We all know that football is a team sport and that to get a win, all phases of the game must come together to propel a group to victory. But come Sunday, it’s going to be all about the quarterbacks.
When the Philadelphia Eagles face the Washington Redskins at FedEx field on Sunday afternoon, the storylines and excitement overwhelmingly surround the two young quarterbacks who will lead their teams.
The reasons for the QB focus are manifold. The playoff chances for both teams are grim, as Sunday’s game represents a fight for the very bottom of the NFC East. That’s not very fun.
The Washington Redskins have found their franchise quarterback in Robert Griffin III. The hopes and dreams of a team who has been crap for years rides on the shoulders of this young man. Is he the piece that’s been needed all along to start to turn things around for Skins? It certainly looks that way.
As an added bit of intrigue, RG3 spoke about his meeting with Andy Reid at February’s scouting combine in Indianapolis this week. While Reid portrayed the meeting as routine, Griffin stated that the Eagles head coach said that the Birds were “very interested” in him. We know that the chances of Philadelphia actually getting this year’s #2 overall pick were slim. But still, there will be an element of wistfulness at what could have been as we watch Griffin III go to work on Sunday.
And then we have the Eagles. Rather than being on the upswing of the curve like Washington, this is a team in decline. If 8-8 was unacceptable to owner Jeffery Lurie in 2011, the team’s current 3-6 record is an abomination. Two straight years of hope and hype and talent and the team has fallen apart. It’s likely the last stand for Reid and Vick. So that means all eyes are on third-round draft selection Nick Foles.
There is a lot riding on Foles’ young shoulders. He will be fighting behind an offensive line that has performed so poorly that I’ve run out of adjectives to describe them. Will Foles’ play be solid enough to give us hope that he could be the future for Philadelphia? Or do you let him ride out the remainder of the season regardless of how he performs to better assess what you have in the rookie?
Updates on Mike Vick’s concussion reveal that, at least in the short-term, there may be no option other than to play Foles. According to Rick Buckholder, the team’s trainer, Vick is not at all himself after sustaining a concussion last week against the Cowboys.
“He’s not very alert right now in terms of he just doesn’t have that energy. He’s tired all the time, he’s slept a lot, and he’s not getting rid of that fatigue. When I talk to him, he’s just not the Michael Vick I know when he’s healthy.”
At this point, Eagles fans are simply rooting for Foles to largely stay on his feet, put in a solid performance and prevent Philadelphia from falling to the very bottom of the division.
Foles, of course, will need a lot of help from his friends. Thankfully, his first start in the NFL will be against a team that has the 29th overall defense in the league (30th in pass defense and a respectable 7th against the run). But New Orleans was ranked dead last and we saw what happened there. The Birds must utilize the incredible asset they have in LeSean McCoy and commit to the run to help Foles. Tefense has got get the Redskins off the field on third downs, a particular problem for the Eagles as of late. In the last three games, opponents have converted on 17 out of 35 third down opportunities in the Bowles era of Philadelphia’s defense. And Bobby April knows that special teams has down the Eagles no favors, this week taking full blame for the poor performance of the unit that led to a heart-stomping 78-yard punt return for a touchdown by Cowboy Dwayne Harris.
Football is a team sport, and on Sunday we will watch to see how—or if—the Philadelphia Eagles support Foles in his NFL debut by putting in strong performances during each phase of the game to help him succeed. Vick certainly couldn’t do it by himself and there is no way Philadelphia’s rookie can, either.