Tag Archives: Tennessee Titans

Countdown to Eagles Football — 42 Days: How Long Will Chip Kelly Be the Eagles Coach?

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

This makes me a bit uncomfortable, actually more than a bit uncomfortable, to the point where I almost considered not publishing it and going in a different direction, but at the same time, I felt it was important enough to discuss.

An attempt to answer this question is ultimately grounded in intuition and speculation. People have wildly floated their thoughts on this topic since 1 p.m. on January 16, 2013,  the day Kelly was hired to be the Eagles head coach. It has only become a hotter discussion point since January 2015, when Kelly gained full control of player personnel decisions in addition to his coaching duties.

Whatever number or year someone throws out is ultimately a personal notion, but there are some facts that we can use to evaluate the question holistically and venture an educated guess.

Previous Coaching Stops 

Kelly spent 13 years coaching at his alma mater, the university of New Hampshire, including the final eight as the program’s offensive coordinator. He then stayed at Oregon for six seasons, spending the final four as the Ducks head coach before taking his talents to the NFL.

Contract Length

Kelly’s contract currently runs for three more years through the 2017 season. Two scenarios could obviously change things here. A successful season could potentially net Kelly an early extension, even with a couple years remaining on his original deal. On the opposite spectrum, owner Jeffrey Lurie could fire Kelly at any point in time before the end of the 2017 season, ending the contract early, which leads to the next point.

Lurie’s Track Record with Coaches 

In his two decades as Eagles owner, Lurie has been known to exhibit patience with head coaches. Ray Rhodes held the position for four seasons, and Andy Reid, obviously the stronger example, spent 14 years running the show. Other owners may have pulled the plug on Reid earlier, who did not win a playoff game in his final four seasons between 2009-2012. Many thought Reid should have been fired after the Eagles 2008 Super Bowl dreams came crashing down in the Arizona desert, but Lurie remained loyal to Reid until it became abundantly clear that a change was needed.

Lurie showed the utmost confidence in Kelly last January when he stripped Howie Roseman, who the owner had grown incredibly close with over the years, of personnel duties, handing the head coach more power. While Kelly has theoretically turned up the heat on himself with some controversial roster decisions, it is clear his owner believes in him after back-to-back 10 win seasons.

Most Coaches Who Come from College and Succeed in the NFL Don’t Go Back

Jim Harbaugh is the exception to this headline, heading home to bring his alma mater back to prominence. Other coaches who come from the college game and prove they can cut it in the NFL do not go back. The allure of winning a Super Bowl and proving that one’s system works at the game’s highest level is too attractive to even entertain college offers. Those who crash and burn like Nick Saban and Bobby Petrino return. The good ones do not.

The popular notion is that Kelly’s next coaching job will be at a big-time college football program, and that belief seems absolutely ridiculous to me. The much more likely scenario is Kelly coaching another NFL team (with less power than he currently has in Philadelphia should that experiment prove unsuccessful), which brings us to the final two considerations.

The Marcus Mariota Factor 

After a successful start to his head-coaching career in Arizona, Ken Wisenhunt is 20-44 in his last four seasons, including a rough 2-14 season with the Titans in 2014.

Picture the scenario right now. Sam Bradford doesn’t pan out as the franchise quarterback that Kelly believes he can be, and the Eagles end up just on the outside of the NFC playoff picture again. The Titans go 5-11 with Mariota having an inconsistent rookie season, and Tennessee’s brass reaches the conclusion that the right coach, his old coach, is the man to get them on track.

This is not so simple as Kelly would still be under contract with the Eagles. Furthermore, the entire scenario sounds absurd, but the Mariota connection will never fully go away so long as both are in the NFL.

New Hampshire Roots 

Kelly was born and spent much of his life pre-Oregon and Philadelphia days in New Hampshire. What NFL team is closest to New Hampshire?

While this may be the biggest stretch of them all, Kelly is close with and not so secretly admires Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Belichick is 63 years old. While the four-time champion has shown no signs of slowing down, it is reasonable to assume that he won’t coach forever.

If Belichick were to remain with the organization in some sort of consulting role and have influence in naming his replacement, it would not be surprising to see him recommend Kelly to Robert Kraft, and it is certainly fathomable that Kelly would embrace the opportunity to follow the legend.

So What’s the Verdict?

Having evaluated all of these factors, let’s make a prediction.

I might regret this, and it’s dangerous to say when someone is entering Year 3 without a solidified franchise quarterback, but I foresee Kelly with the Eagles for a long time.

Lurie trusts him, and Kelly is as driven as they come, hungry to prove that his innovative system works on the biggest football stage, ruling out the idea that he would voluntarily return to the college game. The only way he ends up back there is if 32 NFL franchises deem him unworthy of a job, and someone who wins 20 games over two seasons with a flawed roster that only had 12 victories over the previous two doesn’t forget how to coach overnight.

Marvin Lewis has lasted 12 seasons in Cincinnati despite never winning a playoff game. Kelly must aim higher than that, but all things considered, I think it’s likely that he is still wearing midnight green come the beginning of a new decade in 2020.

As for 2021? Well, that depends on if Mariota is in a Patriots jersey.

Chip Kelly, Marcus Mariota, and How the Power of the ‘What If’ Question Could Turn NFL Economics Upside Down

“Let’s dispel that right now. I think that stuff’s crazy. You guys have been going with that stuff all along. I think Marcus is the best quarterback in the draft. We will never mortgage our future to go all the way up to get somebody like that, because we have too many other holes we have to take care of.”

It has been 50 days since Chip Kelly stood behind a podium and delivered the aforementioned quote. On the surface at the time, it was viewed as Kelly bowing out of Marcus Mariota sweepstakes and attempting to pour water on what he viewed as a media-induced fire.

The biggest change between then and now — the morning of the NFL Draft — is also the most obvious change — time.

On a Wednesday afternoon in March, Kelly wasn’t faced with a now-or-never franchise altering decision with the quarterback of his dreams dangling right before his eyes behind a forbidden fence. It’s easy to say something seven weeks before one actually has to decide on something.

None of this is to say Kelly is a liar. Rather, it’s to float the question ‘What’s his definition of mortgaging ‘the future’? And how might his definition deviate from the norm given the anything but normal circumstances?

NFL economics are fascinating in that they are often bound by certain unwritten but understood parameters. If a team hypothetically called the Indianapolis Colts right now and offered their next 25 first round picks for Andrew Luck, the Colts would do it in a heartbeat, but the Colts would never be presented with that scenario because no team would call with that type of proposal.

Head hurt? Yeah, mine too.

Kelly will not call the Tennessee Titans and offer 25 future first round picks for Mariota tomorrow night. I can guarantee that, but to guarantee anything else would be naive and ignorant to the way the Eagles czar operates and the power of human psychology that could be at work before him.

Mariota is Kelly’s Andrew Luck, his can’t-miss prospect. While he has never seriously compared the two young quarterbacks he has mentioned Mariota in the same breath as Peyton Manning, an even higher compliment.

For the past few weeks, I have looked for reasons to rule such an unrealistic reunion out. I got nowhere and instead ending up writing this, unable to dismiss the possibility. Folks who know much more about the inner-workings of the team have sought for the same roadblocks and kept on traveling.

Bargaining power is a valuable and envious asset, and in this particular situation, the Tennessee Titans have all of it right now. Or do they?

Based on Ken Wisenhunt’s coaching career, there is deductive reasoning to believe that the Titans have little interest in the Oregon quarterback. One of the most intense dynamics would be if the Titans in a game of chicken with the Eagles drive up the price so high that Kelly calls their bluff and folds. Would Tennessee actually invest a second overall pick in a quarterback it may not be fully sold on or would they select someone else and leave Mariota on the board where Kelly could jump back in and give up less?

More accurate of a bargaining power statement is to say that the Titans if they play it right have much of it, and Kelly has none.

Decision power, while much riskier of a principle, is even more powerful than bargaining power though. And decision power in this instance could theoretically belong to Kelly. And if decision power in this instance does theoretically belong to Kelly, it may not be a difficult decision at all.

Two words. One question: ‘What if’

It’s a phrase that can dominate our lives. We can ask it optimistically, pensively, and sometimes even regrettably, with the goal of avoiding the third scenario. Oftentimes it’s posed because the goal that follows the ‘what if’ is not attainable. That’s painful. Other times, it’s asked because the ‘what if’ was there for the taking, and one didn’t seize the opportunity. That’s much more painful.

What if Mariota is there to be had and all it takes is one more young player, perhaps one as talented as Fletcher Cox, one more future pick? Would Kelly be able to sleep at night knowing his star pupil, the player he molded into one of the top quarterbacks in college football was available and he didn’t go the distance to get him?

The ‘what if’ question can be all-encompassing. One is resigned to the notion that it will make future tasks more difficult. Avoiding major injuries, identifying underrated talent, and player development skyrocket from highly important to super essential with hardly any margin for error.

With the extra pressure though comes an unconventional way to land a franchise quarterback and turn league norms upside-down while progressing from good to great and legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

But what if it’s not worth it?

What if it is and Kelly never dares to find out?

Chip Kelly, Ed Marynowitz, Howie Roseman, and the Symbolism of the Name Marcus in a Quest to Make the Draft Fun Again

I still vividly remember when it happened — when following 16 months of progress, the Eagles made a grave mistake with their greatest opportunity to inject talent onto a roster that had improved significantly over the aforementioned timeframe but still needed much work.

The 2014 NFL Draft was loaded with studs, and even after being slotted with the 22nd pick following an NFC East division title in 2013, the Eagles theoretically sat in a prime position.

One of the most fun things about watching a draft for fans is having that crush on one particular prospect and hoping he’s on the board when your team is on the clock — creating that hope that you somehow get your guy.

The guy who I decided I wanted the Eagles to take in the first round was Marqise Lee. A receiver who had put up monster numbers at USC. He had a few big games against Chip Kelly’s Oregon teams, and it seemed like a perfect match for a team that had a need at the position. As it turns out, the Eagles had other plans at the position, waiting until the second round and selecting Vanderbilt receiver Jordan Matthews. That worked out perfectly fine. What happened a round earlier didn’t.

For a few brief moments though, I thought I was going to get my wish as Roger Goodell made his way to the podium to announce the 26th pick of the draft. With many of their original targets gone, the Eagles had traded back from their original 22nd slot to the 26th pick, allowing the Cleveland Browns to select Johnny Manziel. Manziel likely was the worst pick of the entire first round, a move that will eventually get everyone in the Browns organization who played a part in it fired.

What the Eagles did was not far behind though. Lee was still on the board, and I was convinced he would be the pick. Goodell started reading: “With the 26th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles select, Mar…”

YES! HOLY SHIT! HELL YEAH! ”

“…cus Smith. Linebacker, Louisville.”

What? No.

That was not supposed to happen. I knew a little bit about Marcus Smith. I knew he had a decent number of sacks at Louisville. I also was aware that most media outlets and teams had a second or third round grade on him. The Eagles, who for a few seasons, had preached a ‘best player available’ approach when it came to drafting, had panicked and reached on a player who had no business being a first round pick.

Smith never recorded a single defensive statistic during his rookie season with the team. He was inactive for several games, and the puzzling decision would ultimately set off a power struggle in the Eagles front office months later. It potentially got Tom Gamble fired from his player personnel role and cost Howie Roseman his general manager title.

How did a team that for the most part had made very solid personnel moves for a year and a half drop the ball so badly here? To our best knowledge, this is what happened.

The Eagles went into the draft with six players they were targeting in the first round:

Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

Wide receiver Brandin Cooks

Linebacker C.J. Mosely

Linebacker Anthony Barr

Cornerback Kyle Fuller

Safety Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix

Unfortunately, they gauged the board incorrectly, and when the Saints traded up to take Cooks at 20, and the Packers nabbed Clinton-Dix at 21, none of their targets were left.

“What the hell?” “This is bad.” “Typical Eagles trying to outsmart everyone else. Reminds me of Andy years.”

These were a few texts I got immediately after Smith’s name was called.

“Need to do some more research,” I texted back, hoping that there was some way to explain this.

There wasn’t. This was really bad, especially considering how other NFC East teams improved. The Giants used their first round pick to select the aforementioned Beckham, arguably a once-in-a-generation receiver, who eclipsed 90 receptions, 1300 yards, and double digit touchdowns in his rookie year. The Cowboys, unfortunately, intelligently passed on Manziel, and used their selection on Zack Martin, who also made the Pro Bowl as a rookie while helping the Cowboys to solidify their offensive line as they took the division from the Eagles and returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2009. The Redskins didn’t have a first round pick but used their mid-second round selection on linebacker Trent Murphy, who actually saw the field and contributed in 2014.

‘Who made the Marcus Smith pick?’

It was a question that Eagles fans would ask for the past year, reaching a fever pitch in early January as Kelly fought for full player personnel control. As I have hypothesized back then, I have a tough time believing that pick was Kelly’s. The coach did not speak highly of him during the season, and I find it unlikely he would have kept Smith inactive in a meaningless Week 17 game, if he knew that he would have to defend the pick to Jeffrey Lurie a week later during a power play. That just doesn’t add up.

Kelly, in March, seemed to confirm these thoughts, placing the blame on the now demoted Roseman for the Smith pick and failing to improve the team during the first round of last year’s draft.

Some Smith truthers in an attempt to sound smarter than everyone else and go against mainstream thinking solely for the sake of doing so, have maintained that he was not a reach. I am on record saying that I do not believe he will be on team when the Eagles cut their roster down to 53 players before the season starts. A rookie learning curve is one thing, but when a guy can’t even compete on special teams, that raises a serious red flag.

With Roseman having no say in personnel matters, Ed Marynowitz is now Kelly’s right-hand man in preparing for the draft, and he, at least from my perspective, inspired some confidence the other day when saying the team believes there are 8-10 difference makers in this year’s draft.

That suggests, at least in theory, that Kelly expanded the Eagles board, and knows a repeat of last May cannot happen again if the franchise is to go from good to great.

There is, of course, one who stands above all in that group of 8-10 players. It is no secret that Kelly covets his former Oregon signal-caller. The only question left to answer is whether through this convoluted offseason of quarterback roulette, he can entice some team, be it Tennessee with the second overall pick, or another club to get up high enough in a trade to be reunited with Marcus Mariota.

The feasibility of moving up high enough for the signal-caller is one thing. Whether or not Kelly should do it is another one entirely.

It is a classic debate in the principle of opportunity cost. One could fill an entire economics textbook with some of the scenarios, rumors, and proposed trades, and the semester would still end before the professor had time to teach all of it.

On one hand, with all of the picks and players he would be giving up, Kelly may never have the ammunition to build a good enough team around Mariota to win a Super Bowl. Pushing back on that concern is the classic ‘Yeah but you can’t win without a franchise quarterback,’ and Kelly already decided that the closest thing he had to one in Nick Foles wasn’t good enough to be the chosen one going forward. Why is anyone to believe that Sam Bradford is any different?

There is no shortage of risk in such a move when it comes to resource allocation, but it is difficult to believe the player itself wouldn’t pan out. If Mariota were to fail under the tutelage of his former coach in the NFL, then Kelly certainly isn’t the coach that I and many others believe him to be.

More than likely, both would be successful in a long-distance relationship occasionally texting each other “I miss you. Let’s hang out.” “I miss you too.” “I’m sorry I left like that, but I had to.” “I know. We had some awesome times together that fall back in college.” Nothing wrong with admiring from afar, but maybe just maybe, this real-life story has a fairytale ending in marriage Thursday night.

Last year when Goodell shockingly uttered the name “Marcus Smith,” the joy of the draft was gone. Regardless of what transpired from there, the thought persisted that the Eagles brain trust squandered a major opportunity to get an impact player that could have contributed right away.

A few months later, the fears were confirmed, and they began to pay the price when Smith was inactive for games. A few months after that, they were division champions no more. Gone was Roseman’s job a few weeks later.

The joy was gone, but the hope is that Kelly and Marynowitz, by being more prepared for different scenarios, can restore it in a matter of days.

Perhaps by shocking the NFL world in a much different way this time and having Goodell say the name ‘Marcus’ for a second consecutive year.

Stay Alive and Survive: Cody Parkey Kickoff Contest Week 16 Edition

Happy Saturday football, folks.

After not tasting victory for nearly three and a half weeks now, I’m hungry for one again. Cody Parkey only kicked off six times last week, and frankly, I want more today. For reference, Parkey kicked off eight times in the first Redskins game back in Week 3. The rookie also hit a key 51-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that proved to be the difference as the birds held off the Skins 37-34.

Most of you know the scenarios by now for the Eagles, and we’ll be sure to update them as Week 16 begins to unfold. Let’s hit the contest.

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

I got (4, 19). 

While not a ton of points have been given out since Thanksgiving, the leaderboard remains tightly contested and could change quickly with a couple correct predictions, so make sure to get your guesses in.

All of your pertinent information is below along with our chart that will of course be updated throughout the afternoon.

Stay live, survive, root for Andrew Luck tomorrow.

Updated Contest Leaderboard: 

Drew Balis — Four points

Gavin Steinhubl — Four points

Nick Rapak — 3.5 points

Cory Sprankle — Two points

Dan Spevak — Two points

Evan Kalikow — One point

Updated Stats:

  • 87 kickoffs in 14 games
  • 72 of those kickoffs in the end zone
  • 42 of those kickoffs for touchbacks
  • Average opponent starting field position of 20.81
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
11 Titans 1 Yes No 17 [20.48] 17
11 Titans 2 Yes No 42 [20.83] 29.5
11 Titans 3 Yes No 25 [20.90] 28
11 Titans 4 Yes No 19 [20.89] 25.75
11 Titans 5 Yes Yes 20 [20.85] 24.6
11 Titans 6 Yes No 16 [20.78] 23.17
11 Titans 7 Yes Yes 20 [20.77] 22.71
11 Titans 8 Yes No 22 [20.79] 22.63
11 Titans 9 No No 21 [20.79] 22.44
11 Titans 10 Yes Yes 20 [20.77] 22.20
12 Cowboys 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.77] 20
12 Cowboys 2 No No 33 [20.94] 26.5
12 Cowboys 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.92] 24.33
12 Cowboys 4 Yes No 23 [20.95] 24
12 Cowboys 5 Yes No 24 [20.99] 24
12 Cowboys 6 No No 23 [21.02] 23.83
12 Cowboys 7 No No 35 [21.2] 25.43
12 Cowboys 8 Yes No 13 [21.09] 23.88
13 Seahawks 1 No No 23 [21.11] 23
13 Seahawks 2 No No 18 [21.08] 20.5
13 Seahawks 3 Yes No 9 [20.93] 16.67
14 Cowboys 1 Yes No 27 [21] 27
14 Cowboys 2 No No 11 [20.88] 19
14 Cowboys 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.87] 19.33
14 Cowboys 4 Yes No 15 [20.80] 18.25
14 Cowboys 5 Yes No 22 [20.82] 19
14 Cowboys 6 No No 20 [20.81] 19.17
15 Redskins 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.80] 20
15 Redskins 2 No No 27 [20.87] 23.5
15 Redskins 3 No No 16 [20.82] 21
15 Redskins 4 Yes No 17 [20.77] 20
16 Redskins 5 Yes No 35 [20.93] 23

Cody Parkey Kickoff Tracker and Contest: #BeatDallas Again Edition

Afternoon, folks. How we feeling heading into tonight?

For me, it’s a mix of cautioned confidence and anxious nervousness, but should the game rest on Cody Parkey’s leg late, I feel just fine.

During the Thanksgiving beatdown of the Cowboys, Parkey was incredibly busy as he kicked off eight times. Last week against the Seahawks was a different story as the Eagles offense struggled to move the ball most of the day against the defending Super Bowl champions. Parkey kicked off only three times.

Seattle’s defense Dallas is not though, and tonight will hopefully resemble Thanksgiving once again.

Let’s hit it as the battle for control of the NFC East goes down.

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

I will go (5,21).

Get your guesses in. Don’t piss off Claude.

Updated Contest Leaderboard: 

Drew Balis — Four points

Gavin Steinhubl — Four points

Nick Rapak — 3.5 points

Cory Sprankle — Two points

Dan Spevak — Two points

Evan Kalikow — One point

Updated Stats:

  • 81 kickoffs in 13 games
  • 68 of those kickoffs in the end zone
  • 41 of those kickoffs for touchbacks
  • Average opponent starting field position of 20.93
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
11 Titans 1 Yes No 17 [20.48] 17
11 Titans 2 Yes No 42 [20.83] 29.5
11 Titans 3 Yes No 25 [20.90] 28
11 Titans 4 Yes No 19 [20.89] 25.75
11 Titans 5 Yes Yes 20 [20.85] 24.6
11 Titans 6 Yes No 16 [20.78] 23.17
11 Titans 7 Yes Yes 20 [20.77] 22.71
11 Titans 8 Yes No 22 [20.79] 22.63
11 Titans 9 No No 21 [20.79] 22.44
11 Titans 10 Yes Yes 20 [20.77] 22.20
12 Cowboys 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.77] 20
12 Cowboys 2 No No 33 [20.94] 26.5
12 Cowboys 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.92] 24.33
12 Cowboys 4 Yes No 23 [20.95] 24
12 Cowboys 5 Yes No 24 [20.99] 24
12 Cowboys 6 No No 23 [21.02] 23.83
12 Cowboys 7 No No 35 [21.2] 25.43
12 Cowboys 8 Yes No 13 [21.09] 23.88
13 Seahawks 1 No No 23 [21.11] 23
13 Seahawks 2 No No 18 [21.08] 20.5
13 Seahawks 3 Yes No 9 [20.93] 16.67
14 Cowboys 1 Yes No 27 [21] 27
14 Cowboys 2 No No 11 [20.88] 19
14 Cowboys 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.87] 19.33
14 Cowboys 4 Yes No 15 [20.80] 18.25
14 Cowboys 5 Yes No 22 [20.82] 19
14 Cowboys 6 No No 20 [20.81] 19.17

Cody Parkey Kickoff Tracker and Contest: #BackInBlack Seahawks Edition

Yours truly is a bit under the weather, and Eagles rookie Cody Parkey has been dealing with a bit of a groin injury, but neither is going to stop us from our weekly contest today and another All Black Everything day at the Linc.

Ten days ago, we were blessed with Parkey facing Dan Bailey, and now he opposes arguably an even better kicker than Bailey in Steve Hauschka, and perhaps the one thing standing behind Parkey and a Pro Bowl berth.

Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 2.05.17 PM

Things will be incredibly interesting should today’s showdown against the defending Super Bowl champions rest on the leg of either kicker late in the contest, but ideally, the Eagles will be able to put things away before that, in part due to their rock solid special teams.

You know the drill. Let’s hit it.

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

I’ll take (4, 21). 

Get your guesses in before 4:25 p.m. Don’t piss off Claude.

Updated Contest Leaderboard: 

Drew Balis — Four points

Gavin Steinhubl — Four points

Nick Rapak — 3.5 points

Cory Sprankle — Two points

Dan Spevak — Two points

Evan Kalikow — One point

Updated Stats:

  • 78 kickoffs in 12 games
  • 67 of those kickoffs in the end zone
  • 41 of those kickoffs for touchbacks
  • Average opponent starting field position of 21.09

Your chart will of course be updated throughout the game.

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
11 Titans 1 Yes No 17 [20.48] 17
11 Titans 2 Yes No 42 [20.83] 29.5
11 Titans 3 Yes No 25 [20.90] 28
11 Titans 4 Yes No 19 [20.89] 25.75
11 Titans 5 Yes Yes 20 [20.85] 24.6
11 Titans 6 Yes No 16 [20.78] 23.17
11 Titans 7 Yes Yes 20 [20.77] 22.71
11 Titans 8 Yes No 22 [20.79] 22.63
11 Titans 9 No No 21 [20.79] 22.44
11 Titans 10 Yes Yes 20 [20.77] 22.20
12 Cowboys 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.77] 20
12 Cowboys 2 No No 33 [20.94] 26.5
12 Cowboys 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.92] 24.33
12 Cowboys 4 Yes No 23 [20.95] 24
12 Cowboys 5 Yes No 24 [20.99] 24
12 Cowboys 6 No No 23 [21.02] 23.83
12 Cowboys 7 No No 35 [21.2] 25.43
12 Cowboys 8 Yes No 13 [21.09] 23.88
13 Seahawks 1 No No 23 [21.11] 23
13 Seahawks 2 No No 18 [21.08] 20.5
13 Seahawks 3 Yes No 9 [20.93] 16.67

Turn Up for #BirdDay: Cody Parkey Kickoff Contest and Tracker

Guess what’s back, back again. The Cody Parkey kickoff contest is back. Tell your friends.

From our growing family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving, folks. No matter where you are taking in the holiday, we hope it’s a happy and safe one filled with delicious food and several renditions of ‘Fly Eagles Fly’ throughout the late afternoon and early evening hours.

After a brief hiatus since we were at the game last Sunday, we’re happy you’ve chosen to spend it with us.

Today’s contest will be bigger and better than anything you have seen in previous weeks, so please read a little more to make sure you maximize your point possibilities.

Guess the correct number of touchbacks: Two points

Guess the correct average starting field position (far right, sans brackets): Four points

Guess the correct cumulative average starting field position (left, with brackets): One point

Guess the total number of kickoffs: .5 points

Guess the number of made field goals: One point

I know this has served as a kickoff tracker throughout the season, but as previously mentioned, we much like Chip Kelly, are always innovating and wanted to add some new wrinkles in addition to making the usual points worth double on Thanksgiving.

The battle for first place in the NFC East could very well rest on the leg of either Parkey or Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey, two of the best in the game at their position.

Tweet to me (@drewBbalis) your picks before kickoff.

A guess should contain five numbers, looking something like (5, 21, 20.73, 6, 3)

Additional information can be found below, and your chart will of course be updated throughout the game.

Play our game before stuffing your face so as not to piss off Claude.

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

  • 70 kickoffs in 11 games
  • 62 of those kickoffs in the end zone
  • 39 of those kickoffs for touchbacks
  • Average opponent starting field position of 20.77
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
11 Titans 1 Yes No 17 [20.48] 17
11 Titans 2 Yes No 42 [20.83] 29.5
11 Titans 3 Yes No 25 [20.90] 28
11 Titans 4 Yes No 19 [20.89] 25.75
11 Titans 5 Yes Yes 20 [20.85] 24.6
11 Titans 6 Yes No 16 [20.78] 23.17
11 Titans 7 Yes Yes 20 [20.77] 22.71
11 Titans 8 Yes No 22 [20.79] 22.63
11 Titans 9 No No 21 [20.79] 22.44
11 Titans 10 Yes Yes 20 [20.77] 22.20
12 Cowboys 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.77] 20
12 Cowboys 2 No No 33 [20.94] 26.5
12 Cowboys 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.92] 24.33
12 Cowboys 4 Yes No 23 [20.95] 24
12 Cowboys 5 Yes No 24 [20.99] 24
12 Cowboys 6 No No 23 [21.02] 23.83
12 Cowboys 7 No No 35 [21.2] 25.43
12 Cowboys 8 Yes No 13 [21.09] 23.88

Eagles Crush the Titans Haiku

That did not quite have the euphoric feeling that the Week 16 contest against the Bears brought last season, but for a 1 p.m. kick against a bad AFC team, it was pretty good.

After what has been mostly a miserable rookie year, Josh Huff took the opening kickoff to the house, and while the Titans — with a little help from the officials — hung around for a half, the Eagles never looked back, leading by at least six points from start to finish.

Watching a game live doesn’t lend to the best analysis, and quite honestly, I’m not sure a ton can be learned from what transpired today. In many ways, it was another case of the Eagles beating up on a bad team before they get tested by a better one in a few days.

Give the birds credit for bringing it though more or less from start to finish. It would have been easy to overlook and be unprepared for this game, a bad characteristic of Andy Reid coached teams that led to some of the miserable recent history against the Titans, but aside from two ill-advised interceptions by Mark Sanchez, the Eagles played a mostly mistake free 60 minutes of football.

LeSean McCoy had one of his best games of the season, and Jordan Matthews continued his strong rapport with Sanchez. Cody Parkey’s streak of 17 consecutive made field goals ended, but he quickly started a new one with three second half kicks.

The secondary and linebackers had a few too many breakdowns in coverage but held Zach Mettenberger to a 51.2 completion percentage. Connor Barwin and Trent Cole balled out.

Mychal Kendricks is really good. Marcus Smith is really bad.

The biggest positive of the day had to be getting the running game going as McCoy and Darren Sproles both scored touchdowns and more importantly averaged more than four yards per carry. Whichever team runs the ball more effectively could very well be the key factor in Thursday’s showdown in Dallas, and McCoy heading into that tilt feeling good can only help.

Sanchez still requires a ‘wait and let’s see him play against better teams and defenses’ approach. His accuracy was improved, but he seems a lot more comfortable throwing on the run than standing in the pocket and delivering good passes. His two interceptions were worse than most of the picks thrown by Nick Foles, and this brings his total to six in less than four games.

Sanchez is certainly good enough to beat bad teams, but the Eagles only face two more bad teams on their schedule between the Redskins and Giants. To get the birds to where they want to be, he’ll need to beat the Cowboys at least once and the Seahawks.

Elements of Thursday scare me. Tony Romo against Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher really scares me. The game looks a lot more daunting than I anticipated before the season, but Dallas certainly looks beatable tonight so far.

Let’s hit the haiku, keep rooting for the Giants, and hopefully have sole possession of first place by midnight.

Huff Daddy rises

Jordan Matthews shines again

Ten straight at the Linc

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

 

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.