Tag Archives: Cam Newton

Eagles-Panthers: Five Numbers I Hope to See in the Box Score Around Midnight

Last week we hit on three of these numbers as the Eagles evened their road record to 2-2 down in Houston.

Tonight, Mark Sanchez will try to channel his inner Jeff Garcia, as the Eagles aim to improve their home record to 5-0 against the somewhat struggling Carolina Panthers. In fact, prefacing ‘somewhat’ before the word struggling might be a bit generous here.

The Panthers have not won since October 5 and have averaged 12 points in their past three contests, all losses. Let’s hit the five numbers I believe could push the Panthers losing streak to four and the Eagles to a 7-2 record:

  1. Cam Newton completing less than 60 percent of his passes — The Panthers are 1-1-1 and averaging 26.7 points per game when their quarterback completes more than 60 percent of his passes this season. They are 1-4 in games where he does not. In a Monday Night game at the Linc back in 2012, Newton carved the Eagles mess of a secondary up, completing 64 percent of his passes. Hold him below the 60 benchmark tonight, and the Eagles should be in good shape.
  2. Less than 70 receiving yards for Kelvin Benjamin — The Panthers rookie receiver is an absolute stud. He was my favorite receiver in a stacked draft class, and despite guarantees by some doubters that he would be a bust, Benjamin’s rookie year has been very solid so far. I hate that I have to root against him, but he’s the one player on the Panthers offense who scares me. The Eagles secondary has surprised before against big receivers (think back to them holding Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey in check last season). Hopefully they can do it again.
  3. At least six receptions by Jordan Matthews — Sanchez loved throwing to the rookie receiver in the preseason and looked his way on his third pass last Sunday for a nice touchdown down the seam. Matthews has had an up and down rookie season but put in some good work with the Eagles then backup quarterback over the summer and has a chance to make it count here.
  4. LeSean McCoy averaging more than four yards per carry — After a super slow start to the season that had half of Philadelphia going off the deep end, the Eagles Pro Bowl running back seems to be finding his groove. He quietly entered Week 10 fourth in the league in rushing and has averaged 5.2 yards per carry over his last three games, twice going over the century mark. The Eagles are 3-1 this season when the focal point of their offense averages more than four yards per rush and 10-5 going back to the start of the 2013 season. Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 7.37.54 PM
  5. Less than two turnovers for the Eagles offense — I am budgeting at least one interception for Sanchez, because well, that’s what Sanchez does. Going back to his 2012 Jets days, he has thrown at least one interception in five of his last six starts. At some point, turnovers could easily catch up to this team, so taking care of the football in terms of fumbles and not adding to the total that Sanchez is likely to start will be key. The next turnover free game the Eagles play will be their first of the season. That might be a lot to ask for tonight, but keeping the number to one should give them a decent chance to win the game.

There we go. 60, 70, six, four, two, and the Eagles hopefully standing at 6-2 at midnight Monday night.

Fist pump away, Chip.

Fist Pump GIF

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Predicting the Eagles Record Game-By-Game

I am a little surprised I am doing this only because this exercise rarely holds up in a couple of months.

It does not so much matter where a team’s wins are from over the course of the regular season as long as they are there after Week 17. Injuries and several other variables can throw things out of whack.

At the beginning of last season, I would have told you that the Eagles would beat Dallas at home but lose to Green Bay on the road two weeks later. Nick Foles getting hurt against the Cowboys, and Aaron Rodgers not playing against the birds obviously changed that. The Eagles still split those two games, but how they did it was the contrast to what I expected.

Still, this is a fun thing to do and evaluate, so we’re going to play win-loss with the Eagles schedule starting with this Sunday against Jacksonville and going through the season finale at MetLife Stadium against the Giants.

Let’s get to it:

Jaguars Logo

Win: This one reminds me of the 2008 opener where the Eagles just steamrolled an awful Rams team at Lincoln Financial Field. Nicky Foles, Shady McCoy, and Zach Ertz pick up right where they left off as Chip Kelly’s offense soars and Billy Davis’ defense gains confidence.

Colts Logo

Loss — I nearly gave the Eagles a road victory here, but I think the Colts take this one as Adam Vinatieri ends a Monday Night shootout with a game-winning field goal. Foles and Andrew Luck go back and forth all game, but the Colts need one this more after falling to the Broncos this Sunday. They find a way to get it done.

Redskins Logo

Win — DeSean Jackson catches a meaningless touchdown in the fourth quarter, but 70,000 at Lincoln Financial Field have already belted out the Eagles fight song four times. Kelly continues to own Jim Haslett’s defenses as the birds get back over .500.

Niners Logo

Win — Back in 2011, the 49ers went into Lincoln Financial Field in Game 4 and stunned an ill-prepared Eagles team with a one-point win. That Eagles team ended up not being very good, but the Eagles will turn the tables here and leave northern California riding high with a 3-1 record.

Rams Logo

Win — Lane Johnson returns just in time to keep Nick Foles upright against a staunch Rams defensive line. In a second half rout, Brandon Boykin picks off Shaun Hill and takes it to the house while Mark Sanchez gives a troll wave to Jeff Fisher on the opposing sideline. The Eagles are 4-1, their best start to a season since 2006.

Giants Logo

Win — The Giants are better than folks think and make this one tough, but Foles makes a play in the fourth quarter that Eli Manning can no longer make. The Eagles escape on Sunday Night football and open up a three game lead in the NFC East heading into their bye week.

Cardinals Logo

Loss — The Cardinals have given the Eagles fits over the past half decade and enact some revenge from last year where the Eagles may have kept them out of the playoffs. The offense finds its groove in the fourth quarter but leaves the desert with a loss.

Texans Logo

Win — Kelly vs. Bill O’Brien. Blink and risk missing an entire series J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney each sack Nick Foles once, but the Eagles win by 10 points on the road, sitting pretty at 6-2.

Panthers Logo

Win — The third Monday Night game at the Linc between these teams since 2006. With the Eagles clinging to a 28-24 lead late in the fourth quarter, Malcolm Jenkins pays homage to Lito Sheppard and intercepts a Cam Newton throw to the end zone.

Packers Logo

Loss — The defense comes in feeling good about itself, but Aaron Rodgers picks them apart. Foles keeps up most of the way, but Green Bay has too much firepower and outlasts the Eagles 31-27.

Titans

Win — The birds return home angry after the Packers game, and an overmatched Titans squad is the victim of their frustration. Jordan Matthews has a big coming out party, and the birds roll comfortably.

Cowboys Logo

Win — It is a happy Turkey Day in Jerry World for the visiting Eagles. Tony Romo keeps the Cowboys in it for a half, but Chip Kelly’s squad beats an awful Cowboys defense into submission by the time the third quarter ends. McCoy goes for 160 yards on the ground as the birds reach nine wins. Perhaps we get another GIF similar to this, (H/T @CrossingBroad)

Jerry Jones GIF

Seahawks Logo

Loss — Kelly has a few extra days to prepare for a visit from the defending Super Bowl champions, but talent wins out as Seattle gains a stranglehold on homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. The Eagles defense rises up and keeps them in the game, but the offense never completely gets on track as the Seahawks send a raucous Lincoln Financial Field crowd home disappointed with a 24-16 win.

Cowboys Logo

Win — The Eagles treat a Sunday Night national audience to a show, snapping their two-year home losing streak to the Cowboys and clinching the NFC East in the process with a 38-10 romp. The loss all but seals Jason Garrett’s fate as Dallas falls to 5-9 in a miserable season. The three-year streak of 8-8 mediocrity is over as the bottoming out begins.

Redskins Logo

Win — The Eagles start slow in Washington, but a long touchdown pass from Foles to Jeremy Maclin right before halftime wakes them up. The second half is sloppy, but Cody Parkey hits a 35-yarder with no time left to win it 23-20. The Eagles secure the number two seed as the Skins’ hope of finishing 8-8 in Jay Gruden’s first year fades away.

Giants Logo

Loss — Neither team has a ton to play for. The Eagles already know their playoff positioning, and the Giants are already eliminated. Tom Coughlin goes out on a high note, denying the Eagles a perfect 6-0 record in the division with a 26-23 win.

This puts the Eagles at 11-5 and gives them a bye on wildcard weekend for the first time since 2004 when they went to the Super Bowl.

In my season predictions for all 32 teams, I have the Eagles getting revenge against the Saints at home before succumbing to the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.

We can discuss this more over the next couple of days and throughout the beginning portion of the season. I believe the Eagles are going to be very good but are in need of another offseason to address the defense before they can take out the Seahawks.

The unit was better last year than many people realize, but it has not yet shown me it could win a road playoff game against that type of team. Should this actually end up being the NFC Championship Game, I may change my tune once there is 18 games of film and data on each team, but for as much as I want to go all in and say see you in Glendale, I think the Seahawks win that contest right now.

An NFC Championship appearance in Year 2 under Kelly would be nothing to scoff at though. It would mean that in two years he turned a 4-12 mess into a legitimate contender for the Lombardi Trophy.

In an ideal world, the Eagles get one this season before Foles’ well-deserved payday, but the window of opportunity will still be very much open.

There you have it. 11-5, a second straight NFC East title, a home playoff victory, and an appearance in the final four. I want a ring, but this is a pretty good place to start.

What say you folks? Would love to hear your predictions before Sunday.

Feeling Lucky: 2014-2015 NFL Predictions

The Seattle Seahawks will put a halt to a near-decade long streak, becoming the first team since the 2005 New England Patriots to win a playoff game coming off a Super Bowl title.

Pete Carroll’s squad will do more than just win one game in January though. They will once again represent the NFC in Glendale on February 1, 2015, but the Seahawks will not repeat as champions.

If you picked up on the subtle headline hint, Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts will dethrone the Legion of Boom and hoist the Lombardi Trophy nearly five months from now.

Andrew Luck rises, Russell Wilson nearly does it again, Nick Foles takes another step forward, Colin Kaepernick takes a small step back, and Robert Griffin’s slide continues.

That and more as we predict team-by-team records and how the playoffs will play out below.

You can choose for yourself how much stock you put in my predictions. Last season, I did nail Seattle as my preseason Super Bowl champion but picked them to beat the Texans in the big game so…welp.

I cannot promise that I will be spot on. If I could, I might as well be in Vegas right now, but unlike hack Mike Freeman, I will try to hold myself accountable if they are embarrassingly bad.

Without further ado, let’s hit it.

NFC East

Eagles (11-5) (2)

Giants (8-8)

Redskins (6-10)

Cowboys (5-11)

Thoughts: It would be a big surprise if the Eagles do not win this semi-comfortably, and if things go according to plan, they will jump out to a quick one-game lead over everyone after this weekend. The Giants are not as bad as some seem to think but won’t be good enough to seriously challenge for a wildcard spot. Redskins and Cowboys bring up the rear in a relatively weak division.

NFC North 

Packers (10-6) (4)

Bears (9-7)

Vikings (8-8)

Lions (5-11)

Thoughts: The Seahawks can make just about an squad look bad, so I’m not reading into the Packers loss last night a ton. Aaron Rodgers hides a lot of their flaws, but they will once again find a way to take the division. The Bears come up just short again, the Vikings are a pleasant surprise, and the Lions remain the Lions.

NFC South

Saints (10-6) (3)

Bucs (8-8)

Panthers (8-8)

Falcons (7-9)

Thoughts: Always the toughest division to handicap. I think the Saints are a cut above the rest and expect Tampa Bay to be better now that they are free of the Greg Schiano experience. I love me some Kelvin Benjamin, but who else is Cam Newton throwing to outside of Greg Olsen? The Falcons get the honor of being the best last place team in the league.

NFC West

Seahawks (13-3) (1)

Cardinals (10-6) (5)

49ers (10-6) (6)

Rams (3-13)

Thoughts: It nearly happened last year, and this season it actually will — Three playoff teams out of the wild, wild west. Seattle avoids the Super Bowl hangover. I am no Bruce Arians fan, but that Cardinals team is solid. They beat out the 49ers, but Jim Harbaugh’s squad overcomes a rough start to grab the final playoff spot in the conference. The Rams win the Jameis Winston/Marcus Mariota sweepstakes.

AFC East

Patriots (11-5) (3)

Jets (8-8)

Dolphins (7-9)

Bills (4-12)

Thoughts: The more things change, the more things stay the same. The Pats roll once again while the Bills sit in the cellar. The Dolphins and Jets hang around but can’t quite crash the playoff party.

AFC North

Bengals (10-6) (4)

Ravens (8-8)

Steelers (7-9)

Browns (4-12)

Thoughts: Andy Dalton once again gets the Bengals to the playoffs and once again loses in the first round. The Ravens just miss for two straight years. I would have had the Steelers with another win or two a month ago, but they just looked awful in the preseason. Johnny Manziel gets the gig pretty early and Cleveland but makes numerous NFL front offices breathe a sigh of relief that they passed on him last May.

AFC South

Colts (12-4) (2)

Texans (9-7) (6)

Jaguars (5-11)

Titans (4-12)

Thoughts: The Colts have this thing clinched by Week 12 with the Jaguars and Titans as complete afterthoughts. Bill O’Brien works his quarterback magic and gets the Texans to the playoffs in Year 1.

AFC West

Broncos (13-3) (1)

Chargers (11-5) (5)

Chiefs (8-8)

Raiders (3-13)

Thoughts: The Broncos cruise to another division title as they play out the schedule hoping for redemption in the playoffs. Mike McCoy’s Chargers take another step forward while Andy Reid’s Chiefs take a slight step back. The Raiders remain the Raiders, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Playoffs: 

AFC Wildcard Weekend

Chargers over Bengals

Patriots over Texans

NFC Wildcard Weekend

Saints over 49ers

Cardinals over Packers

AFC Divisional Playoffs

Colts over Patriots

Broncos over Chargers

NFC Divisional Playoffs

Eagles over Saints

Seahawks over Cardinals

AFC Championship Game

Colts over Broncos

NFC Championship Game 

Seahawks over Eagles

Super Bowl

Colts over Seahawks

Would love to hear your predictions if you have any because FOOTBALL BACK

Chip GIF

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.

The First Round of the NFL Draft is Tonight, and that Brings Back Memories

Aside from brief infatuations with “American Idol,” “Survivor,” or “The Amazing Race” over a decade ago, reality television has never really been my thing.

Unless that is, you put the NFL Draft under that umbrella. In that case, I enjoy reality TV a whole lot.

It is an argument that can certainly be validated. For a league that branded itself partially on bone-crushing hits and physicality for decades, this event is about as dressed-up and soap opera esque as things get, completely driven by media consumption.

Still, for as much as its haters claim it’s dragged out and overhyped, there’s something uniquely special about a name scribbled on a card possibly determining the direction of a franchise and then hanging on every syllable of for years Paul Tagliabue and now Roger Goodell as the pick is read.

I love the NFL Draft. I’ve loved it since I was a young child. I could ramble about random draft memories all day, but no one cares. Here’s just two quick anecdotes to demonstrate what I’m talking about before I get in to why I am really writing this post.

It was April 29, 2006. This was back in the old-school format of the draft when the first round started at noon on a Saturday and took almost seven hours to complete (I kinda miss that style to be honest). Typically when I was in 9th grade, Saturday afternoons were spent playing wiffle ball, basketball, or capture the flag. We had a group of 10 or so people all pretty close in age who lived only a few minutes apart and would round everyone up and get a game going.

A few of my friends knocked on my door a little before noon on this particular morning, and the conversation went something like this.

“You wanna play something?”

“Can’t today, sorry guys. NFL Draft is on.” 

“Well, when will it be over? Can you play in a couple hours?”

“Nope, sorry. It goes all day.” 

“Wait, why are you wrapped in a blanket when it’s 65 degrees?” 

“Because you rang the bell and answering the door without pants on would have been weird.” 

“Why aren’t you wearing pants?”

“Because I’m gonna spend the next 12 hours in front of the TV watching the draft.” 

“Alright, cya in school on Monday. And you should probably put pants on.” 

“You got it, cya soon.” 

Now, fast forward to 2008. The weekend of the draft also coincided with my junior class trip. I had committed to going on the trip but hadn’t missed watching the draft live in years. This was before smartphones had gone really mainstream, so I set up a system with my friend Tarbell from home. He too loved the draft and said he would text every few picks to keep me updated.

“You ready to go?” I texted him about five minutes before the Dolphins were on the clock with the first pick.

“Been wearing Eagles shit all day and just flew through my neighborhood to get home. Let’s do it.”

Word had spread that I was doing this, and a few different times, kids who I went to school with but hardly ever spoke to asked me about the latest update. An assistant principal even wanted to know a few picks at one point. Later that night, as my friends and I were about to get on a roller coaster in Busch Gardens, the Eagles took DeSean Jackson in the second round. If that’s not some type of metaphor, I’m not sure what is.

I didn’t watch one pick on TV that weekend but still felt as if I was all caught up. Thanks, buddy. This also led to my family switching over to unlimited texting because I came close to exceeding the monthly limit in one day.

I had told myself many years prior that one day I would get to New York and see a draft in person, but that was obviously easier said than done.

It is now April 23, 2011. Another draft is less than a week away, and on a Philadelphia sports blog that regularly read, I stumbled upon a contest to win tickets.

Draft Contest

I submitted the form without thinking much of it and continued on with my weekend. The next part of this story might be about as #college as things get.

It was the final week of classes at Penn State, and I had to deliver a speech in my CAS 100 class that Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. Some people will do everything possible to avoid an 8 a.m. class, but I never minded getting up early too much and figured it’d be good practice for my summer job.

My next class wasn’t until 4 p.m., so typically I would stay up until 3 a.m. or so Monday night, wake up for class, and then I would have a few hours to nap if needed. This was before Onward State happened, and sleep was still an option most of the time.

Not on this Monday night though. On this Monday night, similar to my two other speeches earlier in the semester, it was 10:30 p.m. and I had yet to even really start. Part of it was natural procrastination, but I also enjoyed the adrenaline rush from writing and rehearsing a speech under a tight deadline.

Pulling an all-nighter for an assignment like this wasn’t the best plan, but I had essentially done it two times before and knew I could do it one final time. I wasn’t the best public speaker in the class — far from it — but I knew how to go about it and was pulling off A minuses while some kids were struggling just to stay above the C range.

My professor was a graduate student. She was cool and could relate to the busy lives that a lot of us lived, but she was also pretty demanding. On speech days, presenters were required to wear a suit. If you rolled out of bed and gave your speech in a hoodie and sweatpants, you were getting docked at least a letter grade and maybe more.

After being up all night, I showered, put on my suit, walked to class, and gave my speech. I killed it, but once I sat down, the second wind of energy began to wear off. I was ready to crash.

Back in my room once class ended, I did exactly that. I hung the suit jacket up, tossed the pants somewhere, and collapsed onto my bed with no intentions of waking up for at least four hours.

Two hours into what I hoped would be a prolonged nap, I stirred and decided to check my phone before trying to go back to sleep. There were a few run-of-the-mill text messages but nothing that seemed to warrant an immediate response.

The most recent one was from my friend Kevin who lived about 15 minutes from me back home. He attended a different high school, but we had become good friends in college through some mutual people. His text read:

“HOLY SHIT! YOU WON THE CROSSING BROAD CONTEST!”

That’s cool, I thought to myself while placing the phone down and subsequently my head a few seconds later. Probably won some T-shirt or something, too out of it to realize what he was actually talking about.

I thankfully woke up 20 minutes later and again saw the message. Wait a minute. Contest, I entered a contest the other day. I grabbed my laptop as fast as I could. Sure enough, there it was: 

Draft Winner

An email offering me free VIP NFL Draft tickets had been in my inbox for a few hours already, and I was passed out cold the entire time.

The tickets were mine, and a GMC representative would be waiting outside Radio City Music Hall Thursday night, but if I wasn’t able to attend, I had to let them know so they could offer them to someone else.

I touched base with Crossing Broad editor Kyle Scott, asking if he could give me until 4 p.m. to sort things out. He said that was fine, and now came the hard part of figuring out how to get from State College to New York. My car was four hours away at home, but I knew Kevin had a car and was as obsessed with the draft as me.

“DUDE, YOU GOT A CAR HERE. I HAVE TWO TICKETS. DO YOU WANT TO GO?”

“I HAVE AN [EXPLETIVE] EXAM FRIDAY MORNING AT 8 A.M.”

Dammit. My next plan was to ask my freshman year roommate Alex who I was also going to live with the coming fall. He initially said yes and then backed out a few minutes later after thinking about it more and looking at the rest of his week.

It’s not easy to get people to leave campus towards the end of the semester. Between studying for finals less than a week away and enjoying the last few days in State College, there’s a lot going on. In this instance though, none of that mattered to me. I’d prepare for finals when I was back on Saturday and Sunday. Movin’ On just wasn’t my thing. No disrespect to the people who work hard to make it happen, but I never went to one of them in my four years. (If that makes me a bad Penn Stater, someone let me know)

At that point, I began to worry a little and called my dad, half to tell him that I won the tickets, half to see if maybe he would want to go. My dad wasn’t a huge draft guy though aside from maybe tuning in when the Eagles were on the clock. He used to think I was nuts for watching as long as I did, jokingly calling it the “NFL Geek Show.”

He said that he really wasn’t interested but to call him back if I got real desperate. Before I had my license — and even after — my dad had taken me to so many baseball games. I couldn’t drag him to this if he didn’t want to go.

By that time, I had posted on social media about winning the tickets and received a congratulatory text from Ryan Beckler. Over the next two years, Ryan would become my best friend working together for Onward State, but at that time, we were more acquaintances who occasionally did homework together or texted about sports.

I honestly can’t remember if I called him or responded to the text but either way pretty much conveyed, Do you want to go? i have free tickets but need a way to get there. 

He told me he’d have an answer in half an hour. If he said no, I had no idea what my next move would be. Luckily, I didn’t need one. Ryan was in, and on Thursday around 1 p.m,, we were off.

Details about the ride are hazy for me. All I distinctively recall is rush hour traffic getting the better of us as we got close. Originally hoping to arrive around 5:15 p.m, it was well past 6:30 by the time we found a parking garage. Once we realized we would be way later than anticipated, we got in touch with the GMC person who would be waiting for us outside. Carrying nothing but the printed email saying we had won the tickets, we walked towards the entrance of Radio City Music Hall when a security person stopped us.

“Where you guys supposed to be?” he said. I showed him the email, and just as he glanced over it, some woman appeared and recognized us from the descriptions we previously gave.

“They’re good. They’re with me,” she said, whisking us away into some fancy elevator and handing us our credentials. We got out, walked through some sort of cocktail party, past a room where chefs were laying out food, and bam, there it was. After all that, we made it.

For the Eagles, the draft was a complete dumpster fire. Only Jason Kelce, Alex Henery, Casey Matthews, and Julian Vandervelde remain three years later, and you can make an argument that three of those players shouldn’t be on the current team. It was worse than 2010, which was pretty underwhelming itself, and one of the final nails in the coffin of the Andy Reid regime that ended 20 months later, but for someone who had never been, it was a blast.

What an unforgettable five hours. Upon returning to State College, I wrote about the experience which will be posted below.

I’m not a huge fan of the way I wrote this but other than one or two grammar tweaks, it appears just as it did a few years ago, and the message encouraging people to go to the draft hasn’t changed.

One caveat: Someone should slap me across the face for saying I didn’t like Cam Newton. What an exciting player to watch.

Merry Christmas, Mel Kiper and Todd McShay.

Here’s the post as promised:

Ninety seven dollars, 24 hours, and 10 plates of free food later, I’m back from the first round of the NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. I could use this space to give you my amateur analysis of the first 32 picks:

I don’t like Cam Newton.

Patrick Peterson will be a stud.

Christian Ponder was a major reach for the Vikings.

The Lions defensive line is flat out scary with Suh and Nick Fairley.

I wanted Prince Amukamara in midnight green, and the Giants stole him from me.

But I don’t think that’s what anyone really wants to read about, nor is that what last week was really about.

I have loved the NFL Draft since I was old enough to understand football. My first real draft memory is being a wide eyed 8- year old kid sitting in front of the television with my dad watching Eagles fans boo Donovan McNabb. When I was lucky enough to win these tickets through GMC, I knew that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Class on Friday? Three finals next week? $4.00 for a gallon of gas? Screw it. Nothing was stopping me from getting to New York City, and that is what I’ll most remember: Being there and seeing fans of 32 NFL teams (I think the Bills still have fans right?) come together.

I’ll remember watching in awe as my friend Ryan Beckler navigated NYC roads the way Roy Halladay goes through an opposing lineup making sure no amount of Lincoln Tunnel traffic or NYC taxi drivers were stopping us from picking up our VIP passes. “I don’t think we’re in State College anymore.”

I’ll remember meeting Von Miller’s father outside and the “Fuck You Maclin’s” I got from Giants fans walking up to the entrance. For the record, I was wearing a DeSean Jackson jersey, but I’ll give Giants fans the benefit of the doubt that they can indeed read, and were simply trying to forget this:

Or this

I’ll also remember the people who I spent the night around — A mix of hard core football fans and high-up GMC corporate people. From the gentleman to my left who knew exactly what teams were thinking and could break down Muhammad Wilkerson’s Temple career better than most Jets fans to the couple to my right who didn’t know the difference between Kevin Kolb and Kentucky prospect Randall Cobb but were two of the friendliest people anyone will ever meet.

In a GMC gift bag, a radio was provided to listen to the ESPN and NFL Network guys, but this was not a night to hear analysis. This was a night to soak everything in.

As any of my friends will tell you, I have a really good memory, so I may remember 10 years from now that the 49ers took Aldon Smith from Missouri with the 7th pick, but I’ll more remember sitting 20 feet away from the ESPN set and getting Jon Gruden to acknowledge us after chanting his name  (Mel wouldn’t budge).

I’ve watched football games at The Vet, The Linc, and Beaver Stadium which are three of the best atmospheres in the country to watch a game (If anyone wants to take me to an Eagles game next year I’m 5-1, and the only loss was the meaningless Week 17 game against the Cowboys last year — Just throwing it out there). I saw Peter Forsberg score his first goal as a Flyer, Allen Iverson win a game against the Wizards on a fast break steal, and several significant Phillies games, but Thursday night will always be one of my favorite memories as a sports fan.

If you’re young enough where you can still drop everything for a day, make sure to attend a draft. Forget the free steak kebabs and rolls.  Just find a way to go. If you’re older, take your kids and let them share the memory with you.

I’m not preaching being financially irresponsible, but this an event all NFL fans should experience even if it puts a slight dent in your wallet.