or disgruntled Packers vet Aaron Rodgers.