Tag Archives: Andrew Luck

Chip Kelly, Marcus Mariota, and How the Power of the ‘What If’ Question Could Turn NFL Economics Upside Down

“Let’s dispel that right now. I think that stuff’s crazy. You guys have been going with that stuff all along. I think Marcus is the best quarterback in the draft. We will never mortgage our future to go all the way up to get somebody like that, because we have too many other holes we have to take care of.”

It has been 50 days since Chip Kelly stood behind a podium and delivered the aforementioned quote. On the surface at the time, it was viewed as Kelly bowing out of Marcus Mariota sweepstakes and attempting to pour water on what he viewed as a media-induced fire.

The biggest change between then and now — the morning of the NFL Draft — is also the most obvious change — time.

On a Wednesday afternoon in March, Kelly wasn’t faced with a now-or-never franchise altering decision with the quarterback of his dreams dangling right before his eyes behind a forbidden fence. It’s easy to say something seven weeks before one actually has to decide on something.

None of this is to say Kelly is a liar. Rather, it’s to float the question ‘What’s his definition of mortgaging ‘the future’? And how might his definition deviate from the norm given the anything but normal circumstances?

NFL economics are fascinating in that they are often bound by certain unwritten but understood parameters. If a team hypothetically called the Indianapolis Colts right now and offered their next 25 first round picks for Andrew Luck, the Colts would do it in a heartbeat, but the Colts would never be presented with that scenario because no team would call with that type of proposal.

Head hurt? Yeah, mine too.

Kelly will not call the Tennessee Titans and offer 25 future first round picks for Mariota tomorrow night. I can guarantee that, but to guarantee anything else would be naive and ignorant to the way the Eagles czar operates and the power of human psychology that could be at work before him.

Mariota is Kelly’s Andrew Luck, his can’t-miss prospect. While he has never seriously compared the two young quarterbacks he has mentioned Mariota in the same breath as Peyton Manning, an even higher compliment.

For the past few weeks, I have looked for reasons to rule such an unrealistic reunion out. I got nowhere and instead ending up writing this, unable to dismiss the possibility. Folks who know much more about the inner-workings of the team have sought for the same roadblocks and kept on traveling.

Bargaining power is a valuable and envious asset, and in this particular situation, the Tennessee Titans have all of it right now. Or do they?

Based on Ken Wisenhunt’s coaching career, there is deductive reasoning to believe that the Titans have little interest in the Oregon quarterback. One of the most intense dynamics would be if the Titans in a game of chicken with the Eagles drive up the price so high that Kelly calls their bluff and folds. Would Tennessee actually invest a second overall pick in a quarterback it may not be fully sold on or would they select someone else and leave Mariota on the board where Kelly could jump back in and give up less?

More accurate of a bargaining power statement is to say that the Titans if they play it right have much of it, and Kelly has none.

Decision power, while much riskier of a principle, is even more powerful than bargaining power though. And decision power in this instance could theoretically belong to Kelly. And if decision power in this instance does theoretically belong to Kelly, it may not be a difficult decision at all.

Two words. One question: ‘What if’

It’s a phrase that can dominate our lives. We can ask it optimistically, pensively, and sometimes even regrettably, with the goal of avoiding the third scenario. Oftentimes it’s posed because the goal that follows the ‘what if’ is not attainable. That’s painful. Other times, it’s asked because the ‘what if’ was there for the taking, and one didn’t seize the opportunity. That’s much more painful.

What if Mariota is there to be had and all it takes is one more young player, perhaps one as talented as Fletcher Cox, one more future pick? Would Kelly be able to sleep at night knowing his star pupil, the player he molded into one of the top quarterbacks in college football was available and he didn’t go the distance to get him?

The ‘what if’ question can be all-encompassing. One is resigned to the notion that it will make future tasks more difficult. Avoiding major injuries, identifying underrated talent, and player development skyrocket from highly important to super essential with hardly any margin for error.

With the extra pressure though comes an unconventional way to land a franchise quarterback and turn league norms upside-down while progressing from good to great and legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

But what if it’s not worth it?

What if it is and Kelly never dares to find out?

Stay Alive and Survive: Five Numbers I Hope to See in the Box Score when Eagles-Redskins Concludes

I would be lying to you if I said I was fully confident in the outcome of today’s game.

The Eagles have not won in nearly three and a half weeks going back to Thanksgiving. Weaknesses on both sides of the ball (specifically the quarterback and secondary) have been exposed as a rather firm grip on the NFC East slipped away, but there is hopefully light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a 3-11, dysfunctional Washington Redskins team.

In three games going back to Week 1 of the 2013 season, Chip Kelly has owned Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett (so much so that we wrote a post specifically about it), averaging 31.3 points per game.

Earlier in the week, I had some bad flashbacks to a Week 16 game in D.C. in 2008 between these two teams that the Eagles lost 10-3, making their road to the playoffs a bit more difficult then, but that seemed more characteristic of an Andy Reid coached team.

Despite a rough two weeks, the Eagles have been very good against inferior teams under Chip Kelly this season, and that should ideally continue today.

Let’s take a look at five numbers I hope to see that should get the Eagles to 10-5.

  1. Robert Griffin sacked at least five times — Part of the reason the first Eagles-Redskins game was so close is because of the amount of time Kirk Cousins had to throw. Cousins was not sacked once in the three-point Eagles victory, but Griffin has been dropped 28 times in seven contests this season. While this might seem like a lofty stat, the numbers back it up that it is reachable, and should it happen, it will be a long day for the Redskins offense.
  2. Less than 130 combined receiving yards between Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson — While neither of these receivers necessarily pose the matchup problem that Dez Bryant did last week, both had strong games in the Week 3 meeting combining for 16 receptions, 255 yards, and two touchdowns. The Eagles secondary has been heavily scrutinized, and rightfully so, over the past few weeks, but they tend to have a decent game when people least expect it. Against a struggling quarterback in Griffin, now would be a good time for one.
  3. One or fewer turnovers for the Eagles — Turnovers have been a noted issue all season long for this team. The only turnover free game they played was a Monday night beatdown of Carolina in early November. Zero turnovers is a lot to ask for, but in the first Redskins game, the Eagles limited the giveaways to one and will be in decent shape should they repeat that today.
  4. LeSean McCoy averaging more than four yards per carry — Some might say I have become obsessed with this statistic, but the significance cannot be understated. The Eagles are 5-0 when the Pro Bowl running back averages at least 4.1 yards per carry. They are 4-5 in other games. In the 2013 opener when Chip Kelly unveiled his NFL offense on Monday Night Football, McCoy had one of his best career games with 184 yards on 31 carries. A repeat of that today would be awesome.
  5. Josh Huff with at least 45 receiving yards — It is a shame Huff Daddy has made some of the rookie mistakes that he has because it is easy to tell that he has potential, and had they not occurred, he would likely be stealing snaps from the ineffective Riley Cooper. I am hoping that occurs today some after the rookie showed explosiveness with with a 44-yard reception against Dallas. Rise again, Huff Daddy.

There you have it, folks. We got five, 130, one, four, 45, and hopefully a nice win to move to 10-5, putting some major pressure on the Cowboys tomorrow afternoon.

The Chip Kelly fist pump was born in that magical Week 1 game in 2013, and I could use a repeat of it today as we get ready to cheer for Andrew Luck tomorrow.

Fist Pump GIF

Stay Alive and Survive: Cody Parkey Kickoff Contest Week 16 Edition

Happy Saturday football, folks.

After not tasting victory for nearly three and a half weeks now, I’m hungry for one again. Cody Parkey only kicked off six times last week, and frankly, I want more today. For reference, Parkey kicked off eight times in the first Redskins game back in Week 3. The rookie also hit a key 51-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that proved to be the difference as the birds held off the Skins 37-34.

Most of you know the scenarios by now for the Eagles, and we’ll be sure to update them as Week 16 begins to unfold. Let’s hit the contest.

Tweet at me (@drewBbalis) before kickoff today guessing the number of touchbacks Parkey has AND the Redskins average starting field position on his kickoffs (far right column of the chart — sans brackets)

I got (4, 19). 

While not a ton of points have been given out since Thanksgiving, the leaderboard remains tightly contested and could change quickly with a couple correct predictions, so make sure to get your guesses in.

All of your pertinent information is below along with our chart that will of course be updated throughout the afternoon.

Stay live, survive, root for Andrew Luck tomorrow.

Updated Contest Leaderboard: 

Drew Balis — Four points

Gavin Steinhubl — Four points

Nick Rapak — 3.5 points

Cory Sprankle — Two points

Dan Spevak — Two points

Evan Kalikow — One point

Updated Stats:

  • 87 kickoffs in 14 games
  • 72 of those kickoffs in the end zone
  • 42 of those kickoffs for touchbacks
  • Average opponent starting field position of 20.81
Game # Opponent Kickoff Number End zone Touchback Starting Field Position  Average Starting Field Position 
1 Jaguars 1 Yes Yes 20 20
1 Jaguars 2 Yes No 13 16.5
1 Jaguars 3 Yes Yes 20 17.67
1 Jaguars 4 Yes Yes 20 18.25
1 Jaguars 5 Yes Yes 20 18.6
1 Jaguars 6 Yes Yes 20 18.83
1 Jaguars 7 Yes No 13 18
2 Colts 1 Yes Yes 20 [18.25], 20
2 Colts 2 No No 27 [19.2] 23.5
2 Colts 3 Yes No 27 [20] 24.67
2 Colts 4 Yes Yes 20 [20] 23.5
2 Colts 5 Yes Yes 20 [20] 22.8
2 Colts 6 Yes Yes 20 [20] 22.33
3 Redskins 1 Yes No 18 [19.86] 18
3 Redskins 2 Yes No 13 [19.4] 15.5
3 Redskins 3 Yes Yes 20 [19.43] 17
3 Redskins 4 No No 41 [20.71] 23
3 Redskins 5 Yes Yes 20 [20.67] 22.4
3 Redskins 6 Yes Yes 20 [20.63] 22
3 Redskins 7 Yes Yes 20 [20.6] 21.71
3 Redskins 8 Yes Yes 20 [20.57] 21.5
4 49ers 1 Yes No 20 [20.55] 20
4 49ers 2 No No 22 [20.61] 21
4 49ers 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.58] 20.67
4 49ers 4 Yes Yes 20 [20.56] 20.5
5 Rams 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.54] 20
5 Rams 2 Yes No 26 [20.74] 23
5 Rams 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.71] 22
5 Rams 4 Yes No 24 [20.83] 22.5
5 Rams 5 Yes No 18 [20.73] 21.6
5 Rams 6 Yes No 21 [20.74] 21.5
5 Rams 7 Yes No 21 [20.75} 21.43
6 Giants 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.73] 20
6 Giants 2 Yes Yes 20 [20.71] 20
6 Giants 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.69] 20
6 Giants 4 Yes Yes 20 [20.67] 20
6 Giants 5 Yes No 24 [20.76] 20.8
6 Giants 6 Yes No 24 [20.84] 21.33
7 Cardinals 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.82] 20
7 Cardinals 2 Yes Yes 20 [20.80] 20
7 Cardinals 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.78] 20
7 Cardinals 4 Yes Yes 20 [20.76] 20
7 Cardinals 5 Yes Yes 20 [20.74] 20
8 Texans 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.72] 20
8 Texans 2 Yes No 8 [20.44] 14
8 Texans 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.43] 16
8 Texans 4 Yes Yes 20 [20.42] 17
8 Texans 5 Yes No 6 [20.16] 14.8
9 Panthers 1 No No 19 [20.13] 19
9 Panthers 2 Yes No 31 [20.36] 25
9 Panthers 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.35] 23.33
9 Panthers 4 Yes Yes 20 [20.34] 22.5
9 Panthers 5 Yes Yes 20 [20.33] 22
9 Panthers 6 Yes Yes 20 [20.33] 21.67
9 Panthers 7 Yes Yes 20 [20.32] 21.43
9 Panthers 8 Yes No 37 [20.61] 23.38
10 Packers 1 No No 16 [20.53] 16
10 Packers 2 No No 20 [20.52] 18
10 Packers 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.51] 18.67
10 Packers 4 No No 22 [20.54] 19.5
11 Titans 1 Yes No 17 [20.48] 17
11 Titans 2 Yes No 42 [20.83] 29.5
11 Titans 3 Yes No 25 [20.90] 28
11 Titans 4 Yes No 19 [20.89] 25.75
11 Titans 5 Yes Yes 20 [20.85] 24.6
11 Titans 6 Yes No 16 [20.78] 23.17
11 Titans 7 Yes Yes 20 [20.77] 22.71
11 Titans 8 Yes No 22 [20.79] 22.63
11 Titans 9 No No 21 [20.79] 22.44
11 Titans 10 Yes Yes 20 [20.77] 22.20
12 Cowboys 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.77] 20
12 Cowboys 2 No No 33 [20.94] 26.5
12 Cowboys 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.92] 24.33
12 Cowboys 4 Yes No 23 [20.95] 24
12 Cowboys 5 Yes No 24 [20.99] 24
12 Cowboys 6 No No 23 [21.02] 23.83
12 Cowboys 7 No No 35 [21.2] 25.43
12 Cowboys 8 Yes No 13 [21.09] 23.88
13 Seahawks 1 No No 23 [21.11] 23
13 Seahawks 2 No No 18 [21.08] 20.5
13 Seahawks 3 Yes No 9 [20.93] 16.67
14 Cowboys 1 Yes No 27 [21] 27
14 Cowboys 2 No No 11 [20.88] 19
14 Cowboys 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.87] 19.33
14 Cowboys 4 Yes No 15 [20.80] 18.25
14 Cowboys 5 Yes No 22 [20.82] 19
14 Cowboys 6 No No 20 [20.81] 19.17
15 Redskins 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.80] 20
15 Redskins 2 No No 27 [20.87] 23.5
15 Redskins 3 No No 16 [20.82] 21
15 Redskins 4 Yes No 17 [20.77] 20
16 Redskins 5 Yes No 35 [20.93] 23

Don’t Look at Mock Drafts Just Yet: Eagles Playoff Scenarios

If the NFL playoffs started right now, the Eagles would unfortunately be on the outside looking in, as the seventh seed in an NFC field that includes six teams.

Thankfully the playoffs will not become official for 14 days.

The easiest way for the Eagles to get to January is to win their final two games and have the Cowboys lose one, realistically at home to the 10-4 Indianapolis Colts next week.

A few other scenarios exist, but they are a bit less likely as Detroit, Seattle, or Green Bay would have to lose both of their final two games while the Eagles win both of theirs.

Green Bay faces the lowly Buccaneers next weekend, so let’s rule them out.

Seattle has two tough games at Arizona and home against the Rams, who play all opponents tough and beat the Seahawks earlier in the season, but it is difficult to envision them dropping two straight considering their strong play recently.

That leaves Detroit, the current leader of the NFC North by way of a tiebreaker over the Packers. The Lions will likely be heavy underdogs in the Week 17 bout at Lambeau, but in order for that game to matter to the Eagles, they would need to lose on the road to the struggling Bears next weekend.

Is that possible? You decide. I don’t trust Jay Cutler as far as I can throw him, but the Lions certainly didn’t look like world-beaters in a narrow win over Minnesota today.

Still, the Eagles easiest road remains a backdoor NFC East title with the Cowboys following a December tradition and dropping a pivotal game late.

For all of the issues that went wrong tonight, the Eagles should be far superior to their remaining opponents in the Redskins and Giants.

If help comes, it ideally comes next week by way of the Colts, but stranger things have happened (Think Week 17 in 2008 with the Raiders and Texans opening up a door for them).

Tonight hurt, but it was not a death sentence, and with the birds playing a day early on Saturday, a win will put the pressure squarely on the Cowboys who have struggled at home.

Hope NIck Foles gets cleared, beat a bad Washington team, and bite your nails on Sunday.

The Eagles need help, but it ain’t time to look at mock drafts quite yet.

Five Numbers I Would Like to See When Eagles-49ers Concludes Tonight

Conventional wisdom suggests the 49ers are set up to win today’s game, but as I mentioned earlier this morning, it eerily reminds me of when these two teams met in Week 4 of the 2011 season.

I would not at all be shocked if the Eagles lost today, and thankfully, being 3-0 allows them to drop a game on the road against a perceived tough opponent, but in my season predictions I picked them to escape with a narrow but epic victory, so I will obviously stick with that.

Here are five numbers that I hope to see in the box score when this NFC showdown concludes in about nine hours:

  1. LeSean McCoy averaging four yards per carry — This may be lofty given the Eagles makeshift offensive line, but should McCoy find room on the ground for essentially the first time this season, the offense could be deadly. The Nines held Andre Ellington and Matt Forte in check, but DeMarco Murray averaged 5.4 in the season opener. Hopefully a breakout performance from Shady is coming.
  2. Less than 45 rushing yards from Colin Kaepernick — Between Chad Henne, Andrew Luck, and Kirk Cousins, the Eagles have not exactly faced fleet-of-foot quarterbacks. They see a mobile one today in Kaepernick. Not having Mychal Kendricks won’t help their chances, but keeping him from using his legs could go a long way.
  3. At least two turnovers forced by the Eagles defense — The Niners have played two full games with zero turnovers but had four in their home loss to the Bears two weeks ago. Kaepernick has thrown some costly second half interceptions in the past. Do it again, Malcolm Jenkins.
  4. Jeremy Maclin, Jordan Matthews, and my dude Zach Ertz combining for 200 plus receiving yards — This trio combined for 227 yards last week against the Redskins, and doing it again would be something else. Should that happen, I like the chances of Nicky Foles remaining the NFL leader in passing yards. Nicky Foles
  5. One sack from Vinny Curry or Brandon Graham — This duo was fantastic in the preseason, but the numbers have not shown up after three weeks of regular season play. Furthermore, the Eagles have not had a sack since Week 1 against the Jaguars, but Kaepernick has been sacked at least once in every game. Hopefully the former trend reverses today and the latter holds true.

There you have it. We got four, 45, two, 200, one, and hopefully leaving San Francisco undefeated and rockin the best record in the NFL.

Checking Back on the Eagles Numbers I Wanted to See

I am afraid to check these numbers, but let’s do it. Here are the stats we wanted to see:

  1. Less than 45 rushing yards for Trent Richardson
  2. No more than one turnover for Nick Foles
  3. Jeremy Maclin with 90+ receiving yards
  4. At least 14 first half points
  5. Andrew Luck sacked three or more times

How did we do?

  1. No — Richardson somehow ran for 79 yards. The Eagles did force a key fumble on one of his carries, and I thought Bennie Logan and Fletcher Cox played nice games, but the run defense looked shaky overall and will need to be better with Alfred Morris coming to town.
  2. Yes — Only one interception for Nick Foles and no fumbles. I wrote more about the Eagles quarterback and earning respect here.
  3. No — Half of that total, 45 yards to be exact, but Maclin did catch the game-tying touchdown from Foles with three minutes to go. Up and down performance but came through late.
  4. No — Only six first half points for the Eagles. Last year against the Redskins, they had two excellent first halves, outscoring the Skins 43-7. Hopefully they find their groove in the opening 30 minutes on Sunday.
  5. No — Neither Luck nor Foles was sacked all game, but it seemed like some of Billy Davis’ blitz packages got home and at least made the Colts signal-caller uncomfortable.

Not as good of a showing as Week 1 here, but the Eagles won, so all good. We have a short week upon us, so stay tuned for another edition Saturday night.

SHOW NICK FOLES SOME RESPECT THIS INSTANT

Nick Foles was far from perfect tonight, but if out-dueling Andrew Luck on Monday Night Football does not earn him some recognition, I have no idea what it will take.

Foles struggled for a half as the Eagles went to the locker room down 17-6. It appears he missed some open receivers but engineered second half comebacks down 20-6 and 27-20 to help the Eagles escape Indianapolis 2-0.

There should be another touchdown under his name as Riley Cooper dropped a great ball in the first quarter. The game-tying touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin was thrown into a tight window, and the ball to Ertz on the first play of the game-winning drive had beautiful touch on it.

Foles has now thrown as many interceptions as he did all last season through two games but was resilient again in a come-from behind victory.

One quarterback thew a costly fourth quarter interception. Foles was not that quarterback.

If the roles were reversed tonight, most would forget Andrew Luck’s previous mistakes and praise him for leading yet another fourth quarter comeback. Maybe it is time to realize that a guy taken 87 picks after Luck can play too.

For 10 months, Foles has been doing just about everything he can to earn some respect, and many still insist that he isn’t good or holding the Eagles offense back.

Tonight may not have been his prettiest performance yet, but like a franchise quarterback is supposed to do, he took care of business when he had to.

Show Nick Foles some respect right now.

Five Numbers I Would Like to See on the Stat Sheet when Eagles-Colts Concludes

If you have read anything else or follow me on Twitter, then you already know this, but I want this one bad tonight.

The Colts are my Super Bowl pick, and I really like Andrew Luck, but I want to see Nick Foles beat him head-to-head. Just like last week, I will roll out some numbers that I believe could key an Eagles road victory in Indianapolis tonight.

Against the Jaguars, we only hit on two out of five numbers but were very close on two others. Around midnight tonight, we will go back and evaluate whether or not the goals were reached, so without further ado, let’s introduce them.

Here are five Eagles numbers that I hope to see in the box score after the final whistle tonight.

  1. Less than 45 rushing yards for Trent Richardson — Richardson was fantastic at Alabama and had sky high potential coming out of college but has mostly been a bust so far. One way to solve Andrew Luck is to make the Colts offense one-dimensional. The Eagles run defense did a nice job against Toby Gerhart last week, limiting him to 42 yards on 18 carries, but I have seen them make average running backs look above average in the past. They are very capable of keeping Richardson in check, and doing so would grease the wheels for a win.
  2. No more than one turnover for Nick Foles — Between two fumbles and a red zone interception in the first half last week, Foles was responsible for three turnovers. I do not think the Eagles have to crush the turnover battle to win tonight, but losing it by two like they did against Jacksonville would be less than ideal. You got this, Nicky.
  3. Jeremy Maclin with 90+ receiving yards — Maclin had a great opener with four receptions for 97 yards, including a 68-yard go-ahead touchdown. Even the most cynical of Eagles fans had to be happy for him. Now, it is just a matter of turning in those performances consistently. There should be room to throw against the Colts defense, and two nice games in a row would be an awesome start to the season.
  4. At least 14 first half points — The Eagles do not have to come out firing completely on all cylinders, but they will not be able to survive another first half shutout tonight. If they win the coin toss, Chip Kelly normally likes to defer so they begin the third quarter with the ball after being afforded halftime adjustments. Fourteen points after the first 30 minutes should have them at the very least within striking distance.
  5. Andrew Luck sacked three or more times — The Colts offensive line is not known to be a particularly strong unit, and Luck was sacked by the Broncos three times in the opener. The Eagles got Chad Henne for three sacks in the opener last week, and a good amount of Billy Davis’ blitz packages seemed to be getting home. If Trent Cole, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Mychal Kendricks, or someone else can put Luck on his back a few times, the Eagles chances of leaving Lucas Oil Stadium 0-2 will greatly increase.

I wanted to put something in here about LeSean McCoy, but you just expect him to have good games at this point in his career, so it almost seems like a waste to highlight that. McCoy still managed to average 74 yards even with the offense sputtering last week, and I do not think it is out of the question for him to go over the century mark tonight even with no Evan Mathis along the offensive line.

There you have it. This is what I will be looking for in about 14 hours: 45, one, 90, 14, three, and hopefully a nice 2-0 record along with sole possession of first place in the NFC East.

Nick Foles, Overcoming Adversity, and Earning Patience

Regardless of the twists and turns that his NFL career takes, the numbers ’27 and two’ will always be synonymous with Nick Foles.

It represents the touchdown to interception ratio that the Eagles’ third-year quarterback posted during the 2013 season, (technically 29 and two if you count the two touchdown passes thrown in a playoff game where Foles out dueled future Hall of Famer Drew Brees).

It also represents an NFL record and normally serves as a conversation starter about the signal-caller going forward. Foles believers cite it to illustrate just how good he was last year and to show that they are convinced he is a franchise quarterback. Foles doubters mention that the two numbers are not sustainable and that some regression in 2014 is guaranteed.

The exercise is a great example of how the same statistic can be bent in different ways to form two complex arguments.

Foles’ projections for 2014 are all over the map. I personally put him down for 32 touchdowns and 10 interceptions before the season started. Regardless of what folks think he will do for an encore though, those numbers ’27 and two’ should have one unifying trait between fans and detractors.

They should be a reminder of patience as the year gets into full swing — Way more patience than what was exhibited Sunday afternoon when Foles got off to a less than stellar start against the Jaguars in the season opener.

A promising season was less than 30 minutes old, and calls for Mark Sanchez began to ring out both at Lincoln Financial Field and throughout Eagles Twitter. Philly.com even went as far as to put up a poll about the topic as the Eagles struggled through an ugly first half that saw them head into the locker room down 17-0.

I am not sure how much the page has been visited post-Sunday but as of clicking on late Thursday night calls for Sanchez were still at 33.1 percent.

Eagles-Jaguars Poll

Thankfully, Chip Kelly, Pat Shurmur, and Bill Musgrave stuck with their Pro Bowl quarterback knowing he had recovered from adversity before and could do it again.

Benching a quarterback who is healthy but ineffective has always been a real sensitive topic to me. The position comes with so much prestige that you cannot simply put the toothpaste back in the tube once it is out.

If you pull a quarterback coming off a breakout season less than a half into a new one, you better be sure the good version of Sanchez from the preseason isn’t a mirage because you may never get Foles back once the trigger is pulled.

It is not like baseball when your ace has a bad start and the manager takes the ball telling him to try again five days later. Five days later may never arrive in this instance.

Sticking with Foles paid off as the quarterback went 15-for-22 for 183 yards in the second half with two touchdown passes. The 68-yard bomb to Jeremy Maclin may have been a bit of a coverage bust, but the 25-yard pass to Zach Ertz to cut the Jaguars lead to three had some nice touch on it.

Foles was certainly shaky during the first 30 minutes, but it should say something about him that he was able to bounce back quickly, just like last November where he threw seven touchdown passes two weeks after playing an awful game against Dallas that saw him exit with a concussion. At the time, it was believed that Foles had fumbled away his chance to win the starting quarterback job with Michael Vick recovering from injury, but he quickly got another shot and made the most of it.

Lost in all of this as well is that Foles was not the only quarterback to have some Week 1 issues. Tom Brady avoided throwing an interception but was 29-for-56 — a measly 4.4 yards passing per attempt — in a 33-20 loss to the Dolphins.

Completions Attempts Yards Turnovers Score
4 8 46 2 (fumbles) 17 — 0
6 9 56 1 (interception) 10 — 0

Take a look at these blind quarterback stats for a second. The top column is Foles’ first three drives. The bottom column is Andrew Luck’s first three drives against the Broncos Sunday night.

Luck, the Eagles’ Week 2 opponent, did not have a particularly good start to the season either, but nobody freaked out and called for Matt Hasselbeck to replace him because Luck was the number one overall pick in the draft back in 2012. He gets a pass for any bad stretches he experiences, chalked up to growing pains and learning on the fly. Foles was the 88th pick in the same draft class and the sixth overall quarterback selected. He does not get those passes because most third round picks are perceived to not be franchise quarterbacks.

You would think after 2013 that we would be past this, but apparently that isn’t the case. The fact that Foles was a third round pick should be irrelevant after what he did last season. Foles’ numbers were better across the board and both quarterbacks won their respective divisions. The only difference was Luck got to play one more game because his defense held when he led a fourth quarter comeback in a playoff game while the Eagles’ special teams let Foles down.

The Colts were my Super Bowl pick, and I also had them winning on Monday when I did my Eagles predictions, but I cannot wait to see the reaction should Foles outperform Luck like he did with Brees last January.

This should be a fun time when it comes to following the Eagles. It reminds me of the 2000 and 2001 Andy Reid teams where the talent was good enough to get to the playoffs, but sky high expectations had not yet set in to the point where watching was more stressful than fun and anything short of a Lombardi Trophy would be considered an absolute failure.

The big difference I see between now and then is that the Giants were still pretty formidable in those days before falling off for a few years. Right now, the rest of the NFC East is awful.

Foles won way more than he lost in 2013 (nine wins compared to three losses specifically), and I often think about tying that into a Chip Kelly quote a few days after the playoff loss to the Saints last year.

Kelly was essentially asked by a reporter if he considered himself an ‘NFL coach after completing his first season in the most competitive league in the world. In typical Kelly fashion, he responded by saying that he thought he was an NFL coach 10 times and not one seven times, an obvious ode to the Eagles record.

Well, if we apply the same logic, Foles was a franchise quarterback nine times and not one three times. Seventy five percent — That sounds pretty damn good to me.

A record setting touchdown to interception ratio, nine wins, the first NFC East title since 2010, and a flawless fourth quarter playoff drive. Natural regression suggests he cannot repeat that, but let your mind wander for a second. What if he does? What if he comes really close to those numbers again?

And you were ready to potentially throw all of that away because of one bad half?

If Nick Foles did not already have your trust going into Sunday, he probably did not earn it, however, he should have earned your patience last season, and that should last for way more than a half.

Five Numbers I Would Like to See on the Stat Sheet When Eagles-Jaguars Concludes

As far as Eagles openers go, today is kinda weird for a multitude of reasons.

First off, it is against an AFC opponent. Second, it is at home — the first time the Eagles have begun a season at Lincoln Financial Field since 2010, and last but certainly not least, pretty much everyone — myself included — expects them to win and to win comfortably.

That is a bit unusual for Week 1 games in the NFL. The birds are the trendy pick in survival pools around the country today and have the biggest spread on any game, entering as 10.5 point favorites over the Jaguars.

In ways, it speaks to how far the Eagles have progressed considering they were in essentially the same position as Jacksonville back in December 2012. The Eagles were 4-12, and the Jaguars were 2-14. Both teams would pick in the top four of the draft and had to hire new coaches. The Eagles went with the super innovative Chip Kelly while the Jags gave the job to Gus Bradley, who might have been minutes away from being the Eagles coach had Kelly opted to stay at Oregon.

Kelly turned things around immediately as the Eagles went 10-6 and won the NFC East while Bradley went 4-12 in his first year running the show.

What does this all mean? It means that later today will hopefully allow us to grade the Eagles on style points as opposed to just scoring more points. A Week 1 victory is a Week 1 victory, but how the Eagles hopefully do it might provide a little more insight about them as the season gets going.

With that said, here are five Eagles numbers that I hope to see in a box score come 4:15 p.m. today.

  1. Less than 21 points scored by the Jaguars — In its first four games last season, the Eagles defense gave up 27, 33, 26, and 52 before settling into a nice groove. Facing Chad Henne and a young Jacksonville offense gives Billy Davis’ unit a nice opportunity to start fast and feel good about itself as Andrew Luck looms in Week 2.
  2. Nick Foles sacked no more than two times — Everyone is going to be focusing on Foles’ interceptions — or hopefully lack thereof — following his insane 27:2 ratio last season, but one part of his game that he can improve upon is taking less sacks that cost the Eagles field position. Foles was sacked more than two times in six starts last season, and the Jaguars have some solid pass rushers in Chris Clemons and Red Bryant, who were part of the Super Bowl champion Seahawks last season. Hopefully Allen Barbre proves to be an adequate replacement for Lane Johnson and strides are made today.
  3. At least 50 receiving yards for Zach Ertz — I have ‘the kid from Stanford who they got playing for em’ down for 60 receptions, 800 yards, and eight touchdowns. For my dude to achieve that yardage number, he would theoretically need to turn in 50 yards each game. He exceeded this mark three times last season and should see more snaps now after looking like an absolute stud in the preseason. Do the damn thing, Zach.
  4. A minimum of one tackle for loss by Fletcher Cox (and hopefully more) — Cox is a player I will be keeping my eye on early on. The third year pro is playing in a two-gap scheme when he really belongs as a 4-3 defensive tackle, but he can be so good. Cox really flashes at times but will then turn invisible for a few weeks. Toby Gerhart and his 231-pound frame is not the easiest guy to bring down behind the line of scrimmage, but I would be hella pumped if Cox could show some consistency and do it at least once today.
  5. No less than 1.5 combined sacks for Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham — I really want to set this at 2.5, but I’m holding back because I am unsure how many snaps each player will see. These two are quite possibly the best pass-rushers on the team but neither one starts because similar to Cox, they are leftovers from the Andy Reid regime and not exactly scheme fits in Davis’ hybrid 3-4. Still they looked hungry in the preseason. Zane Beadles is a nice player, but the Jaguars’ offensive line is not particularly strong. Curry and Graham might be the Eagles best shot at making Henne uncomfortable. Feed them, Billy Davis. Let them have extra dessert.

There you have it. That is what I will be looking for in about 15 hours: 21, two, 50, one, 1.5, and hopefully a nice W to begin a really fun season.