After another week of offensive ineptitude at home, the Eagles travel to the friendly confines of O.co Coliseum to face the Oakland Raiders. After Michael Vick’s hamstring “popped” again last week, Nick Foles will be the starter at quarterback. (Bad news for all of you Matt Barkley fans out there. But Barkley has looked a bit…unready these past two weeks.) Foles missed last week’s game after suffering a concussion the week before against the Cowboys. If you had watched that game, you might have suspected that Foles suffered the concussion much earlier in the game due to his almost baffling ineffectiveness.
While it might seem like they’re getting a break in facing the last place Raiders, this game is far from an easy win. The Raiders aren’t awful, and considering that the Eagles just lost to the last place Giants, it’s difficult to count any game as an easy win right now.
What’s the Deal with the Raiders?
The Raiders last place standing is due to their unfortunate placement in the AFC West which is probably the best division in football right now. The Chiefs and Broncos have one loss combined and the Chargers have been surprisingly feisty this season. So while the Raiders are in last place, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re a bad team.
The Raiders strength is their defense as they rank 10th in total defensive yards allowed and have forced ten turnovers in the past three games. And hey, do you remember Charles Woodson? You probably thought that he retired a couple of years ago, but you’d be wrong! He’s on the Raiders now, and still doing pretty well at the safety position.
Featured Raiders Player: Terrelle Pryor
Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor first gained notoriety as a top prospect coming out of high school. There was a fierce recruiting battle for his services which was ultimately won by Ohio State. In hindsight, former coach Ohio State Jim Tressel might wish that they hadn’t, since Pryor’s actions helped end Tressel’s tenure there.
Pryor was the main player in the 2010 “tattoo scandal” that caused Ohio State to receive sanctions and resulted in Tressel’s firing. To me, the funniest part of that whole scandal was that the NCAA ruled that the players involved would be suspended for the 2011 season, but they would still be eligible to play in the upcoming Sugar Bowl.
While that doesn’t make sense on the surface, you have to remember that at the time, Ohio State had already been selected to play in the Sugar Bowl. I have a sneaking suspicion that ESPN wasn’t too keen on having some of Ohio State’s key players sit out one of their marquee television sporting events. There’s a chance they might have applied some pressure to the NCAA to ensure that the players would be allowed to play.
I remember laughing when Tressel said that the suspended players would only be allowed to play in that bowl game if they promised to come back and serve their suspension the following season. As it turned out, Tressel wasn’t around to enforce that promise because he was fired for failing to report the violations. Unsurprisingly, Pryor declared himself eligible for the NFL’s supplemental draft before the season, and never ended up serving his suspension.
Thus far as a professional, Pryor has shown flashes of talent, but has been inconsistent. He has a powerful arm, and has already set a record for the longest run ever by a quarterback, but he has been prone to interceptions, having thrown seven already this season.
Key Eagles Storyline
LeSean McCoy has been in a slump lately. Some say that the effectiveness of Chip Kelly’s read-option offense has been reduced without a mobile quarterback. Now that defenses aren’t concerned with Foles’ ability to run for big yardage, they’ve been able to key on McCoy. Others say that there is ample room to run, but McCoy is spending too much time dancing behind the line and not hitting the hole with authority.
Unfortunately, the Raiders have been stout against the run this season. There’s a good chance that this won’t be the game where McCoy gets untracked.
It would help if they were getting a contribution from backup Bryce Brown. After the promise he showed last year, the Eagles hoped that he’d be a solid second option along the lines of the Ravens’ Bernard Pierce. But Brown has failed to make much of an impact, and when McCoy leaves the game, the Eagles’ running game completely disappears.
Chappelle’s Show Skit that Relates to this Week’s Game
I know that concussions are serious matters, and we probably shouldn’t joke about them. After all, former players who suffered concussions have shown diminished brain capacity later in life. That said, I imagine that talking to Nick Foles immediately following his concussion was similar to having a conversation with Lil’ Jon:
Elsewhere in the NFL
So apparently, the Thursday night game ended with a safety in overtime. This makes me happy, because despite the sudden death stipulation, overtime often ends in a fairly anticlimactic manner. It seems that most times, a team just methodically drives to the 20 yard line, sets up in the middle of the field and kicks a 37 yard field goal. So compared to that, a safety is a thrilling way to end things.
Of course, since this was a Thursday night game played on Halloween, I didn’t actually see the game or the ending. But I’m sure it was exciting for those who watched it.
The Week in Andy
After 13 years together, many Eagles fans are feeling some Andy Reid withdrawal. I’ve decided to help them out by providing a weekly look at what Big Red is up to in Kansas City.
The scene: Following the Chiefs’ win over the Browns, General Manager John Dorsey enters Reid’s office.
Dorsey: Whew, that was a close one, huh?
Reid: I guess.
Dorsey: Weren’t you worried there in the fourth quarter?
Reid: Nah, I’ve beaten the Redskins enough times to know that they’ll blow it in the end.
Dorsey: The Redskins? But we were playing the Browns.
Reid: No, I think we were playing the Redskins. That was Jason Campbell, right?
Dorsey: Um, yes, it was. But Campbell hasn’t been on the Redskins in years.
Reid: Oh. Well then, maybe I should have been worried.
Dorsey: I’m surprised you remember Campbell. You don’t seem to be able to remember your own name at times without looking it up in a binder.
Reid: Well back when we were with the Eagles, Pederson used to tell an inappropriate joke about Campbell, and he made it again today, so I remembered him. Wanna hear the joke?
Dorsey: No thanks.
Reid: That’s okay, Pederson tells it much better. I’d probably just mess it up.
Dorsey: So you didn’t notice that they were wearing the Browns’ uniforms or that the PA announcers kept talking about Cleveland?
Reid: I try not to pay attention to all that stuff during game day. Gotta stay focused on the important stuff. And wait, did you say the Browns?
Dorsey: Yes, the Browns. We played the Browns.
Reid: Oh, well then I’m glad that I wasn’t worried. The Browns suck even worse than the Redskins.
Final Take and Prediction
I just don’t feel confident in the Eagles right now. While the defense has been playing better as of late, I see them taking a step back this week. And considering how tough it can be to play in Oakland at times, this feels like another loss.
Raiders 30-Eagles 20