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Credibility

Posted: December 11th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

Quarterbacks need to have credibility with their teammates. That sounds simple and obvious, but there are different kinds of credibility.

The first is purely talent based. Does the QB make the team better and give them a chance to win? Carson Wentz had that from day one. Teammates could see how talented he was. After playing with Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez in 2015, Wentz was a major upgrade. He was big, strong and athletic. He could make all the throws. Wentz could make basic plays, but also had the ability to create when things broke down.

The next kind of credibility is more leadership based. Go back to 1995. Randall Cunningham was the starting QB. He had to learn Jon Gruden’s West Coast Offense and buy in to Gruden’s tough brand of coaching. Cunningham did neither and the team started 1-3. He was benched in favor of Rodney Peete, a player who didn’t have half of Cunningham’s ability. Peete went 9-3 as the starter. He brought a toughness and winning mentality to the field. Peete did what the coaches wanted. He was focused on winning, not doing things his way.

I think Wentz has shown that he is coachable and will put in the work to be successful. He’s not off dating playmates or trying to be a celebrity. He gets together with his receivers in the offseason. He shows up for every minicamp and offseason activity. He’s played hurt and done everything possible to stay on the field.

Another kind of credibility is late game heroics. This is an area where Wentz was lacking. He’s had plenty of chances to win games on fourth quarter drives in the past couple of years, but something always went wrong. Until Monday night. Wentz led the Eagles back from a 14-point deficit. The game-tying TD came with less than two minutes left. Wentz then led the team on the winning drive in overtime.

Teammates now know Wentz can lead them to a late-game TD to tie or win. That doesn’t mean it will happen every time the Eagles are trailing, but the players now will have confidence that they can win these games. And Wentz will have that confidence himself. That means a lot.

Nelson Agholor had a chance to catch a TD in the Atlanta game that would have given the Eagles a late lead. Mack Hollins and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside had chances to make late catches in the Detroit game that could have helped the Eagles win. Wentz can make the throws, but can’t make the catches. Not all past failures were his fault. Still, until you get the job done, there will always be a stigma. QBs get credit when things work and blame when they don’t.

Wentz now knows he can get the job done. His teammates know as well.

*****

Oh great, another WR gone.

The Eagles have Greg Ward and JJAW for now. Nelson Agholor is dealing with a knee injury. The team hopes to have him for Sunday, but there are no guarantees right now.

The team will put Jeffery on IR at some point this week and promote someone from the practice squad. There aren’t good free agent options and they need someone who knows the playbook. The player must be able to contribute right away.

The options are:

Robert Davis
Marcus Green
Marken Michel

None of the guys is an ideal option. Davis would be my preference. He has a bit of NFL experience. He is 6-3, 210. Davis runs 4.44 and has a 41-inch vertical jump.

Josh Perkins played some WR on Monday night and did a good job. The Eagles will have him ready for more of that if Agholor can’t go.

Life isn’t going to be easy down the stretch.

I do think there is something to be said for having young, hungry guys out there. They will play with an edge and some energy. We saw that on Monday night. If they can bring that to the rest of the season, it will help to make up for the lack of experience and top-level talent.

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The Chicken or the Egg

Posted: December 10th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

One of the things that struck me last night is how much I liked the play-calling in the second half. There were toss plays to Boston Scott, designed to take advantage of his speed. There were quick passes to Josh Perkins. The Greg Ward dropped TD was a beautiful play and well-executed, right up until the drop. Doug Pederson and Mike Groh looked like smart, creative offensive minds.

Players made plays. You saw Scott making cuts in the open field and getting an extra 10 yards. There was Ward making some tough grabs. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside made an incredibly impressive over-the-shoulder catch. Perkins caught a short pass and fought his way upfield for a first down. Miles Sanders had a key third down run to set up first and goal.

Were the players suddenly making plays because of better play-calling or did the coaches look smart because the players made plays?

There really isn’t a firm answer. It’s really a bit of both.

And think about how Carson Wentz looked. He was throwing the ball with confidence to Ward and Perkins, guys who were on the practice squad a month ago. Wentz had to trust the new guys. He couldn’t throw to Zach Ertz on every play. He had to give the newbies a chance to show what they could do. Ward did have a frustrating drop, but Wentz came back to him and that paid off. You have to give players a chance to make up for their mistakes.

We do have to keep in mind that all of this came against a bad Giants defense, but this wasn’t Dak, Zeke and Amari lighting them up. This was Carson and the Kids slicing and dicing them.

If the Eagles can bottle up the energy and the “it” the offense had in the second half, they will win the NFC East. I just don’t know if that will happen.

Sometimes you see games like this and get inspired, only to find out it was a major anomaly. I think it can be repeated because no one did anything special. This wasn’t Kevin Curtis posting 221 yards and several TD catches. This wasn’t Bryce Brown running for 150 yards.

The coaches saw plays that worked. They can now build gameplans around the skills the players showed. Wentz should have more confidence in the guys around him. He didn’t have to make any Hall of Fame plays to win on Monday night. He got his guys the ball on time and let them make plays.

The players have to be feeling really good about themselves. They came through in a huge situation. These weren’t hollow numbers in a blowout. The players were getting the job done with the team trailing in the fourth quarter and the season on the line.

Washington will be a tougher test because they have a better defense and they have tape to study. They won’t be caught off-guard by Scott, Ward and the others. They’ll be ready.

I’m very encouraged by what we saw in the second half on Monday night. The Eagles found some key answers and may have just saved their season.

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1st Place, Baby!

Posted: December 10th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

The Eagles came up with a huge win. Carson Wentz was clutch in the fourth quarter and in overtime. This would be awesome if it happened against the 10-2 Giants, but instead it happened against the 2-10 Giants.

Love the result.

Don’t love the circumstances.

The Eagles are clearly better than the Giants and should have beaten them easily. The fact that didn’t happen is something you have to look at.

The more important fact is that the Eagles didn’t stay down. They trailed 17-3 at the half and were booed off the field. That was an embarrassing half of football.

The Eagles didn’t panic. They didn’t point fingers. They came out and started winning the game one play at a time. You don’t flip a switch and tie the game up. You have to string together plays and then drives. You can’t let up.

After halftime, the Giants had 29 yards and the Eagles scored 20 points. That is one hell of a role-reversal. I mean, wow.

Boston Scott brought some real life to the offense. It is amazing how one player can get a whole group going. Greg Ward and JJ Arcega-Whiteside made some tough grabs. Carson Wentz looked like Wentz the MVP candidate of 2017. The offense was…fun.

It is amazing how much smarter Doug Pederson and Mike Groh look when the skill players make plays. It is amazing how much more effective Wentz is when his guys catch the ball.

Speaking of Wentz, he led the Eagles on the game-tying drive in the fourth quarter and then the game-winning drive in OT. He made some terrific throws. I can’t tell you how good it was to see him playing like that. He was clutch. The Eagles were down to just one WR on the final few plays and he still got them the winning TD.

Jim Schwartz and the Eagles D took a lot of flak for the Miami debacle. They looked pretty bad at halftime, but that group got their act together and put the clamps on the Giants in the second half. The Giants best drive of the second half was four plays for 17 yards. That is crazy.

And this was a group effort. Vinny Curry had two sacks. Josh Sweat blew up a flea-flicker. Malcolm Jenkins broke up a pair of key pass plays. Sidney freaking Jones came off the bench broke up the final Giants pass of the game.

There are plenty of things that need to be addressed in regard to how the Eagles were down 14 at halftime and how they went into that game with just three receivers, but the team came together at the right time and came away with a huge win.

This game can mean something if the players and coaches make that happen. The Eagles beat the Cowboys in OT in 2015 and Chip Kelly was asked if that could turn the season around. The media wanted that story line. The Eagles then lost three in a row.

Pederson and his players can make this a turning point if they build on it.

The Eagles are now 6-7 and tied for first place in the NFC East. That will only last if the Eagles play like they did in the second half. That’s the kind of effort, attitude, intensity and results we’ve been waiting for.

Don’t waste it.

Make it mean something.

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Gameday – NYG at PHI

Posted: December 9th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

Eagles. Giants. Rain. Wind. Monday Night Football. Injuries. Eli’s comeback. Just another normal game in a perfectly normal season.

The Eagles have lost three games in a row. The Giants scoff at that, having lost eight in a row. If you’re going to do something, do it right…right?

The Eagles are in desperation mode. The Giants are in preparation mode, for 2020. This isn’t likely to be a game that will be getting a special display in Canton.

Oh boy. The Eagles only have three WRs for tonight’s game. What could possibly go wrong?

Expect a lot of 12 personnel.

It will be interesting to see if Zach Ertz or Josh Perkins is used as a WR in some sets. Both are athletic TEs.

Barnett will be replaced by either Vinny Curry or Josh Sweat. I hope Sweat gets the start. Curry offers depth at DE and DT. We’ll have to wait and see who gets more snaps between Genard Avery and Daeshon Hall. Avery is the guy the team went out and aggressively traded for. Hall is the guy who had a good offseason and played great this summer. Maybe there is some way they could both split a sack of Eli. That would be incredibly satisfying.

Turnovers have been a big problem for the Giants all year. Let’s hope that continues on Monday night.

The Giants defense has struggled with allowing big plays throughout the season. I’m sure Doug Pederson and his coaches have some ideas on how to attack that defense. The lack of WR depth and the weather could limit their chances.

Saquon Barkley has been quiet the past couple of months and that scares the heck out of me. He’s due for a breakout game. Nate Gerry vs him in open space sounds less than ideal.

It would be funny if Miles Sanders outperformed his old teammate.

We know the Giants will blitz a lot so Sanders has to do a good job of blocking, as well as running and catching passes. Pick up blitzers and Carson Wentz will have a chance to make some plays against this secondary.

I don’t know what to expect, but I do know the Eagles need to find a way to win this game, no matter whether ugly or a sensational performance.

The Eagles must win.

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Hello Old Friend

Posted: December 8th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 2 Comments »

Daniel Jones is the key to the Giants future, but on Monday night he’ll just be a spectator. An injury took him off the field and put Eli back into the lineup, where he will make his 500th career start and 487th against the Eagles. At least it seems that way.

Coaches have come and gone. There have been eight different players lead the Giants in rushing during Eli’s career. Andre Brown was the most forgettable. There have been eight different players lead the Giants in receiving yards during Eli’s career. Domenik Hixon is the most forgettable of that group.

Lots of change. One constant. Eli.

It will be sad to see him go. He’s lost 9 of his last 10 games to the Eagles and has really struggled against the guys in green since 2008. That’s a long time. Eli had the better of the rivalry from 2005 through 2007, winning 5 of 6 in that stretch.

Losing to Eli was torturous. Beating him was magical. There was nothing better than seeing Eli Face, that look you’d get a few times in every game where Eli looked like the biggest dork on Earth and not the superstar QB with a pair of Super Bowl rings.

We’ll have to wait and see if this is his last game.

I don’t think Eli is a Hall of Fame player. He won some big games and had some very good years, but the Hall of Fame is for special players. Eli was good, just not special.

He was fun to hate and I’m thankful for one final time to yell nasty things at him as he gets away with intentional grounding for the 10,000th time in his career. That’s one constant in every game.

Hopefully seeing Eli on the field will bring the best out of the Eagles.

*****

The Eagles defense needs to bounce back from last week’s performance. The defense had been on a roll, but had no answers for DeVante Parker or Mike Gesicki.

While the Giants do have some talented skill players, they don’t have tall guys who can go up and get the ball. That should help with matchups.

LB Kamu Grugier-Hill is out with a concussion and that should mean more snaps for Nate Gerry. We expected KGH to have the breakout performance this season, but Gerry has been the LB to open some eyes. He is third on the team in tackles. He has 2 INTs, 2.5 sacks and 3 TFLs. There have been some missed tackles, but Gerry has made plays and shown real potential.

Rookie T.J. Edwards will be the third LB when the Eagles use base looks.

*****

Some Eagles fans are already looking to next year. One of the points of discussion is whether the Eagles should make a run at Odell Beckham, Jr.

There is no question that OBJ has phenomenal talent, but drama seems to follow him and that’s not something I want coming to Philly.

The other issue is that OBJ doesn’t get traded for a 4th round pick. Do you want to invest major resources in a player like him? That’s another reason I’d be hesitant to pursue him.

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