Tag Archives: Billy Davis

Live Blog: Replay of the Eagles-Bears Preseason Game

Last night, I watched the Eagles preseason opener against the Bears at a crowded bar, and it reminded me why I don’t watch Eagles games at crowded bars.

It was great to catch up with some of my high school friends who I hadn’t seen in quite some time, but it is impossible to really focus on the details of a game at a place like that.

I ended up listening to Merrill Reese on the radio for the first 10 minutes while doing 20 laps in my car around the parking lot looking for a space.

This may not be a weekly feature, but here’s a collection of notes, thoughts, and maybe a few pictures while watching a replay of the game in the comfort of my own home. Live blog style:

Pregame

Bae

Chip Preseason

Missed you, bae.

Chip Preseason 2

I’ll stop now, I promise.

First Quarter

14:55 — Scott Graham just called Allen Barbre, “Allen Barber.” I have a feeling a lot of announcers will make that mistake during the first four games. The less they do, the better, because it means Barbre will have done his job and gone unnoticed.

14:01 — The Bears have to call timeout after two completions from Nicky. Can I call you Nicky? I feel like I can call you Nicky occasionally after I wrote this about you.

13:55 — Man, it feels like Lance Briggs has been on the Bears forever, doesn’t it?

13:30 — Foles intercepted. Did not hear this on the radio last night, but Brian Baldinger says the pass was tipped, and I agree. Not a great read by Foles but also don’t know where the pass was originally intended.

11:59 — Nice to see Mychal Kendricks just dropped in coverage and looked alright doing it. Good stuff.

11:50 — Nice field goal block by Damion Square. Not sure he makes the team here but has that on his resume now.

The channel I’m watching just fast-forwarded eight minutes. Boo

3:24 — Touchdown Bears. Baldy says it was good coverage but looked like DeMeco Ryans never got his head turned around to look for the ball.

Too many commercials.

3:18 — First ball blows off the tee before the kickoff of the year! We rollin now.

3:10 — Baldy just called Barbre “Barber” now too. Make it stop.

2:40 — Jeremy Maclin catches a pass. First time he did that since December 30, 2012. I want to say something witty here about how times have changed since then, but I’ve got nothing. Sorry, folks.

1:00 — Foles intercepted again. You probably haven’t heard this stat yet, but that equals the number of picks he threw last regular season.

:50 — Nice tackle by Najee Goode. The lack of depth at inside linebacker is an underrated concern in my opinion. Hopefully he can ease some of it.

Second Quarter 

15:00 — Vinny Curry hungry.

13:50 — ZACH ERTZ, MY DUDE. Big second year leap coming for him this season. Mark it down.

12:50 — Donnie Jones in midseason form, pinning the Bears on their own 10 yard line.

12:00 — Bad missed tackle by Earl Wolff there. Billy Davis can’t be thrilled.

10:55 — 2010 Draft class RISE UP! Nate Allen picks off Jordan Palmer, set up by some nice pressure from Brandon Graham. Take that Earl Thomas! // Sobs during the commercial

10:47 — Ertz again with a nice reception. Last year, my dad never really bothered to learn his name. Every time he caught a pass, he would ask “Is that the kid from Stanford who they got playing for em’?” Expecting to hear it a lot this year.

9:38 — Eagles score, Matthew Tucker. Running out of the spread seems to have caught the Bears off guard. Nice push from potential backup center David Molk.

This is just weird, but I think I can get used to it.

Mark Sanchez

9:30 — Welcome, Chris Maragos. Nice tackle on the kickoff.

8:15 — Marcus Smith outchea batting down a pass to get the defense off the field. Good to see.

7:32 — I’m trying to watch Lane Johnson against the twos. Think he looks good, but Mark Sanchez and Tucker are making it tough to pay attention with these dynamic plays.

5:52 — Tucker scores again. I realize it’s the preseason against fellow backups, but the bottom of this Eagles roster is the best it has been in quite some time. I imagine a few guys who get cut will hook on elsewhere.

5:50 — Baldy mentions DeSean Jackson. To my knowledge, this is the first time his name has been dropped tonight.

5:50 — Alex Henery puts the kickoff into the end zone. Whoa.

5:27 — Defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro just seems like a fun guy to play for. One of Chip’s Oregon guys and glad he brought him along.

Jerry Azzinaro

5:15 — Defensive holding negates the impact but nice coverage and tackle by Smith in space.

1:07 — Touchdown Bears. Marc Trestman has found a mismatch with Zach Miller against the Eagles linebackers in coverage, and he likes it.

There is a minute left in the half and the Eagles have three timeouts left. Insert some joke about Andy Reid here.

:54 — JOSH HUFF GOES 102 YARDS FOR A TOUCHDOWN! Last night, I thought he pulled a DeSean circa 2008 and dropped the ball before crossing the plane but nope, he good.

:49 — Only a yard deep that time, but Henery still puts the kick in the end zone. Could be worse.

:31 — Almost 10 minutes have elapsed since I last typed something. This is the longest end to the first half ever, but I love Chip using the aforementioned timeouts to try to get the ball back. Aggressive football.

Halftime

Finally! I wasn’t quick enough to snap a picture, but Sanchez and Chip were walking off the field together. I imagine the signal-caller said something along the lines of “Thanks for rescuing me from that Jets offense and Rex Ryan.”

 Third Quarter 

15:00 — Henery puts another one in the end zone. Not bad.

14:55 — Jimmy Clausen sighting for the Bears. I automatically think of this upon seeing his name.

12:23 — Matt Barkley time y’all! (Starts with an incompletion intended for James Casey)

11:20 — Tucker fumbled, Clausen got nowhere, and Robbie Gould made a field goal. 21-17 Eagles. It seems like things bout to get unwatchable.

11:16 — Bad kickoff return by Huff that time. Didn’t even make it to the 10 yard line. One thing of note here, pretty sure I saw Marcus Smith playing special teams there. Will be interesting to follow.

8:51 — Couple of good balls from Barkley including an out to Will Murphy down the right sideline showing off some decent arm strength. Another nice pass to Jordan Matthews on the left, but the rookie drops it.

7:02 — Screen game, David Fluellen. 28-17 Eagles and some boos heard at Solider Field. I love Chicago, awesome city, but they’re probably still a bit salty over this.

6:50 — I went to go get some grapes during the commercial, but I see Henery had another touchback. Nice.

6:04 — Touchdown Bears. Jaylen Watkins burnt in a welcome to the NFL moment for the fourth round rookie.

5:59 — Obligatory reminder that Damaris Johnson is still on this team for another couple weeks.

5:27 — Bad drop by Matthews, not exactly helping Barkley out here. Birds have to punt.

5:09 — Turnovers on back-to-back plays. Bears fumble a punt return and Barkley gets intercepted. Seen some good stuff out of Barkley but think my slim hopes of him taking the backup job from Sanchez have just left town.

4:15 — Clausen should have been called for intentional grounding. He wasn’t, and the Bears get a first down on a screen pass the very next play.

1:29 — Touchdown Bears, lead Bears. Watkins got picked on pretty good during that drive. 31-28.

:26 — Barkley seems to like Casey. Nice third down completion over the middle to extend the drive.

It just dawned on me that I’m spending 1/8 of my Saturday watching a football game that isn’t even live. Send help.

Fourth Quarter

14:50 — Barkley slips and misses an open Huff who seemed to be sitting in the Bears zone. Cue a punt.

14:15 — Roc Carmichael seems like a good guy. He’s not a good NFL cornerback however. Beat deep again.

12:13 — Watkins interception! Don’t be fooled if you only look at a box score.

Eagles Preseason Box Score

He had a rough night, but I imagine that made the pick feel even better.

10: 56 — G.J. Kinne time. He appears to enjoy throwing to Johnson, a former Tulsa teammate.

9:45 — Jones touchback. Looked like Watkins may have had a shot to down it, but either way, you don’t see that too often. Only five in 82 punts last season.

It just occurred to me that I forgot to start Corey Kluber on my fantasy team today. Dammit, Drew. I’m in first place but gotta be better than that.

8:11 — Bears convert a 3rd and 11. These are backups in the fourth quarter of a preseason game, but that’s one area where the Eagles defense needs to be better this year.

I didn’t watch the guy as much as I wish I did to point out specific plays, but I don’t want to go the whole post without mentioning him: Beau Allen seemed to take advantage of Bennie Logan sitting this one out with a solid game.

5:01 — I’m still here folks, I promise. You gotta realize what I’m working with here trying to blog about the fourth quarter of an NFL preseason game.

3: 46 — Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’ is playing during a timeout. Used to really like that song before it got ridiculously overplayed.

3:30 — Solider Field goes wild for local product Jordan Lynch as he runs for a first down. According to Wikipedia, he and I share a birthday, so he’s cool in my book.

2:50 — Between all of the offensive holding penalties early and a personal foul on Bryan Braman there, birds not exactly disciplined in their play tonight.

This graphic appears on the broadcast before the two minute warning. Please get here soon.

Eagles Schedule

2:00 — Graham is on the field. For as much as some think he won’t make it out of camp, I hope the Eagles keep him around as another pass-rusher. Even though you have me blocked on the Twitter machine, I’m pulling for you.

1:58 — Gould adds a field goal to make it 34-28. We unfortunately won’t see Henery attempt any tonight.

1:49 — Kinne has to go 79 yards in under two minutes. Back in 2001, A.J. Feeley made the team by pulling off a similar situation.

:50 — Kinne has the Eagles more than halfway there to the 37 yard line. Let’s see what you got, kid.

Tick..tick…

:02 — Hail Mary time. Ball spotted on the Chicago 33.

:00 — Kinne rolling to his left and falling down off his back foot completes a pass to Quron Pratt just inside the red zone but time expires. Game to Chicago.

It was fun, Bears. Let’s do it again next August.

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The Eagles are Playing Chicago (?) to Open the Preseason; That’s Weird and Awesome

Football is kinda back, and the Eagles are in the windy city to begin preseason play against the Chicago Bears at 8 p.m. tonight.

If the location and opponent catches anyone off guard, I feel you. When the game kicks off at Soldier Field, it will mark the first time the Eagles have played an exhibition game against an NFC opponent other than the Panthers in quite some time.

All three of the contests against the Panthers were at home, so it’s a bit weird to see the Eagles travel this far, but to be honest I like it.

2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Patriots Steelers Raiders Ravens Steelers Patriots Jaguars Ravens Steelers Patriots
Ravens Ravens Browns Panthers Panthers Colts Bengals Steelers Patriots Panthers
Steelers Bengals Ravens Steelers Patriots Jaguars Chiefs Browns Browns Jaguars
Jets Jets Steelers Jets Jets Jets Jets Jets Jets Jets
Jets

The birds won’t see the Bears this season unless the two squads meet in the playoffs, and this is a nice change of pace instead of seeing the Browns or Jaguars.

The Bears were one of only three teams to outscore the Eagles last season and the only team in the NFC to accomplish the feat. I have no idea how long Marc Trestman plans on playing his starters, but seeing Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey, and co. should be a nice test for Billy Davis’ defense.

The final record from last season may read 8-8, but Chicago was seconds away from an NFC North division title and home playoff game. Then, Aaron Rodgers escaped a sack, everyone completely lost track of Randall Cobb, and the Bears, like the Cowboys would be a few hours later at the hands of the Eagles, watched their season conclude in heartbreaking fashion in their house with no playoffs.

Of course, the Bears could have made that finale against the Packers irrelevant had they simply defeated an Eagles team the week before with little to truly play for that night.

That may be my favorite part about seeing the Bears again in a meaningless game as it allows me to reminisce back to that magical late December night last winter.

That night was supposed to be relatively ‘meaningless’ for the Eagles. Win or lose, they would have to wait a week to punch their ticket to the Promised Land. A funny thing happened though — The Eagles made the game anything but meaningless for themselves and the folks in attendance — myself included, who had never before been able to experience the atmosphere of a Sunday Night NFL game.

Eagles Ticket

It was a complete ass-kicking from start to finish with an overmatched Bears team never standing a chance. Trent Cole sacked Jay Cutler on the game’s third play. Nick Foles found Riley Cooper in the back of the end zone seven plays later. Devin Hester then fumbled the kickoff, and before you could blink, it was 14-0, and then 21-0, and then 24-0.

The rout was on, and it was only just beginning. There was a safety, and then Cutler got pummeled some more, and a Brandon Boykin pick six.

With eight minutes remaining in the Bears’ misery and the Eagles leading 47-11 after Boykin took a Cutler pass 54 yards the other way, the young cornerback and Chip Kelly were displayed on the Lincoln Financial Field video boards mid-hug. New era indeed.

“Rock and Roll all Night” by Kiss blasted through the stadium, and fans who earlier that afternoon were bummed they would have to wait another week to win the division, went wild. Absorbing, the moment, it was hard to believe that less than two months ago the Eagles had been caught in an ugly stretch that saw their winless streak at home reach 10.

I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way to act at football games, but as the performance of the team slipped in 2011 and 2012, the place seemed to take on too much of a country club atmosphere.

Not on that night. For the first time in over three years, the Linc was happy again, and as Kiss faded out and anti-Cowboys chants reverberated around the stadium on a glorious December evening past 11 p.m. there wasn’t a person there who didn’t believe the division was ours and that there would be a playoff game back here two weeks later.

Even though we had to wait another week for the ultimate prize, that electric night brought us “We’re from Philadelphia and we fight,” and “We want Dallas.”

Even if this one is truly meaningless and in your house, it’s good to see you again so soon, Bears.

Chip GIF

Editor’s Note: I would like to produce some more serious and analytical #content when time permits. I realize there has been a mix of trolly, tongue-and-cheek, repetitive, and sentimental so far, but I promise you that when something an important topic is explored thoroughly, it will be done well. Here is a post I did on Nick Foles with a ton of data that you can check out (because you can never have too many Nick Foles think pieces)

Jim Johnson Died Five Years Ago Today and I Cried a Lot

Truth be told, I cannot explain exactly why I’m writing this post.

Even after it was finished and ready to go, I had a couple second thoughts before hitting publish. I didn’t want it to seem like I was using the anniversary of someone’s death as a way to generate clicks on a blog.

I don’t have any type of cool anecdote about Jim Johnson. There is a hat of mine autographed by some players and coaches during a few trips to Lehigh for training camp back in the day.

Eagles Hat Blog Post

The Eagles former defensive coordinator unfortunately isn’t one of the signatures. Never once met the man.

I think, however, I’m doing this because despite never crossing paths with the guy, I loved Jim Johnson and never properly said goodbye.

Everyone knew Johnson’s battle with cancer had taken a turn for the worse, but it felt like the end came so quickly.

On the day Johnson passed away, I had been off the grid for about 12 hours from early in the morning until around 8 p.m. I was working as a camp counselor the summer before heading off to college, and it coincidentally happened to be the one day of the entire camp season that I had to work late, unable to check my phone or access the Internet.

Anyone who knows me now would wonder how I was able to do that, but it was the case back then. As I was walking to my car, a lifeguard stopped me and delivered the news. I can’t recall exactly what I said in response, but I got in the car and immediately turned on sports radio hoping it somehow wasn’t true.

But sadly it was. The defending World Series champion Phillies were 24 hours away from pulling off a blockbuster trade with rumors about Roy Halladay running rampant, and sure enough, WIP was discussing Johnson’s life and Eagles tenure, hosts and callers as distraught as I was about to become.

Before I could pull out of the parking lot, tears had already begun dripping down my face. They got heavier as the drive continued. At one point, I had to slam on my breaks to avoid running through a red light that I barely noticed.

Loved by players and fans, respected universally by colleagues,  and deeply feared by opponents — Legend. For 10 years, he would appear on your television screen on Sundays, and you knew everything would be relatively okay. No longer seeing that gray hair tucked under an Eagles hat and headset on the sidelines wasn’t going to be the same.

I was supposed to see my then-girlfriend upon getting home from work but still trying to compose myself, I told her that I needed a little while. ‘Jim Johnson died,’ I texted (or something very similar along those lines)

I don’t think she knew who Jim Johnson was, but rather than completely blowing it off, she kinda pretended to care, so that was cool.

Still home and wiping my eyes after delivering the news to my dad, I logged onto Facebook and posted a pretty generic RIP status. One of my best friends who I always texted during Eagles games sent me a message that said something along the lines of ‘For someone who loved him so much, I’m kinda disappointed you didn’t come up with anything deeper.’

I tried again, but still shaken, this was the best I could do, unable to really put into words what it meant to me.

Jim Johnson Facebook

I was sad and mad — Sad that cancer had stopped the 68-year old from doing what he loved and what he was best at too soon, sad that in what turned out to be his final game six months earlier, his ‘bend but don’t break defense’ had broken late in the fourth quarter. With the Eagles clinging to a 25-24 lead and 10 minutes to go, Arizona marched 72 yards while eating up 7:52 of game time.

The drive ended in a touchdown. The Cardinals went to the Super Bowl. Johnson never got to coach another game, and the Eagles haven’t won a playoff game since.

Most of all, I was sad that for all his hard work and all of the terrific defenses he oversaw, Johnson never got to hoist a Lombardi trophy.

Even in a lot of the Eagles playoff losses during Johnson’s reign, a collapse like that was so rare. A week earlier, his unit held the defending Super Bowl champion Giants to three field goals in an upset victory.

In a span of three years, he twice stifled Michael Vick during the prime of his Atlanta Falcons career, limiting him to a 53.2 completion percentage and a combined 406 passing yards, 56 rushing yards, yards, zero touchdowns, and three interceptions over two playoff games.

I don’t watch the Steelers on a week-to-week basis to fully appreciate Dick LeBeau, but I’ve never seen a defensive coordinator call a game and confuse opponents the way Johnson consistently did.

Going back to that Facebook status though, perhaps it wasn’t so bad. I’ve always said that coordinators need players to make their schemes truly go, but as guys came and went through the years, Johnson never lost a step.

According to an ESPN article published a week after his passing, Johnson’s defenses between 2000 and 2008 ranked second in sacks, third down efficiency, and red zone percentage.

Here’s a chart that further shows how good he was and the significant drop-off after he was gone.

Year Points Allowed Average Per Game League Rank Made Playoffs Playoff Victory
1999 357 22.3 22nd No No
2000 245 15.3 4th Yes Yes
2001 208 13 2nd Yes Yes
2002 241 15.1 2nd Yes Yes
2003 287 17.9 7th Yes Yes
2004 260 16.3 2nd Yes Yes
2005 388 24.3 27th No No
2006 328 20.5 15th Yes Yes
2007 300 18.8 9th No No
2008 289 18.1 4th Yes Yes
2009 337 21.1 19th Yes No
2010 377 23.6 21st Yes No
2011 328 20.5 10th No No
2012 444 27.8 29th No No
2013 382 23.9 17th Yes No

Sean McDermott initially had the challenge of being the guy to replace “the guy,” and he was decent but deemed not good enough at the time. So thinking he was closer to a Super Bowl than he actually was, Andy Reid fired him after two years.

Then, Andy Reid Andy Reid’d harder than he had ever Andy Reid’d before, replacing McDermott with Juan Castillo. A passionate worker and teacher but never having coached defense in the NFL before, it was an unmitigated disaster,

The missed tackles, the blown coverage assignments, the lack of effort, all of it would have had Johnson rolling in his grave had he saw what had become of his once proud defense.

Despite the still somewhat ugly numbers in that chart, things stabilized in 2013 when Chip Kelly brought in Billy Davis to run the show.

Davis took a group of scheme misfits and castoffs from other places and made a defense out of it. For the first time in a long time, things are looking kinda up on that side of the ball.

When someone like Johnson no longer has his job, the typical attitude is that the team looking to fill his role has to find an exact replica, “The Next  Jim Johnson” if you will. But that’s impossible. The reason he was so good is the exact same reason he is so irreplaceable.

Since Johnson has been gone, the game has changed a decent amount. Offenses are faster and more innovative with spread formations and wide open schemes. Still, it’s unlikely the final couple years of the Reid era would have gotten as ugly as they did had Johnson still been by his side.

The Eagles current head coach is one of the leaders of that innovation charge, but for as much as I love him, for as much as any intelligent Eagles fan loves him, part of the city has always identified with a dominant defense, and that’s a big reason Johnson was so beloved.

I mentioned earlier that I don’t have any special anecdote, but I thought this one from Reuben Frank of CSN Philly was pretty good. A few days before the 2005 Super Bowl, Frank casually asks Johnson if he’s enjoying Jacksonville and he responds bluntly with “I’ve got Tom Brady on Sunday.”

The man just ate, slept, and breathed football.

He died at the same time my situation was beginning to change and looking back, I think that’s maybe what contributed to the initial sadness. I was a month away from going to college and preparing to leave a good amount of my life behind.

It sucks because you know things will never be exactly the same, but you try to solider on because what else are you going to do?

The Eagles in time have begun picking up the pieces and appear primed to make another Super Bowl run behind rising star Nick Foles over the next few seasons.

Crying over Johnson five years later won’t bring him back or make the defense as dominant as it once was, but it will help preserve memories of a great run under a brilliant coordinator. Certain people are worth occasionally crying over. Certain people worth crying over who you’ve never met? Now that’s a bit more complex, but he was one of those folks for me.

I’ll watch the Eagles practice at Lincoln Financial Field today and at some point look skyward and tear up for a split second thinking about the legend who provided so many childhood memories.

I attempted to express some of this five years ago tonight and came up pretty empty, so now, I’m trying again.

I miss you so much, Jim Johnson, and I hope you’re having fun designing blitz packages in heaven right now.

Nick Foles, Kevin Kolb, Bobby Hoying, and not Letting Past Failures Frighten You About the Future

It is impossible to be on the Internet these days and not come across multiple Nick Foles think-pieces. Buzz phrases like dropped interceptions, small sample size, and system quarterback usually populate these articles.

Things sure have come a long way from a year ago when hack Mike Freeman had no idea who the Eagles signal-caller was.

The Eagles report for camp today. For the first time in five seasons, Michael Vick won’t be there, and that’s freakin awesome in my opinion. Vick left Philadelphia a better and more mature person than when he arrived, but the Eagles were never going to win anything beyond maybe a division title with him.

Those who follow me on the Twitter machine know that I was advocating for Foles to win the job from Day 1 last spring and summer. I don’t mention this now simply to say I was correct that Foles would ultimately end up with the gig at some point. Rather, it just seemed from the start that Foles was more equipped to run a Chip Kelly offense.

Jeremiah Masoli and Darron Thomas put up monster numbers under Kelly before Marcus Mariota carried the torch, but I always perceived a quarterback in a Kelly led-system akin to a very good, but not quite superstar point guard in the NBA. The quarterback facilitates and distributes while the offense runs through everyone. Foles is exactly that. When Vick was the starter during the first quarter of the season, the offense went too much through Vick as the focal point.

By sticking with Foles and forgoing the opportunity to draft Johnny Manziel, Kelly — intentionally or not — fought back against the inaccurate narrative that he needs a mobile quarterback to win in the NFL.

The common theme regardless of the pundit opining on the guy who replaced Vick is that his 2013 touchdown to interception ratio of 27:2 is unsustainable and some natural regression will set in because quarterbacks just don’t throw so few interceptions in a season.

This is in all likelihood correct to a good extent, but in Philadelphia, the doubt seems to take on a different angle. The fear here comes from previous heartbreaks of seeing under the radar quarterbacks burst onto the scene only to quickly and violently combust before ever truly arriving.

It happened in 1998 with Bobby Hoying and occurred again more recently with Kevin Kolb. Now, four years removed from the Kolb sequel, some worry that another young, potential quarterback of the future has teased folks into thinking he’s the one only to let us down again.

Not so, my friends. Not so.

Let’s take a trip down memory’s lane with Hoying’s game log from 1997 courtesy of Pro-Football Reference:

Passing Rushing
Rk Year G# Date Age Tm Opp Result GS Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate Y/A AY/A Att Yds Y/A TD
1 1997 10 1997-11-10 25-051 PHI SFO L 12-24 8 14 57.14% 94 1 0 101.5 6.71 8.14 0 0 0
2 1997 11 1997-11-16 25-057 PHI @ BAL T 10-10 * 26 38 68.42% 276 0 0 89.4 7.26 7.26 1 6 6.00 0
3 1997 12 1997-11-23 25-064 PHI PIT W 23-20 * 15 31 48.39% 246 2 0 97.0 7.94 9.23 5 -4 -0.80 0
4 1997 13 1997-11-30 25-071 PHI CIN W 44-42 * 26 42 61.90% 313 4 1 106.5 7.45 8.29 5 62 12.40 0
5 1997 14 1997-12-07 25-078 PHI NYG L 21-31 * 16 35 45.71% 209 1 3 38.9 5.97 2.69 1 6 6.00 0
6 1997 15 1997-12-14 25-085 PHI @ ATL L 17-20 * 16 34 47.06% 180 1 1 60.9 5.29 4.56 2 6 3.00 0
7 1997 16 1997-12-21 25-092 PHI @ WAS L 32-35 * 21 31 67.74% 255 2 1 100.9 8.23 8.06 2 2 1.00 0

That amounts to season statistics of: 11 TD’s, 6 INT’s , 1573 yards, and a relatively weak 56.9 completion percentage.

Not counting the 49ers game in which Hoying didn’t actually start, this totals a 2-3-1 record, but a further look inside the box scores shows that the shootout against Cincinnati really inflated these numbers. Hoying tossed six interceptions in his final four games and completed less than 50 percent of his passes in two of the three.

While these certainly aren’t awful numbers to post as a second year player and first-time starter on a below average team, the 1998 collapse isn’t shocking when seeing how the year before ended.

Open your eyes slowly. I assume no liability for what this chart may do to them.

Passing Rushing
Rk Year G# Date Age Tm Opp Result GS Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate Y/A AY/A Att Yds Y/A TD
8 1998 1 1998-09-06 25-351 PHI SEA L 0-38 * 9 23 39.13% 60 0 1 29.1 2.61 0.65 3 13 4.33 0
9 1998 2 1998-09-13 25-358 PHI @ ATL L 12-17 * 24 35 68.57% 232 0 0 86.8 6.63 6.63 4 18 4.50 0
10 1998 3 1998-09-20 26-000 PHI @ ARI L 3-17 * 13 23 56.52% 121 0 1 53.0 5.26 3.30 3 18 6.00 0
11 1998 5 1998-10-04 26-014 PHI @ DEN L 16-41 * 11 24 45.83% 96 0 1 39.6 4.00 2.13 1 6 6.00 0
12 1998 8 1998-11-02 26-043 PHI DAL L 0-34 13 39 33.33% 124 0 2 21.7 3.18 0.87 2 5 2.50 0
13 1998 9 1998-11-08 26-049 PHI DET W 10-9 * 15 21 71.43% 97 0 0 80.9 4.62 4.62 2 -4 -2.00 0
14 1998 10 1998-11-15 26-056 PHI @ WAS L 3-28 * 15 31 48.39% 110 0 2 30.3 3.55 0.65 3 5 1.67 0
15 1998 11 1998-11-22 26-063 PHI @ NYG L 0-20 * 14 28 50.00% 121 0 2 32.0 4.32 1.11 4 23 5.75 0

Season stats: Zero touchdowns, nine interceptions, 961 yards, and an even worse 50.9 completion percentage over eight games.

As a rookie with two years less experience and playing behind a broken down offensive line along with a dysfunctional coaching staff on its way out the door, Foles in comparison posted six touchdowns, five interceptions, 1699 yards, and a very respectable 60.8 completion percentage over seven games.

Passing Rushing
Rk Year G# Date Age Tm Opp Result GS Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate Y/A AY/A Att Yds Y/A TD TD Pts
1 2012 9 2012-11-11 23-296 PHI DAL L 23-38 22 32 68.75% 219 1 1 85.3 6.84 6.06 0 0 0 0 0
2 2012 10 2012-11-18 23-303 PHI @ WAS L 6-31 * 21 46 45.65% 204 0 2 40.5 4.43 2.48 1 0 0.00 0 0 0
3 2012 11 2012-11-26 23-311 PHI CAR L 22-30 * 16 21 76.19% 119 0 0 89.2 5.67 5.67 1 0 0.00 0 0 0
4 2012 12 2012-12-02 23-317 PHI @ DAL L 33-38 * 22 34 64.71% 251 1 0 96.6 7.38 7.97 0 0 0 0 0
5 2012 13 2012-12-09 23-324 PHI @ TAM W 23-21 * 32 51 62.75% 381 2 0 98.6 7.47 8.25 3 27 9.00 1 1 6
6 2012 14 2012-12-13 23-328 PHI CIN L 13-34 * 16 33 48.48% 180 1 1 62.7 5.45 4.70 2 5 2.50 0 0 0
7 2012 15 2012-12-23 23-338 PHI WAS L 20-27 * 32 48 66.67% 345 1 1 85.9 7.19 6.67 4 10 2.50 0 0 0

Opposite of Hoying’s first season, Foles ended on a high note with five touchdown passes and two interceptions over his final four games.

Let’s proceed to Kolb’s charts:

Passing Rushing
Rk Year G# Date Age Tm Opp Result GS Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate Y/A AY/A Att Yds Y/A TD TD Pts
8 2009 1 2009-09-13 25-020 PHI @ CAR W 38-10 7 11 63.64% 23 0 0 67.6 2.09 2.09 3 4 1.33 0 0 0
9 2009 2 2009-09-20 25-027 PHI NOR L 22-48 * 31 51 60.78% 391 2 3 73.2 7.67 5.80 1 -6 -6.00 0 0 0
10 2009 3 2009-09-27 25-034 PHI KAN W 34-14 * 24 34 70.59% 327 2 0 120.6 9.62 10.79 1 1 1.00 1 1 6
11 2009 4 2009-10-11 25-048 PHI TAM W 33-14
12 2009 12 2009-12-06 25-104 PHI @ ATL W 34-7

These final numbers in a small sample size aren’t bad, but the three interceptions against New Orleans raises a bit of a flag. Foles has only once thrown multiple interceptions in an NFL game, and it occurred in his first ever start against the Redskins, zero times since.

Kolb’s 2010 season paints a slightly bigger picture of mediocrity.

Passing Rushing
Rk Year G# Date Age Tm Opp Result GS Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate Y/A AY/A Att Yds Y/A TD TD Pts
13 2010 1 2010-09-12 26-019 PHI GNB L 20-27 * 5 10 50.00% 24 0 0 56.2 2.40 2.40 0 0 0 0 0
14 2010 4 2010-10-03 26-040 PHI WAS L 12-17 22 35 62.86% 201 1 1 76.0 5.74 5.03 2 21 10.50 0 0 0
15 2010 5 2010-10-10 26-047 PHI @ SFO W 27-24 * 21 31 67.74% 253 1 0 103.3 8.16 8.81 3 17 5.67 0 0 0
16 2010 6 2010-10-17 26-054 PHI ATL W 31-17 * 23 29 79.31% 326 3 1 133.6 11.24 11.76 2 1 0.50 0 0 0
17 2010 7 2010-10-24 26-061 PHI @ TEN L 19-37 * 26 48 54.17% 231 1 2 56.9 4.81 3.35 3 18 6.00 0 0 0
18 2010 9 2010-11-15 26-083 PHI @ WAS W 59-28 0 0 0 0 0 1 -1 -1.00 0 0 0
19 2010 16 2011-01-02 26-131 PHI DAL L 13-14 * 18 36 50.00% 162 1 3 37.0 4.50 1.31 4 9 2.25 0 0 0

Completion percentage was always a strong attribute, and in fairness to him, the Cowboys game was played surrounded by backups. Still, this was a fourth year quarterback in a familiar system, and his numbers are still nowhere close to Foles’ last season.

Passing Rushing
Rk Year G# Date Age Tm Opp Result GS Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate Y/A AY/A Att Yds Y/A TD TD Pts
8 2013 2 2013-09-15 24-238 PHI SDG L 30-33 0 1 0.00% 0 0 0 39.6 0.00 0.00 0 0 0 0 0
9 2013 4 2013-09-29 24-252 PHI @ DEN L 20-52 3 4 75.00% 49 1 0 155.2 12.25 17.25 0 0 0 0 0
10 2013 5 2013-10-06 24-259 PHI @ NYG W 36-21 16 25 64.00% 197 2 0 114.9 7.88 9.48 3 1 0.33 0 0 0
11 2013 6 2013-10-13 24-266 PHI @ TAM W 31-20 * 22 31 70.97% 296 3 0 133.3 9.55 11.48 3 2 0.67 1 1 6
12 2013 7 2013-10-20 24-273 PHI DAL L 3-17 * 11 29 37.93% 80 0 0 46.2 2.76 2.76 3 25 8.33 0 0 0
13 2013 9 2013-11-03 24-287 PHI @ OAK W 49-20 * 22 28 78.57% 406 7 0 158.3 14.50 19.50 4 10 2.50 0 0 0
14 2013 10 2013-11-10 24-294 PHI @ GNB W 27-13 * 12 18 66.67% 228 3 0 149.3 12.67 16.00 8 38 4.75 0 0 0
15 2013 11 2013-11-17 24-301 PHI WAS W 24-16 * 17 26 65.38% 298 0 0 104.3 11.46 11.46 9 47 5.22 1 1 6
16 2013 12 2013-12-01 24-315 PHI ARI W 24-21 * 21 34 61.76% 237 3 0 112.0 6.97 8.74 9 22 2.44 0 0 0
17 2013 13 2013-12-08 24-322 PHI DET W 34-20 * 11 22 50.00% 179 1 1 73.9 8.14 7.00 6 23 3.83 1 1 6
18 2013 14 2013-12-15 24-329 PHI @ MIN L 30-48 * 30 48 62.50% 428 3 1 103.5 8.92 9.23 5 41 8.20 0 0 0
19 2013 15 2013-12-22 24-336 PHI CHI W 54-11 * 21 25 84.00% 230 2 0 131.7 9.20 10.80 2 17 8.50 0 0 0
20 2013 16 2013-12-29 24-343 PHI @ DAL W 24-22 * 17 26 65.38% 263 2 0 124.4 10.12 11.65 5 -5 -1.00 0 0 0

Minus the odd fiasco of the first Dallas game, it is pretty difficult to pinpoint a contest where Foles played poorly. His numbers against Detroit are average, but that game probably deserves to be graded on a steep curve given the snowy conditions. The Minnesota game is a bit inflated due to being behind in the second half and throwing nonstop but still nothing to really scoff at.

It should be clear as day that Foles is not a third coming of Hoying or Kolb, but we’ll touch on this topic again later. First, let’s have a bit more fun and compare Foles to some of the newer, more accomplished quarterbacks in the league.

QB Comp Att Comp % Yards TD INT Sacks Record
Nick Foles 323 520 62.1 4125 29 6 45 10 W, 6 L
Andrew Luck 339 627 54.1 4374 23 18 41 11 W, 5 L
Robert Griffin 288 442 65.1 3529 22 7 35 9 W, 7 L
Russell Wilson 252 393 64.1 3118 26 10 40 11 W, 5 L
Ryan Tannehill 282 484 58.3 3294 12 13 35 7 W, 9 L
Colin Kaepernick 259 433 59.8 3627 22 10 29 11 W, 5 L

All of these quarterbacks were selected in the 2012 draft ahead of Foles aside from Kaepernick who went early in the second round a year earlier. Brandon Weeden was left off because…well yeah. Some notes here as I want to be transparent with methodology:

  • I cut RG3 a break and did not include his playoff start against the Seahawks where he suffered a torn ACL. Rather, his 2013 opener against the Eagles was included to make 16 games.
  • Foles’ stats begin with the 2012 game at the Redskins and continue through the 2013 season beginning with the contest at the Bucs. The Giants game the previous week was not included since he did not start. The playoff game is also not included (but I promise more is coming on that)
  • Kaepernick begins with the 2012 game against the Bears, includes all three playoff games, and runs through the Week 6 game against the Cardinals in 2013.

Going through the categories, Foles is third in completion percentage, first in yards, and first in touchdown passes. His record is better than Griffin and Tannehill and only a game behind Luck, Wilson, and Kaepernick. Those three obviously have won playoff games, something Foles has yet to accomplish.

Taking less sacks is clearly something Foles can improve upon, but despite the second most passing attempts by a pretty wide margin, he has still thrown the least amount of interceptions with six.

There seems to be some perception that Foles got incredibly lucky when it comes to throwing only two interceptions last season. The overturned Patrick Peterson play is a popular one to cite, but as pointed out by Mike Tanier of Sports of Earth and several others, Foles only benefited from three of these dropped balls last season, which is totally normal.

Also consider that Foles didn’t play in three games and barely played in two others. While 27 and two won’t be repeated, there’s nothing wrong with 32 and 10. Plenty of quarterbacks get teams to the playoffs doing just that.

No scout would tell you that Foles is more talented than Luck, but based on the numbers from this chart, he can go toe-to-toe with any of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL.

While this point cannot be measured in numbers, I’m going to make the claim that Foles’ roadmap to NFL success was a bit more challenging. He is the only quarterback on this list who played for a different head coach between Year 1 and Year 2. CSN Philly’s Reuben Frank has done a nice job chronicling Foles’ path to rising stardom in a 5-part series.

Never a sought after recruit, Foles by my count has been challenged to learn five different offensive systems going back to his senior year of high school in 2006. In his senior season at Arizona, head coach Mike Stoops was fired after a 1-5 start. For the first time in a long time, Foles finally has stability around him.

Additionally, Foles has to fight back against the narrative of being a third round pick. Generally, quarterbacks selected in the third round aren’t expected to become franchise cornerstones. If Luck or Cam Newton has a bad day and tosses three interceptions (something that has happened to them six and five times respectively), it’s more or less written off because they’re number one overall picks progressing through growing pains.

Foles has never thrown three interceptions in a single game, but all it took was one bad showing against Dallas last season for some folks to make the declaration that he can’t play and is destined to be a career backup.

Fittingly enough, the Eagles face every quarterback listed on the chart other than Tannehill this season.

There’s one quarterback not yet mentioned however. Let’s talk about Drew Brees for a minute — the guy who ended Foles’ 2013 season.

QB Comp Att Comp % Yards TD INT Sacks
Foles 23 33 69.7 195 2 0 2
Brees 20 30 66.7 250 1 2 2

I don’t think it’s any question which quarterback was better that night. Yes, the Saints won the game. The Eagles lost because of a disastrous first half drive, which included a sack of Foles, that ended with an Alex Henery missed field goal. Billy Davis made it such a priority to contain Jimmy Graham that the Saints gashed the Eagles on the ground, Riley Cooper dropped a wide open pass, and the offense took too long to get going.

When it got going though, it was something to watch, almost capping off a comeback after being down 20-7.

In Buzz Bissinger’s lengthy profile on Foles, he mentions that the quarterback “looked confused in the second half of the loss to the New Orleans Saints in last year’s playoffs.”

The numbers don’t really back that up. In the final two quarters, Foles was 10 of 16 for 97 yards and the go-ahead touchdown.

The last we saw of Foles was him finding Zach Ertz in the end zone to put the Eagles in the lead late in the fourth quarter. Does this drive chart resemble a quarterback who looked scared or “confused”?

Foles vs. Saints

Against a future Hall of Fame quarterback, a Super Bowl champion coach, and a defense that had surrendered the fourth lowest point total in the regular season, Foles in his first ever playoff game, calmly engineered a near flawless drive to walk off the field with the lead.

There was no way the Eagles were getting by Seattle last season, but they certainly would have stood a strong chance against Carolina and playing two more games would have been huge for the team’s development.

Unfortunately, it ended so quickly. The short kickoff, the horse collar, the 13 yard run on 2nd and 11, the chip shot field goal. It was over, and Foles never got another chance.

Seventy seven yards on nine plays though with your season on the line and absolutely needing a touchdown. I’d like to see Kolb or Hoying attempt that.

Thankfully we don’t have to because these aren’t your older brother’s Philadelphia Eagles.

Hell no. These aren’t Andy Reid’s Philadelphia Eagles or Kevin Kolb’s Philadelphia Eagles, and they’re certainly not Ray Rhodes’ or Bobby Hoying’s Philadelphia Eagles.

No, these are Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles, and Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles are Nick Foles’ Philadelphia Eagles, and “Nick Foles’ Philadelphia Eagles” has a pretty nice ring to it — perhaps even a Super Bowl ring to it.