Tag Archives: Chicago Bears

The Eagles-Cowboys Showdown is Important Today But Contrary to What Any National Narrative Might Suggest It Won’t Necessarily Decide the NFC East

By the time I finish writing this post, kickoff between the Eagles and Cowboys with first place in the division on the line will be less than nine hours away.

We’re getting closer, but that’s still a ton of time for more hype to be generated about the Thanksgiving matchup. This game has been circled on the slate for many since the schedule was released in late April, but the circumstances are a bit different than most expected, certainly a contrast to what I anticipated.

Yes, the Eagles head to Dallas with the exact same record as I thought they would at 8-3, but the Cowboys are also a surprising 8-3 when many picked them to win only five or six games. I like to think my predictions have been mostly decent, but Dallas right now, pending a ridiculous collapse that I don’t think even they are capable of, appears to be the big miss right now.

If you told me in August that the Eagles would head into this game 8-3, I would have told you that they would have the NFC East virtually clinched already, but they don’t, and despite what anyone tells you to create excitement, neither team will be that close to winning it as people loosen their belts tonight and settle in for Seahawks-49ers.

Today’s contest is no doubt important, and whichever team does win will have a bit of an easier path to the division crown, but unlike the Week 17 virtual playoff games in 2008 and 2013, this isn’t a do or die type of deal.

I do think though, that the Eagles head into today with a bit of a long-term advantage over Dallas. Let’s examine why:

These are the current NFC East standings:

Screen Shot 2014-11-27 at 8.16.05 AM

Take a look at that seventh column from the left there — The division record one.

You will see that the Eagles are undefeated in the division at 2-0 while Dallas sits at 2-1 after dropping a home game to Washington exactly one month ago to the day. That is so significant because if the teams split their two games and finish with the exact same record, it will be the first tiebreaker used to decide the division winner.

Below are both teams’ remaining schedules, with the Eagles first and the Cowboys below them.

Screen Shot 2014-11-27 at 8.21.33 AM

Screen Shot 2014-11-27 at 8.21.47 AM

Discounting the two games against each other in a three week span, the Eagles common opponents have a combined record of 13-20 while the Cowboys face teams with a cumulative record of 15-18.

Since the Eagles have not yet lost within the division, they could split their two games with Dallas, win all of the others, and take the division at 12-4. The same does not hold true for Dallas. Going 4-1 down the stretch would certainly put them in the playoffs, but if the Eagles matched them and took a game from them, they get the NFC East crown, a home playoff game, and quite possibly a first round bye.

Such a scenario would have the Eagles with a 5-1 record in the division while Dallas would only be 4-2.

How realistic is it to expect the Eagles to win all three games against the Seahawks, Redskins, and Giants?

That is up to your interpretation. They have already defeated the latter two at home, and Seattle looks like a much different team away from CenturyLink Field, currently holding a 2-3 road record.

The Eagles have not been road juggernauts this season though, also holding a 2-3 record away from Lincoln Financial Field. The Giants and Redskins are certainly not the 49ers, Cardinals, or Packers, but playing back-to-back NFC East road games late in the season is never a slam dunk, even against squads who have packed it in.

In stark contrast to the Eagles, the Cowboys are undefeated on the road and currently hold a 3-3 home record. Three of their last four games after today will be played elsewhere, but that might not be so bad if you think their strong road play holds up.

We have examined a lot of hypothetical scenarios, but quite honestly, the Eagles path to the division is in theory quite simple:

Win at least one game against Dallas and don’t lose any others.

How you feel about things over the next month ultimately depends on how you feel about different elements of the Eagles right now. Do you trust Chip Kelly down the stretch? I sure do and personally think you should, especially with extra time to prepare for the Seahawks. Do you trust Mark Sanchez to beat Dallas at least once if Nicky Foles isn’t back in two and a half weeks? That answer might be a bit more dicey for some.

I am not intentionally trying to downplay today’s matchup. It should be fun. It may be stressful, and like a lot of you, I will probably be doing battle with a food coma right before kickoff from eating an early dinner.

It may seem like I am cautioning you against a letdown throughout this post, but I actually think the Eagles are going to win 30-27. Provided Mark Sanchez can exorcise some demons of Thanksgiving past and not turn the ball over more than once or twice, the birds should be able to move the ball against a better than expected but still somewhat vulnerable Dallas defense and contain DeMarco Murray.

Just keep things in perspective. If we’re celebrating a huge road victory tonight, the Eagles will be in a prime position to repeat as NFC East champions, and I’ll be pumped as all hell, but don’t panic and go jumping off the Walt Whitman in a tryptophan induced rage should things not go right.

The national narrative might be that the winner today gets the division, but either way, there is a lot more work to be done.

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Five Numbers I Hope to See in the Box Score When Eagles-Titans Concludes

Good morning, good morning, good morning, dawgies.

Let me tell you, I feel like a kid on Christmas morning right now, about two hours away from heading down to Lincoln Financial Field for my first game since the Week 16 Bears beatdown on Sunday night last season.

As you already know, there is no Cody Parkey kickoff contest today because we will be singing the Eagles fight song as the birds are lining up for them, but we do have our five numbers post.

The Eagles have some awful recent history against the Titans that we won’t devote a ton of space to mentioning. Know that it’s bad, and know that these are five numbers I hope to see that could reverse it today and give the Eagles their tenth straight regular season victory at the Linc:

  1. At least one interception thrown by Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger — The Titans sixth round rookie signal-caller has thrown one interception in all four games he has played in. Good timing for a defense that had to deal with Aaron Rodgers last week.
  2. Less than 50 rushing yards for Bishop Sankey — The Titans will use another rookie to try to make things easier for Mettenberger and keep Chip Kelly’s high-powered offense off the field. Aside from one big run by Eddie Lacy last week, the Eagles run defense held their own and has done so for most of the season. That will ideally continue today.
  3. Mark Sanchez completing at least 60 percent of his passes — For the Eagles to get to where they want to be over the next month with Sanchez steering the ship, he has to be more accurate. In his first two games as a starter, he is completing only 56.8 percent of his passing attempts. While that is actually higher than his 55.3 percent average throughout his career, he has missed open receivers a bit too often. I would feel much better if this can improve even slightly to reach 60.
  4. LeSean McCoy averaging more than four yards per carry — I have not mentioned the Eagles running back in this space a ton simply because I expected him to get back on track with the return of Evan Mathis and Jason Kelce, but that hasn’t happened with him only totaling 107 yards on 35 carries since four of the five projected starters on the offensive line have been back together. McCoy has only averaged four yards per carry in four of 10 contests this season, but the Eagles are 3-1 in those games. Let’s push it to 4-1 today.
  5. My dude Zach Ertz eclipsing 70 receiving yards — After a couple down weeks with limited snaps, Ertz seemed to get back on track some with a 55-yard performance on four catches last week. He has not eclipsed 60 since posting 86 yards against the Colts in Week 2, and the Titans secondary should give him an opportunity to finally do that again today.

There you have it, folks. One, 50, 60, four, 70, and hopefully several renditions of ‘Fly Eagles Fly’ as the home winning streak reaches double digits.

Let’s go to the game.

Fist Pump GIF

 

There Will Be NO Cody Parkey Kickoff Contest This Sunday Because WE GOIN TO DA GAMEEEEEEEEEEE

Ever since Week 1 of the NFL season, this blog has served as the destination for the official Cody Parkey kickoff tracker. In Week 2 we added a contest and have had a lot of fun along the way, garnering a solid number of weekly participants and making friends with some Auburn message board folks early on who wanted to keep up with the Eagles rookie kicker.

While it does not require as much research as more of our analytical posts when time permits, this is one of my favorite things we do every Sunday. For one week though, that’s going to stop.

As you can gather from the headline, I will be going to the Eagles game on Sunday with one of my best friends. Going back to 2008, we have gone to one game every season (might do two this year). We’ve seen some good ones along the way including the 44-6 beatdown of Dallas in 2008 that miraculously put the birds in the playoffs, Brian Dawkins’ return in 2009, and last year’s insane Sunday Night throttling of the Bears that gave us “We Want Dallas” and “We’re from Philadelphia, and we fight.”

Aside from two training camp visits, I have not been in Lincoln Financial Field in 11 months, and I am so pumped to get back. It’s why, as concerning as last Sunday’s performance in Lambeau was, it’s not bothering me a ton this week knowing I’m going to watch this team live on Sunday. I don’t celebrate Christmas, but if I did, Eagles games would be my Christmas.

Last year, we sang the Eagles fight song approximately eight times as the birds put on a clinic against Chicago on a fun December night, and I’m hoping for as many or more renditions on Sunday as the Eagles look to get back on track against a struggling Titans team.

I have not even written a history lesson type of post this week because the Eagles recent history against the Titans is pretty miserable, and I just want to put that in the rearview mirror in about 58 hours.

Back to the topic at hand though, being at the game, I will not have access to a computer to run this contest live. Now, you might be thinking:

But Drew, we can still make our picks beforehand, and you can update the chart after the game once you’re home to figure out the points. 

The chart will most certainly be shared afterwards, but I believe the experience of updating throughout the game is significant. We do not want to deliver a watered down product to you, so if we can’t promise our usual timeliness and social media updates, we won’t settle.

So, if you want to still submit a guess on Sunday, you are more than welcome to tweet at me, but there will be no points awarded, and no realtime notifications.

We are inviting all our usual players and anyone else who might see this and want to jump in to take the Sunday off. Don’t go far though because we’re going to make it up to you on Thursday.

Get turnt up, hella pumped, [insert any phrase that you prefer here] for Turkey Day because we’ll be going all out with the biggest contest week yet. I’m talking usual predictions worth double the points, opportunities for bonus points galore, and more as the Eagles battle the Cowboys for first place in the NFC East in a game that could easily rest on the leg of Parkey or Dan Bailey, two of the best kickers in the league.

Much like Chip Kelly, we are always trying to innovate and can’t think of a better stage than a nationally televised rivalry game to roll out some new stuff.

Our game cannot exist without the loyal community of players, and while we hate to take a week off, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t straight up giddy about heading to the Linc on Sunday. We feel we’re making the right decision in terms of delivering the best product possible.

Enjoy the chart, stats, and leaderboard below for your viewing pleasure.

From our growing family to yours, we’ll see you on Thanksgiving.

Updated Contest Leaderboard: 

Drew Balis — Four points

Gavin Steinhubl — Four points

Nick Rapak — Two points

Cory Sprankle — Two points

Dan Spevak — Two points

Evan Kalikow — One point

Stats

  • 60 kickoffs in 10 games
  • 53 of those kickoffs in the end zone
  • 36 of those kickoffs for touchbacks
  • Average opponent starting field position of 20.54
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

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

If You’re Turnt AF for Matt Barkley Time Tonight, Clap Your Hands

Clap clap!

The team that nearly ruined Mark Sanchez plays the team that is rebuilding him in the preseason finale tonight at Lincoln Financial Field. In less douchey terminology, the Eagles and Jets meet in the annual fourth and final preseason contest before roster cuts are due and teams get ready for the actual show.

I unfortunately will not be watching the action live tonight, but unlike a lot of folks who tune out the fourth preseason game because they falsely believe it is completely meaningless, I have to work late before spending Labor Day Weekend in Pittsburgh at a friend’s wedding. You may have already seen that mentioned on here.

I get that some people cannot stand this final game. I really do, but to the fringe players that participate in it, tonight could help make or break their career. It happened 14 years ago in Philadelphia with A.J. Feeley and will happen again around the league tonight.

When I arrive home from work, I will probably throw on a replay while packing for the wedding and attempt a 53-man roster projection.

In the meantime, here are five things I hope to see from the Mark Sanchez-Michael Vick Bowl Matt Barkley-Michael Vick Bowl when I fire up the DVR:

  1. Matt Barkley has an excellent audition — I like Matt Barkley. I think he can have a future as a starter in this league, just not in Philadelphia (where Nick Foles is the starting quarterback for the next 1000 years). Since he entered the league 16 months ago, Barkley’s game has been picked apart every which way. Such is life when you go from a prodigy who some scouts had ahead of Andrew Luck to a fourth round pick following a rough senior season at shoulder injury. Tonight is Barkley’s chance to show some of the naysayers that he belongs and to catch the attention of some quarterback needy teams who might be interested down the road.
  2. Alex Henery is mistake free — I am at the point where I don’t know what else to write about the embattled kicker. I attempted to explore his issues in-depth and even defended him after an awful miss last week. I am still very confident the Eagles enter Week 1 with him as their guy, but the margin for error has never been smaller. I will update the kickoff tracker when I get home but nothing live during the game sadly.
  3. A wide receiver on the bubble shows they want the spot — Between Jeff Maehl, Arrelious Benn, and Ifeanyi Momah, the birds have a trio of receivers competing for what is likely one final spot on the depth chart there. All have flashed but have also displayed their inconsistency that has put them squarely on the bubble. Maehl is the safe bet considering he played for Chip Kelly at Oregon and knows the system, but I think Benn and Momah have a much higher ceiling. If they want to reach that ceiling though, they need to show it tonight.
  4. Jaylen Watkins doing good things on defense — I could have picked a lot of people here but hope to see the rookie defensive back in action tonight. He had a rough time against the Bears but also flashed his potential and versatility with an interception before all was said and done.
  5. A standing ovation for Michael Vick — Call this a cop out, but the former Eagles quarterback is back at the Linc in a different shade of green after five years in Philadelphia, and I think he earned it. I never thought Vick was a very good quarterback, but I believe he left here a better person and teammate than when he arrived. I think a lot of people are still unsure about how to judge him stemming from his dogfighting troubles of the past, but our country loves a comeback, and Vick has certainly made the most of his second chance.

We almost made it. The finish line is in sight. See you folks for more analysis once we cross it.

Gentlemen, We Can Rebuild Mark Sanchez. We Have the Technology

Work with me for a second here as we progress through this fake conversation.

The date is Monday, March 24, and Chip Kelly is sitting in his NovaCare Complex office watching tape from the 2013 season.

Footage from the fourth quarter of the first Cowboys game just finished playing featuring rookie Matt Barkley throwing three interceptions after having to relieve a concussed Nick Foles.

Kelly: Secretary, bring me a smoothie and set me up on a Skype call with Howie, Pat, and Bill. 

Secretary: Sure coach, but if you don’t mind me asking, who is Bill, Billy Davis? We have a lot of Bill’s who work for us. 

Kelly: No, not him. Bill Musgrave, our new quarterbacks coach. 

Secretary: Wait, wasn’t the old quarterbacks coach also named Bill? Billy Lazor or something?

Kelly: Yes, he’s in Miami now. You know I hate wasting time, and right now you’re being inefficient with these questions. Get them on the phone, please.

(Shurmur’s ring tone is the Michigan State fight song. Musgrave, in the process of completing his move from Minnesota to Philadelphia, takes a few rings to answer)

Kelly: Afternoon, guys. I’ll cut to the chase real quick. We need to address our quarterback situation. Nick may be the starter for the next 1000 years, but he has suffered some type of injury just about every year going back to his college days at Arizona. I like Matt, but watching some tape from last year, I’m not sure he’s ready to be our backup. Let’s hear some suggestions.

Shurmur: Why don’t we make it easy and just re-sign Mike, Chip? He liked it here and already knows the system.

Kelly: Pat, you gotta keep up here, dawgy. Mike signed with the Jets last Friday. That’s why I’m calling. Bill, you’ll be their position coach. What have you got? (Silence) Bill, talk!

Musgrave: Sorry, Chip, little hard to hear over the Minnesota wind outside the airport here, can’t wait to get to Philly. I used to coach Joe Webb…

Roseman: Bill, no! I realize you’re new here, but we don’t mention that name around these parts after what Webb did on a Tuesday night in December 2010.

Kelly: Howie, let’s make Bill feel welcome and let him finish. In December 2010, I was preparing for Nick Fairley and Auburn’s defense. I wasn’t here for any of that. Go ahead, Bill.

Musgrave: Sorry, Howie, I should have thought of that,, but yeah Joe Webb, very athletic, he would be my choice.

Kelly: Meh. Let’s…

Roseman: Uh Chip, not to interrupt, but I just got a text. Webb signed with the Panthers 30 seconds ago.

Kelly: No loss. Pat, now that you’re all caught up, what do you think?

Shurmur: Well Chip, I used to coach Colt McCoy in Cleveland, threw 14 touchdown passes for me in 2011. What about him?

Kelly: I don’t hate it, but he’s had some bad shoulder injuries. Let me jump in here guys. You know who I like? Mark Sanchez.

(Silence for 10 seconds)

Kelly: I said I like Mark Sanchez, guys. Wind blowing up again, Bill?

Musgrave: Nah Chip, I heard you that time. I’m just kinda shocked. I’d be happy to try to coach him up, but he had 27 turnovers in his final year with the Jets. Are you sure?

Shurmur: Yeah, Chip, I’m kinda with Bill here. I know you were still at Oregon, but in Mark’s final four games with the Jets in 2012, he threw eight interceptions to only one touchdown pass and completed 50.4 percent of his passes. Plus, you mentioned shoulder troubles with Colt. Mark had surgery for a torn labrum in the fall. I just…

Kelly: Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology — and good wide receivers. Get the deal done, Howie. We’ll talk about DeSean later.

(Phone clicks as Kelly immediately returns to watching film)

I have not yet really broached the topic that is the revitalization of Mark Sanchez throughout this preseason. I avoided it in part because I didn’t believe what I was seeing. I also thought there were more pressing issues to address, but to ignore writing about Sanchez any longer would be irresponsible given what we are witnessing.

Considering Kelly announced that Sanchez will not play against his former employer when the Eagles host the Jets Thursday night, now seems like a good time to go more in-depth on him. Sanchez’s preseason is over — a three game stretch that saw him go 25-31 for 281 yards, two touchdowns, and only one interception while leading six touchdown drives.

Most impressive perhaps is that in the third game, Sanchez successfully moved the ball against the Steelers’ starters on defense, who were still playing deep into the third quarter.

The sixth year signal-caller was poised and comfortable in Kelly’s up-temp offense, looking like the quarterback who defeated Carson Palmer, Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady in playoff games during his first two years in the league and nothing like the deer-in-headlights quarterback who lost his way during his final two years with the Jets.

Consider me as surprised as anyone. I never had any major reason to dislike Sanchez but watching how bad things had gotten for him had almost become a must-see circus from afar. Nothing would top the butt fumble, but you started tuning in just to see what crazy turnover he would commit next.

Needless to say, I was not excited when the Eagles signed him. I had been decently high on Matt Barkley going back to when the birds drafted him. In Kelly’s system, a quarterback needs to be a good, quick decision-maker above all, and Sanchez, with 95 turnovers over four seasons, was far from that.

As I alluded to earlier in the fake conversation, I thought a guy like Colt McCoy — who has a lesser resume but also fewer turnovers — would have been a solid pick if they didn’t give the job to Barkley.

Even as training camp started, I held out hope that Barkley would be able to beat Sanchez out. I really don’t think Barkley played poorly either, but it became crystal clear during the opening game against the Bears, that I was not going to get my wish.

I was wrong, and unlike pond scum hack Mike Freeman, I will try to admit when I am wrong about something.

Sanchez right now looks like a great signing for 2.25 million dollars and one of the best backup quarterback options in the NFL.

Eagles Mark Sanchez
Cowboys Brandon Weeden
Giants Ryan Nassib
Redskins Kirk Cousins
Packers Matt Flynn
Bears Jimmy Clausen
Lions Dan Orlovsky
Vikings Teddy Bridgewater
Panthers Derek Anderson
Saints Luke McCown
Bucs Mike Glennon
Falcons T.J. Yates
Seahawks Tarvaris Jackson
49ers Blaine Gabbert
Cardinals Drew Stanton
Rams Shaun Hill
Patriots Jimmy Garoppolo
Dolphins Matt Moore
Jets Michael Vick
Bills Thaddeus Lewis
Bengals Jason Campbell
Steelers Bruce Gradkowski
Ravens Tyrod Taylor
Browns Johnny Manziel
Colts Matt Hasselbeck
Titans Charlie Whitehurst
Jaguars Blake Bortles
Texans Case Keenum
Broncos Brock Osweiler
Chiefs Chase Daniel
Chargers Kellen Clemens
Raiders Derek Carr

What we have in that chart is a list of all the projected backup quarterbacks in the league. The 32 of them combine for 12 playoff wins. Matt Hasselbeck owns five, Michael Vick has two, T.J. Yates is responsible for one, and Sanchez has four.

If you are high on rookies like Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, and Jimmy Garoppolo, you could say that they are better options than Sanchez, but once the first three become starters, it is tough to make a solid case that Chad Henne, Brian Hoyer, and Matt Cassel are better.

No one on that list can say they have out-dueled two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks en route to road playoff victories.

After being left hung out to dry with no competent weapons and a defensive oriented staff in New York, Sanchez again looks like a capable quarterback with guys like Jordan Matthews, my dude Zach Ertz, James Casey, and Arrelious Benn to sling the ball to.

The bad Sanchez flashed at one point against the Patriots with an ill-advised throw into double coverage intended for Casey that resulted in an interception, but mistakes have been few and far between.

All of a sudden, Sanchez is an asset again after being an afterthought as recently as five months ago. The best part is that other teams know it too. The Rams just lost starter Sam Bradford to a torn ACL and in the past have been on record as wanting Sanchez.

This is what I am referring to when I constantly say on Twitter that the Eagles’ bottom half of the roster is the best it has been in quite some time. Talent at a few starting positions probably needs to improve before they can really challenge the Seahawks in the NFC, but depth is a valuable thing, and they have reserve players who could start for other teams.

It sounds like Sanchez doesn’t want the Rams though as much as they might want him, and the Eagles have no reason to move him unless the Rams absolutely blow them away. Sanchez, of course, wants to be a starter again, but why be in such a hurry to leave the coaching staff that is helping to save your career?

Sanchez Tweet

Some folks will want to see Sanchez show competency in a regular season game before they believe this is for real, however, I think some quarterback needy teams would be willing to take a chance even if they never get to see that.

In a perfect world, they won’t. I believe Nick Foles is way better than Sanchez. Therefore, I won’t go as far as saying ‘Foles could get hurt and the offense won’t miss a beat,’ but I do now believe that Sanchez could step in for a week or two, move the offense, and win a game if the Eagles needed him. I didn’t think that a month ago.

It appears I was wrong, and as weird as it is for me to see him in a different shade of green, I couldn’t be happier about being wrong here.

The ideal outcome is that Sanchez will carry a clipboard throughout the season and then take what he learned here and sign somewhere in the offseason where he can really compete to be a starter again.

If Chip Kelly stays in the NFL long enough, his influence will touch many people and places. His Year 1 offense already set several Eagles records. Other organizations are already trying to catch up to him when it comes to the sports science department and play-calling. His coaching tree has already started to grow with Bill Lazor going from Eagles quarterbacks coach to Dolphins offensive coordinator, hired to try to take what he learned from Kelly and apply it elsewhere.

The last paragraph and Kelly’s resume will only grow as the years go by. Hopefully there is a Super Bowl on it soon that will sit at the top, but rebuilding Mark Sanchez?

That wouldn’t be too far behind.

Introducing Your Official Alex Henery Kickoff Tracker

We’re going to attempt brevity here because I would like to eat dinner before blogging and tweeting about a preseason football game.

The chart below is your official Alex Henery kickoff distance tracker, which will be updated all night during the game. I wish we didn’t have to do this, but based on the playoff game against the Saints last year, we do.

Kickoff Number End zone Touchback Starting Field Position  Average Starting Field Position 
1 Yes (-4) No 17 17
2 Yes Yes 20 18.5
3 Yes (-1) No 22 19.7
4 Yes (-6) No 24 20.8
5 Yes Yes 20 20.6
6 Yes Yes 20 20.5
7 No (+5) No 26 21.3
8 Yes Yes 20 21.1
9 Yes (-2) No 29 22
10 Yes Yes 20 21.8
11 Yes (-4) No 21 21.7
12 Yes Yes 20 21.6
13 Yes (-6) No 21 21.5
14 Yes Yes 20 21.4
15 Yes (-4) No 21 21.4

Cody Parkey chart here

Kickoff Number End zone Touchback Starting Field Position Average Starting Field Position
1 Yes (-5) No 15 15
2 Yes (-4) No 45 30

*Numbers in the end zone column indicate where the kick was fielded

The first five kickoffs came against the Bears while the last six were against the Patriots last Friday night. As you can see, Henery’s kickoffs have been pretty good through two games, so hopefully we’re tracking a lot of touchbacks and deep kicks into the end zone tonight.

When I have time, I will clean this chart up before the regular season starts, but it will serve its intended purpose for now.

If Cody Parkey or Murderleg sees some action, we’ll adjust accordingly for them in the chart.

For a more detailed post on Henery and the Eagles situation at kicker, click here.