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.

  • Scott J

    Barkley should give Mariota a call.

    • mrparabolic

      “Buy insurance.” *click*

    • BlindChow

      BTW, love your Ernie Sims avatar.

  • cliff henny

    not a good way to start a Weds…agreeing with Les Bowen

    • nicksaenz1

      Thought the same thing. Such a rarity.

    • DirtyWaters

      Try starting your Monday agreeing with Ashley Fox. My therapist had no idea what I was talking about when I called for an emergency session.

      • G_WallyHunter

        How could she not know what you’re talking about, I thought agreeing-with-Ashley-Fox crises were a regular occurence.

        • DirtyWaters

          I pretty sure I’ll be in some journal with this rare case. I’m not sure there are many of us out there that have ever agreed with her.

          • G_WallyHunter

            What I thought after I posted that, maybe not such a regular occurrence. I haven’t agreed with her yet this year, her and her Pulitzer-Prize-winning columns

      • cliff henny

        that might have been her worst article to date, and that’s saying something. maybe i’m on minority side, but had no issue with call, outcome, sure. if that is a play you want to run(and it was, team practiced it, they knew it was coming), was perfect scenario. 1st at the 6. out of all the outcomes, only fumbling snap or during run would put foles in more difficult than 2nd and 6. the down and distance was perfect for that play, which generally picks up at least 1 or 2. first blame is to kelce, needs to make better snap, hit smith in knees. foles might have fumbled it just the same. it’s not like vick didnt run that play 50 times, the offense knows it, wasnt triple reverse halfback pass. also, smith was correct choice, vick is backup, he doesnt need to take any hits. smith is pretty great athlete himself.

        • DirtyWaters

          I just think it was being clever for clever’s sake. I don’t agree that that was the correct down and distance. I think in that situation you go for a high percentage play. But who cares what I think.

          Look, I love what Chip is doing. I don’t ever like to second guess decisions. I make plenty that don’t work out. That one just reminded me of AR and the smartest guy in the room syndrome. Chip is clearly a much better football mind than any of us and any journalist, but even if the play got us a TD, I wouldn’t have agreed with it.

          I’m sick to my stomach that we are even discussing one play in a win! Let’s drop it. Got any good Eagle bars in Myrtle?

          • cliff henny

            never even looked, but doubt it. outside of golf, beach and watching old angry people grow older and angrier, not much to do here. Kelly andEagles have me seriously thinking about moving back

          • DirtyWaters

            If you ever want to come down to Charleston, we have a great philly bar. You can watch girls get hotter and hotter.

          • nicksaenz1

            Duly noted.

          • borntosuffer

            “I’m sick to my stomach that we are even discussing one play in a win!” – I like your attitude. For what it’s worth, this is why I am fine with it. Chip is simple. He is always looking for an edge. I am sure when he self-scouted he decided that this particular play would take advantage of what teams would do when the Eagles are inside the 10 and worked well with the capabilities of his personnel. At 7-5 with this team, he gets lots of slack to be creative from me.

        • EaglePete

          snap was fine, they showed a slo mo of his face. Ball is hitting his hands but he takes his eyes off the ball and starts looking forward before he catches it. That was all on Smith. But ya, really a non issue.

      • theycallmerob

        I’m surprised, I’d imagine half of his/her clients come in with homicidal tendencies towards that hack. Any therapist worth a dime should have heard of Fox by now

  • evanphilly

    Not surprised about Mariota. Another year will serve him better. With Mettenberger tearing his ACL, the 2014 draft class doesn’t look that enticing anymore

    • BlindChow

      Can you imagine how awful we’d feel if we were stinking up the field, and only the thought of taking a great rookie QB in the draft was keeping us going?

      • evanphilly

        haha, they will reach on JFootball.

  • mrparabolic

    Great quote from Les. I think the competition committee should spend some time trying to consolidate and simplify the rulebook rather than just adding new rules/nuances every year. Generally, the refs do a pretty good job considering how many things they are supposed to be looking for amongst 22 players running full speed without the benefit of slow motion replay. Trying to sneak one past the refs is always going to be part of the game. And blatantly bad calls are pretty rare. Everyone needs to take some advice from Cary and stop being crybabies.

    • anon

      worse than the tax code.

    • Mr. Magee

      Les is right on this one – the whole rule book has gotten way too complicated, and defies common sense in some cases. The rule on what defines a “catch” is exhibit A: having to make “a football move,” whatever that is, is preposterous. Trying to define a catch so precisely is too clever by half; reminds me if the tuck rule, LOL. The measure on all these rules should be this: does it pass the common sense test? If not, it has to go.

      And replay in general needs to be fixed. It was offensive in its initial form – going to multiple commercials while zebras run off the field to stick their heads under a hood – and it hasn’t gotten any better. 95% of the time the TV audience knows the outcome before the commercials even start… The refs are the last to know! If it weren’t for the DVR and and the hurry-up offense, the NFL wouldn’t even be watchable.

  • Adam

    So…. does anybody still think Chip isn’t an NFL coach?

    • G_WallyHunter

      He’s just way too smart for anyone to even come close to figuring him out, how sweet is that?
      I guess time will tell for sure, but I think he’s just way ahead. It was evident of that half way through the season.

      • anon

        We’ll see way ahead. I think he’s got a system that he knows very well — i tihnk he understands football strategy and team building very well for someone that is so young. I think the mark of a good coach is how they adjust year to year. Belly’s system seems to change based on personnel, where the league is going, etc. and that’s part of what makes him a great coach. We’ll see if Chip is as good. But at this point i couldn’t be happier with our rookie coach.

        • G_WallyHunter

          Couldn’t agree more, like I said time will tell for sure, but it’s DAMN ENCOURAGING right now, his system, his coaching, his vision, his organization-wide message, his strategy and scheme, his attitude (especially towards media), very encouraging

        • theycallmerob

          preach, good brother. things are looking up for the boys in green.
          now, if only we could switch back to the kelly green….

          • nicksaenz1

            I want the Kelly green to come back so much. Didn’t Lurie’s wife have something to do with midnight green? If so, he divorced her, and it’s time to get her fingerprints off the team.

      • cliff henny

        figure he doing it less than desirable pieces. even if this is maxed out offense(which, we all know it isnt), Foles will get better, so will o-line, plus very easy upgrades at 3 or 4 positions.

        • theycallmerob

          on an unrelated note….guess this settles the “best FA pickup” debate. howie love!

          http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/red_zone/Donnie-Jones-More-like-Donnie-Jowns.html

          • cliff henny

            do like Kempski’s humor, too bad it’s wasted over there…

            Donnie Jones wears shorts in December. Why? Because Donnie Jones is a badass.
            .
            is Donnie Jones the Eagles Bill Brasky?! He’s a ten-foot tall beast man, who showers in vodka, and feeds his baby shrimp scampi.

          • theycallmerob

            bet Donnie Jones could knock Clint Eastwood out with a single roundhouse kick. because you don’t f*ck with Donnie Football.

          • cliff henny

            Donnie Jones once jumped off the Empire state building, he only sprained his ankle

          • Wilbert31

            “Donnie Football” – that’s gonna stick!

          • Chris

            I heard he once punted a ball clear across the grand canyon

          • docboy75

            Isn’t he on a one year contract? I hope they go ahead and give him a huge extension..good punters are hard to find….

          • BlindChow

            He won NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for the second week in a row!

      • Adam

        I think it’s a more common sense approach then it is him being too smart. He’s dealing with a bunch of dumb jocks so he can’t really turn into rocket science. Everything he does makes perfect sense, but whether or not it’s other coaches refusing to simplify their approach, or pigeonholing themselves to get the ball to certain star players, other coaches just don’t see to want to take on the game in this way.

        As Chip says he’s an equal opportunity scorer. Spread them out, and take the match-ups they give you. So far it’s working pretty damn well, and I think it’s going to get better as our team gets more of Chip’s guys.

        • G_WallyHunter

          Couldn’t have said it better there, agreed, it’s logic that us as Eagles fans (as well as the rest of the league) have never seen, and very simple. WHY WHY WHY

    • theycallmerob

      considering the league still has enough numbnuts for Barnwell to write a weekly “Thank You For Not Coaching” article, I’m glad we’ve got a smartie-pants.

      • Adam

        At this point you have to start considering him a Coach of the Year candidate.

        • anon

          If Andy keeps losing i think it’ll make a better case.

        • theycallmerob

          playoffs (especially that #3 seed)!! should clinch it, especially for a rookie coach. his rookie peers aren’t exactly setting the world on fire, and the usual candidates (belly, payton, carroll) are just doing their typical thing. KC had 6 pro bowlers for a 2 win team last year; we’re doing more with less, IMO.

          man, can you imagine COTY and MVP??? I’d love to see what Fox writes about that

          • borntosuffer

            She’d report that the way Chip Kelly walked up to the podium for the news conference after getting the award, skipping a step instead of taking one at a time, was unwise, will catch up with him and proves that he thinks he’s smarter than every other coach.

        • G_WallyHunter

          If he wins division and Foles goes (let’s say) 24 TDs no Picks leading Eags to playoffs, I think they both get considered as a MVP/COTY duo

          Imagine that

          • BQNinja

            If he went the whole season without throwing a pick, I’d devote myself to building Foles shrines for the rest of my life.

    • Loke1988

      I think he’s an NFL coach but as usual the homers that frequent this blog are giving hime more credit than he is due. You have too remember this is the same Kelly that chose Vick over Foles in the first place which was a stupid decision like I said from day one (just with a different screen name.) Also how many times did he continue to run the read option without ever letting the QB carry the ball? He’s innovative and adaptive but I’ve seen a lot better/quicker. Maybe with experience he can get to the elite level like some of the coaches of today and years past but he’s not there yet. Foles is making Kelly look very good, that’s for sure.

      That said now that Foles is firmly intrenched and Vick is all but gone since there is NO WAY he will except less money next year than what Foles will be making I can finally pull for my team again. Flame away homers/Vick lovers.

      • Adam

        hahahaha

      • Adam

        You make no sense for the follow reasons. I don’t have much time but I’ll try and break this down as fast as possible.

        - He picked Vick over Foles because Vick played better in the audition that was given to them. Chip would have lost the locker room if he didn’t let the results speak for themselves.

        - Oh you did, did you? I also picked the winning lottery numbers last night but I lost the ticket. Funny how that works.

        - With Vick’s age and history of injury, it would make much more sense to limit the QB’s carries.

        - You’ve seen a lot more innovative? Since when? And what does that have to do with Chip being an NFL coach?

        - Who is talking elite level? Taking a 4-12 team and turning it into a 7-5 team is pretty big accomplishment. He may not be elite but turning a team around this fast clearly makes him an NFL caliber coach.

        - Foles is making Kelly look good? Really? There’s no chance Kelly’s system is putting Foles in a better place to succeed? Did Foles look like a 19 TD – 0 INT last year in Andy’s system?

  • BlindChow

    Obviously Mariota didn’t want to be a Texan, Jaguar, Jet, Raider, Brown or Viking…

    • nicksaenz1

      Knew Chip couldn’t get him, went back. Unlikely, yes; impossible, no.

  • southy

    “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 quarterback and not really miss a beat,” said Paolantonio.

    Isn’t this the same Sal Pal who was criticizing Chip for being irresponsible with his quarterback competition in the preseason? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

  • Max Lightfoot

    Have to agree with Sal – you need a consistent starter. But it’s also a question of who has the best backup QB. And we did. Like with Green Bay – Seneca Wallace? My first thought was not “Is he still in the league” but “Is that cat even still alive?” I mean, Seneca Wallace was the backup for Aaron Rodgers. Stupefyingly unbelievable, really.