Foles should be the starter: second-year QB masterful in Eagles 31-20 win at Tampa

Foles should be the starter: second-year QB masterful in Eagles 31-20 win at Tampa

If I’m Chip Kelly, I’ve seen all I needed to from Nick Foles. Simply put, the kid is playing a better quarterback than Michael Vick right now.

The second-year field general picked up right where he left off last week in the Eagles’ 31-20 win over Tampa Bay. Foles completed 22 of 31 attempts for 296 yards (9.5 AVG) and three touchdowns, no interceptions—good for a 133.0 efficiency rating. He added another score on the ground.

Based on points alone, Foles has been far superior at punching the ball into the end zone than Vick. In roughly seven quarters of play over the past three weeks, the backup has moved the offense across the goal line seven times. In nine quarters since Week 3, the incumbent has managed to get the Birds in for six on just four drives.

Foles also did a much better job of getting everybody involved in the offense. Riley Cooper actually looked like a viable No. 2, hauling in four passes for 120 yards and a touchdown on six targets. DeSean Jackson had six receptions on six targets for two touchdowns, including one inside the red zone for the second consecutive week.

In all, Foles hit eight different receivers, and the Eagles converted two of three red zone trips into touchdowns. He did not turn the ball over.

The running game did not take a hit without Vick in the game either, as some suspected it might. LeSean McCoy carried the ball 25 times for 116 yards for a 4.6 average. A lot of those touches were late in the fourth quarter when the Bucs knew the Eagles were trying to ice the game. Shady rounded out his day with 55 yards receiving as well.

And speaking of the Bucs defense, for their part they are not a bad unit by any means. They entered the week holding opponents to 17.5 points per game, and were a top 10 unit overall. Even with Pro Bowlers Gerald McCoy and Darrelle Revis patrolling the field, Foles was able to move the offense almost at will when they were firing on all cylinders.

He threw the deep ball. He threw the underneath stuff. He didn’t make mistakes.

Foles should be the starting signal-caller next Sunday and going forward.

I know that statement won’t sit well with a segment of the fan base who is infatuated with Vick’s natural ability, but he simply isn’t as sharp when it comes to delivering the football. Foles is now completing 67.2 percent of his passes compared to Vick’s 53.8. The quarterback ratings are 127.9 to 90.6. It’s clear as day which player is more efficient, and Vick’s 307 rushing yards aren’t making up that difference.

Even the offensive line looks better, as Foles was sacked only once the entire day. Maybe it's because he's getting the ball out faster, or maybe it's because he throws it away. Either way, he's not getting taken down in the backfield as often.

Vick fan, Foles fan, it shouldn’t matter if you’re an Eagles fan. This is Foles’ time.

As for the other side of the ball, give the Eagles’ defense credit for holding the Bucs to 20 points, although it wasn’t a great performance. Philly struggled to pressure rookie Mike Glennon making his second career start, and he had his team leading in the third quarter and within one point in the fourth.

It was really Foles and the offense pulling away more than the defense closing the door. The Eagles only had 26:14 in time of possession, and that was including a five-minute series where they were simply trying to run out the clock.

This is Nick Foles’ world, we’re all just living in it.

The Eagles’ record moves to 3-3 on the season, and could find themselves in sole possession of first place depending on the outcome of the Sunday night game. Regardless, next week’s tilt with the Dallas Cowboys is setting up as a clash for NFC East supremacy—and Foles should be at the helm.

Instant Replay: Flyers 3, Islanders 2 (OT)

Instant Replay: Flyers 3, Islanders 2 (OT)

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK — The Flyers, in dire need of a confidence boost, found one at the Barclays Center.

Trailing 2-0 in the second period on Sunday night, the Flyers stormed back to beat the Islanders in overtime, 3-2, and stop some serious bleeding.

Claude Giroux netted the game-winner, his first marker in 13 games.

On Saturday, the Flyers’ return from five days off was unceremonious to say the least as they lost badly to the Devils, 4-1, after entering their NHL mandated bye week losers in 11 of the last 14 games.

So this was a game they desperately had to have and got it.

The Flyers (23-19-6) picked up just their fourth win since Dec. 17, improving to 4-9-3 since rattling off 10 straight victories, a streak that seems like ages ago.

Speaking of streaks, the Flyers snapped a nine-game losing slide on the road in which they had been outscored, 36-12.

The Islanders (19-17-9) had their three-game winning streak halted. On Tuesday, New York fired its head coach Jack Capuano.

Notable goals
Shayne Gostisbehere converted a nifty wraparound pass to Giroux, who finished the winner.

Ivan Provorov made it all possible with a beautiful play to tie the game at 2-2 less than two minutes into the final stanza. The rookie defenseman took a pass at the blue line and patiently maneuvered two Islanders before unleashing a shot from the circle that got past Islanders netminder Thomas Greiss off the skate of his own defenseman Adam Pelech.

It marked Provorov’s first goal since he scored two against the Blackhawks on Dec. 3.

Wayne Simmonds kept another game from unraveling when he beat Greiss with 5:50 left in the second stanza. Simmonds gathered a loose puck off the skate of Brayden Schenn and fired it home to trim the deficit to 2-1 and give him his team-leading 19th marker.

"It was a bouncing puck and [Radko Gudas] made a great play and kept it in,” Simmonds said at second intermission. “There were a couple more bounces and I just picked it up and shot it far side and it went in.”

In the first period, Islanders leading scorer John Tavares got things started with a takeaway that resulted in Steve Mason under siege. Tavares, who stripped an Andrew MacDonald pass to Jakub Voracek, went in uncontested on Mason, who denied the shot and follow attempt from Anders Lee. With the puck still loose in the crease and Mason on his side, Ivan Provorov knocked it out but right to Nick Leddy for a clean wrist shot and goal with 6:35 remaining in the opening stanza.

At 4:47 of the second period, Mason was unable to control a rebound and New York took. Alan Quine came in and fluttered the puck over Mason’s shoulders to give the Islanders a 2-0 advantage.

No goal
The Flyers had 33 seconds of 5-on-3 action early in the second period, when they put the puck on Greiss, who couldn’t secure it. It created a mad jumble of bodies at the net but somehow the puck never crossed the goal line. The play was ruled no goal and later confirmed by official review.

The Flyers failed to score later at 5-on-4 and the Islanders used the momentum to extend their lead moments later on Quine’s tally.

Goalie report
Mason, who had not won since Dec. 21, made 36 saves.

He entered with a 4.03 goals-against average over his last 10 appearances but made a number of timely stops, including four in one wild sequence of a New York power play during the third period. He also turned away a Tavares breakaway in the extra session.

Coming off back-to-back shutouts in which he made 55 total saves, Greiss stopped 44 shots. He went to a full split to rob Sean Couturier midway through the second period and stoned Provorov in overtime before allowing the winner.

Power play
The man advantage, which went 0 for 6 on Saturday and was 0 for its last 11 coming in, went 0 for 3.

The Islanders finished 0 for 2.

Penalty kill
Lacking discipline in their first game back from the bye week, the Flyers were forced to go on the penalty kill seven times Saturday, allowing two goals.

On Sunday, the Flyers didn’t allow New York a power play until the final stanza. The Flyers finished 2 for 2 on the PK.

The Islanders stopped all three Flyers power plays.

Hits
Brayden Schenn skated to the bench hunched over after colliding with Josh Bailey in open ice during the second period. Schenn was OK and returned his next shift.

The Islanders outhit the Flyers, 23-12.

Scratches
For the Flyers: Forward Dale Weise, and defensemen Michael Del Zotto and Nick Schultz, all healthy.

Defenseman Brandon Manning returned to the lineup after two straight healthy scratches.

For the Islanders: Forwards Andrew Ladd (upper-body injury) and Stephen Gionta (healthy), and defenseman Scott Mayfield (healthy).

Next up
The Flyers follow their back-to-back with another such set. First up are the Rangers on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden before the Flyers come home Thursday to face the Maple Leafs, who currently trail the Flyers by a point for the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot.

NFL Playoffs: Matt Ryan, Falcons dismantle Packers to reach Super Bowl LI

NFL Playoffs: Matt Ryan, Falcons dismantle Packers to reach Super Bowl LI

The Atlanta Falcons are headed to their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history after routing the Green Bay Packers 44-21 in the NFC championship game.

Matt Ryan threw for four touchdowns, including a 73-yard catch-and-run for a highlight-reel score by star receiver Julio Jones. The defense played just as crucial a role in containing quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' offense.

Rodgers had 287 yards with three touchdown passes and an interception. But the Falcons got to Rodgers with pressure and forced two Green Bay turnovers. Rodgers was outplayed by Ryan, who even ran for a 14-yard touchdown.

Atlanta will play either New England or Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl on Feb. 5 in Houston.

The only other time that Atlanta made the Super Bowl was in the 1998 season. The Falcons lost 34-19 to the Denver Broncos.

The Packers fell in the NFC title game for the second time in three seasons.