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7 ways the Eagles could blow it

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7 ways the Eagles could blow it

At first glance, it appears things are going pretty great this fall for our Philadelphia Eagles. They’re 10-1, dominant on both sides of the ball, and close to clinching the NFC East. The final scores of their last four games are 33-10, 51-23, 37-9 and 31-3. The team is in the driver’s seat for home field advantage and a favorite to win the Super Bowl.

Carson Wentz is everything you’ve ever hoped for and more. The defense is the best unit in memory, and despite early doubts, Doug Pederson has already firmly established himself as the second-greatest coach in Eagles history. Even position groups of concern like the receivers, offensive line and cornerbacks have played well. Jay Ajayi is the power running back with dreadlocks the Eagles have been missing ever since they didn’t draft Ricky Williams.

With five games to go in the season, you’re probably wondering: How are the Eagles going to blow it? A few possibilities:

They’re getting cocky

You saw the Bears game on Sunday -- the Eagles talked trash. They did choreographed touchdown celebrations. They danced, doing the Electric Slide not once, but twice.

We Philadelphia fans love swagger, of course. But we’ve all seen this sort of behavior backfire. Three words: McNabb Air Guitar.

I fully expect, once we win a championship or two, for the rest of the league and fans of every other team to hate us. And I can't wait for that. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. 

The Fumbles

Losing four fumbles in one game is totally unacceptable -- and no, winning that same game 31-3 is NOT an excuse.

Carson Wentz has a girlfriend

Remember Tony Romo and Jessica Simpson in Mexico? For quarterbacks, girlfriends are a distraction.

The Fletcher Cox affair story

Speaking of distractions… now we know what Cox was doing last summer instead of reporting to OTAs. Though I agree with TMZ’s analysis: Fletcher Cox having sex with your wife is “pretty cool, if you’re a die-hard Eagles fan.”

The Jay Ajayi postgame anger

Is there dissension in the ranks of the Eagles’ running back corps? Cause for concern, if you ask me.

Linebacker depth

We really still have Najee Goode? Who’s next off the bench, Jamar Chaney? Omar Gaither? Moise Fokou?

No Paul Turner

Yes, this team still misses Paul Turner.

Sure, the Eagles will probably be fine, and stand an excellent chance of overcoming all of those distractions and adversity. As long as the refs don’t inexplicably screw us, a parade down Broad Street in February is assured!
 
Other Philly sports takes:

-      My deepest condolences to any UCLA football players whose favorite day of the week is Taco Tuesday.

-      Why haven’t the Phillies signed anyone yet this offseason? Obviously, Gabe Kapler's coconut oil is scaring off free agents. 

-      Between Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Cure Auto Insurance’s wildly perverted commercials, Sixers broadcasts are finally watchable again. When Markelle Fultz returns in the fall of 2020, they’ll be even better.

-      I look forward to the new governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, coming on the WIP Morning Show and never falling out of his chair or openly rooting for the Dallas Cowboys.

-      Clearly, hiring a star from the ‘80s to run the Flyers hasn’t worked out. It’s time to fire Ron Hextall, and replace him with someone from the ‘70s. Or the ‘90s: Coach Lindros? General Manager LeClair?

-      Likewise, I’m happy to hear the Phillies are considering hiring Chase Utley as bench coach. They’re taking an important lesson from the Flyers: If you have a beloved championship team, keep giving all those guys jobs forever.

Follow FakeWIPCaller on Twitter. 

Is this the start of the injuries portion of the Sixers season?

Is this the start of the injuries portion of the Sixers season?

No Joel Embiid? No Robert Covington? No T.J. McConnell? No problem last night for the Philadelphia 76ers. Well, maybe one problem, and that's that they didn't have enough healthy good players to compete with an essentially full-strength New Orleans Pelicans squad for 48 minutes, losing 131-124 (JRUUUUUUEEEEE). That was kind of a problem. 

We all knew we'd get here at some point this season -- the stretch of games where various key Sixers are suffering from various prohibitive maladies, as Brett Brown is forced to juggle his starting lineup and overall rotation every night and we're waiting with baited breath before each tip-off to see who'll be showing up. It's pretty much unavoidable for most teams, and all but guaranteed for the post-Process Sixers. It's just a question of when it comes and how long it lasts. 

Over the weekend, I made the rookie mistake of mentioning how despite the Sixers suffering two embarrassing home defeats, making a trade I find personally insulting and giving us another "Oh yeah, Markelle's doing great -- you can't see it, and you won't for another three weeks, but just trust us, 's all good" Fultz update, everything still was OK because Embiid was still healthy and as long as he's healthy who even cares about whether the sun rises or not? Wouldn't you know it, the next day he's a gametime scratch with back soreness. He says he could've played if it was the finals (though not the other playoff rounds, I guess?) and expects to play in Minnesota on Tuesday, but a one-game flare-up has not traditionally lasted just one game for JoJo, so we'll see about that one tomorrow. 

Maybe it's some kind of back virus that Robert Covington caught diving into the stands in Cleveland on Saturday. Scans were negative on Cov after the game, but according to Derek Bodner, he's still considered doubtful for Tuesday's game in Minnesota. And while T.J. McConnell hoped to be back as early as Thursday's game against the Lakers, his lingering absence with a shoulder injury is definitely becoming something of a concern for the Sixers, especially with Stauskas gone, Fultz still out, and Jerryd Bayless showing Mariah Carey-like target accuracy on his jumper the last couple games. 

In the meantime, the Sixers have dropped four in a row and fell to .500 in the standings -- out of the playoff picture in the East, even. This is hardly tragic, especially since the Sixers have had one of the hardest schedules in the league so far, and should have plenty of time to make ground back up in the top-heavy East once they get healthy and come together. But as we all know from experience, that last part is easier said than done, and once injury season really hits, it gets to be a lot of one step forward, two sprained ankles backward. Pray we don't get to Christmas and have to trot out a Bayless-Redick-TLC-Booker-Johnson lineup on national TV.

Eagles in good hands with Nick Foles

Eagles in good hands with Nick Foles

If Carson Wentz’s season is indeed finished, or he’s out for any length of time, the Eagles aren’t exactly slumming it at quarterback with Nick Foles.

Foles’ first tenure with the Eagles admittedly hasn’t aged well. The last time he started a game for the club in 2014, he was leading the NFL in giveaways nine weeks into the season. Traded the following offseason, Foles’ hasty demise with the Rams appeared to vindicate his critics.

Okay, so maybe Foles isn’t exactly franchise quarterback material. But the Eagles would be hard-pressed to find a more accomplished backup.

Foles has led a team to the playoffs. He’s been to a Pro Bowl. He has a winning record as a starter.

How many other backup quarterbacks around the league can check off all three of those boxes?

Just one. No, not Colin Kaepernick. Only Teddy Bridgewater for the Vikings.

Foles is no hobo. He was a third-round draft pick who needed to outperform Michael Vick to earn the Eagles’ starting job. The statuesque Foles was so much better, it no longer mattered Vick’s legendary mobility could be a true asset in former coach Chip Kelly’s read-option offense.

The 2013 season turned out to be a history-making campaign for Foles. He tied an NFL record with seven touchdown passes in a game, and set another with a 27-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio for the year — the latter mark having since been broken by future Hall of Famer Tom Brady.

Despite losing to the Saints in the first round of the first round of the playoffs in 2013, Foles played well in that game, completing 23 of 33 passes for 195 yards with two touchdowns. The last time the offense was on the field, the Eagles held the lead, only to lose on a field goal as the clock ran empty.

Even assuming that series of events will wind up as the high point in his career, we learned a lot about Foles. We know he has some talent. We know he can perform at a high level when given a great supporting cast. And we know he can play well in January.

As for the last three-and-a-half years, those probably haven’t been as bad as you think.

Foles came back to earth in 2014, as did the Eagles. Yet, turnovers aside, the team was better with him than without, going 6-2 in Foles’ starts until he was sidelined by a broken collarbone. Before the injury, he was on pace to throw for over 4,300 yards and 26 touchdowns.

Things continued to go south for Foles with the Rams in 2015, although the franchise hadn't finished with more than seven wins or better than 21st on offense since ’06 prior to this season. The issues in St. Louis ran a lot deeper than who was under center.

Foles spent 2016 rehabilitating his image with the Chiefs, completing 36 of 55 passes for 410 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions in three games and one start. If nothing else, the 28-year-old proved he can be a fine backup under the right circumstances.

Which brings us into 2017 with the Eagles. Does this squad present “the right circumstances” for Foles to flourish?

The Eagles have a stable of running backs, multiple weapons in the passing attack, a decent offensive line and an excellent defense. It’s difficult to imagine a better situation for a backup quarterback to step into.

It’s not entirely unlike the situation Foles stepped into in ’13. The O-line probably isn’t quite as good, but the defense is vastly superior this time around.

And the Eagles don’t necessarily need Foles to be Wentz. They can lean on the running game. They have receivers who can bail out their quarterback on occasion. Their defense is capable of forcing stops and creating turnovers.

Foles has a 20-16 record in 36 career starts, with a 60.5 completion percentage, 7.2 yards per pass attempt, 56 touchdowns and 27 interceptions in 45 games. Those are quality numbers. It’s not as if the Eagles are sending Tim Tebow out there.

Does Wentz’s injury lessen the Eagles’ chances of winning the Super Bowl, or even mounting a deep playoff run? Of course. Dramatically, in fact.

But this season isn’t totally lost just yet. Foles only needs to be good, not great, to keep this Eagles team in the race.

There was a brief period where – misguided or not – the Eagles had to at least consider the possibility of Foles as a franchise quarterback. That obviously wasn’t the case, but if he can fake it again for the next two months, there’s a remote chance everything will be alright.