Eagles Wake-Up Call: Trying To Buck QB Trend

Photo | Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Photo | Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

To put the Eagles’ accomplishments through 12 games in perspective, Sal Paolantonio rolled out this fact during his weekly appearance on the Mike Missanelli show.

If the season ended today, the playoff teams would be:

From the AFC: Denver, New England, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Indianapolis.

From the NFC: Seattle, New Orleans, San Francisco, Detroit, Dallas, Carolina.

What do they all have in common?

“One very important thing,” said Paolantonio. “All 12 have had one starting quarterback all season long. And the Philadelphia Eagles have survived and flourished despite instability at the quarterback position…When you have instability at the quarterback position, it’s very hard — almost impossible — t0 qualify for the playoff tournament.

“This team is not in the playoffs yet but they’re right knocking on heaven’s door here, and they have a shot to do what few teams do, which is to change quarterbacks mid-course and still make the playoffs.”

The Eagles have used all three of their quarterbacks at one point or another this year. Typically when that happens, you’re staring at a lost season. Yet this team enters Week 14 tied with the Cowboys atop the NFC East at 7-5 (Dallas currently owns the tiebreaker).

The defense has a lot to do with that. Billy Davis‘ unit has held the opponent to 21 points or less for eight consecutive weeks now. But the offense is working as well overall. The Eagles are:

— Third in total offense (403.6 per game)
— First in plays of 20+ yards (72)
— First in passing plays of 20+ yards (61)
— Second in rushing yards per game (146.8 per game)

LeSean McCoy (1,088 yards) and DeSean Jackson (1,021 yards) are both on pace for career years.

Nick Foles is also holding his own, as you may have heard. With 19 touchdowns and zero interceptions, he is one TD away from tying Peyton Manning for most touchdowns without an interception to start a season. His quarterback rating of 125.2 is the highest in the league (Manning is second at 115.3). His 9.14 yards per attempt is also tops in the NFL.

Much of the credit belongs to the player. Foles, with the one exception against Dallas, has stepped in and performed at a very high level. But Chip Kelly‘s scheme also deserves some attention. His offense has worked with both Michael Vick and Foles under center, even though they are two very different quarterbacks.

“I would say it’s pretty good organizational thinking on their part to have Foles ready on parallel tracks with Michael Vick, and to be able to jump the tracks and go from the running quarterback to the passing quaretrback and not really miss a beat,” said Paolantonio.

“I think what [Kelly] has done is pretty significant. Kelly, [Pat] Shurmur, [quarterbacks coach Bill] Lazor, special teams coach [Dave Fipp], [Billy] Davis, all of them have done a very good job of staying the course and making the players believe, giving them the confidence that this was going to work.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

A new wrinkle has been added to the zone read. Kapadia uses the All-22 to explain.

Cary Williams has a suggestion for Bruce Arians and the Cards: “Let’s not be crybabies.”

The Eagles’ offense hasn’t scored in the fourth quarter in five straight games. The coaches are trying to fix the problem.

Sheil provides us with the latest playoff scenarios for the Eagles.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Any thoughts of a Kelly-Marcus Mariota reunion will have to be put on hold for another year. The redshirt sophomore is returning to Oregon next season. From PFT.

“It is an honor to be a student at the University of Oregon and to have the opportunity to represent our institution on the football field alongside my teammates,” Mariota said, via the school. “I look forward to earning my degree next year and to the rest of my career at this great University.”

Mariota had been projected to be one of the first two or three quarterbacks off the board next year, which leaves teams to look elsewhere in the collegiate ranks. With the Texans, Jaguars, Jets, Raiders, Browns and Vikings all likely to be in the market for help at the position, you can be sure every nook and cranny will be checked.

Les Bowen says the issue isn’t the refs, it’s the system.

Maybe you (or Kenny or Moose or Bruce) still disagree with how I see it, but here’s something I think we can agree on: The real problem here isn’t with Tony Corrente or any other NFL zebra. The bigger problem is, either out of concern over concussions, or just wanting to codify every little nuance of the sport, the NFL has passed so many rules, the game has become impossible to officiate consistently…

I think the officials are overwhelmed, with new, ever more difficult “emphases” every year. I also think replay is being stretched beyond what was originally intended, into “CSI: NFL”-level esoterica. The result is, nobody’s happy, and everybody leaves thinking they were wronged, one way or another.

COMING UP

We’ll speak to Kelly this morning before practice.

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