Eagle Eye: Predictions for Eagles vs. Cardinals
It’s this week’s 25 Random Points, where the conversation includes MarTay Jenkins, Bobby Knight, My Sharona, Yoko Ono, Dylan Ennis, Black Eyed Peas, Peter Gabriel, Sean Couturier, Vinny Curry and William Shatner.
OK, it doesn’t really include William Shatner. But, hey, it could!
Here we go!
1. For a team that hasn’t had a ton of success over the years -- six playoff wins in 94 years and three winning seasons since 1985 -- the Cards have been a nightmare for the Eagles. The Cards are somehow 10-5 in their last 15 meetings with the Eagles going back to the late 1990s. Take your pick of nightmare. Jake Plummer in 1997. Brian Finneran and Kwamie Lassiter in the two 1999 games. MarTay Jenkins in 2001. Josh McCown in 2005. Tim Hightower in 2008. John Skelton in 2011. Kevin Kolb last year. I mean, Kurt Warner, fine. But Josh McCown, John Skelton and Kevin Kolb? Seriously? I still think Rod Hood should have been called for pass interference on Kevin Curtis with 1:57 left on fourth down in the 2008 NFC Championship game. The Eagles haven’t won a playoff game since.
2. Back when the Eagles had training camp in West Chester, there was a ping-pong table in the media workroom, which was in one of the dorms -- I think it was University Hall. Once in a while, a player would stop in for a game or two with me, Tim Kawakami, Mark Eckel, Phil Anastasia or one of the other beat guys. And you know who was just the worst ping-pong player ever? Randall. I mean, the greatest athlete I’ve ever seen and he just couldn’t play ping-pong.
3. These next two games will tell us an awful lot about the Eagles’ defense. They’re about to face two hot quarterbacks in Carson Palmer and Matt Stafford. This isn’t an inexperienced Mike Glennon, an overmatched Terrell Pryor, a wide-eyed Scott Tolzien or a hobbled RG3. These are two QBs with terrific weapons who are locked in right now. It’s awesome that the Eagles’ defense has held its last seven opponents to 21 or fewer points, something no other NFL team has done. But during that stretch only the Colts and Cowboys have allowed more yards. The Eagles are still giving up big chunks of yards but bailing themselves out with turnovers and outstanding red-zone defense. Which is fine. As long as you keep people out of the end zone and keep points down, nothing else matters. But if the Eagles don’t get turnovers, they’re going to be in trouble. So especially against the Cards and Lions, the Eagles must continue getting those takeaways. This defense is getting better every week, and the improvement has been dramatic and encouraging. By 4 p.m. a week from Sunday, we’ll have a much greater sense of just how much they’ve improved.
4. Just an awful job by analyst Bobby Knight on Saturday, basically rooting for anybody to win the Drexel-Alabama game so Duke-Arizona could start. Dude, if you don’t want to watch Drexel and Alabama play three overtimes, don’t work the game. Just go away. Quality win for the Dragons, by the way, with four guys fouled out.
5. Brandon Boykin’s next interception will be his fifth this year. In the last 40 years, only four Eagles 23 or younger have had five INTs in a season: Herm Edwards in 1977, Wes Hopkins in 1984, Eric Allen in 1988 and Lito Sheppard in 2004. Pretty good company right there.
6. The NFL has to suspend Steelers coach Mike Tomlin a game for interfering with Jacoby Jones’ punt return Thursday night. Whether it was intentional or not, that sort of thing just can’t be allowed to happen. And the fact that Tomlin wasn’t penalized for clearly stepping onto the field of play while the ball was live and coming his way … just unbelievable. That could have cost the Ravens the game and quite possibly a playoff spot. Inexcusable.
7. Thaddeus Young is 25. Brett Brown is his fifth head coach (Mo Cheeks, Tony DiLeo, Eddie Jordan, Doug Collins, Brett Brown).
8. The 76ers’ last eight head coaches have coached an average of 102 games. A season is 82 games. It’s nice to know Brett Brown is sticking around for a while. He is, right?
9. Let’s go to the mall at 5 a.m., walk six miles because there’s nowhere to park, fight a mob scene just to get through the door and wait on line for an hour at the cash register so we can get 10 percent off some socks. Yeah, that sounds fun.
10. Say what you want about "My Sharona," Berton Averre’s guitar solo is an all-timer.
11. It’s impossible for a quarterback to handle getting benched with any more class and honor than Michael Vick handled losing his job to Nick Foles. Vick has been the ultimate team guy from start to finish, and he’s genuinely happy that his friend and teammate is playing at a high level. Vick is so confident in his ability he doesn’t have an envious bone in his body. And it’s not an act. It’s not for show. Even during informal BS sessions at his locker, Vick expresses genuine admiration for Foles and respect for Chip Kelly and doesn’t complain about the way things have turned out. From somebody who’s covered a ton of quarterbacks and a ton of backup quarterbacks over the past 25 years, trust me, his attitude is rare.
12. Here’s a list of NBA players averaging 16 points and 10 rebounds and shooting at least 50 percent from the field: Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin, Spencer Hawes.
13. Longest gap between seeing the same artist twice: Peter Gabriel 37 years (1975, 2012).
14. This is a special guest Flyers random point submitted by CSNPhilly associate Flyers writer Sarah Baicker on her iPhone from Rippy’s Bar in Nashville, where she was singing, dancing and drinking a Yazoo Pale Ale: It’s great to see Sean Couturier finally turn a corner. The Flyers’ third-year forward looked positively lost through the first few weeks of the season. With the team struggling, he appeared to put too much pressure on himself defensively. But he’s made significant strides forward, as the team has a whole. Couturier has great hockey sense -- that was never up for debate. But to see him contribute offensively as he did Friday against Winnipeg was a good sign. The Flyers need the young forward to use his natural understanding of the game to help them score goals -- especially this season.
15. The Eagles have drafted two players in the last 20 years who’ve recorded 10 sacks in a season as Eagles. Andy Harmon and Trent Cole. Both went to college in Ohio, whatever that means.
16. Roughly 99.7 percent of cover versions are useless.
17. What a tremendous win for Villanova over Kansas on Friday night. Gotta love Jay Wright running that play in that situation for Ryan Arciadiacono, who was 0 for 5 from the field prior to the game-winning shot and just 5 for 29 this year from three-point range. That’s just a coach having a great feel for his guys and believing in them. And Andrew Wiggins certainly has a ton of athletic ability, but he hardly looked like a special player.
18. Speaking of 'Nova, how about the contribution Dylan Ennis has made in his first two games as a Wildcat? Ennis had to sit out all of last year after transferring from Rice, then had to sit out the first couple weeks of the season with a broken hand, but he’s scored 28 points in his first two games, with five rebounds, five assists and 6 for 7 from three-point range playing only 20 and 23 minutes. From a guy who hadn’t played since March of 2012. Huge addition. Jay needs to start getting him more minutes.
19. Vinny Curry is clearly one of the Eagles’ best pass rushers but only until the last few weeks has he gotten much playing time. Why the increase in reps? Because he’s worked hard on his run defense and without being stout against the run, the coaches couldn’t risk playing him unless it was a clear passing down. Curry was inactive the first two games of the year, then averaged 17 snaps in the next six games. The last three, he’s averaged 31 snaps per game and you finally even see him out there on 1st and 10. Great kid, and instead of complaining about his lack of playing time, he’s worked his way into the rotation.
20. I can’t wait till they play “Let’s Get It Started” when the Eagles’ defense runs out onto the field Sunday at the Linc because nothing intimidates an NFL offense like the Black Eyed Peas!!!
21. Considering how well the Eagles’ defensive line has played and how much pressure they’ve gotten on opposing quarterbacks, it’s surprising the Eagles are only tied for 26th in the NFL with 24 sacks. Just 15 in the last eight games. Against the Cards, they probably need to finish more of those pressures and slam Palmer into that frozen turf a few times.
22. A Trust-us-we’re-really-not-trying-to-jinx-Nick-Foles random note: Foles has thrown 199 consecutive passes without an interception, the second-longest streak in Eagles history behind Michael Vick’s 224-pass streak to open the 2010 season. He’s thrown just two interceptions in his last 349 attempts going back to last year. In his career, he’s thrown five interceptions in 427 attempts, or one every 85 attempts. That is by far the lowest interception rate in NFL history. Oh, and the Cards are third in the NFL with 16 interceptions, and six guys on their defense have at least two. If Foles can get through Sunday without throwing an interception, he may never throw one.
23. If you didn’t have a chance to read my Thanksgiving Day story on Eagles cornerback Roc Carmichael and his commitment to community service and charity work, please do (see story). We hear so much about pro athletes getting into trouble. Here’s a story about one who just wants to help people. His story is inspiring and heartwarming.
24. LeSean McCoy has 34 catches, which is about three per game. I’d like to see that number go up to about five or six. He’s too much of a weapon in the passing game to only get three passes a game, and against a team like the Cards, that’s very tough to run on, the yards might be easier to pick up in the short passing game. McCoy’s 11.7 average is best among all NFL running backs, just ahead of his former teammate, Joique Bell of the Lions, who’s at 11.1. Since McCoy came into the NFL in 2009, only Darren Sproles (313), Ray Rice (321) and Matt Forte (260) have more catches than McCoy’s 254, and only Sproles has more TD catches. McCoy has 20 career catches of 20 yards or more, third-most in the NFL since 2009 among running backs (Sproles 29, Forte 23). Few tailbacks can turn a short pass into a big play like Shady.
25. You guys pick up the new Yoko album?