Eagles-Dolphins: The Beat Goes On

Eagles-Dolphins: The Beat Goes On

Doomsday is on the horizon. One more loss, and the Eagles are mathematically eliminated from the postseason. Will the clock strike zero on their dreams today in Miami?

Even Michael Vick may not be able to save us now.

The Dolphins are only 4-8, same as the Birds, but trending in the opposite direction. Miami has one of the hottest teams in football, winning four of their last five, and losing by no more than three points in any of their last seven. On the flip side, Philadelphia has dropped four of their last five, and were crushed in their last two. If you are a strong believer in momentum as a decisive factor, the Eagles have no chance.

The big change for the Fins is they started winning the turnover battle. Through the first five weeks, they had a differential of -7. Since then, they are +3, playing a much smarter brand of football.

Matt Moore replaced Berks County native Chad Henne at quarterback when the starter suffered a season-ending injury in Week 4, a change that may have been for the better. Moore doesn't post huge yardage totals, but he manages the game. He's thrown nine touchdowns to just two interceptions in his last seven starts, including a pair of three-touchdown afternoons.

The Dolphins were also able to locate their running game, which was missing in action earlier in the season. Reggie Bush, Miami's big free-agent splash this summer, has been picking it up, and had his first 100-yard rushing day of the season in last week's win over Oakland. With two more carries, he'll establish a career-high in attempts in arguably his best season to date.

It's not an explosive offense, but it's enough to keep them in games because nothing comes easy against their defense. The Dolphins are fifth in the NFL, allowing 18.3 points per game. They are fifth against the run, and while their weakness is in the secondary, they have a solid pass rush anchored by Penn State product Cam Wake.

But don't shut the book on the Eagles' season just yet. They do have one particular advantage that should not go overlooked. Their last game was on Thursday, giving them three extra days to prepare for the Dolphins. It's similar to a bye week, and we all know Andy Reid's record after a week off. Considering what's on the line, it would be a surprise to see his team come out flat.

Although a win may not necessarily wind up helping the Birds. They need lots of help from Dallas and New York, and even though both seem willing to pitch in, all either one of them needs to do is reach nine wins regardless of what the Eagles do. Dallas needs two, and the Giants need three -- but they play each other twice. That's tough.

So maybe you're even rooting for a Philly loss today, improving April's draft position, and worsening the situation for a certain head coach. One way or the other, the season marches forward.

Injury Report
The Eagles have everybody available today. Jeremy Maclin was downgraded to questionable yesterday, but Reuben Frank tweets the wide receiver will play. Likewise, the Dolphins have no significant injuries.

Carson Wentz further asserting himself as Eagles' leader in Year 2

Carson Wentz further asserting himself as Eagles' leader in Year 2

It's not like Carson Wentz wasn't a leader last year. 

He was. 

From the moment the No. overall 2 pick arrived at rookie camp in May, those leadership qualities the Eagles discovered during the pre-draft process were immediately on display. Wentz is a natural leader at a position that necessitates it. 

So in his rookie season, he led. 

"I thought that was all kind of natural, things naturally happened," Wentz said. "Yes, I was a rookie but I don't think that I was by any means quiet. I wasn't just the guy that rolled with the punches and went with it. I thought I was still doing my job as a leader as well. But the longer we're playing this game and the more experience we have, the more we can just step up our leadership as well."

If Wentz was a leader in his rookie season, he's really a leader now.  

Last year, he arrived to the Eagles' offseason after the whirlwind of the NFL draft and admitted on Tuesday that he "didn't really know where the locker room was." Hard to lead when you don't know where to get changed. 

And throughout last spring, he was the team's third-string quarterback preparing for a redshirt season until he was thrust into the starting role after the Sam Bradford trade, just a little more than a week before the start of the season. 

A year sometimes makes a huge difference. 

This year, he's the guy, the face of the franchise, the unquestioned leader of the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles. 

"There’s definitely a poise about him," receiver Jordan Matthews said. "You can tell it’s not like last year when he was thrust into the position. He knows his role, he knows he’s the guy, and I think there’s a sense of confidence that comes with that, a sense of poise that he handles extremely well. I’m excited to see what he does this whole offseason and what we’re going to do moving forward."

Wentz is the Eagles' leader on and off the field. He's planning on getting together with his receivers and skills position players again this summer, something he thinks will become an annual trip. 

Earlier this month, Wentz took his offensive linemen out for a day of shooting guns and eating steaks (see story). He bought his entire line shotguns last Christmas. 

It might not seem like a summer get-together or a trigger-happy trip would help the Eagles on the field, but it might. After all, the team's being closer certainly won't hurt. And Wentz, 24, is the guy facilitating all of it. 

Then there's the way Wentz leads on the field. He's always had control of the huddle, but with more time in the offense, he knows what he wants. Center Jason Kelce said the more knowledge Wentz gains of the offense, the "more comfortable (he is) voicing [his] opinion." 

"And I think that he's definitely asserting his style on the offense," Kelce said. 

For the most part, Wentz had a pretty good season as a rookie, flourishing early, hitting a long rough patch, and then finding his way out of it. He ended up throwing for 3,782 yards and set an NFL record for completions as a rookie. 

The Eagles this year, and in the foreseeable future, will go as far as Wentz leads them. 

"They say the biggest jump is from year one to year two, so him just knowing what’s coming, he looks like a vet already," offensive tackle Lane Johnson said. "Pretty extraordinary."

Sir Charles and Shaq made things personal last night and it was fantastic

Sir Charles and Shaq made things personal last night and it was fantastic

Shaq always has the trump card -- and by that we mean championship rings -- to throw in Charles Barkley's face. But with that said, Sir Charles is probably a much better trash talker and therefore has a superior mouth to defend himself with and throw barbs back in Shaq's direction.

The mouthy duo got into it a bit last night and it teetered between fun and lighthearted and a little personal.

Shaq attacks Chuck for only playing in one NBA Finals and therefore not really knowing what he was talking about. Charles claps back at Shaq for having ridden Kobe and Dwyane Wade's coattails. 

During an NBA playoffs that has been mostly boring, at least these two can still entertain us.