Eagles in the NFL: Week 17
By Anthony Iati
Week 17 in the NFL is crunch time when it comes to playoff pushes. While many former Boston College Eagles were just playing for pride and a strong finish to the 2015 season, other notables were helping their teams solidify playoff positioning and gearing up for the upcoming Wild Card Weekend. Here is how some ex-Eagles fared.
Luke Kuechly, MLB, Carolina Panthers: Probably the best defensive player in the NFC, Kuechly was in on 9 tackles and batted down a Jameis Winston pass in the Panthers’ 38-10 drubbing of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Kuechly completed yet another fantastic regular season, his fourth in the pros. He is a tough leader on a team that went 15-1 and will await a home matchup in the Divisional Round of the NFC Playoffs. Always a joy to watch, Kuechly recorded 109 tackles (a career low), two forced fumbles, four interceptions and 1.0 sacks in just 12 games this season.
Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons: Ryan, the 3rd overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, completed 24 of his 36 passes for 334 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT in Sunday’s 20-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints. After beginning the season 5-0, Ryan’s Falcons slumped to an 8-8 finish. However, this was still an improvement over a disappointing 2014 season that resulted in the firing of coach Mike Smith. Ryan will enter 2016 in the second year under Dan Quinn looking to return to the postseason.
Andre Williams, RB, New York Giants: The former Heisman Trophy finalist, who burst onto the scene at BC with an outstanding senior season in 2013, carried the ball five times for 26 yards in the Giants’ 35-30 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. He was given ample opportunities from the coaching staff to earn playing time this season in a running-back-by-committee rotation, but failed to separate himself from his teammates. Williams fell behind veteran Rashad Jennings, who seized the starting job late in the year. He received just 20 carries in the final five games of the regular season. Williams finished 2015 with 83 carries, 231 yards, and one touchdown (in Week 3 vs. Washington), while continuing to struggle in the passing game.
Will Blackmon, CB, Washington Redskins: Blackmon, in his 9th season out of Boston College, picked up his second interception of the season on Sunday in a 34-23 win over the Dallas Cowboys. He also chipped in on eight tackles. He finished the season with 41 tackles and two interceptions, with the other takeaway coming in a home win over the New York Giants. At 9-7, Blackmon’s Redskins will prepare to host the Seattle Seahawks or Green Bay Packers next weekend in the Wild Card round of the NFC Playoffs.
Mark Herzlich, LB, New York Giants: The 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year was a major contributor on special teams for the fifth consecutive season with Big Blue. Herzlich made two tackles in the Week 17 loss to Philadelphia and is quickly becoming one of the longer-tenured and most respected Giants.
Ryan Quigley, P, New York Jets: It may be surprising to see a punter on this list, but Quigley had an impact on the AFC playoff race on Sunday. With his 10-5 Jets just needing a win over the 7-8 Buffalo Bills and former coach Rex Ryan, Quigley badly shanked a punt from his own end zone. The Bills were set up inside the Jets’ 30 yard line and cashed in with an easy Tyrod Taylor touchdown scramble to open the scoring. With points at a premium in blustery Orchard Park, NY, Quigley’s miscue hurt the Jets in their 22-17 defeat. The Pittsburgh Steelers snagged the No. 6 seed in the AFC as a result of the Bills’ win.
Kasim Edebali, DE/OLB, New Orleans Saints: Edebali gained a bit of fame on Christmas when
Sports Illustrated released this story of his coming home to an empty house on Christmas. His family was back in Germany, where the second-year pro originally hails from. On the field, he ended the season with a sack of former Eagle Matt Ryan in the Saints’ 20-17 win, bringing his sack total to a respectable 5.0 in his sophomore season.
Andy Gallik, C, Tennessee Titans: Gallik grabbed ahold of the starting job as the linchpin of the Titans’ offensive line halfway through the season and started his eighth game Sunday in a 30-24 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. A 2015 6th round draft pick, Gallik heads into 2016 as the starter in front of emerging quarterback Marcus Mariota.