Semi-Coherent Eagles vs. Packers Preview: The One Where They Don’t Have to Face Aaron Rodgers

Nov 3, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (9) throws a pass during the game against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum. The Eagles defeated the Raiders 49-20. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

So can anyone explain what’s going on with Nick Foles?  Is he a star in the making or is he helping to ruin the NFL?  It’s been impossible to tell.  One week he’s bouncing passes to wide-open receivers, and the next week he’s tying the NFL record for touchdown passes in just three quarters.

Foles is playing with the hearts of Eagles fans as if he was a hot girl and we were a guy desperately in love with her.  One day she’s seems super into us, but the next time we see her she blows us off starts making out with some other dude.  (Is everyone following this analogy so far?) Based on his lackluster endorsement of Foles’ status as a starter, in this analogy Chip Kelly is the self-confident guy who knows not to fall for her tricks.

Since fan emotion regarding Foles has swung so much, I’ve decided to introduce the Foles-o-Meter.  It will be a weekly gauge of how Eagles fans currently feel about him.  Here’s where we stand this week:

Foles

One of the most amazing things about Foles is that when he’s the quarterback, Riley Cooper not only looks like he’s worthy of being on an NFL roster, but you start to believe that he could actually be a viable starter.  Foles seems to understand that Cooper might not be the most skilled guy, but he is rather large.  Thus far, Foles’ method of throwing the ball and letting Cooper utilize his size has worked better than the Vick approach of waiting until Cooper establishes at least two yards of separation from the man covering him.  This is mostly due to the fact that Cooper almost never gets that much of a cushion unless a defender happens to fall down.  (Considering the number of times Raiders corner seemed to trip last week, there’s a decent chance that Cooper would have had a big week with Vick as well).

By the way, I’d like to express my disappointment at the Twitterverse for not making a bigger deal about Cooper’s success with Foles.  I thought for sure we’d get a ton of conspiracy theories that Vick simply didn’t want to throw the ball to Cooper because of the Kenny Chesney incident.

What’s the Deal with the Packers?

When the NFL schedule came out, most people saw this game in Green Bay and marked it as an automatic loss.  As recently as last week, there still weren’t many people who envisioned the Eagles winning this one.  It’s amazing how much opinions can change in a week.  Now that Nick Foles is “NFL Record Holder Nick Foles” and the Green Bay quarterback is Seneca Wallace, all of a sudden an Eagles victory doesn’t seem so outlandish.

Obviously, not having Aaron Rodgers at quarterback is a huge disadvantage for the Packers.  Rodgers is one of the best QBs in the league, while Wallace is a backup.

Most backup quarterbacks aren’t that good.  Do you know why?  Because it’s extremely difficult to find one good quarterback, let alone two of them.  If a team’s backup is any good, then some other team will trade for him and try to make him their starter.  Just look at the fact that in the past ten years, teams have traded second round draft picks to the Eagles for A.J. Feeley and Kevin Kolb.  A.J. Feeley and Kevin Kolb!  If teams are willing to try mediocrities like those as starters, then how could they expect to actually find a good backup?

Dec 1, 2011; Seattle, WA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Vince Young (9) throws a pass against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

Eagles fans’ expectations are a bit skewed because they’ve had backups like Feeley, Kolb, and Jeff Garcia actually step in and play well.  But in reality, fans should expect a backup to be more along the lines of a Vince Young in 2011: He might be able to come in and win a game (Which Young did against the Giants that season), but if you’re hoping for any more than that, you’re probably going to have some problems.  (For example, see the other games Young appeared in that season.)

Then again, this being Wallace’s first start, there’s a chance that the Packers will play well.  Teams tend to do well the first week after a star player goes out with an injury.  The rest of the team bears down and “rallies around the backup.” Perhaps more importantly, opponents don’t have game tape with which they can scout the backup.

It’s also important to remember that the Packers aren’t a bad team.  This wasn’t just superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers lifting up a group of rag-tag fringe players.  With Jordy Nelson, B.J. Raji, and Clay Matthews, the Packers will still be putting a lot of talent on the field on Sunday.

Featured Packers Player: Eddie Lacy

I became a huge fan of Eddie Lacy at Alabama last season, mostly because he shares a name with my grandfather.  I think it’s really awesome that a prominent player in the NFL has the same name as my grandfather.  I’m also pumped because I would like to see more Lacys in sports.  The list of Lacys in sports is embarrassingly small.  Baseball player Lee Lacy had his moments back in the 80’s, and I see there used to be a running back named Ken Lacy on the Chiefs.  But since then, not much.

Nov 4, 2013; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy (27) during the game against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field. Chicago won 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

I wonder if Eddie has the same problem as I do where people insist on spelling his last name “Lacey.”  I’ve never understood people’s desire to add an extra “e” to my name.  Doesn’t this go against human nature?  Shouldn’t our latent laziness cause us to default to using as few letters as possible?  And considering that “lacy” is an actual English word, and “lacey” isn’t, I don’t understand why people make the mistake.  The only reason I can think of is that people remember the show Cagney and Lacey, and still assume that is the default spelling.

When he’s (presumably) not worrying about how people spell his name, Eddie has had a strong rookie season.  He’s one of those “power backs” that were in style back in the nineties but much less common now.  Instead of trying to avoid defenders, Eddie will just as soon run them over.

With Rodgers out, the Packers are expected to lean heavily on Eddie as well as his backfield-mate, the similarly sized James Starks.  The Eagles have stopped the run decently well thus far this season, but their tackling skills will be put to the test.

Key Eagles Storyline

The Eagles’ defense has been playing better over the past few games, and a big reason for that is their improved tackling.

Defensive coordinator Bill Davis has made it a point to avoid getting beaten by deep passes and the secondary often lines up well behind the line of scrimmage.  While this is a welcome change after seeing receiver after receiver fly by a confused looking Kurt Coleman last season, there is a drawback to this approach: Teams will be able to complete passes.  It’s up to the defense to ensure those receptions don’t turn into long gains.

They did not do a good job of this in the early going.  We all remember the Chargers and Chiefs converting one 3rd-and-long after another while Nate Allen ineffectually tried to stop them.

Lately, the tackling has been mostly sound.  Last week, Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor wanted to run all over the field, but the Eagles did a good job of limiting what he could do.  (Admittedly it helped their efforts that Pryor seems unable to pass the ball at an NFL level.  It also was beneficial that the Eagles were scoring on just about every possession, making the Raiders effectively one-dimensional.)

Considering the Packers’ strong collection of skill players, the defense will need to remain strong.

Chappelle’s Show Skit that Relates to This Week’s Game

Much like Aaron Rodgers, Dave Chappelle once had a backup fill in for him.  I thought it went pretty well.

Wayne Brady

 

Tweet of Importance

So one team’s QB looks like Napoleon Dynamite, and the other team’s QB throws like Uncle Rico?

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: Leading up to this week’s game against the Broncos, Chiefs general manager John Dorsey enters Reid’s office.

Dorsey: Big game this week! Peyton Manning and the Broncos!  Sunday night football!  First place on the line!

Reid: Sure.

Dorsey: So I’m sure you have a brilliant plan figured out as to how we’ll beat them, right?

Reid: No.

Dorsey: No?

Reid: Nope.

Dorsey: So…you’re still working on it?

Reid: No.

Dorsey: So then…I’m confused.

Reid: You said it yourself: We’re playing Peyton Manning and the Broncos.  Those guys are good.

Dorsey: Right, so don’t you need a good game plan?

Peyton Manning is good. Image Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Reid: Nah, why bother?  I mean, how are we going to beat Peyton Manning?  He’s a future Hall of Famer.

Dorsey: Well, we’re pretty good too!  We’re undefeated, remember?

Reid: Yeah, but we haven’t faced Peyton Manning.  That guy’s REALLY good.

Dorsey: Didn’t you beat him once when you were on the Eagles?

Reid: Funny, someone just asked me about that game.  It didn’t sound right, but I looked it up in a binder, and sure enough, the Eagles beat the Colts back in 2010.

Dorsey: Right!  So that means-

Reid: Let me cut you off right there.  Once I read about it, I remembered what happened.  I didn’t think we had any chance, so I just told Michael Vick to run around and make some plays.  And sure enough, he did it!  The funny thing is: I wasn’t even paying attention.  You should have seen how surprised I looked after the game when they told me that we won.

Dorsey: So you don’t think you can do it again?

Reid: Nope.  You don’t beat Peyton Manning more than once.

Dorsey: But what about Bill Belichick?

Reid: Who?

Dorsey: Yeah…..Well, I guess I’ll let you get back to whatever it was you’re doing.

Reid: Okay.  Bye.

Final Take and Prediction

Rodgers absence gives the Eagles a fighting chance in this one, but I still feel that the Packers are the better team.   Then again, if Foles plays as well as he did last week, the Eagles would beat pretty much anyone.  Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening.  Foles suffers a letdown, and the Eagles’ offense will sputter a bit.

Packers 24-Eagles 17

Topics: Green Bay Packers, Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles

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