Foles discusses his trust in all of the Eagles' receivers
From left to right: Claude Giroux, Nick Foles and Evan Turner. (AP)
Evan Turner can’t miss! The Flyers erupted for four goals! Nick Foles is setting NFL records! Riley Cooper is one of the NFL’s hottest receivers! Welcome to Backwards Month in Philly!
And in honor of Backwards Month, this week we’ll count down our 25 random points … backwards!
25. A lot of the talk this week has been on the search for consistency from Foles. Once we see him play consistently at a high level instead of up and down, the thinking goes, we’ll know he’s got a good chance to be the guy moving forward. But Jason Kelce makes a good point when he says that Foles has really only had two bad games in his career -- his first NFL start, when he threw two interceptions against the Redskins, and two Sundays ago against the Cowboys. In the rest of his career, he has 19 touchdowns and two interceptions and has completed 66 percent of his passes. The game has changed, but consider this: Ron Jaworski played 137 games in an Eagles uniform and had five games in which he completed 70 percent of his passes. Foles has played in 13 games and has had three games completing 70 percent of his passes. He’s accurate, he’s productive, he’s tough ... character guy. If he can play well at Lambeau Sunday and then back it up with a good performance against the Redskins going into the bye, it’s going to be really, really difficult to not make the case for Nick Foles, Quarterback of the Future.
24. The irony is that the more games Foles wins, the more he positions the Eagles away from Teddy Bridgewater, Tajh Boyd, Marcus Mariota and the rest of the hotshot college quarterbacks. The better Foles plays, the tougher he makes it for the Eagles to draft his replacement, even if they want to. You’re not getting any of the top guys anywhere near the middle of the first round.
23. It's really a shame the Oilers didn't activate Ilya Bryzgalov and let him play Saturday. One day after Andrew Bynum graced the same floor? Are you kidding me? What an historic opportunity it would have been! We could have honored Jeff Ruland, Danny Tartabull, Stacy Andrews, Chris Gratton, Andy Ashby and Nnamdi Asomugha between periods!
22. Loved Darrun Hilliard’s game for Villanova in the opener vs. Lafayette (see story). Thirteen points, seven assists, five rebounds, three steals. He’s shown some flashes in the past, but if the Wildcats can get that kind of floor game from Hilliard on a regular basis, it will be huge.
21. What are the Eagles facing at Lambeau Sunday? Granted it’s Seneca Wallace and not Aaron Rodgers, and that makes a big difference. But the Packers are 31-5 at Lambeau since the start of 2009. If they lose Sunday, it will mark the Packers’ first consecutive home losses since the Cowboys and Falcons beat them in 2008.
20. Foles’ career passer rating of 94.0 is higher than 28 of 29 quarterbacks in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, his career completion percentage of 61.4 percent is higher than 26 of 29 HOF quarterbacks, and his interception ratio (one INT every 77 passes) is better than all 29 Hall of Fame QBs. I know, I know. Not a very big body of work. But you’d be hard-pressed to find a quarterback with better numbers through his first nine NFL starts.
19. Here’s your weekly Sean McDermott update: The Panthers now rank second in the NFL in points allowed (13.3), third in yards allowed (299.9), second in rush defense (79 yards per game) and fourth in takeaways (19). They’ve allowed 70 points in their last seven games.
18. One more Foles thing to think about: Despite playing just 3½ games, he has more touchdown passes this year than Jay Cutler, RG3, Ryan Tannehill, Joe Flacco, Carson Palmer, Eli Manning, Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick -- many others. Something to be said for touchdown passes.
17. The Las Vegas over-under for the 76ers was 16½. So if you took the over, you need them to go 13-63 the rest of the year to pay that bet off. I kind of like your odds.
16. Michael Vick is 20-21 as a starting quarterback for the Eagles. The last Eagles QB to start 20 or more games and have a losing record was Roman Gabriel in the early 1970s. Gabriel was 12-25 late in his career during his four years with the Eagles
15. Top red-zone quarterbacks in 2013 based on passer rating: 1. Peyton Manning (128.0), 2. Foles (119.2), 3. Rodgers (113.8).
14. The improvement so far in Turner’s shot from last year to this year is astounding. Last year, Turner ranked 35th out of 40 players in the NBA who took at least 1,000 shots with a 42 percent shooting percentage (ahead of only Brandon Jennings, Rudy Gay and Monta Ellis). This year, he ranks fourth out of 47 players in the NBA who’ve taken at least 75 shots with a 55 percent shooting percentage (behind only Blake Griffin, LeBron James and former Sixer Nik Vucevic). Last year, Turner shot better than 50 percent five times in the 76ers’ first 22 games. This year, Turner has shot better than 50 percent five times in the first six games.
13. DeSean Jackson is on pace for 88 catches for 1,463 yards and 10 touchdowns. Pretty darn great. But get this ...
12. Cooper is on pace for 44 receptions for 805 yards and eight TDs. Cooper, left for dead with 8-for-83 five weeks into the season, has been tremendous the past month. Since Week 6, he’s fifth in the NFL with 360 receiving yards and tied for first with four TDs. Among receivers with at least 20 catches, Cooper is second this year to Torrey Smith in the NFL with 18.1 yards per catch. Yes, Riley Cooper. If Vick was throwing to this Cooper on 1st-and-10 from the 27-yard-line with 44 seconds left in the 2010 playoff game with Tramon Williams in coverage, maybe the Eagles win that game.
11. Sign of an awesome concert: When you still have one of the songs coursing through your brain four days later. Old 97s at the TLA Tuesday, and I still can’t get Barrier Reef outta my head. Rhett Miller is the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll showman.
10. If the Eagles hold the Packers to 21 or fewer points, it will be the first time since 2004 –- nine years ago! –- that the Eagles will have held an opponent to 21 or fewer points six straight weeks.
9. We all think of T.O., Westbrook and Donovan when we think of that 2004 team, but the defense was tremendous during the Super Bowl season. The Eagles that year held 13 of 17 opponents in meaningful games to 17 or fewer points, and allowed just 48 points in three playoff games.
8. Whoa, Donovan McNabb rolled his eyes at Shawn Andrews (see story)? What’s this world coming to! Listening to Mike Missanelli’s interview with Shawn Friday you got the feeling there was more there. But if there was more there, Shawn should have revealed it. Otherwise, we just don’t have very much to go on.
7. Lost in the Foles hysteria Sunday is that the Eagles’ offensive line had its best game of the season against a decent Oakland front. Encouraging work, especially from Lane Johnson and Jason Peters, who had their best games of the year, and from Evan Mathis, who’s been consistently terrific this year.
6. Mathis will finally get to his first Pro Bowl this year. He deserved it in 2011, but older guys often don’t go until the second time they deserve it. Don’t be surprised if Mathis makes first-team all-pro, too. Every inside-football blog that examines these things snap-by-snap has Mathis ranked as the top guard in the league. He deserves it.
5. Here’s a stat that means very little but is still fascinating: The 560 yards the Eagles allowed Sunday are the most they’ve ever allowed in a win. Also the fifth-most they’ve allowed in franchise history and the second-most since 1967. It also marked only the third time in NFL history a team has allowed 560 or more yards but 20 or fewer points. The Bengals beat the Saints 31-16 in 2006 allowing 595 yards, and the Buccaneers tied the Packers 14-14 in 1980 allowing 569 yards. I don’t care what the numbers said, the defense played well Sunday and has been consistently above average since the Denver game. Most of Oakland’s yards came in garbage time.
4. One of the biggest things the Eagles’ defense is doing this year is keeping plays in front of them. They haven’t allowed a passing touchdown longer than 26 yards (Eli Manning to Rueben Randle), and they haven’t allowed a rushing TD longer than eight yards (Rashad Jennings of the Raiders had an eight-yarder Sunday). The only other teams that haven’t allowed any offensive TDs longer than 26 yards? The Packers and Saints.
3. In Wallace’s 21 career starts, his teams have averaged 16.1 points of offense. His last nine starts going back to 2008 have produced, on offense: 19, 17, 14, 17, 16, 10, 17, 7 and 9 points. He does own the third-longest TD pass ever against the Eagles –- a 90-yarder to Koren Robinson for the Seahawks’ only points in a 26-7 loss in 2008.
2. Strangest place you’ve ever seen a concert? Thursday night I saw the brilliant singer-songwriter Will Johnson of Centro-Matic play a house concert for about 25 people in a tiny third-floor walk-up apartment near the corner of 13th and Passyunk. What an amazing way to see music.
1. One of the ridiculous byproducts of the I-95 construction is increased backups on ... 76 East. How could what’s happening a few miles north of downtown on I-95 affect the Schuylkill a few miles west of downtown? Because during rush hour, 95 north is so backed up because of the construction zone it totally clogs up the ramp from the Vine Street Expressway east-bound to 95 North. And Vine Street backs up so far it jams up the ramp from 76 east to Vine Street. So since nobody wants to sit in the idle left-hand lanes on the Schuylkill waiting to jump on Vine Street, everybody stays to the right the couple miles before the split near 30th Street Station. Then they try to merge at the last minute to the Vine Street ramp on the left. So even if you’re continuing east on 76 toward the Walt Whitman Bridge and the stadium complex, you’re still going to get caught. The solution? Simple! Shut down Vine Street Expressway!