Tag Archives: Monday Night Football

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

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

In less than three hours, the Eagles will try to do something that no NFL team has done in more than two years — Beat the Packers in a regular season game at Lambeau Field when Aaron Rodgers is the quarterback.

The Eagles of course left Lambeau with a 27-13 victory last November, but playing against Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzien does not quite compare with facing one of the greatest signal-callers on the planet.

Still, despite many folks predicting a Packers win today, understandably so, I believe the Eagles will be in the game late and could steal a big one if a few things fall into place.

Here are five numbers that I believe could key a win in Lambeau for the second straight year:

  1. Less than 80 receiving yards for Jordy Nelson — Randall Cobb is great. He has scored touchdowns in six consecutive games and eight of nine contests on the year, but the Packers receiver who really scares me is Nelson. I think Brandon Boykin should be able to match up with Cobb, but defending the 6-foot-3 Nelson poses a mismatch. If Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher can rise to the occasion and do it, it would go a long way toward an Eagles win.
  2. At least one interception thrown by Aaron Rodgers — Should this happen, it will mark the first time since December 2, 2012 that the Packers quarterback will have thrown an interception at home. Rodgers on the season has only thrown three picks versus 25 touchdown passes — a Nicky Foles 2013 esque ratio right there. The Packers are 0-2 in the two games where he has been intercepted though. Force him to do something that he has not done in nearly two calendar years, and I will feel much better about the Eagles chances. Some credit for this stat goes to Andrew Porter, who pointed it out earlier this week.
  3. Three or more three and outs from the Packers offense — Turnovers are great, but Rodgers won’t commit many of them, so the Eagles defense will need another way to keep the Packers dangerous offense off the field, and the most efficient method is forcing a punt after three plays. The Eagles defense played pretty well in losses to the 49ers and Cardinals but seemed to tire late from being on the field a lot. I’m not a big time of possession guy, but keeping Rodgers watching from the sideline as often as possible would be nice today.
  4. Mark Sanchez completing no less than 60 percent of his passes — Sanchez was very good last Monday night, but the one area where the revitalized quarterback seemed to struggle a bit was with his accuracy, going 20-for-37 and completing less than 55 percent of his passes. Sanchez was off target to some open receivers at times. Against a struggling Panthers team, that was okay, but it could hurt today if he has to keep up with Rodgers in a shootout. Improved accuracy — even just by a small margin — could go a long way in keeping Chip Kelly’s offense rolling in the cold.
  5. More than seven receptions by Jordan Matthews — We like watching Jordan Matthews catch passes. Mark Sanchez likes throwing passes to the Eagles rookie receiver. Matthews announced his presence in a big way six days ago with seven catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns on nine total targets. Matching that yardage total could be difficult, but a similarly productive game would be awesome.

Other factors including getting my dude Zach Ertz more involved in the passing game and an improved running game will be impactful as well, but these are the big things that jump out.

You will notice a lot about the Eagles defense in today’s post. It’s a big day not just for the unit, but for Billy Davis career wise in my opinion. If the Eagles defensive coordinator wants to run his own show one day, he has a serious chance to impress today.

Buckle Up, dawgies, ought to be a wild afternoon.

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

Cody Parkey Kickoff Tracker and Contest: Monday Night Panthers Edition

Happy Monday morning, folks.

It’s a good Monday because in about 12 hours, the Eagles are on Monday Night football against a somewhat struggling Carolina Panthers team. Mark Sanchez will be tasked with trying to pull a Jeff Garcia almost eight years later.

I am not sure how I feel about that, but I feel good should the game rest on Cody Parkey’s leg — as the Eagles other appearance on Monday Night did this season. Back in Week 2 against the Colts, Parkey endured his only miss of the season but got redemption with a game-winning 36-yard field goal at the final horn as Nicky Foles out dueled Andrew Luck in the fourth quarter.

Enough reminiscing for now though, you know why we’re here.

Tweet at me (@drewBbalis) before kickoff tonight guessing the number of touchbacks Parkey has AND the Panthers average starting field position on his kickoffs (far right column of the chart — sans brackets)

I have sat out the contest over the past couple of weeks giving folks a chance to catch up to me, but my guess tonight will be 4 and 19. 

Do the damn thing, dawgies. Claude Giroux is a friend of Cody Parkey. He would want you to play our contest, and you don’t want to disappoint your captain, do you? I didn’t think so.

Your leaderboard, stats, and chart which will be updated throughout the game is below:

Updated Contest Leaderboard: 

Drew Balis — Four points

Gavin Steinhubl — Three points

Cory Sprankle — Two points

Evan Kalikow — One point

Nick Rapak — One point

Stats

  • 48 kickoffs in eight games
  • 45 of those kickoffs in the end zone
  • 30 of those kickoffs for touchbacks
  • Average opponent starting field position of 20.16
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

Eagles-Panthers History Lesson: Jeff Garcia Rescues the 2006 Season from the Brink of Collapse on Monday Night Football

As another Eagles-Panthers primetime showdown approaches tonight, I automatically flash back to a 2006 contest featuring these two squads.

Tonight, backup turned starter Mark Sanchez will be tasked with taking over for Nicky Foles and leading the Eagles to a Monday Night home victory over Carolina, but seven years and 11 months ago, Jeff Garcia had the exact same assignment.

I promised this was coming a few months ago, and I haven’t been this excited to wrote a post since this piece back in July. That game is one of my favorite Eagles memories because of how improbable it seemed beforehand.

In today’s advanced statistics driven NFL, we get so numbers obsessed that we forget about some of the really great stories unfolding before our eyes. I know I am personally guilty of this, and I also know that some of the greatest of these stories are seconds away from never making it past the opening paragraph.

Jeff Garcia and a 2006 Monday Night Football game against the Panthers is one of these stories.

The date was December 4, 2006, and two teams woke up that Monday morning in Philadelphia desperately needing a win. The Panthers were fresh off an 11-5 season and NFC Championship game appearance but entered the matchup at only 6-5 after losing to a bad Redskins team the Sunday prior.

If the Panthers were heading into the game a bit banged up, the Eagles were certainly worse. That 2006 Eagles team ended up being one of my favorite over the past two decades, but they also might have made for the wildest roller coaster. On October 8, they were 4-1 and some considered an epic victory over Terrell Owens and the Cowboys the biggest regular season win of Andy Reid’s coaching tenure to date. Then, the drop started.

The Eagles lost three straight. The ride briefly stopped with a home victory over the Redskins but took another downward spiral as Donovan McNabb suffered a torn ACL in a home loss to the Titans. Next came a blowout loss to the Colts, and for the first time all season, the Eagles were under .500 at 5-6.

The toughest point of the roller coaster had been reached where you felt as if you were going to throw up if the drop lasted another millisecond. The only person who could press the button was a fiery, redheaded, 36-year old quarterback on his fourth team in as many years.

Heading into the season, the thought was that the Eagles could be a playoff team if a few things fell into place, but the general consensus was also that if McNabb were to suffer a severe injury for the second consecutive year, the season would be over.

A weird dynamic was at work though. McNabb was having a pretty nice statistical season before getting hurt against the Titans, but the Eagles kept finding ways to lose games in the the fourth quarter. They looked overmatched in the first game and a half without their franchise quarterback, but Garcia had quietly directed the offense well.

While some folks were still calling for Reid to go to fan-favorite A.J. Feeley, there was a belief that if the uncharacteristically shaky defense could raise their game even a bit, then Garcia and the offense could keep their dwindling playoff hopes alive.

It would have to start that night though if it was going to start at all. The Cowboys at 8-4 and the Giants at 6-6 both sat ahead of the birds in the NFC East. After Carolina, the Eagles would play three consecutive divisional road games, and 5-7 would have been a tough hole to climb out of.

Garcia, Feeley, and the inconsistent defense would all be key elements on that night, and the roller coaster was going to continue for at least three more hours as the Eagles season hung in the balance.

The game began on an ugly note as the Eagles went three and out on their opening two drives before Jake Delhomme found Steve Smith for a nine-yard touchdown.  A series of punts followed, but with Garcia struggling and the Panthers still leading 7-0, an already on-edge crowd had grown restless. Boos rang down after an incompletion in the second quarter.

People watching in other parts of the country may have thought that was unfair, and they might have been right, but in order to understand the frustration, one has to recall the state of Philadelphia sports at the time. The Flyers were in the midst of one of their worst seasons in franchise history. The Sixers were weeks away from trading franchise icon Allen Iverson, and the Phillies had narrowly pushed their playoff drought to 13 seasons two months earlier.

It was looking more and more likely that the city would go a calendar year without seeing a playoff game in any sport. They needed something to cheer about, and they were about to get it, but first, the group of fans who wanted Feeley instead of Garcia were very close to getting their wish.

Still down 7-0 midway through the second quarter, Garcia had taken a vicious hit, and looked for a second like he would not get up. Feeley, the biggest Eagle name linked to Oregon Football before Chip Kelly, had his helmet on and was a yard or two out on the field. The Lincoln Financial Field crowd roared as they saw him, fondly remembering his string of success in 2003 when McNabb and Koy Detmer suffered injuries.

That is as far as Feeley would get to the Eagles huddle though. All of a sudden, Garcia got up and motioned to Reid and the Eagles sideline that he was okay. A few minutes later, he showed it, completing a 51-yard pass to Donte Stallworth and then finding Brian Westbrook cutting across the middle of the field to tie the game at 7-7.

The Panthers would run a nice two-minute drill as Delhomme found Keyshawn Johnson for a one-yard touchdown seconds before halftime, but 14-7 somehow felt better than 7-0. The roller coaster had not yet stopped, but it had slowed down some.

Garcia tied the game with a beautiful 30-yard strike to Stallworth six minutes into the third quarter and ran down the field towards the end zone in celebration. He was having fun again, but his work was far from over as DeAngelo Williams took a screen pass to the house a few minutes later. 21-14 Panthers with the defense not doing the offense many favors.

Garcia got close again towards the beginning of the fourth quarter, but the drive stalled forcing a David Akers field goal. John Kasay would add a field goal of his own for the Panthers a few minutes later to push the lead back to seven. The Eagles were very much in the game, but at some point they would need to get a lead instead of attempting to play from behind all night. A few minutes later, Garcia hit second-year receiver Reggie Brown for a 40-yard touchdown.

It looked like the birds could really do this, but they still needed a stop from their defense. Midway through the quarter, they got one as Brian Dawkins picked off Delhomme and returned the interception 38 yards into Panthers territory. Akers knocked through a 25-yard field goal with 3:13 to go, and the Eagles had their first lead in three weeks.

The home team was far from home free however.

I do not think I will ever see a defensive coordinator as good as Jim Johnson again in my lifetime, but his players had let him down multiple times late in games that season. It looked like they were headed that way again as Delhomme and the Panthers embarked on what seemed like a promising drive.

Three different completions brought the Panthers into Eagles territory, and a couple runs put them seven yards away from the end zone with less than a minute to play. At best, it looked like the Eagles would get to overtime, and another crushing loss was one completion away.

I still get pretty into Eagles games, but I did so even more back then, and by that point, I had bit most of my nails down pretty good. I was in tenth grade and had to be awake in six hours for school. I had a test in my Honors Chemistry class in nine hours, but I had stayed up for Monday Night Eagles games for years as a kid. I also hated chemistry. Make no mistake about it, I was getting an A in the class, but I wasn’t going to let studying for a subject I didn’t care too much about get in the way of this game.

Everyone in my family was asleep, so I didn’t yell at the TV, but I recall saying out loud to no one in particular multiple times on that final drive :

Someone make a play. 

If the Panthers took a few shots at the end zone, Delhomme would likely target Smith or Johnson, their two best receivers. They shouldn’t have felt pressure to force anything though as they had a couple shots and a chip shot field goal that would tie the score should they need it on fourth down.

It would never get to fourth down. It would never even reach second down. On first and goal from the 7-yard line, Delhomme dropped back and looked for Johnson on a fade route in the back right corner of the end zone. Forget overtime, he was going for the kill shot right then and there with a half minute remaining. Get the Panthers to 7-5 and virtually end the Eagles season in front of a national audience.

Lito Sheppard, a Pro Bowl cornerback when healthy, was matched up on the veteran Johnson in single coverage as the play developed — At least he tried to be.

Sheppard was generously listed at 5-foot-10. Johnson was 6-foot-4, and if Delhomme made any sort of decent throw, his receiver would stand a good chance to make a play on the ball. He didn’t make a good throw though.

Delhomme had underthrown Johnson, and Sheppard was in prime position to end the game, cradling the ball while making sure to land with his feet in bounds.

On television at first, it was tough to tell if he actually got both his feet in bounds as he fell to the ground, still in control of the ball. I remember it being a long few seconds before the referee finally pointed to say that it was indeed the Eagles ball.

Johnson, still in the back of the end zone, was livid, demanding a flag for pass interference, insisting that Sheppard had pushed off.

The following is a quote from Johnson printed in the Associated Press game story:

“I feel like I was pushed and grabbed. The throw was fine. The guy pushed me.”

Johnson continue to voice his displeasure in the back of the end zone, but there was no sign of yellow on the field. I jumped out of my chair which had been positioned less than three feet away from my TV during the final drive.

The camera eventually panned away from Johnson. The fans celebrated, and a smiling Garcia sprinted onto the field for a final kneel down with 24 seconds left. After looking like he may have been knocked out of the game a couple hours prior, Garcia had stopped the steep drop and was ready to send the roller coaster back upward.

A usually stoic Andy Reid fist pumped, and broadcaster Joe Theisman quipped, ‘There’s the headline in the Philly papers tomorrow morning: Emotional Andy.”

Michael Barkann began Eagles Post Game Live in a creepy but hilarious manner with his hand in the shape of a a crawling insect.

“It’s aliiiiiivvveeeee,” he cheerfully yelled on a live show just before midnight on a cold December night. “The Eagles season is alive and kickin, baby.”

Indeed it was, Michael. Indeed it was.  Garcia would win all three of those divisional road games to get the Eagles to 9-6 before sitting out the season finale and resting for a playoff run.

After a 26-23 victory over the Giants, the Eagles season would end in the Superdome as they fell 27-24 to the Saints in the second round of the playoffs. From the Carolina game onward, Garcia would go 103-for-177 with nine touchdowns and only three interceptions.

An article about his time in Tampa Bay the following season still hangs in my childhood bedroom with no plan of being taken down.

Garcia

Garcia had taken the Eagles on a wild run that few outside of him thought was possible. The Colts game may have inspired a bit of confidence, but on an epic Monday Night against Carolina is when the results started to roll in.

Who knows what might have happened had Garcia not gotten up midway through the second quarter? Perhaps Feeley comes in and plays lights out, but Garcia reminded everyone about the most valuable life lesson there is. He got up. When things weren’t going well and no one believed in him, he literally was knocked down and got back up.

Hypotheticals are a dangerous thing, but what if Garcia had not stayed in the game and Feeley been ineffective? The Eagles went 8-8 the following year in 2007, and that would have meant three straight seasons of no playoffs for Reid. Conventional wisdom suggests he would not have survived that. The Eagles would have been looking for a new coach as early as January 2008. Chip Kelly was just then beginning to establish himself after his first season as Oregon’s offensive coordinator and surely would not have been the guy.

Tonight’s scene from a long-term standpoint might not be set had Garcia not gotten up. Sometimes though, try as they might, professional football players can’t get up. McNabb couldn’t get up when he tore his ACL, and Nicky Foles couldn’t pick himself up after a vicious hit to the shoulder last Sunday.

That’s what backups are for. Garcia was a great one, and for as big of a Foles fan as I am, Sanchez looked like a competent one in the preseason and last week. Now, we really get to find out though if he can truly exorcise his demons that remain from the Jets.

As far as quarterbacks go, Sanchez and Garcia could not be more different. Garcia attended San Jose State and exited college football undrafted in 1994, spending five years with the Calgary Stampeders in the CFL before hooking on with the 49ers. He did not become a full-time starting quarterback until age 30 and did not win a playoff game until a month before his 33rd birthday.

Sanchez on the other hand was thought to be the chosen one, growing up in Long Beach, California and attending the storied USC. He was the fifth overall pick in the 2009 draft and a starting quarterback in the NFL before his 23rd birthday. Before his 25th birthday, he had beaten Carson Palmer, Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady in road playoff games.

Then, he fell just as quickly as he rose to stardom. There was the butt fumble, sure, but more than that, there was an awful stretch in December of 2012 that saw him transform into a turnover machine:

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 11.38.26 PM

Sanchez is not nearly as mobile as Garcia and less accurate but has a much stronger arm. As I said, as far as quarterback attributes go, they are polar opposites, but both have found levels of NFL success at certain parts of their NFL careers.

Nearly eight years ago after a rough time in Cleveland and Detroit following a solid run in San Francisco, Garcia rediscovered his mojo and captivated a city.

For at least the next month, Sanchez will have a chance to do exactly the same team. He will do it surrounded by a better Eagles team than the 2006 Eagles squad and perhaps against a worse Panthers team who stumbles in on a three-game losing streak at 3-5-1.

If it happens, he’ll do it by playing his style and being the best Mark Sanchez he can be, but it sure won’t be hard to reminisce about Jeff Garcia and a magical Monday Night in 2006 should Sanchez be found smiling come midnight tonight.

Five Numbers I Would Like to See on the Stat Sheet when Eagles-Colts Concludes

If you have read anything else or follow me on Twitter, then you already know this, but I want this one bad tonight.

The Colts are my Super Bowl pick, and I really like Andrew Luck, but I want to see Nick Foles beat him head-to-head. Just like last week, I will roll out some numbers that I believe could key an Eagles road victory in Indianapolis tonight.

Against the Jaguars, we only hit on two out of five numbers but were very close on two others. Around midnight tonight, we will go back and evaluate whether or not the goals were reached, so without further ado, let’s introduce them.

Here are five Eagles numbers that I hope to see in the box score after the final whistle tonight.

  1. Less than 45 rushing yards for Trent Richardson — Richardson was fantastic at Alabama and had sky high potential coming out of college but has mostly been a bust so far. One way to solve Andrew Luck is to make the Colts offense one-dimensional. The Eagles run defense did a nice job against Toby Gerhart last week, limiting him to 42 yards on 18 carries, but I have seen them make average running backs look above average in the past. They are very capable of keeping Richardson in check, and doing so would grease the wheels for a win.
  2. No more than one turnover for Nick Foles — Between two fumbles and a red zone interception in the first half last week, Foles was responsible for three turnovers. I do not think the Eagles have to crush the turnover battle to win tonight, but losing it by two like they did against Jacksonville would be less than ideal. You got this, Nicky.
  3. Jeremy Maclin with 90+ receiving yards — Maclin had a great opener with four receptions for 97 yards, including a 68-yard go-ahead touchdown. Even the most cynical of Eagles fans had to be happy for him. Now, it is just a matter of turning in those performances consistently. There should be room to throw against the Colts defense, and two nice games in a row would be an awesome start to the season.
  4. At least 14 first half points — The Eagles do not have to come out firing completely on all cylinders, but they will not be able to survive another first half shutout tonight. If they win the coin toss, Chip Kelly normally likes to defer so they begin the third quarter with the ball after being afforded halftime adjustments. Fourteen points after the first 30 minutes should have them at the very least within striking distance.
  5. Andrew Luck sacked three or more times — The Colts offensive line is not known to be a particularly strong unit, and Luck was sacked by the Broncos three times in the opener. The Eagles got Chad Henne for three sacks in the opener last week, and a good amount of Billy Davis’ blitz packages seemed to be getting home. If Trent Cole, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Mychal Kendricks, or someone else can put Luck on his back a few times, the Eagles chances of leaving Lucas Oil Stadium 0-2 will greatly increase.

I wanted to put something in here about LeSean McCoy, but you just expect him to have good games at this point in his career, so it almost seems like a waste to highlight that. McCoy still managed to average 74 yards even with the offense sputtering last week, and I do not think it is out of the question for him to go over the century mark tonight even with no Evan Mathis along the offensive line.

There you have it. This is what I will be looking for in about 14 hours: 45, one, 90, 14, three, and hopefully a nice 2-0 record along with sole possession of first place in the NFC East.

Your Cody Parkey Kickoff Tracker and Contest (!) for Week 2 is Here

The Cody Parkey kickoff distance tracker was a rousing success in Week 1.

We got picked up by some Auburn message boards who were thrilled to see one of their own succeeding as a rookie in the NFL. It remains the most popular post to date on the blog, and most importantly, Parkey just flat out crushed it.

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

Seven kickoffs, seven reaching the end zone, five touchbacks, and the Jaguars average starting field position off the kicks was their own 18-yard line. Parkey also nailed a 51-yard game tying field goal in the fourth quarter as the Eagles special teams were instrumental in a comeback victory over the Jaguars.

Parkey’s young NFL journey takes an interesting twist tonight as he returns to Indianapolis, the team he was with for most of training camp before the Eagles traded for him.

The Cody Parkey kickoff tracker is up for Week 2, and to make things even more fun, we are going to turn it into a contest.

Tweet at me (@drewBbalis) before kickoff tonight guessing the number of touchbacks Parkey has AND the Colts’ average starting field position on his kickoffs (far right column of the chart)

Guessing the correct number of touchbacks is worth one point while predicting the right field position is worth two, so an example would look something like

@drewBbalis (6, 19) 

Let’s go ahead and consider the sample tweet as my official guess for the contest.

I expect plenty of duplicate guesses for kickoffs if we hopefully get a lot of people playing, so the field position component is intended to spice things up a bit.

Total points will be kept on the blog throughout the season, and the winner will get recognition on here and some small prize — a dollar or a couple Dunkin Donuts coupons if that is your thing. If you have better ideas for a prize, let me know. I would like to offer some incentive for playing, but I also want people to just have some innocent fun and enjoy the sheer awesomeness that are Parkey’s kickoffs.

In the average starting field position column, the season total will be in brackets with the game total next to it. The number that you care about for the contest is the latter game total, but both will be displayed.

Years ago, I used to run a game on Facebook where people would guess how many walks then Mets pitcher Oliver Perez would issue in each of his starts. It built up a nice loyal following, and my hope is that we can do the same thing here throughout the season.

Your chart will of course be updated following every Parkey kick throughout the game.

Game Opponent Kickoff Number End Zone Touchback Starting Field Position Average Starting Field Position
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