Most of the band will be back on the field along the offensive line for the Philadelphia Eagles. Center Jason Kelce recently returned, as will left guard Evan Mathis, both are Pro Bowl caliber linemen. Unfortunately, right guard Todd Herremans will miss the rest of the season. They still have elite left tackle Jason Peters, and sophomore right tackle Lane Johnson. This group is as healthy as they’ve been since the beginning of the year. Second year guard, Matt Tobin, was filling in for Mathis on the left and will now slide to the right to fill the void left by Herremans.
Nick Foles will also be sidelined for a couple a months, which most likely will turn out to be the rest of the season. It’s no secret that he was struggling, especially in comparison to his unrepeatable statistics from 2013. To be fair, he’s been asked to drop back as much as any quarterback in the NFL. Defenses were stacking up to stop LeSean McCoy, the reigning rushing champion. Foles got the load on his shoulders and despite mistakes, left the Eagles with a 5-2 record.
Mark Sanchez stepped in against the Houston Texans last week. We’re talking about a guy that was at the helm for the New York Jets in a pair of AFC Title games. Far from elite status, he did some things right as he did in week 9. This past offseason he signed a 1-year deal, so now he gets half a season to audition for entire league. Whether the franchise believes in Foles or not, they will certainly bring in another arm to compete to be a starter. With that said, Sanchez has the supporting cast to keep the team in the playoff hunt at 6-2. They are currently a half game ahead of the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East. One thing is for sure, he will get more time in the pocket with a healthier O-line.
It’s no surprise that Shady is racking up the yardage in the past few games, again you have to credit the improved backups and the starters returning to the trenches. Darren Sproles is back and healthy, chiming in on passing downs and remains a dynamic returner. Last week Chris Polk got in on the action, probably because the team wanted to ease Sproles back in. Polk has been very good when given the opportunity, there hasn’t been a drop off in production whatsoever. The only thing we haven’t seen utilized in the backfield, is McCoy in the passing game.
Jeremy Maclin is shining with back-to-back monster performances. Maclin is posting nearly 100 yards each week and a touchdown. He’s gotten more routes that DeSean Jackson ran last season, which led to career highs for the now-rival receiver. Zach Ertz and Jordan Matthews are the intermediate threats across the middle. Matthews has become the second-most targeted receiver, outperforming Riley Cooper, who remains a possession receiver that is strong in run blocking. Ertz poses a mismatch against linebackers and safeties at 6’5, but he hasn’t been a respectable blocker. That’s why Brent Celek is still integral to moving the chains on the ground, with a pass thrown his way here and there.
Rookie kicker, Cody Parkey, has been fantastic for this offense that routinely stalls in the redzone. He’s drilled 15/16 field goals at the midway point, including 3/3 from 50+ yards out. The Eagles are the highest scoring team in the NFC, 4th in the NFL, behind a trio of AFC teams. They are 4th in yardage and 1st down conversions, and 8th on 3rd downs. The eye test suggests that they leave a lot of plays on the field every Sunday. Yet, they rank 8th in rushing and 5th in passing. This is scary for future opponents. Chip Kelly has his offense moving at a record pace, and they force defenses to cover sideline to sideline.