Eagles Next Test Will be Tougher Than Expected
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - You have to believe Dirk Koetter became more familiar with the history of Scottish pop music after Tampa Bay's thrilling 48-40 shoot-out win over New Orleans Sunday.
You all know the song: "Oh, oh It's magic ... you know. Never believe it's not so."
You might not know Pilot is the band that recorded the 1974 hit and arrived on these shores from the United Kingdom's northernmost country.
After watching his "backup quarterback" slice and dice one of the NFL's most improved defenses from a year ago Koetter, the Buccaneers somewhat embattled head coach, began his post-game press conference with a statement: "Fitz-magic is alive and well."
The 35-year-old Harvard product, ostensibly starting due to Jameis Winston's three-game suspension, has done this kind of thing before in many cities. The ultimate journeyman Fitzpatrick has started games for six different teams over his 14-year NFL career and has gotten hot before, most notably back in 2015 when he caught lightning in a bottle as the New York Jets starter winning 10 games and putting together seven different performances where he surpassed a 100.0 passer rating.
Fitzpatrick has never been as white-hot as he was in New Orleans on Sunday, however, where he compiled a nearly perfect 156.2 passer rating by completing 21-of-28 passes for 417 yards and four touchdowns.
And it an era where so much offense is generated with quick throws that enable playmakers to work their own kind of magic in space, Fitzpatrick did it the old-fashioned Jim Plunkett way by stretching the field with his dynamic outside receivers.
In perhaps the most amazing stat of Kickoff Weekend, Fitzpatrick targeted Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson 12 times in total and connected on each occasion for a total 293 yards.
Evans, the 6-foot-5 monster, largely tormented an All-Pro cornerback in Marshon Lattimore while Jackson, the ex-Eagles speedster famed for his 50-plus plays had his way with Ken Crawley. Evans finished with seven receptions for 147 yards and a touchdown on his seven targets while Jackson snared five for 146 yards and two touchdowns on his five targets.
Suddenly what looked like a logical win in Week 2 road win for the reigning Super Bowl champions now looks much more difficult.
The good news is that Fitzpatrick's career has not exactly been defined by consistency from week-to-week and Jackson was forced to leave Sunday's game with a concussion, making his status very iffy for next Sunday.
But don't tell that to Koetter ... he's got his headphones on: "Oh, oh It's Fitz-magic you know. Never believe it's not so."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen