Detmer doesn't necessarily mean doom for Philly
By Mike Diegnan
ABC Sports Online

Week Eleven of this year's NFL season had an eerie similarity to another frightful weekend for playoff contenders 12 years ago. Just as Denver, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh saw their postseason possibilities flash before their eyes last Sunday, Buffalo, Chicago and the New York Giants watched in horror as injuries to their Pro Bowl quarterbacks in Week 15 of the NFL season dampened their chances in 1990.

The Bears' Jim Harbaugh and the Giants' Phil Simms never made it back onto the field. Likewise, the Eagles face a scenario of playing at least the final six games of this season and going through the playoffs (if they qualify) without Donovan McNabb. And while it would be unfair to compare Koy Detmer's future with Jeff Hostetler's past, Eagles fans would love nothing more than for the same fate to fall upon their new QB.

Before Simms went down with a severely sprained right foot in Week 15 against Buffalo in 1990, Hostetler's career had been mostly spent carrying around a clipboard. The former third-round pick out of West Virginia had started just two games in his first six seasons in the league. But when he moved into the starting lineup, Hostetler took over a talented Giants club and led them to victories in their final two games of the regular season, albeit in unconvincing fashion. He put it all together in time for the playoffs, leading the Giants to a rout of Chicago in the divisional round, a come-from-behind win over San Francisco in the championship game and then the improbable victory over Buffalo in the Super Bowl.

Detmer moves into the Eagles' starting lineup this Monday with six career starts under his belt and just 17 pass attempts in the past three seasons. The former seventh-round pick out of Colorado and younger brother of NFL veteran Ty Detmer, hasn't started a game since December 1999, but did show some promise during his brief stint. Then McNabb came to Philadelphia and he moved to the sidelines.

And that's where the parallels end between Hostetler and Detmer. While Simms was an important part of the Giants success and the MVP of Super Bowl XXI, he was not the backbone of Bill Parcells' club. To compare Simms' importance to that Giants team and what McNabb does for the Eagles is unjust.

Not only had McNabb improved his passing this season (17 TDs and just 6 INTs), but he had become the ultimate run-pass threat in the league. Michael Vick may bring that to a new level in a year or two, but before McNabb broke his ankle, he was the most dangerous quarterback in the league. He was the Eagles' No. 2 rusher and averaging an astonishing 7.3 yards per carry. In Week Eight, he became the first QB in 30 years to rush for 100 yards in a game twice.

Behind Duce Staley (a career-high 31 carries last week) and Dorsey Levens, the Eagles have developed one of the league's best running games, but that all changes with Detmer behind center. No longer do the Eagles have the threat of a big-time scrambler that 6-foot-3, 226-pound McNabb offered. Instead, the 6-1, 195-pound Detmer needs to direct a more balanced attack, one that teams are going to be aggressively playing for.

"He's a good football player and a good quarterback," said coach Andy Reid. "He's stepped in before and done a nice job for this football team. I've had an opportunity to play against him and have him play for me in a couple situations my first year. And when I was in Green Bay he came up for that five-game run that he went through and he did a nice job."

The NFL has always been a feel-good story waiting to happen for backup quarterbacks (Kurt Warner, Tom Brady, Trent Dilfer, Marc Bulger), but for the Eagles to even think about making the playoffs, let alone plans for a trip to the Super Bowl, Detmer is not the only key. With a trip to San Francisco on Monday and a home date with the Rams next week, the Eagles have a surging Giants squad in their rearview mirror.

The only way to keep New York from passing them, the Eagles' defense is going to need to step up. Brady was a great story last season, but it was the Patriots defense's ability to crush opponents in the red zone that keyed their run last season. Likewise, Hostetler had Lawrence Taylor, Pepper Johnson and Co. leading him towards the Super Bowl.

Whether it be Hugh Douglas or Corey Simon forcing a fumble or Brian Dawkins making a big interception, the only way the Eagles can get into January on a winning streak is for the defense to make big plays. Jim Johnson's defense is among the league's best in every major category, but they have forced just six turnovers the past six weeks after forcing 15 in the season's first four games.

The defense has put the hammer down on opponents, but now it needs to do more. When Jay Fiedler was hurt in Miami, the Dolphins defense was not enough to overcome Ray Lucas' shortcomings in his first two outings. Philadelphia can't ask for Detmer to be the difference maker that McNabb was. But they can ask for Douglas, Dawkins or someone else to provide the plays that could put them in San Diego at the end of January.

MNF record
Philadelphia: 17-15-0 (2-0 in 2002)
San Francisco: 36-20-0 (1-0 in 2002)

Season record
Philadelphia: 7-3 (1st, NFC East)
San Francisco: 7-3 (1st, NFC West)

Head-to-head
  • San Francisco leads the all-time series 16-6-1 (the 49ers also have won the only postseason meeting).
  • The 49ers have won the last three meetings, including a 13-3 decision last year in San Francisco.
  • The Eagles and 49ers have split their two Monday Night Football meetings. The Eagles won an overtime thriller 37-34 in San Francisco the last week of the 1994 season, and the 49ers won 24-12 at home in 1997.

    Notes
  • San Francisco can become the winningest team in MNF history with a win. The 49ers are currently tied with Miami with 36 wins.
  • The Eagles are 26-4 (.867) under head coach Andy Reid when scoring at least 20 points. They have scored in 34 of 40 quarters this season.
  • Philadelphia has surrendered 167 points, the second-fewest in the NFL.
  • The 49ers have an NFL-low nine turnovers in 2002. They rank third in the league with a +9 turnover ratio.
  • Jeff Garcia leads the NFL with a 133.1 third down passer rating, including 11 TDs and 0 INTs.
  • San Francisco is 13-1 when Garrison Hearst rushes for 100 yards.

    Philadelphia vs. San Francisco
    OFFENSE
    Points/G (rank)
    27.2 (5)
    23.7 (11)
    Rushing/G (rank)
    159.1 (2)
    147.2 (5)
    Passing/G (rank)
    220.2 (13)
    217.0 (15)
    Total Offense/G (rank)
    379.3 (4)
    364.2 (9)
    1st downs/G (rank)
    21.9 (5)
    21.5 (6)
    3rd down eff. (rank)
    60-145, 41.4% (12)
    76-140, 54.3% (1)
    4th down eff. (rank)
    8-16, 50% (17)
    4-4, 100% (1)
    DEFENSE
    Points/G (rank)
    16.7 (2)
    19.7 (10)
    Rushing/G (rank)
    93.4 (4)
    110.8 (14)
    Passing/G (rank)
    189.5 (6)
    219.4 (20)
    Total Defense/G (rank)
    358.4 (26)
    309.6 (7)
    Sacks (rank)
    30 (3)
    22 (17)
    MISC.
    Takeaways (rank)
    19 (7)
    18 (10)
    Giveaways (rank)
    15 (8)
    9 (1)
    Turnover ratio (rank)
    +4 (9)
    +9 (3)
    Penalties (rank)
    65 (16)
    54 (3)
    Penalty yards (rank)
    563 (18)
    464 (4)

    Passing
    EAGLES CMP ATT YDS CMP% LNG TD INT SACK RAT
    Donovan McNabb 211 361 2289 58.4 59 17 6 28 86.0
    Koy Detmer 1 2 -3 50.0 -3 0 0 0 56.3
    49ERS CMP ATT YDS CMP% LNG TD INT SACK RAT
    Jeff Garcia 203 317 2192 64.0 76 14 6 12 91.1

    Rushing
    EAGLES ATT YDS AVG LNG TD
    Duce Staley 162 697 4.3 57 2
    Donovan McNabb 63 460 7.3 40 6
    Dorsey Levens 40 250 6.3 47 1
    49ERS ATT YDS AVG LNG TD
    Garrison Hearst 123 592 4.8 40 4
    Kevan Barlow 113 517 4.6 31 4
    Jeff Garcia 45 230 5.1 17 2

    Receiving
    EAGLES REC YDS AVG LNG TD
    James Thrash 41 509 12.4 39 5
    Todd Pinkston 35 448 12.8 42 4
    Antonio Freeman 32 432 13.5 59 2
    Duce Staley 37 391 10.6 45 2
    49ERS REC YDS AVG LNG TD
    Terrell Owens 62 891 14.4 76 8
    Tai Streets 38 445 11.7 47 2
    Garrison Hearst 34 229 6.7 16 1

    Returns
    Kickoffs
    Punts
    EAGLES ATT YDS FC AVG LNG TD ATT YDS FC AVG LNG TD
    Brian Mitchell 30 782 0 26.1 57 0 32 348 4 10.9 49 0
    49ERS ATT YDS FC AVG LNG TD ATT YDS FC AVG LNG TD
    Jimmy Williams 23 510 0 22.2 50 0 15 187 5 12.5 40 0

    Kicking
    EAGLES 1-20 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ TOT PCT AVG LNG XPM/A PTS
    David Akers 0/0 8/8 10/10 3/3 1/2 22/23 95.7 31.0 51 26/26 92
    49ERS 1-20 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ TOT PCT AVG LNG XPM/A PTS
    Jose Cortez 0/0 8/10 7/8 3/6 0/0 18/24 75.0 30.0 45 25/25 79
    Jeff Chandler 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0.0 0.0 0 0/0 0

    Punting
    EAGLES PUNTS YDS AVG LNG TB IN20 NET
    Sean Landeta 39 1738 44.6 63 7 14 38.3
    49ERS PUNTS YDS AVG LNG TB IN20 NET
    Jason Baker 36 1448 40.2 51 3 10 35.1

    Mike Diegnan is the Editor of ABC Sports Online and can be reached at michael.diegnan@abc.com.



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