DeSean Jackson, Daniel Snyder union will be a disaster

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DeSean Jackson, Daniel Snyder union will be a disaster

Daniel Snyder got his man. Daniel Snyder has gotten his man in the past. It has rarely gone well for Daniel Snyder.
 
DeSean Jackson signed with Washington on Tuesday (see story). It’s said to be a three-year deal for $24 million, with $16 million guaranteed, according to Forbes.  
 
Isn’t it grand? As landing spots go for the former Eagle, you couldn’t pick a more dysfunctional destination than Washington.
 
Yes, Jackson is coming off a season in which he had a career-best 1,332 receiving yards, tied a personal best with nine touchdowns and made his third Pro Bowl. And, yes, the Eagles will face him twice a year in what’s sure to be must-watch, drama-filed matchups. But, come on, he went to Washington. That has to assuage any fears from the woe-is-the-put-upon-fan/the-Eagles-will-rue-the-day crowd. Shy of signing with the Oakland Raiders or the Saskatchewan Roughriders (that’s a real team! Sort of!), it’s hard to imagine an organization that could render Jackson more inert than Washington.
 
Between Jackson’s bloated contract and his off-field concerns, it wasn’t surprising that the Eagles moved on. It also wasn’t surprising that Jackson’s first and last free-agent stop -- the lack of any real market for him was telling -- was Washington, where he immediately fell in with some Redskins players. And Wale. It’s the perfect union. And it’s almost certainly doomed.
 
Under Daniel Snyder, Washington has become the football equivalent of Goodwill. All the other teams drop off their unwanted goods. The only shock here is that the Eagles didn’t ask the Redskins for a receipt so they can use Jackson as a tax write-off next year.
 
Despite being a very rich man, Snyder has never been a savvy decision maker with his football team. He’s the NFL’s anti-Midas. A quick and schadenfreude-filled review of Snyder’s many, many (there are many) ill-advised and hilarious decisions over the years:
 
In 2000, Washington gave aging Bruce Smith a five-year, $23-million deal. (Keep in mind, per the norm in the NFL, that not all of the contract money outlined here was guaranteed.) Smith played four years with the Redskins. He had double-digit sacks just once.
 
Also in 2000, Washington signed Jeff George (four years, $18.5 million) and Deion Sanders (seven years, $56 million). George played eight games in two years and then retired. Sanders lasted one season before finishing his career with the Ravens.  
 
In 2002, Snyder threw a five-year, $25 million contract at Steve Spurrier to get him to leave college. Spurrier went 12-20 in two seasons, then quit and went back to college.
 
In 2003, Laveranues Coles got five years and $35 million. He lasted two seasons.
 
In 2004, Mark Brunell signed for seven years and $43 million. He started just nine games in two of his three seasons, and he never had a QB rating higher than 86.5 for the Redskins.
 
In 2006, Antwaan Randle El got a contract for seven years and $31 million. That’s an awful lot for a guy who was always more of a punt returner than a receiver. He played four years in Washington.
 
But Snyder and the Redskins really outdid themselves in 2009 when they signed Albert Haynesworth for seven years and $100 million. Haynesworth recorded just 6½ sacks over two years before the Redskins traded him. He even failed a conditioning test in Washington. Which was awesome.
 
Oh, and Snyder OK’d a trade for Donovan McNabb.
 
Washington isn’t a football team. It’s the Island of Misfit Toys.
 
And if you think Jackson has gotten some bad press recently, it’s nothing compared to the kind of ink Snyder gets. It’s part of the reason why Jackson will fit right in with Snyder. They can compare clips and assure each other that they’re misunderstood.
 
Here’s a long list of things for which Snyder has been criticized over the years. Among the owner’s many, many (there are many) curious and/or detestable acts: He charged fans to attend training camp. He sued ticketholders. He filed a ridiculous libel lawsuit. And during the debate over the team’s offensive moniker, he told USA Today the team will “never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”
 
If that sounds like a stable work environment where Jackson is sure to thrive and make the Eagles regret their decision to release him, you must work some place that’s really scary. It was so bad in Washington that Shanahan, who isn’t exactly warm or fuzzy or fun, said Snyder meddled with his team by getting too close with Robert Griffin III. That probably sounds familiar to Washington fans. Former coach Joe Gibbs once called Clinton Portis, who was tight with Snyder, the team’s “assistant general manager.”
 
That’s good news for Jackson. He can be Snyder’s new guy. Which is good news for the Eagles and their fans.

Eagles repeating pattern of digging first-quarter hole in defeats

Eagles repeating pattern of digging first-quarter hole in defeats

It’s a pattern that keeps repeating itself. And it’s not a winning pattern.

Week after week, the Eagles are digging themselves a first-quarter hole. And week after week, they’re too far behind to catch up.

They trailed the Lions 14-0 in the first quarter. They trailed the Redskins 14-0 a minute into the second quarter. They fell behind the Cowboys 10-3 early in the second. The Giants jumped up on them 14-0 just six minutes in. And on Sunday, the Bengals led 10-0 before the first quarter was over.

If football games began at the start of the second quarter? This would be a different season. The Eagles would be 7-4-1.

The Eagles has actually outscored their opponents in the second, third and fourth quarters.

But the first quarter has been fatal.

The Eagles have been outscored by 32 points in the first quarter – 65 to 33. That’s their fourth-worst first-quarter scoring margin in the last 25 years, behind only three other nightmarish seasons – 1998 (minus-52), 2005 (minus-51) and 2012 (minus-75).

It’s also fourth-worst of any NFL team this year, ahead of only the Jets (minus-36), Broncos (minus-37) and Dolphins (minus-56).

Some teams – like the Broncos and Dolphins – have enough firepower to fight from behind.

The Eagles don’t.

They’re 4-0 when leading after the first quarter, 1-1 when tied after the first quarter and 0-6 when trailing after the first quarter.

At 0-6, they share the second-worst record in the NFL when trailing after 15 minutes with the Jaguars and 49ers. The Browns are 0-8 when trailing after the first quarter.

Last time the Eagles didn’t win a game all year when trailing after the first quarter was 1998. Before that 1977.

“It’s tough, especially in this league, to dig yourself a hole,” Carson Wentz said. “Whether the defense is struggling or the offense giving them points with turnovers and different things, it’s been a variation of a lot of those things. 

“It’s tough to dig yourself a hole against anybody, especially against good teams. So we’ve got to avoid that and we’ve got to come out swinging a little better early in games.”

The last time the Eagles won after trailing following the first quarter was the Dallas game last year, when they trailed 7-0 and won 33-27 in overtime.

What does it say about a team when it’s allowed twice as many points as it’s scored in the first quarter?

It sure seems like the Eagles several times this year simply haven’t been ready to play.

“The start to games, it's a mindset,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “It's truly a mindset. It's one of those things where as a team you want to come out and you want to kind of make the first punch, so to speak, or swing first. 

“We did it against Green Bay. We went down and scored, we matched touchdown for touchdown there. And we've done it throughout the course of the season. We've got to be a little more consistent offensively, too. That can also help. And then defensively it's just a matter of working to get off the field.

“It kind of sets the tone for the rest of the game if you can do that early in a football game.”

The Eagles have scored just three first-quarter touchdowns all year (only the Broncos have fewer) and haven’t scored more than seven points in any of their 12 first quarters.

They’ve allowed nine first-quarter touchdowns, and only one team has allowed more – the Dolphins with 10.

Wentz has completed 67 percent of his first-quarter passes but with just one TD pass and four interceptions.

Incredibly, the Eagles have only five plays all year of more than 20 yards in the first quarter – just one in the last four games. Only the Saints, Jaguars and Broncos have fewer.

Why are the Eagles so bad early in games?

“There is no other answer than to execute one play at a time,” offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. “There's no magic formula. I think we've had good energy at practice. I like the way we practice. I feel like we are putting together good plans.

“We're showing flashes of being a good football team. We need to be more consistent. We need to make more big plays. It's hard to sustain 14-play drives. We've missed a few plays here and there. We just all – coaches, players together – need to make it work one play at a time.”

The only teams to outscore the Eagles in the second half are the Cowboys (13-10), Seahawks (10-8) and Packers (13-3).

When a team has outscored its opponents by 61 points in the second, third and fourth quarters combined and it’s 5-7, the focus has to be on the first quarter.

That means preparation. That means being mentally and physically ready. 

“Yeah, I do look at all of that, and that's part of my job is the (pregame) schedule and all,” Pederson said. “But these guys are in a great frame of mind on game day. They're loose; they're energetic; they're ready to go. They're focused. 

“You see it in pregame. It's been unfortunate, but it's something we've got to focus in on a little bit more … and try to strike first.”

The Eagles will try to end their three-game losing streak at 1 p.m. Sunday when they face the Redskins at the Linc.

The Redskins, 6-5-1 but with a two-game losing streak, beat the Eagles 27-20 in Landover, Md., in October.

“I think it just comes down to being focus and locking in,” Wentz said. “You’ve seen us. There’ve been games where we’ve come out and we’re rolling right away.

"We just have to find a way to maintain that and be consistent with that. The goal is to come out swinging right away.”

Eagles Injury Update: Jordan Matthews back at practice again

Eagles Injury Update: Jordan Matthews back at practice again

Jordan Matthews, the Eagles' best receiver, was back at practice again on Thursday. 

Matthews was a full participant on Thursday after being limited on Wednesday, which is a very good sign for the Eagles. Last week, he returned on Thursday, but then had to sit out Friday and missed Sunday's game. 

It was the first game Matthews had ever missed in his career. Even with the missed game, Matthews still leads the Eagles in receptions (57), receiving yards (686) and receiving touchdowns (3). 

Fellow receiver Dorial Green-Beckham (abdomen) was on the practice field early but left as the Eagles began to stretch. He did not practice for the second straight day. 

Without Green-Beckham and with Matthews hobbled, the Eagles are light at receiver, with just Nelson Agholor, Bryce Treggs and Paul Turner. Head coach Doug Pederson said the Eagles want to keep Turner involved in the game plan even with the return of Matthews. 

Ryan Mathews (knee) was on the practice field again on Thursday, while Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee) is still out. It looks like Vaitai will miss his third straight game this weekend.