10 observations from Eagles-Giants

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10 observations from Eagles-Giants

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Just your typical 10 observations featuring Miles Austin, Najee Goode and Riley Cooper.

Huge 27-7 win for the Eagles Monday night over the Giants (see Instant Replay), and the most encouraging thing about it was how the Eagles overcame a bunch of injuries to dominate their biggest challenger in the division.

Sam Bradford? Yeah, we’ll get to him. He was dreadful. But when your quarterback can throw three interceptions and you win by 20 points over a team that had won three straight games, hey, that’s not bad.

So here we go with our first 10 observations about a first-place football team:

1. What a tremendous beastly effort from the Eagles’ defense Monday night against an offense that’s been lighting up everybody. The Giants drove 80 yards for a touchdown on their first drive, then nothing. I give Bill Davis a ton of credit. He was down three inside linebackers by the middle of the second quarter, including DeMeco Ryans, who has been playing so well. He was undermanned, facing a top-five offense, down by a touchdown before half the fans were in their seats. But the Eagles got it together, got tremendous pressure on Eli Manning, played very well against the run, did a terrific job in coverage considering who they were facing, and forced three more turnovers, including Nolan Carroll’s pick-six. This is a physical, aggressive, ballhawking defense that Eagles fans should get behind (see story).

2. I really felt like Bradford was going to light up the NFL’s worst pass defense Monday night. After the way he played the second half against the Saints, I thought he was ready to finally put together a full 60-minute game. But, man, I did not like what I saw. He just seemed to regress dramatically, throwing wildly, putting the ball up for grabs, looking skittish in the pocket. We’re six weeks in now, and he has yet to put together a complete game. He came into the season with the fourth-best interception ratio in NFL history, but three more Monday night gives him nine this year (see story). Last time an Eagles quarterback had more interceptions through six games was Jaws in 1977. Jaws! And they were just bad interceptions. Not great plays by the Giants, just terrible throws by Bradford. It’s not early in the season anymore. We’re two games from the halfway mark, and Bradford has to be better. A lot better.

3. I thought Jordan Matthews was going to take a huge leap forward this year, but so far the opposite has been the case. He just hasn’t been able to build on the promise he showed the second half of last year. He’s been plagued all year by drops and had a bad fumble Monday night. We see flashes from Matthews, but the Eagles need more than flashes from him. They need consistently productive play and it’s just not there right now.

4. Staying with wide receivers, I get that some people can’t stand Riley Cooper. If you hate the guy because of the Kenny Chesney incident, that’s your right. But people who rip the guy as a football player are simply off base. Since opening day 2013, only eight wide receivers have more touchdowns of at least 30 yards. Eight. He came up big again Monday night, with a 32-yard touchdown and then a 43-yard gain to set up a field goal. Followed that up with a big tackle for a one-yard gain on a punt return. What more do you want from a fifth-round pick?

5. Was encouraged to see the Eagles run the ball with some authority against the NFL’s No. 2-ranked run defense. Was especially encouraging to see DeMarco Murray show signs of life. He ran 22 times for 109 yards, and on the big third-quarter TD drive that gave the Eagles a 24-7 lead and really turned the game, he ran five times for 42 yards, moving the chains with three first-down runs. Ryan Mathews, questionable for Monday with a groin injury, also got into the act, with 40 yards on nine carries. Great stuff against the NFL’s No. 2-ranked rush defense.

6. Goode deserves a lot of credit for coming in Monday night after Ryans’ injury and giving the Eagles a good solid half of play at inside linebacker. This is a kid who was on the street until about three weeks ago, out of football the first few weeks of the season. But he’s been here before, he was with the team up through final cuts, he knows the defense and he kept himself in good enough shape that he was able to give the Eagles solid play when Ryans got hurt. I’m not sure how many teams have a fifth inside linebacker as talented as Goode.

7. A quick word about Darren Sproles. My God, what a tough dude. He got absolutely obliterated on that fourth-quarter punt return. Got taken inside for a concussion test, and there he was a minute later, fielding a punt. Little dude but what a tough dude.

8. Too many penalties, but another solid all-around game for the Eagles’ offensive line. The last two weeks, the Eagles have 944 yards of offense. They’ve run the ball — 186 rushing yards last week, 155 against a very good run defense Monday. And they’ve thrown it — over 600 net passing yards the last two weeks. And they’ve protected Bradford, who has been sacked only once the last two weeks. This group has taken a lot of heat and most of it is deserved. But sure seems like they’ve turned the corner.

9. Props to Austin, who was forced into extensive action with injuries to Cooper and Josh Huff on top of Nelson Agholor already being out. Austin had three catches for 60 yards, which is pretty good production from a guy who was the Eagles’ fifth receiver before all these injuries.

10. Remember nine days ago when all these people in the national media came out of the woodwork to announce that Chip Kelly had lost the locker room and players weren’t buying into his system and the whole thing was in jeopardy of falling to pieces? Well guess what? The Eagles have won two straight games after that 1-3 start, winning both in commanding fashion without really playing great in either one. They’re back to .500 and atop the NFC East. Guess what? Kelly is a terrific football coach. And don’t listen to anybody who says he’s lost the locker room. Unless the person who says it has actually, you know, been inside the Eagles’ locker room in the past year.

Eagles storylines at the 2017 owners meetings in Phoenix

Eagles storylines at the 2017 owners meetings in Phoenix

PHOENIX -- After a cold couple of weeks in Philly, Jeffrey Lurie and the Eagles' brass will get a chance to catch some rays this week. 

Lurie and the rest of the NFL's owners and decision-makers will meet this week at the lavish Arizona Biltmore resort. 

In addition to the actual meetings of the owners, the league's competition committee will look at 15 rule proposals, one of which was proposed and will be presented by the Eagles. Lurie is expected to speak to reporters for the first time in a year. 

And, of course, the annual coaches breakfasts will take place extremely early on Tuesday and Wednesday. The AFC goes on Tuesday, while Doug Pederson and the NFC coaches will field questions from reporters on Wednesday. 

It'll be a busy few days with the beauty of Phoenix as the backdrop. 

Here are a few of the big Eagles storylines to keep an eye on.

Long time, no talk 
Reporters haven't had a chance to talk to Lurie since this week last year. A lot has happened since then. Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz went through their first seasons as coach and quarterback for the Eagles. Joe Douglas was hired as the team's vice president of player personnel. And Howie Roseman has continued to transform the roster through trades and free agency.

Last season was the first time Lurie spoke since reinstating Roseman to power, so despite Lurie's efforts to talk about RFID and next-generation stats, the conversation focused on the direction and leadership of the team. 

There's a ton to talk to Lurie about this year -- including his recently-penned piece in Time Magazine that railed against political polarization in Washington (see story).  

An hour with Doug 
This year, Philly reporters will actually be able to talk to Pederson at the NFC coaches breakfast on Wednesday. In 2016, most split their time between Chip Kelly and Pederson. 

At that point, Kelly was the 49ers' coach and had not yet talked about his split with the Eagles. 

But a whole hour with Pederson is on the schedule this year. Plenty of questions about the future of the franchise, the draft and the free-agent acquisitions. We haven't spoken to Pederson since the combine, which came before the team brought in Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Chance Warmack in free agency. 

Whatchu talkin' bout, Howie? 
Roseman talked a bunch last season as the 2016 NFL draft drew closer, but this offseason revealed that everything he said back then was nonsense. Last offseason was all about moving up to the No. 2 pick (at least) to draft Wentz and get the Eagles a franchise quarterback. 

One of the interesting things Roseman talked about in 2016 was taking running backs high in the draft. He praised Ezekiel Elliott, calling him a "rare" prospect. 

At that point, the Eagles were picking eighth and Elliott was thought to be a possible target for them. Here's what Roseman said last year: 

"You talk about the elite guys and where they're coming from, and they're hard to find. It's hard to find three-down backs, so when you get a chance to look at someone like that, it changes the discussion. They're certainly on your board."

The running backs in this year's draft aren't Elliott -- they're simply not as good at everything and not ready to step in and be stars. But by the way Roseman spoke last year, he didn't rule out taking a running back in the first round. This year, there will likely be a couple good ones on the board at No. 14. 

But remember, everything he said last year was just nonsense. 

For now, Roseman isn't scheduled to speak to reporters, but that could change. 

The rule proposals
The competition committee will meet this week to go over several proposals -- among them are 15 playing rule proposals. 

The Eagles originally proposed four playing rule changes and one proposal that would have allowed teams to wear alternate helmets to match alternate jerseys. Well, after feedback from the competition committee, the Eagles are withdrawing all but one proposal, according to league sources. 

The only proposal left would rule out leaping on kick plays. For now, players are allowed to leap as long as they don't touch anyone on the way over. This change had already been suggested by the NFLPA, so it seems like it has a good shot to pass. 

Among the other rules the NFL's competition committee will consider is one that would shorten the overtime period in the regular season from 15 to 10 minutes. The length would remain 15 minutes in the playoffs. 

The competition committee will meet to go over these proposals on Tuesday. 

NFL Notes: Raiders to Las Vegas should happen Monday with little delay

NFL Notes: Raiders to Las Vegas should happen Monday with little delay

PHOENIX -- Barring an unforeseen obstacle, the Oakland Raiders seem certain to get approval Monday to relocate to Las Vegas .

Several team owners have said this week they don't envision a scenario where Raiders owner Mark Davis doesn't get the required 24 votes to move the team.

One owner, speaking anonymously because he is not authorized to speak for the NFL, told The Associated Press: "Not only have no hurdles been made clear to us, but there isn't any opposition to it."

Added another, also speaking anonymously for the same reasons: "It's going to happen and the sooner we do it, the better it is for the league and for the Raiders."

Yes, the NFL is about to have a third franchise move in just over a year. The Rams played last season in Los Angeles after switching from St. Louis. Earlier this year, the Chargers moved from San Diego to L.A.

NFL: League hires Dr. Allen Sills as chief medical officer
PHOENIX -- The NFL has hired Dr. Allen Sills as its chief medical officer.

Sills, a neurosurgeon who has specialized in the treatment of athletes, will fill a new full-time position based in New York. He comes to the league from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he serves as professor of neurological surgery, orthopedic surgery and rehabilitation. He is the founder and co-director of the Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center.

Sills, 52, will work with NFL team medical staffs, the NFL Players Association and its advisers, as well as experts on the league's medical committees. He will guide the NFL's health and research efforts.

"We sought a highly credentialed physician and leader with experience as a clinician and researcher, and Dr. Sills' extensive experience caring for athletes makes him the right choice for this important position," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said.