What They’re Saying About the Eagles
Here’s a roundup of what the national media are saying about the Eagles this week.
Bill Barnwell of Grantland put out a list of 10 possible future destinations for Robert Griffin III. He has the Eagles at No. 3:
Oh boy. This is the nuclear option for everyone involved, and yet for everybody involved, it makes a lot of sense. Chip Kelly hasn’t had a mobile quarterback capable of scaring opposing teams with the zone-read since Michael Vick hit the bench last season, and even with his limitations after knee surgery, Griffin would qualify. The offense that Kelly runs in Philadelphia shares some similarities to what Griffin ran in college, given their shared usage of the read-option and emphasis on both spreading the field and using tempo as an offensive asset. And Kelly, who recruited Griffin out of high school, has no qualms about acquiring a damaged quarterback if he thinks he can mold him into a worthwhile starter. Is Griffin really a worse case than Mark Sanchez?
The Birds move up one spot to sixth in the NFL.com power rankings:
5. Cowboys – Didn’t you get the feeling that if Tony Romo didn’t deliver, a bunch of “Tony Chokemo” tweets would come to pass, but if he did, the offensive line would get all the credit? Of course, the Dallas quarterback did receive enough time to scan the field, decide between Ginger and Mary Ann and learn how to say “single-high safety” in Spanish thanks to Rosetta Stone … but still. Romo made pinpoint throws and avoided the happy feet that often come when a quarterback sits in the pocket for extended periods of time.
6. Eagles – Well, those who’ve said Mark Sanchez will give you an interception for every touchdown pass he throws are looking prescient now. (Two more picks for the Sanchize on Sunday.) But as long as the defense and special teams keep scoring — and LeSean McCoy runs north-south — well …
Josh Huff’s return was number four on NFL.com’s Performance Moments of the Week.
Michael Fabiano of NFL.com gives his fantasy football list of who to start and who to sit for Week 13:
Start ‘Em (Start of the Week): QB Tony Romo vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Romo, who was a start ’em last week, has scored 20-plus fantasy points in three of his last four games. I think he’ll continue his hot streak against the Eagles in what is a pivotal NFC East battle. In their five games this year, Philadelphia has really struggled to stop quarterbacks on the road (21.83 fantasy PPG allowed).
Start ‘Em: QB Mark Sanchez vs. Dallas Cowboys
I am not a huge fan of Sanchez from a fantasy perspective, but I will tell you this … his matchup against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day makes him a viable option if you need a quarterback. In their last three contests at home, Dallas has surrendered an average of over 20 fantasy points per game to opposing signal-callers.
Brian Billick of NFL.com ranks the top 10 of a talented rookie receiving class:
8) Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles
Draft position: Round 2, No. 42
Matthews was one of two receivers drafted by the Eagles in the first three rounds (Josh Huff is the other), and he surely hasn’t disappointed. Matthews reminds me of a faster and more dynamic Marques Colston, though he’s not quite as consistent at hauling in contested passes. Coach Chip Kelly’s system inflates Matthews’ statistical value to a certain degree, but his skill set is what landed him on this list.
The Birds got bumped up two spots to sixth in the ESPN.com power rankings:
5. Cowboys – Dez Bryant caught his 49th and 50th career touchdowns Sunday night. According to Elias, only six players needed fewer games to reach 50 career receiving touchdowns than Bryant (70).
6. Eagles – The Eagles have won 10 straight games in Philadelphia, their longest home winning streak since 1991-93 (11 games). Philly finished undefeated against the AFC South this season.
Peter King of the MMQB ranks the Eagles ahead of the Cowboys in The Fine Fifteen:
5. Philadelphia (8-3). Three games that will try green men’s souls on the docket: at Dallas on a short Thanksgiving week, Seattle at home, Dallas at home.
6. Dallas (8-3). Survived The Odell Experience. Finished off the Giants for good. Now comes the harder part: Landing in Dallas at 4 a.m. Central Time today and prepping for two showdowns against the co-division leaders in the next three weeks.
Andy Benoit of the MMQB sets the table for the Thanksgiving Day games:
Eagles offense vs. Cowboys defense
The Eagles stretch you horizontally and stress your perimeter defenders, and then they attack you inside with route combinations that create spacious crossing or seam patterns, often against overwhelmed linebackers or safeties. Second-round rookie wideout Jordan Matthews has become a big part of the offense because of these concepts, catching 18 balls for 322 yards and three touchdowns since Mark Sanchez took over three weeks ago.
Whether the Cowboys can handle this depends on what coverage they play and what personnel package they use. Their best bet would be man-to-man out of nickel. That would allow top corner—and maybe top defender—Orlando Scandrick to guard the inside wide receivers out of the slot. Plus, going man-to-man is the preferred way for reacting to Philly’s torrid tempo.
The problem with nickel is that it can make Scandrick a force player against the run—something offensive coaches yearn for. The Eagles, who now have a healthy offensive line, run extremely well out of three-receiver sets (i.e. versus a nickel D) and have expanded their finesse running game to include more traditional power concepts.
The Birds jump up two spots to seventh in the FoxSports.com power rankings:
3. Cowboys – The Cowboys’ recipe for success has largely remained the same — dominate the line of scrimmage on offense while making timely defensive plays generated by the pass rush. This season, the Cowboys are leaving the close games with victories and not losses.
7. Eagles – The Eagles can only hope that LeSean McCoy builds on momentum from Week 12 because the offense needs to stay run-first with Mark Sanchez at the helm. Defensively, the secondary continues to struggle in limiting big passing plays on a weekly basis.
Matt Mosley of Fox Sports Southwest believes that Tony Romo and the Cowboys have the mental edge in this battle:
The Eagles are trying to keep pace with Mark Sanchez under center. History suggests this is a losing proposition, although Sanchez has experienced more playoff success than Romo. Sanchez is averaging nearly 300 yards passing per game, but he’s thrown six interceptions in limited duty. Romo has started 10 of 11 games and has only six interceptions to go along with 22 touchdown passes.
Some folks have touted Romo as an MVP candidate, but that’s a reach. Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady have put up bigger numbers. And for that matter, so has DeMarco Murray.
What Romo has over Sanchez is the mental edge. He’s used to these quick turnarounds at Thanksgiving. I would imagine he was studying the Eagles well before the Cowboys traveled to the Meadowlands.
“I mean the mental challenge is there, but I’ve played in enough Thanksgiving games to understand what is going to give you some advantages to the short week, to give you a leg up,” Romo told reporters Tuesday. “You’ve got to really grind it out. And you’ll be a little bit exhausted on the mental side of it, but that’s a good thing in this sort of week.”
The Birds stand pat in the sixth position in the CBSSports.com power rankings:
4. Cowboys – They face a huge challenge for the division lead this week with the Eagles. Tony Romo has been on fire since the back injury.
6. Eagles – They are scoring and they have a pass rush, which is a good combination. Can they take it on the road Thursday at Dallas?
Pat Kirwan of CBSSports.com bumps the Eagles up four spots to sixth in his power rankings:
5. Cowboys – The Cowboys started out slowly in New York but, when it counted, the offensive line shut down the pass rush and Tony Romo led his group down the field for the winning score. Now they have a Thanksgiving Day game vs. the Eagles with the division lead on the line.
6. Eagles – The Eagles have gone 3-1 with Mark Sanchez under center and he has thrown for over 1,100 yards in doing so. His six turnovers in the four games are the potential issue. The Cowboys in Dallas on a short week is next for a team that runs 50 no-huddle plays a game.
The Eagles move up the ladder from sixth to fifth in the SI.com power rankings:
5. Eagles – Mark Sanchez now has three starts under his belt, so we’re past the wait-and-see window in terms of how he will handle the job. The Eagles are going to have to live with his bouts of inconsistency, just as they did with Nick Foles for the first seven-plus games of 2014. But what happens if Sanchez faces the pressure of having to win his team a game?
6. Cowboys – The Cowboys’ Week 11 rally marked the 23rd career comeback win for Tony Romo — 17th most among NFL quarterbacks since 1960 and just one less than the likes of Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger and Hall of Famer Dan Fouts. Of course, there’s the Romo counter-point: Every quarterback above him on that list has more playoff wins than the one Romo owns.
Pro Football Talk keeps the Birds in the fifth spot of its power rankings:
4. Dallas Cowboys (No. 4; 8-3): If Jerry Jones gets the bigger piece of the wishbone, we know what he’ll be asking for.
5. Philadelphia Eagles (No. 5; 8-3): With Cowboys, Seahawks, Cowboys on the immediate horizon, we’ll know plenty about this team soon.
Yahoo Sports ranks the Eagles fifth on its list:
5. Philadelphia Eagles (8-3, LW: 5)
The Eagles are tremendous at destroying awful teams. One potential problem might be the lack of awful teams in the playoffs, outside of the NFC South champ.
7. Dallas Cowboys (8-3, LW: 8)
Tony Romo since fracturing the transverse process in his back: 38-of-53 for 521 yards, seven touchdowns, zero interceptions and one last-minute, game-winning touchdown drive. Someday more people will appreciate how good he is.
Matt Cassidy is a journalism student at Temple and an intern at Birds 24/7.