Hoying proceeds with caution In 1st start, Eagles QB seeks 'to be smart'

November 14, 1997|By Marcus Hayes | Marcus Hayes,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

PHILADELPHIA -- Bobby Hoying has a plan to get through his first NFL start Sunday against the Ravens.

"I'm going to be smart. Play hard. Play within the offense," said the second-year quarterback out of Ohio State.

On Monday against San Francisco, Hoying came in and, on his second drive, led the Philadelphia Eagles to a touchdown. In his first real playing time as a professional, he finished 8-for-14 for 94 yards, threw a 6-yard touchdown pass and wound up with the starting job.

Sentiment around Philadelphia is that starting Hoying means the Eagles (4-6), rife with injury and inconsistencies, have given up on the season. They were, after all, picked by many pundits to contend for, if not win, the NFC East this season. They stand two games out of first place with six to play.

Starting a player who has not started since the 1995 Citrus Bowl and who has not taken a snap with the first-team offense all season would point to the team's surrender. Eagles coach Ray Rhodes has said all season that he would not start Hoying until the playoffs were out of reach.

Well, the playoffs are very much within reach for the Eagles, but Rhodes now says the move to Hoying is no concession to defeat.

"I'm not going to concede to anything," Rhodes said. "We're struggling at the position. I have to give him a chance to see what he can do."

The thing is, no one really knows just what Hoying can do.

His substantial, 6-foot-3, 221-pound frame and his quick feet enticed the Eagles into drafting him in the third round last year, but his unpolished passing game kept them from handing him too much responsibility too quickly. He got decent playing time this past preseason, hitting on 71.1 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and two interceptions.

Those numbers look pretty good, except for this: The touchdowns came against second-teamers, and the interceptions came against the New England starters. Furthermore, Monday's action came against a group of tired, uninterested San Francisco defenders, and Hoying still looked skittish and overwhelmed. He was sacked three times and often was off the mark on his throws.

So, there really isn't a book on Hoying, and everybody knows it.

"Here's a guy you haven't seen play but in the preseason," Rhodes said, "and I haven't seen play but in the preseason. We've got to find out what he can do."

Hoying's task will be made more difficult because injury and ineptitude have combined to make the offensive line a shambles.

The Eagles will be without starting left guard Joe Panos and starting right guard Ian Beckles Sunday at Memorial Stadium.

Panos has a torn retina and his replacement, Bubba Miller, had a hand in allowing 49ers defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield 3 1/2 sacks. Miller will start again against the Ravens, who have 20 sacks.

Beckles has tender tissue under his right foot, and his backup, Mike Zandofsky, was cut Tuesday after playing poorly Monday night. That leaves either one of two converted tackles -- Troy Drake or Jerry Crafts -- or Sean Love, who was an unemployed journeyman guard last week.

And that's just part of the list of problems in front of Hoying.

Former Ravens center Steve Everitt has struggled with the Eagles and might be distracted by his pending court date Tuesday in Mount Laurel, N.J. He was arrested there in the wee hours of Nov. 4 on charges of driving while intoxicated and possession of a marijuana pipe after being stopped for speeding.

Finally, left tackle Jermane Mayberry and right tackle Barrett Brooks, both in their first seasons starting at those positions, have struggled mightily.

As a result, Hoying's options will be limited. The Eagles likely will not send fullback Kevin Turner on pass routes, instead keeping him close to help protect Hoying. The Eagles will use their tight ends the same way.

Though his options might be limited, support for Hoying will not be. Former starting quarter- backs Rodney Peete and Ty Detmer, who view the 25-year-old as sort of a kid brother, wish him well.

"I'm rooting for Bobby," Detmer said. "We both are."

The biggest danger, Detmer said, is holding on too tightly.

"That first start is always nerve-racking," Detmer said. "You don't want to make mistakes. You don't want to throw interceptions."

It sounds as if Detmer has Hoying's mind-set read.

Eagles at a glance

Last game: Lost to San Francisco, 24-12, Monday night.

Last meeting with Ravens: This is the teams' first meeting.

Who's hot: Wide receiver Irving Fryar, who has 57 catches this season for 829 yards and four touchdowns, is the first player in NFL history to record 50 or more receptions in the past eight seasons. His nine catches for 138 yards against the 49ers moved him into ninth place on the all-time receiving yards list with 10,950 and made him just the ninth player in league history to reach the 700-reception mark with 707.

Who's not: The Eagles' injury-hampered offensive line and the special teams. Philadelphia yielded eight sacks Monday night and allowed the 49ers to return a punt 73 yards for a touchdown. The kickoff team was penalized twice on kickoffs and Freddie Solomon's muffed punt resulted in another 49ers touchdown.

Pub Date: 11/14/97

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