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Found 212 results

  1. Insider's view of Eagles QB trade scenario might irk fans Jalen Hurts' last three games have probably added up to the young quarterback's best three-game stretch in the NFL. He completed 62.5% of his passes, averaged 7.6 yards per attempt, piled up six total touchdowns between the passing game and the running game, and notched a pair of solid wins while narrowly losing the third game to a good Chargers team. The tide has been slowly but surely turning on the Hurts detractors (myself included) as to whether he can be a viable starting QB in the NFL. Is he going to be Peyton Manning? No, probably not. But his dual-threat ability and knack for playmaking seems to be working in an offense predicated on the run, with talent at TE and WR1 positions. All of that said... it sounds like the Eagles still might not be out on the idea of improving the position this offseason. Sports Illustrated insider Albert Breer was asked in a mailbag column on Friday what he thinks the Eagles' recent moves mean - extending Dallas Goedert, Avonte Maddox, and T.J. Edwards in the last week - in terms of positioning to trade for a QB this offseason. Breer's answer was interesting, and also might rub some Eagles fans the wrong way: "Do I think [the Eagles' recent string of extensions] foreshadows anything at quarterback? Probably not. "Based on the look of the 2022 draft class, my guess would be that they won’t draft one with one of their three first-round picks, seeing as though Jalen Hurts has come along and may have a brighter future now than any of those guys. "Could they trade for one? Absolutely. Owner Jeffrey Lurie is sufficiently consumed with getting the quarterback position righted post-Carson Wentz, and I think Roseman and his crew would at least investigate the idea of Deshaun Watson or Russell Wilson in the offseason, anyway." Hmm. So Hurts has convinced the front office that he's a better option than the incoming rookie class... but not that he's a better, more cost-efficient option than an aging Russell Wilson or the thorny idea of trading for Deshaun Watson, who is currently facing dozens of sexual assault and harassment allegations. That's not a bad result for Hurts, who basically entered this season on a one-year prove-it trial, but it's not exactly job security, either. I was underwhelmed by Hurts in the early going this season, but his growth since Nick Sirianni moved to a run-first offense and played more to the QB's strengths, has me encouraged. I still don't know if he's The Guy, but I wouldn't mind another year to find out with an improved supporting cast and a roster not dragged down by Carson Wentz's dead cap taking up valuable space. Ultimately the Eagles won't be the only ones competing for any available veteran QBs this offseason, so there's no guarantee they can land one even if they're interested. I would prefer adding three first-round-caliber pieces in the draft, but then again it's hard to refuse adding a QB like Russell Wilson. So we will see. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/nfl-rumors-eagles-still-eyeing-qb-trade-despite-jalen-hurts-progress
  2. The other mistake Miles Sanders need to get corrected There has been a lot of focus on the fumble that Miles Sanders lost against the Saints last Sunday and rightfully so. It was a big play. But there’s another mistake he made that needs to get corrected too. With just 4:23 left in the game, with the Eagles up two scores, Sanders broke free for 14 yards and a first down. That’s the good part. The bad part is he ran out of bounds instead of staying in and running the clock. This isn’t the first time this has happened. "We pulled him out of the game and just reminded him, again, to stay in bounds,” head coach Nick Sirianni said. "He had two in Carolina. Repeat offenders of things, we usually get mad about. He knows. Shoot, if he had that next carry and didn't have to come out of the game to be reminded to stay inbounds, he would have had a hundred yards. He found that out and he knows that. "We're working on getting it fixed. I know Miles wants to get it fixed more than anybody.” Sanders knows he made a mistake, but it’s a frustrating one for a coaching staff that preaches football intelligence and situational awareness. "Mentally, I just have to stay locked in and know what I have to do” Sanders said. Sanders was pulled after that gaffe in favor of Boston Scott, who gained 1 yard. Sanders returned one play later and gained 3 yards. On the next play, Jalen Hurts busted loose for a 24-yard touchdown and Sanders finished with 94 on the ground. "Just gotta learn from my mistakes,” Sanders said. "There’s certain stuff I gotta do and gotta follow. Just gotta be disciplined and follow. Despite (not getting) the 100 yards, I’m just happy we won the game.” In his return from a three-game absence with an ankle injury, Sanders played fairly well aside from a few blunders. He still managed to pick up 94 yards on 16 carries. And with Jordan Howard (knee) expected to be out this week against the Giants, the Eagles are really going to be relying on Sanders. Sanders still thinks there will be a running back rotation between him, Boston Scott and Kenny Gainwell. But if Sanders can get hot, don’t be surprised to see the Eagles ride him. "Definitely willing to go hot hand. Definitely willing to do that,” Sirianni said. "But, yeah, right now it's just been by committee, and we think that's working well. But if somebody gets hot, no doubt we'll stick with it.” https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-miles-sanders-needs-know-when-stay-bounds
  3. The Bodyguard 2.0: Mailata bringing nasty, protective edge to Eagles’ OL Jordan Mailata didn’t grow up playing football, but he gets it. As an offensive lineman, as a left tackle, his main job is to protect the quarterback. And much like Jason Peters before him, Mailata is a bodyguard of sorts. So when he saw Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport give Jalen Hurts a late push out of bounds in the first quarter of Sunday’s 40-29 win, the 6-foot-8, 365-pound Mailata wasn’t happy. And he let him know. "For me, it’s protecting my family,” Mailata said. “… All these guys on the team, are my family. And so for me, protecting my family is what made me do that. For me, seeing my brother get hit, pushed out of bounds late, it didn’t roll with my right.” The Eagles in recent weeks have established a physical, nasty identity en route to winning three of four. Mailata, their most physically imposing player by a long shot, embodied that identity on Sunday. Later in the first half, things boiled over with Davenport. Mailata blocked the 6-6, 265-pound defensive end to the ground, which led to a mini Royal Rumble at the 22-yard line. "I think the biggest thing for me the biggest thing was all the extra stuff he was doing to Jalen,” Mailata said. "I’m a big boy, I can handle myself. But I think seeing him getting pushed out of bounds and even when Jalen is breaking the pockets and he’s throwing the ball, he’s getting hit late by No. 92, Davenport. For me, it kind of built up and the frustration was kind of like, ‘Once I get the opportunity, I’m going to do something to this dude.’” Mailata, 24, celebrated after the win by posting a photo of the moment with the location set to "IHOP,” the international house of pancakes — as in pancake blocks. A fitting term. "I was being a little cheeky,” Mailata said. "That’s all that was.” The officials didn’t throw a flag on either player and the scrum was separated. But the rest of the NFL should be on notice that there’s a damn-near literal giant on the Eagles’ offensive line who isn’t taking any crap. "Everybody’s got a role on the team,” Jason Kelce said. "And to have a 400-pound guy that’s getting after somebody, that’s a heck of an imposing force to have on your side. It’s awesome to see that type of intensity and emotion out of a guy that size because I think other teams are probably going to take notice of that one.” In Philadelphia, where Peters earned the nickname "The Bodyguard” for the way he protected his quarterbacks from unwarranted hits after the play, this type of enforcer is revered. Mailata said he wants to be his own man, but he agreed that watching Peters play for the last three years taught him the importance of the role the left tackle has. Hurts appreciates it too. The Eagles’ quarterback texted Mailata on Sunday night to thank him. Mailata said the blowup with Davenport happened after seeing him hit Hurts late, but it apparently began with the Eagles-Saints game from 2020. Mailata remembered the Saints being "so dirty after plays” in that Week 14 win. "For me, I wanted to set the tone early,” Mailata said. "That’s why I was the way I was Sunday. Because I wasn’t going to let that fly this year.” In training camp, Mailata won the Eagles’ left tackle job from Andre Dillard and was then handed a contract extension. But throughout the first 11 weeks of the season, Mailata has further cemented the belief within the organization that he’s the left tackle of the future. Now that he’s more confident in his abilities and his understanding of the offense, he’s able to play more freely. He’s able to let his athleticism and, yes, his nastiness take over at times. Some might have the perception that Mailata is just a jovial guy, which might not always be the case. OK, maybe it kinda is. "No, I think that’s a good perception. I think he is a happy-go-lucky Australian guy,” Kelce said through laughter. "But he’s also a guy who can get pissed off too.” https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-jordan-mailata-playing-nasty-protective-edge
  4. 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
  5. Hurts explains what Eagles' identity truly is Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER As the Eagles have gradually morphed into a run-first powerhouse, the topic of the team’s identity has been brought up lately. A lot. From the outside, running the football at a historic clip sure seems like the Eagles’ identity. Everything changed when Nick Sirianni began dialing up 40 to 50 running plays per game. The Eagles began controlling the line of scrimmage, blowing defenses off the ball, dominating time of possession, forcing turnovers on defense and winning games. And it all started with the running attack. Alas, no. Jalen Hurts has been asked just about every time he's met with the media over the past few weeks about whether the Eagles’ dominating running game has become the team’s "identity.” He never really went along with the notion, and post-game Sunday afternoon he finally articulated exactly why. "I’ve always been asked about the identity of this football team,” he said. "Early on in the season everybody is asking me the question. Whether I answered it or I didn’t answer it, I think identity is not being able to run the ball or ‘we’re a running team’ or ‘we’re a passing team’ or ‘we’re a team that doesn’t give up big explosive plays.’ That’s not what identity is. "Identity is a mentality. It’s a mentality, it’s an approach, it’s the detail you put in day in and day out throughout the week. It’s being physical, it’s wanting it, it’s effort. It’s all of those things. I think that’s what we want to be. That’s what we’re growing into and what we’re evolving into. It’s being a team that controls what we can and we know when we control what we can.” Hurts makes a lot of sense. In a way, the success the Eagles have had running the ball is simply a product of what the team’s identity truly is, a tough, physical team that never wavered, remained positive, stayed committed and kept working under the weight of a series of blowout losses early in the year. That’s why 2-5 has turned into 5-6 and the Eagles find themselves this week with a realistic shot at a wild-card berth. All those intangibles start with Hurts, who’s been playing at a high level and leading at a high level. "We’re a dang good football team and it’s taken some growth, it’s taken a lot,” Hurts said. "And we’re still evolving, we’re still growing, we’re still learning from a lot of different things.” When Sirianni addressed the team Saturday night before the Saints game, he made a similar point: "I don’t think it’s about plays you call or defenses you call or special teams calls you call, it's about our team is close," he said. "It’s a close-knit group of guys that connect. It’s a physical group of guys and it's guys that leave everything out there on the field. "You guys have asked me a couple times about identity, and what I just wanted to say to them is, ‘Hey, our identity is these three things that I just mentioned right there.’ That was really on display” on Sunday. Hurts and Sirianni both know that if the Eagles are going to finish strong and make a run at the postseason, there are going to be games where they have to lean on the passing game in a way they haven’t over the past month. And the identity this team is building needs to go deeper than just being able to run for 200 yards a game. Because when that isn't there, they need to still have an identity. "We just want to continue to control the controllables,” Hurts said. "Continue to connect with one another and know that everybody has each other’s backs out there in the field, and continue to move forward with that mentality of, ‘Rent is due every day.’ That’s the identity of this football team.” https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-jalen-hurts-explains-what-teams-identity-truly
  6. 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
  7. How 2 unlikely Eagles embody their new physical identity When asked about his team’s physical identity, Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni unsurprisingly used an analogy: "When you get on a bus to go to the game, you never want to go to that game without your guys that are tough. I feel that's a common denominator of a lot of guys on this football team. We've got tough, gritty guys. That's going to help you win a lot of football games throughout.” You definitely don’t want to get on the bus without T.J. Edwards or Jordan Howard. Because despite all the odds against them, the Eagles’ linebacker and running back have become the embodiment of the Eagles’ new physical identity. And that identity showed up in a big way in their 40-29 win over the Saints on Sunday afternoon. Edwards began the 2021 season buried on the Eagles’ depth chart at linebacker and Howard was stuck on the practice squad. But since the two of them became focal points on their respective sides of the ball four weeks ago in Detroit, something has changed with the Eagles. And they’ve now won three of their last four games. On defense, Edwards has become the team’s starting MIKE linebacker, shoring up that position and that entire side of the ball with a toughness that had been missing. On offense, with Howard leading the way, the Eagles have become proponents of smashmouth football, happy to let their big offensive line move forward and impose its collective will on defensive lines. Edwards and Howard are incredibly physical. And that physicality is contagious. "I think it was a good, physical game,” Sirianni said. "That’s something that we really wanted to do is be physical in this game. I thought our guys really showed that. You guys have asked me a little bit about identity, and I can share with you what we talked about with our team -- and I don’t think it’s about plays you call, or defenses you call, or special teams calls you call, it was about our team is close. It’s a close-knit group of guys that connect. It’s a physical group of guys and it’s guys that leave everything out there on the field. "That’s what we really talked about last night. You guys have asked me a couple times about identity, and what I just wanted to say to them is, hey, our identity is these three things that I just mentioned right there. That was really on display today.” In his career, Edwards’ athleticism has been questioned, but he has great instincts and when he gets a chance to hit someone, he hits them. In the last month, Edwards has 44 tackles, 3 TFLs, 3 PBUs, 1 QB hit, 1 INT and 1 FR. Edwards filled up the stat sheet on Sunday, including picking up his second career interception. But it’s about more than the stats. "T.J. brings a physicality that really is contagious,” Sirianni said. "And he continues to come after the ball.” Howard brings a similar level of physicality to the Eagles’ offense. He exited Sunday’s win in the second half with a knee injury, but before then was still the Eagles’ most effective runner despite the return of Miles Sanders. Before his injury, Howard had 10 carries for 63 yards. In his four games this season, Howard has 51 carries for 274 yards (5.4) and 4 touchdowns. He’s rushing at a higher per-carry clip than he did as a rookie in 2016 when he went to the Pro Bowl. And Howard is doing it with his typical no-nonsense approach. No dancing, no hesitating, just hitting the hole hard and getting upfield. Sirianni on Sunday was asked if he would have described his team as physical and tough a month ago. "I think these guys have always had that physicality and toughness,” he answered. "And, yeah, I'd like to say that I've seen that from them the entire time through. Whether that was the joint practices with different teams that we had joint practices with, or the training camp practices or the practices we've had or games we've had. I know we've had tough guys.” Two of them just had to wait their turn. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-tj-edwards-jordan-howard-embody-physical-identity
  8. Collecting yards, TDs and ankles: How Hurts changes everything with his legs Carl Granderson probably thought he was going to get a key third-down stop. Instead, he’ll be immortalized on a highlight reel. For all the wrong reasons. Granderson is the Saints’ No. 96. You know, the guy whose ankles are probably still resting at the 25-yard line at the Linc thanks to Jalen Hurts. "He hit that L1 juke,” Lane Johnson said. It was Granderson who tried to set the edge on Hurts only to have Hurts stick his right foot in the ground and accelerate the other way to a 24-yard touchdown to seal the Eagles’ 40-29 win over the Saints. It was an incredible play to cap an incredible rushing performance from the Eagles against the NFL’s top-ranked run defense. And poor Granderson was left in a heap and Hurts scampered for the score. "When he made that move, I was like, ‘Oh, snap,’” cornerback Avonte Maddox said. "I was looking for the trainer so that I could find some tape to help [the defender].” Hurts on Sunday finished the game with 18 carries for 69 yards and 3 touchdowns. He threw for just 147 yards but he was dynamic on the ground. And the thing is, Hurts doesn’t even have to run to change games. Just the threat of his legs was enough to make the Eagles confident about running right at the Saints’ defense, which had given up an NFL-best 72.9 yards per game on the ground this season coming into Sunday. "I think Jalen is a special player that forces defenses to play different,” head coach Nick Sirianni said. "You look at the tape and, again, I think I told you guys early in the week, you look at the stat sheet, you look at where they are, you look at their defense, but you also want to do what you do well. We know we have been running the ball well and it’s a little different when Jalen is in there. "You try to look at some teams that they've played that are similar to that, but you want to make them stop what you do well first and that's definitely what our goal was going out there.” So Sirianni’s message was basically this: Yes, the Saints have a great run defense. But they hadn’t seen Hurts yet. Now they have. It’s a fun chess game the Eagles play every week. Because there just aren’t a ton of quarterbacks around the NFL like Hurts. There are a couple. The most obvious, from a stylistic standpoint, is Lamar Jackson. But the former NFL MVP is in a different offense and the Ravens haven’t played the Saints this season. Each week when the Eagles’ game plan, they have to figure out how opposing defenses will play Hurts … and how they won’t play Hurts. "I think each week, we have to go in prepared for everything because he's a unique player,” offensive coordinator Shane Steichen said on Tuesday. "Obviously, they're going to play him different than a typical drop back quarterback that's not going to do the zone read game. "So, I think we got to look through those things and expect the unexpected week in and week out with him at quarterback.” The Eagles called it right on Sunday. Because against the NFL’s top run defense, they went off for 242 yards on the ground. They ran it down their throats. And that probably doesn’t happen without Hurts at quarterback, not just because of his running ability but because of how it opened up lanes for the Eagles’ running backs. When Hurts did carry it himself, he was great. He had 69 rushing yards and tied a franchise record with three rushing touchdowns. This season, Hurts already has eight rushing touchdowns. That’s the second-most ever for an Eagles quarterback in a season, trailing Michael Vick, who had nine in 2010. The Eagles still have six games left the season. Plenty more opportunity for Hurts to collect yards, touchdowns and ankles along the way. "Sometimes you are in scramble drill and you see him take off,” Dallas Goedert said. "You just watch and say, ‘Dang, this man is special.’” Poor Granderson probably had the same thought from the seat of his pants as he watched Hurts race away. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/how-jalen-hurts-changes-eagles-offensive-dynamic-running-ability
  9. Eagles overreactions: Birds got a big decision totally right Things got a little dicey in the fourth quarter, but the Eagles largely handled the Saints on Sunday to nab their first home win of the season. Basically everything went right for 45 minutes, and Birds fans were absolutely living it up at the Linc. You could choose to focus on the things that went wrong in the fourth quarter, but with key players dropping like flies I'm not going to blame Nick Sirianni's squad for slowing down at the end. Instead I liked a lot of what I saw, so let's overreact together to the fifth win of the season: 1. Dallas Goedert is clearly worth the money I saw a surprising number of people worried about the Eagles handing Dallas Goedert the bag earlier this week with a contract extension through 2025. Goedert received $59 million overall and $35.7 million guaranteed in the four-year extension. Was it a fair amount of money to hand over to a tight end? Of course. The deal places him second in the league in average annual value at the position when he's never had a 700-yard season. But it was so, so worth it, and Goedert showed exactly why on Sunday. The fourth-year tight end pulled in five catches for 62 yards, and looked all game (save one tough drop in the second half) like an elite playmaker. He now has 34 catches for 491 yards and two touchdowns this year. He has the combination of size, athleticism, and football skills to be a legit tight end for years. Look at this absurd catch in the first half Sunday, a play only a few tight ends in the league can make: click on link to view video That's bonkers. It was much too easy for people to check his Football Reference page and wonder why the Eagles were paying Goedert top-flight money. But judging Goedert based solely on counting stats, when the guy has shown time and time again that he's a huge playmaker and just never had a chance as a starting TE during his first three-plus years in the league, was hugely ignorant. Goedert turns 27 years old in January, meaning he's about to enter his physical prime. A few key tight ends are going to hit the market this offseason - Mike Gesicki, Dalton Schultz, and an intriguing option in C.J. Uzomah - so Howie Roseman was smart to get ahead of the market. Locking Goedert into this deal right now, for this price, will feel like a bargain by the end of the deal. Because if you watch the games - really watch them, not just the highlight reel afterwards - you see the impact Goedert has. He's a better blocker than Zach Ertz was, he's a more dynamic athlete than Ertz was, and he's quickly become Jalen Hurts' favorite target. Whether Hurts is the guy again next year, or the Eagles find another QB, Goedert is going to be a hugely valuable player to this franchise for a long time. 2. The Eagles should remain a running team As much fun as we're having watching Goedert and DeVonta Smith torch opposing teams, I also loved the way the Eagles are running the ball since Jordan Howard entered the gameplan a few weeks back. I'm not going to argue the Eagles should make 27-year-old Jordan Howard an integral part of their rushing game over the next few years. But I am going to argue they should make running the ball a focal point, even as the NFL turns largely into a pass-first operation - especially if Jalen Hurts, or a similarly mobile QB, is running the offense. With or without Howard, the Eagles have multiple young and skillful running backs, but none of them are true game-breakers like a Dalvin Cook or a Nick Chubb. Instead, the Eagles have been able to design a straight ahead run game based around hitting obvious holes that the super-powered offensive line opens with regularity. The true strength of this run game lies in the offensive line. Jordan Mailata is a stud in the making - maybe already made. Landon Dickerson mauls in the run game. Jason Kelce is Jason Kelce. Jack Driscoll holds his own. And Lane Johnson is an All-Pro talent at right tackle. These guys are crushing opposing defensive lines, week in and week out, and they've finally been able to restock on which means no matter who the Birds have in the backfield, the run game should work. It's doubly true when a mobile QB like Hurts is giving defenses even more to worry about. Just look at the RPO the Eagles ran in the red zone in the first half, where Hurts held the ball for what felt like an eternity before pulling it out for himself and running for 20 yards. The defense has to respect the run game because the Birds used it to dominate the first half, and they defense has to respect Hurts' feet. I don't want some 1960s-style ground-and-pound throwback approach. But the Eagles can turn the run game into a real weapon for a long time if they can get creative while capitalizing on their clear positional strengths. 3. Jalen Reagor needs to be traded this offseason My goodness, what an absolute waste of a first-round pick. The first time an Eagles player held the ball on Sunday was Reagor returning a Saints punt, making the truly miserable decision to field a ball at his own three-yard line and returning it to the Eagles' own 15. It was a microcosm of the poor decision-making and general inability to create positive plays that Reagor has displayed across his career with the Eagles so far. For a purported playmaker, there is nothing dynamic about Reagor's game. For a supposed burner, Reagor is rarely open. And for a guy who likes to talk on social media about grinding to get better, he seems to remain the same player each week: ineffective and often invisible. At this point, I've seen enough to think the Eagles should simply send him elsewhere and stop trying to shoehorn him into the offense. Because he's a first-round pick, he gets a few plays each week drawn up to try and get him going, and each week they feel like plays destined to bring the offense to a screeching halt. Reagor finished Sunday with one catch for minus-1 yard. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (!!) had more receiving yards. Unbelievable. Maybe a change of scenery will be what Reagor needs. Maybe it will do nothing. Either way, the Eagles will be free of a roster spot-absorbing black hole. Oh, elsewhere on Sunday second-year wideout Justin Jefferson had eight catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns. Jefferson went one pick after Reagor. For all the successes Howie Roseman had in the 2018 NFL Draft, we can't let this embarrassing whiff fall by the wayside. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-overreactions-win-shows-birds-got-big-decision-totally-right
  10. Eagles reward Edwards with a new contract Ever since the Eagles made T.J. Edwards their top linebackers, he’s been one of their best players on that side of the ball. And they weren’t willing to risk losing him. So instead, the Eagles signed Edwards to a one-year contract extension on Monday that runs through the 2022 season. The extension is worth up to $3.2 million with $2.15 million fully guaranteed, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported. Edwards, 25, was set to become a restricted free agent after this season but this contract extension avoids that whole process and rewards a player who has been very good for the Eagles this season and really since he signed with them as an undrafted rookie out of Wisconsin in 2019. "He's really playing well,” head coach Nick Sirianni said about Edwards on Sunday night. “… T.J. brings a physicality that really is contagious. And he continues to come after the ball. "You saw the one play on the swing pass out there where the guy felt T.J. coming. And then he ended up getting -- I think he dropped the ball. But T.J. just has that physicality and he's just really playing good football right now. And he's a good communicator with the defense and talking to everybody. And so, he's playing really good football. "And sure, those guys from Wisconsin, that played as a Badger, my experience with those guys is they're tough and they're nasty and they can play physical ball. I'm sure glad he's playing the role he's playing right now.” Edwards began the season buried on the Eagles’ depth chart behind Alex Singleton and Eric Wilson but has become their top linebacker in recent week, a move that has meant a ton to the Eagles. In the last four games, Edwards has 44 tackles, 3 TFLs, 3 PBUs, 1 QB hit, 1 INT and 1 FR. He was excellent in the Eagles’ 40-29 win over the Saints on Sunday. Aside from the stats, Edwards has brought a much-needed physical element to the Eagles’ defense. "I’ve known T.J. since he got here and I always scream out his name as soon as I see him,” nickel cornerback Avonte Maddox said on Sunday. "He’s a motor and he makes big plays. I’m happy and proud of him and hopefully he will be here a long time as well. He does everything. He runs the defense from the middle linebacker spot, and every time I go out there, he’s talking to me and we’re always communicating. He’s making big plays and I’m proud of him.” This is the third extension the Eagles have handed out this week. On Friday, they signed Dallas Goedert to a four-year extension through 2025 and on Saturday signed Maddox to a three-year extension through 2024. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-sign-linebacker-tj-edwards-1-year-extension
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. How 2 of Eagles best players constantly make each other better There’s a major dispute going on between two of the Eagles’ best players. Ask Darius Slay and DeVonta Smith about the events that took place on the Eagles’ practice fields last and you’ll get two different stories. They both think they won. After Smith said he’d lock up Slay if roles were reversed, the two put his theory to the test last week and came away with very different views of how that experiment went. Lucky for you, you don’t have to take their word for it. All jokes aside, normally it’s Slay covering Smith. And that work has been helping both of them get better this season. Through 10 games, you could make an argument that each has been the best player on his respective side of the ball. "Just showing me different looks and things like that,” Smith said. "And when we do 1-on-1s or we go against each other in practice, he always tells me what he sees me do here, why it didn’t work, things like that. Him being there and being the vet that he is, it helps me a lot.” Smith and Slay are 7 years apart in age but are both football junkies. That’s the origin of their friendship. And since Smith arrived in Philadelphia as a first-round pick, the two have been spending a lot of time together. We saw their bond really begin to form in training camp and that has continued into the regular season. In fact, Thursdays have become their regular day to chat. "We be sitting out on the field for 10 minutes after practice,” Slay said. "We either talk about releases or we just talk about life in general. Or we just talk to catch up. We love them talks. We talk every day. It be good for us, good for me, his point of view. Good for me to get information, good for me to receive information. Because I’m no bigger than him. Whatever he need to help me with, I’ll listen as well.” While it has undoubtedly helped Smith to work with Slay, it’s a two-way street. Even though Slay is 30 and has been to three Pro Bowls, he says he isn’t above asking anyone — not even a rookie — for help. So as much as Smith picks Slay’s brain, Slay asks just as many questions. The relationship has helped the two on the field but it’s likely helped Smith off of it too. Smith isn’t the loudest personality on the team but he does have a personality. Earlier this year, he said he has been letting that personality fly quicker in Philly than he did when he arrived at Alabama as a freshman. Sure, he’s older. But his new teammates, especially Slay, have really allowed him to open up and feel loose. Heck, try not to be loose around Slay. "He’s like a little kid. He plays a lot,” Smith said. "Just the energy that he brings, there’s never a dull moment with him. He’s always got you laughing.” As much as Slay proclaimed himself to be the winner of the 1-on-1s, he’s clearly impressed by his rookie teammate. Slay seems impressed by Smith’s confidence and his desire to get better. Smith is always asking questions too; he’s never too proud. So maybe Slay sees a little bit of himself in Smith. Slay also sees a little bit of his former teammate Marvin Jones in Smith too. "As smooth as he is, he just reminds me of Marvin Jones,” Slay said. "He’s just a little more polished route runner than Marvin at a young age. He’s like Marvin now. Marvin was a smooth guy. He’s got sneaky speed. You feel like he’s not fast but then the next thing you know, he ran past you. Good routes, 50-50 balls turn into 70-30, 80-20. He goes up and attacks the ball. "And he don’t ever complain. And that’s what Marvin do, he don’t ever complain, don’t talk no trash, just goes out there and plays. That’s how DeVonta is. He just goes out there and plays. Silent assassin.” Yeah, Smith is normally pretty quiet and not one to talk trash. Unless he’s locking up Slay. Then he'll let him know about it. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-devonta-smith-darius-slay-have-relationship-thats-making-them-better
  14. Eagles might be without starting defensive lineman vs. Saints The Eagles expect Dallas Goedert to play on Sunday against the Saints. Goedert, who signed a four-year contract extension on Friday, is still technically in the NFL’s concussion protocol but should be cleared by an independent neurologist and be ready to play on Sunday. Goedert, 26, said he hasn’t had symptoms all week. "Yes,” head coach Nick Sirianni said. "We’re expecting him to play on Sunday.” As far as some other injured Eagles, there were fewer answers. Defensive end Derek Barnett was a surprise addition to the injury list on Friday. He did not participate in Friday’s practice with a neck injury and will be listed as questionable for this game. Davion Taylor (knee) is also questionable. "We’re still working through all the information on all that,” Sirianni said. "He’s questionable right now.” While Barnett has become a source of frustration among fans because of his penalties, he still plays a ton. Barnett is a starter and has played 70% of the Eagles’ defensive snaps this season. And aside from his penalties, Barnett is coming off a very good game against the Broncos. Meanwhile, running back Miles Sanders (ankle) appears to be nearing a return, but Sirianni wouldn’t say that definitively. "We still have time to make that decision,” Sirianni said. "He’s had two good practices in a row. We’re gonna still just think through a couple different things and give it another night and then make a decision.” Sanders missed the last three games with an ankle injury and is still on IR, but the Eagles activated his practice window this week. It seems likely he’ll be ready to make a return. If that’s the case, the Eagles will need to activate him off IR by 4 p.m. on Saturday. Meanwhile, six Saints have been ruled out: RB Alvin Kamara, OT Terron Armstead, OT Ryan Ramczyk, QB Taysom Hill, DE Tanoh Kpassagnon, DT Malcolm Roach. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-injury-update-dallas-goedert-expected-play-derek-barnett-questionable
  15. 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
  16. The other Eagles rookie who’s quietly having a strong season DeVonta Smith gets a lot of the attention and rightfully so. The Eagles drafted the Heisman Trophy winner with the No. 10 overall pick and in his first NFL season, Smith is on pace for a 1,000-yard season and appears to be a budding star. Just don’t lose sight of the Eagles’ second-round pick. Because Landon Dickerson is playing pretty well too. "I think he had a really good game yesterday,” head coach Nick Sirianni said. "We graded him out really well. And he played a really good game. "Again, I haven't met with the team yet, we gave them today off, but he'll be getting a game ball with the rest of the offensive line. Any time you rush for over 200 yards, that offensive line is going to get a game ball. He was a big part of that, obviously.” The Eagles gambled when they used the No. 37 overall pick on Landon Dickerson, also from Alabama. Dickerson was coming off an ACL tear and had a lengthy injury history. It’s too early to say if this gamble will pay off, but Dickerson has quietly been playing much better in recent weeks. If the Eagles hit on both of their top picks from the 2021 draft, it would give the franchise a major boost. Things didn’t start great for Dickerson this season. He first played a game and a half at right guard and struggled after Brandon Brooks went down with a pec injury. While Dickerson has stiff-armed any built-in excuses for his poor start, he did miss all of training camp and was thrown into the deep end of the NFL pool. But after Isaac Seumalo was lost for the season and Dickerson moved to left guard, he’s been getting better each week. He’s been improving in pass protection. In his first four games, Dickerson gave up 16 pressures and 4 quarterback hits. In the five games since, he’s given up just 5 pressures and 2 quarterback hits. And at 6-6, 325 pounds, Dickerson is a juggernaut in the run game. He has played a big role in the last three weeks as the Eagles flipped philosophies, going with a run-first approach. "I think he's just getting more and more comfortable with the different looks that he's getting from the defense and the different movements and the speed of the game and the strength of the game,” Sirianni said. "He did a couple nice things, there was our last run of the day yesterday when we were in that four-minute – we had to get another first down to end the game. We couldn't take a knee because there was, like, [2:05] left. We saw him pull around the edge – we've seen him dominate inside and be able to move. But then yesterday, on that play, he was able to pull and was able to get out in the space and show athleticism out in space too.” Dickerson, 23, has been his harshest critic this season. Even in recent weeks, after he’s been playing better, he still says he’s not playing to his standard or the standard set by offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland. Stoutland is playing a huge role in Dickerson’s development but Sirianni also pointed at some of Dickerson’s veteran teammates. Sirianni said Jason Kelce’s veteran experience is "oozing off” to Dickerson. He’s also playing next to a mammoth tackle in Jordan Mailata and still has a support system that includes Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks and Isaac Seumalo. Like we said, it’s still too early to say this gamble definitely paid off. But it’s looking more and more that way with each passing week. "I continue to see Landon get better,” Sirianni said. "He cares, he's tough, he's physical and he's going to just keep getting better.” https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-landon-dickerson-impressing-head-coach-nick-sirianni
  17. 2022 NFL Mock Draft: Eagles build through the trenches If the NFL season ended today, the Eagles would have picks No. 5, 10 and 15. It’s time to build through the trenches. Here’s our latest mock draft: 1. Lions: Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon He’s become the early consensus top pick in this year’s draft. The Lions need help pretty much everywhere, but they continue to build in the trenches. Thibodeaux joins former Oregon teammate and Lions 2021 first-rounder Penei Sewell in the Motor City. 2. Texans: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss DeShaun Watson figures to be on the move one way or another, so the Texans tab Corral to become the face of the franchise. He had some ball security issues over the weekend against Texas A&M but still led the Rebels to a win against one of the country’s top defenses. 3. Jets: Derek Stingley, Jr., CB, LSU They don’t hand out the No. 7 jersey to just anyone in Baton Rouge. Stingley is the latest in a long line of elite defensive backs at LSU. While, he hasn’t played since September 18 due to a foot injury, he still figures to be a top-5 pick. The Jets have a grand total of two interceptions this season and could use a playmaker in the secondary. 4. Jaguars: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama Urban Meyer would love to get his hands all over a sexier pick, but there just isn’t that type of talent at the top of this draft. He opts for a dance partner who is a flat-out grinder and can protect Trevor Lawrence’s blindside for the next decade. 5. Eagles: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan A familiar tale as the Eagles pass on an elite safety prospect for an edge rusher from Michigan. Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton plays the part of Earl Thomas to Hutchinson’s Brandon Graham in a move that is sure to not sit well with the fan base initially. I believe it will pay off in the long run, though. The organization isn’t going to change their philosophy overnight, and it’s been proven right over the years: Build your team from the inside out. Defensive end is certainly a position of need for the Eagles. Derek Barnett is set to become a free agent and Graham will be 34 and coming off a torn Achilles. Plus, Hutchinson is an absolute game-wrecker. Just ask James Franklin and Penn State. The senior racked up three sacks and forced a fumble against the Nittany Lions on Saturday. He’s drawn comparisons to former Falcons Pro Bowler Patrick Kerney, who racked up 82.5 career sacks, including four seasons with double-digits. I think Hutchinson will be even better. He has a relentless, Watt-like motor, plus the frame, power, and speed to make him a perennial All-Pro. 6. Giants: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame For the sake of everyone else, I hope Dave Gettleman is still making the calls for the G-Men, but regardless, Hamilton is the best player on the board at this point and should be the pick. A do-it-all safety, he’s been sidelined with a knee injury. There’s been some speculation that he’s sitting out to protect his draft stock, but Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly said last week that Hamilton has yet to be cleared by team doctors. Even if he doesn’t suit up again for the Irish, he’s shown enough to be picked this high, if not higher. 7. Jets (via Seahawks): Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia By the time the April rolls around I anticipate Davis ends up as a top-10 pick. He’s a massive dude at 6-4, 340 pounds and anchors the best team in the country. Joe Douglas got some help on the back end with Stingley, now he gets a people mover up front. 8. Giants (via Bears): Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M While there’s talk that the Eagles will control the draft with their three first round picks, the Jets and Giants both have a pair of top-10 selections in hand. I could see Big Blue being major players for any available quarterback in the trade market should Daniel Jones fail to make in-roads the rest of the season. Barring that kind of franchise-changing move, they need help up front. Green is versatile, having played just about every position along the O-Line and would be a day 1 starter. 9. Washington: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt Howie Roseman was part of a large contingent of scouts and GMs that had a bird’s eye view of Pickett’s performance in an overtime win against North Carolina last Thursday. A fifth-year senior, Pickett will turn 24 before playing in an NFL game, but he’s got poise in the pocket and elite ball placement. With the weapons already in place for the Football Team, Pickett finally gives them a franchise QB. 10. Eagles: DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M Once again, Howie Roseman stays true to his philosophy in the trenches. With Fletcher Cox’s tenure as an Eagle getting closer to an end, the Eagles snag a defensive lineman from the SEC to take his place. Much like Cox, Leal plays with violent hands, and can disrupt the pocket from the interior. He also offers the versatility of being able to line up on the outside on early downs then shift inside on passing downs. At 6-4, 290 pounds, he’s an explosive athlete for a lineman who should be able to add on weight without sacrificing anything. A former 5-star recruit, Leal is the centerpiece of the Aggie’s elite defense. The junior has been a starter since his freshman year and has racked up 6.5 sacks so far in 2022. Leal and Hutchinson join Josh Sweat and Javon Hargrave to give the Eagles the makings of a special defensive front for years to come. 11. Dolphins (via 49ers): Malik Willis, QB, Liberty Miami seems destined to trade this pick as part of a deal for DeShaun Watson, but for now, I’ll give them another QB with massive upside in Willis. He’s got elite talent that hasn’t been totally showcased at Liberty. Get him in an NFL offense built to his strengths and he could be electric. 12. Falcons: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State If Atlanta wasn’t going to take a quarterback while picking fourth last year, I don’t see them reaching for one here, especially with Corral, Pickett and Willis already off the board. So instead of drafting Matt Ryan’s replacement, they double down and get him another weapon. Top wideout Calvin Ridley has stepped away from the team to better his mental health. If he returns to join Olave and Kyle Pitts, the Falcons will have an elite set of playmakers. 13. Vikings: George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue After watching their defense deteriorate in 2020, the Vikings brought back Everson Griffen to bolster the pass rush, and it has paid dividends. But he’s 33 years old and they’re in need of long-term answers along the defensive line. Enter Karlaftis. 14. Broncos: Carson Strong, QB, Nevada The John Elway influence won’t die! The Broncos draft yet another big-bodied quarterback who hopefully won’t bust out like Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch. I like Strong best among the 2022 class of signal callers. He’s fourth in the country in passing yards and has thrown 28 touchdowns to just 7 interceptions. In his three seasons as the starter for the Wolfpack his TD-to-INT ratio is 66-18. 15. Eagles: Tyler Linderbaum, OL, Iowa I highly doubt Howie Roseman uses all three picks without making any trades. Barring a blockbuster, I’d anticipate at least one move down to build up future draft capital. But if he stands pat, I would not be surprised to see all three used in the trenches. While Jason Kelce is putting another All-Pro-caliber season on his Hall of Fame resume, he’s seriously contemplated retirement after each of the past two seasons. Even if he comes back, you need a long-term replacement. Perhaps they still plan to move Landon Dickerson to center, but he’s been a mauler playing at left guard this season and as we’ve seen before, plans change. Lane Johnson was drafted to eventually slide over to left tackle and replace Jason Peters but he’s still on the right side nine season later. Linderbaum is another undersized center who possesses rare speed an athleticism for an interior offensive lineman, much like Kelce. In fact, both are listed at 6-3, 290. Linderbaum started his career playing defensive line for the Hawkeyes before moving to center as a sophomore. Now as a junior, he’s a front-runner for the Remington trophy, awarded to the nation’s top interior offensive lineman. In all, the Eagles walk away with Hutchinson, Leal, and Linderbaum. They might be considered "safe” picks but they all have very high ceilings. Three foundational pieces on which to build a dominant team, much like Graham, Cox, and Kelce once were. 16. Browns: Drake London, WR, USC With Odell Beckham, Jr.’s departure, the Browns have a void at receiver. They also have a question mark at quarterback, with Baker Mayfield’s rookie deal set to expire after this season. It seems likely they simply pick up his 5th year option without adding on a long-term extension, so getting him some weapons for that prove-it year would be a smart play. 17. Bengals: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State Last year the debate was whether the Bengals should get Joe Burrow some protection (Penei Sewell) or a weapon (Ja’Marr Chase). I’d say pairing the QB with his former LSU teammate has worked out okay thus far. This time around they opt for protection. 18. Raiders: Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia The Raiders recent run of first round picks in the Mike Mayock era has been a disaster for a litany of reasons. 2019 first rounder Clelin Ferrell is no longer a starter and Josh Jacobs is down to a time-share with Kenyan Drake. Both 2020 first rounders, Henry Ruggs and Damon Arnette, were released within the past month for well-documented off-field issues. Last April’s first rounder, Alex Leatherwood, has struggled so much at tackle they moved him to guard. Dean at least seems like a safe bet to give them some return on investment. 19. Panthers: Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa Another team that will be active on the quarterback acquisition front. The Panthers failed to land Matthew Stafford last offseason and ended up with Sam Darnold. Suffice it to say that hasn’t worked out. While Cam Newton’s return is a great story, he’s probably not the long-term answer in his second go round in Charlotte. Without great options, Carolina at least bolsters the protection for whoever they eventually find to play under center. 20. Chargers: David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan One of the fastest risers in this year’s crop, Ojabo has been a terror playing opposite Aidan Hutchinson. He didn’t start playing football until his junior year of high school and is going to end up as a first-round pick. Put him on the other side of Joey Bosa and watch them wreak havoc. 21. Saints: Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati Sean Payton got great production out of Jameis Winston before he tore his ACL. Based on the QB’s recovery timeline and pending free agency, it’s likely they’ll be looking in another direction at the position come next season. While Ridder hasn’t put up the numbers many expected, he still has the Bearcats on the cusp of an appearance in the College Football Playoff. 22. Patriots: Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State The Patriots have tried and failed miserably to find receivers in the draft under Bill Belichick. Dotson is an electric playmaker that can help Mac Jones take his game to another level. He’s already registered 80 catches for nearly 1,000 yards and 9 touchdowns this season for the Nittany Lions. 23. Chiefs: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida The track record of Florida corners taken early has been ugly of late. C.J. Henderson, Duke Dawson, Quincy Wilson, Teez Tabor, and Vernon Hargreaves were all selected in the first or second round since 2017. None of them are still with the team that drafted them and have all failed to make any impact in the NFL. Elam should prove good enough to break that mold. 24. Buccaneers: Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn The Super Bowl champs returned everyone from a season ago and could still make a run at another ring. But they’ve been banged up in the secondary and overall could use some help there. McCreary has 6 career picks for Auburn. Fun fact: his uncle, Angelo James, played corner for the Eagles back in 1987. 25. Steelers: Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia The Steelers tend not to overthink these things. They take big-time players from big-time schools. The last time they used a first-round pick on a player who didn’t play in a power five conference was 2004 when they took Ben Roethlisberger out of Miami (Ohio). They’ve been missing that edge rusher opposite T.J. Watt since Bud Dupree left in free agency. Walker fits the bill. 26. Ravens: Ikem Ekwonu, OL, North Carolina State Just two seasons ago the Ravens had perhaps the best offensive line in football with Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown on the outside, and Marshall Yanda on the interior. Yanda retired, Brown forced his way out and is now a Chief and Stanley is on IR for a 2nd straight year. They need to invest in protection for Lamar Jackson. 27. Lions (via Rams): Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah The first of three first-round picks coming the Lions way from the Matthew Stafford trade gets used on Lloyd, who has 85 tackles, 6 sacks, 3 interceptions and a forced fumble this season. He’s a flat-out playmaker. 28. Cowboys: Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Ohio State Tyron Smith finally hit 30 years-old and it might be time to start shopping for a replacement. While he’s still a top talent when he’s on the field, he hasn’t played a full 16 games in six years. He’s missed a total of 27 games in that span, including Sunday’s win over the Falcons. Despite his relatively young age, Smith is in year 11 in the NFL and who knows how many more he has left. 29. Bills: Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State I’m not a huge fan of spending first rounders on a running back, but I think the Bills offense could go to an even higher level with an elite rusher. Zach Moss and Devin Singletary are fine players, but Walker is a stud. He’s firmly in the Heiman mix with nearly 1,500 yards and 17 touchdowns. When you have a Super Bowl window, sometimes it’s worth it to spend on a luxury. 30. Cardinals: Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC Arizona has invested heavily in its pass rush. Chandler Jones is still an absolute wrecking ball, but he’ll be 32 by draft time. JJ Watt is already out for the season and will have played single-digit games in four of the last six seasons. They need some youth at the position. 31. Titans: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State The Julio Jones acquisition simply hasn’t worked our as planned. The Titans traded for the future Hall of Famer thinking he would fill in nicely opposite A.J. Brown and alleviate some pressure off Derrick Henry. But Jones has been in and out of the lineup and just landed on IR. Wilson can take his place and give them another game-breaker. 32. Packers: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama The Packers have been immune to drafting receivers in the first round with Aaron Rodgers at the helm. It would only be fitting if they broke protocol and finally gave the position a shot in the arm with Rodgers’ exit seeming likely following this season. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/2022-nfl-mock-draft-eagles-offensive-line-defensive-line
  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. Roseman traveling to watch two top college QBs It seemed at one point like the Philadelphia Eagles might wind up with three Top 10 picks in next April's 2022 NFL Draft. At this point, with the Colts surging and the AFC South still an embarrassment of a division, odds are good Carson Wentz is going to will Indy to some more wins and out of the Top 10. But it's still going to be a monumental draft for general manager Howie Roseman and the future of the Eagles' organization, and the decision-makers need to get it right. Perhaps that's why Roseman himself is headed on a road trip on Thursday night, ahead of the Eagles' Week 10 matchup with the Denver Broncos, to watch two of the top quarterbacks in college football. Roseman, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Johnny McGonigal, is headed to Heinz Field to watch Pitt face North Carolina on Thursday, where Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett and Tar Heels quarterback Sam Howell will face off: Very interesting! Roseman obviously has a legion of scouts at his disposal, but when it comes to the most important position in the sport, you probably want to get your own eyes on the guys too. Can't blame him. (Plus, Pittsburgh rocks.) Pickett has improbably inserted himself into the Heisman discussion this year with an absolute breakout season for Pitt, while Howell has been an intriguing pro prospect for a couple years now, but neither is a slam-dunk first round pick. Here's a look at their respective stat lines this year: Pickett: 68.7% completion, 9.3 Y/A, 29 TD, 3 INT / 73 rush, 234 yards, 4 TD Howell: 63.1% completion, 9.0 Y/A, 20 TD, 7 INT / 135 rush, 699 yards, 8 TD If you're asking me to choose between the two, I'd take Pickett based on his taller frame and more pro-ready release, but I don't really care for either as a prospect at the next level. Along with Pickett and Howell, Liberty's Malik Willis and Ole Miss's Matt Corral are also viewed as potential first-round quarterback picks. The Eagles reportedly had scouts at a matchup between the two last weekend. In his mock draft this week, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Dave Zangaro projected Corral to the Eagles at No. 3 overall: "In Saturday’s win over Liberty, Corral completed 20 of 27 passes for 324 yards and a a touchdown. This season, he’s completing nearly 67% of his passes with 16 touchdowns and 2 picks. Even when he faced Alabama, he completed 21 of 29 passes. The big knock on him last year was that he threw too many picks, but he’s cleaned that up in 2021. Corral has a ton of physical tools as a passer and plenty of ability as a runner too. He has big upside and the Eagles might view him as a potential franchise guy. Would it be the right pick? Not sure. But with the Eagles, I wouldn’t rule it out." Between figuring out if any of these guys are worth a first-rounder, and trying to envision a possible blockbuster deal for an established veteran, this is going to be one insane offseason. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-gm-howie-traveling-watch-2022-nfl-draft-qb-kenny-pickett-sam-howell
  21. Carson Wentz snaps tracker: Still going strong Carson Wentz is no longer a member of the Eagles but his status still matters to his former team. Because of the trade terms between the Colts and Eagles, the 2022 second-round pick that came to Philadelphia in the Wentz deal can turn into a first-round pick if one of these two things happen: 1. Wentz plays 75% of the Colts’ offensive snaps in 2021. 2. Wentz plays 70% of the Colts’ offensive snaps and the Colts make the playoffs. With that in mind, we’ll be tracking Wentz’s snap count totals all season long. Week 1: 76/76 (100%) L to Seahawks — Season total: 76/76 (100%) Things got off to a great start for the Eagles. Not only did Wentz return from a foot surgery and a trip on the COVID-19 list to return for the opener, but he played every snap in Week 1 and the Colts lost 28-16 at home to the Seahawks. The best-case scenario for the Eagles this season is that Wentz meets the playtime threshold but the Colts aren’t very good, giving the Eagles a higher pick. Week 2: 62/67 (93%) L to Rams — Season total: 138/143 (96.5%) The good news is that the Colts lost again and fell to 0-2 on the season. The bad news is that Wentz left the game with an ankle injury, which is something to watch as they head into Week 3. "He rolled it up pretty bad," head coach Frank Reich said. "I had a sense when he walked off the field. It didn't look good." Week 3: 61/61 (100%) L to Titans — Season total: 199/204 (97.5%) After a week of uncertainty, Wentz was able to play through two ankle injuries suffered the week before. Wentz clearly wasn't himself but the Colts still played him and he played every snap. Not only that but the Colts lost 25-16 to the Titans to fall to 0-3 on the season. So it was good news all around for the Eagles. It's obviously very early but the Colts (Eagles) are third in the draft order right now. The best case for the Eagles is for Wentz to continue to play and the Colts continue to lose. Week 4: 71/71 (100%) W vs. Dolphins — Season total: 270/275 (98.2%) It looks like Wentz is past that ankle scare as he played every snap in the Colts' 27-17 win over the Dolphins. He had a pretty good and efficient game too. The win was the first on the season for the Colts, who moved to 1-3. Right now, the Eagles are in line to get the No. 8 pick from the Colts. Week 5: 69/69 (100%) L to Ravens — Season total: 339/344 (98.5%) The Colts blew a 19-point lead in the second half before eventually losing the game in overtime. Wentz played well but couldn't prevent his new team from dropping to a 1-4 record on the season. The Eagles are obviously in line to get a first-round pick and it might be a good one. If the season ended now, the Eagles would get the No. 6 pick from the Colts. (They would also get No. 5 from the Dolphins and No. 10 on their own.) There's the thought that the Colts might find ways to avoid playing Wentz late in a lost season to avoid giving up a first-rounder but three of their next five games are against the Texans, Jets and Jaguars. So my guess is they stay in the AFC South race. Week 6: 48/48 (100%) W vs. Texans — Season total: 387/392 (98.7%) The Colts' offense an efficient day, beating the Texans 31-3 to improve to 2-4 on the season. Wentz was 11-for-20 for 223 yards and 2 touchdowns in the win. But the Colts had just 48 total offensive snaps, their lowest total of the season. The Eagles are right now looking good in this trade. If the season ended today, the Eagles would have the Colts' No. 9 pick (as well as their own No. 8 and the Dolphins' No. 3.) Week 7: 68/68 (100%) W vs. 49ers — Season total: 455/460 (98.9%) Wentz played well on Sunday Night Football as the Colts took down the Niners 30-18. After an injury scare earlier this season, Wentz has been able to stay healthy. Wentz is around 53-54% toward playing enough snaps to make this pick turn into a first-rounder. That's the good news. The bad news is that the Colts have won two straight, which hurts the Eagles' draft stock. This is in line to be the 13th pick. The Eagles are also in line to have No. 2 (from Miami) and No. 6 (their own pick). Week 8: 80/80 (100%) L to Titans — Season total: 535/540 (99.1%) For the seventh time in eight weeks, Wentz played every offensive snap for the Colts. In this one, Wentz threw an awful interception late in the fourth quarter, but forced overtime. Eventually, the Colts lost 34-31 in OT to fall to 3-5 on the season. At their current pace, Wentz would need around 861 snaps to hit the 75% mark so he's over halfway there. Wentz would need to play roughly five more complete games to get there. If the season ended now, the Eagles would have the No. 3 (Dolphins), No. 8 (own) and No. 9 (Colts) picks in the draft. Week 9: 62/62 (100%) W vs. Jets — 597/602 (99.2%) The Colts crushed the Jets on Thursday Night Football, eventually winning 45-30. But even when this game was clearly in hand, Frank Reich didn't take Wentz out of the game. Even when Sam Ehlinger took a snap at QB in the red zone, Wentz was on the field. And he was also on the field for the final kneel down. This makes it look like Reich certainly isn't on-board with trying to prevent this pick from turning into a first-rounder. The Colts' win means the pick will be less valuable. But the good news is that Wentz at the Colts' current pace would need around 854 snaps to hit the 75% mark, which means he's already just under 70% there. At this current pace, if he plays every snap, Wentz could play enough to make this a first-rounder in the next four or five weeks. Week 10: 64/64 (100%) W vs. Jaguars — 661/666 (99.2%) It was a close one but the Colts pulled out a 23-17 win over the Jags on Sunday afternoon. At least Wentz played every snap and he's on pace to get to the mark in the next four weeks or so. The problem is that the Colts have won four of their last five games, which means this pick is looking like a first-rounder but significantly less valuable. If the season ended now, this would be the No. 15 pick. The Eagles' own pick is 11 and the pick from Miami is No. 5. Week 11: at Bills Week 12: vs. Buccaneers Week 13: at Texans Week 14: BYE WEEK Week 15: vs. Patriots Week 16: at Cardinals Week 17: vs. Raiders Week 18: at Jaguars https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/carson-wentz-snap-count-colts-2021-nfl-season-tracker
  22. 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
  23. Week 10 Eagles grades by position after huge win over Broncos DENVER — The Eagles were riding high on Sunday night as they left Empower Field at Mile High. And it had nothing to do with the altitude. Nick Sirianni’s team played its most complete game and picked up its biggest win of the season, 30-13, over the Broncos on Sunday. Here are their position-by-position grades: Quarterback Jalen Hurts: 16/23, 178 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT; 14 attempts, 53 yards The first half in Denver was the best Hurts has ever looked as an Eagle. He was completely in control. He was hitting everything from the pocket, moving around to buy time, and using his legs to pick up big chunks. He should have had three touchdowns in the first half but Quez Watkins dropped one. Hurts wasn’t asked to throw much in the second half, but did throw a pick when his arm was hit by a defender. Overall, this was a very good game from Hurts and he’s definitely trending in the right direction. Grade: A Running back Jordan Howard: 12 carries, 83 yards; Boston Scott: 11 carries, 81 yards Another huge day for the Eagles’ running backs. Howard began the season on the practice squad and Scott was a complete afterthought on offense. And now they’ve starred in the team’s two biggest wins of the season. Grade: A+ Receiver DeVonta Smith: 4 catches on 6 targets, 66 yards, 2 TDs Smith was tremendous on Sunday, his 23rd birthday. He not only had those six catches but also had a great PBU on an under thrown ball from Hurts. Smith knocked it away from his former teammate Patrick Surtain. Smith also beat Surtain on a 1-on-1 for his first touchdown and showed elite body control. Smith has been great but the Eagles need more from their other receivers. Watkins had 4 for 33 but a big drop and Jalen Reagor had just 1 catch for 12 yards and a run that went for a big loss. Grade: B Tight end Dallas Goedert: 2 catches, 28 yards The Eagles lost Goedert in the first quarter with a concussion but the play where he suffered the injury was also an impressive 24-yard grab. Even after Goedert was out, the Eagles kept using 12 personnel with Jack Stoll and Tyree Jackson. Stoll ended up with 2 catches for 6 yards and did some nice things as a blocker. Jackson has some work to do in that area. Grade: B- Offensive line The Eagles ran for 214 yards and Hurts was sacked just one time for six yards. The offensive line loves this new offense because they get to move forward and dictate how the game gets played. They are meshing very well right now. Grade: A Defensive line Derek Barnett: 2 tackles, 1 sack The D-line managed to get just one sack on Teddy Bridgewater — it came from Barnett — but they still had a nice afternoon. Fletcher Cox didn’t do a ton in the stat sheet but this was as well as he has played in a while; he was in the backfield. The Eagles did give up some chunks on the ground but it’s hard to fault anyone too much after a game like that. Grade: B+ Linebacker Davion Taylor: 7 tackles, 2 forced fumbles The Eagles’ defense has been completely different since they shuffled the linebacker spots. Having Taylor and T.J. Edwards as their top two backs has given the Eagles’ defense an added level of physicality they had been missing. Taylor returned to Colorado and had a really nice day, forcing the biggest turnover in the game. Grade: A Secondary Darius Slay: 5 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 fumble recovery, 1 TD Obviously, Slay’s touchdown was the highlight. But the Eagles held Bridgewater to 61.1% for 226 yards and no touchdowns. Bridgewater came into the game as one of the league’s most accurate passers and the Eagles were able to limit damage. Grade: A Special teams Jake Elliott: 3/3 on field goals, 3/3 on PATs Elliott was perfect, K’Von Wallace blocked a field goal and Arryn Siposs averaged 51.3 yards per punt and downed one inside the 20. The Eagle didn’t get much going in the return game but at least Reagor went forward. Grade: A Coaching Eagles record: 4-6 Sirianni had a great game plan on offense and the Eagles executed it to perfection. Not only has he shown a commitment to the run but he seemed to have a knack for calling the right plays in the right moments on Sunday. And on defense, Jonathan Gannon dialed up a more aggressive game plan and it really worked. Both coaches deserve credit for their willingness to adapt. The Eagles did end up with 7 penalties for 89 yards, which keeps this from being an A+. Grade: A https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/our-week-10-eagles-grades-position-after-huge-win-over-broncos
  24. Has a star veteran QB popped up on Eagles' trade radar? He could theoretically change our minds before the season is over, but it seems the Eagles aren't going to be quarterbacked by Jalen Hurts for the next decade. The second-year QB has struggled throughout 2021, which means the Birds still need an answer at the sport's most important position. Could they trade for a veteran QB in the NFC who's tormented them over the years? A little smoke has popped up around one of football's most interesting names in the last 24 hours: one Russell Wilson. It began Tuesday afternoon when ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio asked, in what like a hint-hint column, whether Wilson might seek a new home again after his summer dalliance on the trade market: "We'll likely never know if Wilson's agent makes one last behind-the-scenes run at making a trade happen, unless it progresses to actual trade talks. Given the issues from earlier this year and the strong possibility that he will make another play for a new team after the season, there are plenty of reasons for him to consider the possibility of making the jump to a new team in time to try to get back to the Super Bowl and win it, this year." Then, on Wednesday morning, ESPN NFL insider and scoopmaster Adam Schefter joined 97.5 The Fanatic and added Wilson's name to a list that previously included just two names when discussing the Eagles' possible offseason plans: "They're going to have, right now it looks like three first round picks in the Top 20, two in the Top 10. So they are going to be armed to do what they want to do this offseason. Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson, and Aaron Rodgers could be available. So to me, before you do anything, those are the first three names you have to get answers on." Hmm. Back in July, Schefter was talking strictly about Watson and Rodgers in connection to the Eagles' current asset haul and their need for a new QB. Now, Wilson has appeared on that list. Where there's a little bit of smoke, there's a little bit of fire? Maybe, maybe not. Wilson doesn't seem to be particularly cozy in Seattle, that team doesn't seem to be trending in the right direction, and the Eagles certainly have the firepower to pull off a blockbuster move. But Wilson is also pretty entrenched in Seattle, and the Seahawks are more built for win-now than for a re-tooling or a rebuild, so it could be tough to pry him from John Schneider's grip. If it's possible to get him out of the Pacific Northwest, is it a good move for the Eagles? Depends on how you look at it. Wilson, who turns 33 next month, is under contract through 2023. He carries a gaudy $37 million cap hit in 2022, and an even gaudier $40 million cap hit in 2023. That's a lot of bread for one player, especially when the Eagles don't seem to be built for win-now mode. But if we know anything about Howie Roseman, it's that he likes to make big moves in search of staying competitive, and trading for Wilson feels like a move Jeff Lurie would sign off on. We're seeing quarterbacks play deeper and deeper into their late 30s these days, so getting Wilson at 33 wouldn't be the worst thing. He could give you another five years of Top 10 quarterback play. Wilson bombing to Quez Watkins twice a game and hitting DeVonta Smith in the hands to the tune of 100 yards and a touchdown sure sounds nice. Ultimately, this will be a conversation for the offseason, and one worth having - but I don't think Roseman does it, and I don't think he should. The Eagles will be better served building up the entire team slowly (not too slowly, though) and looking for young quarterback options with high ceilings. With Roseman, though, never say never. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/nfl-trade-rumors-has-russell-wilson-popped-eagles-radar
  25. 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
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