Tag Archives: Mark Sanchez

The Return of the Eagles Haikus

Every football season brings about something new.

Sometimes, it’s a flash in the pan and quickly goes away. Other times, it has staying power, and the latter is the case here. Beginning last season, we introduced a practice where in addition to some longer and deeper thoughts, every Eagles game would be recapped in the form of a haiku.

Along with seeing live football again for the first time in eight months, one of the most components about today was knowing it would end with a haiku, and there are certainly plenty of options to draw from after the Eagles 36-10 victory in the preseason opener against the Colts.

Some concerns were alleviated. Others — like the quarterback position — remain, and thankfully there are three more games to hopefully see some Sam Bradford and sort out the third-string competition between Tim Tebow and Matt Barkley.

There is time for information gathering. Many people think preseason football is meaningless, and from a big picture standpoint, they’re not totally wrong, but taking that mindset and henceforth dismissing everything as irrelevant inhibits the opportunity to learn valuable information about rookies, new acquisitions, roster battles, and more.

Anyway, that’s a different debate for another day. It’s been 231 days since we wrote a haiku. Let’s hit it:

Rookie draft picks flash

Barner puts on quite a show

Parkey concern? Nah

Countdown to Eagles Football — 41 Days: Is There a Quarterback Competition in Training Camp?

Editor’s note: This is the fourth installment of a 44-day series counting down the days until the Eagles season begins. The first, second, and third parts can be found here, here, and here

The answer to the above question is yes, well, sort of.

The Eagles actually have two quarterback competitions taking place in training camp right now, but neither of them involve Mark Sanchez, a name you would expect to be mentioned in that realm.

Below are the two that we’re looking at here:

Matt Barkley vs. Tim Tebow 

These two will battle it out through the month of August to be the team’s third-string quarterback, but for better or for worse, Chip Kelly may already have his mind made up. Like most things with Kelly, we just don’t know what it is until a formal announcement is made and one of the players is released.

If Kelly is concerned about Sam Bradford and Sanchez suffering injuries that would force him to play a third signal-caller, he likely goes with the safer option in Barkley. If he trusts one of those two to stay heathy, then Tebow potentially has the upper-hand with the option of using him in certain sub-packages and two-point conversion attempts.

This brings us to the second quarterback competition, and the far more important one, because let’s face it, while backup quarterback can arguably be the second most important position on the team, you’re not seeing January if your third-stringer needs to play any significant amount of time.

Sam Bradford vs. Sam Bradford’s Health 

If Bradford makes it through August healthy, and he has survived the first four days, no small task given his injury history, he will enter the regular season as the starting quarterback. Something drastic like throwing three interceptions and struggling mightily to move the offense in a preseason game could prompt Kelly to give a bit more of an extended look at Sanchez, but the idea of an actual quarterback battle has been overblown.

While Kelly tried for as long as possible to insist one existed, it was always difficult to fathom. We mentioned resource allocation and asset management the other day, and that ties in here. Giving up Nick Foles, a future second round draft pick, and taking on a player owed 13 million dollars for him to carry a clipboard just isn’t good business.

Come September 14th in Atlanta, Bradford will be under center taking the first snap of the season from the shotgun formation.

If anything were to stop that from happening, it would be his knee before Sanchez’s arm.

We Give a Damn About the Drama That YOU Do Bring: An Introduction to Our Eagles Training Camp Series and a Request for YOUR Questions

Beginning Sunday morning and continuing through September 14 leading up to the Week 1 Monday Night opener against the Atlanta Falcons, we’ll be answering an Eagles question on the blog each day as we countdown from Day 1 of training camp to the start of the regular season.

That’s right, the announcement of a series that we not so subtly teased the other day has arrived.

There will be content every day, and the best part is that YOU get to have a say in what it is because we give a damn about the drama that YOU do bring.

Should you continue reading, you will hear the phrase ‘we give a damn about the drama that you do bring’ a few additional times. Those words, and more so, the idea behind it is near and dear to my heart when it comes to writing and interacting with people on the Internet.

When I began to get deeper into writing about sports during my college career, one particular thing about the industry and some of the people in it bothered me above all. I felt as if they took their readers for granted, looking down upon them, insulted that someone would dare disagree with their opinion or leave a critical remark in a comments section.

Interacting with their readers was a chore rather than something that should have been a fun part of the job, and what could have been an intelligent sports conversation with opposing viewpoints turned into a writer belittling a reader, under the false impression that ‘you need me more than I need you’ as opposed to being appreciative of readers, the primary reason that someone has deemed what you do worthy of being compensated in some way.

What others saw a hinderance, I saw a competitive advantage. I would respond to all of my Twitter mentions, even those who disagreed with me on certain things, and would try to go into the comments section of my articles and interact with readers. I was no better than the people leaving the comments. I worked hard and just happened to be given a platform where people read what I had to say, and I appreciated them taking the time to pay attention to my content and wanted them to know that they were indeed valued.

Websites, blogs, even traditional newspapers that exist in an online format are nothing without their community.

I had a few haters who I was never going to win over and subscribed to the idea that if a couple people didn’t dislike you, you were doing something wrong, but I was always up for a discussion should they have ever had the courage to engage me.

These thoughts should come with a couple caveats. First off, not everyone who writes about sports is an arrogant prick. There are plenty of writers out there who do make it a point to appreciate their audience and approach interactions with an open mind. Second, there are a good number of folks who are still finding success for the time being while looking down upon the role of their readers.

I think and hope that it will begin to evaporate as more options are presented to readers and the importance of social media continues to expand, but it has not fully done so yet to completely remove people with that smug attitude from positions of power.

Back to the project at hand, I certainly have some questions made up already. I love talking to myself and could get to 44 if need be, but I would much prefer some come from the readers because we give a damn about the drama that you do bring.

From high level stuff like how long I think Chip Kelly will remain the Eagles coach to more nitty-gritty inquiries like how much the third down defense can improve from last season with a revamped secondary, we’ll pose compelling questions and attempt to give you quality answers day in and day out that state an opinion and subsequently drive conversation.

For a general idea of what to expect, the initial few posts will focus on Kelly as he enters Year 3 with the Eagles fresh off a wild offseason, his first with absolute power. From there, we’ll transition into certain team questions about different position groups, key players, run-pass ratio (I’m a sucker for a good run-pass ratio story), and more.

We’ll also have some fun along the way. We’re gonna play oddsmakers and break down the favorites to be the new whipping boy of Slap Bet’s crew with Nick Foles now in St. Louis. We’ll wax poetic about Huff Daddy’s kick return touchdown against Tennessee that had a 1 p.m. Lincoln Financial Field crowd going crazy and some of the other unforgettable moments of what looked like a memorable 2014 season before it was derailed in December.

We should probably allocate some time to talk about Sam Bradford (and maybe Mark Sanchez too), because ya know, quarterback is a pretty important position after all. Other than that, the direction of the 44-day project is very much up to you.

I have done a very similar series when I covered Penn State football (below is a screenshot of what posts will generally look like if you replace the subject matter with Eagles stuff), but I want to put more power in the hands of the readers.

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For those who want to join us on Sunday morning, here is how the specific launch will go down from a timing standpoint:

10 a.m. 11 a.m: Over the course of this hour, we will send 10 total tweets in a segment I call ’10 Things I Think I Think’ about the Philadelphia Eagles headed into training camp.

11 a.m: We will publish a blog post that features these 10 tweets and expands on them.

11:10 a.m. — In addition to 10 Things I Think I Think, our series will be off and running as we answer the first of 44 questions.

We’re ready, but we want YOU to drive the conversation. Pick a question. Hit us up on the Twitter machine (@drewBbalis) or drop a line in the comments. As long as it’s appropriate, we’ll fit it into the series because…cue it

WE GIVE A DAMN ABOUT THE DRAMA THAT YOU DO BRING.

An Early Chance to Exorcise Dallas Demons

Reactionary posts to the NFL schedule being released normally aren’t my thing.

There are a bunch of folks feverishly playing win-loss with the schedule not yet even two hours old and meaningful football still nearly five months away. I have always maintained that I don’t go on the record with predictions until the conclusion of the final preseason game. Why do so now when you have even more information at your disposal on Labor Day Weekend?

Despite the opening sentence here and aforementioned paragraph, I thought this would be a good time to emerge and update this blog for the first time since the fateful day in January when Chip Kelly gave several Eagles fans mini heart attacks before winning a power struggle against Howie Roseman.

I’m doing this because I deemed it necessary when I checked my phone at 8 p.m. and my eyes gravitated towards the following:

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That’s a home opener against Dallas — The first such occurrence since the 2002 season, and the earliest the teams have played since 2008.

From an emotional standpoint, it’s exciting. From a football standpoint, it’s scary. It’s scary because the Eagles have a disturbing recent trend that I don’t believe is addressed nearly enough:

They can’t beat Dallas at home.

Dallas has escaped Lincoln Financial Field with victories in three consecutive seasons. Go back all the way to 2007, and the Eagles have only held serve at home against their arch rivals twice. The average margin of victory in the past three Cowboys victories is 13.3. In other words, it hasn’t been that close.

It set the Cowboys up to win the division back in 2009 and did the same last December, this time keeping the Eagles out of the playoffs altogether. Had the Eagles won on that miserable Sunday night, they would have essentially had the NFC East wrapped up with two weeks to play. Instead, they lost their grip on the division and playoff positioning.

Had the Eagles repeated their Thanksgiving day performance and won a game that many expected them to, who knows what might have happened. Nick Foles might still be the Eagles quarterback — or maybe Mark Sanchez. Kelly, with a playoff team for two straight seasons, may never have felt the need to march into Jeffrey Lurie’s office and demand more power. Maybe LeSean McCoy would still be in midnight green and DeMarco Murray still in Dallas.

No one knows.

What we do know is that the Eagles have struggled on their home turf recently against their biggest competition for the division crown.

Week 2 presents a chance to end a losing streak that spans four seasons, three quarterbacks, and two head coaches. Given the wild offseason that could get even more crazy next Thursday, the football world will be quick to judge how the Eagles look coming out of the gate.

It’s only one game, but it sure is symbolic, and it could determine how much games a few months down the road matter.

Other Random Schedule Thoughts:

  • The Eagles are 6-2 in primetime under Chip Kelly. No qualms about opening on Monday Night in Atlanta.
  • Speaking of one of those two losses, if there’s a random game I want to win, it’s the contest against the Saints at home stemming from the playoff loss in January 2014. A faction of Eagles Twitter who never liked Nick Foles has mockingly labeled it the ‘Foles left the field with a lead’ game. After outplaying Drew Brees and leading a nice fourth quarter comeback to put the Eagles in the lead before a raucous home crowd, Foles and the Eagles offense stood on the sideline while the Saints ended their season on a field-goal at the gun. I sometimes randomly wake up in the middle of the night thinking about that game and what could have been for both Foles and the Eagles. There’s a score to settle.
  • If I had to pick an early trap game, it’s potentially Tampa Bay. It’s not that I think they’ll be good, but it’s sandwiched between a couple tough opponents and an easy chance to be looking ahead.
  • Love that there’s a bye before the second Dallas game in early November.
  • Love even more that we’re turning up on Turkey Day again, this time in Detroit.
  • While it didn’t help against Seattle last season following a mini bye after Thanksgiving, a few extra prep days for the Patriots certainly cannot hurt.

Jeremy Maclin May Have Taken a (Not So) Subtle Jab at Mark Sanchez

On one hand, it’s really sad to see things coming to this. Mark Sanchez was a key part of the Eagles 10-point rally in the fourth quarter. He was far from the main reason they lost, but in typical Sanchez fashion, he couldn’t make it through a game without a costly interception, ending an Eagles drive and setting the Redskins up for a game-winning and potentially season-ending field goal.

As stated above, it’s really sad to see things unraveling like this, but who can blame Jeremy Maclin if he misses Nick Foles?

Maclin was averaging 90.3 yards a game before Foles got hurt and only 68.4 since.

The Eagles Season is Not Over But… [Haiku]

…If you feel like it is after that, I certainly couldn’t blame you.

That was bad. Outside of perhaps the Giants game last season, it was quite possibly the worst Eagles loss under Chip Kelly.

The Eagles have made their living to get to this point beating up on bad teams, and today, they got beat by one.

Writing big picture think-pieces immediately after something like this is pretty dangerous. There will be time for that — whether it is tomorrow night after a Cowboys win, next week after the playoffs are set, or weeks from now.

There is no logical reason to think the Eagles will make the playoffs, and I certainly am not crazy enough to believe they will, but I have seen crazier things happen (Think back to Week 17 of 2008), so let’s hold off on the eulogies until it is officially dead

Between Nick Foles, Mark Sanchez, Chip Kelly, Marcus Smith, there will be plenty of long-term thoughts at some point. Let’s attempt a haiku.

Heartbreaking defeat

Bad Sanchez rears ugly head

Andrew Luck please help

That Sucked: Eagles-Cowboys Haiku

The opening kickoff was fumbled, and with it slowly went the Eagles grip on the NFC East — for now at least.

You all watched the game. Mark Sanchez was bad. The secondary was worse.

For much of the night, the Eagles looked unprepared as Chip Kelly and Billy Davis seemed a step behind Jason Garrett. It’s hard to win against a 9-4 when you turn the ball over four times.

I quite honestly am exhausted and not in the mood to spend a ton of time talking about it, preferring to look ahead at some of the scenarios and way the Eagles can get help to the playoffs.

Let’s hit the haiku and hope tonight wasn’t the final game at the Linc this season.

Dez Bryant goes wild

Secondary needs rebuilt

Save us Andrew Luck

 

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

If you read this post and suddenly think “hey this sounds kinda familiar,” that’s because it most likely will be. On Thanksgiving, the Eagles had a perfect gameplan and executed nearly perfectly in their 23-point beatdown of the Cowboys in Dallas.

We hit on two of our five numbers that day and came extremely close on two more as the birds embarrassed the Cowboys in front of a national audience.

Tonight they will try for a repeat with control of the NFC East one again up for grabs and the stakes even higher this time with only three regular season games remaining.

The plan will be similar: Force the Cowboys to be one-dimensional and set the edge against DeMarco Murray while getting LeSean McCoy going on offense and mixing in high percentage throws for Mark Sanchez.

Whether or not the Cowboys can adjust remains to be seen. Conventional wisdom says it will not be quite as easy for the Eagles tonight, but if it is, the box score could look somewhat similar to two and a half weeks ago.

Let’s hit the five numbers that I believe could key an Eagles victory and hope to see around midnight tonight.

  1. Less than 65 rushing yards for DeMarco Murray — Beating the Cowboys starts with beating DeMarco Murray, and the Eagles have been one of the most successful teams at beating the Cowboys recently because of their ability to beat DeMarco Murray. That was a weird sentence, wasn’t it? In his last 17 games, Murray has been held below 75 yards twice — In Week 17 against the Eagles last year (48) and on Thanksgiving (73). Tonight, I’m setting the bar at below 65. Do it, and we’ll be celebrating come midnight.
  2. Tony Romo sacked three or more times — This one is also quite simple. When sacked three or more times this season, Romo is 1-3. When dropped behind the line of scrimmage two times or less, he is 8-0. You hearing this Connor Barwin, Trent Cole, and Vinny Curry? Let’s get after it.
  3. Mark Sanchez completing at least 60 percent of his passes — In the first Eagles Cowboys game, Sanchez completed an insane 69 percent of his passes. Overall, he is 3-0 with the Eagles when surpassing the 60-percent benchmark and 1-2 when he is below that. Get there tonight, and the offense should be moving just fine.
  4. LeSean McCoy averaging more than four yards per carry — Another trendy statistic. In games where McCoy averages more than four yards per carry, the Eagles are 5-0 this season. In games where he does not, they are 4-4. McCoy had his best game of the season on Thanksgiving with a season high 159 yards. Do it again, Shady.
  5. Jordan Matthews with at least 80 receiving yards — Matthews, like the rest of the Eagles offense, was a little quiet against Seattle last Sunday, but the rookie had a huge 27-yard touchdown reception from Sanchez in the first Cowboys game, and the middle of the field should once again be open. Sanchez loves looking Matthews’ way, and he should have every opportunity to have a big showing tonight.

As honorable mentions, I expect my dude Zach Ertz and Darren Sproles to make a few key plays tonight. So there you have it, folks. We got 65, three, 60, four, 80, and hopefully a huge home win that leaves us playing for a second consecutive NFC East title next week.

Take it away, Mr. G and Chip.

Fist Pump GIF

Sad Eagles-Seahawks Haiku

When I used to cover Penn State, I found that a few of my better game stories came after emotional losses. They were a team playing with nothing to lose. Victories were fun, but defeats were — for me at least — easy to shake off given the situation they were facing.

Unfortunately, the Eagles — my first love — produce different emotions, and trying to throw something together about that game is proving to be difficult.

Ten days ago, it felt like the Eagles were on top of the world. and the defending Super Bowl champions sent them crashing back down to earth. Thanks to a muffed punt and some gutsy play-calling by Chip Kelly, the Eagles took a 7-0 lead.

The euphoric feeling quickly evaporated though as they would only score seven more points throughout the day as Russell Wilson did Russell Wilson things en route to 24 for the Seahawks.

Some less than stellar officiating may have helped them get to 24, but the Eagles were so thoroughly dominated on the stat sheet that I don’t feel I can devote a ton of space to bashing officials without pointing out the lopsided numbers.

Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 8.32.35 PM

Not pictured in that screenshot is that Doug Baldwin, a rather pedestrian wide receiver, had more receiving yards than the entire Eagles team. After playing an efficient game in Dallas, Mark Sanchez never truly looked comfortable.

This was the lowest point total for the Eagles in a game since their last regular season home loss — against the Giants on October 27 last year — and it may have been the most out of sync the offense has looked since then, save for maybe the 49ers game earlier this season.

The Eagles were outplayed in a lot of areas and shown how far their quarterback and secondary play still needs to progress before they can hang with the Seahawks, and yet there are some plays and moments where it’s hard not to wonder ‘What if?’

The ineligible Seahawks lineman downfield on their first touchdown drive that wasn’t called, the ill-advised timeout with a minute remaining in the second quarter, the pass that sailed through the hands of Zach Ertz early in the fourth quarter, and last but certainly not least, the Malcolm Jenkins dropped interception later on in the fourth quarter.

Ultimately, the Eagles are EXACTLY where I expected them to be after 13 games of this season. What I did not expect is some other teams like the Cowboys and Lions to have the exact same record. The NFC playoff picture is really tight, and 9-4 doesn’t go as far as it may have in past seasons.

It is still very likely the Eagles find themselves in the NFC playoff field. It will be a near certainty should they beat Dallas again next Sunday, this time at the Linc where they are 6-1 on the season, but rather than playing for a complete division clinch and a potential inside track on a first round bye, both are a bit dicier than they would have been with a statement victory today.

Like most losses, today really sucked, but it wasn’t a death sentence, just a wake-up call, and we’ll all feel more awake after we beat Dallas at home on Sunday night next week.

Let’s hit the haiku, win the game next week, and check on the health of Nicky Foles.

Refs bad Sanchez worse

Outclassed by Russell Wilson

Trust Chip after loss

Five Numbers I Hope to See in the Box Score when Eagles-Seahawks Concludes

Before the season, I predicted that the Eagles would head into today’s game with a 9-3 record and a 6-0 mark at home. And then I picked them to lose to the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks, thinking Pete Carroll’s defense would be too much for them.

Well, sure enough, the Eagles enter this highly anticipated NFC showdown at 9-3 and undefeated at home, and the more I look at the matchup, the more I think they’re going to improve to 10-3 and 7-0 at home.

Even after holding both the Cardinals and 49ers to three points in back-to-back weeks, the Seahawks just don’t scare me that much away from CenturyLink Field. The Eagles have been lights out at the Linc this season, and I expect that to continue today.

Let’s hit the five numbers that I believe could help make it happen and hope to see in the box score as this one concludes:

  1. Less than 70 rushing yards for Marshawn Lynch — The Seahawks essentially run their offense through two players, Russell Wilson and Lynch. With Golden Tate in Detroit and Percy Harvin exiled to the Jets, that’s it. Contain them, and you win the game. Seattle is 3-3 this season in games where Lynch is held below 70 yards. They are 5-1 when he eclipses that mark. After holding the NFL’s leading rusher DeMarco Murray to a season low 73 yards on Thanksgiving, the Eagles front seven should be ready to go.
  2. At least one sack for Fletcher Cox — The third-year defensive end has a sack in three of his last four contests and had his formal coming out party in front of a national audience on Turkey Day with two tackles for loss to go with the sack. It really seems like Cox is coming into his own after battling consistency issues early on in his career. Dropping Russell Wilson one or more times today would be a great way to show that.
  3. Mark Sanchez completing at least 63 percent of his passes — After dealing with some accuracy issues and only completing 56.7 percent of his attempts against the Panthers and Seahawks, Sanchez has been on point over the past two contests going 50-for-72, equating to 69.4 percent. I don’t expect that today against the Seahawks secondary, but staying above the 60 percent mark will be key in keeping the offense moving in perhaps his toughest challenge to date.
  4. Darren Sproles returning a punt at least 20 yards — If the Eagles have a distinct advantage in one area today, it is special teams. I’m expecting an impact play from either Sproles or Huff Daddy, and ideally there will be way more Seahawks punts than Seahawks kickoffs.
  5. LeSean McCoy averaging more than four yards per carry — Reports of McCoy’s demise were greatly exaggerated. The Eagles Pro Bowl running back has looked electric over his past two games, but the Titans and Cowboys front seven is no Seahawks. Running room will be tougher to come by today, but the Eagles are 5-1 this season when McCoy averages four or more yards per carry. Let’s make it 6-1 and push it to three straight games in a row over the century mark.

The Jeremy Maclin-Richard Sherman matchup gets an honorable mention and warrants watching as well obviously. I don’t expect Maclin to go for 150+ yards like he has three time prior this season, but he should be able to hold his own.

There you have it, folks. Seventy, one, 63, 20, four, and hopefully double digit wins and playing for a second consecutive NFC East title next Sunday night.

Fist pump away, Chip.

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