A Gut-Check Win to Send the Eagles to First Place: Post-Game Thoughts

Today, the Eagles nearly blew a 24 point lead to the Washington Redskins en route to what would have been their 11th straight home loss. They let the Redskins hang around entirely too long before Brandon Boykin ended the comeback effort with an end-zone interception. It was an ugly fourth quarter, no doubt. Could the Eagles have made it easier, given that they dominated the ‘Skins throughout the first three quarters? Yes.

The fact of the matter is this: I would not go back and change anything. I’m elated that the Eagles won exactly the way they did.

It was beautiful to see Nick Foles and the offense come out clicking with 24 first-half points. It was also beautiful to watch the defense not only shut out Washington in the first half, but punish Robert Griffin III and completely dominate the game. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one thinking about a possible shutout in the third quarter.

Early in the fourth quarter, Griffin III scrambled left and found Darrel Young for a 62-yard touchdown. That was followed by a 2-point conversion to make it a two-possession game. No big deal right? The offense was sure to come back, eat some time off the clock, and maybe even add another score to put the game out of reach for good. Then Washington got the ball back and began to mount a drive until RGIII heaved a pass up into the end zone. Aldrick Robinson turned around to the ball a split second before cornerback Roc Carmichael did and made a spectacular catch for another touchdown. After another two-point conversion, it was now a 24-16 game and a lot of nervous fans at Lincoln Financial Field.

After Nick Foles was stopped short on a 3rd down run, Donnie Jones punted 70 yards to pin the Redskins inside their own 10. With a raucous home crowd and 93 yards to go, the Eagles defense seemed primed to put the game away, right? Not so fast. Washington drove ALL the way down the field and had many fans thinking about how to stop another two-point conversion or how to win in overtime. Then, with about 40 seconds left, the Eagles got pressure on RGIII, forced him to heave a pass into the end zone off his back foot, and Brandon Boykin came up with the game-saving interception.

And I would not have this win any other way.

The last two seasons, especially 2012, the Eagles would let opponents run up and down the field on them to the point where the defense would almost give up. The fans came to expect failure. Under Bill Davis this season, the Eagles have had their bumps in the road defensively. However, since Week 4, they have not allowed more than 21 points in a game and have come up with timely plays. This was a game for the defense to win, and they did. The great Andy Reid teams of the early 2000’s won games in the clutch and had players who rose to the occasion, especially defensively. The main reason I am happy the Eagles won the way they did is because it revealed this team’s character. This is becoming a group of winners, similar to the early Reid years.


A winning culture is being established. Players are rising up in key moments. The recent draft classes, especially the 2012 class, is forming a very strong nucleus that is going to be the core of this team going forward. Today, the team faced adversity late in a game and pulled through. Most of all, there is meaningful football for the fans and players to take part in during the latter stages of the season. This is so exciting, to watch this promising group of players come together.

Heading into the home stretch of the 2013 season, in large part because of wins like today, the Eagles are a team that is believing in one another. It sure is a nice change-up from the last two seasons. The team is all alone atop the NFC East and only getting better. Cruising to a 24-0 or 24-8 victory over the Redskins would have shown that the Eagles could get a lead, hold a team down, and win a big home game. Winning the way they did today revealed that there is a group of never-say-die players on this team who trust one another, who have fought and overcome adversity. Enjoy this win Eagles fans, we’re in for a fun December.

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Eagles vs. Packers Preview: Will the Real Nick Foles Step Up?

November 10, 2003. The Eagles were three games into a nine-game winning streak in a season that would vault them to the NFC’s top seed and their third straight NFC Championship Game. Philadelphia visited Lambeau Field on a rainy Monday Night and went back and forth with the Packers in a defensive struggle. With less than two minutes left in the game, Donovan McNabb found Todd Pinkston in the back of the end zone to give the Eagles a gritty 17-14 win to vault the team to 6-3.

November 10, 2013. Exactly one decade later, the Eagles travel to Lambeau Field with a record of 4-5 and a golden opportunity to get to 5-5 facing a Green Bay Packer team missing arguably the best quarterback in the league, Aaron Rodgers. A win could put the Eagles tied atop the division (C’mon Saints) and in the thick of things in the NFC East and NFC in general.

The Eagles have seemed to be one of the league’s unluckiest teams in the league the past two or three years, but that seems to be changing at least for the moment. The Eagles put it all together in a dominant effort in Oakland led by Nick Foles’ seven touchdown passes. The next night, Aaron Rodgers went down with an injury and the Eagles seem primed to make a move in the playoff picture.

This brings up topic of Nick Foles. Who is he? With a win this Sunday at Lambeau, where the Packers have not lost consecutive games since 2008, it is time to seriously consider him as the quarterback of the present and future. Foles has officially passed the Bobby Hoying test. After his miserable, forgettable performance on October 20 against Dallas, Foles would have been immediately linked to the infamous Hoying had he fallen flat on his face in Oakland. The question was to see how Foles would respond to that game. He responded with a perfect passer rating and by tying the single-game touchdown pass record. With 13 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and enough pass attempts to qualify for the league’s leaders, Foles ranks among the best in the game.


The sample size of Foles’ 2012 performance with a depleted team and now his 2013 production has been remarkable enough to the point where the Dallas game can be viewed as a anomaly. The time is now for Foles to not necessarily replicate last week’s performance, but display excellence on a week-to-week basis. The Eagles are in search for a franchise quarterback, and franchise quarterbacks win tough road games in November and December. This is the golden opportunity for Nick Foles to prove to coach Chip Kelly he is the real deal and drafting a quarterback next April is not a top priority. He can do just that by winning in Lambeau and leading the Eagles on a playoff chase.

Without Rodgers, the Eagles need to key in on Eddie Lacy, the excellent rookie running back who leads all NFL running backs in yardage since Week 5. Seneca Wallace is unlikely to beat an Eagles defense that has not allowed more than 21 points in a game since Week 4 and has not allowed a passing touchdown in the last two games. Bill Davis’ much improved unit will undoubtedly focus on the Green Bay running game to hold the Packers enough to let Foles and the offense take over.

This Sunday, I think Foles will throw his first interception of the season, maybe even two. However, I think he continues to do the little things representative of a franchise QB and puts up enough points on the scoreboard. The Eagles will do enough on defense to keep Eddie Lacy and James Starks from taking over the game, and grind out a tough road win to get to 5-5. Also, for the sake of it, they reverse the outcome of the 2010 playoff game in Philadelphia and win by the same score Green Bay did.

Prediction: Eagles 21, Packers 16

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Another Week, Another Winless Opponent… Can the Eagles get to .500?

Six weeks into the 2013 season, the parity and unpredictability of the NFL is proving itself yet again. The New York Jets and Cleveland Browns are both 3-2. Houston and Atlanta, popular preseason picks to play in the Meadowlands this February, are a combined 3-7. The Pittsburgh Steelers have not won a game. Also, the Philadelphia Eagles, at 2-3 under first-year head coach Chip Kelly, lead the NFC East and would play a home playoff game if the season ended today.

Of course, so much can change so quickly in the NFL, and all the statistics just mentioned could be irrelevant in two weeks. The one statistic that Eagle fans everywhere would like to see stay the same is the last one: their team hosting a playoff game. The task this week is to beat a reeling Tampa Bay Buccaneers team to earn a 3-3 record on the season and build something that fans haven’t experienced in nearly three years: a meaningful winning streak.

Nick Foles is in at quarterback for an injured Michael Vick and this means a number of things. Obviously, it means another year of Vick having to hear the “you can’t stay healthy for 16 games” charade. More importantly, it changes the Eagles’ offense. Since day one, Chip Kelly has said that he does not need a mobile quarterback to run “his offense” and he will adapt “his offense” to the skill set of the players he has to work with. This would mean no read-option and much less running out of the shotgun, as Foles possesses nowhere near Vick’s athleticism. The running threat of Vick has opened up gaping running lanes for LeSean McCoy on read-option plays and shotgun runs all year long. As a result, McCoy is the NFL’s leading rusher and having an All-Pro season. When Vick was taken out of the game last week vs. the Giants, “Shady” was keyed in on and bottled up. Chip Kelly must adapt his offense this week to keep McCoy effective against a stout Tampa Bay defense. McCoy keep the Bucs honest so they can’t zone in on Foles and force him to beat Darrelle Revis, Dashon Goldson, and their excellent secondary.

Despite the Buccaneers talent and production on defense, they are what their record says they are: 0-4. Along with only averaging 11 points per game, they have been a team in turmoil. They are fresh off the Josh Freeman drama and head coach Greg Schiano is gradually losing his locker room. Now Freeman is in Minnesota, and rookie Mike Glennon had a very underwhelming debut at QB against the Arizona Cardinals. This would all seem to bode well for an Eagles team coming off a nice win in New York. Unfortunately, the Eagles are not a team that can take anybody lightly. They need to show up and simply outplay the Buccaneers, not assume they’re more talented and can just coast in the Florida sun. Yes, the Eagles won in Tampa last season, but it took a last-second TD to win it. If that one pass falls incomplete, it’s a different story.

There are reasons to be worried. The football gods have not kind to the Eagles when facing Tampa Bay. The 2002 NFC Championship Game, the last game at Veterans Stadium, was arguably the most devastating loss in franchise history. In 2006, The team rebounded from two first-half pick sixes thrown by Donovan McNabb to take a late one point lead in Tampa, only to see Matt Bryant sink them with a 62 yard field goal as time expired. Right now, Tampa Bay is a fresh team off their bye week, facing the Eagles at home and due for a win. Also, on the field this season, the Eagles defense has yet to put together back-to-back solid defensive efforts. Not even good, just solid. A strong outing against a poor offense would be a huge step forward for defensive coordinator Bill Davis, who vows to build a feared unit here.


In both of the Eagles’ wins, they have had to score 30+ points. They also put up 33 in a losing effort against San Diego. Despite the fact the Buccaneers are due to finally win a game, I think the Eagles prevail in a different way than normal this Sunday. I don’t see Nick Foles putting up 30 points on this Tampa Bay defense. The Eagles’ defense started to catch some fire last week and now they get an opponent that is abysmal moving and scoring the football. This game will likely be the lowest scoring game of the Kelly era to date. The Eagles will take what Tampa gives them and score their share of points, force two interceptions against Glennon, and pull of the road win to get to 3-3. Dallas beats Washington on Sunday Night Football to get to 3-3 and set up a battle for first place in Philadelphia on October 20. I think this season’s about to get real exciting.

Eagles 20, Buccaneers 16

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A Giant showdown awaits… What this Game Means for the Eagles

When many sit back and reflect on their current situations in life, they oftentimes say to themselves “What a difference a year makes,” whether that be a good thing or a bad thing. In the Eagles’ case, it’s more like what a difference a month makes. Largely due to a busy personal schedule, and partially due to a lack of words or answers, it’s been a nearly a month since I posted on this site. My last post is a recap of the opening Monday Night game against the Redskins when hopes in Philadelphia were sky-high and it felt more like 2004 than 2012.

A month later, the Eagles have (to put it mildly) tumbled back down to earth. The Week 2 loss to San Diego was certainly a disappointment, but fans were able to move on because the offense looked just as good as it did Week 1. When Andy Reid and the Chiefs came to town Week 3, the Eagles’ offense was turnover-prone and nonexistent aside from a long LeSean McCoy touchdown run and a 61-yard run by Michael Vick. Then, with ten days to prepare for Peyton Manning and the near-unstoppable Denver Broncos, the Eagles hung in the game until the third quarter. Then, the bottom fell out in the blink of an eye and the Eagles were suddenly down by 39 and limping out of Denver at 1-3.

In the span of 11 days, the Eagles went from being 1-0 and the talk of the NFL to 1-3 and feeling like 2012 all over again. Since beating New York 19-17 on September 30 of last year to improve to 3-1, the Eagles have won just 2 of sixteen games. That’s right, 2-14 with 8 straight home losses. The fans are tired of the losing. While it was reasonable to expect the Chip Kelly regime to take time to build, the fans are just sick of losing, and rightfully so.

Like most situations, there is a light at the end of the tunnel here. Dallas leads the NFC East with a whopping record of 2-2. Behind the Eagles are the 1-3 Redskins and the 0-4 Giants. The Giants team that the Eagles face this Sunday is an utter mess. They can’t protect Eli Manning, they can’t run the football, and they can’t defend. All bets are off when the Eagles and Giants collide, however, as the two teams know each other so well. Also, the Eagles have already played their hardest part of the schedule. They just faced two unbeaten teams and could have beaten one if they didn’t turn the football over. They face two winless teams in their next two games and do not face another team that currently has a winning record until the Lions (3-1) on December 8.

So, what to expect Sunday? An interesting game, for sure. No Eagles-Giants game is boring, and this game should continue that trend with both teams fighting for their seasons. With their offensive firepower and lackluster defense, the Eagles find themselves in shootout after shootout. If they can pull out the road victory in New York and the Cowboys lose to Denver, the Eagles will tie for the lead in the NFC East.


The hardest part of the equation here is winning in New York. The Eagles need to take care of business and win for just the third time in the last seventeen games. Just typing that statistic makes me cringe. This may turn out to be nothing more than a rebuilding season for the team, but with the state of the division and the current offensive pieces in their prime, the Eagles could still make a run at the postseason. It would be fun for the fans, fun for the team, and a great start for this new era in Philadelphia.

The fans are tired of losing. The team has to be as well. Last week’s blowout loss in Denver was the perfect opportunity to completely forget about the previous game and completely focus on the New York Giants. It’s time to start winning games and get the lifeless feeling of 2012, one that’s lingered far too long into 2013, away from this team once and for all. With tempered expectations, I see the Eagles pulling out a win this Sunday. They can’t afford to wait any longer, it’s time to get the season back on track right now.

Eagles 34, Giants 23

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A Big Win with a Little Bit of Perspective

What more could Eagles fans have asked for? Well, some. The Eagles nearly relinquished a 33-7 second half lead. Michael Vick took more hits than one would like and was noticeably limping by the end of the game. The offense all but stalled after a spectacular LeSean McCoy touchdown run early in the 3rd quarter. Several second-half drives were killed by penalties that simply cannot continue.

But for a team that was expected by ESPN the Magazine to lose this game 41-0, not too bad.

A win to kick off the Chip Kelly era and a strong, uplifting 1-0 start (not last year’s narrow escape in the opener in Cleveland) made fans, coaches, and players jubilant. There are countless positive things to say about this game. The offense started fast and furious, ending up with 24 first-half points (2 more on a safety). Aside from taking a few too many hits, Michael Vick was phenomenal. LeSean McCoy had a career game, the first of many explosive ones for him. DeSean Jackson was back to his Pro Bowl form of 2009 and 2010. Last but not least, the defense surprised almost everybody by completely shutting down the Redskins in the first half. They were stout, confident, and opportunistic. All four linebackers: Ryan, Kendricks, Cole, and Barwin, played lights out. For the first three quarters, the Eagles flat out embarassed the Redskins on their home turf.


Many fans, including myself, were able to exhale following this game. After so much anticipation of something so unknown, the Eagles treated their fans to a performance not seen at all in 2012. For the first time in what seems like forever, I personally cannot wait for the next game, the home opener vs. San Diego this Sunday. There is a buzz around the team, and everyone is excited to see what happens next. The questions on everyone’s minds are about whether this torrid offensive (and even defensive) pace can continue.

They say once is a fluke, twice is a trend, three times a habit. While the Eagles certainly hope this particular “once” isn’t a fluke, it is far too early to jump the gun and deem the Eagles a playoff team. If they can repeat Monday’s performance in this Sunday’s game vs. San Diego, then vs. Kansas City, and again vs. a bona fide Super Bowl contender in Denver, then let’s talk. It is very possible that this is a terrific Eagles team. However, it is also fair to wonder whether the amount of plays Kelly runs will take its toll physically on the team. It is fair to wonder whether the defense can repeat Monday night’s effort after a shaky preseason. It is fair to wonder if Vick can stay healthy to keep the offense performing at this high a level. It is also fair to wonder if opposing defenses will catch up to Kelly and his system.

To say the least, it’s early. Last year the Eagles started 2-0, then 3-1. Look how that turned out. Hope, excitement, and anticipation are through the roof. However, for now, it must be tempered. Enjoy the ride, this season is going to be fun to watch unfold. For the next few weeks just take in the action, enjoy the unique situation the Eagles are in, and pray for wins along the way. There is a very likely chance the Eagles are a team to be reckoned with.

This week, it’s all about beating San Diego and getting to 2-0. The Chargers are traveling cross-country on a short week after collapsing vs. Houston on Monday night. For the Eagles, the Chargers are very beatable, especially at home in a much-anticipated home opener. There have been countless questions about players buying into a coach who never coached or played in the NFL prior to this year. I stated in an earlier post that the most effective way to get players to buy into a program is to win games. Chip Kelly is off to a fantastic start in that regard. Now it is time to stay humble and keep winning.

2013 is bound to be an incredible and entertaining ride. Where it ends up, nobody knows. Truly anything is possible, and that reality has fans boundlessly excited. San Diego is next on the list and cannot be overlooked. The focus is not on Week 3, Andy Reid, and the Chiefs nor is it on Week 4 and Peyton Manning. 2-0 is the next stop on the Kelly train.

Prediction: Eagles 26, Chargers 19.

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On the final Sunday without football, Lets talk Week 1…

The wait has felt like forever since the fateful afternoon of December 30 in the Meadowlands, one that turned out to be Andy Reid’s swan song with the Eagles. After the long wait until minicamp, then the long wait until training camp, then the long wait until the preseason games, the most recent long wait (the regular season) is drawing to a close. This is the last Sunday without football for the next five months, meaning this week begins the official preparation for Week 1 and the Washington Redskins.

The first Monday Night Football game of the season will feature the much-hyped, if not controversial, return of quarterback Robert Griffin III to the Redskins’ starting lineup. RGIII will also share the national spotlight with the man making one of the most anticipated coaching debuts in recent memory, Chip Kelly. Next Monday will also mark the first clash between Michael Vick and Robert Griffin III, two electric athletes at the quarterback position who have been compared countless times.

RGIII has taken the league by storm in just one season, similar to what Vick did a decade ago. Never before had a quarterback devasted defenses with his legs like Vick did, forcing opposing coaches to develop new defensive concepts to defend him. 10 years later, RGIII and the Redskins re-introduced the read-option concept, something defenses have yet to figure out. Vick, now 33, is still one of the most electrifying playmakers in the game and appears rejuvenated under new coach Chip Kelly. Watching these two quarterbacks collide head-to-head is more than enough for the casual fan to tune in to this game.

Personally, I don’t like to predict every Eagles game because it is naturally hard for me to pick against my team. However, through all the storylines and subplots in this matchup, I am predicting the Eagles to defeat the Redskins and give Chip Kelly a win in his debut.

FedEx Field is going to explode with excitement at the return of their franchise quarterback, and they should. However, when push comes to shove, Robert Griffin III is not even nine months removed from ACL surgery. Sure, he has looked good running around in camp and in pregame warm-ups this preseason, but regular season games are an entirely different scenario. I compare the current RGIII situation to a similar one the Eagles encountered in 2007.

Donovan McNabb had torn his ACL in November 2006 but was on track to return for the 2007 opener. Everyone had raved about how good McNabb looked that summer throughout camp. When the regular season came around, expectations were that McNabb and the offense would pick up at the torrid pace they left off in 2006. However, the Eagles started 2007 with back-to-back losses. In Week 4, McNabb was sacked twelve, yes twelve, times in an ugly loss at the Giants that dropped the team to 1-3. McNabb was not the same early on that season because he had limited mobility coming off knee surgery. By late October and into November, McNabb started to move around much better and showed more flashes of his mobility. By December, McNabb was fully healthy and led the team to three straight wins to close out the year.

The bottom line is this: Recovery from a major knee injury as a mobile quarterback takes time. RGIII will make his share of plays against the Eagles, but it is unfair to expect him to be the same as he was last year. Yet.

Because of the precedent that Adrian Peterson set in 2012, many expect RGIII to bounce back from knee surgery and be the same, if not better, right away. While I don’t put that past RGIII, I don’t expect it from him.

At the same time, don’t expect Michael Vick and the Eagles’ offense to do what they did last time they faced the Redskins on Monday Night Football in Washington. On that magical night in 2010, Vick hit DeSean Jackson for an 88-yard TD on the opening play. He went on to account for 6 TDs (4 passing, 2 rushing) in a 59-28 rout.


In the end, the Eagles defense will stop a rusty Redskin offense just enough times and force a timely turnover or two. As the Eagles’ QB, Michael Vick has never lost to the Redskins in a game he started and finished. Kelly’s offense, led by Vick, will put up enough points to give the Eagles a win in Chip Kelly’s debut and start the season 1-0. Prediction: Eagles 30, Redskins 17.

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Kelly Picks Vick… So Now What?

After seven months on the job, yet sooner than some anticipated, Chip Kelly has decided who will be the quarterback of his offense in his first year as Eagles’ head coach. The man is none other than Michael Vick, Andy Reid’s quarterback for the past three years in Philadelphia. Upon Kelly’s hiring, many felt that Vick could be rejuvenated due to success Kelly has had with mobile quarterbacks in the past. Doubters said that he lacked the ability to make quick decisions, something required in Kelly’s offense. Either way, Vick is the man in Philadelphia for 2013 and we are bound to find out just how well Kelly can actually utilize him.

Vick has been nothing short of spectacular so far this preseason. Nick Foles did not play bad by any stretch of the imagination, but Vick went above and beyond to snatch the job. Vick also seems as comfortable and confident he has since he was the MVP runner-up in 2010. The looming question is whether the Eagles will see the 2010 Vick or the injury and turnover-prone Vick from 2011 and 2012.

The truth is anything is possible. One would believe based off his training camp and preseason performance that Vick will make a smooth transition to this offense and the Eagles are primed to win games. That is entirely possible. Also, there is a very realistic chance that we have not seen the end of this quarterback controversy.

Since taking over for Kevin Kolb in Week 2 of the 2010 season, Vick has missed 12 starts due to injury. Even if he plays well early on this season, the injury bug could bite yet again and we will see (in all likelihood) Nick Foles, who proved he is capable of running Kelly’s offense. Anyone who has watched the Eagles over the years knows that one or two good games by a backup immediately means a quarterback controversy (ask A.J. Feeley and Donovan McNabb).

Kelly selecting Vick to be his quarterback this season means several things. One, Vick executed this offense the best of any of the quarterbacks throughout camp and the preseason. Secondly, Kelly is trying to win now. There is no “rebuilding.” Players and fans know that Kelly is trying to win this year by going with the 33-year-old Vick as opposed to starting Foles or Matt Barkley and letting them develop over time. Kelly’s choice also means that he recognizes Vick as the leader of the locker room. Vick’s teammates look up to him as a role model after all that he has gone through in life. Vick also takes on a larger-than-life persona among his peers, as many of his younger teammates grew up idolizing Vick on the Atlanta Falcons in the early 2000s. This made the decision to start Vick a popular one in the locker room. Not to mention, when the Riley Cooper drama took over the locker room a few weeks ago, it was Vick who took it upon himself to bring the team together. He spoke about giving Cooper a second chance, something Vick is obviously very familiar with.


Chip Kelly made the right decision selecting Michael Vick as his starter for 2013. The Eagles are not committed to him beyond this season, making the Vick-Kelly experiment a low-risk, high-reward situation. Due to Vick’s injury history, we still may see Foles and/or Barkley play this season. The final win-loss record of the Eagles behind Vick this season is anybody’s guess, but this decision is a testament to Chip Kelly realizing who the leader of the Eagles is and taking another giant step toward fully winning this locker room over as a head coach.

Next step: Winning games.

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