Tag Archives: Kirk Cousins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fist Pump GIF

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five Numbers I Hope to See Following Eagles-Redskins

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am pretty nervous for today.

That said though, I am equal parts excited, because the Eagles have a golden opportunity to take full control of the NFC East with a victory. The Cowboys may win today against the Rams, but I do not consider them competition, so a two-game lead over the Redskins would be huge.

You know the drill by now. Five Eagles numbers I hope to see in the box score when this division showdown concludes today.

  1. More than 100 rushing yards for LeSean McCoy — It seems like the Eagles running back plays some of his best game against the Skins. In the opener last year, he had 184 yards on the ground. In the second game 10 weeks later, he only posted 77 yards but scored two of the team’s three touchdowns. The century mark seems possible tomorrow. Do it, Shady.
  2. Nick Foles sacked less no more than four times — The Skins do a decent job pressuring opposing quarterbacks. I expect Foles to land on his back a few times, but the Eagles makeshift offensive line held up pretty well against the Colts, so hopefully they keep things under control here.
  3. At least three receptions for Riley Cooper — Not the receiver’s finest game last Monday, dropping a perfectly thrown touchdown pass from Foles early on. Cooper started last season slow too, but the Eagles are paying him good money to be more productive than he has been so far. Hopefully it starts later today.
  4. A minimum of one first half touchdown — As I broke down earlier in the week, the Eagles have been pretty bad in the first half and incredible in the second half. Against the Redskins last year, they were the complete opposite of that, and while a win matters more than how they win here, my hope is they get off to a nice start tomorrow and calm some nerves there.
  5. Niles Paul held below 75 yards — The fourth year tight end has been very good so far posting 86 and 99 yards respectively over the first two weeks. With Mycal Kendricks unfortunately out with a calf injury, the Skins will likely try to exploit this matchup if Emmanuel Acho or Casey Matthews is tasked with trying to keep up with Paul. I expect Paul to get some yards, but holding him in check to a decent extent would go a long way towards a home victory.

While he did not throw any last week, Kirk Cousins’ career suggests he is good for an interception (10 picks in nine games played), so hopefully we get one today.

You probably also notice that there is nothing in here about DeSean Jackson. My quick take on him:

DeSean Take

I expect DeSean to get mostly booed, and while I still kinda like the guy, that is perfectly fine. One hundred, four, three, one and 75 are the numbers I will be looking for after the Eagles hopefully ruin his ‘homecoming and improve to 3-0 for the first time since 2004.

Chip Kelly, Jim Haslett, and the Calming of Nerves Before Kickoff

I am currently writing this post while watching Chip Kelly’s old team tied with a school featuring “Washington” in its name. Go figure.

Anyway, I will cut to the chase here: I am nervous for today — Way more nervous than I anticipated being when I made my predictions before the season.

The Redskins absolutely demolished Jacksonville last Sunday while the Eagles had some problems with the same Jaguars team back in Week 1. They are currently fourth in the league in points allowed, and Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan figure to try to take advantage of a makeshift Eagles offensive line.

DeSean Jackson is back in town, and while I do not know how many snaps he will be able to play with that shoulder injury, he will be motivated to make the ones that he does play count.

Mike Shanahan is out. Jay Gruden is in. I never believed the younger Gruden to be particularly brilliant, but he is probably a better coach right now than Shanahan was throughout last season.

Most importantly, Kirk Cousins will start at quarterback for the injured Robert Griffin. That frightens me, and I would much prefer to face Griffin if given the choice. Griffin to me is like some extremely volatile stock. You have no idea what you are going to get with all of the variables, but given recent history (the Eagles were 2-0 against Griffin last season), you feel like you would have a somewhat solid plan.

Cousins seems like more of a known commodity in ways as much as that might run contrary to his limited game experience. What I mean is that while Cousins may not be capable of winning a game by himself like RG3 occasionally is, he also will not single-handedly lose one.

Billy Davis called two nice games against Griffin last season, but the Eagles have never faced Cousins before. All of this scares me.

One thing that does not scare me though is that even with the Skins’ coaching regime overhaul, Jim Haslett remains the defensive coordinator. Chip Kelly absolutely owned Haslett last season as the Eagles combined for 57 points and 845 yards in two victories against the Skins.

Haslett found a way to get a few stops late in games, but the Eagles had already poured it on enough where stalling a few times did not really matter.

Haslett is not bad at his job. He took a then moribund Saints franchise to the playoffs during his first year as head coach back in 2000, but Haslett was bad at his job against Kelly’s up-tempo offense last season.

In the Week 1 opener on Monday Night Football, it looked as if Kelly was playing chess while Haslett was struggling to grasp the simplest rules of checkers. The first half of the second game when these two teams met at Lincoln Financial Field was more of the same, and hopefully later today will be as well.

The Redskins — to their credit — made a lot of coaching and personnel changes, and I am pretty nervous for this one, but when I want to calm my nerves, I think back to last year and how Haslett still runs the Skins defense.

Some things hopefully have not changed. Do it, Chip.

Fist Pump GIF

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.