As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #11: Redskins at Eagles

The Nick Foles “magic carpet ride” continued last Sunday, and while Foles did not match his record breaking performance from the previous week, he still went 12 for 18 on the day and threw three touchdown passes, as the Birds defeated the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers, 27-13.

On the season, Foles now has 16 touchdowns without an interception, which is tied for 2nd in NFL history when it comes to touchdowns thrown to start a season without throwing an interception (some guy named Milt Plum did it back in 1960) and only four behind Peyton Manning’s record of 20, accomplished last season.

But while Foles’ numbers have been eye-popping, Eagles fans still have their doubts as to whether he is the answer and the future at quarterback.  It’s almost as if we are waiting for the day when he comes crashing back to earth and has a serious of awful games similar to the Cowboys game at home.

Why is it that in “Foles we do NOT trust”?  Here are my five theories:

1. Michael Vick dazzled us for 11 games in 2010 until he came back down to earth for good.

2.  Donovan McNabb, while the best quarterback in modern Eagles history, generally fell short in conference championships and his one Super Bowl appearance.

3.  Bobby Hoying had three gangbuster games to start his NFL career in 1997 before he became just an “average Joe” and disappeared into the crowd of working stiffs.

4.  Randall Cunningham was a human highlight reel, but looked like Clark Kent in the playoffs, going 1-4 during his time with the Eagles.

5. Ron Jaworski, while a solid NFL quarterback with the Birds, chose Super Bowl XV against the Raiders to have one of his worst games, much to the delight of Raiders linebacker Rod Martin.

The quarterback in Philadelphia is like the woman whom you get a great vibe from when you’re being aloof.  But start showing interest in her and boom…you’ve got no shot.

So perhaps that’s it…perhaps, as Eagles fans, we find it hard to trust, to BELIEVE, that maybe, just maybe, Nick Foles is not just another quarterback riding the magic chariot before the stroke of midnight arrives, and he turns into a pumpkin (a.k.a clipboard holding backup).

Perhaps the thought of having a mid to late round draft pick who becomes the next Russell Wilson or even the next (gulp) Tom Brady is something that we feel is never meant to happen in Philadelphia?  Perhaps it’s our recent sports history that creates a lack of confidence in our teams?

We are usually the ones that give up on talent in error or can’t seem to get the lucky lottery pick.  There’s Nic Vucevic’s success with the Orlando Magic, the inability of the Flyers to draft Patrick Kane, or giving up on young players such as JVR, Jeff Carter or Mike Richards (in hindsight too early).  Surely, if anyone can screw it up, it’s our “four for four”( to borrow an Anthony Gargano phrase) sports teams right??

If only the Eagles had chosen to go 4-12 in 2011 instead of 2012, maybe we would have acquired Andrew Luck or RG3.  And if only the Phillies had never traded a guy named Ryne Sandberg…

Being sandwiched between New York and DC, we as Philadelphians already have an inferiority complex.  But add to that only one championship in a span of thirty years, while the New Englanders and their clam “chowda” have celebrated eight just in this decade doesn’t help matters any.

But maybe this time will be different.  Just as the curse of Billy Penn was broken in 2008 because of a six-week magic carpet ride by the Fightin’ Phils, perhaps Nick Foles will turn out to be a real “franchise” quarterback, and not just a quarterback who advertises for a franchise on Broad Street but can’t bring a parade down it.

But first things first, there is still the matter of the “elephant in the room” known as the Eagles losing streak at home, which must be overcome.

The Redskins come into Lincoln Financial Field this weekend at 3-6, which was exactly their record last year at this point before they ran off seven straight victories and won the NFC East (ironically, they started that streak by beating the Eagles at home).  Robert Griffin (RG3) is healthier than he was in the Monday night opener, but the Eagles defense is also an improved bunch from that first game as well.

If the Eagles are to make a run at the NFC East, the home losing streak has to end this week.   And it will – Birds finally prevail at home, 27-20, and Eagles chants once again prevail on the Broad Street line heading home…

Amit’s Marquee Matchups of the Week (all times in EST and on Sunday unless otherwise noted):

Niners at Saints  4:25 PM FOX – The Niners laid an egg last week at home against the upstart Carolina Panthers and must now travel to the Big Easy, where this game will be anything but.  The good news?   Po-Boy sandwiches and Hurricanes to wash them down are in walking distance…

Chiefs at Broncos  8:30 PM NBC – “Whoa Nelly…this one’s gonna be a dandy” (as former ABC college football announcer Keith Jackson used to say) as this game features two teams with a combined record of 17-1.  But while the Chiefs, at 9-0, are the only remaining undefeated team left, truth is, they haven’t beaten a single team with a winning record.   This game will be a good benchmark for “Big Red” and his squad, not only because of the quality of the opponent, but because of 80,000 screaming Broncos fans in the light air of Mile High.

Patriots at Panthers  8:40 PM  ESPN – What looked like a “dud” a few weeks back is now a Monday night marquee matchup, featuring the Panthers defense against a potent Patriots offense.  Anyone know the over/under on compliments that Jon Gruden will throw out to both teams?

The Last Word – They needed to go shopping for a monster at the plate and a cheetah on the basepaths.  Instead, the Phils brought home an aging Byrd???

 

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #9: Eagles at Raiders

While I’m not at all in favor of the NFL’s desire to start a new franchise in London (sorry Brits), I am totally in favor of the NFL moving the Eagles remaining four home games to London, Mumbai, or even Guam for that matter.  Perhaps that’s what it will take to salvage the season.

What seemed like an anomaly has now grown into a “scarlet letter” of sorts for this franchise…ten straight losses at home, a feat not even accomplished during the lean years of the 60’s and early 70’s when this writer was not even part of the world population.   With each loss, the ire of the fans grows, as the Eagles approach the NFL record of fourteen straight losses at home.

On Sunday, the Eagles continued their offensive ineptitude, moving slower than an automobile trying to meander its way down the hairpin turns of San Francisco’s Lombard Street.   If you’re keeping score, the offense has scored exactly three points in two games, and even that was because of a gift DeMeco Ryans interception that gave the Birds the ball at the Cowboys 30 yard line.

The recent scoring drought not only has Eagles fans frustrated, but has prevented the faithful at the Linc from singing their fight song, “Fly Eagles Fly”, on a regular basis (after each touchdown).  Perhaps we need to follow Jacksonville’s lead (since they rarely score touchdowns either) and come up with a jingle for every first down like “Move those Chains! Move those Chains! Move those Chains, Whoo!”

Yes, that is the actual Jaguars song (whatever Jacksonville marketing guru came up with that should be fired), second only to their “We Are….Jaguars” chant.  No wonder they’re a losing franchise (personally, I’ll stick with my alma mater’s “We Are..Penn State” chant).

But going back to the Birds, what was once a promising situation at quarterback has now turned into a conundrum.  This past offseason, after fourteen seasons with Andy Reid at the helm, the Eagles decided on a “No Reid option”,  vying instead for Chip Kelly and his “read-option” offense.  But over the last two weeks, this so-called progressive offense has morphed into “read-optionless-injured”, with one QB hurt (Michael Vick), one recently concussed (Nick Foles), and one inexperienced (Matt Barkley).

Speaking of Barkley, while I give him a pass for not having much NFL experience, I don’t give him a pass for stating that he played “okay”.  One plays okay when the offense scores 14 or 17 points, not when you score zero points and you’re the quarterback for three quarters…OKAY???

So what happens when the Birds visit the “black hole” that is Oakland’s Almeda County Stadium this Sunday?  Of course, the Birds win with my man Nick Foles at quarterback.

That’s right…even after my whole diatribe above, the Eagles salvage the season and win this Sunday as long as Foles remains healthy enough to start.

Remember, you heard it here first peeps.  Of course, if I’m wrong, it could be a long flight back from the Bay Area for the Green Legion and its members.  At least there’s always Fisherman’s Wharf and some adult beverages from Napa Valley to  help dull the pain…

Amit’s Marquee Matchups of the Week (all times in EST and on Sunday unless otherwise noted):

Bears at Packers  8:40 PM ESPN  (Mon) – This is the perfect Sunday to finally rake the leaves that have been building up in your yard, as there is only one marquee matchup on the docket this weekend, and that is not till Monday night.  The Bears started out 3-0 this season but have come back down to earth as of late (don’t they always?), losing three of their last four games.  The Packers, with Aaron Rodgers at the helm, are quietly leading the NFC “Snowbelt” division at 5-2.  My prediction – there will be frost on the cheese.

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #8: Giants at Eagles

If I had told you before last week’s Eagles – Cowboys game that the Cowboys would score only 17 points, many in the Delaware Valley would have bet their house, their 401K retirement savings, and their kids’ college fund on an Eagles win.  But as a certain commentator on ESPN always says, “That’s why they play the games!”.

For the last game and a half, Nick Foles had been as accurate and steady as they come while filling in for the injured Michael Vick.  But at approximately the stroke of midnight Monday morning Kazakhstan time (1 PM EST), his “accuracy carriage” turned into a pumpkin, as he looked disillusioned and just plain disoriented while running the Eagles offense, resulting in a 17-3 loss that may be looked at three months down the road as the game that kept the Eagles out of the playoffs in 2013.

Come to think of it, even Kazakhstan’s favorite son, Borat, while being offensive to some, could have led the Birds to at least one offensive touchdown, causing Eagles fans to cry out “VERY NICE!  HIGH-FIVE!”

To add injury to insult, Nick Foles, who usually makes wise decisions, chose to hold the ball and get sacked on one particular play instead of throwing it away or running out of bounds, resulting in a concussion which will keep him out of Sunday’s game and possibly cause him to lose his starting job, which was his for the taking.

Rookie Matt Barkley came in to try and rally the Birds in the 4th quarter, but his three interceptions would probably have had Borat (and Eagles fans) spewing obscenities that I cannot repeat in this PG rated blog.

As Broad & Pattison turns, so does the Eagles quarterback carousel, as Michael Vick, suddenly healthy once again, gets his chance to win back the job he supposedly never lost as the Birds face the Giants this Sunday at the Linc.

Much has been made about the Eagles nine-game home losing streak, with many suggesting that the venue is to blame for the lack of a home-field advantage.  But while the rugged, blue-collar environment of the old donut-like Vet has been replaced by the wifi, the solar panels, and the EZ-Pass like concession stands at the Linc, it’s not as if the fans are sitting on their hands discussing Obamacare, the recent government shutdown, and the rise in their small-cap mutual funds while the Eagles are going for it on 4th down.

No, the reason for the Eagles woes at home is twofold – after they beat the Giants at home on Sept. 30th, 2012 to go to 3-1 on the season, they managed to win only one game the rest of the season as the team felt apart and finished 4-12.  Simply put, they were just a bad team last year…home or away.

This season, all three of their wins have come on the road but just look at the schedule and the picture is clear.  The three teams they beat this year have a combined win total of three….an average of one win each between them.

Contrast that with their three home losses, which are against teams that are averaging five wins on the season so far.  Simply put, the Eagles have faced better competition at home.

A win against the Giants this Sunday would not only snap the home loss hex, but would put the Eagles at 4-4 at the halfway point of the season…just where many thought they would be.   It’s hard to say about this game…I think the Birds will prevail, but I speak more with my heart than my head.  Birds win 24-20, but it’s not easy.   With this team, it never is.

Amit’s Marquee Matchups of the Week (all times in EST and on Sunday unless otherwise noted):

Cowboys at Lions  1:00 PM FOX – Perhaps they should bring back Emmitt Smith and Barry Sanders for this showdown in Motown.

Dolphins at Patriots  1:00 PM CBS – The Pats are leaking oil with all of their injuries so this may be a chance for the Dolphins to steal one.

Jets at Bengals  4:05 PM CBS – The Jets have two of their four wins on last-minute field goals after “gift” calls from the officials.  The Bengals may actually win their division this year.

The Last Word:   In the “weird stat” department, the last time the Eagles won a home game, none of the coaches of the four major sports teams in Philadelphia (Phillies, Eagles, Sixers, Flyers) held their current jobs.

 

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #6: Eagles at Bucs

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome, your 1ST PLACE, PHILADELPHIA EAGLES!

Yeah, I know…it sounds better than it actually is.   If this was the NFC West, a 2-3 record gets you seated in the back of the classroom and facing the wall with a “dunce” cap on.   In the NFC East, a 2-3 record means you’re the valedictorian of the class.

But for years, the NFC representative in the Super Bowl came from our division, and a 10-6 record didn’t even guarantee you a playoff berth.  So if we are the “NFC Least” for a few years, so be it.

Last Sunday’s game, a barnburner featuring two teams with a combined 1-7 record going in, didn’t seem like much of a contest on paper, but by the end of it, there was enough intrigue to go around, especially when it came to the Birds and their quarterback situation.

Most of the Eagles’ offense in the first half was predicated by the running of LeSean McCoy and Michael Vick, while the passing game was as ineffective as a drive from Center City to Manayunk on the Schuylkill in rush hour traffic.  But when Michael Vick’s hamstring injury forced Nick Foles to come in cold off the bench, the passing game seemed to come to life, even though Foles running ability might be on par with a hermit crab race on the Ocean City boardwalk.

Foles doesn’t have the natural athletic ability of Michael Vick (very few do), but he has a strong, and more importantly, accurate arm, and gets rid of the football quickly, while Vick seems to hold on just a tad bit too long.

Foles will likely get the start this week against Tampa, which is a team in chaos and ready to implode any minute.  Bucs head coach Greg Schiano is most likely near the end of his coaching tenure, as his “RA-RA” attitude may have worked when dealing with wide-eyed college kids at Rutgers, but won’t work with grown men who are professional athletes and getting paid handsomely to play football.

But while Tampa may be winless on the season, they still have a very good defense, especially with Darrelle Revis anchoring one of the corner spots, and this game will be a good test for the young Foles to see if he is capable of facing more dominating defenses in the league with some level of success.

Birds win this game but it’s a close one (23-17) due to taking the Bucs too lightly,  and fans look forward to the following week and a showdown at home with the hated Cowboys for 1st place in the NFC Least.

Amit’s Marquee Matchups of the Week (all times in EST and on Sunday unless otherwise noted):

Packers at Ravens  1:00 PM FOX – One of four intriguing intra-conference marquee matchups on this week’s docket.

Lions at Browns  1:00 PM FOX – You are not hallucinating….the Browns ARE one of the marquee matchups this week.  J.M. (a reader from Cleveland) will be thrilled.

Titans at Seahawks  4:05 PM CBS – The Titans are on the way up with head coach Mike Munchak at the helm, but this game, being played in the Pacific Northwest, is definitely a loss.

Cardinals at Niners  4:25 PM FOX –The “Cactus” vs the “Kaepernick”

Saints at Patriots  4:25 PM FOX  – Brees vs. Brady…what more can a football fan ask for??

The Last Word – Last year at this time, the “grizzly veteran coach” award as the longest tenured coach in Philadelphia went to Andy Reid, who was in the middle of his 14th season with the Eagles.  With the firing this week of Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette, that award now goes to current Eagles head coach Chip Kelly, who has completed (drumroll please) a whole ONE-QUARTER OF ONE YEAR with the Eagles.

Kinda tells you how bad things are on the Phila. sports scene.  Broad & Pattison isn’t turning out champions or even winners these days…it’s on a recessionary track with no bailout in sight.   Except for Ed Snider’s quick handed bailouts, which are causing more pain than gain…