It’s safe to say the Eagles aren’t going anywhere this year
after losing five consecutive games, and their season appeared to be circling
the drain weeks ago. You can’t complain that there is no intrigue left for the
Birds in 2012 though. Nick Foles is set to make his first NFL start in
Washington today, and both the immediate and long-term futures of the franchise
could be at stake.
Foles took over for Michael Vick during the second quarter
of last week’s game against the Cowboys, playing quite well at times, looking
very much like a rookie others. He did several things well: threw the ball
quickly and decisively, anticipated receivers getting open, and showed poise
running the offense. He also turned the ball over twice – nearly more – had
some issues with his accuracy, and still needs to adjust to the speed of the game.
That said, you can only take so much from the kid’s debut,
particularly coming off the bench cold after taking limited reps since
preseason ended. This is a much better opportunity for Foles, who worked with
the first-team offense all week, and thus was able to prepare as the starter.
Which of course does not mean anybody should expect the
Arizona product to come in and play lights out football right away, instantly
proving he is the Eagles’ quarterback of the future. The evaluation process is
going to take weeks, if we are even able to tell at all before season’s end. There
will be bumps in the road, and it’s important not to treat every throw as if
the Super Bowl were on the line.
But the Redskins are the perfect opening act. Washington
owns the league’s 30th ranked pass defense, 29th overall.
Injuries have claimed their best pass rusher, Brian Orakpo, and decimated their
safety corps – even if Brandon Meriweather returns to the secondary today as
anticipated, he’s on to his third team, and hasn’t played yet this season.
Obviously Foles will have his chance to attack the Redskins’
secondary. After all, it’s not like Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg are going to
adjust the offense to feature more of LeSean McCoy – especially when they see
Washington is ranked seventh against the run.
Nor can you count on Philly’s defense coming to the offense’s
aid. The Eagles have been an absolute mess since Todd Bowles took over following
the bye week, and look like they’ve got a lot of quit in ‘em. They face an
immense challenge today in rookies Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris.
Don’t think Vick when you say RG3 just because the
second-overall pick in this year’s draft can also run. He’s an accomplished
passer as well, completing 65.6% of his attempts for 1,993 yards, throwing eight
touchdowns to three picks, all of which is good for a 93.9 efficiency rating. Those
numbers have come largely with a cast of misfits for wide receivers, but help
is on the way. Pierre Garcon has missed all but three games this year, but
Griffin’s most dangerous target could return today.
But Griffin can run, too, a big reason why the Skins have
the second-ranked rushing offense in football. He’s already racked up 529 yards
and six scores on the ground. However, RG3 is not even Washington’s scariest
ball carrier. Sixth-round pick Alfred Morris has been punishing tacklers with
his 5-9, 218-lbs. frame, gaining 4.8 yards a pop on his way to 793 yards so
All of which means Foles will probably need to put points on
the board today to give the Eagles a chance to win, both of which they’ve
struggled to do all season. He won’t be coddled by a strong offensive line, nor
hidden with a power rushing attack. He’ll be operating the 29th-ranked
scoring offense in the NFL.
In other words: good luck, kid.
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