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  1. In Roob's Eagles observations: Was Sweat's huge contract a huge mistake? Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER Pondering the Josh Sweat contract extension, a curious Darius Slay-Jalen Reagor comparison and the fascinating story of unknown Eagles legend Don Looney. Welcome to this week’s Roob’s 10 Random Eagles Observations! 1. We’re 12 weeks in now, and it’s fair to wonder if the Eagles jumped the gun on Josh Sweat’s contract extension. The Eagles in September paid Sweat $40 million over three years, including $26.9 million guaranteed. In terms of average annual salary, that made Sweat the 15th-highest-paid defensive end in the league. What have they gotten for that so far? Sweat has 3 ½ sacks – two against the Lions. He’s tied for 60th in the NFL in sacks. The Eagles thought this would be a breakout year for Sweat, who had a career-high 6.0 sacks last year. But it hasn’t happened. If anything, he’s regressed. With Brandon Graham turning 34 this spring and coming off a major Achilles injury, maybe the Eagles felt like they had no choice to extend either Derek Barnett or Sweat, who both faced free agency, or possibly be left with no edge rushers. And I’m all in favor of letting the chronically underachieving Barnett walk. But maybe the Eagles would have been better off letting both of them walk and starting over from scratch in the draft. Although that’s how they got into this mess in the first place. 2. Darius Slay has more return yards (188) since Week 2 than Jalen Reagor has receiving yards (153). 3. In his first seven starts, Zach Wilson has thrown 4 TD passes and 10 interceptions and has been sacked 23 times. He’s the first NFL QB since Geno Smith in 2013 to throw 10 interceptions and get sacked at least 23 times in his first seven career starts. He’s been held without a TD pass in five of his last six games. He’s on pace to have the lowest passer rating by a 1st-round pick in 12 years. This is such an opportunity for the Eagles’ defense to make life miserable for an opposing quarterback. To really impose its will on someone. It’s been obvious watching Wilson that he just isn’t ready for the NFL. The Eagles have been among the worst in the NFL getting sacks (30th) and interceptions (22nd), and if they can’t make a bunch of big plays against this kid Sunday I don’t know if they ever will. Not just pressure him but sack him. Not just knock passes down but pick them off. Don’t let him stand in the pocket and fire away and build confidence. If they can, they’ll win by double digits. 4. DeVonta Smith has started all 12 games, and Landon Dickerson has started 10. This is the first time the Eagles’ 1st- and 2nd-round picks have each started 10 or more games as rookies since 1995, when 1st-round pick Mike Mamula started 13 and 2nd-round pick Barrett Brooks started all 16. It also happened in 1957 (Clarence Peaks, Billy Ray Barnes) and 1988 (Keith Jackson, Eric Allen). 5. Something Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen said this week stuck out to me. He was talking about the final offensive play against the Giants, when it sure looked like Jalen Hurts had DeVonta Smith open for a moment streaking down the left sideline before hesitating and then throwing to Reagor. Now, Hurts did make a perfect throw to Reagor, but given the choice of an open Smith or an open Reagor, you’re going to make the throw to Smith every time. Steichen defended Hurts’ decision on the play, saying, "It would have been a heck of a football throw if he made it.” But shouldn’t an NFL quarterback be able to make a "heck of a football throw?” I don’t want to pile on Hurts, and I’m still willing to see how he rebounds Sunday and how he plays the rest of the year. But that’s a throw an NFL QB has to make, and his own offensive coordinator was basically saying Hurts can’t make it, and that’s concerning. Gotta make that throw. 6. Speaking of Reagor, with two more starts this year with 25 or fewer yards, he’ll set the Eagles record for most games in a season with 25 or fewer yards by a starting wide receiver. Nelson Agholor (2016), Riley Cooper (2015) and Todd Pinkston (2003) share the record of nine, and Agholor (2015), Kenny Jackson (1986) and Reagor this year have each had eight. No other WR in the NFL has more than five such games this year. There are 58 wide receivers who have started at least 16 games since opening day last year. Of those 58, Reagor is the only one who hasn’t had a 60-yard game. 7. The Eagles have the No. 1 rushing offense in the NFL but they’re one of only seven teams that hasn’t had a 100-yard rusher. 8. One of my favorite Eagles of all time only played 11 games in an Eagles uniform. Don Looney was the Eagles’ 8th-round pick in 1940 out of Texas Christian, and he was the only Eagle with 100 receiving yards in each of his first two career games for 68 years – until DeSean Jackson matched him in 2008. Looney finished the season with three NFL records - 58 catches in a season and also 14 catches and 180 yards, which he recorded in the season finale against Washington at Griffith Stadium. He also led the NFL with 707 receiving yards, 2nd-most in NFL history. Looney played for the Eagles immediately after hitting .283 in 65 games for the Fort Worth Cats of the Double-AA Texas League. And get this: Looney’s 64.3 yards per game as an Eagle is 3rd-highest in franchise history behind T.O. (93.5 and Jackson (68.5) among those who played at least 10 games. Mike Quick is next at 64.0. The Eagles traded Looney to the Steelers after the season and he spent two years in Pittsburgh (catching only 17 passes for 245 yards) before joining the Army. After World War II, Looney served for seven years as an NFL official. He also had a 100-acre fruit farm in Texas, raising peaches and apples. He was 98 and the oldest living former NFL player when he died in 2015. Love this guy. 9. Jalen Hurts Stat of the Week: Hurts has 695 rushing yards, a 5.7 average and eight TDs. He’s only the seventh player to hit those marks through 12 games since 1974. The others: Michael Vick (2002), Adrian Peterson (2007, 2012), Chris Johnson (2009), Phillip Lindsay (2018), Kyler Murray (2020) and Jonathan Taylor (2021). 10. The last Eagle other than DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert with 60 receiving yards in a game was Zach Ertz. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-observations-did-eagles-goof-giving-josh-sweat-contract-extension
  2. Report: Jalen Hurts out, Gardner Minshew to start for Eagles Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER Jalen Hurts’s sore ankle will sideline him for the Jets game Sunday, according to veteran Eagles reporter Derrick Gunn. Former Jaguar Gardner Minshew, who became the No. 2 QB when the Eagles traded Joe Flacco to the Jets in October, would make his first start in an Eagles uniform if Hurts is unable to go. Hurts got hurt in the fourth quarter of the Eagles’ loss to the Giants on Sunday and was limited in practice during the week. Hurts said on Wednesday he planned on playing – "It’s fine, I’ll be ready to go” - but apparently the injury will now keep him out of the Eagles’ game against the Jets at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, the same field where Hurts got hurt last week. Nick Sirianni said during the week the offense will look different in some ways if Minshew plays. The Eagles have been very run-heavy the last five weeks, but that could change on Sunday, especially with the Eagles banged up at running back. "You know what your backup likes, and you know what he does well,” Sirianni said. "I don't want to say it's different game plans. It's different styles a little bit because you tweak everything for each individual player. But we're playing a certain style of defense, so there will be some similarities regardless of who's playing quarterback.” Hurts hasn’t missed a meaningful snap this year and is one of 15 NFL quarterbacks to start each of his team’s games. He has started the Eagles’ last 20 games since replacing Carson Wentz last December. The Eagles' opening-day starter has played every meaningful snap just once since 2005. That was 2016, when Wentz started all 16 games. Minshew had a 7-13 record in 20 starts for the Jaguars in 2019 and 2020 and has a 93.1 career passer rating, which is 20th-highest in NFL history among QBs who’ve thrown at least 750 passes. This will be his first start since last Dec. 20, when he was 22-for-29 for 226 yards with two TDs and no interceptions against the Ravens in Baltimore. Minshew beat the Jets in Jacksonville as a rookie in 2019, going 22-for-34 for 279 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions in a 29-15 win. He struggled a week later against the Texans and was benched for Nick Foles. In his only playing time this year, Minshew was 2-for-2 for 11 yards during the final minutes of the Eagles’ 44-6 win in Detroit in October. Head coach Nick Sirianni said Friday Jalen Hurts got more than half the 1st-team reps during the week, adding, " I feel confident that both of them will be ready to go when either of their numbers are called.” https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/report-jalen-hurts-out-jets-gardner-minshew-start-eagles
  3. Hurts says he's playing vs. Jets Sunday Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER Jalen Hurts said Wednesday he’s playing Sunday. Well, he didn’t exactly say it. He nodded his head. "It’s fine,” Hurts said of his ankle sprain. "I’ll be ready to go.” Asked if he's playing Sunday, he nodded his head. Asked how the injury might affect him, he said simply, "It won’t.” And asked what the injury does to his style of play, he said, "It does nothing.” Hurts participated in walkthrough Wednesday morning, just three days after getting hurt in the fourth quarter of the 13-7 loss to the Giants at MetLife Stadium. The Eagles return to MetLife this weekend to face the Jets. "Got stepped on,” he said. "You guys obviously know I’m dealing with a little something but business as usual. My preparation for the Jets, same old thing. The Giants game has been flushed. We’ve moved on. Continue to deal with it and move forward with it and get ready for this week’s game." Hurts is among 15 NFL quarterbacks who have started all their team’s games this year. Gardner Minshew played 14 snaps at the end of the 44-6 win over the Lions and threw two passes, but other than that Hurts has played every offensive snap this year - 766 of them. "He’s tough,” head coach Nick Sirianni said earlier Wednesday. "He’s as tough as they get. Obviously you want that out of your quarterback, so in his mind and in my mind, we’re both saying, ‘Yeah, he’s going. "We’re hopeful, we’re feeling good, he’s feeling better every day. We’re excited that we’ll have him out there at walkthrough today, so really hopeful for him.” Sirianni said he wasn’t sure yet whether Minshew will get 1st-team reps at any point this week. That will depend on how Hurts progresses over the next couple days. Minshew was 7-13 for the Jaguars in 2019 and 2020 and has a 93.1 career passer rating, which is 20th-highest in NFL history among QBs who’ve thrown at least 750 passes. "That’s something that we monitor throughout the week and we plan accordingly as we continue to go on,” he said. "There are a lot of scenarios that we have to play ourselves through. We don’t live in hypotheticals, but this is a real thing we have to handle if he can’t go or if he can’t go 100 percent or whatever it is, so we have to be here a little bit later making sure everybody’s in the right spot to make plays. "Every week you have a contingency, every week you have a backup plan. You don’t want to think about those scenarios but you have to. That’s something we talk about each week at every position. What happens if this guy goes down, what happens if that guy goes down. Will Jalen take every rep this week? I don’t know how that will play itself out yet, but when he’s not in there Gardner will be in there.” The Eagles’ bye week is coming up after the Jets game, so if Hurts sits out Sunday he would have two weeks off to rest the ankle. But Sirianni said that’s not a factor in determining who plays Sunday. If Hurts is healthy enough to go, he’ll go. "What we’re trying to do is focus on how we’re winning this football game,” he said. "You look forward to the bye week because we’re late in the season now so you look forward to the bye week not just for Jalen but for all the guys who have bumps and bruises and (that’s) pretty much everybody on the team.” Sirianni seemed optimistic about Miles Sanders (ankle), Jordan Howard (knee) and Jason Kelce (knee). "Miles, he’s continuing to progress,” he said. "Jordan, we’ve got to find a little more out as the day goes on. We’ll get more on him (Thursday). He’s limited today. We’re hopeful. Kelce, I believe he’s out (of practice) today, but he’s doing good and he’s progressing.” https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-qb-jalen-hurts-says-playing-jets-sunday-week-13
  4. Will Miles Sanders ever be able to stay healthy? Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER He sprained his ankle in the 2019 season finale against the Giants and wasn't quite right for the playoff game against the Seahawks and then had to leave the game early with a knee sprain. He missed the 2020 opener with a hamstring injury, sprained his knee against the Ravens and missed two games, missed the season finale against Washington with a sore knee. He missed two games this year with an ankle injury and left the Giants game on Sunday when he aggravated it. That's how it's gone for Miles Sanders. He's one of the best running backs in the league. When he plays. He just hasn't played that much. "These last two seasons have been a little frustrating, but I'm trying not to dwell on it," Sanders said Thursday. "It's a long season and if I let that affect me I won't be playing to the best of my ability. "So when stuff like this happens I just try to get back as soon as possible and get right back to it. I try not to let it affect me." Since last year began, Sanders has missed all or much of 10 of 28 games. That means he's finished less than two-thirds of the Eagles' games. Sanders did practice on Thursday and said he hopes to play against the Jets Sunday at MetLife Stadium. But the story of Sanders' career has been a cycle of getting hurt, rehabbing, coming back, putting up big numbers, and then getting hurt again. The injuries are the one thing keeping Sanders from becoming an elite back. Sanders is averaging 5.2 yards per carry this year and 5.0 in his career. He's on pace to become only the second Eagle in franchise history to average 5.2 yards per carry in consecutive years (minimum of 100 carries). Randall Cunningham did it in 1989 and 1990. Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy did it twice each but not back-to-back. His 5.0 career average is 4th-highest among all NFL running backs since 2019, behind Jonathan Taylor (5.4), Nick Chubb (5.4) and Gus Edwards (5.2) and tied with Derrick Henry. The numbers are incredible. He just has to be able to stay on the field. Sanders hasn't played more than six games in a row without getting hurt since his rookie year in 2019. He said he gets through the frustration by focusing on team goals and not feeling sorry for himself. "Just knowing that we still got a chance," he said. "The season's not over. That's the only thing you need, that we still have a chance. Take care of what we gotta take care of each week, and we're going to end up where we want to end up." Running back is a demanding, physical position, so it's not like Sanders is the only one getting banged up. But 15 running backs have started more games than he has since opening day last year. Next year is the final season of Sanders' four-year rookie contract, so the Eagles are going to have to make some decisions with him pretty soon. There's a reason running backs don't get paid like receivers, corners or linemen. They have a limited shelf life and teams don't want to pay for players who might not be available. But Sanders is still only 24 and so gifted -- he reached 2,500 scrimmage yards in 29 games, faster than anybody else in Eagles history -- it's hard to imagine the Eagles not wanting him back. There's no debate about Sanders' ability. He just needs to play. And keep playing. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/will-eagles-miles-sanders-ever-be-able-stay-healthy
  5. What should we make of Hurts after Giants nightmare? Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER Everything Jalen Hurts does - every pass, every run, every decision, every brilliant play, every terrible mistake – we see in the context of whether or not he’s The Guy. Whether or not he’s the Eagles’ long-term answer. It’s impossible not to look at it that way. Other than picking a head coach, picking a quarterback is just about the most important decision a franchise has to make. So it’s only natural that a performance like this has us thinking, "OK, he’s definitely NOT the guy.” Maybe that's not entirely fair. This was one game out of a dozen, and he was far worse Sunday than he has been all year. Overall, he’s cut down on interceptions, been more accurate, shown better decision making and he’s definitely displayed a knack for making big plays late in games. But I don’t know how you watch this game without finding yourself really wondering if this is going to work. I’ve tried to keep an open mind throughout the season and not get too swayed by either the high points or the low points. Long season. Lots of football to go. No reason to draw any conclusions just yet. But there actually isn’t a lot of football to go anymore, and I can’t get past how truly awful he was Sunday against the Giants and their 25th-ranked pass defense and how much of a setback that was in a really important game where a win would have put them in the No. 7 spot in the NFC playoff rankings. And let’s face it. Even in the games Hurts has played well, he really hasn’t been asked to do a whole lot. He’s made a few throws, missed a few others and handed off 40 or 50 times. He’s thrown three touchdown passes in his last six starts. He’s passed for 200 yards once since Week 4. He hasn’t completed a pass of 40 yards since the Panthers game in Week 5. His rushing numbers are incredible. Hurts is 9th in the NFL in rushing. 6th in yards per carry and tied for 5th with eight TDs. And he’s a dynamic enough runner and decent enough playmaker to win some games. We’ve seen it the last month. But it comes down to whether he can be a consistent enough passer week after week to lead the Eagles on a deep playoff run. And I haven’t seen evidence yet that he is. Now, I’m the first to say it’s too early to make any final decisions on Hurts. This was a disaster, but there have been some exceptional moments, some big-time games. And maybe he’ll rebound with a few strong performances over the next few weeks and we’ll look back at this nightmarish performance against the Giants as an outlier. But sitting here today, after that 14-for-31, 129-yard, 3-interception disaster, it’s really hard to feel encouraged. I don't care how many rushing yards you pile up, if you can't fire the ball down the field to open receivers on a consistent basis, you can't win on a consistent basis. Sunday at the Meadowlands? Hurts’ 17.7 passer rating is lowest by an Eagles starting QB throwing at least 20 passes in a game since undrafted rookie Brad Goebel’s 12.9 in Tampa in his first career start 30 years ago. He’s the first Eagles QB with no TDs and 3 INTs, below 50 percent completion percentage and fewer than 130 passing yards since Jaws against the Cowboys 44 years ago. I mean, this was historically wretched stuff. We’re 12 weeks into this season, and he should be way beyond this. Hurts is a tremendous leader, a high-character young man, accountable and humble. You can see why his coaches and teammates think so highly of him. But none of that matters if he can’t spot open receivers or put the ball where it’s supposed to go or throw the ball away instead of trying to force it into traffic. Hurts is talented enough that he'll be in this league for a long time in some role. But whether he can be a consistent winning starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, it’s hard to answer yes to that question after watching him play Sunday afternoon. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/what-should-we-make-eagles-qb-jalen-hurts-after-giants-nightmare
  6. Jack Driscoll goes on IR, O-lineman promoted from practice squad Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER The Eagles promoted Brett Toth back to the active roster Tuesday after placing Jack Driscoll on season-ending Injured Reserve. Toth, 25, spent the first eight weeks of the season on the active roster and played 15 snaps on offense - 14 at the end of the Lions game - and 32 on special teams before getting released on Nov. 2, when the Eagles were awarded Kary Vincent on waivers from the Broncos. He spent the last four weeks on the practice squad. Driscoll suffered a high ankle sprain late in the third quarter of the Eagles’ loss to the Giants Sunday at MetLife Stadium on a 13-yard Jalen Hurts run. Because this is Driscoll’s second stint on IR, he’s not eligible to return after three weeks. With a high ankle sprain, he probably wouldn’t have been able to return anyway. Driscoll, the Eagles’ 4th-round pick last year, has played well when healthy, but this is his third major injury in his two-year career. He started four games as a rookie at right tackle but finished the season on IR with a knee injury. He missed the first three weeks of this season on IR with a pectoral strain but came back to make nine starts - one at right tackle for Lane Johnson and then the last eight weeks at right guard after Isaac Seumalo went onto Injured Reserve and Landon Dickerson moved from right guard to left. Toth, undrafted out of Army, was in training camp with the Eagles in 2019 but was released at the end of camp and claimed by the Cards. They released him last September, and the Eagles claimed him back. Offensive coordinator Shane Steichen indicated that Nate Herbig would replaced Driscoll at right guard. Herbig, undrafted in 2019 out of Stanford, has played in 29 games in three seasons, starting 13. He started earlier this year against the Chiefs at right guard. The Eagles have used four right guards this year - Brandon Brooks, Dickerson, Herbig and Driscoll. Adding Matt Pryor, Jason Peters and Jamon Brown, they’ve used seven since opening day last year. Their projected starting offensive line for the Jets Sunday - Jordan Mailata, Dickerson, Jason Kelce, Herbig and Johnson - will be their 20th in 29 games since opening day of last year. Mailata, Dickerson, Kelce, Driscoll and Johnson started the last six games together, the longest any Eagles line has been intact since 2015. "Jack's played really good football, but Nate Herbig, he's been here for a while,” offensive coordinator Shane Steichen said. "He's stepped in. He's played the center position. He's played the guard position, and he prepares every week. You see him in the meetings asking really good questions. He's tough.” The Eagles also protected the following four practice squad players: linebacker JaCoby Stevens, tackle Le’Raven Clark, wide receiver John Hightower and safety Jared Mayden. That protects the Eagles from losing them to other teams this week. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-place-jack-driscoll-injured-reserve-re-sign-brett-toth
  7. Eagles' passing game struggles go way deeper than Hurts Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER It’s not just Jalen Hurts. It’s the entire passing game. It’s a train wreck. The Eagles’ passing game has been sputtering for several weeks now, and although it’s been masked by a ton of rushing yards, Nick Sirianni knows in the long run the Eagles have to be able to make plays throwing the football to win consistently. And they haven’t done it. Not even close. "My message to the pass group guys (Monday) in film was, ‘Hey, it wasn't good enough in this group yesterday,’” Sirianni said Monday. "That starts with me putting them in positions to succeed, and obviously always – the guy who touches the ball every time is the quarterback; him executing at a high level, and then to the receivers, tight ends, and running backs. "So not good enough. We're not where we want to be in that part of our game. We're working like crazy to get better at it.” Sunday's performance against the Giants was the low point, but the Eagles have sputtered through five straight games with fewer than 180 passing yards for the first time since 2005 – when Mike McMahon was the quarterback. They’ve averaged just 140 passing yards per game since Week 8, which is their 3rd-lowest total in any five-game span in the last 20 years. They averaged 115 from Weeks 3-7 in 2003 and 120 with McMahon Weeks 11-15 of 2005. They’ve dropped to 30th in the league in passing offense, 29th in passing 1st downs and 20th in yards per pass play. "I think what you've seen is our play-action game has been able to be successful, but when teams know we're dropping back and when we're dropping back to pass, that's where we’ve struggled in the third and longer scenarios,” Sirianni said. "So that's an emphasis that we know we got to get better at because we know if we want to win the games we need to win, and that really just starts here with the next game here against the Jets, when we need to pass the ball, we're going to have to succeed at doing so. "That starts with the drop-back passing game … where we need to get better.” Hurts during these five games has completed 58 percent of his passes with three TDs and four interceptions – three of them Sunday at the Meadowlands. His passer rating since Week 8 is 71.6, which ranks 25th of 28 regular QBs during that span. DeVonta Smith (280 yards) and Dallas Goedert (205) are the only receivers with more than 83 yards combined in the last five games, and the Eagles are one of only two teams (along with the Jaguars) that doesn’t have a pass play longer than 36 yards since Week 8. "It starts with me putting the guys in position to make plays against the defenses they're running and getting the ball to our playmakers,” Sirianni said. "Any time we're struggling in a scenario I'll always take the hit and put it on me, because I’ve just got to do a better job.” But it’s obviously a lot more than the play calls. It’s Jalen Reagor dropping passes. It’s Hurts locking in on one receiver. It’s the running backs not getting involved in the passing game. It’s speedy Quez Watkins not catching a 30-yard pass since Week 5. It’s everything. "Listen, we may have a play on the call sheet that we think might work really well, but if our players don't execute it and can't execute it for whatever reason, then we’ve got to look ourselves in the mirror as coaches, and then we'll hold the players accountable for their part,” Sirianni said. "But passing game is not where we want it to be. I take a lot of pride in that. I've been on a lot of teams that have been very successful passing the football, and so no one is taking that harder than me and it's my job to get that fixed.” https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-passing-game-struggles-go-way-deeper-jalen-hurts
  8. Hurts' status for Jets up in the air with ankle injury Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER Jalen Hurts is dealing with a sore ankle, and Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni was unable to say Monday whether Hurts will be able to start against the Jets on Sunday. Hurts took a number of big hits during the Eagles’ 13-7 loss to the Giants Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford and was hobbled by the end of the game. "He’s sore right now,” Sirianni said. "I’m going to have more information for you on Wednesday. Not putting any time (projections) on him or anything like that. We’ll see how he’s doing as the week goes, but he was sore (Sunday).” "I’m hopeful, Jalen’s hopeful that he’ll play. You’ve got to see how things go. We’ll see how the rehab the next two days goes.” Hurts is one of 15 NFL quarterbacks to start all his team’s games so far. He’s taken every meaningful snap for the Eagles this year. Gardner Minshew played 14 snaps at the end of the 44-6 win over the Lions and threw two passes, but other than that Hurts has played every offensive snap - 766 of them. Because so much of Hurts’ game is his running ability, an ankle injury could potentially affect him more than a traditional pocket passer. Hurts has rushed for 967 yards in 16 career starts, second-most ever by a quarterback in his first 16 starts. Lamar Jackson rushed for 1,258. Hurts is 9th in the NFL this year with 695 rushing yards and 6th with eight touchdowns. His 5.7 rushing average is 4th-best in the league, behind Nick Chubb, Jonathan Taylor and Jackson, who are all at 5.8. The Eagles are scheduled to begin the practice week on Wednesday. They have one game remaining before the bye week. They return to MetLife Stadium for the second time in eight days and face the Jets at 1 p.m. Sunday. If Hurts is unable to play, Minshew would make his 21st career start. He was 7-13 in 20 starts over the 2019 and 2020 seasons with the Jaguars with 37 touchdown passes and just 11 interceptions. He has a 93.1 career passer rating, which is 20th-highest in NFL history among QBs who’ve thrown at least 750 passes. Joe Flacco began the season as the Eagles’ No. 2 quarterback, but never got into a game and was traded to the Jets last month. The Eagles also have Reid Sinnett on the practice squad. Sinnett, 24, played college football at San Diego. He’s also spent time with the Buccaneers and Dolphins but has never appeared in a regular-season game. Carson Wentz played every meaningful snap for the Eagles in 2016, his rookie year, but the last QB to play every meaningful snap for the Eagles before that was Donovan McNabb in 2001. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-qb-jalen-hurts-status-jets-air-ankle-injury
  9. Rodgers can't stop raving about ex-Eagles draft pick Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER He wasn't even asked about Rasul Douglas. Aaron Rodgers just started talking about him. Yes, that Rasul Douglas. Douglas, now with his sixth team since last summer, was signed by the Packers off the Cards’ practice squad last month after a rash of cornerback injuries, and the Eagles’ 2017 3rd-round pick has been a godsend for Green Bay. On Sunday, he had a monster game in the 36-28 win over the Rams, with his first career pick-6 and four pass knockdowns. "When you’re talking about Rasul, like how was this guy on the practice squad?” Rodgers said. "I mean, the dude has made so many plays for us. He’s got great instincts, good ball skills, he's made opportunistic plays for us.” It’s been a crazy journey for Douglas since the Eagles released him at the end of training camp last year. He spent 2020 with the Panthers, then had brief stints with the Raiders and Texans this past summer before being released by both teams. The Cards signed him to their practice squad, where he spent the first month of the season before the Packers, desperate for healthy corners, snapped him up. Six teams in 20 months. "Shout out to our scouting department for seeing a guy like Rasul, who came in and he’s been a difference maker on that defense,” said Davante Adams, who went over 1,000 yards for the season Sunday. "The confidence he plays with, the speed he plays with. … And just that energy he plays with is so contagious, and I know the defense really feeds off that as well. "I enjoy watching him out there. It’s kind of a roll of the dice whether certain guys will play, especially if they’re out on the street, but he’s capitalized on his opportunity, he’s a great teammate, and it’s fun playing with him.” Douglas’s 33-yard pick-6 off Matt Stafford Sunday was the first of his career, his first on any level since 2016, when he had a 54-yarder off Taysom Hill in West Virginia’s 35-32 win over BYU at FedEx Field. He also picked off former teammate Kyler Murray earlier this year. They are his first interceptions since he intercepted Matt Ryan, Dak Prescott and Josh Johnson as an Eagle in 2018. "Rasul has been a huge pick up for us and you have to give credit to Gutey (GM Brian Gutekunst) and his staff for finding him. I just love how he competes," Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. "You see it play in and play out. The guy is so competitive. You see it in practice every day. Obviously, he’s made two plays that have had a major impact on games this year. There are multiple other plays that he’s made that have really impacted games, but obviously the two that come to mind is Arizona and then tonight having a pick-six. It seemed like there were other opportunities out there for him to have another interception. "I’m just really proud of his effort. I think our guys have really embraced him and took him in and we’re lucky to have a guy like that. It’s rare to find a guy like that midseason.” Douglas did drop a potential second interception later in the game. He said his only regret from Sunday was a weak performance in his first lifetime attempt at a Lambeau Leap. "As soon as I got the ball, I was thinking try to score so I could Lambeau Leap,” he said. "I think that’s what messed me up on my second one, thinking I was going to get a shot at redemption on my Lambeau Leap, because my first one wasn’t good enough. It was something I’ve always wanted to do.” Six teams in 20 months is tough for anybody, but Douglas - still only 27 - said he feels like he’s finally found a home. "They accepted me with open arms,” he said. "I just told them that (in the locker room), when coach had me speak a little bit, I just told them I appreciate how you made me feel like this is home, and that’s a good feeling to have.” https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/aaron-rodgers-cant-stop-raving-about-former-eagles-cb-rasul-douglas
  10. Hurts, Reagor drag Eagles back to Earth in Roob's Obs Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER Back to reality for the Eagles, whose late-season run to an unlikely playoff berth took a big hit Sunday with an ugly 13-7 loss to an awful Giants team at MetLife Stadium. After winning three of four, the Eagles fell to 5-7 with five games left. Safe to say making the playoffs won't be a big topic around the NovaCare Complex this week. Trying to fix the passing game will be. Here's our 10 Instant Observations from East Rutherford: 1. Boston Scott will get the blame, and that fumble at midfield 1:34 was inexcusable. The Eagles were already down Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders at that point, but Scott isn’t a rookie and he can’t get stripped with the game on the line 50 yards from the game-winning touchdown. But that’s not why the Eagles lost this game. They lost because for most of the 60 minutes against the Giants they didn’t make plays on offense and they didn’t make plays on defense and I don’t care who you’re playing or what their record is or who’s injured, if you turn the ball over four times, don’t force any turnovers, drop a touchdown and another near TD in the final seconds, let Daniel Jones convert big 3rd downs, don’t get the ball in the hands of your best receivers, don’t get any pressure and commit costly penalties, you’re going to lose. No matter who you're playing. The last few weeks were good ones for the Eagles, but this is a reminder that they haven't yet arrived. They’re 5-7, that playoff dream is slipping away and there’s still an awful lot of work to do to turn this thing around. 2. These are the types of games that make you wonder about Jalen Hurts, and his future, and whether he can be The Guy, because as exciting as can be and as brilliant a runner as he is, he has to be able to make plays in the passing game against a bad defense like this Giants one, and on Sunday Hurts couldn’t do it. The interception late in the first quarter didn’t seem to be his fault – it looked like Quez Watkins stopped his route – but the second one, with the Eagles at the goal-line just before halftime, was awful. Can’t make that throw. The third one was just a badly underthrown deep ball. We’ve talked all year about consistency. It’s not enough to make a splash play or two if the consistency isn’t there. And Sunday, Hurts threw into double coverage, didn’t handle pressure well, showed poor pocket awareness, missed wide-open guys, locked in on his first read and just never got into any kind of rhythm. His two best throws of the game may have been Jalen Reagor’s two unfathomable drops in the final minute. This was discouraging. This is a Giants team ranked 26th in defense and 25th in pass defense. I’m not ready to give up on Hurts or declare that he can’t be the quarterback moving forward. It’s one game. But he has to be a lot better than this. 3. As for Reagor … he’s just awful right now. He had two chances in the final few seconds and Hurts put the ball right there and he couldn’t catch either one. But that’s the kind of year it’s been for him. This team has had a lot of 1st-round busts, from Kenny Jackson, Jon Harris, Jerome McDougle and Fireman Danny up through Derek Barnett and Andre Dillard. But Reagor is really etching his name into the pantheon. He’s just brutal. Nick Sirianni has to shut him down, like Doug Pederson did with Nelson Agholor in 2016. I don’t care if you put a practice squad guy out there in place of him. He’s killing this team right now. 4. I absolutely hated that 3rd-and-goal call from the 1-yard-line with eight seconds left in the first half. Actually, the bigger issue was the previous play. With one timeout and 2nd-and-goal on the 2 at 12 seconds, you throw on second down and either score or stop the clock. If you don’t score, you run on third down and call timeout to set up the field goal. By running on second down, Nick Sirianni had to use his final timeout when the Giants stopped Sanders at the 1. Then the 3rd-down call is this lumbering Hurts rollout to his right and a throw into traffic? The play never had a chance. It was a brutal sequence, and it cost the Eagles points. 5. I guess I can’t come down too hard on the defense because they did only allow 13 points. But the inability of this D-line to get sacks is getting to the point of absurdity. Javon Hargrave got a sack on the Giants’ last play from scrimmage, when Jones basically took a knee. But other than that, nothing. This is a terrible Giants offensive line, and for Fletcher Cox, Barnett, Hargrave and Josh Sweat to not get any pressure on Jones is preposterous. But it’s happening week after week. In their last seven games, the d-line has eight sacks – six of them against the Lions. And it’s not like Jones is out there getting rid of the ball quickly. Yeah, they got some pressures and a couple big hits. That’s not good enough. The Eagles had the one token sack and no takeaways Sunday against the quarterback who commits turnovers more often than anybody else in the NFL. Thirteen points should be enough to win. But make a play. Somebody make a play. 6. How can Dallas Goedert and DeVonta Smith be targeted a combined three times? It just makes no sense. I’m all for spreading the ball around and getting other guys involved, and it was nice to see Kenny Gainwell catch some balls down the stretch. But Goedert and Smith combined for 22 yards, and that makes no sense. 7. Not much I can say about Nate Herbig. Jason Kelce has been so durable – hasn’t missed a start since October 2014 – it was unimaginable seeing him on the sideline. But that’s no excuse for those two damaging penalties Herbie committed. The first one wiped out a 24-yard Hurts run, and the second one wiped out a 21-yard Boston Scott touchdown. Herbig is in his third year and has 13 starts to his name. It was great to see Kelce come back in the game, but without those Herbig penalties, the Eagles probably win the game. 8. The Eagles’ inability to generate big plays on offense really caught up with them Sunday, even with the running game piling up yards once again. The Eagles didn’t have a 30-yard play against one of the NFL’s worst defenses, and they don’t have a 40-yard play since the Cowboys game two months ago. They have only eight 30-yard plays all year, and five were in their first four games. Dinking and dunking will only get you so far. 9. It’s crazy to look at the final stats and see 208 rushing yards and seven points. The Eagles are the first team to do that since 2012 and only the third since 1999. The last time the Eagles ran for 200 yards and only scored seven points was 1957. Against the Giants at Yankee Stadium. And that was without Howard and much of the game without Sanders. Running is great, and the Eagles won some games with a run-centric offense. But Sunday’s game was the best evidence yet that without a high-powered passing game it’s really hard to win in this league. And right now the Eagles are a long way from a high-powered offense. 10. I’ve been thinking about something Joe Banner tweeted the other day: Something to the effect of "No team has ever won a Super Bowl with a quarterback who’s a better runner than passer.” That is true. I still believe Jalen Hurts can be a winning quarterback in the NFL, and I don’t think all the Eagles’ issues Sunday were his fault. Clearly they weren’t. But there are five games left this year and I really need to see growth in the passing game from Hurts. He can’t go out there and just put the ball up for grabs. He can’t take off and run when there are open receivers. He can't throw behind guys. Maybe this is just a blip, but these next five games are critical for Hurts to show he can be a big-time passer in the NFL. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-observations-jalen-hurts-jalen-reagor-headline-ugly-loss
  11. A look at the O-line's future in Roob's 10 random observations Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER A peek ahead to next year’s offensive line, thoughts on this year’s defensive line and a change at wide receiver I’d like to see. All that and lots more in today’s Roob’s 10 random Eagles observations! 1. There’s a lot of football left to be played this year, but it’s never too soon to speculate about the future, and considering how dominant the Eagles’ offensive line has been, it’s natural to wonder what the interior of the will look like in 2022. If Jason Kelce returns for a 12th season, then you have Landon Dickerson, Kelce, Brandon Brooks and Isaac Seumalo under contract. Not to mention Jack Driscoll, who’s played well at right guard. I suspect Brooks will be the odd man out. Incredible talent when healthy and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him, but he’s played two games since the end of the 2019 season, he’s 32 now, and you just get the sense they’ve moved on. This will be the first offseason the Eagles can release Brooks where the cap savings is more than the dead money, and I think that might be the move. There's no scenario you move Dickerson from left guard. If Kelce is back, you line up Dickerson at LG, Kelce at C and Seumalo at RG. If Kelce retires, then you go with Dickerson at LG, Seumalo at C and Driscoll at RG. However it works out, with Lane Johnson and Jordan Mailata both signed through 2025, this should be an elite o-line for years to come. 2. The only NFL players drafted in the 7th round over the last 20 years with at least 20 career interceptions are Kurt Coleman, the Eagles’ 7th-round pick in 2010, and Jordan Poyer, their 7th-round pick in 2013. Both had their best years under Sean McDermott – Coleman in Carolina and Poyer in Buffalo. 3. It’s natural, it’s effortless and it’s meaningful. Jalen Hurts doesn’t try to be a leader. It just happens because of his personality. This past offseason, Hurts socialized on a 1-on-1 basis with most of his offensive teammates just to get to know them on a deeper level than is possible once the season starts. One of Nick Sirianni’s core values is connection, the belief that if you’re close to your teammates, you’ll fight just a little bit harder for them. Hurts spoke eloquently after practice Friday about why it was so important to him: "I put a lot of value into building relationships with the guys I’m around and getting to know them,” Hurts said. "In the offseason, whether it’s in Philadelphia, whether it was in Florida or Texas, wherever it was, there was a lot of time put into building those relationships, getting the work in, learning each other, knowing all the youth we have, and I value it so much. I was telling my family the other day, but I told my teammates too, there’s just so much out there to be thankful for and I’m thankful for the time spent with my teammates, I’m thankful for my family and my loved ones, we’re all thankful to be able to play the game we love. I’m really grateful to be able to build those relationships with my teammates and for them to be able to accept me in that way, putting that time in, putting that work in during the offseason when it matters the most.” This is pretty special stuff. Hurts is 23. Who knows what the future is, but you can see why this team plays so hard for him. 4. The Eagles have won three of four and the Dolphins and Colts have each won three straight, and all of a sudden the 2022 draft doesn't look quite as tantalizing as it did a month ago. After Week 7, the Eagles were projected to pick at No. 3, No. 8 and No. 9. Today? The Dolphins’ pick has dropped to No. 7, the Eagles’ own pick right now is No. 11 and the Colts’ pick is down to No. 15. 5. It’s really hard to believe the Eagles have only 18 sacks, 29th in the NFL. With this defensive line? I actually think they’ve generated pretty good pressure the last couple weeks, but considering the contracts and high draft picks on this defensive line 18 sacks in 11 games is embarrassing. That’s the fewest the Eagles have ever had through 11 games. Pressure is great but sacks create 3rd-and-longs. Sacks can force fumbles. Sacks can knock quarterbacks out of games. Get this: The Eagles have had five games with no sacks. No other NFL team has had more than two. And five games with no sacks ties a franchise record for a full season. When the Eagles record a sack, they’re 4-2. When they don’t they’re 1-4. 6. How rare would it be for the Eagles to reach the playoffs after a 2-5 start? According to Stathead, there have been 294 teams in history that have been 2-5 and only nine have made the playoffs. The Eagles have been 2-5 some 11 times and never finished better than 6-7-1, which was 1971. Their last 2-5 start ironically was 1999, Andy Reid’s first year as head coach, and they finished 5-11. Only five teams have ever been 2-5 and won a playoff game. The last one to do it? The 2018 Colts, with offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni and secondary coach Jonathan Gannon. 7. Am I crazy that I’d rather see J.J. Arcega-Whiteside on the field right now than Jalen Reagor? JJAW looked better on that one crucial 23-yard catch-and-run against the Saints than Reagor has looked all year. 8. It’s really been incredible to see DeSean Jackson continue making big plays, now in his 14th season and with his sixth team. His 56-yard TD Thursday from Derek Carr for the Raiders vs. the Cowboys was his second long TD this year, coming two months after a 75-yarder from Matt Stafford with the Rams against the Bucs. Not only did D-Jack became the first player in NFL history with 50-yard TD catches for two teams in the same season, he increased his career total to 29 TD catches of 50 yards in his career (second to Jerry Rice’s 36) and 34 total TDs of at least 50 yards (second to Rice’s 36). At 34 years, 359 days, Jackson became the oldest player ever with a 50-yard TD against the Cowboys (Vernon Davis had a 53-yarder in 2018 at 34, 295) and tied four other players (most recently Art Monk) for the most 100-yard games ever against the Cowboys with five. Finally, D-Jack on Thursday night in Dallas became the 37th player in history to surpass 11,000 career receiving yards. 9. Jalen Hurts Stat of the Week: Hurts and Jonathan Taylor are the only players in the NFL who’ve rushed for at least 30 yards in all 11 games this year. Two others – Najee Harris and Antonio Gibson – have done it in all 10 games their team has played. Hurts is only the second QB to rush for 30 yards in his team’s first 11 games. Michael Vick did it for the Falcons in 2006. 10. Corey Clement: 100 receiving yards in the Super Bowl, 5.4 receiving yards per game since the Super Bowl. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-observations-what-will-offensive-line-look-2022
  12. The first thing Singleton thought about when he got benched Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER Alex Singleton was probably better equipped to handle getting benched than anybody. Considering his career path – undrafted out of Montana State, released by the Seahawks, Patriots and Vikings, relegated to the CFL for a few years, starting out on the Eagles’ practice squad – he's keenly aware of the realities of the NFL. And he knows, whatever happens, you can't afford to feel sorry for yourself. "I think sometimes it can be hard to do," he said. "As a job, you’ve got to make a choice every day when you wake up whether you’re going to perform at whatever level you’re supposed to in the role that you’re in and if not you’ll get fired from that job no matter what you do and obviously this job has a faster turnover rate,” Singleton said. "If you want to sit back and complain for a day? I took a long time to get here and a long time to learn how to be a pro and do all those things, so to let something I can’t control control that? Would probably be the biggest detriment to my career to do that to myself. So just stay up and be ready.” Singleton did stay ready, and after losing his starting linebacker job to Davion Taylor and seeing his reps dwindle down to just 10 against both the Chargers and Broncos, he replaced Taylor when the second-year pro hurt his knee Sunday just seven snaps into the Saints game. "I had a choice,” Singleton said. "You can lay down and just kind of feel sorry for yourself and hurt this team and hurt the organization and ultimately hurt yourself by probably losing a job pretty quickly if you do that. So I decided whatever I could do to make the team better. … I enjoy doing anything I can for this team. I love this game. So I don’t care if I get one snap or 100 snaps, they’re all going to be the same.” Singleton only missed three snaps the last two months of last season, and he was playing about 72 percent of the snaps when he got benched for Taylor after the Panthers game. And Taylor played well. He gave the Eagles a little more athleticism, speed and playmaking than Singleton. But when Taylor left the game in the first quarter Sunday, Singleton was ready. "Even though you saw Alex's snaps kind of go down a little bit, it's a testament to him, and the other guys that are in that room, all of our guys, they're all ready to play,” Jonathan Gannon said. "And they get themselves ready to play. "If you can go in, you can be a starter. You can be a starter in every package, a starter in certain packages, or you could be the pair and the spare that we talk about. And you’ve got to be able to go in and play winning football. "So I was really excited for Alex, because when he got in there, he played well. And that's really a testament to him. Sometimes when your snaps get diminished, a lot of guys I've seen go in the tank a little bit, and that hasn't been him because he's got high football character. And that's the guys we want to be there.” Singleton actually had one of his better games of the year Sunday after replacing Taylor. He had seven tackles, a quarterback hit on a blitz and a pass knockdown. He played all 58 defensive snaps after Taylor left the game and also played 20 special teams snaps. "Alex, he’s the ultimate pro,” T.J. Edwards said. "He’s been everywhere, from the CFL to a bunch of different teams, and he understands how things go I’m sure better than others. (After he lost his starting job) he was a guy who was still a leader in our room, a guy we rely on to keep things together, and when he was ready to go, he jumped right in and was making plays like he always does.” Taylor is on Injured Reserve, so Singleton will likely start Sunday against the Giants and the next two games alongside Edwards. After that? Who knows. But Singleton is ready for whatever happens next. "For most of my career, I’ve had to have that kind of ‘do-whatever-you-can-and-not-really-worry-about-what’s-going-on-around-you (mindset),’” he said. "And when you get to play do everything you can and so that’s the mindset I took the entire time, that I was going to do everything I could for this team to win games and then also to just make myself better during that time and for anything to happen step up and be ready to play.” https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/what-eagles-lb-alex-singleton-thought-about-when-he-got-benched
  13. Eagles finally learn time and date of home game vs. Washington Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER The Eagles’ Week 15 game against Washington now has a time and date. When the NFL schedule was released in April, the Eagles’ home game against Washington was not given a time or a date. It was announced only as TBA for either that Saturday or Sunday, Dec. 18 or 19. The verdict is in and … kickoff will be 1 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 19. The Eagles will face Washington at FedEx Field two weeks later. The 1 p.m. time means the Eagles will finish the season with seven consecutive 1 p.m. Sunday games. Five of their first 10 games were Thursday or Monday, and road games in Las Vegas and Denver and home vs. the Chargers were late-afternoon kickoffs. Most coaches prefer 1 p.m. Sunday kickoffs because it makes for a consistent schedule throughout the week with no adjustments for later kickoffs or Thursday or Monday games, so seven 1 p.m. games in a row is a nice benefit for Nick Sirianni as the Eagles chase a playoff berth in the stretch run. For the record, the Eagles are 251-217-9 (.535) in franchise history in early games — 1 p.m. EST or noon Central time. They’re 74-82 (.474) in late-afternoon games, and they’re 75-59 in prime-time games (starting at 7 p.m. EST or later), a .560 winning percentage. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles-washington-home-game-time
  14. Sirianni updates Howard, Taylor injuries Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER Looks like the Eagles dodged a bullet with Jordan Howard’s knee injury. They weren’t quite so lucky with Davion Taylor's. Howard, who got hurt at the end of a seven-yard run in the third quarter Sunday, will likely miss the Eagles’ game against the Giants this weekend with a knee sprain but has a chance to play the following week against the Jets, head coach Nick Sirianni said Wednesday. Howard, a two-time 1,000-yard rusher with the Bears, spent the first half of this season on the practice squad but has rushed 51 times for 274 yards and three touchdowns over the last four weeks. His 5.4 average is 6th-highest in the NFL among running backs with at least 50 carries (and 9th-highest overall). "Most likely he’ll be out this week, don’t know that for sure yet,” Sirianni said. "Has a chance to play next week.” Howard’s injury means Miles Sanders – who returned Sunday after a three-game layoff with an ankle injury – and Boston Scott will likely be the primary ball carriers as the Eagles look to continue their dominating running attack. They’ve rushed for 870 yards the last four games, their most in any four-game stretch in 72 years. Sanders is averaging 5.0 yards per carry and Scott is at 4.8. It also means rookie Kenny Gainwell could be active again after being inactive for the first time this year for the Saints game Sunday. Taylor also suffered a knee sprain, his occurring in the middle of the first quarter on Tony Jones two-yard run. Taylor has played well the last six weeks after replacing Eric Wilson in the starting lineup, but he was dealing with a knee issue coming into the game. "Most likely he’s going to be headed to I.R.,” Sirianni said. Injured Reserve would sideline Taylor for a minimum of three games, which means he would be eligible to return for the Giants rematch at the Linc on Dec. 26. Taylor missed the last month of last season as a rookie with a knee injury and was sidelined for much of training camp and early in the season with a calf injury. Alex Singleton, who has the ability to play either inside or outside linebacker, would replace Taylor. Singleton played 58 snaps Sunday after Taylor got hurt, by far the most he’s played since being replaced in the starting lineup by T.J. Edwards. Sirianni also said linebacker and special teamer Shaun Bradley, who hurt his shoulder Sunday, should be OK for the Giants this Sunday. Bradley has only played 25 snaps on defense this year – all at the end of blowouts vs. the Falcons and Lions - but he’s been one of the Eagles’ top special teamers. The Rancocas Valley Regional High School graduate has played 222 special teams snaps, which trails only Andre Chachere (237) and Zech McPhearson (223). https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-nick-sirianni-updates-jordan-howard-davion-taylor-injuries
  15. Sirianni's success, guys stepping up, and more in Roob's obs Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER An incredible start, an entire stadium holding its breath and then an improbable hero, and it added up to a 40-29 Eagles win over the Saints at the Linc, three wins the last four weeks and a 5-6 record that doesn’t look too bad considering where this team was not too long ago. Here’s my 10 Instant Observations from the Eagles’ first win at the Linc since they beat the Saints here last December. 1. To see where the Eagles are now after that stretch where they lost five of six games and were getting embarrassed just about every week? It’s remarkable. To go from those brutal losses to the Cowboys, Chiefs, Buccaneers and Raiders to beating the Lions by 38, the Broncos by 17 and the Saints by 11 speaks volumes about Nick Sirianni's ability to keep this team believing in itself through some pretty dark times. This is why you don’t judge a coach after four games or six games or eight games. This is why you don’t decide the guy sucks a month into his coaching career. You could see even during the worst of the awful losses that this team was playing hard and that his message was still getting through, and as long as that’s the case, there’s hope. Now the Eagles are 5-6 after a 2-5 start, and the schedule is awfully favorable. This team has turned a corner, and the playoffs are a realistic goal. You don’t have to like Sirianni, but it’s obvious his players do and that’s all that matters. 2. The Saints don’t just have the best run defense in the league, they have one of the best in NFL history. At least they did before Sunday. They were allowing 65.6 rushing yards per game, and that’s the 9th-fewest EVER through 10 games. So consider that when you look at the way the Eagles dominated this game on the line of scrimmage. This offensive line just gets better and better and on Sunday they steamrolled an all-time great run defense to the tune of 242 rushing yards. These five guys have now played five games in a row together, and that’s the longest stretch for any Eagles o-line since the start of the 2019 season. That chemistry along with some massive run blockers has made this running attack virtually impossible to stop. That 65.6 mark is absurd, and the Eagles nearly QUADRUPLED it. That’s insane. The backs have all been terrific, but this offensive line is simply phenomenal when it comes to run blocking. 3. The problem with being THIS dependent on the running game is that when the running yards aren’t there you need to be able to make plays in the passing game, and once the Eagles built that 33-7 lead they just couldn’t do it. It was a combination of the Saints selling out vs. the run, Sirianni taking his foot off the gas pedal too early, Jalen Hurts missing a couple throws, a couple drops and just the lack of firepower the Eagles have on offense outside the running attack. This formula of running the ball 65 percent of the time has been working, but there will be times it doesn’t work, and the Eagles still have a lot of work to do to get the passing attack where it needs to be in those instances. 4. Good lord, how good has Darius Slay been? We’re seeing elite play from Slay these days, the kind of cornerback play we haven’t seen in these parts since Asante Samuel was going to Pro Bowls a decade ago. Slay just has that hyper-aggressive mentality where he’s looking to score every snap he’s on the field, and he’s now got three touchdown returns – 33, 83 and 51 yards – in the Eaglers’ last four games, which is remarkable. On top of taking the opposing team’s best WR out of the game. No coincidence the Saints started coming back as soon as he left the game with an apparent concussion. The next man up is rookie 4th-round pick Zech McPhearson, who’s a nice prospect but there might not be a bigger gap between starter and backup on the team. 5. It wasn’t a masterpiece defensively, and you never want to give up 22 points in a 4th quarter to a backup quarterback, and things did get a little hairy there for a bit, but the most encouraging thing about the defense is that they’re making plays. Forcing turnovers, generating pressure, getting stops at key moments. The whole team got a little tight in the fourth quarter, the Saints kept getting great field position and were able to play loose with a big deficit and Trevor Siemian ran around and made some plays. But overall I’m encouraged with where this unit is now compared to a month ago. They still need to turn that pressure into sacks. But for a defense without a lot of elite talent, they are getting better. 6. Big-time props to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, whose 23-yard catch-and-run at a crucial moment helped quell the Saints’ comeback attempt. JJAW had just 15 career catches in 2 ½ seasons, just four over the last two years, none this year and none in a meaningful game since October of 2020. But when the offense was sputtering, the Saints had scored 17 straight points and the Eagles faced a 2nd-and-11 on their own 25-yard-line with 6:25 left, JJAW was ready and he made the biggest play of his career. Seven plays later, the Eagles put the game away with another Hurts TD. The kid has been the butt of a lot of jokes, and he’ll hear about getting drafted before D.K. Metcalf the rest of his life. But the first time this year the ball came his way - his first target all year - he came up huge. I give him a ton of credit for that. 7. That JJAW catch really emphasizes how important it is for the Eagles to get some people involved in the passing game other than DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert. Smith was 4-for-61 against the Saints and Goedert 5-for-62, but JJAW and Boston Scott were the only other players with a catch - Scott was 2-for-4. Over the last four games, Goedert and Smith are a combined 30-for-463 and everybody else on the roster has 20 catches for 139 yards. That means backs, tight ends and receivers other than Smith and Goedert are averaging a combined 35 yards per game over the last month. I don’t care how good your running game is, you need more than two functional pass catchers. 8. He had a bad fumble deep in Saints territory that led to a touchdown and nearly fumbled again, but Miles Sanders ran the ball exceptionally well in his return after a four-game layoff Sunday, finishing 16-for-94 – the most yards by any running back against the Saints since Sanders had 115 last year. The Eagles really needed Sanders too after Jordan Howard left the game with a knee injury (after a very tough 10-for-63 himself). Good to see Sanders back and looking as good as he ever has. 9. Another ho-hum passing day for Jalen Hurts – 13-for-24 for 147 yards, no TDs, no INTs – but his ability to make plays with his legs is incredible. He became only the eighth NFL quarterback since 1978 with three rushing TDs in a game and the first Eagles QB ever (and the 7th Eagle ever). He got bottled up a lot – and I still think 18 carries is too many – but he is just such an explosive runner and has crazy cut-back ability that down at the goal-line he’s very difficult to stop. He now has eight rushing TDs, tied for 14th-most in NFL history over a full season. We still need to see more growth in the passing game, but his legs are a world-class weapon and he really knows how to use them. 10. Finally, has anybody noticed that the Eagles are 3-1 with a last-second loss in four games since Sirianni shared the allegory of the plant growing underground? Sirianni was widely mocked and berated after relating that story to the media, but watching this team now, it’s clear he was absolutely right. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-observations-saints-win-highlights-nick-siriannis-done-right-jalen-hurts-touchdowns
  16. Eagles lock up Maddox on 3-year contract extension Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER It’s been a lucrative couple days for the Dallas Goedert/Avonte Maddox household. One day after Goedert got a massive contract extension from the Eagles, Maddox — his roommate and close friend — got an extension of his own. Maddox, who has come into his own as a slot corner this year, agreed to a three-year contract extension worth $22.5 million in new money with $13.3 million guaranteed, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Saturday morning. The deal adds three years to Maddox’s current contract year and runs through 2024. "We put a lot on his plate,” defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said recently. "And he has a lot to process and think about. And we put him in that spot as a slot nickel corner. He wears a lot of hats. He's in the run game, he's covering man to man. He's in zone. He makes a lot of adjustments. He’s doing an excellent job. I love having him.” The Eagles drafted five players in 2018, and four of them — Goedert, Maddox, Josh Sweat and Jordan Mailata — have signed contract extensions since September. The fifth player they drafted in 2018 was Matt Pryor, who’s now with the Colts. Maddox, who would have become a free agent at the end of the year, was playing on his four-year rookie contract, which was worth $3.09 million when he signed it although he triggered a playing-time escalator last year that bumped his 2021 base salary from $750,010 to $2.183 million. The move means the Eagles’ two best defensive backs will return in 2022. Darius Slay is signed through 2023. Rodney McLeod, Anthony Harris and Steve Nelson are all due to become free agents after the season, so locking up Maddox through 2024 is huge for a secondary that is likely going to need several new pieces next year. Maddox, a 4th-round pick out of Pitt, has started 25 games in his four-year career but after a disappointing season when he was forced to play outside corner in 2020 he’s given the Eagles smart, physical, productive play in the slot this fall. Maddox has three interceptions, 21 pass defenses, two forced fumbles and 2.0 sacks in 45 career games. Although he’s only started two games this year, he’s averaging 43 snaps per game. "I just think he's scrappy and tough,” Nick Sirianni said recently. "That's such a requirement for the good slot nickels I've been around. They're scrappy. They're tough. That's definitely Avonte. And then you always have to have good quickness in there because you go against different guys that are quick. You've got that short area quickness. So, I definitely see that in him. "I’m glad he's our slot corner because he does a really good job at it. I see him getting better all the time. That toughness is just something that you've got to have on your team, and he definitely embodies that at that position.” https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-avonte-maddox-reach-3-year-contract-extension
  17. Eagles' O-line finally finds one thing that's been missing Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER Something is happening on the Eagles’ offensive line that hasn’t happened in a long, long time. They’re staying healthy. There are a lot of reasons the Eagles’ offense has been rolling the last few weeks. Nick Sirianni’s play calling has improved, Jalen Hurts has been more efficient, the running game has been massive. But all of it goes back to the offensive line, which for the first time in 2 ½ years has stayed together for more than two games. Jordan Mailata, Landon Dickerson, Jason Kelce, Jack Driscoll and Lane Johnson have started the last four games after the Eagles used 23 different offensive lines and 15 different starters in their previous 28 games. This is the first time since the first five weeks of 2019 that the same five offensive linemen have started four straight games. Stability is important at any position, but on the offensive line, where communication, chemistry and teamwork are so important, it’s huge. "The cohesiveness, having the continuity of the same line, really helps building that connection that you need,” Jordan Mailata said before practice Wednesday. "You really need that playing next to the same guy. Is he going to cover my back on a play? The more and more experience we get to play with the same five guys up front, the connection – one of our core values – is going to rise.” Since Mailata moved back from right to left tackle, Dickerson settled in at left guard, Driscoll came back from an injury to solidify right guard and Johnson returned to action at right tackle, this offense has been rolling. The first six weeks of the season, the Eagles ranked 19th in scoring [22.8], 20th in yards [346], 15th in rushing yards [114], 23rd in 1st downs [19], 18th on third down [39 percent] and 13th in sacks allowed [2.0 per game] These last four games, finally settled up front, they’ve improved to 3rd in scoring [30.0], 5th in yards [356], 1st in rushing yards [144], 1st in 1st downs [23], 2nd on third down [52 percent] and 4th in sacks allowed [1.0 per game]. Obviously, there are other factors, like play calling, quality of opponent and execution by Jalen Hurts and the other skill players. But the difference is hard to ignore. The last month, this offensive line has been exceptional both run blocking and pass blocking. They’re crushing people. Seems a little continuity can go a long way. "It all goes back to communication,” Johnson said. "When you have the same guys, you have less chance of having mental errors, the more snaps you have with each other. You’ve got beasts out there on the left, me and Jack there on the right, Kelce in the middle and we’re slowly picking up steam.” The Eagles have been unsettled for so long on the offensive line it’s hard to believe. The last time they started the same five offensive linemen in more than six straight games was the last seven games of 2015 – Jason Peters, Allen Barbre, Kelce, Matt Tobin and Johnson. The last time the same group started at least eight straight games was 2013, when Peters, Evan Mathis, Kelce, Todd Herremans and Johnson started all 17 games. Seumalo is out for the season, but there’s a chance Brandon Brooks will return to take his old spot at right guard. Brooks has been out since Week 2 with a pec strain. And as welcome as stability and continuity are, an offensive line of Mailata, Dickerson, Kelce, Brooks and Johnson would be very hard to top. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-offensive-line-finally-finds-one-thing-thats-been-missing
  18. How Sirianni needs to handle Sanders' return Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER For much of the season, we were begging Nick Sirianni to get Miles Sanders more involved. We might be getting to the point now where we're begging him not to get Sanders involved. Sirianni is facing quite a dilemma as Sanders nears his return. Sanders is the Eagles' de facto lead running back, and he's been largely productive when healthy in his three NFL seasons. Since entering the league in 2019, he's one of only seven NFL running backs to average 55 yards per game and 4.9 yards per carry. Up there with Derrick Henry, Nick Chubb, Jonathan Taylor and other elite backs. Here's the thing. The Eagles are doing just fine without him. Jordan Howard and Boston Scott have been pretty much unstoppable with Sanders sidelined the last three weeks. Since Week 8, there are eight NFL running backs with 180 rushing yards and a 5.0 average, and Howard and Scott are two of the eight. Sirianni has masterfully alternated Howard and Scott, keeping defenses off-balance, keeping the chains moving, keeping the clock running, keeping the defense off the field. This is as well as the Eagles have run the ball in half a century, and they've done it with Sanders sidelined with a knee injury. Scott and Howard don't dance. They don't hesitate. They don't mess around. They hit the hole. No nonsense. And that's exactly what this offense needs right now. In the three weeks since Nick Sirianni shifted to a run-first scheme featuring Howard and Scott -- the three games the Eagles have played without Sanders -- the Eagles are No. 2 in the NFL in scoring, No. 4 in total yards, No. 2 in first downs and No. 1 on 3rd-down. This has become a methodical, grind-it-out, move-the-chains offense that doesn't produce big plays but eats clock, converts third downs and wears down opposing defenses. And Howard and Scott are the ideal backs to fit that style of play. I'm not saying don't play Sanders. I'm not saying bench him. But the Eagles have a good thing going right now and it doesn't make sense to change. I like Sanders, but you can't ignore the fact that this offense has been more effective without him. There are a lot of other factors. The O-line has played better, Sirianni's play-calling has improved dramatically and Jalen Hurts has been more efficient. But Scott and Howard have just been consistently productive in a way that Sanders hasn't been. Over the last three weeks, Howard has averaged 70 yards per game and 5.2 per carry with three TDs and Scott has averaged 60 yards per game and 5.5 yards per carry with two TDs. Sanders has never rushed for 40 yards with a 4.0 average three straight weeks. Howard and Scott have both done it the last three weeks. Since 2019, when Sanders, Scott and Howard all made their Eagles debuts, Sanders has lost yards on 11 percent of his runs, Scott 7 percent and Howard 5 percent. There's something to be said for consistency. There's something to be said for moving forward. This isn't a knock on Sanders, just an acknowledgment that he's a different kind of back than Howard and Scott. He's a home-run threat on a team that isn't trying to hit home runs right now. So what happens when Sanders does come back? First of all, you can't play four backs, so rookie Kenny Gainwell is the odd man out. He did some nice things early and has a bright future, but he hasn't been particularly productive lately -- 4.7 yards per carry with 14 catches in the first five games, 2.5 yards per carry with six catches in the last five games. Howard, Scott and Sanders are your backs, but Howard and Scott need to remain the focus of the ground attack, with Sanders mixing in situationally as a runner and receiver. Go with the hot hand. Keep feeding Howard and Scott. Work Sanders in there when it makes sense. Can it work? It sure worked in 2003, when Brian Westbrook, Correll Buckhalter and Duce Staley combined for 1,618 rushing yards, 83 receptions and 27 touchdowns as the famed Three-Headed Monster carried the Eagles to a 12-4 record and the NFC Championship Game. It can't be about where guys were drafted or how much money they make or what they've done so far in their careers. It's got to be about who makes the most sense for the team to win games. And that answer is clear. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/how-eagles-coach-nick-sirianni-needs-handle-miles-sanders-return
  19. Is Nick Sirianni convinced yet Jalen Hurts is 'The Guy?' Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER Nick Sirianni isn't about to declare Jalen Hurts the Eagles' proverbial Quarterback of the Future. But it's impossible to listen to him talk about the 23-year-old Hurts without getting that sense from the Eagles' first-year head coach. "I just see his arrow completely pointed up," Sirianni said. "I think we've all seen the way he's played." What would Sirianni say to people who still doubt whether Hurts can be a franchise quarterback? "Watch the last three games and that's the biggest one right there, right?" he said. "He's started, what, 14 games now? ... And so, to me, he's still a rookie. He's still in his rookie season essentially, if you count the amount of games started. And so all I see is improvement every day from him. "It starts with the type of person that Jalen is and how much he loves this sport and how much he loves his teammates and how tough he is. And he doesn't make the same mistake twice." The Eagles' newly discovered running attack has taken a lot of pressure off of Hurts and helped him become a more consistent passer. The first half Sunday in Denver was the best half of his career -- 15-for-20 for 176 yards, two TDs, no INTs, 52 rushing yards and a 10-point lead on the way to a 30-13 win over the Broncos. "If you look at that first half, the way he played, he was doing some things yesterday that were really special," Sirianni said. "The play he made to Dallas Goedert is a big-time football play and I think if you look back and you look maybe five weeks ago, I think that he probably tucks that and runs and maybe gets 10 (yards). And (Sunday), he stepped up in the pocket and ... rips through, he slides in the pocket, keeps his eyes down the field, and then he delivers a strike across the middle. "And look how good he's done taking care of the football just as far as interceptions and fumbles. Again, I just see him making strides over and over and over again." Hurts' 87.3 passer rating is 2nd-highest in franchise history by a quarterback in his first 14 starts, behind only Nick Foles. His 3,897 combined passing and rushing yards are 9th-highest ever by a quarterback in his first 14 starts. He's improved his completion percentage from 52 percent last year to 62 percent this year and has generated 18 touchdowns and just five turnovers in 10 games this year. The last three games in particular, he's trending in the right direction. All that said, Sirianni isn't interested in addressing the question everyone else is asking. Is Hurts the quarterback of the future? All he'll say is he's the quarterback for Sunday. "My job here and Jalen's job is to not focus on franchise quarterback moving forward," he said. "It's about, 'What can we do today to get us ready for Sunday and what can we do tomorrow to get us ready for Sunday.' "I say this every week, but my message isn't going to change: 'What can we do today to get ready for the next game?' "So, I think that's Jalen's mindset, that's my mindset (and that's) how we're going to keep getting better each week. And the rest will take care of itself." https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-quarterback-future-jalen-hurts-nick-sirianni
  20. Signs of growth, Hurts' big half, and more in Roob's observations Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER Signs of growth! Signs of progress! Signs that the Eagles are moving in the right direction! And the schedule only gets easier from here. Here's my 10 Instant Observations from the Eagles' second win in three games, 30-13 over the Broncos in Denver, improving them to 4-6 and 4-2 on the road. 1. You just saw a good football team. I don’t want to get carried away here, but you get the sense the Eagles have made their way through hell – ugly blowout losses to the Cowboys, Chiefs, Bucs and Raiders – and come out the other side. This is three weeks in a row they’ve played 60 very hard, very competitive, very respectable minutes of football, and they’ve got two road wins and a last-second loss to show for it. You’re seeing a team that’s growing up, that’s finding itself, that never stopped believing in its coaches, that never stopped believing in itself. They’ve equaled last year’s win total and there’s a bunch of winnable games on the horizon. 2. Unusual game for Jalen Hurts. Was brilliant in the first half and then only threw three passes in the second half, one of them an interception. Which is fine. If you can keep moving the sticks running the ball, why not? Bad decision on the interception but overall he was very good, and his accuracy and ability to put the ball exactly where he wanted to is really encouraging. Hurts finished 16-for-23 (a season-high 70 percent) for 178 yards with two touchdowns and the one INT – his first in four games. We’re all looking for growth, and we got it Sunday on the road against a top-5 defense. And his best throw of the season – the Quez Watkins drop – should have been a 34-yard touchdown. Hurts used the entire field, he spread the ball around, he made plays with his legs, he got the ball in the end zone and he threw with terrific anticipation – he did everything you want your quarterback to do. He just played with tremendous poise and intelligence. This will be a tough one for the Hurts Haters to swallow. He was really good Sunday. 3. But it doesn’t happen if Sirianni doesn’t give him a chance to be really good. The game plan was a perfect mixture of runs and passes early, and then grind it out on the ground late. Perfection. The Eagles kept the Broncos on their heels with a balanced attack in the first half and then just kept running it the rest of the game. Sirianni has really grown as a play caller, and the first half - 20 runs, 20 passes - was his best yet. We were all afraid he'd stop dialing up a heavy dose of running plays, but it's clear now he understands that's what works best for this team. 4. DeVonta Smith didn’t have huge numbers Sunday, but man was he impressive. He was 4-for-66 in the first half and that’s where he finished, but I don’t even care about the numbers because you watch this kid play and it’s impossible not to think … "The Eagles FINALLY got it right.” He’s so smooth and so clutch and you can just see the chemistry between him and Hurts growing every week. That first touchdown was a work of art. Smith is a skinny dude, but he’s aggressive and physical to the ball and it’s great to see that he’s worked through his relatively minor but still concerning problem with drops. Smith is just going to keep getting better. 5. That was some remarkable defense the Eagles played in (and just outside) the red zone. They didn’t tackle particularly well between the 20s Sunday and gave up a few plays, but they made huge tackle after huge tackle on critical snaps when the Broncos got near the end zone. The Broncos had drives to the 3-, 4-, 10- and 10-yard-lines that netted a total of six points. And then another one down to the 23 that turned into an Eagles touchdown on the Darius Slay return. So after the first quarter, the Eagles actually outscored the Broncos 7-6 on five drives when the Broncos were inside the Eagles’ 25-yard-line. Bend-but-don’t-break only works if you’re exceptional in the red zone, and the Eagles sure were Sunday. Jonathan Gannon needed a game like this and he and his players delivered in a big way. 6. This is three straight games the Eagles have rushed for 175 or more yards, and that’s something they had only done eight times in franchise history – only three times since 1950. It took a while for this team to find an offensive identity, but they sure have one now. The Eagles haven’t had a 100-yard rusher during this stretch, and once again, it was a collaborative effort with Jordan Howard (12-for-83), Boston Scott (11-for-81) and Jalen Hurts (11-for-56 before kneel downs) all helping the Eagles pile up 214 rushing yards. I know one thing. Whenever Miles Sanders comes back, Scott and Howard HAVE to remain a big part of this offense. 7. The Lions and Chargers have certifiably bad run defenses, but the Broncos are a top-10 rush defense, and with this performance the Eagles really proved they can run it against anybody. And this has as much to do with the o-line as the backs. The offensive line really imposed its will on the Broncos’ defense, and even in the second half, when the Broncos knew the Eagles were going to keep hammering it on the ground, they couldn’t stop them. The Broncos did everything they could to sell out against the run in the second half, but still the Eagles ran it 20 times for 114 yards – and threw just three times. So they averaged almost six yards a carry against a stacked box. This is officially now an exceptional running team with a coach that appears to understand that. That’s a hell of a combination. 8. It’s no coincidence that the Eagles have turned a bit of a corner defensively the last few weeks since T.J. Edwards has replaced Alex Singleton as the primary middle linebacker. Singleton played fairly well last year but was struggling this year, and the change has given the defense more physicality and a real thumper in the middle. And I’ll tell you what, it’s great to see Davion Taylor out there running around. For a kid who hasn’t played a whole lot at this level, he’s very active and that forced fumble that resulted in the Slay TD was a heck of a play. He got his hand in there in the middle of a lot of traffic on that 4th-and-1 and stripped the ball from Melvin Gordon. Play of the game. The Eagles started the season with Singleton and Eric Wilson getting most of the linebacker snaps. Edwards and Taylor are definitely an upgrade. 9. The Eagles only had one sack, but I thought they did a better job than they have lately getting pressure on the quarterback. Even Fletcher Cox showed up and made a few plays. I’d still like to see them finish some of those hurries and turn them into sacks. But Bridgewater didn’t have a ton of time in the pocket and only completed two passes for more than 15 yards. 10. At this point, I should just cut and paste whatever I wrote last week about Derek Barnett’s lack of discipline. Two more penalties Sunday, including his third personal foul of the season and his fourth offsides. Was the roughing the passer a tough call? It doesn’t matter. Barnett has a reputation now. The officials are watching him, and anything that’s close is going to draw a flag. He’s got to understand that, but it doesn’t seem like he does. Barnett did record a sack, but five years into his career he has more penalty yards (183) than sack yards (173). Everybody wants to bench him but for who? Ryan Kerrigan? There is nobody else. Barnett has to play and he has to play smarter, but there’s no reason to believe he’s capable of doing it. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-observations-signs-growth-jalen-hurts-excels-and-much-more
  21. Putting Jalen Hurts' strong finish in perspective Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER Just when you start thinking, "Maybe Jalen Hurts just isn’t the guy,” he does something to make you think, "Maybe he is.” First half Sunday, he missed a wide-open Dallas Goedert down the field while under heavy pressure, and then he missed DeVonta Smith in the end zone, although Smith claims he slipped. Second half? Hurts was 7-for-8 for 108 yards, with five of the completions going for at least 19 yards, and he ran four times for 32 more yards, leading TD drives of 85 and 78 yards. It was his work on the Eagles’ final possession that was truly impressive. With the Eagles trailing 24-17, he went 4-for-4, converted two 3rd downs with scrambles and capped the drive with a game-tying 28-yard TD pass to DeVonta Smith while under furious pressure with six minutes left. The Chargers then drove down the field and won the game on a field goal with two seconds left. And for Hurts, the loss overshadows all the positives from the second half. "I think for me, I always look at it like, ‘What could I have done better to change the outcome of the game?’” he said. "That’s how I look at it all the time. Look at every opportunity you have and take advantage of every opportunity.” But in the second half and on that final drive in particular, he showed why it’s still too early to conclude he’s not The Guy. "Yeah, he was a stud,” Nick Sirianni said. "He was a big-time stud. … I think what was really, really impressive - obviously that (touchdown) throw was really unbelievable in the face of some pressure. … That's advanced football right there to be able to see what was going on and to be able to get the communication at the line of scrimmage and everybody be on the same page for a 28-yard score. "He just was really unfazed by the scenario and just showed a lot of poise. Down seven, everything in his eyes said, ‘Put it on me and let's go. … And he made some unbelievable plays on third down. That play where he jumped over top and did the flip, I think if we had won that game, that would be a play they showed (in) Philly for a long time. He just was really composed in a tight situation. That's what you want out of your quarterbacks. That's what I've seen out of good quarterbacks in my past.” What about the two first-half misses? "I was expecting something else (on the Smith misfire) and ended up getting out the pocket and made a throw kind of back peddling,” he said. "Maybe I didn’t need to do that. I ended up leading him too much. It’s just a missed opportunity in my eyes.” "And then I think about the opening drive to (Dallas) Goedert, I couldn’t really follow through with my throw and couldn’t finish through it. Maybe I could have gotten deeper in the pocket. It’s something I’m going to learn from, but I look at it as a missed opportunity for me regardless of (what happened) late in the game, what that looks like and putting us in a position to go in. It’s about what you didn’t do.” Overall, Hurts was 11-for-17 for 162 yards, the one TD, no INTs for a third straight game and 62 rushing yards on 10 attempts. It hasn’t all been pretty, and the consistency still isn’t there, but here we are nine weeks in, and Hurts is on pace to complete 62 percent of his passes for 3,742 yards with 21 touchdowns, 8 interceptions and 933 rushing yards with a 6.0 average. Not bad. "Sometimes I forget how young the dude is just because of how he has taken control of the team, taken control of the offense,” Boston Scott said. "Tremendous amount of respect for him. He’s an eraser, and what I mean by that is that when things aren’t right, he makes them right. So utmost respect for that guy and what he’s been able to do week in and week out. He’s a warrior. He’s a winner.” Asked about the two 2nd-half touchdown drives, Hurts shook his head. "It’s not about any of that,” he said. "I expect to do those things. I also expect to come out and start fast and do the things I need to do early in the game. We are looking at a potential 10-point differential in the game, maybe 14. So the stuff in the end, I expect that to happen. My coaches expect that to happen. “‘What could I have done better from the jump? What are the opportunities that I didn’t take advantage of as the quarterback of this team?’ "Good, bad, or indifferent, I want to be better and I have to be better in the end. We have to be better as a group but I hold myself to a very high standard.” https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/putting-eagles-qb-jalen-hurts-strong-finish-perspective
  22. Eagles Stats: Making history in a very surprising area Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER Some wild rushing stats, DeVonta Smith chasing a franchise record and the newest member of the 80 Percent Club. All this and more in this week’s Roob’s Eagles Stats! RUSH TO SCORE: The Eagles already have 14 rushing touchdowns this year. That’s their most in the first nine games of a season since they had 15 in 1965 – more than half a century ago. This is only the third time since 1950 they’ve had 14 rushing TDs after nine games. They also had 17 in 1953. The Eagles have had a rushing TD in six straight games, which matches their longest streak in 18 years. They had a rushing TD the last 15 games of 2003. GOING AFTER DESEAN: DeVonta Smith’s 116 receiving yards against the Chargers gave him 537 this year, 2nd-most ever by an Eagles rookie after nine games. DeSean Jackson had 586 yards nine games into the 2008 season. His 38 catches are 3rd-most ever by an Eagles rookie after nine games. Keith Jackson had 51 in 1988 and Jordan Matthews 39 in 2014. GETTING IN THE END ZONE: Jalen Hurts is the 4th quarterback in NFL history with at least 16 passing and 8 rushing touchdowns in his first 13 starts. Jack Kemp did it in 1960 and 1961 for the Chargers [20, 8], Steve Grogan in 1975 and 1976 for the Patriots [18, 8] and Kordell Stewart for the Steelers in 1997 [17, 8]. Hurts is the second QB in history with three straight games with 60 rushing yards and no interceptions. Lamar Jackson has done it twice. NOT TURNING IT OVER: Hurts this week broke the Eagles franchise record for best career interception ratio [minimum of 400 pass attempts]. With his third straight game without an interception, Hurts improved his career INT ratio to one every 52.6 attempts. He moved past Nick Foles, who previously held the mark with one INT every 51.7 attempts. Hurts is now tied for 13th-best interception ratio in NFL history with Colts quarterback Carson Wentz. MOVING THE STICKS: Hurts’ six rushing first downs Sunday give him 35, 4th-most in the league behind Jonathan Taylor (49), Derrick Henry (49) and Lamar Jackson (36). That’s the most rushing 1st downs by any Eagle through nine games since LeSean McCoy had 36 in 2014. THE 80 PERCENT CLUB: OK, this is a weekly exercise, but here we go: In the first 1,274 games in franchise history, eight quarterbacks completed 80 percent of their passes against the Eagles. In the Eagles’ last seven games, five have done it, most recently Justin Herbert. The only other team to allow five 80 percent quarterbacks in an entire season was the 2015 Buccaneers. The Eagles have eight weeks to break that NFL record. A RECORD THEY DON’T WANT: Overall, opposing quarterbacks are completing 75.5 percent of their passes against the Eagles. For the sake of comparison, Drew Brees holds the NFL single-season record for completion percentage at 74.4 percent in 2018. Eagles opposing quarterbacks are higher than that. The NFL single-season record for highest opposing completion percentage is 72.7 percent by the 2016 Detroit Lions. WHERE’S THE PRESSURE? The Eagles have had four games this year without recording a sack, including three in their last four games. This is only the fourth time in franchise history the Eagles have had three games without a sack in any four-game stretch. They had three straight games with no sacks late in 1983, three out of four weeks in 2006 and three weeks in a row in 2012. This is the first time in franchise history the Eagles have had four no-sack games through Week 9. The Eagles are the only NFL team with more than two games this year without a sack. PILING UP THE CATCHES: Keenan Allen’s 12 catches Sunday are the 4th-most ever against the Eagles. George Kittle had 15 last year, T.O. had 13 with the 49ers in 2002 and Wes Welker 13 for the Patriots in 2007. FOUR-HEADED MONSTER? Jalen Hurts [5], Jordan Howard [3], Kenny Gainwell [3] and Boston Scott [3] all have at least three rushing touchdowns so far this year. This is the first time four Eagles have had three rushing TDs in the same season since 2003, when Correll Buckhalter [8], Brian Westbrook [7], Duce Staley [5] and Donovan McNabb [3] did it. It’s the first time ever four Eagles had three rushing TDs through nine games. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-stats-birds-making-history-very-surprising-area
  23. Sirianni not happy after Eagles' pass defense gets shredded again Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER The Eagles’ pass defense was already reeling coming into the Chargers game. Then they lost Avonte Maddox and Darius Slay, their two best cornerbacks. With them, the Eagles may have had a hard time slowing down Justin Herbert. Without them? They had no shot. The Eagles played tough Sunday, they played hard, they played physical. But Herbert was just too good. In the Chargers' 27-24 win over the Eagles at the Linc Sunday, Herbert became the fifth quarterback in the last seven weeks to complete 80 percent of his passes against the Eagles. Thirteen quarterbacks in history have completed 80 percent of their passes against the Eagles. Five of them in the last 41 days. Digest that for a moment. The Eagles are only the second team in NFL history to allow five 80 percent quarterbacks in a season. The 2015 Buccaneers also did it. And there are eight games to go. "Of course, when a guy comes away and he’s 84 percent, you're going to say, ‘We didn't do our job,’ right?” Nick Sirianni said. "We’ve just got to be better. Again, I have to go look at the tape and all the calls. Obviously, not good enough starting with myself and by the defense there with the pass defense.” Herbert, in his 23rd career start, completed 32 of 38 passes (84.2 percent) for 356 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 123.2 passer rating. And ran for a touchdown. He’s the first quarterback ever to complete at least 80 percent of his passes for 350 or more yards with no interceptions against the Eagles. Through nine games, opposing QBs are completing an astounding 75.5 percent of their passes against the Eagles. The previous NFL high through nine games was the Lions’ 74.1 percent in 2016. The NFL record for a full season is 72.7 percent by that same Lions team. Now, a lot of this is by design. Facing big-armed QBs, Jonathan Gannon likes to ask his d-backs to legislate against the big play, allow underneath throws and rely on strong tackling and 3rd- and 4th-down stops. And for most of the game Sunday, that worked. But on two 4th-quarter scoring drives that gave the Chargers the win, Herbert was too good. Sirianni has been critical of Gannon in the past, but he put the blame squarely on himself Sunday night. "Any time you play a quarterback like Justin Herbert — there is no surprise I think he's a good quarterback, we all know he's a good quarterback — you have to be on your A game and (that) starts with us as coaches,” Sirianni said. "So I'm not going to say Jonathan anything because that's my name on that. Whatever happens on that field my name is on - offensively, defensively. I'm not the offensive coordinator, I'm the head coach. "It’s all of us together. It’s first myself, getting the right calls and putting the players in position, then Jonathan, then the players executing.” In fairness to the Eagles’ secondary, they finished the game with two cornerbacks who had previously played a combined total of 20 snaps in their careers before Sunday. Andre Chachere played most of the game in the slot after Maddox hurt his knee in the first quarter, and rookie Zech McPhearson – who had never played on defense – finished the game at outside corner after Darius Slay pulled a hammy late in the third quarter. "We are really close,” safety Marcus Epps said. "We all need to continue to focus up, keep grinding, keep trusting the process and just execute better out there.” Especially the execute better part. Now, this isn’t all on the secondary. The Eagles’ defensive line has underachieved tremendously, and in the last three of those 80 percent games – the Bucs, Raiders and Chargers – the Eagles didn't have a sack. In the Chiefs game they had one. In the NFL these days, quarterbacks are just too good to let them stand in the pocket with no pressure. They’ll pick you apart. Which is exactly what’s been happening. And don’t look now, but the Eagles face Teddy Bridgewater next Sunday in Denver. He’s only the 5th-most accurate QB in NFL history at 67 percent and 4th in the league this year at 70.2 percent. It doesn’t get any easier. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-coach-nick-sirianni-not-happy-after-pass-defense-gets-shredded-again
  24. Nick Sirianni finally finds a way to help Jalen Hurts Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER It's not about what Jalen Hurts did. It's all about what he didn't do. More specifically, what he wasn't asked to do. Coming into the Eagles-Lions game, Hurts had either run or thrown (or gotten sacked) on 324 of 421 snaps this year, an NFL-high 77 percent. During the five-week stretch from the Cowboys game through the Raiders game, that number was an absurd 82 percent on 246 of 299 snaps. That means during the five-game stretch from the Cowboys through the Raiders there were only 53 snaps where Hurts handed the ball off to a running back and didn't have the weight of the play on his shoulders. Not surprisingly, the Eagles were 1-4 in those five games. That's an inordinate workload for any quarterback, much less a 23-year-old who had played three full games before the season began trying to find his way in a new offense under a rookie head coach. Look at the percentage of plays that involved Hurts running or throwing the first seven weeks of the season: Falcons: 64 percent 49ers: 64 percent Cowboys: 94 percent Chiefs 87 percent Panthers: 79 percent Buccaneers 81 percent Raiders: 72 percent So Hurts' lightest workload the first seven weeks of the season was 64 percent. And his lightest workload since Week 2 was 72 percent. It's too much on his plate. Way too much. And on Sunday in Detroit, Nick Sirianni finally did something about it. With the running backs getting a whopping 37 carries -- only 16 fewer than they had in the previous FIVE GAMES combined -- Hurts threw just 14 passes, completing nine for 103 yards. He didn't throw a touchdown pass or interception but he ran seven times for 71 yards, and he managed an offense that scored on all seven of its possessions after punting three minutes into the game (not including a kneel-down just before halftime). And that 77 percent figure? In the Eagles' 44-6 win over the Lions, Hurts ran or threw on only 23 of 62 plays, a season-low (and career-low) 37 percent. Hurts completed 64 percent of his passes, his 3rd-highest figure this year, and his 10.1 yards per carry was the highest of his career. Hurts didn't do much because for once he wasn't asked to do much. Asked if he were OK with throwing just 14 passes, Hurts said this: "I'm OK with winning. I'm OK with winning. I say the same thing every week." Six of Hurts' nine completions and four of his seven runs went for first downs, so that means 10 of the 21 times he ran or threw, he moved the sticks. That's efficiency. Guaranteed he'll get criticized for not putting up glossy passing numbers, but this was a game where he didn't need to. Hard to argue with 44 points. Did we gain any deep knowledge of Hurts' long-range potential or his chances of being The Guy moving forward? Nope. But Hurts didn't turn the ball over, didn't miss any open receivers and did exactly what he had to do for the Eagles to record their most lopsided road win in 40 years. "I think Jalen has big shoulders and I think he's able to handle a lot, I really do," Sirianni said. "Essentially you can say that he's still in his rookie year as far as starts go. So yeah, that's going to be able to help him out and when you're able to run it like that. It's going to create space for him and the offensive line on the play-action game. "We're evolving each week on offense. We're figuring out more and more what we do well and just evolving." And if you look at that chart outlining the percentage of snaps Hurts has been asked to throw or run on, you see that the Eagles are 0-3 when that number is over 80 percent and 3-2 when it's under 80 percent. There will be games when Hurts is asked to throw a lot of passes because of the opponent or the score or the situation. But if Sunday's game tells us anything, it's that the Eagles can put less on Hurts' shoulders and still win football games. "I think we can continue to grow," Hurts said. "We've come out through this season and we've played different types of football in a lot of these games. I think that has been figuring out the identity of who we are. "You're probably going to ask me, 'What is your identity?' And I think the identity is just continue to mesh all of these great things we have, this melting pot of being able to throw the ball, being able to run the ball, being able to be an effective offense (doing) whatever it is we choose to do. "We just want to continue to be efficient, but at the end of the day, we've got to put points on the board. We did a good job of that (Sunday) and we won the game." https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-coach-nick-sirianni-finally-finds-way-help-jalen-hurts
  25. D-line finally shows up and more in Roob's observations Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER For the first time since opening day, the Eagles looked like a football team. A real, live, actual NFL football team. What a thing. No matter who the opponent was, it sure beats what we’ve seen the last month and a half. How much of this was actual growth on the Eagles’ part and how much was the fact that the hapless Lions - who have a very real chance of going 0-17 - were on the other side of the field? A little of both. Nick Sirianni finally committed to the running game, the defensive line finally showed up, and the Eagles played smart, mistake-free football for 60 minutes. They jumped on a wretched team early and didn’t let up and left Detroit with their most lopsided win since 2013 and most lopsided road win since 1981. Here’s our 10 Observations from the Eagles’ 44-6 win over the Lions at Ford Field in Detroit. 1. I have to start with the d-line because their performance was the key to everything the Eagles accomplished Sunday. They were monsters. They controlled the line of scrimmage, never let Jared Goff get going and slammed the door on the Lions’ running game. Jonathon Gannon was more aggressive than he has been, which made sense against this offensive line and this quarterback. Get after him! The Eagles pressured Goff non-stop, recorded six sacks and although Goff completed a high percentage of his passes most of them didn’t go anywhere. Josh Sweat was all over the field. Best game of his career. Really showed why the Eagles gave him that huge contract. Heck, even Derek Barnett got a sack for the first time in 11 games, Hassan Ridgeway picked up his first since opening day in Atlanta and rookies Milton Williams and Tarron Jackson recorded the first sacks of their careers. This d-line has underachieved all year. Linemen not named Javon Hargrave had just 3 ½ sacks coming into the game, and they recorded six Sunday. This is one of the highest-paid defensive lines in the league and it’s about time they started playing like it. 2. It took two months, but the message finally got through to Nick Sirianni. "Run the freaking ball.’ Even without Miles Sanders, Sirianni attacked the Lions with a constant dose of running plays, and it paid off in a big win. The Eagles ran for 237 yards, their most on the road in seven years. But it wasn’t just the number of running plays, I thought Sirianni did a nice job mixing up the plays, using different backs out of different looks and using that massive offensive line to wear down the Lions. And when Jalen Hurts did throw, the Lions weren’t able to tee off because Sirianni had them guessing. The Eagles’ offensive line – with Nate Herbig playing most of the game in place of injured Jack Driscoll – really took it to the Lions’ defensive front because Sirianni’s play calling allowed them to. But here’s the thing. It doesn’t mean anything if Sirianni doesn’t stick with it. Yeah, the Eagles ran it up the gut on a winless team and Sirianni kept dialing it up because it kept working. With a young quarterback still trying to figure it all out, Sirianni has to commit to the run for the long haul. It has to be a staple of the offense all the time, not just when they have immediate success. 3. The big thing for me defensively was that the Eagles finally stuffed the run and they tackled better than they have been. DeAndre Swift was just 12-for-27 rushing – 2.3 yards per carry - and the Eagles’ streak of 10 straight games allowing 100 rushing yards finally ended. The Lions rushed for only 57 yards and 19 of them were in the last minute. 4. How amazing was it seeing Jordan Howard back doing what he does. Think about his last two years – cut by the Dolphins, thought his career was over last offseason, comes to training camp with the Eagles, gets cut, spends the first seven weeks of this season on the practice squad, just never quits, never stops believing in himself, never stops working, even though he knew he may never even get another chance. You know how humbling it must be to be a former Pro Bowler running scout team on a practice squad? Then Miles Sanders gets hurt, and Howard finally gets a shot. And he goes out there and rushes 12 times for 57 yards and two touchdowns in his most extensive playing time in two years. Incredible perseverance and determination. Love that kind of story. 5. The way Scott and Howard ran the ball does make you wonder why neither one has been a part of this offense so far this year. Coming into the game, Scott had seven carries all season and Howard didn’t have any. All they did was combine for 117 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Last time two Eagles had two rushing TDs in the same game? You have to go back 41 years to Eagles-Vikings at Metropolitan Stadium in Minneapolis Week 2 of the 1980 season, when Wilbert Montgomery and Leroy Harris did it in a 42-7 win over the Vikings. The Eagles are loaded at running back. 6. I thought the first few minutes of the third quarter was huge for this team and this coaching staff. The Eagles took that 17-0 lead into the second half, but when you’re 2-5 it doesn’t take a lot for the doubt to start creeping back in. So the offense drives 90 yards for a touchdown and then the defense stops the Lions on downs, and that was that. Ballgame. 7. I’m sure people will find a way to complain about Jalen Hurts’ performance, since he only completed nine passes for 103 yards. But he did what he had to do, he didn’t miss any open guys, he made good decisions, he didn’t take any sacks and he made a lot of plays with his legs. Hurts ran seven times for 71 yards and three first downs and he did what he had to do to complement a massive ground attack. There will be games the Eagles need Hurts to do a lot more and we can evaluate him more when that happens. But for now, I see a young kid who did everything he was asked to do in a game the Eagles won by 38 points. 8. A couple historical notes: The 38-point margin of victory equals the 10th-largest in franchise history and is largest since a 43-point win over the Bears (55-11) at the Linc in 2013. It was the Eagles’ most lopsided road victory since a 42-point win over the Cards (52-10) at Busch Stadium in St. Louis in 1981 and the 5th-largest road win in franchise history. It was the Lions’ 11th-worst loss ever and 5th-worst at home but second worst in Detroit since 1993. The Eagles' 180-yard rushing margin (237-57) was their largest since 2013 and 4th-largest on the road in the last 70 years. 9. We saw a lot more T.J. Edwards and a lot less Alex Singleton Sunday, and Edwards did a nice job. Edwards was credited with 13 tackles, two tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry, and Singleton – who came into the game third in the NFL in tackles – didn’t have any. I’m not under any illusions that Edwards is any more of a long-term answer than Singleton. They’re both undrafted players best suited to special teams and a spot role on defense. But I am glad to see that Gannon and his coaches won’t hesitate to make a change when they need to. Singleton has not played well this year, and Edwards is a little bit better. It’s one thing to talk about accountability, it’s another thing to make the change when you need to make the change. That’s a good sign. 10. One other thing this game shows me is that Sirianni still has the players’ ear. He’s still getting through. I don’t care who the opponent is or what their record is, you don’t go on the road and play this brand of football if you’re not still buying in. Sirianni says some odd things and definitely has a different way of expressing himself sometimes. But ultimately all that matters is what kind of football his guys play. And as long as they're playing hard, he can say whatever he wants to say. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-observations-defensive-line-finally-shows-blowout-win-over-lions
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