Eagles surpass last season’s win total 10 games into 2013

Eagles surpass last season’s win total 10 games into 2013

The Eagles might be a year or two away from contending for a championship—they don’t even know who their franchise quarterback is (or do they?)—but at least one thing is now certain. This year’s team is officially better than the 2012 iteration.

After finishing 4-12 in Andy Reid’s final season as head coach, Philadelphia has already clinched a better record just 10 games into 2013, Chip Kelly’s first season on the sidelines. With a sound 27-13 victory over a limited Packers squad, the Birds improved to 5-5 and once again find themselves in the thick of the playoff picture.

Yes, Green Bay was without 2011 NFL Most Valuable Player Aaron Rodgers, and down to practice-squad darling Scott Tolzien under center after the first series. The Eagles can only play the opponent that’s on the schedule though, and they took care of business on Sunday.

A Birds defense that has only given up more than 21 points twice all season was able to bottle up power running back Eddie Lacy for 73 yards on 24 carries. That forced Tolzien to carry the Packers’ offense in his first appearance in an NFL game, coming on in relief of Seneca Wallace who exited with a groin injury.

Tolzien piled up 280 yards and a touchdown on 24 of 39 passes, but threw two costly interceptions—one in the end zone. The pass to Jordy Nelson was behind its intended target, which allowed Brandon Boykin to swoop in for the pick (his second of ‘13) and a 73-yard return.

DeMeco Ryans also came up with his second interception of the season off of a tip after Tolzien attempted to thread a pass into traffic. Ryans set the tone for the Philly’s stifling run defense as well with 13 tackles—two for loss—building on another fine season.

The story once again though was the Eagles’ quick-strike offense led by Nick Foles, who finished with another strong line. The second-year passer connected on 12 of 18 passes for 228 yards with zero interceptions and three touchdowns—all over 32 yards. He did lose a fumble however to commit his first turnover of the ’13.

It wasn’t Foles’ best day despite the numbers. Two of his three touchdown passes were underthrown deep passes, the first of which in particular was nearly trouble. Packers cornerback Tramon Williams had the ball knocked away by his own teammate, and DeSean Jackson was there to collect the deflection for a 55-yard score.

It wasn’t a performance that is going to cement Foles as quarterback of the future, but as far as statistics are concerned, he’s still thrown 16 touchdowns with no picks this season. More importantly, his record as a starter this season jumped to 3-1.

If nothing else, Foles has earned another week to continue showing what he can do.

Jackson’s touchdown was his seventh of the season. Philadelphia improved to 5-1 in games where Djacc finds the end zone. Riley Cooper continued filling up the stat sheet as well with three catches for 102 yards and two scores. Coop now has five TDs over the past two games.

LeSean McCoy finally got on track as well, recording only his second 100-yard game since Week 3. How he finished was the most impressive part, with 115 of his 155 yards coming in the second half. The Eagles finished off the Packers with a clock-killing drive that ate the final 9:32 in the fourth quarter, largely Shady’s doing.

It may sound somewhat cliché, but this was a total team victory by the Birds, who toughed it out with several key injuries. Cornerback Bradley Fletcher was inactive, and Philly lost Jason Peters, Mychal Kendricks and Earl Wolff to injuries over the course of the game.

The Eagles forged ahead though and won anyway because they’re a better, more well-rounded team than they were a season ago. Credit Chip Kelly and defensive coordinator Bill Davis for the quick turnaround, and fans should be excited to find out what the ceiling is for this season.

The playoffs are right around the corner, and Philly is in the mix. Even if they don’t catch the Cowboys for an NFC East title, a wild card may be in play. As of this writing, the second wild card spot is currently owned by a five-win team.

First things first though, and that’s taking care of Washington next week, which will require the Birds to end this horrible 10-game losing streak at the Linc. Now winners of two straight, the Eagles will be riding a wave of momentum back to Philly. No reason right now to think they can’t continue to roll.

Rio police charge Ryan Lochte with false report of robbery

Rio police charge Ryan Lochte with false report of robbery

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Brazilian police charged American swimmer Ryan Lochte on Thursday with filing a false robbery report over an incident during the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

A police statement said Lochte would be informed in the United States so he could decide whether to introduce a defense in Brazil.

The indictment will also be sent to the International Olympic Committee's ethics commission, the statement said.

The swimmer's publicists and his lawyer, Jeff Ostrow, did not immediately respond to calls and emails from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Lochte initially said that he and fellow swimmers Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz and Jimmy Feigen were robbed at gunpoint in a taxi by men with a police badge as they returned to the Olympic Village from a party Aug. 15. However, security video suggested the four actually faced security guards after vandalizing a gas station restroom.

Lochte left Brazil shortly after the incident. Three days later, local authorities took Conger and Bentz off an airliner heading to the United States so they could be questioned about the robbery claim. They were later allowed to leave Brazil, as was Feigen, after he gave testimony. Feigen, who initially stood by Lochte's testimony, was not charged.

Lochte has since acknowledged that he was highly intoxicated and that his behavior led to the confrontation. It is not clear from the video whether a gun was ever pointed to the athletes.

Under Brazilian law, the penalty for falsely filing a crime report carries a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison. Lochte could be tried in absentia if he didn't return to face the charge.

The United States and Brazil have an extradition treaty dating back to the 1960s, but Brazil has a long history of not extraditing its own citizens to other nations and U.S. authorities could take the same stance if Lochte is found guilty.

That is currently the case of the head of Brazil's football confederation, Marco Polo del Nero, who faces charges in the wide-ranging scandal entangling international soccer's ruling body, FIFA. He has not travelled outside Brazil for more than a year to avoid being arrested by U.S. authorities somewhere else.

The charges in Brazil raise questions about the future for Lochte, who is planning to take time off from swimming but wants to return to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. He has 12 Olympic medals, second only to Michael Phelps among U.S. male Olympians.

Lochte lost four major sponsors early this week over the controversy, including Speedo USA and Ralph Lauren. But on Thursday he picked up a new sponsor -- Pine Bros. Softish Throat Drops. Pine Bros. said people should be more understanding of the swimmer and said he will appear in ads that say the company's product is "Forgiving On Your Throat."

There aren't enough Chooch pillows for every Philadelphian

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There aren't enough Chooch pillows for every Philadelphian

Carlos Ruiz has been traded to the Dodgers and it is sad.

Not in the sense that it's a move that remotely affects anything about the current state of the Phillies. It's sad simply because Chooch -- lovable and awesome and wonderful Chooch -- is no longer a Phillie.

Chooch will be remembered for catching Roy Halladay's perfect game and no hitter and that little dribbler down the line in Game 3 of the 2008 World Series. And, of course, dropping to his knees in celebration with Brad Lidge making them World Effin Champions.

But mostly he'll just be missed. What a guy to have aroud for so long.

Roy knows how hard it is not to have him around. I guess Chase won't need his any longer since the two will be reunined with one last chance of glory in L.A.

Phillies trade Carlos Ruiz to Dodgers

Phillies trade Carlos Ruiz to Dodgers

Jimmy Rollins. Then Chase Utley. Now Carlos Ruiz.

Thursday closed another chapter of the Phillies' golden era.

Ruiz, the Phillies' catcher since 2006 and arguably the most impactful in franchise history, has been traded to the Dodgers (along with cash) for catcher A.J. Ellis, right-hander Tommy Bergjans and a player to be named later.

Rollins was dealt to the Dodgers in December 2014. Utley, still with Los Angeles, was traded to the Dodgers in August 2015.

Ryan Howard is now the lone leftover from the Phillies' 2008 world champion club.

In 11 big-league seasons — all with the Phillies — Ruiz has hit .266 with a .352 on-base percentage and has been lauded for his game-calling abilities. This season, the 37-year-old is batting .261 with a .368 OBP, three home runs and 12 RBIs in a reserve role. Ruiz joined the Phillies' organization in 1998 when the team signed him as an amateur free agent. In 2016, he was playing out his final season in red pinstripes, the final year of a three-year, $26 million deal.

"I met Chooch in 2009 for the first time and immediately sensed that he was a special player," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "But more importantly, over the years I grew to know that he is a special person. I'll miss him."

Ruiz has caught the fourth-most games in Phillies history with 1,029, behind only Mike Lieberthal (1,139), Red Dooin (1,124) and Bob Boone (1,094).

"Carlos not only was — and is — a good teammate, he [also] learned how to become the leader he needed to be behind the plate running a pitching staff," former Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer said. "As a teammate, he always had that Ruiz smile that we all have come to love!"

Ruiz caught Cole Hamels' no-hitter in July of last season, marking the catcher's fourth no-no behind the plate, tying him for most in MLB history with Jason Varitek.

"He’s a tremendous catcher and it just shows," Hamels said after no-hitting the Cubs at Wrigley Field on July 25. "If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t be catching this many no-hitter, perfect games. All of us have been fortunate enough to have him."

The Panama native, beloved and known by the Delaware Valley as "Chooch," quickly became a fan favorite. He was the staple behind home plate of the team's five-year run from 2007-11, in which it won five National League East titles, two NL pennants and, of course, the World Series championship in 2008.

"They are my favorite fans in the world," Ruiz said in February, "and we have some good memories together."

And many of them.

He became Roy Halladay's all-time favorite battery mate, catching the right-hander's perfect game and postseason no-hitter in 2010.

He played a career-high 132 games in 2011, while handling the Phillies' vaunted rotation en route to a franchise-record 102 wins.

He put together an All-Star season in 2012, hitting .325 with a .394 OBP, 16 homers and 68 RBIs.

The most cherished, though, came on the chilly night of October 29, 2008 — being under the dogpile on the infield of Citizens Bank Park after catching Brad Lidge's World Series-clinching strikeout.