Sunday Was Huge Test for Eagles

Photo | John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

Photo | John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

It’s tempting to look at the various missteps taken by the Eagles in Sunday’s highly imperfect win over Arizona and worry that their recent prosperity could be in jeopardy. Doing that would be a mistake. It’s true that almost giving away a 24-7 lead and needing a couple generous calls by the officials to maintain order are not the best ways to continue an assault on the post-season. But the end result, a three-point victory that maintained a tie with Dallas atop the NFC Island of Misfit Toys Division, is all that matters.

At this time of year, there is no need to earn style points. It’s about winning. Just ask Chicago, which dropped an overtime decision to Minnesota and hurt its NFC North title chances, about that. Or New England, which won’t care one bit that it snuck past lowly Houston to maintain a grip on the second AFC playoff seed. After Sunday’s triumph over Arizona, the Eagles are now 7-5, and that’s what counts.

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Hey Ruben Amaro: It’s Called a Plan. Look Into One.

Ruben Amaro

That was quite a smile Carlos Ruiz was sporting during the celebratory press conference that announced his re-signing with the Phillies. He should have been grinning. Any time a soon-to-be 35-year-old catcher can get $26 million for three years, especially after sporting a pedestrian .268 average, a mediocre .320 on base percentage and an uninspiring .688 OPS, it’s reason for big happiness.

Phillies fans, at least those who pay attention to performance over sentiment, were not lapping up the bubbly. Committing to Chooch for three more years, particularly at his advanced age, is hardly good news for supporters of a team that seems to think 35 is the new 25.

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The Education of Chip Kelly

Photo | Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Photo | Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday was a good day for the only two purely college-to-pro coaches in the NFL. Both Tampa Bay’s Greg Schiano and the Eagles’ Chip Kelly notched wins, and though it remains unlikely the Bucs’ boss will survive the season, Kelly continues to grow in his role with the Home Team. No one can predict whether he will ever win a Super Bowl, but Kelly has shown the ability to grow into the job and has the Birds in a great position, even if that spot is first place in the NFC Island of Misfit Toys Division.

It’s impossible to give Kelly all A’s on his report card, since his decision Sunday to go into the four corners early in the final quarter allowed Washington to sneak back into the game. He has yet to grasp the nuances of clock management, something that was never much of a concern while he was at Oregon and blowing out most opponents.

One would imagine Kelly will develop a better touch in that regard as he spends more time in the NFL and has to protect leads in close games. When it comes to the more important stuff, however, he has improved considerably since the beginning of the season.

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End the Michael Vick Era. It’s Time to Build Around Nick Foles.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (9) spikes the football after scoring on a four-yard touchdown run during the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Even if Michael Vick has a bionic hamstring transplanted into his cranky leg before next weekend, it’s time for Chip Kelly to stop equivocating and name Nick Foles the team’s starting quarterback.

Further, even though the second-year passer isn’t perfect for the coach’s scheme, Kelly should give serious thought to making Foles the man heading into 2014, the better to use the draft to address other issues on the team. Foles has proven capable of running an NFL offense during his season and a half in the league, and just because he looks like a giraffe on ice skates when he takes off from the pocket doesn’t mean the Eagles should jettison someone who has thrown 16 touchdown passes and no interceptions this season.

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Can Nick Foles Play Even Better Next Week?

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Throughout his largely forgettable seven-year career with Baltimore and the Eagles, Adrian Burk threw 28 more interceptions than TD passes. In 1951, his first year with the Birds, the Mexia, Texas (hometown of former Philadelphia head coach Ray Rhodes), product led the league with 23 picks, in just 12 games.

But on Oct. 17, 1954, Burk had it all cooking. He blasted Washington for seven TD passes in a 49-21 victory, the signature moment of a Pro Bowl season in which he tossed an NFL-leading 23 scoring strikes. His lucky seven tied the league mark that had been set 11 years earlier by Bears legend Sid Luckman.

Fifty-nine years later, Nick Foles joined Burk atop the NFL single-game list with seven TD throws against the Raiders.

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Penn State Did the Right Thing. Now It Must Keep Doing It.

Penn State's Beaver Stadium

The news that Penn State has reached a financial settlement with 26 victims of monstrous abuse by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky will come as closure to some. That’s a natural reaction.

But Marci Hamilton wants more. An attorney for two men waiting to finalize their deals believes that the money, while appreciated, isn’t the most important part of the school’s responsibility. She’s right.

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For This Year’s Sixers, How Bad Will Be Bad Enough?

Philadelphia 76ers center Nerlens Noel (4), small forward Evan Turner (12) and point guard Michael Carter-Williams (1) during a media day photo shoot at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

There may be a tougher job in Philadelphia than selling Sixers tickets, but it would be awfully hard to find. I suppose the guy who has to clean the mess off the top of William Penn’s hat isn’t too happy. Or the person who has to clean up after City Council, for that matter.

The Sixers have had some bad seasons before, with the historic 1972-73 debacle atop the list, but there has never been a year in which it was trying to be so obviously rotten. We are at a point in the franchise’s history where fans may actually boo the team’s successes, however few they may be.

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Playoffs Still a Possibility for Eagles… With Michael Vick Under Center

Michael Vick and Nick Foles

When Nick Foles was led off the Lincoln Financial Field to have his head injury examined, it would have been perfect if Michael Vick had risen from the bench and begun running sprints, just to show everybody that he will be ready for action next Sunday against the Giants.

Perhaps he was doing that in his mind. It was hard to tell, because he maintained a bored expression throughout most of the game. While his knucklehead brother tweeted profanities and other typically immature missives, Vick appeared nonplussed by Sunday’s disappointing proceedings.

After the game, coach Chip Kelly refused to anoint either Vick or Foles as his starting quarterback, since each is dealing with an injury. The only certain thing is that if Matt Barkley is the first-stringer, the New York secondary could have more catches than the team’s wideouts.

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Penn State Should Pay Bill O’Brien Before Somebody Else Does

Penn State's Beaver Stadium

(FULL DISCLOSURE: The author is a proud graduate of the University of Michigan, and he wasn’t very happy Saturday night.)

Let’s face it; any time a team loses to Indiana by 20, it’s not a good thing. But a Vegas sharpie knew something in advance of Penn State’s remarkable, four-OT marathon victory over Michigan Saturday in Delirious Valley. The betting line opened at Michigan minus one, an extremely small number for an unbeaten team–albeit a squad that almost lost to Akron–against a rival that had dropped two of three, including the aforementioned double-sawbuck debacle against the Hoosiers.

But when the “White Out” had lifted, and the Wolverines’ kicker had stopped missing field goals, PSU had earned the kind of victory that can catapult a maturing program into the national discussion. Or, in Penn State’s case, into the national discussion again.

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Vick (Gulp) Remains the Obvious Choice at QB for Eagles


The Eagles’ rose into a tie for the top spot of the NFC’s Island of Misfit Toys Division with a win over the hapless Giants, established some life for the previously floundering team and started their stretch of five games against the league’s soft underbelly in fine fashion.

But their gift-wrapped win courtesy of Little Eli’s suddenly wayward right arm did not come without a price. Michael Vick’s hamstring injury may not be serious (an MRI will determine that Monday), but Nick Foles’ play in relief of the hobbled starter will no doubt increase the cries of his supporters, who will say his 16-of-25 passing and two touchdowns demonstrate his fitness for the position.

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