The700Level

Dawn Staley gets shoutout from former president, shows Philly plenty of love

Dawn Staley gets shoutout from former president, shows Philly plenty of love

Dawn Staley is one of those rare people in sports that seemingly everyone admires and respects.

The North Philly native, who jumpstarted her coaching career with the Temple Owls, won her first national championship over the weekend as the head coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks. Staley fulfilled a lifelong dream doing so and became just the second African-American coach to be crowned a national champion, joining Carolyn Peck who won at Purdue in 1999. There's a fun little anecdote about a gesture between the two of them, which the NCAA shared below.

Staley showed love for her Philly roots in her postgame press conference, as any good Philadelphian should do when celebrating anything of note.

"You have to give tribute to the former players," Staley said. "Go back to my Temple days, they believed in our vision. We took that vision to South Carolina and that vision was we'll be national champions. If you stick with us and if you're disciplined, if you believe all these players believed in that. Happy our words came true to them."

She also took to Twitter to show love and pride for her North Philadelphia roots.

Staley received plenty of congratulations after the win, perhaps none more significant than those from President Clinton. Staley spent some time traveling in Africa with Bill and his daughter Chelsea back in 2013 on a trip checking up on the progress of Clinton Foundation projects. 

You know you really acheived something when you have both former presidents and the entire section of North Philly showing you love.

A loopy Carson Wentz FaceTimed Eagles after surgery and asked about new plays

ap-facetime-foles-wentz.jpg
AP Images/Carson Wentz IG

A loopy Carson Wentz FaceTimed Eagles after surgery and asked about new plays

Next man up. That's this 2017 Philadelphia Eagles team's motto.

So it's Nick Foles' turn at quarterback now that Carson Wentz has been lost for the season. The man who would follow in Foles' footsteps? That would be Nate Sudfeld.

The quarterbacks on this team are extremely close.

"They’re honestly like brothers to me," Sudfeld told reporters on Thursday.

Sudfeld also relayed a rather funny FaceTime call he and Foles received from Wentz right after his surgery to repair his torn ACL.

“He was pretty loopy after the anesthesia. He was trying to figure out the new plays we put in," Sudfeld said.

There wasn't a whole lot of small talk, apparently. Wentz is in positive spirits, Sudfeld said, as also seen in his video message to fans.

Of course Carson wanted to talk football.

“The first question from Wentz, ‘so what’s this new play I saw in the emails?’ I was like, ‘you sure you want to know right now?” Sudfeld said.

“Do you expect anything less from Carson? He was ordering a burger at the same time.”

“He was loopy but he was good. Classic Carson."

Eagles fans are going to miss Classic Carson on the field the rest of the season, sadly.

*

Photo of Wentz post-surger via his IG:

2014 Nick Foles played with a far inferior offensive line

2014 Nick Foles played with a far inferior offensive line

Nick Foles is a changed man. The sixth-year veteran is older, wiser, more experienced; all attributes the Eagles stand to benefit from coming down the home stretch with their backup signal caller.

There's also something about Foles that might look different in his second stint with the Eagles. Don't be surprised if you see a more confident, poised quarterback in the pocket, too.

After all, the Eagles may actually be able to protect Foles this time around.

When last we saw Foles in an Eagles uniform in 2014, fans were not happy. One season after setting a since-broken NFL record with a 27-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio, he was leading the league in giveaways through nine weeks. Furthermore, Foles looked skittish, unwilling to step up in the pocket, and developing the terrible habit of throwing off his back foot.

Most observers placed the fault squarely on Foles, chalking it up to a former third-round draft pick's inevitable regression. However, extenuating circumstances were at least partially to blame.

The Eagles' offensive line was, in a word, a mess.

In 2013, when Foles was busy making history, all five starting offensive linemen played in all 16 games. The unit paved the way not only for a gunslinger in the passing attack, but a rushing championship for running back LeSean McCoy. It was the best line in the league, without a doubt.

Foles would not be so lucky the following year. Lane Johnson was suspended for the first four games, while his replacement at right tackle, Allen Barbre, suffered a season-ending injury in Week 1. Left guard Evan Mathis was also hurt in the opener, missing the next seven games, and Jason Kelce went down in Week 3, missing four. Four starting-caliber players, out.

If Foles wasn't feeling comfortable in the pocket, that might be because there often was none. The Eagles were relying on the likes of Andrew Gardner, Matt Tobin, David Mold and Dennis Kelly for much of the season.

Lines don't get much more patchwork than that.

Foles wound up with a broken collarbone just as the O-line was beginning to get healthy. Before that, he was taking unnaturally deep dropbacks, throwing off his back foot and generally getting rid of the football as quickly as possible in the interest of self-preservation.

Not surprisingly, Foles' touchdown-to-interception ratio dipped dramatically to 13-10, along with three fumbles lost -- totaling 13 turnovers in eight games. Also no coincidence, his completion percentage dipped from 64.0 to 59.8, and his yards per attempt from 9.1 to 7.0.

When Foles was traded to the Rams the following offseason, he didn't fare any better. But while we weren't following his progress nearly as close, we know the Rams were in the midst of 10 straight losing seasons with offensive finishes no better than 21st. The franchise was a career killer. Look no further than Sam Bradford's improvement with the Eagles and Vikings for evidence.

Foles may not have been as good as the hype surrounding his magical 27-2 campaign. He also isn't as horrible as he looked with the Rams, and he probably isn't even as bad as his final season with the Eagles seemed at the time, either.

This is not to absolve Foles of his failures completely. Clearly, he is somebody whose success is dependent on the supporting cast around him to some extent. And by the end of that '14 season, he was most definitely feeling some false pressure and making unforced errors as a result.

That's not the type of performance the Eagles should expect now, not regularly at least, so long as the line holds up. Left tackle Jason Peters is missing from the lineup, but this unit is still far superior, provided there are no more major injuries -- perhaps even if there are.

Foles has plenty of weapons at his disposal in 2017, too. No McCoy in the backfield, but Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount and Corey Clement is a quality stable of ball carriers, while receivers Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor are all capable of bailing out their quarterback in the passing game.

Yet, the biggest difference is up front. If Foles is protected, he's more than capable of dissecting opposing defenses. We've seen that firsthand.

Foles may not be a world beater or break a bunch more records. But as long as he's upright, the Eagles have a a shot -- and this time, they have a legitimate shot at keeping him on his feet.