10 observations from Eagles-Redskins

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10 observations from Eagles-Redskins

BOX SCORE

LANDOVER, Md. – The Eagles keep inventing new ways to lose.

It had been at least 20 years since the Eagles lost a football game by allowing a fourth-quarter game-winning drive of 90 or more yards.

That’s exactly what the Redskins did Sunday in their 23-20 win over the Eagles (see Instant Replay).

These 10 observations are more fun to read when the Eagles are winning, aren’t they?

They’re more fun to write, too.

Here we go:

1. I give a lot of credit to the Eagles’ defense for holding up under the weight of the insane number of snaps they had to face Sunday. They were out-manned, depleted, and on the field for 41:08. Still, to let Kirk Cousins drive 90 yards in 15 plays and beat you with 26 seconds left? Kirk Cousins? That just can’t happen. The Eagles were one stop away from evening their record at 2-2, and they just couldn’t get off the field.

2. Sam Bradford showed me a lot with his second-half performance. I wouldn’t have blamed Chip Kelly if he benched him for Mark Sanchez at halftime. The Eagles hadn’t scored, and Bradford was once again grossly ineffective in the first half, going just 5 for 10 for 75 yards. But he showed some resilience, battling through his early ineffectiveness, a ton of early hits and sacks and even an ankle injury in the third quarter. He threw three touchdowns after halftime and for the first time all year got the ball down the field, something the Eagles should have been doing right from the start of the game against this awful Redskins secondary. But here’s the bottom line. Bradford has still yet to play a full game, and you’re just not going to win very many games with a quarterback who produces one good half every other week. Bradford was good in the second half, but he has yet to be good for 60 minutes, and he’s still the biggest reason the Eagles are 1-3

3. Chip Kelly has only himself to blame for the current state of the offensive line. For the first time in franchise history, the Eagles have gone two straight years without drafting an offensive lineman, and despite losing Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans this offseason, they didn’t even sign any free agents, other than John Moffitt, who had been retired. The conclusion that they could get by with Allen Barbre and Andrew Gardner as starters and Dennis Kelly and Matt Tobin as backups seems preposterous now. If you want to make some kind of point by cutting ties with two very solid guards in Mathis and Herremans, fine. Get rid of them. Make your point. But how do you get rid of them both and not replace them?

4. The Eagles did better running the football, but when they needed to dial it up in the fourth quarter to run out the clock? They couldn’t do it. The running game is still a liability for this football team.

5. It’s unbelievable how hard it is to find a kicker. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Eagles release Caleb Sturgis on Monday, ending his Eagles career after one game, one 33-yard field goal and one missed extra point. But if he was the best of the six guys they brought in for workouts Monday, then how bad were the other guys? Just makes you appreciate David Akers even more. Akers kicked at such a high level for the Eagles from 1999 through 2010. He missed a few, but you always felt that with the game on the line, he just wasn’t going to miss. Heck, Dave always kept himself in great shape. He’s only 40. I’ve heard worse ideas.

6. OK, three games into his NFL career, Jordan Hicks has two fumble recoveries, a forced fumble, a sack and an interception. I don’t know how long Mychal Kendricks will be out and I don’t know how long Kiko Alonso will be out, but I do know that Hicks has been phenomenal the last three weeks, and Bill Davis is going to have to find a way to get him on the field once the Eagles (if the Eagles) are back at full-strength at inside linebacker.

7. I think Nelson Agholor is going to be a stud, but he’s got to be stronger to the football and hang onto the thing. But he really does have a knack for getting open and making circus catches. His one-handed 45-yarder Sunday was magnificent. He’s just got to be more consistent. But you can say that about most rookie wide receivers.

8. He got off to a slow start Sunday, but in the second half, with the defense dragging, Donnie Jones hit some great punts to keep giving the Redskins a long field and give the defense a fighting chance. Jones is never going to be among the NFL’s statistical leaders because he plays in an outdoor stadium in the Northeast. But he’s solid. And he generally seems to come up big when you need a big punt at a big moment. It’s nice to have one guy they don’t have to worry about.

9. Was good to see a few guys who have been invisible making plays. Mainly Riley Cooper, whose 62-yard TD was the second-longest of Bradford’s career, and Miles Austin, whose 39-yard touchdown was his longest in four years. If the Eagles are going to salvage anything out of this lost season, they’re going to need more than just Jordan Matthews catching the football. So there’s that.

10. Finally, how much of this mess is on Chip? Really, most of it is on Chip. This is the team he wanted, this is the team he went out and got, this is the team he designed, this is the team he built. They’ve lost three of four games and are playing as inconsistently as any Eagles team we’ve seen since 1998. They’re now 1-3 and 0-2 in the division. Let’s be honest. They’re not going anywhere. It’s been seven years since the Eagles won a playoff game, and it’s hard to imagine it won’t be eight in a few months. Chip’s future? He’ll be here another year. But that’s all he gets. He’s got the rest of this year and next year to figure out a way to build a team that can put together a deep playoff run. If he doesn’t do it, time to bring in the next guy.

10 Eagles to watch during 2017 training camp

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10 Eagles to watch during 2017 training camp

The Eagles kick off their 2017 training camp this week for a season with higher expectations than a year ago. 

A big reason for that is because Carson Wentz is entering his second season after an up-and-down, yet promising, rookie campaign. We're not going to list him as a player to watch because we're all going to watch him anyway. 

Another big reason for optimism is plenty of newcomers. Many of them are listed. 

Here are 10 players to watch during Eagles training camp 2017: 

Nelson Agholor 
We mentioned the newcomers, but let's start with a guy who has been here for a couple of disappointing seasons. Agholor will probably never live up to his draft status, but now it's just about making him a decent NFL player. This spring, he was the best receiver on the field, which was undeniable as it was infuriating to fans. Because it just hasn't translated into games and until it does, no one will care much. But it's worth watching to see if he can continue his impressive offseason. Maybe this year, with a reduced role, he won't be a headcase. 

Derek Barnett
The first-round pick showed some impressive signs during the spring, especially when he beat Lane Johnson a few times 1-on-1. But now the pads go on and the real football begins. Barnett has a real chance to not just earn playing time but also earn a starting job during this training camp. 

Ron Brooks/Joe Walker
We cheated a little here by lumping these two together, but it kind of makes sense. Both are coming back from serious injuries, which is why we need to see what they can do. Walker tore his ACL during the preseason a year ago. Before he did, he was set to be the team's backup middle linebacker. It wasn't until his injury that the Eagles went out and signed Stephen Tulloch. And Brooks was playing OK as the Eagles' slot cornerback before his ruptured quad tendon in October. Jim Schwartz seems to really like him, but many folks have seemingly forgotten about Brooks this offseason. 

Timmy Jernigan
Of all the newcomers, Jernigan might be the most overlooked, but could also make the biggest impact. He's here with just one year left on his contract but will get a chance to put up some serious numbers while playing next to Fletcher Cox on the interior line. 

LeGarrette Blount
Blount reportedly has language written into his contract that gives him bonuses based on staying under 250 pounds. Even if he's under 250, Blount is still a big back, about 20 pounds heavier than rookie Corey Clement. Blount is up there in age and had a huge workload for the Patriots last season. How much does he have left? 

Rasul Douglas 
Of all the Eagles' rookies, Douglas might need to have the most immediate impact. The third-round pick might be thrust into a major role this season just because of the lack of talent at the cornerback position. He was impressive in the spring but is bound to have ups and downs as a rookie. 

Alshon Jeffery 
The Eagles actually have a real No. 1 receiver. Jeffery made some spectacular catches during the spring, but he and Wentz need to build their rapport, which they had extra time to do when the receivers went to North Dakota. We'll see how far along he and Wentz are soon enough. 

Donnel Pumphrey
It's pretty shocking to see how small Pumphrey looks without pads, especially standing next to Blount. How will the Eagles use the tiny running back? Will he be more of a receiver out of the backfield and in the slot? And can his body really hold up in the NFL? 

Isaac Seumalo 
Yeah, we're telling you an interior offensive lineman is a guy to watch. Seumalo has a real chance to beat out Allen Barbre for the starting left guard position. Either way, Seumalo figures into the Eagles' plans for the future as a guard or as the center who eventually takes over for Jason Kelce. 

Mack Hollins
Of the rookie receivers, Hollins was clearly more impressive this spring. I became convinced Hollins can play football in shorts and a helmet. Now, we'll get to see how he does when the pads go on. With his size/speed combo, he's certainly an intriguing prospect.

NFL Notes: As Cowboys prep for training camp, Jerry Jones backs Ezekiel Elliott again

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USA Today Images

NFL Notes: As Cowboys prep for training camp, Jerry Jones backs Ezekiel Elliott again

OXNARD, Calif. -- Jerry Jones interjected some bad-boy anecdotes from his youth, smiled at the thought of life before social media and even asked a couple of questions himself Sunday at his annual training camp opener with reporters.

When the topic is the multitude of off-field issues confronting the Dallas Cowboys -- headlined by star running back Ezekiel Elliott -- their owner, president and general manager can dance with the best of them.

"I can give you the same old excuses -- young, aggressive, got a lot of energy," Jones said. "Hard to paint that picture of the days when it won't be this easy, they won't be as pretty and they won't have the money. Somehow you've got to paint the picture."

Elliott is still waiting for clearance from the NFL on a year-old domestic violence case that prosecutors didn't pursue. The NFL rushing leader last season as a rookie, Elliott didn't help himself with his involvement in a bar fight a week before the Cowboys flew to California for camp.

Jones reiterated his belief that Elliott wasn't guilty of domestic violence in a dispute with his ex-girlfriend last summer in Columbus, Ohio, where he starred for Ohio State. But the Dallas owner still wouldn't speculate on whether Elliott will get suspended.

The Cowboys will have two suspended defensive players when the season starts in pass rushers David Irving and Randy Gregory. Two more could be: cornerback Nolan Carroll (drunken-driving charge) and linebacker Damien Wilson (aggravated assault charges).

Receiver Dez Bryant was late to report at the team's practice facility in suburban Dallas on Friday, a day before he was on the team flight to California. Irving decided to stay in California rather than report in Texas, and running back Darren McFadden missed the charter flight (see full story).

Cardinals: Larry Fitzgerald motivated by quest for championship
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Training camp is a drag at this point in Larry Fitzgerald's long and accomplished NFL career. Of course, the quest for the ring is the main reason the 14-year veteran continues to play.

The longtime Arizona Cardinals wide receiver isn't sure what his future holds as far as retirement.

"That's the only reason I'm playing at this point," Fitzgerald said Sunday, the second day of Cardinals training camp. "From a personal standpoint, things I've accomplished, they're fine. But the thing that you will say is out of your control because you're in a team sport is a championship."

Fitzgerald said he feels good, and when retirement comes there won't be a podium or tears because "that's not who I am."

Yet it is important to him to still be productive as a player when he decides to step away. Fitzgerald admitted it would be a struggle to accept a diminished role due to not being able to give 100 percent.

"The end is never really pretty for elite athletes. It never looks good. You watch Michael Jordan in a Washington Wizards uniform or see Tony Dorsett playing for the Denver Broncos. ... It's weird because you're used to seeing them at their most dominant stage," Fitzgerald said. "For me, I really want to do things at a high level and be able to walk away and still be someone who can play at a high level."

Fitzgerald has asked others who are closer to retirement or have retired about their thought process going into it. He's been doing that for the last few years, checking in with the likes of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Tony Gonzalez.

For now, he still enjoys being around teammates and staff, asking questions in an effort to improve as a player and setting an example and providing leadership for young players (see full story).

Browns: Rookie Peppers signs, full class under contract
CLEVELAND -- Browns rookie defensive back Jabrill Peppers has signed and now Cleveland's entire draft class is under contract.

Peppers and the Browns had been haggling over guaranteed money on his four-year-deal, which is worth $10.3 million and includes a $5.6 million signing bonus.

The Browns chose Peppers -- one of Cleveland's three first-round selections -- with the No. 25 overall pick. The former Michigan standout played numerous positions for the Wolverines, but the Browns will try him at strong safety and as a kick returner.

Peppers may have been passed over by other teams after he had a diluted urine sample at the scouting combine. Peppers was placed in the first stage of the NFL's substance abuse policy, but he can be cleared from the program after 90 days if he has not positive tests.

Cleveland's rookies were scheduled to report to training camp Sunday night with the veterans arriving on Wednesday. The Browns will open their second training camp under coach Hue Jackson on Thursday.