Eagles O a big mystery

CRAIG ELLINGSON

, Last Updated: 12:21 PM ET

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On the surface, Sunday's 38-10 thrashing of the Carolina Panthers by the Philadelphia Eagles was impressive -- but delve just a smidgeon below it and question marks arise about the Philly offence, QB Donovan McNabb's injury aside.

The Eagles rank second in the NFL in points scored, behind the New Orleans Saints airshow. But 14 of those 38 points came courtesy of special teams and the defence. And while 24 points put up by an offence in the NFL goes a long way most of the time, consider the Eagles are ranked 23rd in total offence. They're dead last in passing yards, with 82. Yes, McNabb left the game with a rib injury, but that wasn't until almost halfway through the 4th quarter. Oh sure, the running game had a field day with 185 yards, good enough to rank fourth in the league, but this team is built to be balanced.

When your starting three wide receivers -- DeSean Jackson (nine yards), Kevin Curtis (26) and Jason Avant (18) -- account for just five of the 17 receptions, it should draw attention.

While we're on the passing side of things from this game, at least the Eagles had a better game than Carolina's Jake Delhomme. The veteran quarterback recorded the worst passer rating --14.7 -- by any quarterback facing the Eagles in almost 13 years. He chucked four interceptions, went 7-for-17 for 73 yards and no TDs. Brutal. The last gunslinger to perform that poorly vs. Philly was the tragic Dave Brown of the New York Giants, who posted a zero rating (3-for-11, 31 yards, 2 INTs) Dec. 1, 1996.

25.1M

While some NFL teams (such as Detroit, Jacksonville, Minnesota and San Diego) may be having a hard time selling out their stadiums in these tough economic times, TV audiences for the

No.-1 pro sports league in North America skyrocketed in Week 1.

Tune in these big audiences: Fox pulled in 25.1-million viewers for its Week 1 national game -- the 2 p.m. New York Giants-Washington Redskins matchup -- making it the most watched Week 1 game ever on the U.S. network. That was up 20% from last year's Fox national season-opener between the Dallas Cowboys and Cleveland Browns. The Fox 11 a.m. regional game, which featured either the Browns-Minnesota Vikings tilt or the Cowboys-Tampa Bay Buccaneers clash, averaged 14.1-million viewers, up 79% from a year ago.

On CBS, the five 11 a.m. regional games -- which included the New York Jets-Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts-Jacksonville Jaguars games -- averaged

11.4-million viewers. NBC drew an audience of

20.9-million for the Thursday night game between the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers and the Tennessee Titans. On Sunday night, NBC drew 21.1-million TV watchers for the Chicago Bears-Green Bay Packers game.

NBC's viewership was up 32% over the first two matchups they televised last season.

And ESPN kicked off Monday Night Football with a doubleheader, drawing

14 million viewers with the New England Patriots-Buffalo Bills nailbiter and 11.9-million for the San Diego Chargers-Oakland Raiders nightcap. The Pats-Bills game is now the most-watched game on U.S. cable so far this year.

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So the Edmonton Eskimos tied the can to offensive co-ordinator Rick Worman, firing him a couple of days before last week's

35-34 Labour Day rematch loss to the Calgary Stamp-eders. That's all well and fine, but say, wasn't that the Esks who were ranked dead last in 16 of 25 CFL defensive categories at the time? I know head coach Richie Hall and defensive co-ordinator Jim Daley are old chums from their Saskatchewan Roughriders days, but jeez.

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How about Adam LaRoche, who was tossed around like a hot potato and eventually plucked off the scrap heap by the Atlanta Braves this MLB season. The first-baseman who started the year with the Pittsburgh Pirates then had a cup of coffee with the Boston Red Sox before landing in Atlanta has been one of the Braves' best batters since they acquired him in July. Since then, he's batting .344 with 30 RBIs and 12 home runs through 42 games. Atlanta's pretty much out of the playoff race, but ya gotta think the AL wild-card leading BoSox are second-guessing themselves right about now. The player they got in return for LaRoche, 1B Casey Kotchman, has a batting average of .200, with six RBIs and one homer in

25 games with Boston.

craig.ellingson@sunmedia.ca


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