Nick Foles Enters the Game, Eagles Go on Being the Eagles

Nick Foles Enters the Game, Eagles Go on Being the Eagles

Prayers were finally answered for many football fans throughout
the Delaware Valley on Sunday when Michael Vick exited the Eagles’ game against
the Cowboys with a concussion midway through the second quarter, bringing on
the debut of rookie quarterback and preseason darling Nick Foles. But if you
weren’t paying attention – and judging from our comment section, quite a few of
you weren’t – you may not have noticed a huge difference in the offense’s performance.

Foles came into the game with the score tied at seven, and promptly
led the Birds on a three-and-out, his third-down pass hitting Jason Avant in the
helmet as the wide receiver slipped and hurt his hamstring. That play would become
emblematic of the evening number nine was in store for.

The Eagles went into the locker room trailing 10-7, but
Foles threw his first career touchdown pass on their opening possession of the
third quarter, a 44-yard strike to Jeremy Maclin standing all alone in the end
zone. On their next drive, Foles drove them down the field for an Alex Henery
field goal, pulling ahead 17-10.

Then the 2012 Eagles showed up.

Dallas scored on offense. Then they scored on special
teams. And then again on defense. A seven-point lead turned into a 14-point deficit in under three
minutes.

The backbreaking score came on Foles’ interception to
Brandon Carr, who returned it 48 yards to the house. Foles was
attempting to hit DeSean Jackson on a slant route, but threw behind his target, the ball bouncing off of his hands and into the air amid a sea of blue
stars. The quarterback was also responsible for another score in the game's final
moments as the Eagles attempted one final desperation drive, losing the rock on
an Anthony Spencer sack-fumble, which was recovered by Jason Hatcher in the end zone
to seal a 38-23 Cowboys win. Philadelphia’s record fell to 3-6 on the season.

Foles finished the game 22 of 32 passing for 219 yards and a
pick, good for a decent 85.3 efficiency rating. He was sacked twice with the
one fumble lost. However, he did take the offense on another scoring drive late in the
fourth.

By comparison, Vick was 6 of 9 for 70 yards and a score
before he was knocked out, adding seven yards on the ground.

Obviously this loss can’t be pinned on Foles, who played
fairly well behind a patchwork offensive line, especially considering the way
he was thrust into the action. Defense and special teams both contributed to
yet another Eagles collapse.

If nothing else though, Foles’ performance suggested changing
quarterbacks would accomplish little in solving this team’s problems. The
Arizona product showed poise and promise in a difficult situation, which might
make some fans feel better about the future of the franchise. But could Foles have
won this game if he started from the very beginning, or even saved the Eagles
from any losses earlier this year? Most likely no.

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Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Being immersed in the team is important for Nerlens Noel, and so is continuing his rehab. 

While the Sixers are on the road for three days to play the Grizzlies and Pelicans, Noel will remain in Philadelphia to work out at the training complex in Camden, New Jersey. The team is not scheduled to practice in between games, so staying back allows Noel another day to get on the court.

“[I want him to] just start playing more and have a ball in his hands, get hit, physical, feel people, play one-on-one,” head coach Brett Brown said.

Noel has yet to play this season because of elective arthroscopic left knee surgery in October. He rejoined the Sixers after completing the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Alabama. There still is no timetable for his return. 

Brown has said there is a “classroom” element to Noel’s return. He has to learn a roster with new players and schemes. 

The on-the-court side of it is a reacclimation to the intensity of the league. Regardless of how many games Noel already has played in the NBA, there is an adjustment period getting back into the grind of the competition. Brown believes the time in the gym this week will help Noel prepare for the level of intensity he will face in his return. 

“It’s such fool’s gold to think somebody’s going to jump back into NBA basketball after you haven’t played for so long. I don’t care how athletic he is,” Brown said. “It’s a man’s world, this league, and there’s a physicality and there’s a real-time reaction you have to have to play in the game. You can’t make that up in practice, you can’t make that up playing one-on-one, but you can better position him instead of just going out to get shots. I want him to feel a body, get hit, hit back, play one-on-one, those types of things.”

Noel had been assigned to the Sixers’ Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, to get in practice time when the Sixers had a game. The Sixers may forego another assignment and keep Noel at their facility as the Sevens also have two games in the next three days. 

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

BOX SCORE

Joel Embiid has been making the NBA look easy. Rookie of the Month honors, five double-doubles in 13 games, seven performances of 20 points or more … all having missed the last two years rehabbing from foot injuries.

Embiid, though, still is a player learning the league. Night’s like Monday’s lackluster showing are going to happen, even if it seemed unexpected against the struggling Denver Nuggets. 

“We’ve been used to seeing Jo have superhuman nights,” Brett Brown said after the Sixers’ 106-98 loss (see Instant Replay). “I thought Joel was down tonight.” 

Embiid tallied a total 16 points (5 for 15 from the field, 1 for 3 from three, 5 for 6 from the line) with four rebounds, one assist, a career-high five blocks, three turnovers and three fouls in 25:32. 

He had a quiet first half with six points (2 for 5 from the field) and one rebound in 9:21. The biggest struggle came in the third quarter. Embiid scored a single point off a free throw and shot 0 for 6 from the floor. By the end of three, he was shooting 18.2 percent. 

The big man said he needed to be better at passing out of the double team. He committed two turnovers in the third. 

“I wasn’t getting to my spot and I wasn’t getting what I’m used to getting,” Embiid said of the first three quarters. “I’m going to go back and watch the tape and see what I did wrong.” 

Embiid bounced back for another Embiid-like offensive effort in the fourth. He dropped nine points off an efficient 3 for 4 shooting in 7:31. Still, it wasn’t enough. 

“I made a couple shots,” Embiid said. “It didn’t help us win, so I don’t think it matters.”

Brown noticed Embiid rushing his game. He also thought Embiid’s balance was off, something the big man has been dealing with all season as he continues to find his legs. 

Embiid will not play in Tuesday's game against the Grizzlies. It is part of his workload management in which he does not play both games of a back-to-back. Expect him to hone in on game film until his next matchup, and get back on the roller coaster that can be a first year in the NBA. 

“It's just part of a young man's growth,” Brown said. “It just happens. I don't think we need to read too deeply into it. I think, in many ways, to expect from time to time not as good of a performance as we have been used to is fair enough.”