He’s Back

Posted: September 20th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

Wednesday is when the NFL week begins. The team practices. The last game is in the rear view mirror and all eyes are on the upcoming game.

So today was actually Wentzday, with Carson Wentz returning to practice and then talking to the media. It was good to have him at the podium, talking about the frustrations of waiting to get medically cleared and then the excitement he’ll feel on Sunday.

Wentz isn’t the only one coming back.

The Eagles never wanted to get rid of Matthews. He was part of the Ronald Darby trade in the summer of 2017, but there was a reason. Matthews was going to be a free agent at the end of 2017 and the Eagles knew they had no shot to keep him. Matthews had…odd numbers.

Matthews was more productive than Jeffery? Yes, he was. But there is a major catch. Matthews played for Chip Kelly and the no-huddle offense for two years. That meant the Eagles ran more plays than any other team over that span. That helped pump up his numbers. Matthews was the best receiver for the team in 2015 and 2016, which meant he was the primary target. That helped pump up his numbers.

Anyone who watched the tape could see Matthews was solid, but nothing special. He certainly wasn’t as good as his numbers would suggest. Matthews agent focused on the numbers and wanted a big payday for his client. The Eagles were going to spend big money on veteran receivers with size and speed. They signed Jeffery and Torrey Smith. They dealt Matthews, who was no longer critical after the addition of the outside guys and the emergence of Nelson Agholor in the slot.

If the Eagles thought Matthews would have signed a cheap deal, my guess is that they would have loved to keep him around. Good player. Great teammate. Just not a guy you can pay big money to. Matthews isn’t an impact player.

Now Matthews is back. He’s cheap. And he’s likely got a chip on his shoulder. The last year or so has been tough on him. Matthews now gets to come back to the team he loved playing for and gets reunited with a great young QB. What’s not to like?

We’ll have to wait and see what he can do on Sunday. Both Pederson and Wentz said he was healthy and ready to go.

Wentz will need all the help he can get. Agholor and Kamar Aiken will likely play on the outside, with Matthews in the slot. That’s not an explosive trio. Agholor is a good athlete. The other two have solid size. Wentz will almost certainly get the ball out quicker than Nick Foles did. That will give the Eagles receivers a better chance to get RAC yards. Matthews and Aiken aren’t likely to be catching deep balls so RAC yards might be their best chance for a big play.

It will be great to see Wentz back on the field. He will make those around him better. It is hard to quantify just how important that is with such a banged up offense.

*****

Great stuff here from Duce.

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Who’s Who?

Posted: September 18th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

The Eagles offense has undergone a lot of changes so far and things kept rolling today.

With Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles at less than 100 percent, the Eagles needed to make a move at RB. We don’t know the availability for either Ajayi or Sproles this weekend. The team may not know that until Saturday or even Sunday.

Adams had a solid preseason and showed NFL ability. He should be healthy now as he’s only been working in practice for the past few weeks. I think he could step into a game and help out if needed. The biggest question would be how would handle passing situations (as a blocker and/or receiver). I’m sure the Eagles would try to limit him being on the field in those situations.

Carson Wentz will be back under center in this game, but Adams would be a player he’s never played with in a game. Of course, he’s replacing Carter, another player Wentz hasn’t played with.

The Eagles might be bringing back a familiar face and old friend for Wentz.

Cutting Carter means the Eagles are down to Nelson Agholor, Kamar Aiken and Shelton Gibson as healthy receivers. They need help and right away. That’s why Matthews makes sense. He knows the playbook. He knows Doug Pederson. Matthews and Wentz are good friends and have a good chemistry on the field.

No one is under the illusion that Matthews is going to come in here and light it up. He’s on the street for a couple of reasons. He has had injury issues. He’s also a possession receiver in a league that craves playmakers.

Matthews can come in and play right away. He can help the team to move the chains. There is value in that.

The Eagles might just be looking at Matthews as a band-aid.

Maclin is faster and more athletic than Matthews. He’s also older and banged up. We’ll have to wait and see if the Eagles make a move with him next week.

These are not ideal circumstances for the return of Wentz. He’s going to play his first game since tearing his ACL and will have an odd supporting cast around him. I think the offense showed some signs of life in the 2nd half on Sunday so hopefully they can build on that.

Nick Foles was great in January and February, but he’s been highly erratic this year. Not having all his weapons certainly hurt, but the eyeball test tells you a lot of the offensive struggles were on Foles. He never looked in sync, for whatever reason.

While Wentz is rusty, he’s also a significantly more talented player. That makes an enormous difference. Just look at Patrick Mahomes. He threw 6 TDs in his third ever NFL start. If Foles has a really strong supporting cast, he can play at a high level. But he’s not going to make mediocre players all that much better. Wentz started 4-0 in 2016 when Dorial Green-Beckham was one of his key targets. Wentz can absolutely elevate the guys around him.

And the Eagles will need that this week. Something tells me the Colts aren’t too worried about Kamar Aiken. Or Jordan Matthews.

They will pay a lot of attention to Wentz. Rusty or not, he’s a big upgrade at QB and makes the Eagles a lot more dangerous.

*****

Wallace has a broken fibula. Doug Pederson made it sound like he would be out a few weeks. We’ll have to wait and see exactly what that means.

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Bad Day at the Office

Posted: September 17th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

The Eagles lost a real game for the first time in a long while. That has more than a few fans in panic mode. I don’t know if they legitimately feel this way or this is just being done for the sake of nostalgia.

Jim Schwartz and his defense are getting ripped for their performance. The Eagles defense did not play well in Tampa. However, I think there is a definite over-reaction to what we saw on Sunday. There are really two situations where you should worry…lack of effort or lack of talent. Neither was the case on Sunday.

That game really boils down to two plays, each of them a 75-yard TD pass. On the first, Malcolm Jenkins simply made a dumb decision. He jumped an underneath route and let one of the fastest players in the league go deep on a CB with mediocre speed. Dumb, dumb and dumb. And Jenkins knows that.

On the next TD, O.J. Howard caught a pass about 10 yards up the field. Jordan Hicks had tight coverage and just missed deflecting the pass by three or four inches. Ronald Darby was there to make the tackle and limit the play to less than 15 yards. Inexplicably, he decided to try and strip the ball (or something like that). Howard went right by him and down the sideline for a TD. Darby chased him as hard as he could, but didn’t catch up until Howard was in the end zone.

If Jenkins stays in the middle and Darby makes his tackle, those plays are solid gains, but nothing noteworthy. Instead, there were two breakdowns and they gave Tampa long TDs.

The Bucs had three drives that went for 70 or more yards. Two of them were one-play drives. That means there was one long, sustained drive in the whole game. There were also drives that covered 22, 25, -6, 27, 21, -1 and 8 yards.

Here’s a shocker…Tampa punted more in the game than the Eagles did!

And let’s put some perspective on this. The Steelers just gave up 42 points to a QB making his third NFL start. And the Steelers were at home. Carolina gave up 31 points to the Falcons, who were 4 for 4 in the Red Zone. The Patriots gave up 31 points to Blake Bortles and the Jaguars. Last week the Saints gave up 41 offensive points to Tampa.

The Eagles gave up 27 points. It felt a lot worse than that, but it wasn’t.

We thought the defense might be great this year. That could still happen, but they have a lot of work to do before we can re-visit that conversation. They were bad in Tampa. Give the Bucs credit, too. That offense is clicking right now. Ryan Fitzpatrick seems to see every open receiver and puts the ball right on the money. The line is playing well and the receivers are making big play after big play.

Jim Schwartz will not be a happy man this week. He’ll see the mental mistakes on tape and it will eat at him. Jenkins knows he has to stay deep on DeSean. For some reason, he got greedy at that moment. Darby had several good tackles in the game. Why on earth did he decide to do whatever he did at that moment vs Howard? There was the play where Chris Godwin was wide open in the end zone. We haven’t seen a good replay to know who is at fault on that, but it was clearly a blown assignment.

Jalen Mills gave up a RZ score to Mike Evans. Mills had pretty good coverage on that, but there was a perfect throw and he couldn’t get to the ball. I’m guessing Schwartz will be fine with that. You can’t expect to stop every play. You just can’t have breakdowns that give the opponent huge plays. Those are devastating.

I need to re-watch the game a couple of times to really get a feel for what Schwartz was trying to do strategically. He had his guys play off a lot and that made shorter completions easy. When you face fast receivers like Evans and Jackson, there is no simple strategy.

I still believe in Schwartz and the Eagles defense. Sunday was ugly, but it was one game. We’ve seen too much good out of this unit for people to go into panic mode. There are issues to be sure. Veteran QBs give them fits. They aren’t nearly as good on the road. But at the end of the day, this is still a good defense.

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Eagles Go Down

Posted: September 16th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

The Eagles played another slopfest, but this time Steve Sarkasian wasn’t there to bail them out. Tampa beat the Eagles 27-21, with Ryan Fitzpatrick playing another amazing game.

I thought the Bucs could win for sure, but there was no way Fitzpatrick was going to light the Eagles up. There was ZERO chance he would throw for 400 yards on this defense and the improved secondary.

Oops.

Fitzpatrick threw for 402 yards and 4 TDs. It is hard for me to comprehend that. Doing it last week against an inconsistent Saints defense was one thing. He caught them off-guard, right? The Eagles were wide awake and knew exactly what they were dealing with. Or did they?

Malcolm Jenkins stupidly bit on a fake on the first play and DeSean Jackson ran right by Jalen Mills. That led to a 75-yard TD and the Eagles seemed to play on their heels the rest of the game. Jenkins is a terrific player, smart veteran and key leader for the Eagles. How he bit up on that play is beyond me. Didn’t we all know the Bucs would go deep to DeSean to put the fear of god into the Eagles DBs? Ugh.

Jim Schwartz wanted to play a bend, but don’t break style against Tampa’s speed receivers. That’s tough, but can be effective. You must tackle well. Ronald Darby made a pathetic attempt on a 10-yard pass to TE O.J. Howard that helped turn that play into a 75-yard TD. Jalen Mills showed his limitations in this game. He is going to struggle when facing top talent (Mike Evans) or a player with elite speed (DeSean).

The Eagles offense was a mess for most of the first half. Penalties and injuries led to some real problems. What do you do on 3rd and 41 when your LT is a backup and you are missing your two best deep threat WRs? Unfortunately, we got the answer to that question today.

Once the penalties stopped and there was some stability with the lineup, the offense picked things up a bit, but it still wasn’t good. The big thing that stands out to me is the lack of rhythm or feel. It seemed like there was a bit of chaos on each play.

We have not seen good Nick Foles this season. His numbers were much better today (35-48-334 with 1 TD), but he was still highly erratic. There was a screen to Zach Ertz that the defense read perfectly. Foles threw the ball into heavy traffic. It was deflected and somehow fell to the ground. That easily could have been picked off. A veteran QB has to know to just throw that ball away. That was beyond dumb.

There were other plays where Foles threw the ball short. Sometimes that was by design, but other times it seemed like he couldn’t make up his mind and just dumped the ball off. Short passes can be a weapon when done right. That wasn’t the case today.

Foles did make some great plays. His TD to Nelson Agholor was amazing. I thought for sure he overthrew the ball, but it turned out to be a perfect throw to the back corner of the end zone.

It did feel like the offense woke up late in the game, Foles included. If there is anything positive to come out of this game, that could be it. Sometimes an offense can come alive when they go into hurry-up mode and that can carry over to the next week.

The Eagles never panicked. They never gave up. That’s important. The team kept battling and gave themselves a chance to win. The Eagles had that mentality last year and it helped them overcome some tough situations.

Doug Pederson and his staff will study the game tape and coach the players up. There are plenty of mistakes to fix.

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Gameday – at Tampa

Posted: September 16th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

We’re closing in on the start of Game 2, Eagles at Bucs. Here are the inactives for today.

No surprises. We knew Sproles would sit.

There is a lot of confidence that the Eagles will win this. I think they will, but it does bother me that Tampa scored so many points last week.

I can’t help but think of last year. In Week 2, the Eagles went to KC and lost to a veteran QB and his explosive weapons. Here we are in Week 2 and the team is going on the road to face a veteran QB with explosive weapons. There are obviously differences, but you get the point.

This will be a huge test for the defense.

Random Thoughts

  • I wonder if Rasul Douglas will get used in the Red Zone in matchups against Mike Evans. Size on size.
  • It will be interesting to see who the Eagles use as PR and KOR.
  • With Tampa starting two rookies at CB, you would have to think the Eagles will use double-moves to try and get deep on them.
  • Rodney McLeod will be key. He can’t let receivers get behind him.
  • Dallas Goedert had his Welcome to the NFL experience in the opener. I expect him to play better this week.

We’ll find out more about the Eagles in this game.

How good is this defense? Can the passing game get going?

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