You Don't Have to Look Very Far to Find This Sunday's Worst Case Scenario

You Don't Have to Look Very Far to Find This Sunday's Worst Case Scenario

A familiar drumbeat began in the moments immediately after Michael Vick's fourth interception in Cleveland -- the second of which had been fired carelessly into double coverage -- this time resulting in a pick six that would have handed victory to a serious opponent. Fans and members of the media alike, the latter made up of people who are supposed to know better, Twondered aloud whether preseason darling Nick Foles would come on to relieve Vick the rest of the way.

Vick of course finished and the Eagles (eventually/miraculously) won the game, but what gave anybody the idea Andy Reid would even consider replacing his quarterback? There aren't many instances where the head coach of 14 seasons demonstrated an itchy trigger finger when it came to the guy running his offense, especially mid-game, so it shouldn't have come as a surprise big or small he was giving the franchise QB every opportunity to turn the ship around.

However, there is one outstanding example when Reid finally had seen enough of his signal caller to make the switch midway through a contest, and opted for the inexperienced option instead. It just so happens that exact scenario played out four years ago the last time the Eagles went head-to-head with the Ravens.

You'll no doubt recall the events. Donovan McNabb was the quarterback, but as he was prone to doing, had fallen into a funk heading into the Week 12 meeting in Baltimore. McNabb completed less than 50-percent of his passes and threw for under 200 yards in a home loss to the Giants two weeks earlier, followed by the famous 13-13 tie in Cincinnati where afterwards he explained he was unaware such an outcome was even possible. It's track No. 58 on Donovan's Greatest Hits, available on iTunes.

With McNabb well on his way to another clunker against the Ravens, completing 8 of 18 passes for 59 yards and two picks in the first half, Reid said take a seat. The score was only 10-7 at the time (thanks to a Quintin Demps kick return TD), the game technically well within reach, but second-year quarterback Kevin Kolb was about to get the most extensive, the first meaningful playing time of his short career against what is notoriously one of the toughest defenses in the NFL.

The experiment did not end well. Statistically speaking, Kolb wasn't much worse that day, going 10 for 23 for 73 yards and two picks. Actually, he came closer than Donovan to engineering a scoring drive, though all hope was ultimately erased at the goal line after Ed Reed took an interception back 108 yards. Either way, the game predictably unraveled when the backup QB entered, with the Ravens walking away victorious by a final of 36-7.

A sign of things to come perhaps? Vick is not unlike McNabb in that he can be incredibly inconsistent on a game-to-game basis. He looked out of sync in extremely limited action during the preseason, which seemingly carried over into his awful performance against the Browns. Winning the game obviously was what's important, but there is little in the quarterback's performance to inspire confidence this Sunday.

All of which makes us fear we could be in for a repeat of sorts from 2008. Would Reid bench Vick against one of the stingiest defenses in the league over another poor outing, throwing his rookie quarterback to the wolves? My guess is probably not likely given the situations aren't entirely comparable. Kolb was in his second season, thus more prepared in theory. Plus at that point in the season, a loss dropped the Eagles to 5-5-1, so there was far more at stake.

There is also the possibility Vick could go down with an injury, as many have predicted will happen at the hands of the nasty Baltimore D. That would force Foles -- or Trent Edwards if Reid were benevolent -- into the lineup, perhaps inducing similar results. While many wouldn't seem to mind if the Eagles made the move at quarterback before it reaches this point, a glimpse into the past suggests a change under center this weekend would not have much of a positive impact versus the Ravens.

In fact, you might say based on the evidence, it has the potential to wind up a total disaster.

Although, a funny thing about how 2008 worked out: McNabb was back under center the following week, the Eagles went on a roll all the way to the NFC Championship game. Somewhere in between is track No. 59, titled "Financial Apology."

*

Don't forget we're hosting a free NFL Week 2 fantasy football game with $250 in cash prizes. See if you can top Enrico's picks for this week which include Mike Vick, Jamaal Charles, Dez Bryant and DeSean Jackson, among others. Enter to play here.

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH --- Vince Velasquez wasn’t able to stand the heat Sunday afternoon.

The game-time temperature was 89 degrees with humidity to match at PNC Park. The Phillies' right-hander admitted he didn’t handle the weather well.

"You're going to go through various conditions, and it's something that you've got to really take into consideration -- to really lock in, stay hydrated because it can mentally drain you,” Velasquez said. “It kind of took a toll on me but I have to make the best of what I've got.”

Velasquez wound up pitching six innings in the blistering heat but did not factor in the decision as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Phillies 5-4 on pinch-hitter Adam Frazier’s leadoff home run in the seventh inning, his first in the major leagues, off fellow rookie Edubray Ramos (see Instant Replay).

Velasquez had his worst of his five starts since coming off the disabled list June 26, allowing four runs and seven hits while walking four and striking out five. He threw 107 pitches, 64 for strikes.

In his first four outings after begin activated, he was 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA to raise his record to 8-2.

“Just looking at his body language, he showed that he was struggling to find the strike zone,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “He didn't have his best location. He did a good job; he just made a couple bad pitches when they scored the two runs. Obviously, he wasn't at his best, but he kept us in the game.”

While that kind of outing can breed confidence in a 24-year-old pitcher, Velasquez took no consolation in it. He was bothered about not being able to hold a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, giving up a tying two-run home run to Matt Joyce.

“I knew it was my last inning when I went out there and I have to be able to close it out there,” Velasquez said. “I’m disappointed in that. I need to be better in that situation.”

Joyce’s blast came on pitch after Starling Marte doubled on an 0-2 pitch. That, too, annoyed Velasquez.

“That's just a matter of finishing at-bats,” Velasquez said. “You've got to lock in on 0-2 counts when you're ahead. You've got to finish the at-bat. Knowing that that was my last inning, that's where you have to bear down and give it all you've got.”

Ramos then gave up the game-winning homer to Frazier an inning later, the first long ball given up by the 23-year-old right-hander in 14 career outings. The Phillies wound up losing two of three games in the series and are 3-7 since the All-Star break to drop to 10 games under .500 at 45-55 through 100 games.

“It’s a game we should have won but I put us in position to lose it,” Velasquez said.

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

KINGMAN, Ariz. -- Four people were killed Sunday when bus carrying Dallas Cowboys staffers but no players collided with a van on a northwestern Arizona highway.

The fatalities were passengers in the van, Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Quentin Mehr said. But the bus occupants emerged uninjured.

"All on the bus came through OK with some bumps and bruises," Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple (DAHL'-rimp-ul) said in an email.

Dalrymple said the bus was only carrying members of the franchise's staff but would not say how many. There were no players on board.

The two vehicles collided in the afternoon on U.S. 93, about 30 miles north of the city of Kingman, according to DPS.

The crash shut down at least one lane of the highway that serves as the main route between Phoenix and Las Vegas.

The bus was on its way to a Dallas Cowboys fan event in Las Vegas. Charles Cooper, manager of GameWorks entertainment center in Vegas, said the session with 50 to 75 fans was scheduled for 3 p.m. PDT. People were already waiting when the president of a Las Vegas Cowboys fan club called to relay news of the accident. The event was subsequently canceled. Cooper says the team mascot was supposed to appear.

After the Las Vegas stop, the bus was scheduled to go on to Oxnard, California for the team's training camp. Members of the organization typically take a bus two weeks before the camp starts and make stops along the way.

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Jeremy Hellickson may be staying in the NL East past the trade deadline. 

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Phillies are scouting the Marlins' minor league teams in advance of a possible Hellickson deal. 

This comes on the heels of a report from a radio host in Miami that Marlins starter Wei-Yin Chen may need Tommy John surgery. Chen left with an elbow sprain during Wednesday's loss to the Phillies and was placed on the disabled list. Ironically, Chen was starting against Hellickson, who will face Jarred Cosart in place of Chen on Monday.

Hellickson's value rebounded significantly this season after struggling in Arizona and Tampa Bay the last few seasons. After dealing with a shoulder injury, Hellickson pitched to ERAs above 4.50 in each season from 2013-15, leading to the Diamondbacks trading him to the Phillies for limited value. 

However, in 20 starts, Hellickson, who will be a free agent after the year, has anchored the Phillies' rotation, bringing a 3.84 ERA over 119 ⅔ innings into Monday's scheduled start. He also has a nearly career-best strikeout rate and has regained his signature command that made him a strong performer with the Rays.

The Phillies are aided this trade deadline by a lack of starting pitching options available on the market. With many teams in contention looking for an additional starter, Hellickson is an attractive piece who could help a team in a pennant race.