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  1. Roob's 10 crazy Eagles stats from the Falcons win Jalen Hurts is a human stat machine. Rushing yards, passing yards, touchdowns, you name it, he does it. In the first five starts of his career, he’s got 1,183 passing yards and 334 rushing yards. Nobody else in NFL history has thrown for 1,000 yards and rushed for 300 yards in their first five starts. There’s a lot more where that came from. Welcome to the Week 1 edition of Roob’s 10 Eagles Stats. Jalen's mastery: Hurts’ 1,517 combined passing and rushing yards in his first five NFL starts are eighth-most in NFL history. Jimmy Garoppolo, who presumably starts against the Eagles on Sunday for the 49ers, is just ahead of Hurts on that list. 1770 — Cam Newton (1610, 40) 1663 — Justin Herbert (1542, 121) 1543 — Kirk Cousins (1503, 40) 1591 — Andrew Luck (1488, 103) 1547 — Pat Mahomes (1484, 63) 1530 — Kyler Murray (1324, 206) 1521 — Jimmy Garoppolo (1504, 17) 1517 — Jalen Hurts (1183, 334) 1506 — Jeff Blake (1410, 96) Hurts became only the third Eagles quarterback ever to complete 75 percent of his passes with three TDs and no interceptions in a road game. Randall Cunningham did it in Phoenix in 1992 (77.3 percent, 3-0) and Nick Foles did it in Oakland in 2013 (79 percent, 7-0). His 77 percent completion percentage Sunday is highest ever by an Eagles QB on opening day (minimum 10 attempts). The previous high was Donovan McNabb’s 72 percent against the Giants in 2004. Hurts has now had three career games with at least 250 passing yards, 60 rushing yards and one TD pass. Only six QBs have had more such games in their entire career. Hurts has started five games. Is someone missing on this list?: Hurts’ 126.4 passer rating is the highest by an Eagles quarterback since Foles had a 141.4 rating against the Vikings in the 2017 NFC Championship Game. It’s highest by an Eagles QB on the road in eight years — since Foles had a 149.3 rating in the Eagles’ 27-13 win over the Packers at Lambeau in 2013. Historic debuts: DeVonta Smith’s 71 yards are second-most in Eagles history by a player in his first NFL game. DeSean Jackson had 106 against the Rams in the 2008 opener. Smith’s six catches tied Jackson’s club record for most catches in an NFL debut. Smith and Kenny Gainwell both scored touchdowns in their first NFL game, the first time two Eagles have done that in the same game. Only two other Eagles have scored TDs in their first game in the last 20 years — Tony Hunt against the Lions in 2007 and Terrell Watson against the Cowboys in 2017 (the only game he played for the Eagles). Huge names in Eagles history. Smith and Gainwell are only the sixth and seventh Eagles rookies ever to score on opening day and the first in 28 years. The others were Ben Hawkins in 1970, Michael Haddix in 1983, Junior Tautalatasi in 1986, Keith Jackson in 1988 and Vaughn Hebron in 1993. Smith’s 18-yard TD was the longest by an Eagle in his first NFL game since Willingboro’s Marvin Hargrove caught a 34-yarder from Cunningham against the Cards at the Vet in 1990. A defensive first: This was the first time in 13 years and the first time on the road in 35 years that the Eagles did not allow a touchdown in a game where they didn’t force any turnovers. Last time it happened was in a 38-3 win over the Rams in the 2008 opener. Last time they did that on the road was in a 10-0 win over the Giants at Giants Stadium in 1976. It was only the sixth time they’ve ever done it. It was also only the third time in the last 10 years the Eagles have pitched a second-half shutout on the road. They blanked the Cowboys in the second half of a 37-9 win at AT&T Stadium in 2017 and Washington in the second half of a 24-0 win at FedEx in 2018. Miles of Miles: Miles Sanders had 113 scrimmage yards Sunday and became the fastest Eagle to reach 2,500 career scrimmage yards, doing it in 29 games — one game faster than LeSean McCoy. Sanders now has 2,504 career scrimmage yards. Here are the 10 fastest Eagles to 2,500 scrimmage yards: 29 games — Miles Sanders 30 games — LeSean McCoy 34 games — DeSean Jackson 36 games — Wilbert Montgomery 39 games — Mike Quick 41 games — Tom Sullivan 42 games — Jordan Matthews 42 games — Duce Staley 42 games — Brian Westbrook 43 games — Jeremy Maclin Sanders, who had trouble with drops last year and in training camp, caught all four passes thrown his way for 39 yards. That’s more receiving yards than he had in any game last year. Garner and Gainwell: Gainwell’s 8-yard touchdown run was the second-longest ever by an Eagle in his first career game, the longest since Charlie Garner’s 28-yarder against the 49ers at Candlestick Park on opening day 1994, some 27 years ago. His 37 rushing yards are the most by an Eagle in his first game since LeSean McCoy’s 46 — also on nine carries — on opening day 2009 in Carolina. Gainwell’s 43 scrimmage yards are the most by an Eagle drafted in the fifth round or later in his first NFL game since ninth-round pick Mike Hogan had 44 at Dallas in 1976. Sack machine: Javon Hargrave recorded his second two-sack game as an Eagle Sunday. He also had one against the Saints last year. He’s the only Eagles interior lineman with a two-sack game since Week 3 of 2018, when Fletcher Cox recorded the second of his career. Over the last 10 years, Cox and Hargrave are the only Eagles defensive tackles with two sacks in a game. Hargrave is the first Eagles interior lineman with two-sack games in consecutive seasons since Corey Simon in 2001 and 2002. Blowout city: The 26-point margin of victory was the Eagles’ largest since the 2017 NFC Championship Game, when they beat the Vikings by 31 points, 38-7. It was their largest road margin of victory since earlier in the Super Bowl season, when they beat the Cowboys 37-9 at AT&T. It was also the largest margin of victory by an Eagles coach in his first game with the Eagles since 1964, when they beat the Giants 38-7 at Franklin Field in Joe Kuharich’s first game. But Kuharich had been a head coach before. The largest previous margin of victory by a rookie coach in his first game was 19 points. That was Doug Pederson in a 29-10 win over the Browns on opening day 2016. The Eagles’ 32 points were their most in any game since a 34-17 win over the Giants at MetLife late in the 2019 season. Their high point total last year was 29 in a 38-29 loss to the Steelers in Pittsburgh in October. Doing it in both halves: The Eagles scored 15 points in the first half and 17 in the second half. It was the first time they’ve scored 15 points in both halves of a game since Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis, when they scored 22 in the first half and 19 in the second half against the Patriots. Then there were the penalties: We have to mention the penalties. The Eagles’ 14 penalties are 10th-most in franchise history, the most since they had 14 in Detroit in 2016, and match the most since they had 15 against the Giants in 2007. Last time the Eagles committed 14 penalties on the road and won was 1992 in Seattle, when the Eagles committed 17 penalties for 191 yards in a 20-17 overtime win over the Seahawks at the Kingdome. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-observations-10-crazy-stats-falcons-win?fbclid=IwAR2-MDy0sRIlGTLR8OJkubSbu3E-2JqpAys-xLjNKzZJ0QEVATLzQRYiivc
  2. The one area Jalen Hurts showed the most growth The Falcons threw every blitz they had at Jalen Hurts, trying desperately to create a big play to turn the game around. They created big plays, all right. Big plays from Hurts. We talk so much about Hurts’ arm, his legs, his electrifying athletic ability that it’s easy to lose sight of just how smart he is, how prepared he is and how instinctive he is. And we saw it Sunday in Atlanta, when snap after snap, Hurts was able to diagnose Atlanta’s pressure and beat it either by scrambling away from the rush, finding a hot receiver for a positive gain or throwing the ball away. In the fifth start of his career, his decision making was nearly flawless. Hurts was only sacked once in the Eagles’ 32-6 win — for just three yards — but every other time a Falcon closed in on him, he did the right thing. "Man, I thought he did a really good job there,” Nick Sirianni said. "He did an excellent job. Jalen just was able to have these quick movements to get out of it. … He kind of showed really good instincts … and good feel.” For the most part, the Eagles’ backs did a good job picking up the blitz. When a blitzer did get through, Hurts sniffed it out. "Like, ‘I see the structure of the defense, I'm not really looking at it, but I'm feeling it.’ And so he got us out of a couple binds that we made a couple mistakes on,” Sirianni said. "I really thought he handled that well, how he handled the blitz. I thought he did a really good job of running it when he was supposed to and throwing it when the defense allowed.” You could see the Falcons growing frustrated as the game went on as Hurts repeatedly beat the pressure. "I feel like we got some good pressure on him but just didn’t get him down,” Falcons two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Grady Jarrett said after the game. "He definitely is very, very impressive with evading defenders and making throws on the run. And he’s a very, very strong guy.” You couldn’t help but see tremendous growth in Hurts Sunday in several key areas. After throwing four interceptions, fumbling nine times and taking 13 sacks in about a quarter of a season last year, he didn’t fumble or throw an interception Sunday and he was only sacked the one time. It became clear as the game went on Sunday that what was effective against Hurts last year isn’t going to work on him this year. At least in Week 1. There wasn’t one snap where you felt like he threw when he should have run or he ran when he should have thrown. He was poised and in control. And the more the Falcons came after him, the more he made them regret it. “(We want him to) be that passer first and then go and run,” Sirianni said. "So yeah, I was really pleased with how he handled the pressures. And they brought a lot of different things at us.” https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/jalen-hurts-falcons-blitz-eagles-nfl-week-1-nick-sirianni?fbclid=IwAR2YZzx1LiHNR1QFTVz1tmZJXHMC5Tz9ilDygcq-Iml-3CiHYg7-IMOK5y0
  3. Brilliance from Jalen Hurts and more in Roob's 10 observations The last time the Eagles won a game by 26 points was 2017. The last time they won an opener by 26 points was 2009. The last time they won by 26 points in a head coach’s first game was 1964. It was a historic performance for the Eagles in Atlanta, a 32-6 win over the Falcons in Nick Sirianni’s head coaching debut. Here’s our 10 observations from a remarkable season opener from Jalen Hurts and the Eagles: 1. What a brilliant performance from Hurts in his first opening-day start and his first game under Nick Sirianni. He played such smart football and saw the field so well. Responded beautifully to pressure, didn’t force anything when it wasn’t there, took what the defense gave him, spread the ball around, used his legs when it was the right thing to do, threw the ball accurately and just showed terrific poise and command of the offense throughout the game. You still think he can’t throw the football? Hurts was 27-for-35 — that’s 77 percent — for 264 yards, three TDs, no turnovers and 62 rushing yards on seven carries. 2. It didn’t take long for DeVonta Smith to show why there’s been so much hype around this kid. So smooth. Terrific body control. Real knack for getting open. And catches the ball effortlessly. You can see the chemistry he and Hurts have. Smith had the early 18-yard touchdown, making him the first Eagles rookie with a TD catch on opening day since tight end Keith Jackson's 8-yarder from Randall Cunningham in Tampa in 1988. He finished 6-for-71, and only DeSean Jackson (106 vs. the Rams in 2008) has had more yards for the Eagles in a career debut. This franchise has been waiting for a kid like this for a long time. 3. Sirianni really called an exceptional game in his debut as an NFL play caller and did a very good job getting Hurts into a rhythm with the high-percentage short passes we saw so much of in training camp. I thought Sirianni’s best work came on the two-minute drill at the end of the first half, when the Eagles got the ball back on their own 38-yard-line with 1:44 left before halftime and just chipped away down the field, squeezing 12 plays into those 104 seconds and ultimately taking a 15-6 lead on Hurts’ brilliant roll-out TD pass to Dallas Goedert and Miles Sanders' two-point conversion run. He used the short passing game to build the lead and then unleashed a fresh Sanders on the Falcons in the second half. And I like how he mixed in Kenny Gainwell and really did a terrific job keeping the Falcons off balance. It’s always fun seeing deep shots, but the Eagles didn’t need them Sunday; why run low-percentage plays when you’re moving the ball without them? All in all, an auspicious debut for Sirianni. 4. A ton of credit to Jonathan Gannon for not just making adjustments after the first couple Atlanta drives but also just getting his guys to calm down and stop trying to do too much. Early on, the Eagles were getting gashed on the ground, allowing long third-down conversions, missing tackles, the works. The Falcons’ offense was really out-physical-ing the Eagles’ defense early. The Falcons piled up 144 yards on those first two drives, and only some very good deep red-zone work kept them out of the end zone. Maybe it was the lack of preseason game action or live training camp reps, but the defense just didn’t look ready. After that, wow. Once the Falcons had to throw, the Eagles’ defensive line took over and dominated. After those first two field goals, the Eagles pitched a shutout. The Falcons were 13-for-86 rushing in the first quarter and 11-for-25 the rest of the game. Overall, they netted 178 yards on their first three drives and 69 yards on their next seven drives. That’s incredible, really. Tremendous work by Gannon and his staff. 5. The Eagles did a terrific job defending vaunted rookie Kyle Pitts, who was 4-for-31 in his NFL debut. The Eagles mixed coverages and had a lot of people accounting for Pitts, but even with Marcus Epps leaving the game early with a concussion and Rodney McLeod not available, Pitts was really a non-factor. He had a one-yard catch in the first half and by the time he caught another pass the Eagles were up big. Neutralizing Pitts was huge. 6. One thing 32-6 says is Sirianni’s approach to training camp was the right one. I wasn’t sure how the Eagles would start the season coming off those short, non-contact training camp practices and preseason games without most of the starters. But after a sluggish start, this team was prepared, physical, fundamentally sound and mentally tough. The Eagles got to Atlanta almost completely healthy and it paid off. Sirianni was definitely vindicated. 7. We really saw the youth of this team Sunday and that’s incredibly encouraging. Smith, Jalen Reagor and Kenny Gainwell are all 22 years old and all scored touchdowns. With Smith and Gainwell, this was the first game in Eagles history two players playing in their first NFL game have scored a touchdown, and it’s the first time since three different Eagles 22 or younger have scored in the same game since 2009, when three guys you may have heard of — DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin — scored against the Giants at the Linc. I don’t know if these guys can make that sort of impact, but it’s just nice to have young draft picks shining. 8. We talk all the time about what a legend Jason Kelce is, an all-time Eagles great, maybe a Hall of Famer one day. Sunday we saw it. He’s 33 now and in his 11th season, but man, he was out there crushing people. There was one play, a Sanders catch and run for a first down in the third quarter, that he steamrolled two Falcons and got in the way of another. This was vintage Kelce, using his athleticism and power and leverage to just blast people out of the way. There were points this offseason we weren’t sure he was coming back after the coaching change. Not only did he come back, he’s as good as ever. 9. The Eagles were 0-for-2 on fourth down, but you know what? I like the aggressiveness. The Falcons were a little better on those plays, but I like Sirianni’s confidence both in his offense to convert and the defense to hold on the next possession. 10. One of the reasons the Eagles were able to gain momentum and take control of the game was the punting of Arryn Siposs in his first NFL game. Zech McPhearson downed his first career punt at the 8-yard-line; his second sailed down to the 7 and after a short return the Falcons took over at their 14; and McPhearson downed his third at the 8. All three punts sailed into the same corner. Heck of a debut. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-falcons-nfl-week-1-jalen-hurts-devonta-smith-nick-sirianni?fbclid=IwAR3vQpDgSthYzSHBqA_nVIfAU-AkxSSCu-xxEDJdHGXGiXkMvPwfmK7bPro
  4. Eagles reward Mailata with massive contract extension The remarkable Jordan Mailata story got a little bit more remarkable Saturday when he and the Eagles agreed to a monster contract extension that runs through 2025. Mailata, who never played a snap of meaningful organized football on any level before last fall, agreed to a four-year deal worth $64 million with incentives that could raise the total value to $80 million, a league source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Dave Zangaro. The deal also includes $40.85 million guaranteed. ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported the deal. Mailata, the Eagles’ 7th-round pick in 2018, is scheduled to earn $850,000 this year on the final year of his four-year, $2.49 million rookie contract. Including only the new money and seen as a four-year deal starting in 2022, Mailata’s average annual salary of $16 million is second-highest on the roster behind Fletcher Cox’s $17.1 million average. Lane Johnson also averages $16 million. With Brandon Brooks averaging $14.1 million, three of the Eagles’ four-highest-paid players are offensive linemen. Eleven of the 16 highest averages on the team are either offensive or defensive linemen. That $16 million figure is also 12th-highest among all NFL offensive tackles, according to Spotrac. Mailata, an Australian rugby player who became offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland’s long-term project, had never played football on any level before the Eagles drafted him. He didn’t play in 2018 and 2019 and finished both seasons on Injured Reserve with back injuries. After injuries last year to Andre Dillard and Jason Peters, Mailata took over at left tackle in Week 4 and in 10 starts - nine at left tackle, one at right tackle - showed remarkable progress. He and Dillard competed for the starting left tackle job this summer, and it wasn’t close. "For me, I’m just a lot more confident in myself,” Mailata said when asked what’s changed for him this year. "What I mean by that, is I know I can play this game.” On Sunday, Mailata will make his first opening-day start. He’s still only 24, and the Eagles now have him under contract until he’s 29. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-reward-jordan-mailata-massive-contract-extension?fbclid=IwAR1JLtZrnO_9I5j14jHrhGr7IkletZp-JTjWbZ9N2Y6aql2fGonuk76uGGY
  5. Why Eagles' revamped defense just might be legit Eagles fans love defense, and it’s been that way since the days of Reggie, Seth, Clyde, Jerome, Wes, Andre, Eric and B&E. It will probably be that way forever. Eagles fans like offense just fine, but they go freaking bonkers for defense, and the reality is with just a couple exceptions, this franchise recently hasn’t had a defense that anybody could go freaking bonkers for. Let’s break it down: From 1999 through 2008, Jim Johnson’s decade leading the defense, the Eagles ranked sixth in the NFL in points allowed. Since 2009, they rank 21st. That’s not just a coaching stat. More than anything, it’s a talent stat. And other than 2017, the Eagles haven’t had enough of it on the defensive side of the ball. That was the Eagles' only top-10 scoring defense in the last nine years. Which brings us to today. I’m under no illusions that this defense is stocked with ascending young superstars. It’s not. The best players on the Eagles’ 2021 defense are Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Darius Slay, Rodney McLeod, all in their 30s. I’d put 28-year-old Javon Hargrave in that category, too. But two things stand out about this group. There’s no real weak link. That guy who makes everybody cringe. That guy who you can't believe is getting snaps. Honestly, I don’t feel like typing their names. You know who I mean. If they’re healthy, the Eagles have 11 guys ranging from solid to exceptional. Depth is an ongoing concern, but the 11 starters — 12 if you include nickel — are all decent at worst. The Eagles have gotten better across the board. Milton Williams and Ryan Kerrigan up front. Eric Wilson at linebacker. Steve Nelson at corner. Anthony Harris at safety. Avonte Maddox at nickel. And remember, Alex Singleton wasn’t even getting regular snaps on defense until Week 6 last year. But the big addition and I suspect the real star of this unit is Jonathan Gannon, the Eagles’ first-time defensive coordinator. Now, Jim Schwartz got as much as he could out of what he had. His system made sense considering the Eagles’ strength up front, weakness at linebacker and constantly revolving group of practice-squad corners. And Schwartz was at his best in the postseason, allowing 17 points per game in six playoff games, even with the Patriots’ 33 in the Super Bowl. All that said, Gannon seems like the perfect guy to lead this defense into a new era. You never really know until you see it all come together on game day, but based on what we’ve watched and heard this summer, Gannon has a keen sense for matching scheme with talent, for understanding how to keep offenses off balance, for adjusting the game plan when it needs to be adjusted, for continually moving players around to keep offenses guessing, for teaching players how to think on their feet when they see the unexpected and for communicating his message quickly and clearly to his players. Now, it’s a huge jump from theory to practice. Gannon has never been an NFL defensive coordinator on a regular-season NFL Sunday. Heck, he was an assistant position coach just four years ago. And there are a lot of questions that need to be answered, starting Sunday in Atlanta. Do the Eagles have enough true playmakers in the back seven to be an elite defense? Have all the newcomers developed the kind of chemistry they need with the returning guys after just a handful of preseason snaps? Will the older veteran nucleus stay healthy and continue to be effective? Can the youngsters Gannon is counting on play up to expectations? A lot of questions. And there will be bad plays, bad games, bad losses. But overall I like what I see. This is a defense headed in the right direction, and it’s hard not to believe in the guy running it. And a couple days before the start of a new era of Eagles football, it just may be OK to go bonkers again over the defense. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/why-jonathan-gannon-gives-eagles-defense-real-chance?fbclid=IwAR1oIuls1UVFWl5Ge3dvmtlbSymK5JgOFROMlPqEI1pPjcBndin-i_npBRM
  6. Roob's week-by-week predictions for the Eagles' 2021 season They went 10-6 in Rich Kotite’s first season. They went 10-6 and made the playoffs in Ray Rhodes’ first season. They went 10-6 and won the NFC East in Chip Kelly’s first season. It took Andy Reid and Doug Pederson two years to record double-digit wins, and in Pederson’s case lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl championship. But the point remains: When you fire your coach in the NFL, you can turn things around quickly ... if you hire the right coach, find the right quarterback, build a decent defense and stay healthy (and have the easiest schedule in the league). Have the Eagles done those things? And can Nick Sirianni’s unique training camp style lead to a healthy season? Ultimately, the Eagles will go as far as Jalen Hurts and Sirianni take them, and since they’re both huge unknowns, it’s tough to predict much of anything. But we're going to do it anyway. Here’s our week-by-week Eagles 2021 predictions! Week 1, at Falcons (Sunday, Sept. 12): A manageable opener. The Falcons used to be unbeatable at home, but they’re just 9-15 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium the last three years for a .375 home winning percentage since 2018. The Falcons are also led by a rookie coach, and Matt Ryan is still pretty good but nowhere near the QB he used to be. Eagles open the Sirianni Era with a dub. WIN (1-0) Week 2, vs. 49ers (Sunday, Sept. 19): The 49ers are coming off a disappointing 6-10 season, but they had more injuries than the Eagles a year ago and are still one of the three or four best teams in the NFC when healthy. Kyle Shanahan is a little overrated as a brilliant offensive mind. The Niners have only been ranked in the top 20 in scoring once in his four years as head coach, but their defense is formidable and will be a little too much for Hurts and the Eagles’ young WRs. LOSS (1-1) Week 3, at Cowboys (Monday, Sept. 27): The Eagles have lost their last three at AT&T Stadium, and that’s a tough place to play for a young QB. It doesn’t hurt that Hurts got a start in Dallas last year, but I don’t think this is a game the Eagles are quite ready to win early in the season in Arlington. LOSS (1-2) Week 4, vs. Chiefs (Sunday, Oct. 3): A tall task against Reid and a Chiefs team that’s 38-10 the last three years with two Super Bowl appearances. The Chiefs are an NFL-best 44-20 (.688) on the road in eight years under Big Red and a ridiculous 20-4 the last three years. Another tough early-season challenge. LOSS (1-3) Week 5, at Panthers (Sunday, Oct. 10): Trying to find some wins early in the season isn’t easy, but the Panthers don’t scare me, even in Charlotte, where they’ve won just nine home games the last three years. If it comes down to Sam Darnold vs. Hurts, I’ll take Hurts in any stadium. WIN (2-3) Week 6, vs. Buccaneers (Thursday, Oct. 14): This Tampa game ends a rough opening six-game stretch. I don’t think the Bucs are unbeatable and there are things to consider other than the QB matchup, but Tom Brady is 15-1 since 2014 against opposing quarterbacks who are 23 and younger, with the one loss coming in 2019 to Lamar Jackson, who was on his way to MVP honors. Never count the Eagles out at home, but this is a tough one. LOSS (2-4) Week 7, at Raiders (Sunday, Oct. 24): Hard to believe, but the Raiders haven’t been ranked in the top 20 in scoring defense since 2003. That’s 17 consecutive years ranked 20th or worse in points allowed. That’s not going to change this year either. Oh and by the way, they’re also the 24th-ranked offense in the NFL since offensive genius Jon Gruden returned as head coach in 2018. This isn’t a good football team, and I think this is where DeVonta Smith has his first monster game. WIN (3-4) Week 8, at Lions (Sunday, Oct. 31): Another road game immediately after a West Coast trip is not easy. I’m not the world’s biggest Jared Goff fan, but he’s played well against the Eagles — his 101.1 passer rating is sixth-highest all-time — and the Lions always seem to give the Eagles trouble. Can’t believe I’m saying this, but … LOSS (3-5) Week 9, vs. Chargers (Sunday, Nov. 7): The Eagles get their first look at Justin Herbert and another rookie head coach in Brandon Staley. Herbert’s going to be a stud, but this will be the Chargers’ third cross-country road trip of the year, and getting back home to the cozy confines of the Linc gives the Eagles the edge. WIN (4-5) Week 10, at Broncos (Sunday, Nov. 14): I’m not sure where to go with this one. The Broncos won’t be very good, but it’s a tough trip, tough place to play, altitude is always a factor in Denver, and it’s the Eagles’ third road game and second trip across the country in four weeks, and that’s a lot. LOSS (4-6) Week 11, vs. Saints (Sunday, Nov. 21): I kept going back and forth on the Saints. Drew Brees is retired, the game is at the Linc and Hurts has already beaten the Saints once. But the Saints are still really talented on both sides of the ball, and I’m going to go against the grain here and pick New Orleans. LOSS (4-7) Week 12, at Giants (Sunday, Nov. 28): Now the fun begins. The Giants will be coming off a short week after a Monday night game against the Buccaneers in Tampa, which tilts the scale in the Eagles’ favor in their first NFC East game in two months. Big road division win gets the Eagles rolling. WIN (5-7) Week 13, at Jets (Sunday, Dec. 5): The Jets have never beaten the Eagles. They’re 0-11 all-time, including 0-5 at home. That ain’t changing, and the Eagles have their first winning streak of the year. WIN (6-7) Week 14, bye week Week 15, vs. Washington (TBD): The first of two games against Washington in a three-week span. Washington is going to be decent. Ron Rivera is a solid coach, their defense is legit and Ryan Fitzpatrick always seems to play well against the Eagles, no matter what team he’s with. Tough matchup, but I like the Eagles at home. WIN (7-7) Week 16, vs. Giants (Sunday, Dec. 26): The Eagles have swept the Giants seven of the last 12 seasons, and they’re 20-5 vs. the Giants in their last 25 meetings. New coach, new quarterback, new everything, but I just don’t see the Giants beating the Eagles this year. I’m going sweep and the late-season winning streak reaches four. WIN (8-7) Week 17, at Washington (Sunday, Jan. 2): The winning streak ends in Landover, but after a slow start the Eagles are at .500 going into the season finale against the Cowboys at the Linc, and with a rookie coach and new quarterback that's not a bad place to be. LOSS (8-8) Week 18, vs. Cowboys (Sunday, Jan. 9): The Eagles finish on a strong note with their third straight home win over the Cowboys to lock up a nine-win season and an increase of five wins over their nightmarish 2020 season. The Eagles take advantage of a soft second-half schedule and increasingly impactful performances from their young offensive weapons to go 5-1 in their last nine games after a 4-7 start and win the NFC East for the third time in five years. See you in the playoffs! WIN (9-8) https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-observations-nfl-predictions-2021-nick-sirianni-jalen-hurts?fbclid=IwAR3r-VCQayZfbGFmejaWP0Cr-VjigNSltQiPMCBmIeEtzjUMkDDOix_IKoU
  7. What positions are Eagles spending the most money on? One thing Howie Roseman learned from Andy Reid was to spend as much as possible on the two lines and as little as possible everywhere else. A look at the Eagles’ 2021 salary cap breakdown shows that Roseman learned well. According to figures on Spotrac, the Eagles are allocating about $82 million under the salary cap to their two lines this year, by far the highest figure in the NFL. Considering they only have about $156 million available under the cap this year after all their dead money, that means they’re devoting more than half of their cap to the big guys up front. The Eagles rank at or near the bottom in projected 2021 cap expenditures at almost every other position. The Roseman way is to go either very expensive or very cheap everywhere. And the Eagles are either in the top eight or the bottom eight in every position group (other than special teams). Let’s take a look at how much the Eagles are spending at each position this year and where they rank in the NFL, according to Spotrac’s research. Quarterbacks: $3.8 million, 31st When your quarterback room consists of a second-round pick on his rookie contract, a 36-year-old journeyman who hasn’t been a full-time starter in four years and a sixth-round pick on his rookie contract, your quarterback payroll is going to be low, and the only team spending less on their QBs this year is the Patriots ($2.8 million). Now, if you want to include Carson Wentz’s dead money, this figure skyrockets to nearly $38 million, which would put them at the top of this list. But for the purposes of our survey — which is to look only at the cap figures on the current roster — the Eagles are spending very little money on their quarterbacks. And considering their dead cap situation, they don’t have a choice. Running backs: $3.1 million, 31st Since ill-advised contracts for DeMarco Murray and Darren Sproles, Roseman has gone cheap at running back. Running backs have a short shelf life, and in an increasingly pass-oriented league, the notion of paying big money for running backs that are easily replaceable doesn’t make sense. But the Eagles this year have taken that to a new extreme, with the second-lowest RB payroll in the league. Only the Bears ($2.9 million) are allocating less cap space to running backs. Wide receivers: $9.7 million, 25th Another relatively budget skill group at a position where the Eagles drastically overpaid DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery a year ago. In 2020, the Eagles ranked fourth in WR payroll at a whopping $30 million, so this is what happens when you go young and don’t have any veterans. The bulk of the $9.7 million is for DeVonta Smith and Jalen Reagor, the Eagles’ first-round picks the last two years. Tight ends: $15.2 million, 2nd Zach Ertz has a cap figure of $12,721,500, which is more than 27 teams are spending overall on all their tight ends. That’s the second-highest cap figure on the roster, behind only Fletcher Cox’s $23.88 million. It’s a lot to spend on tight ends, but in Ertz and Dallas Goedert, the Eagles have two players who when they’re healthy are top-10 tight ends in the NFL. The only tight ends signed for 2022? Tyree Jackson and Jack Stoll. Offensive linemen: $34.2 million, 8th The Eagles are spending a lot on the O-line, but when you have three multiple Pro Bowlers on long-term contracts, that’s going to happen. Still, to be able to pay Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks and Jason Kelce market value and still be at No. 8 is impressive. It doesn’t hurt that Jordan Mailata is on the final year of a rookie seventh-round deal. Washington (third at $39.7 million) and the Cowboys (12th at $30.1 million) are also pretty high up the list. Defensive linemen: $47.7 million, 1st Reid made defensive line a priority when he was here and that hasn’t changed. And not surprisingly the top two teams in the NFL in terms of D-line salary cap allocations in 2021 are the Eagles and Chiefs ($46.6 million). Three of the Eagles’ seven-biggest cap figures belong to defensive linemen — Cox’s $23.9 million is first, Brandon Graham’s $8.0 million is fourth and Javon Hargrave’s $5.8 million is seventh. Having inexpensive groups at running back, wide receiver and linebacker gives Roseman the ability to pay the defensive linemen nearly $50 million. Linebackers: $4.9 million, 32nd Not only are the Eagles devoting the lowest amount of cap space in the league to their linebackers, only three teams are spending less than twice than the Eagles. This is a very clear Roseman philosophy, that as long as you have talent at D-line and in the secondary, you can get away with a budget linebacker corps. Eric Wilson ($1.4 million) has the largest cap hit in the position group, and everyone else is at $1 million or less. This is the Eagles’ second straight year in the No. 32 spot at linebacker and fourth straight year in the bottom 10. Secondary: $16.9 million, 26th Adding key pieces Steve Nelson and Anthony Harris on cheap one-year deals helped Roseman upgrade the secondary while still keeping costs down. Darius Slay’s $6.6 million figure accounts for about 40 percent of the Eagles’ entire secondary cap figure and slot corner Avonte Maddox is actually second at $2.4 million. Five of the nine defensive backs currently on the 53 have cap figures below $1 million. Pretty good value all around for a position the Eagles had to upgrade. Specialists: $4 million, 19th Jake Elliott’s big contract extension and $2.1 million cap hit accounts for about half of the special teams cap allocation. The only position that’s not either in the top eight or the bottom eight. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-salary-cap-what-positions-howie-roseman-spending-most?fbclid=IwAR0sedXZbEBGHChPIOsZxACqv_iqdPvTisSuijTSguINoOKbDVjybaYLgyY
  8. Eagles add another cornerback to 53-man roster The Eagles filled the final spot on their 53-man roster Tuesday by signing cornerback Mac McCain from the Broncos’ practice squad. Franklin "Mac” McCain III, an undrafted rookie from North Carolina A&T, spent training camp with the Broncos before getting released on the final cut-down. The Broncos then signed him to their practice squad before the Eagles poached him on Tuesday. McCain is the second cornerback the Eagles have added to their active roster since final cuts. They claimed Andre Chachere off waivers from the Colts on Thursday. The Eagles had five corners on their initial 53-man roster — starters Darius Slay and Steve Nelson, plus slot Avonte Maddox, rookie Zech McPhearson and undrafted Josiah Scott. But Scott went on Injured Reserve last week with a hamstring injury he suffered in the preseason finale against the Jets. With Chachere and McCain on the 53, the Eagles now have six corners on the roster but three of them — Chachere, McPhearson and McCain — have never played an NFL regular-season snap. The Eagles were sitting on 52 players on the active roster after claiming Chachere and placing Jack Driscoll, Tyree Jackson and Scott on IR. The 6-foot, 175-pound McCain was a three-year starter for North Carolina A&T, where he had eight interceptions, 113 tackles and 30 pass knockdowns from 2017 through 2019. He returned two of the interceptions 100 yards for touchdowns. Because the Eagles signed McCain from another team’s practice squad, they must keep him on the roster for at least three weeks (or pay him for up to three weeks). With a rookie minimum salary of $660,000, that amounts to at least $110,000 for the 23-year-old McCain. The Eagles also have two cornerbacks on the practice squad — fourth-year veteran Craig James and second-year pro Michael Jacquet. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-roster-mac-mccain-broncos-eagles-secondary?fbclid=IwAR2L75ytLwV-fa2RSyN74x9128c11QsGBSyKyxprmMDgEtApQ3o4DY3B7Vs
  9. How the Eagles wound up with $50 million in dead money The Eagles this year are devoting more than a quarter of their payroll to players who aren't Eagles. So it goes with rebuilding teams that cut ties with overpaid, high-priced veteran players with long-term contracts. Every NFL team deals with so-called "dead money.” The Eagles are just dealing with it more than any team in the league right now and more than all but a handful of teams in NFL history. Dead money is the direct product of a front office's poor personnel evaluations and a player's declining skills. Give a player too much guaranteed money and you can be faced with a dilemma: Do you keep him on the roster when he’s wasting a spot or release him and wind up with a huge dead money charge on your salary cap? Dead money, simply put, is guaranteed salary not paid to a player who’s been released or traded. The earlier in a contract a team gets rid of a player, the more dead money counts against the team. The Eagles, for example, couldn’t release Alshon Jeffery last year because he would have counted a whopping $26 million against the cap. Depending when you release a player, the money can be spread out over two years. But either way, it has an enormous impact on your roster and personnel moves. The more dead money you have, the harder it is to build a competitive team, because you have less available cap space to work with. Which brings us to the 2021 Eagles. According to figures on Spotrac, after final cuts last week they were charged with $50,041,688 in dead money, most in the league this year, seventh-most ever and sixth-most on a percentage basis of the year’s unadjusted cap. Here’s a look at the top-five and bottom-five dead money totals in 2021, according to Spotrac: Most dead money $50,041,688 … Eagles $48,051,675 … Lions $45,634,297 … Panthers $39,473,971 … Rams $35,755,096 … Saints Least dead money $4,290,900 … Ravens $3,240,871 … Browns $2,380,126 … Buccaneers $2,250,012 … Chargers $596,187 … Colts And here’s a look at the teams with the highest dead cap totals in NFL history: $70,343,254 … 2018 Bills $66,915,659 … 2019 Dolphins $55,156,416 … 2019 Giants $54,072,638 ... 2020 Panthers $53,587,595 ... 2020 Jets $50,898,166 ... 2019 Cards $50,041,688 … 2021 Eagles $49,890,275 ... 2020 Jaguars $48,051,675 … 2021 Lions $46,236,097 … 2017 Browns Many of those teams have something in common: They got rid of a guy they thought was a franchise quarterback who they paid a fortune to. Like the 2019 Dolphins with Ryan Tannehill ($18.4 million), the 2020 Jaguars with Nick Foles ($18.8 million) and this year’s Detroit Lions with Matt Stafford ($19 million). The 2019 Cards had large cap hits from two QBs they unloaded — Josh Rosen ($8.2 million) and Sam Bradford ($5 million). As was widely reported back in February, the Eagles absorbed the largest single dead money charge in NFL history when they traded Carson Wentz to the Colts. Wentz this year counts $33.82 million against the Eagles’ cap, which makes him the most expensive player on a team he’s no longer on. Wentz’s dead money accounts for 16.34 percent of the Eagles’ total adjusted cap figure of $206,998,775. His 2021 cap figure is about $10 million higher than any other Eagle. Fletcher Cox is second at $23.88 million. Wentz’s dead cap charge is higher than 27 of 32 entire teams in the league. According to annual dead cap figures available on Spotrac, if Wentz were an NFL team, he would have the 25th-highest dead money total of any team in NFL history. Only three other players have ever had more than a $20 million dead money hit. The second-highest in history is Jared Goff’s $22.2 million this year with the Rams. Wentz has that beat by more than $10 million. But the Eagles’ dead money total is a lot more than Wentz. DeSean Jackson ($5.8 million), Jeffery ($5.6 million) and Malik Jackson ($3.6 million) all have huge cap hits, and Wentz, Jeffery and the two Jacksons account for most of the Eagles' 2021 dead money. But any player that gets any amount of guaranteed money and is released or traded counts against a team’s dead money total. Even if he re-signs with the team. For instance, the Eagles released Hassan Ridgeway on Tuesday. Since he had $100,000 in guaranteed money on his one-year deal, he counts $100,000 in dead money. The Eagles re-signed him on Thursday, but the $100,000 dead money remains. Shareef Miller, a fourth-round pick in 2019 who played one snap in an Eagles uniform, still counts $243,264 in dead money, thanks to his rookie signing bonus. Nick Mullens got a $200,000 signing bonus, so when the Eagles released him last week, that turned into $200,000 in dead money. Jhamon Ausbon? Would you believe $73,333? Even undrafted rookie camp long shots who get tiny bonuses contribute to the Eagles’ dead money total. Guys like Kayode Awosika, Raequan Williams, Elijah Riley and Michael Jacquet — all now on the practice squad — each count somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000 in dead money because they got bonuses when they signed and then were released. In all, the Eagles have 32 players who count toward that $50.04 million figure. And every time they release someone, that figure will go up. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/nfl-salary-cap-eagles-roster-carson-wentz-desean-jackson-howie-roseman?fbclid=IwAR0ddr3kpqSguoCzRmDldNe_OvtmlaGKOwcT_7mFkndKNcPMYgazhX5KG_s
  10. Why cutting Fulgham was the right move and more in Roob's observations JJAW’s future, why cutting Travis Fulgham actually makes sense, when will Rodney McLeod will be ready, what the Eagles might be looking for on the waiver wire and lots more in Roob’s 10 Observations on the Eagles’ Roster Moves! 1. My first reaction to the initial Eagles’ roster was that there’s a real emphasis on young, developmental players over veterans who may be more ready to contribute on opening day but maybe don’t have the upside of some of the younger guys. Edge rusher Tarron Jackson and defensive tackle Marlon Tuipulotu are rookie 6th-round picks and linebacker Patrick Johnson is a rookie 7th-rounnd pick. All three are long-term prospects more than ready-for-the-NFL defenders, but all three are on the 53, at least for now. I’d put undrafted rookie TE Jack Stoll, project OT Brett Toth and even LB Shaun Bradley in that category, too. Considering where the Eagles are as a franchise, deep in a rebuilding season with a young QB and a rookie head coach, it makes sense. You need to learn as much as possible about your promising young talent instead of bringing in mediocre vets to take away their reps. 2. That said, don’t be surprised if this roster takes a very different shape on Wednesday. Waiver claim order is the same as the initial draft order, which means the Eagles are sitting in the No. 6 spot in claim priority. So they’ll have a pretty fair shot at being awarded most if not all the players they claim. That means they get that player (and his existing contract) but for every player they add, that’s one guy who made the initial 53 who they have to cut. And guys like Tuipulotu, Jackson, Johnson, Toth, Stoll and Bradley are all candidates to lose their spots on Wednesday. In most cases, the players they release after the initial 53 will clear waivers and the Eagles can then try to sign them to their practice squad. With the 16-man practice squad, game-day elevations and protected players, the practice squad really becomes more of an extension of a team’s roster than it ever did before last year. It's a risk, but the Eagles' chances of losing any of these guys is small. 3. What positions are the Eagles most likely to file waiver claims? I’d start with defensive tackle, where they don’t have a lot of depth behind Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave. Tuipulotu isn’t ready, and Milton Williams is more of a defensive end right now than interior lineman. Running back and wide receiver are also thin. The Eagles have only three RBs and five WRs and something has to give there. Honestly, considering the current makeup of the roster and the Eagles’ waiver position, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re awarded three or four players Wednesday. I would expect all the players they claim to be in the promising youngster category as opposed to established veterans. 4. And don’t forget, all the vested veterans the Eagles released on Tuesday – guys like Jordan Howard, Hassan Ridgeway, Andrew Adams and Richard Rodgers – and if they’re not on the roster Week 1 their contracts are no longer guaranteed. I’d expect at least a couple of those guys back for Week 2. And the way the rules are set up now, they're all eligible for the practice squad despite their years of NFL experience. 5. The only safeties on the roster as of now are Marcus Epps, Anthony Harris, K’Von Wallace and Rodney McLeod, and that tells me that the Eagles believe McLeod, activated off PUP on Monday 8 ½ months after tearing his left ACL, will be ready to play against the Falcons. Because Wallace has been dealing with a groin injury and if he’s not healthy and McLeod can’t play that leaves you with only Epps and Harris. Even if you claim a safety, it’s a lot to expect him to be up to speed in a little over a week. And the Eagles can bring Adams back – he wasn’t bad in training camp – but not until Week 2. McLeod and Harris is a solid tandem. Anybody else and Harris isn’t close. 6. I do hope the Eagles bring Howard back. He’s just a different kind of running back than they have on the roster, both in terms of style and experience. He’s not a big-time receiving back, and from that standpoint I guess he’s not a great fit in Nick Sirianni’s offense. But he’s a tough inside runner and a willing and effective blocker, and he had a fine training camp. And he’s only 26 but a two-time 1,000-yard rusher who really hasn’t played in a year and a half. 7. OK, let’s talk about JJAW. Yeah, he made the initial 53, and good for him. You have to give him credit after two miserable seasons he never stopped working hard and although he didn’t have a great camp he did legitimately out-perform Travis Fulgham and John Hightower. But JJAW doesn't have anything locked up long-term. I would expect WR to be one position where the Eagles would put in a waiver claim or two, and if they do add WR depth Arcega-Whiteside is the odd man out. I do think Sirianni appreciates JJAW and I’d expect the Eagles to keep him around on the practice squad if he’s not on the 53. Not ideal for a former 2nd-round pick, but it’s better than nothing. Remember, Sirianni is evaluating JJAW only on what he's seen since the spring. He doesn't see him as a bust but as a guy who could contribute. 8. As for Fulgham, he was given every chance to win a roster spot and just couldn’t perform. He did not catch the ball well throughout camp, and he really gave the Eagles no reason to keep him. Yes, he was really good for five weeks last year, but this is a new coaching staff, Sirianni's evaluation is going to be based on what he’s seen since he got here. Fulgham has now had a disappointing second half of a season followed by a disappointing training camp, and it’s tough to keep him around in 2022 based solely on five weeks under a different coach in 2021 when opponents didn’t have any film on him and the QB really had nobody else to throw to. Remember, this is a guy who the Lions and Packers cut last year, so it’s appearing more and more like those five weeks were an anomaly. Still, I expect someone to claim Fulgham. I would. We’ve seen it before. I just don’t know if we’ll ever see it again. 9. Looking at the group of offensive linemen the Eagles kept is a living, breathing testament to the brilliance of o-line coach Jeff Stoutland. Jordan Mailata was a 6th-round Australian rugby player who never played football and is now a starting left tackle. Brett Toth played at Army, where in his two years as a starter the Black Knights ran the ball 1,609 times and threw 163 times, and he’s now an NFL-caliber pass blocker. Nate Herbig was undrafted out of Stanford and is a solid backup. Jack Driscoll was a 4th-round pick who started a bunch of games and played well as a rookie. Heck, Jason Kelce and Brandon Brooks never made a Pro Bowl before they were coached by Stout and now they’re two of the best in the league. Lane Johnson came in with Stout and like Kelce and Brooks has been to a bunch of Pro Bowls. Stout is a genius. 10. Tyree Jackson will go on Injured Reserve as soon as all the Eagles’ waiver claims are in, but just the fact that the Eagles kept him on the 53 instead of IR’ing him before the cut to 53 - which would have ended his season - is huge. This kid was playing quarterback last summer and the Eagles are now so high on him that instead of shutting him down for the year even with a serious back injury they made sure he’ll be available at some point this year. And even if he doesn't play much, at least he'll be able to practice when he's healthy, which wouldn't be the case if he was IR'd before the cut to 53. This tells you he’s not just some long-term developmental project. The Eagles believe he can help them this year. Incredible story. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-roster-observations-why-cutting-travis-fulgham-was-right-move?utm_tags=sm_npd_rsn_phi_fb_mn&fbclid=IwAR0mq01Wpe94FGvSftWXi2e2BtOSINe0ekjQsMkCNjttWAVk7kVfNUpPW1k
  11. Eagles have 'discussed' trades at unexpected position: report The Eagles are less than two weeks away from kicking off the 2021 campaign, and their team feels markedly different than it did at the end of last season. Not because Carson Wentz is in Indianapolis. Not because Doug Pederson is no longer an NFL head coach. No, things feel different because apparently other teams around the league are interested in trading for... the Eagles' linebackers. For a team that had one of the thinnest linebacker corps in recent memory during the 2020 season, the idea that any team would be interested in poaching some depth LBs from the Eagles just eight months later is pretty wild. But Sports Illustrated insider Albert Breer reports that's exactly what's happening: "The Eagles are another team taking calls on offensive linemen — their issues of the last few years staying healthy up front have actually created a situation where they have experienced backups. Philly’s also discussed dealing away some linebacker depth." The Eagles fielding calls on offensive lineman is no surprise, considering Jeff Stoutland is a master at molding young players into replacement-level (and even starter-level) talent. Andre Dillard springs to mind as a likely name in those talks, as does Matt Pryor. But the Eagles discussing a linebacker trade is fascinating, and encouraging. Right now here are the listed linebackers on the Eagles' roster: Eric Wilson Alex Singleton T.J. Edwards Shaun Bradley Patrick Johnson JaCoby Stevens Davion Taylor Genard Avery Wilson, Singleton, and Edwards are virtual locks to be on the roster. After that, I'd guess any one of those names could probably be had for the right price in a deal. They're all young, they all have some modicum of potential or upside, and for linebacker-needy teams that could be enough. Perhaps Roseman tries to swing a player-for-player deal? Or maybe he opts to load up on more draft capital ahead of the crucial 2022 draft. Whatever the case is - maybe no trade gets done and, as NBC Sports Philadelphia's Dave Zangaro expects in his latest 53-man roster projection, the team keeps seven of these linebackers - it's kind of encouraging to know the Eagles have fixed one of their biggest weaknesses to the point that other teams actually see their linebackers as a place where they might extract valuable talent. Just another feather in Roseman's sneakily good offseason. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/nfl-rumors-eagles-reportedly-discussed-trades-linebacker-offensive-line?utm_tags=sm_npd_rsn_phi_fb_mn&fbclid=IwAR2LIbLRO5UCkZc4BxcXs7gVSlkzES448H8gry3epmpGaotRwXYeAjXHkhM
  12. Why ex-QB argues Minshew trade is bad for Hurts' situation Just when the Eagles' QB situation seemed to have reached a level of stability, Howie Roseman threw a wrench into the works and traded a conditional sixth-round pick for Gardner Minshew. And suddenly the quarterback room was once again a breeding ground for hot takes and spicy what-if scenarios. Like... what if Hurts gets off to a rough start after an unorthodox preseason, and Minshew is just sitting there with his solid career TD-to-INT ratio? Will fans start clamoring for change? Will the coaches entertain the idea? The 25-year-old has shown he can start in the NFL, and he's a firebrand of a personality, which is why former NFL QB Chris Simms wondered aloud on Monday's edition of ProFootballTalk Live whether the Eagles' trade for Minshew might start weighing on Hurts this year: "He's that type of personality where, fans are going to like Gardner Minshew just because of his answers, on social media, the way he looks. I mean, he's just got a care-free, charismatic attitude towards the game that's kind of infectious. You just go, 'Man, the guy loves football, this is cool, he seems cool, I like it.' He is that type of backup quarterback where you go, 'Man, I don't want to let this guy on the field,' if I'm the starting quarterback. Because if he has a few good plays, the fans are going to rally around this dude." "It's weird mixed signals out of there. ... That whole situation is a little odd to me. I'm not going to lie, when they traded for Gardner Minshew the other day, I thought, 'Wait, is this a precursor to where now they might trade away Hurts and maybe Flacco for a Deshaun Watson and some picks?' That was one of the things that percolated through my brain a little bit. Obviously that didn't happen, but I am a little stumped." Hmm. A backup QB move potentially making the starter look over his shoulder? Where have we heard this before? Oh, right. Last year. On the Eagles' roster. Now, Simms is making a logical argument but I think Hurts is not that guy. Hurts has been replaced as a starter before, back at Alabama, and he seems to have a healthy approach towards his current role as presumptive QB1. The Eagles built everything around Carson Wentz, so when his job was taken away due to poor play he felt like he'd been betrayed. The Eagles... kind of haven't promised Hurts anything, and have almost been demonstrative in not calling him The Guy, so I can't imagine he thinks he's owed anything around here. I don't think Hurts believes starting all 17 games this year is a guarantee unless he plays good football. The Minshew factor will be certainly be floating around both the fanbase and the NovaCare Complex, but I don't think Hurts will be affected much at all by the trade. He's been training all offseason like he has to prove himself to land the QB1 job, and that's still the case. It's on Hurts to show us he deserves the QB job, and just like Joe Flacco, Minshew is a guy who can take that job if Hurts makes it available. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/ex-qb-argues-eagles-gardner-minshew-trade-bad-jalen-hurts?utm_tags=sm_npd_rsn_phi_fb_mn&fbclid=IwAR0_boe0e4sI0a7TbkHcPYxhYSMvFx9qVR0awmvhkL4MsYivOR1g2QLNXcg
  13. Former Eagles 2nd-round pick Sidney Jones has a new home Sidney Jones has a new home. Jones, the Eagles' 2nd-round pick in 2017, was traded Monday evening from the Jaguars to the Seahawks in exchange for a 6th-round pick in 2022, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. That speaks volumes about Jones’ career. He was a 2nd-round pick just four years ago and just got traded for a 6th-round pick. Jones returns to Seattle five years after finishing his career at the University of Washington, which is also in Seattle. The Eagles made Jones the 43rd pick in the 2017 draft even though he blew out his left Achilles at Washington’s pro day a month before the draft. The idea was to red-shirt him his rookie year and still have a 22-year-old 1st-round talent under contract for three more years. Jones even returned for the 2017 regular-season finale against the Cowboys, where he played 29 snaps at cornerback. He was inactive for the 2017 postseason, although he did get a Super Bowl ring after the Eagles beat the Patriots in Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis. Jones spent the next two years on and off the field, dealing with an endless succession of injuries. In all, he played in 22 games in an Eagles uniform with eight starts. He had two interceptions, both in 2019, before getting released a year ago with the final roster cut-down. After Jones cleared waivers, the Jaguars signed him to their practice squad and then to their active roster. He played in nine games last year with six starts and had two more interceptions. Even though he’s in his fifth NFL season, Jones is still only 25 years old. The Seahawks have been trying to rebuild their cornerback depth recently. They acquired John Reid from the Texans last week for a conditional 7th-round pick. Ahkello Witherspoon, Damarious Randall, D.J. Reed, Tre Flowers and Tre Brown are all in the mix. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/former-eagles-2nd-round-pick-sidney-jones-has-new-home?utm_tags=sm_npd_rsn_phi_fb_mn&fbclid=IwAR0F1kVbcVTfOqgsEb-Nw7SbXuxTWuuHVgBYBjKVV6Kc0lZawG1oA7KqzyY
  14. Carson Wentz's availability once again up in the air Despite Colts quarterback Carson Wentz dodging major missed time after suffering a training camp ankle injury, the former Eagle's availability is once again in question. This time, Wentz has been placed on the Colts' COVID-19 list - on the day he was expected to return to full practice with Indy. Being placed on the COVID-19 list does not immediately indicate a player has tested positive. Players can also be placed on the list while contact tracing is ongoing, after close contact with an infected individual. Wentz declined last month to answer whether he's received a COVID-19 vaccine, but he has been wearing a mask at the team facility throughout training camp, which is required only for unvaccinated players. If Wentz is unvaccinated and has tested positive, he will have to isolate away from the team for 10 days. Unvaccinated players who have close contact with an infected individual have to quarantine for five days. In any case, the fact that Wentz was expected to return to practice in full capacity on Monday with 13 days before the Colts' Week 1 opener against the Seahawks, and now will not be able to do that until next week, is less than ideal. Wentz was already pushing it to return by Week 1, though it seemed before Monday that he was on track to be Indy's Week 1 starter. Monday, then, is a setback and could theoretically make Colts head coach Frank Reich re-consider rushing Wentz out there in Week 1 without much in the way of full speed preparation during training camp and the preseason. As a refresher, the Eagles received a 2022 conditional second-round pick in the Wentz trade from Indy, with two conditions that can turn it into a first-round pick: Wentz plays 75% of the offensive snaps in 2021 Wentz plays 70% of the offensive snaps in 2021 and the Colts make the playoffs If Wentz misses Week 1 entirely, that's 5.8% of the season gone. The snaps aren't always equitable week to week, but lopping off roughly five percent of the year's snaps is not a good way to start. Here's hoping Wentz is healthy soon - both for his and his family's sake, and also for the Eagles' sake. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/carson-wentz-placed-covid-19-list-colts-practice-return-week-1?utm_tags=sm_npd_rsn_phi_fb_mn&fbclid=IwAR2kgYqkz6ezTXS7VgTD__d5GrMW4DqLzlMT1jNJO3pZLaxBdkjSxxYrV_c
  15. The unknown linebacker who has a chance to stick When training camp began, the candidates to play the SAM linebacker in Jonathan Gannon’s defense were Genard Avery, Joe Ostman, maybe Ryan Kerrigan and longshot 7th-round rookie Patrick Johnson. And now? Avery has practiced very little since suffering a groin injury back on Aug. 7. He returned briefly, got hurt again and hasn’t practiced since. So much for Avery. Ostman was waived / injured Tuesday with a concussion. So much for Ostman. Kerrigan left practice with a thumb injury on Aug. 2 – the fifth day of practice - underwent surgery Aug. 10, and hasn’t practiced since. So much for Kerrigan. Which leaves one guy. Five days before final cuts, Johnson is the last man standing. The SAM in Gannon’s system is a hybrid off-ball linebacker and edge rusher, so it’s a position that requires a player who’s fast and athletic enough to drop back and cover backs and tight ends but also skilled and strong enough to rush the quarterback. Nobody really knows how much Gannon will use the SAM backer, but he talks about the position a lot and clearly values the versatility it requires to line up at SAM in his scheme. "What we are asking them to do within our scheme is a little bit different,” Gannon said before practice Tuesday at the Jets' facility. "The MIKE and the WILL are mostly stacked and the SAM, sometimes he's stacked but sometimes he's on the ball. So it just presents a little bit different skill set for those three guys and what we are asking them to do.” Johnson has flown under the radar during training camp, but with Avery and Kerrigan sidelined and Ostman waived injured, he’s in a position where he has a legitimate chance at a roster spot. Johnson was a three-year starter at Tulane and piled up 34 tackles for loss, 21 sacks and 11 pass breakups over the last three seasons. Very good production. At 6-foot-2, 240 pounds, he has the build for Gannon’s SAM, but it remains to be seen whether he can cover or get to the QB consistently enough to get on the field. And as a rookie 7th-round pick he’s fighting an uphill roster battle. Avery might have an edge over Johnson just because of what Howie Roseman spent on him. The Eagles traded a 4th-round pick to the Browns at the 2019 trade deadline, but the 26-year-old Avery has very little to show for parts of two seasons here. He started out camp as the favorite at SAM but wasn’t having a particularly good camp when he got hurt, and who knows when he’ll be healthy. It’s fair to wonder whether Roseman will keep Avery on the 53-man roster despite his injuries and lack of production simply because he spent a 4th-round pick on him. As for Kerrigan, he isn’t going anywhere, but he hasn’t practiced in more than three weeks, and even the few days he did practice he wasn’t in the SAM mix, although he does have the tools to play there. Johnson has quietly had a good camp, especially the last couple weeks. The defensive coaches love his versatility, and he’s gotten reps at some point at all three linebacker spots, which speaks to his intelligence. He played 46 snaps on defense in the Steelers game and had six tackles and a tackle, then played 27 defensive snaps against the Patriots and had three tackles. He also played 25 special teams snaps in the first two preseason games. With the starters not expected to play much Friday against the Jets, look for Johnson to get a ton of playing time as he tries to build on his intriguing resume. And with the other SAM candidates all likely out for Friday night, the stakes are very high for Johnson. With a good performance against the Jets, Johnson may be in line not just for a roster spot but for playing time once the regular season begins. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-roster-why-patrick-johnson-has-chance-make-53?utm_tags=sm_npd_rsn_phi_fb_mn&fbclid=IwAR0j6PONjJQq-hYv2XmoJ6OKQ6ssY70OXoFqcy4bmsXQTK4RU5NtwKACUCY
  16. Eagles activate McLeod, Dickerson off injury lists The Eagles have activated rookie 2nd-round pick Landon Dickerson and veteran safety Rodney McLeod, making them eligible to practice immediately and be available to play as soon as the opener in Atlanta in 13 days. Both will now count against the Eagles’ 53-man roster, which must be set by 4 p.m. Tuesday. Had they remained on their injury lists they would not have counted against the 53 but they also would not have been eligible to practice or play until the seventh week of the season at the earliest. Dickerson had been on the Non-Football Injury list since his injury occurred while he was still at Alabama. Dickerson tore his left ACL in the SEC Championship Game against Florida in Atlanta on Dec. 19. McLeod suffered a torn left ACL six days earlier during the Eagles’ game against the Saints at the Linc and spent the last month on the PUP Reserve list. The NFI and PUP lists are identical, except the NFI designation is used for players who were not yet in the NFL when they got hurt. Dickerson and McLeod both missed all of training camp but spent the last month on side fields rehabbing with trainers. Dickerson, the 37th player taken in this year’s draft, has a long history of injuries and started just 25 games in his college career at Florida and Alabama, but when healthy he's considered one of the top interior linemen to come out of college in recent years. He projects as a starting guard or center down the line and is generally assumed to be the heir apparent for Jason Kelce when he decides to retire, although he can also play either guard spot. McLeod, 31, is entering his sixth season with the Eagles and is one of only 11 players left on the roster from the 2017 Super Bowl season. He’s started 62 games at safety as an Eagle, but it remains unknown if he’ll be ready to start in the opener in Atlanta on Sept. 12. But removing McLeod from the PUP list now does mean the Eagles believe he’ll be ready to play well before Week 7. The other candidates to start opposite Anthony Harris are K’Von Wallace (who is currently sidelined with a groin injury), Marcus Epps and Andrew Adams. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-roster-rodney-mcleod-landon-dickerson-activated-cut-down-day?utm_tags=sm_npd_rsn_phi_fb_mn&fbclid=IwAR0x1wayRSsyAvGp_Q5i3Tm40W_TjkrK4ZCMeYXAjqmQi3_hxr7qVBbIMis
  17. Why Fletcher Cox is so high on Milton Williams FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Fletcher Cox is about as flat-line as any Eagle in recent memory. He rarely lavishes praise on anybody or anything, and after even the biggest wins or the most dominating performances, he doesn’t get too excited. Even keel is putting it mildly. So when Cox starts talking up a teammate, your ears perk up. And when it's a rookie, it really gets your attention. Because if Fletch says he can play, he can play. And Fletch says Milton Williams can play. "Of course he’s still got a lot of learning to do, but he’s a little bit ahead of the curve as far as just playing fast,” Cox said of Williams. "That’s his biggest thing, know what to do and play fast. I’m pretty excited about him and gaining that confidence in him that he’ll go out there and do his job.” Williams is the 22-year-old, 6-foot-3, 290-pound rookie two-way defensive lineman the Eagles drafted out of Louisiana Tech. This is one of the NFL’s best defensive lines, and it’s not easy to break into this rotation. But Williams has done it at two positions. Williams spent most of the summer at defensive end, but with Javon Hargrave sidelined for a few days with a minor ankle injury, Williams moved inside for the preseason game against the Patriots and also at practice on Sunday. Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon values versatility tremendously, but a rookie who’s talented enough – and mentally sharp enough - to handle defensive tackle and defensive end is a rarity. "I think it could be real challenging,” Cox said. "You’ve got to hone in on your job and basically focus on what to do once you get out there. You can’t put too much pressure on yourself. We’re in the NFL and you’ve got to be able to do your job (so) the guy next to you has confidence in you and have fun with it. I think he’s looked good.” Where will Williams ultimately fit in? Maybe just inside. Maybe just outside. Maybe both. But by working at both spots, he gives Gannon a lot of flexibility, and he’s helped make the strongest position group on the team even better. "I’m pretty comfortable playing both,” Williams said recently. "They trust me to be able to know both spots, and I’m doing my best to get as much confidence as I can and let them know that whenever they need to move me around they can do that.” The Eagles probably need Williams more inside, since Cox and Hargrave are the only interior linemen who are roster locks right now. They already have Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat, Derek Barnett and Ryan Kerrigan outside. But the coaches really like Williams as an edge rusher, the position he played until his final year of college. What’s most important is that Williams is mentally sharp enough to pick up both spots and perform at a high level. He’s got the strength and power to play inside and the athleticism to play outside. "He’s just a physical player and he’s got a bunch of raw talent and that’s what you want to see, especially in a young d-lineman, a guy who can play two positions,” Cox said after joint practice with the Jets Tuesday. "He’s been having a good camp, learning the plays and not afraid to ask questions and being very, very coachable. I’ve got a lot of respect for that young man.” Coming from Cox, that speaks volumes. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-training-camp-2021-why-fletcher-cox-so-high-milton-williams?fbclid=IwAR20iyK0z3wpMnDr-ySmjUSmnyQxIAZMVyzTTYaRCMjvzjMT_4rXNc06ieM
  18. Should Jalen Hurts have played in Roob's Eagles-Jets Observations Growing excitement over a rookie 5th-round pick, an offensive lineman who played surprisingly well, JJAW vs. Fulgham and lots more! It's all here in our final (thankfully) preseason edition of Roob’s 10 Instant Observations. If you care about these sorts of things - and I can't imagine why you would - the Eagles and Jets finished in a 31-31 tie Friday night at MetLife Stadium in the preseason finale. Enough preseason! Eagles-Falcons two weeks from Sunday! 1. I’ve been pretty clear over the past couple weeks that I believe Jalen Hurts needed to play more than 10 snaps in the preseason, and I don’t believe joint practices – no matter how intense or how physical – are a replacement for live football. That’s my opinion. That said, I’m not going to pretend I’m outraged about it. You can make a pretty good case either way. The reality is that the Eagles’ biggest issue the last three years was injuries, and they go into the opener with 21 of 22 projected starters healthy. And the one who isn’t – Rodney McLeod - got hurt in December. We’ll see if Hurts is rusty or unprepared or ineffective in the opener in Atlanta two weeks from Sunday. If he is, then the Eagles really misjudged this. But he’ll definitely be healthy, along with all his receivers, backs and linemen, and there’s something to be said for that as well. It is a gamble, but the logic behind it does make sense. 2. Kenny Gainwell is really carving out a significant role for himself. He turned nine touches Friday night into 59 yards and a touchdown [5-32 rushing, 4-27 receiving] and finished the preseason 12-for-67 rushing [5.6] and 8-for-56 receiving. As a receiver, we knew he was smooth and sure-handed and crafty after the catch. But I’ve been surprised what a tough runner he is also. He’s not just a receiving back, and he’s going to play a lot this year. A lot. I’m excited to see what he’s able to do when the games matter. 3. You know who played well? Andre Dillard. Yep. With de facto starter Jordan Mailata sitting, Dillard played the entire first half coming off a two-week injury layoff and looked spry, getting out and pulling a few times and springing Gainwell on a couple times nice gains. He did have a false start as well, but overall he was solid in his first playing time since the end of the 2019 season. Were the Eagles showcasing him? Maybe. And I still think if they get a decent offer they wouldn’t hesitate to trade him. But it’s more likely he stays as the backup LT, and the Eagles have to feel better about him after this performance. 4. Encouraging performance by Joe Flacco, who was as sharp as we’ve seen him this preseason. Flacco was 13-for-16 for 188 yards and a couple TD passes, including one in the two-minute drill to end the first half. It was interesting to see him make plays on the move out of the pocket, which isn’t his strength. Flacco has been up and down this summer, but you have to feel better about him going into the regular season coming off this game. 5. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside really helped his roster chances with a couple catches on that two-minute drive to end the first half with a 15-yard catch for a first down on a 2nd-and-12 and then a 42-yard TD where he showed really good toughness to catch an improve throw from Flacco near the right sideline, fight off corners Elijah Campbell and Isaiah Dunn, and then stay in bounds into the end zone. If you were keeping two out of Arcega-Whiteside, Travis Fulgham and John Hightower, who are you keeping? I think it just might be JJAW and Hightower. 6. Any question whether T.Y. McGill was going to make the team was answered Friday night when the veteran interior lineman had two more sacks, giving him (and the Eagles) three this preseason. Hassan Ridgeway has played a lot of football for the Eagles – 386 reps on defense the last two years – and he was the clear favorite for a backup d-line spot when camp began, but McGill has outplayed him big-time both at practice and in the games. McGill isn’t the most stout lineman, but with Milton Williams able to give the Eagles reps both inside and out, the Eagles will have good depth behind Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave. 7. Was good to see Shaun Bradley running around and making some plays. Bradley is on the bubble going into Tuesday’s roster cuts, and as a second-year 6th-round pick, that’s not unexpected. But he’s looked good this summer, definitely better than last year, and he was pretty active Friday night, finishing with six tackles. Bradley could still land on the practice squad, but the former Rancocas Valley Red Devil has a shot at the 53 as well. I don’t think he hurt himself last night. 8. Here’s one more thing to like about Kenny Gainwell: After a short run in the first quarter, he got slammed to the ground by Jets cornerback Bryce Hall well after the whistle. Hall was called for a personal foul, but instead of retaliating and jumping up and shoving Hall, Gainwell just popped up and ran back to the huddle. All business. You retaliate, now you have offsetting personal fouls, and you lose 15 yards. For a young kid to show that kind of composure is impressive. 9. I need to mention how well Tarron Jackson played Friday night. The rookie 6th-round defensive end from Coastal Carolina keeps showing up. I don't see how there's room on the 53 for him, but there's something there. He'll play at some point this year. 10. Ten guys I want to see on the practice squad (if they’re released and clear waivers): Marken Michel, Elijah Holyfield, Andre Patton, Kayode Awosika, Josiah Scott, Marlon Tuipulotu, Tarron Jackson, Jason Huntley, Elijah Riley and Michael Jacquet. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-vs-jets-observations-should-jalen-hurts-have-played?fbclid=IwAR3NrAulEAzrX1QMIJr3ODifGG40Tk4SJFrNgB2eanxvxyPtjp6FI45HHFk
  19. How Sanders is learning from a rookie This is not a story about how rookie running back Kenny Gainwell has been learning from Miles Sanders. Rookie learning from an established veteran? That’s boring. This is the opposite. It’s a story about how much Miles Sanders has been learning from Kenny Gainwell. There’s a twist. Sanders is 24 years old, beginning his third NFL season, one of only nine backs in the NFL with 1,500 rushing yards and 75 catches over the last two seasons. Gainwell is an unheralded rookie fifth-round pick. But it says a lot about both Sanders and Gainwell that the whole learning thing goes both ways. Sanders is the kind of athlete that realizes there’s something to learn from everybody. No matter how little experience they have. "He DM’d (direct messaged) me when he got drafted and he promised me that we were going to get each other better,” Sanders said. "And he’s definitely doing that.” For starters, Gainwell is a better receiver than Sanders, and Sanders freely admits that. Sanders caught 50 passes for 509 yards as a rookie but struggled catching the ball last year and finished 28-for-197. He’s struggled catching the football this summer as well. Gainwell hasn’t. And that’s pushed Sanders to work harder. "He probably has the best hands in the room, I’m not afraid to say that,” Sanders said. "He has very natural hands. He practices without gloves, just to make it easier on him when he does put gloves on. I like that. Just making me work 10 times harder.” Sanders is an accomplished running back. His 2,391 scrimmage yards are second-most in franchise history by a player in his first two years, behind only LeSean McCoy. He’s one of only 11 players in NFL history to rush for 800 yards with a 4.5 average and 25 receptions in each of his first two seasons. Yet he’s open to being pushed by a 22-year-old rookie. "I love his game,” Sanders said before practice Sunday. "You guys have seen he fits perfectly in this offense. Those are the types of backs that are (having) long careers in this league right now, being able to catch the ball anywhere, whether it’s outside the backfield, in the slot, and he’s doing both. His ability to run the ball too is pretty good. I’m definitely impressed with him and I like the approach that he’s taken, just really keeping his head down, picking everybody’s brains, staying to himself and just working every day and trying to get better. He even gets me better.” Sanders said he definitely sees a lot of young Miles Sanders in Gainwell, who like Sanders stands 5-foot-11 but at 190 is about 20 pounds lighter. "What I really like about him … he comes with a different approach,” Sanders said. "He’s ready to get better each and every single day. Like, he’s always writing notes, he’s always asking questions, he’s not afraid to ask questions and that’s kind of how I was (as a rookie). "I was still quiet but I also was just trying to make sure I’m doing my job the best way I could do it. I told him, ‘When you got a question, bro, just ask, because the worst thing is if you’re going out there and just messing up and having no clue what to do.' "There’s nothing wrong with asking a question. … He comes in every day head down just ready to work every day.” https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/miles-sanders-kenny-gainwell-eagles-running-backs-eagles-training-camp?fbclid=IwAR0pkHkHg1NtDNSYuHbcMKvh7rAre8QRctn80C6xkxdcT5o8d-85ek4fGng
  20. 10 things we saw in Eagles' loss that concern us It's easy to dismiss it as just another ugly preseason where the starters didn't play. So no worries. But that's not quite the case. While it's true most of the Eagles' starters either didn't play Thursday night against the Patriots or played very little - 17 of 22 projected starters either didn't dress or played fewer than 10 snaps - there are some legitimate areas of concern that came out of the Eagles' 35-0 loss to the Patriots. Here's a look at 10 of them: Zech McPhearson: The rookie 4th-round pick got off to a great start to camp but has come back to Earth and didn't play well Thursday night. He got a ton of snaps – his 51 snaps was second most on the defense – and did have nine tackles, but he’s struggling in coverage, and that’s a concern because right now the Texas Tech alum is the Eagles’ top outside backup. The reason he had so many tackles is because the Patriots kept throwing at him. Most rookies hit the rookie wall. The Eagles need McPhearson to bounce back. Joe Flacco: Sometimes veteran quarterbacks have the ability to flip the switch once the game matters, and maybe when you’re in your 14th season and you’ve been a Super Bowl MVP it’s hard to get fired up for a preseason game in mid-August. Maybe. All I know is Flacco’s performance did not inspire much confidence. He wasn’t accurate, his pocket presence was shaky and he just didn’t make plays. He’s gotta be better. Nate Herbig: Until Landon Dickerson is ready – and that might not be till next year – Herbig is the Eagles’ top backup interior lineman. In fairness, he’s still new to center, and that’s where he struggled Thursday night. We know he’s a solid guard. But with Luke Juriga on Injured Reserve, Herbig is the next man up at center as well as guard, and it wasn’t a good day for him. Travis Fulgham/John Hightower/J.J. Arcega-Whiteside: There seems to be a growing gap between the Eagles’ top three WRs – DeVonta Smith, Jalen Reagor and Quez Watkins – and guys like Fulgham, Hightower and JJAW. Fulgham, Hightower and Arcega-Whiteside played a combined 35 snaps against the Patriots and were targeted twice – JJAW once, Fulgham once – with no receptions. They’re all fighting not just for playing time but for roster spots, and none of them did anything to help themselves Thursday night. Second defensive line: A rough day for the backup defensive linemen. With Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat, Derek Barnett, Javon Hargrave and Fletcher Cox all inactive (and Ryan Kerrigan hurt), the Eagles started Tarron Jackson, Hasson Ridgeway, T.Y. McGill and Milton Williams up front, and Raequon Williams and Marlon Tuipulotu, JaQuan Bailey and Matt Leo all played a ton of reps. Milton Williams drew a couple holds and had a nice pressure, but other than that the whole group struggled. The Patriots netted close to 500 yards and ran for over 200, and the Eagles’ d-line didn’t put up much of a fight. Nick Mullens: After compiling a 0.0 passer rating against the Steelers, Mullins improved to 16.7 against the Patriots. Through two games, he’s completed six passes to Eagles and three to the other team. He’s 6-for-15 for 31 yards and an 8.3 passer rating. His average pass has gone six feet. He can’t be on this football team. Richard Rodgers: With Tyree Jackson out for eight to 10 weeks with a back injury and now Jason Croom out indefinitely with a suspected serious knee injury, the Eagles are light at tight end. Undrafted rookie Jack Stoll had a nice day Thursday night – 4-for-33 – and Rodgers had two short catches but also a bad drop. Despite the injuries, I don’t think Rodgers has a roster spot locked up. I like what Rodgers did last year, but he hasn’t had a particularly good camp and bad drops on game day don’t help. Jalen Reagor: Reagor went into the game Thursday night coming off a very good week of practice, but he wasn’t able to transfer it onto the field. It didn’t help that Flacco played the first half and Reagor didn’t get to work with Jalen Hurts, but Reagor didn’t really have a lot of success creating separation and getting open. He played 22 snaps, was targeted three times and caught 1-for-5. One of the other targets was an interception Reagor really couldn’t have done much about. Nick Sirianni: Even with the starters either not playing or playing very few snaps, 35-0 is not something you want to see on the scoreboard and doesn’t reflect well on the coach. Yes, it’s preseason. Yes, it doesn’t count. Yes, it doesn’t mean anything in the big picture. But for a coach who is constantly preaching competitiveness, getting outscored 35-0 (and 52-0 in the last six quarters) isn’t ideal. Hassan Ridgeway: I mentioned Ridgeway up above, but from that whole second defensive line he’s the biggest concern just because with Milton Williams seemingly focusing on defensive end instead of tackle, Ridgeway becomes the No. 1 backup interior lineman. He hasn't looked good throughout camp and really got pushed around Thursday night. All he had to show for 27 snaps was one tackle. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-vs-patriots-10-things-we-saw-concern-us?fbclid=IwAR2r2vHufrwM8aQ6l5Cjf1rxO1_-J0ZYvPMt3mAp7F97upeaK9MxyVo3Ku0
  21. Why Hurts has to play vs. the Jets Judging from what Nick Sirianni said after the Patriots game, it sure doesn’t sound like Jalen Hurts is going to play against the Jets. Hurts played 10 snaps against the Steelers, and he was sick and didn’t play Thursday night against the Patriots. And with a three-game preseason this year, the Jets a week from Friday is the final preseason game of the summer. Maybe I’m reading Sirianni wrong, but after the Patriots game, when he was asked about Hurts playing against the Jets, he emphasized that Hurts will get good work in joint practices during the week. "Next week we have two practices against the Jets and two other practices,” he said. "I've said before, those are like games, so he is going to be able to get two more there. I'm pretty confident that we'll get a lot of good work against the Jets.” Sounds like the decision has already been made. Joint practices against the Jets and then shut him down. That would mean the sum total of Hurts’ first preseason as a starting NFL quarterback would be two drives, 10 snaps, three completions, one field goal, one stomach ache and a whole lot of standing around watching. Now, I love joint practices. I’m all for the Eagles holding two sets of sessions with other teams. That’s valuable work in a controlled setting that really helps teams get better without putting players at risk. And I also don’t have a problem with the nature of Sirianni’s practices. They’re short, and there are no live periods, but the workouts are fast-paced, dynamic and efficient, and when supplemented by a healthy dose of classroom work and film study they’re an effective method of preparation. Everything is geared toward getting 53 guys to opening day healthy. That said, football players need to play football to be ready for the season. And 10 snaps isn’t enough. This goes for the entire team, especially the offense, but Hurts in particular. He needs to play Friday night, and he needs to play significant snaps. He needs reps with DeVonta Smith, who he hasn’t played a snap with in an Eagles uniform. He needs work with Jalen Reagor and Quez Watkins, who the Eagles will be leaning heavily on. He needs work behind the starting offensive line, which he’s never gotten. He needs to face a live rush, which he hasn’t other than a handful of snaps against the Steelers. He needs to make the kind of quick decisions in the pocket that practice just can’t replicate. Hurts has had a nice training camp, and I’m excited to see what he can do once the regular season begins in Atlanta on Sept. 12. But 10 snaps 31 days before the season opener is not enough to get him ready. Joe Flacco was asked about his poor play against the Patriots Thursday night coming on the heels of two very good days in joint practices. His answer speaks volumes: "You have to come out and prove it every day in this league,” he said. "Just because you do something one day doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed anything the next. Practices aren’t games.” Practices aren’t games. Flacco may have been talking about himself and the second-team offense, but his words apply to Hurts as well. Hurts just hasn’t played that much NFL football. He only played three games start to finish last year, and now he’s in a different offense with different plays and different coaches and a different play caller and different teammates, and considering all that, 10 snaps isn’t enough. I want to see the starting offense take most of the first half Friday night against the Jets. I want to see Hurts do all the things he’s been doing in practice but in a live setting. Let’s see an extended drive. Let’s see the football in the end zone. Let’s see the ball spread around. Let’s see Hurts take off and use his legs if it’s warranted. Let’s see Miles Sanders catch a pass, Smith get down the field, Jalen Reagor finish a play, the o-line work together as a complete unit. Joint practices are fine. But they’re not enough. They’re not football. And Hurts needs to play some football before Sept. 12. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-jalen-hurts-eagles-ny-jets-nfl-preseason-nick-sirianni
  22. Lane Johnson blasts offense for performance vs. Patriots If you didn’t like what you saw from the Eagles Thursday night, you’re not alone. Lane Johnson feels the same way. Johnson, the Eagles’ three-time Pro Bowl right tackle, was among numerous starters who didn’t play in the Eagles’ 35-0 preseason embarrassment against the Patriots at the Linc. Johnson, speaking on the JAKIB Media Live Postgame Show with Marc Farzetta, Derrick Gunn and Devan Kaney, said the fact that the Eagles played virtually the entire the game without starters is no excuse for such a wretched performance. "It’s terrible,” Johnson said. "Anytime you don’t put up anything, I don’t care what you’re doing. If you’re in the nature of competing and being in competition, that’s unacceptable. I don’t care if it’s preseason or whatnot, there’s still a standard to play at at this level and represent yourself and to represent this team.” And the Eagles, even without Johnson and a bunch of other starters, clearly did not do that. The Patriots outgained the Eagles by more than 300 yards and handed them their most lopsided preseason loss in at least 40 years. Johnson, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Darius Slay, Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat, Derek Barnett and Jalen Hurts didn’t play, and Jordan Howard, Jordan Mailata, Isaac Seumalo, Greg Ward, Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Miles Sanders, Anthony Harris, and Steve Nelson played a combined 51 snaps. The only projected starters to play more than 10 snaps were linebackers Alex Singleton (19) and Eric Wilson (15) and wide receivers Quez Watkins (30), DeVonta Smith (26) and Jalen Reagor (22). Still … a lot of the guys who were part of this loss will be on the team and several will have important roles. And a bunch of others are competing for roster spots and certainly didn’t help themselves. "We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Johnson said. "We haven’t done nothing yet. We haven’t accomplished anything yet, so moving forward, we have a lot of work to do and that’s coming from me and the veterans, top down. "Anytime you’re between those lines, it doesn’t matter, that’s how people get elevated, demoted. That’s really a place of opportunity. It wasn’t a good outing by us tonight. … We’re not where we need to be.” https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-patriots-lane-johnson-eagles-offense-nfl-preseason?fbclid=IwAR1UCcOHiIAsLFys0m21fMOr9SO_gajsMBZJALkV9rLCE0K8eHkugsbJfBw
  23. Reagor finally starting to wow the Eagles You see all the highlight plays. The crazy, leaping one-handed catches Jalen Reagor’s been making at Eagles practice. And, sure, those are impressive. But what’s even more impressive – and even more important - is that he’s making routine catches. He’s making challenging catches. He’s making contested catches. Lately, he’s making all the catches. Reagor’s second NFL training camp may have gotten off to a slow start with that failed conditioning test, but he’s been exceptional in the last two practice blocks – the days leading up to the Steelers game and then the last three sessions, including both joint practices with the Patriots. There’ve been a lot of encouraging things in these first two weeks of camp, but Reagor’s emergence and his ability to consistently make plays has been eye-opening. Now, whether he can carry it over to the games remains to be seen. We won’t begin to get an answer to that until next month. And we’ve all seen plenty of wide receivers who couldn’t turn those fabulous Augusts into fabulous Septembers. But there’s no question the Jalen Reagor we’re seeing this summer is a different guy than the one we saw last year. More comfortable. More confident. More focused. More accountable. "That guy for sure is getting better every single day,” Greg Ward said. "His attention to detail, his aggression, his love for the game. That guy’s come out here and worked every single day. You can tell that he wants to get better and he is. He’s making plays. He had a crazy catch (Tuesday) in 1-in-1’s. That guy’s making crazy plays, man. For sure going to have a big year.” Now, everything around him is better. The offense as a whole has looked efficient and crisp this summer. The offensive line is healthy and intact. Nick Sirianni’s background is coaching wide receivers, and he’s pushing these guys hard, and they’re responding. Jalen Hurts has for the most part been effective and productive running the operation. That all helps. But Reagor also just seems different this year. It happens sometimes from Year 1 to Year 2. You realize what it takes to become a pro. You grow up a little. You recognize nothing will be handed to you. You learn to focus on things that are important and ignore things that aren’t. Some guys are stars from Day 1. Yeah, like Justin Jefferson. Reagor wasn’t. His rookie year was disappointing. It’s taken a while, but he looks great. Before practice on Tuesday, Sirianni singled out Reagor’s 1-on-1 work against the Patriots. "I really like the development that's happened,” Sirianni said. "The thing with Jalen, what I was real impressed with, was particularly his 1-on-1s. I thought he had a good day all together. But his 1-on-1s, now, were special, and he was starting to use some techniques that we want him to see because we all know that he has phenomenal athleticism. "So it was like, ‘Can we put … that football ability and your athleticism and can you combine fundamentals and technique with it,’ and that's when you reach your ceiling. What I saw Jalen do in those one-on-ones, he was great off the line of scrimmage of how he was moving a guy, he was good at the top of the route. He finished with the catch. … I really see him growing.” What should we expect from Reagor this year? He averaged 36 yards per game last year dealing with injuries, no OTAs or preseason games, a disastrous offense with a slumping quarterback, a terrible offensive line and bad play calling. It’s too early to guess a number, but with DeVonta Smith presumably drawing the opponent’s top corner much of the time, there will be plenty of opportunities for him to make plays. "Repetition brings confidence and it brings comfort and it’s a real thing, and I see it in all the receivers,” Hurts said when asked about both Reagor and Quez Watkins. "The more reps we get, the more we’re coached, the better we are. It’s always an uphill climb and we just want to take those steps every day.” The Eagles now have two homegrown 1st-round wide receivers on the roster for the first time since Mike Quick and Kenny Jackson. Everybody expects Smith to be a star, and based on last year, expectations for Reagor were modest. If this keeps up, it’s going to be time to rethink those expectations. There’s something there. He has a chance. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-training-camp-2021-jalen-reagor-shining-practice?fbclid=IwAR2DV8mlbqocnujbBlbKxFZrWb-XpVsv_UqRgG6GQlOus4Jaf3uNKlX-H9c
  24. Why Sirianni can open up the playbook in joint practices In a weird twist, the Eagles have the ability to show plays and reveal formations and schemes in joint practices that they can't in a preseason game. Another reason joint practices are more interesting to watch than preseason games and give both teams better work than preseason games. Coaches can run anything they want in joint practices secure in the knowledge that 31 other teams aren’t watching. Only one is watching and they're sworn to secrecy. It’s all because preseason games are on TV and joint practices aren’t. The Eagles on Tuesday finished two very productive days of joint practices with the Patriots, who they’ll face in a preseason game at the Linc on Thursday. Next week, the Eagles will be in Florham Park, N.J., for joint practices with the Jets on Tuesday and Wednesday in advance of their preseason game at the Meadowlands on Friday. "There's only two teams that see this, ourselves and the Patriots or ourselves and the Jets,” Sirianni said. "We are very professional with them and they are very professional with us knowing we want to continue this relationship with both the Jets and the Patriots, so whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right?” In other words, film of these last couple days of practices stays with the Eagles and Patriots. Even if Bill Belichick is friends with a coach whose team faces the Eagles this year, under the Eagles’ agreement with the Patriots he won’t share video of the practices or details of any plays or formations with the other coach. They're on the honor system here, so there's a high level of trust between the teams. "Whatever happens on these practice fields stays here,” Sirianni said. "We're able to do a little bit more than what we do in a preseason game at this particular point because not all 32 teams get to see it.” The Eagles have been participating in joint practices since 1986, when Buddy Ryan’s Eagles went to Oakland, Mich., to work with the Lions for a few days. But this is the first time they’ve participated in two sets of joint practices in one summer, which shows you how strongly Sirianni feels about them. Coaches love joint practices because they get to see their players against a different opponent instead of someone they know well, and they can control all the situations. And players love them because they break up the monotony of training camp and get their competitive juices flowing. As the NFL trends away from preseason games — four down to three this year, and presumably two soon — joint practices are going to fill the void. NFL teams can request preseason opponents with the intention of holding joint practices leading up to the game, and generally the league accommodates those requests when possible. Most of the time joint practices are between teams that don’t play in the regular season and that are fairly close geographically. The Eagles and Jets do play, but Sirianni said the late date of that game — Dec. 5 — allows the two teams to train together in August. "They’re going to have 13 games on us before we go play them, so that was a discussion and we talked about that,” he said. "Coach (Robert) Saleh and I talked about that and said, ‘Hey, we want to do this, but if we play too early in the season, it doesn't make sense.’ "When the schedule came out and it was Week 13, maybe we will go back and watch the tape and maybe they will go back and watch the tape, but you're kind of who you are at that time and they have a lot of other film to watch. That's why we are not as concerned about that.” https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/nick-sirianni-eagles-joint-practices-eagles-offense-patriots-jets?fbclid=IwAR2QSml92k2jhOQn1hhJ4cKq23o_IJi6-TIFYg5zg9s7IiNCwkg34e4k5GU
  25. Eagles rookie Smith takes another big step forward from injury Another practice and another big step for DeVonta Smith. One day after we saw Smith at practice for the first time in 2½ weeks, the Eagles’ rookie wide receiver was participating in some team drills at practice on Tuesday. "Excited about that,” coach Nick Sirianni said before practice. Smith, who suffered a sprained knee at practice on Aug. 31, participated in individual drills for the first time on Monday, so that’s two major hurdles he’s overcome on back-to-back days, which is a very good sign. Smith, the Heisman Trophy winner last year for Alabama, missed eight full practices, three walkthroughs and the preseason opener Thursday night against the Steelers. The Eagles have a walkthrough on Wednesday and face the Patriots at the Linc on Thursday. They finish the preseason against the Jets at the Meadowlands on Aug. 27. Sirianni said he doesn't know yet whether Smith will play on Thursday night, but he did say it’s important for him to get some playing time during the preseason in advance of the regular-season opener in Atlanta on Sept. 12. "I always think it’s necessary for guys to play in preseason and go through that,” he said. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-training-camp-2021-devonta-smith-takes-big-step-forward-injury?fbclid=IwAR2vPHwJ8GDa9MYE4rYOoOez80TFQ6fMNY-dkbH0m9SmqN2hPOrNBM07NOU
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