Agholor, Turner and the Eagles Receivers

Posted: November 23rd, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 180 Comments »

Sunday was frustrating, to say the least.

It was heartbreaking to have the Zach Ertz TD called back. That was such a great play and it would have given the Eagles the lead. When replay clearly showed Nelson Agholor almost a yard too far back, it was like a gut punch. Why Aggie, why??? Can’t you even line up right?

A short time later he dropped the pass on the deep crossing route. I was immediately filled with rage and screamed at the TV “F You!!!!!!”. I was shaking with anger.

I’ve tried to be patient with Agholor. He seems like a pretty good guy. He’s a hard worker. Terrific player at USC. He’s got a good background story. This is a guy you want to succeed.

DGB is the guy with the troubled past. Jordan Matthews is the guy who went to Vanderbilt, hardly a football factory. Bryce Treggs wasn’t even the best receiver on his college team. Paul Turner is too small and too slow.

Agholor is the star from USC. He was a 5-star recruit that left the state of Florida to play for the Trojans. He caught 178 passes in college. 20 of them were TDs. He had 4 PR TDs. Agholor was a terrific playmaker. He has a good combination of size and speed. This is a guy you wanted in the draft.

But something isn’t right. I don’t care if it is mental, physical, emotional, spiritual or something else. Agholor is hurting the Eagles. He blocks well. He runs good routes and gets open. But he can’t be counted on to catch the ball. And his alignment brain fart was just unacceptable.

Keep him on the roster. I understand cutting him doesn’t make financial sense. Use him on gamedays if you want. But damn sure don’t have him on the field for the majority of the game. It just doesn’t make sense. Go with 3 TE sets. Or play Bryce Treggs more.

There is also the Paul Turner option.

The Eagles brought Turner up from the practice squad. Doug Pederson hasn’t said if Turner will be active this week, but you would sure think this would be the time to do it. Green Bay has an awful secondary right now and the game is on Monday night. That means extra practice time to get ready for the game.

Please don’t think of Turner as some magical answer. The Eagles like him a lot, but have brought him along slowly. Turner just doesn’t show the athleticism needed to be a starting WR in the NFL. I hope something has changed,  but I think he’ll struggle to get open or make plays after the catch. That said, the Eagles have to try something. They have to.

Turner will play all out. He was terrific in the preseason. Other guys might have been pacing themselves, but Turner played those games like his life depended on it. That’s part of the reason you have to be careful about getting too excited about him. He won’t be going up against starters who are less than thrilled about playing or backups who just aren’t that good (except for Monday night possibly).

I hope Turner proves me wrong and plays lights out. It won’t shock me for him to have a good game or two, but I don’t see him playing at a high level on a consistent basis.

Treggs is the player I’m more interested in. He has NFL speed, which the Eagles need more of. Treggs has been with the team long enough to have a feel for the playbook. The coaches need to give him more reps. He might also struggle, but at least it will be different. We’ve seen what Agholor can do. Maybe playing less will somehow get Agholor into the right frame of mind and bring out the best in him. I don’t think he is a completely lost cause.

I do think Agholor is a mess right now and he needs to play less. I’d be fine with giving him a week off. Try something. Keeping him on the field for 70 to 80 percent of the snaps each week is hurting him and the team. Something has to change.

*****

It was encouraging to see DGB have a good game after a couple of quiet weeks. He is a talented young player. You can see that he’s got some issues and that’s why the Titans were willing to give up on him so quickly. But you can also see NFL size, strength and talent. He needs to do a better job of competing on every play. This isn’t college where you are physically better than the guy across from you most of the time. You have to fight for everything in the NFL. I think he’s learning that.

*****

I’m getting questions about who the Eagles should sign or draft in the offseason. That raises an interesting question. What kind of receiver does this offense need? Do you throw big money at Alshon Jeffrey for his size and strength? I know some fans would love to have DeSean back. He certainly has big time speed. There are lots of interesting guys who will be in the draft.

I don’t know what kind of receiver I’d prefer the team to go for at this point. Ideally there will be someone with a good combination of size, speed, strength and skill.

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Seattle Slew

Posted: November 20th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 413 Comments »

The Eagles led the game 7-6. It felt like the teams were playing evenly. Seattle then took a 13-7 lead. The Eagles responded with a great play that would have given them a 14-13 lead, but there was a penalty flag. Nelson Agholor didn’t line up on the LOS. This didn’t affect the play at all, but the rules call for him to be on the LOS in that situation and he stupidly was a yard off. That simple moment changed the game.

The Eagles punted the ball away and Seattle responded with a FG drive, putting them up 16-7. The game never got that close again.

One little mistake had a huge impact.

That’s what happens when you are the team trying to build something and you’re going against the best team in the NFC. Even tougher, the game was on the road against the team with the best home field advantage in the league. The Seahawks are better than the Eagles. In order to beat them, you have to limit mistakes and you sure can’t wipe out 57-yard TDs.

No one would make the argument that scoring that TD to go up 14-13 meant the Eagles were definitely going to win. That was just the 2nd quarter. Seattle still could have won a blowout. But that was a huge moment. That penalty just killed the Eagles confidence and it seemed to get Seattle going.

Beyond the loss, there are injury concerns.

RT Halapoulivaati Vaitai got hit in the back of the leg and left the game. The medical staff was checking for a torn ACL. Could be something as simple as a hyperextension, but it could be bad news as well. Ryan Mathews left the game with a knee injury of his own and he was limping around after the game. Darren Sproles suffered a rib injury. There were other Eagles getting banged up. This was a costly loss. We won’t know how costly until Monday or Tuesday.

The Eagles now sit at 5-5. Some are going to talk as if the season is over. I don’t see it that way. There are 6 games left and 4 of them are at home. The Eagles can still make the playoffs if they finish strong. Say they go 3-1 at home and 1-1 on the road. That would put them at 9-7. Certainly that’s no lock for the playoffs, but it might be good enough. There are a lot of bunched up teams this year.

It is also possible that the emotion of this loss and the injuries could lead to a bad finish.

I was encouraged by how the Eagles finished. They got down 26-7 and I was thinking “Just run the damn ball and let’s get this over with.” Doug Pederson put the game in Carson Wentz’s hands and the Eagles showed some positive signs. Wentz drove them down for a TD and 2-point conversion to cut the lead to 26-15. The Eagles got the ball back with 3 minutes left. The Eagles marched all the way to the SEA 25-yard line, but a penalty wiped out that play and pushed them back to midfield, where the drive ended.

Wentz had a very up and down game, going 23-45-218 with 2 TDs and 2 INTs. There were times when he looked a bit overwhelmed. He also wasn’t getting much help. WRs had 15 yards well into the 2nd half. In case you weren’t sure, that’s not good. Agholor’s penalty wiped out a long TD pass. Making matters worse, Agholor dropped a pass that would have gone for a minimum of 30 yards.

Think about this. Back in 2014 Seattle came to Philly and beat the Eagles 24-14. That was Mark Sanchez, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy, Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz. They put up 139 yards. For the game.

Today you had a rookie QB, banged up OL, injured RBs, were on the road and that group put up 308 yards. The players kept battling. They never gave up. The 4th quarter of the 2 games could not have been more different. Sanchez and his team put up 8 yards of offense. 8 whole yards. Seattle had 79 and worked the clock. Wentz led the Eagles to 143 yards and 8 points in the 4th quarter. He got his team back into the game. Sure, they still lost, but they had Seattle nervous late in the game.

The 2014 loss unraveled that team and they lost the next 2 games. I think this is different. One of the benefits of youth is a short memory. I think Wentz will bounce back from this, as will the whole team. This group has been resilient the whole year so I expect them to keep battling.

Keep your fingers crossed on the injury front. A little luck there would help a lot.

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Halftime – SEA 16, PHI 7

Posted: November 20th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 443 Comments »

Nelson Agholor is the worst person in the history of mankind.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about the game. The Eagles are down 9 points, but they’ve done a lot of good things. The problem is that one mistake on defense resulted in a Seattle TE and one mistake on offense wiped out an Eagles TD. Two plays. Two huge moments that affected the overall game.

Russell Wilson is playing lights out. Even when the Eagles get big time pressure on him, Wilson is finding a way to get away or to get rid of the ball. He is easily the most frustrating player in the league to go against.

The Eagles need to score early in the 3rd to keep this game close. They are not going to mount some great comeback on Seattle so it is imperative to stay within a possession of them. Getting a FG or TD to open the 3rd would put the Eagles where they need to be.

I don’t know what Jim Schwartz and the defense are going to do. Wilson is just red hot the last few weeks. Even when you’re right, you can be wrong. Coming up with a takeaway would be huge.

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Game Preview – PHI at SEA

Posted: November 20th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 451 Comments »

Carson Wentz and the Eagles played well against the Falcons defense last week. Seattle runs basically the same scheme. That’s good news, right? There is one small difference. Seattle has good players.

I certainly don’t agree with that, but this is going to be a real challenge. The Eagles get one bit of good news, with DL Michael Bennett still out due to injury. Unfortunately Kam Chancellor returned last week and he’s a huge part of that secondary (literally and figuratively).

I wrote my preview for PE.com and talked about the need for another good rushing performance. I doubt the Eagles go for 208 yards again this week, but they need to run the ball a lot. You don’t want to throw the ball against Seattle too much.

  • Rookie QB
  • Poor WRs
  • Let’s their DL tee off and crowd noise helps the pass rush

Even if you run 3 times, get 8 yards and punt, that isn’t necessarily a bad possession. The key is for the Eagles defense to keep Seattle from putting up points. If Russell Wilson starts making plays, you have to open up the offense and take some chances.

As I said in the preview, this is a game where the Eagles need their stars to play like stars. Fletcher Cox has been solid for the past month. Today the Eagles need him to be huge. They need him to be regularly disruptive.

I’m curious to see if Jim Schwartz rushes 4 and focuses on coverage or if he blitzes to force Wilson to stay in the pocket. One of the real keys to this game is for the Eagles to limit big plays. Seattle has enough weapons that they can move the ball on long drives, but they are most deadly when they get the big pass plays. The Eagles DL must win the battle up front and the DBs need to plaster receivers. Wilson extends plays with his legs. DBs must cover until the whistle blows.

The Eagles really put the clamps on PIT and ATL. They will need a similar defensive effort today in order to win this game.

The offense has to limit penalties and avoid turnovers. The Seattle D is too good. You cannot help them out.

Couple of interesting notes. Tobin is normally the #3 OT. Allen Barbre is healthy and would likely move outside if there was an injury. I think the Eagles like having Isaac Seumalo active. He is bigger and more physical than Tobin so he helps the extra OL run sets.

Kamu Grugier-Hill is back and will be a big part of STs. He was very good early this year.

Nolan Carroll, Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz are all playing. All 3 need to play well today if the Eagles are going to pull off the upset.

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Keepers

Posted: November 20th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 136 Comments »

The Eagles have had a great STs unit for the past 4 years. Chip Kelly hired Dave Fipp to be the architect and the organization went out and collected a really good group of players for Fipp to coach. Three of the main cogs have been P Donnie Jones, LS Jon Dorenbos and Chris Maragos. The Eagles decided to reward all of them with new contracts.

Maragos is the youngest of the trio and he’s 29 years old. Seems weird for the Eagles to lock up older guys, even specialists. But I think this is smart. Sports science has changed things. Players who really take care of themselves can play a long time, especially if they are full-time starters who are on the field for 50 or more snaps a game.

Dorenbos, Jones and Maragos are all outstanding players and they are good off the field as well. The Eagles could try to save a few bucks by looking for young guys at these spots, but there is real value in having proven veterans who are good on the field and also provide some leadership.

Howie Roseman also made the point that by keeping these players around it helps the Eagles know what they need to get done in the offseason. That isn’t to imply that finding a new snapper would have conflicted with finding a WR, but by eliminating 3 unknowns, the Eagles won’t waste time looking for players to fill the positions. They can focus on other spots that are going to be open due to free agency or under-performance.

Roseman was asked about an extension for Bennie Logan, the team’s key free agent. Roseman wouldn’t get into specifics, but did make it sound like the Eagles have had some discussions. I’m sure they would love to keep Logan, another guy who is good on and off the field. The challenge is finding him money after paying the other guys on the DL. You would think that the team could strongly consider cutting Connor Barwin and then using that money to pay Logan.

We can worry about all that stuff in the offseason.

*****

This is pretty cool.

3 of the executives picked Wentz. Marcus Mariota got the other 2 votes.

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