What They’re Saying About the Eagles

Photo Credit: Andrew Mills - NJ Advance Media for NJ.com via USA Today

Photo Credit: Andrew Mills – NJ Advance Media for NJ.com via USA Today

Here’s a roundup of what the national media are saying about the Eagles this week.

Chris Wesseling of NFL.com writes about the Eagles’ winning formula:

At 7-2 and atop the NFC East, the Eagles are off to their best start in a decade via the league’s best special teams unit, a steadily improving defense and mediocre quarterback play.

The two return touchdowns by Philadelphia’s defense and special teams gave them nine for the season — more than double every other team in the league. Led by Connor Barwin’s 10.5 sacks in the last six games, the pass rush has been swarming for the better part of the past month.

The defense generated five turnovers, nine sacks and nine pass deflections on Monday, battering Cam Newton to the point that Football Twitter began begging coach Ron Rivera to stop the fight.

With no dominant superpower looming as a final NFC boss, this team can go as far as their quarterbacks take them.

Gregg Easterbrook of ESPN.com puts together his “Authentic Games Standings” which values high-quality opponents:

In the second quarter on “Monday Night Football,” on an Eagles play to the Carolina 13, the runner was down at 11:53. Philadelphia snapped at 11:37. The play was a nicely thrown touchdown pass to rookie Jordan Matthews, but the impressive part was: 16 seconds. That was not the amount of time between when officials spotted the ball ready to play and the next snap; that was the span between the moment the runner was down and the next snap. Many people — your columnist, NFL officials — thought Chip Kelly couldn’t achieve a Blur Offense pace in the NFL. Apparently it can be done.

The Eagles are 17-9, including the postseason, under Kelly, impressive considering football-factory coaches often don’t transition well into the NFL (Steve Spurrier, Butch Davis). The Nesharim’s nine touchdowns on kick and turnover returns are also impressive. But the Eagles have been beating up on the second echelon, only 1-2 in the Authentic Games Index. Monday night, Philadelphia blitzed often versus the troubled Cats. Philadelphia’s next opponent is Green Bay — and there’s nothing Aaron Rodgers likes more than constant blitzing.

Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com talks about Mark Sanchez‘s painful performance in the eyes of Jets fans:

Released last March by the Jets, Sanchez left New York with physical and mental scars but has re-invented himself under Chip Kelly, the quarterback whisperer. There’s no telling how this will play out over the remainder of the season, but for one shining night on the big stage, Sanchez reminded everyone he used to have a bright future before he gained a dark past. He was everything he was on his way to becoming with the Jets — that is, before the interceptions and distractions (Tim Tebow) and criticism broke him. He needed to get away, and he landed in the ideal place.

“This is like Escape From New York,” ESPN analyst Jon Gruden said during the telecast, alluding to the old Kurt Russell movie from 1981.

Starting for the injured Nick Foles, Sanchez passed for two touchdowns and 332 yards, the fourth-highest total of his career. He finished with a 102.5 passer rating and led the first-place Eagles on five touchdown drives. There were no Butt Fumbles, no turnover of any kind. He had a couple of near-interceptions, but let’s not get picky. All things considered, he was terrific.

ESPN Insider Mike Sando talks about the possibility that the Eagles pursue Marcus Mariota in the 2015 NFL Draft:

The Eagles could be picking in the middle 20s or later, and Mariota is in the conversation as the No. 1 overall pick if he comes out. Bridging such a wide gap would come at a steep price.

But if Oakland or Jacksonville finishes at the top of the draft order, the first pick could be available because both teams used early 2014 choices on potential franchise quarterbacks (Derek Carr and Blake Bortles, respectively). The Eagles have gotten good production from Foles, but he has a broken collarbone and hasn’t done enough to clearly identify himself as the Eagles’ future at the position. Mark Sanchez has a shot at reviving his career in Philly and lit up the Panthers in the Eagles’ big “Monday Night Football” win, but is he the long-term answer?

“I’m going to say [trading up for Mariota] would never happen because their problems this season came from their offensive line getting blown up,” an offensive assistant coach said. “It was not because the QB stunk. Foles’ numbers were not as good, but that was just him coming back to earth and the problems they had in the running game. Put the run game back where it was and the QB’s numbers go back to where they were.”

ESPN Stats & Information reports on what may have been Sanchez’s “best game of his career”:

Mark Sanchez had arguably the best game of his career from a statistical standpoint.

It’s the first time that he has thrown for at least 300 yards, had multiple touchdown passes and had no turnovers in the same game.

This was the ninth time that Sanchez threw for at least 300 yards in a game, the first since doing so in a game against the New England Patriots in 2012.

Sanchez specialized in downfield passing. The former New York Jet had a better completion percentage on throws of more than 10 yards downfield (64 percent) than he did on throws of 10 yards or fewer (48 percent) in this game.

Don Banks of SI.com believes that Philadelphia fans can exhale and relax following Sanchez’s strong showing:

If the question of how Mark Sanchez would fare as the Eagles’ new starting quarterback was the great unknown entering this week’s Monday Night Football matchup against the Panthers at Lincoln Financial Field, consider the mystery solved early on, and without a hint of real suspense at that.

You can exhale now, Philly fans. It’s going to be okay. Sanchez produced nary a butt fumble in his home-field regular-season debut at The Linc, a 45-21 demolition of the pathetic Carolina Panthers, and as it turns out, he can still play a pretty snazzy game of football when he’s not wearing Jets’ green and white. Eagles’ green and white suits him just fine. As does Chip Kelly’s quarterback-friendly offense. Big surprise there.

In the NFL.com power rankings, the Birds stand pat in the fourth position:

As sportswriters, we are not supposed to root for these kinds of things … but everyone I spoke with at the NFL offices in L.A. was happy for Mark Sanchez on Monday night. Let’s just say that 20 of 37 for 332 yards and two touchdowns was better than anyone would have expected out of him at this time last year, the year before or the year before that.

ESPN.com power rankings keeps the Eagles in the fourth spot as well with an identical top four:

Mark Sanchez threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns with no turnovers Monday, keying the Eagles’ rout of the Panthers. That’s a real sentence about something that really happened.

Pat Kirwan of CBSSports.com moves the Eagles up from eighth to sixth in his power rankings:

Eagles (8): The Eagles will not miss a beat with Mark Sanchez at QB. In fact his mobility adds a dimension to the Philadelphia offense. The dominating win over the Panthers reaffirms they are the best team in the NFC East.

If the season ended today, the Eagles would hold the third seed in the NFC and would host the Seattle Seahawks in the wildcard round.

Matt Cassidy is a journalism student at Temple and an intern at Birds 24/7.