VY Tweaks a Hammy, Sunshine and Kafka Get Jacked Up, But Some Good Signs in Eagles Final Tuneup

VY Tweaks a Hammy, Sunshine and Kafka Get Jacked Up, But Some Good Signs in Eagles Final Tuneup

The Eagles left the Meadowlands with the all-important preseason win, dropping the Jets by a 24-14 count, and they got a good look at some of the guys who could play key roles later in the season. A few guys will be pretty sore today though, with last night's starter Vince Young coming up lame with a hamstring issue as he rolled out for a red zone strike.

VY was having a very good night until that point, throwing for 193 yards (15 for 23) and a TD pass to Chad Hall, generally looking pretty comfortable. On his final pass though, he pulled up without contact, wincing and grabbing his leg. After the game, he said he'd get an MRI when the team returns to Philly, but Andy Reid thinks he'll be ready to go for the season opener. It was encouraging to see VY with a smile on his face on the sideline not long after coming out, and after the game he said it felt pretty good. No word on whether he'll tweet the MRI for us.

Mike Kafka had a scary moment too, taking a nasty hit to the chest, and for a minute it looked like the Eagles might have to send emergency QB Jason Avant in. Kafka was able to resume play though.

Surprisingly, Riley Cooper was also OK after the hit you'll see in the video below.

Daaaaaammmnnn. Brodney Pool was flagged on the play, but didn't appear to deserve anything more than some helmet slaps by the other guys in his secondary. That's life in today's NFL, for better and worse.

Rookie running back Dion Lewis racked up 100 total yards (15 carries for 62 yards, 3 catches for 38 yards) and a touchdown, and generally looked great, with explosive speed and some slick moves. And he's third on the depth chart. Not bad for a team that relies heavily on the pass and probably always will.

Danny Watkins was the sole starter to see action in the game (*correction: Dixon played too), having requested to play to get some more snaps before the regular season (Jeff McLane says he was probably going to see time whether he asked or not). McLane also points out that Watkins still has some learning to do, starting off slow for the second straight game, which can be dangerous for the guy behind him. But in both contests, he got better in subsequent series, which is a good sign. Lockout, holdout, late to the game of football… He's also a rookie OL no matter how you slice it. There'll be some growing pains, but it's good to see progress in there too.

The rookie kicking tandem also had a pair of shaky moments, with Alex Henery missing one field goal and punter/holder Chas Henry bobbling a snap on another, then rolling out and throwing a pick, although the latter play was washed out with a Jets penalty. Henery did hit his three PATs and drill a 49-yarder in the fourth quarter to end the night on a better note though.

So that's it for the preseason. The Birds exit exhibition with a 3-1 record and, hopefully, no major injuries to key players. Along with the rest of the NFL, there will probably still be some rust when the take the field in week one, and there's still work to do in the areas we knew would be iffy, most notably the new-look OL and the linebackers.  

Reuben Frank has much more on the game, including what standout performances by Brian Rolle and Donald Lee mean for their chances to make the team as a big wave of cuts looms.

>>Young pulls hammy, Birds cap preseason with win [CSN]

Photo: Noah K. Murray, The Star-Ledger-US Presswire

Doug Pederson not afraid to get agressive with play-calling

Doug Pederson not afraid to get agressive with play-calling

Talk to Doug Pederson and he comes across … what’s a nice way to put it … dry?

Very nice guy. Very friendly. Very down to Earth. But not the most dynamic personality in public.

Which is why his personality on gameday has been so surprising.

Pederson is a risk taker as a playcaller. Aggressive and fearless.

Whether it’s going for it on fourth down with the lead, going for two after a successful PAT or throwing deep in a situation that doesn’t necessarily call for it, Pederson has proven to be the proverbial riverboat gambler that Chip Kelly was expected to be but never became.

“My personality is probably a little more conservative by nature, I think,” Pederson said Monday. “You'd probably agree with that.”

Pederson got a laugh with that comment because his public persona is exactly the opposite of his gameday demeanor.

It only took one day before we all got a taste of Pederson’s fearlessness.

In the season opener against the Browns, with the Eagles clinging to a 15-10 lead and a rookie quarterback making his first NFL appearance and a 4th-and-4 at the Browns’ 40--yard-line, he kept the offense on the field.

Carson Wentz responded by connecting with Zach Ertz on a five-yard gain to move the chains, and one play later, the Eagles took command on Wentz’s 35-yard TD pass to Nelson Agholor.

Six weeks in, the Eagles are 5 for 5 on fourth down. Only the Falcons have converted more fourth downs in the NFL this year, and they’re 6 for 10.

In the win over the Bears, the Eagles were 3 for 3 on fourth down, their best fourth-down conversion day in nine years.

This is the first time in 14 years the Eagles have converted five or more fourth downs through six games.

According to Pro Football Reference, the Eagles are one of only seven teams in NFL history to attempt five or more fourth down plays through six games and still be at 100 percent. The Lions are also 5 for 5 this year.

Pederson said analytics are a big part of his decision-making process, but he also trusts his instincts.

“I think it's both,” Pederson said. “But I trust our guys and I trust our offensive line and I think it sends a great message to the rest of the team, to the defense and special teams, that, ‘Hey, if we can convert this and stay on the field,’ it sends a good message.

“And on the other side of that, if you do convert, (it’s about) the message you send to the other team and the fact that you're going to stay aggressive.”

The Eagles are 29th-best in the NFL on third down at just 34 percent. But they’re one of only three teams that’s at 100 percent on fourth down.

“It's kind of a crazy deal when you're not great on third down, but you can be 5 for 5 on fourth down and convert them,” Pederson said. “It's a weird deal. But credit to the guys for the execution.

“I'm going to continue to look at it. I don't ever want to be in a position that I'm going to jeopardize the team at the time (by being too aggressive). Looking at the five fourth-down decisions this year, I don’t think they put us in any harm at that time.”

Wentz is 3 for 3 for 21 yards on fourth down, with the four-yard completion to Ertz, a seven-yard first down to Jordan Matthews in the Bears game and a nine-yard to Dorial Green-Beckham, also in the win in Chicago.

He also rushed six yards for a first down on a 4th-and-2 Sunday in the win over the Vikings. The Eagles’ other fourth-down conversion this year was Ryan Mathews’ one-yard TD on a 4th-and-goal against Chicago.

Pederson said as an assistant coach under Andy Reid, he always found himself asking himself whether he would be conservative or aggressive in crucial situations.

We’re all learning the answer now.

“Yeah, you definitely put yourself in those situations, as a coordinator and a position coach,” he said. “Putting yourself in those spots, it's a lot easier when you're not making the decision obviously to go, ‘Oh, yeah, I would have not gone for it there or not gone for it there.’

“Now, being in this position, it's my tail on the line if we don't convert.”

6 months later, Cubs' Kyle Schwarber returns for World Series Game 1

6 months later, Cubs' Kyle Schwarber returns for World Series Game 1

CLEVELAND — Chicago Cubs slugger Kyle Schwarber's rehab finished just in time for the World Series.

Schwarber will bat fifth and be the designated hitter for the National League champions in Game 1 on Tuesday night against Cleveland's Corey Kluber. Schwarber hasn't played in the majors since tearing ligaments in his left knee on April 7 in a collision with teammate Dexter Fowler.

Dallas Cowboys orthopedic surgeon Dr. Daniel Cooper operated 12 days later to repair torn anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments. He was expected to miss the rest of the season but was cleared to return on Oct. 17.

Schwarber played a pair of games in the Arizona Fall League, going 1 for 6 with a double and two walks, and flew to Cleveland on Monday.