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.

Penn State uses dominant second half to top No. 6 Wisconsin for Big Ten title

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Penn State uses dominant second half to top No. 6 Wisconsin for Big Ten title

INDIANAPOLIS — Penn State’s offense rewrote the Big Ten Championship’s offensive record book Saturday night but its 38-31 victory over Wisconsin wasn’t secure until the final minute.

And Linebacker U. got the game-saving play from the secondary.

Wisconsin, armed with a pair of timeouts and lining up for a fourth-and-1 play from the Nittany Lions’ 24, called on Corey Clement. Clement, who’d already racked up 166 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, got the ball but never got close to the marker.

Grant Haley made sure of it.

The junior cornerback wrapped up Clement’s legs and safety Marcus Allen kept Clement from leaning forward and the game was over. Penn State (11-2) has the 2016 Big Ten title and, at worst, will play in the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2009.

“They ran [a counter] early in the game and split it for a touchdown,” Haley said of the final play. “I saw them set the edge, so I got triggered really well and Marcus finished off the play.”

Haley and company watched the Badgers run wild in the first half; 164 yards and three touchdowns, including Clement’s 67-yard scamper. Wisconsin, one of the conference’s best rushing teams this season, managed less than half that total (77) in the second half.

“They really weren’t running that many plays,” Haley added. “We just came out in the second half and had a jolt. 

“We just had the energy going into the second half.”

Wisconsin got the ball twice in the fourth quarter but managed only 65 yards - 51 of which came on its final drive.

“Give credit to Penn State for coming out in the second half and making those adjustments and allowing those big plays to happen,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. 

Give plenty of credit, too, to the Nittany Lions’ offense. 

Quarterback Trace McSorley was named the game’s most valuable player after completing 17 of his 25 passes for 319 yards and four touchdowns - both championship game records. He helped Penn State complete the biggest comeback in the game’s six year history after his team fell behind 28-7 in the first half and also finished the regular season with 3,360 yards and 25 touchdown passes, both school records.

Saeed Blacknall had six catches for a Big Ten Championship-record 155 yards and two touchdowns and DaeShean Hamilton finished with 118 yards on eight grabs.

Tailback Saquon Barkley, injured in last weekend’s victory over Michigan State, returned with 88 yards and a touchdown on the ground and caught an 18-yard scoring pass from McSorley early in the fourth quarter to put the Nittany Lions ahead for good.

Penn State, in its first-ever trip to this game, is coming home from it with just its second outright Big Ten title. It’s on a nine-game winning streak that has seen it average 40 points per contest.

It also could present the College Football Playoff selection committee with a bit of quandary. The Nittany Lions, who were ranked seventh by the committee last week, topped the No. 6 Badgers and claimed a conference championship, something likely playoff teams Alabama, Clemson and Washington all boast.

On the flip side, Penn State’s last defeat was a lopsided 49-10 loss at Michigan, which sits at No. 5 in the rankings and likely won’t move into the top four after losing last week to No. 2 Ohio State.

Penn State coach James Franklin stated his team’s case after Saturday night’s win, but also made it clear he and his team won’t be moping their way to Pasadena, Calif., where the conference champion is slotted if it is not chosen for the playoff.

“We’ve got great options in front of us,” he said. “I hear people on TV talking about they feel like maybe the playoff has taken away from the bowls. 

“Are you kidding me? The Rose Bowl? It doesn’t get a whole lot better than that.”

Report: Jordan Matthews (ankle) not expected to play vs. Bengals

Report: Jordan Matthews (ankle) not expected to play vs. Bengals

Jordan Matthews will not play Sunday against the Bengals after missing practice all week with an ankle sprain, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Matthews is the Eagles' leading receiver with 57 catches for 686 yards and three touchdowns. The team has called him a game-time decision.

Second-year receiver Nelson Agholor will reportedly be inserted back into the lineup. If Matthews doesn't play the Eagles will have only four healthy receivers active on Sunday: Agholor, Dorial Green-Beckham and undrafted rookies Bryce Treggs and Paul Turner.