Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles Mailbag: A wide receiver splash, trade returns, Jeff Lurie

Eagles Mailbag: A wide receiver splash, trade returns, Jeff Lurie

We answered the first half of your Eagles questions yesterday, so we'll finish up today. 

The first mailbag of the week took on your questions about Alshon Jeffery, running backs in the draft and the real reason for the Eagles' offensive struggles in 2016. 

Plenty more good ones today: 

These two questions kind of go together, so I'll address them at once, as I remember back to last offseason. I didn't expect Howie Roseman to make a ton of big splashes, which seems comical now looking back. But if you remember, it really wasn't expected. Then Roseman cannonballed his way through the offseason. 

I'm tempted to say the Eagles won't splash this year either, but I know better. I'm not sure Roseman knows how not to splash. 

So here's what I'll say: Anything is on the table and I believe the Eagles really understand the importance of getting Carson Wentz some weapons. 

Now, will that mean Brandin Cooks? That would be tricky. He's just entering his prime and was a first-rounder in 2014. But don't rule out any trade from Roseman, who has consistently made more trades than most GMs in the league. He's at least going to explore every option. 

And if he doesn't trade for one, I'd be absolutely shocked if the Eagles don't sign a receiver the average fan has at least heard of. Even if they do, I still wouldn't rule out drafting a receiver with a high pick.

Along with corner, wide receiver was clearly the biggest weak spot in 2016. The difference between the two is the lack of receivers prevented the franchise quarterback from reaching his potential. I'd be shocked if the Eagles don't try to rectify that situation. 

The problem with trying to trade guys who would become salary cap casualties is that it doesn't leave much room for leverage. Why trade for a guy who will end up on the market in a week, especially if that guy makes a lot of money?

I don't think there will be much of a market for Ryan Mathews, especially coming off his injury. I fully expect the Eagles to cut him to save $4 million. 

While Connor Barwin probably has some good football left in him, that contract makes it tougher to trade him. Is it possible? Sure, but don't expect a great return. 

Kendricks is a pretty good trade candidate, but don't expect too much back for him, either. Jason Kelce is another guy who could probably be a trade candidate. 

Here's something I learned a while back: Draft picks and cars are the two things that instantly lose value when they're a day old. Draft picks are viewed as so incredibly valuable that a player's worth in relation, especially a player who makes money, just doesn't stack up. That's why oftentimes the return for a player in a trade isn't normally what fans would hope. But something is always worth more than nothing, so it's worth a go. 

I get a lot of Jeff Lurie hate on my timeline and I understand it. Ultimately, it's all on him. Every bad decision is on him because he's the guy who hires the decision-makers. 

There's one thing I don't get, though: the idea that he doesn't care about winning. I think he really cares about winning; he just doesn't know how to do it. 

In fact, recent reports about his becoming more involved in football decisions only reaffirm my belief that he desperately wants to win a championship but doesn't know how to get it done. 

The questionable moves have piled up. The most questionable in recent history was giving Chip Kelly complete control and basically saying it was done so that if it all went bad, he could fire him. Now, that's paraphrasing, but it’s kind of what he said last year at the owners' meetings after he had already put Roseman back in charge. 

I don't think Roseman is completely made of Teflon either. It looks like it now, but remember, Lurie once parted ways with his childhood friend Joe Banner (they haven’t been winners since). This is a results-driven business and if Roseman eventually doesn't produce, he'll be gone too.

Eagles Film Review: The play that set up the game-winning field goal

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NFL

Eagles Film Review: The play that set up the game-winning field goal

It's a play the Eagles practice often. And it's a good thing too. Because without it, Jake Elliott doesn't even have a chance to hit a 61-yard field goal and become an instant hero. 

First the Eagles had to get into field goal range. 

So with seven seconds left, the Eagles went to a play they practice every week, a play they even walked through on Saturday. And it worked. Carson Wentz pushed the ball to Alshon Jeffery on the sideline for a 19-yard gain and Jeffery stepped out of bounds with one second left. You know the rest. 

As the Eagles lined up with seven seconds left, they showed a bunch formation to the right side of the field and the Giants called a timeout. After they got back to the line, the Eagles hadn't changed their formation: Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Nelson Agholor lined up again on the right side of the field. 

Before and during the timeout, FOX announcer Joe Buck started talking about how the Eagles were in a "Hail Mary situation" and if they weren't they would need to get the ball to around the 37-yard line and that wouldn't be easy. He was close on that second part; they got to the 43. 

"We only had seven seconds," head coach Doug Pederson said, "so we have calculated in a sideline throw can take anywhere from five to six, and we were right on that mark today."

 

At the point of the snap, the Eagles have that trips bunch set to the right. Smith is on the line of scrimmage, while Agholor is nearest to the line and Jeffery is outside. Agholor's job is to simply slow down his man and try to take him out of the play. Smith is Wentz's first progression on this play, taking a step left and running a simple vertical rout. Jeffery is running a deep out. 

While Agholor (green) isn't a likely threat to get the ball on that short route with just a few seconds left, his route forces Eli Apple to at least stay with him a little bit. Apple is rightfully giving 10 yards as a cushion, but the fact that he has to be worried about Agholor at all will be a big deal. 

Jeffery (blue), the second progression on the play, is still about 12 yards from making his cut, but you can already see the pocket of space along the sideline forming as his man continues to backpedal. 

The pocket is open and Wentz is about to make a perfect throw. Apple has peeled off Agholor, but he's going to be just a second late. Same thing goes for Janoris Jenkins, who is covering Jeffery on the play. He starts to drive to where the ball will be, but he's going to end up colliding with Apple as Jeffery makes the grab. 

Before we get back to the completion, here's a look at the protection on the play. With the Giants' rushing just three, Wentz has plenty of time to deliver the throw. Lane Johnson gets pushed back some, but he holds up against Jason Pierre-Paul. 

OK, back to the pass. Wentz didn't have much of a window to fit the ball in here. Apple is driving back and Jenkins is driving forward to the ball. It looks like either one of them will have a chance to knock down the pass. If that happens, the Eagles would probably have a second or two left but would need to resort to a Hail Mary, and the game probably goes to overtime. 

You have to give some credit to Jeffery on the catch. In the first couple games of the season, he struggled to bring down the football in tight coverage, something he's been known for in his career. But here, he's able to come back to the ball just enough to take it before Apple can. Apple's momentum will carry him into Jenkins and allow Jeffery to simply step out of bounds with one second on the clock. 

"I knew seven seconds was definitely pushing it with the route, which I think was 15 yards," Wentz said, "but in those situations you just have to take some chances." 

The Eagles kicked a field goal on the next play and finished off another improbable and crazy win over the Giants. 

Roob Stats: Plenty of non-kicking statistical tidbits from Eagles' win vs. Giants

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USA Today Images

Roob Stats: Plenty of non-kicking statistical tidbits from Eagles' win vs. Giants

We covered Jake Elliott's miracle field goal a couple days ago -- for all the stats regarding his game-winning kick, click here: But there are plenty of fascinating non-kicking statistical tidbits from the Eagles' win over the Giants that you won't find anywhere else! 

• With 31 pass attempts Sunday, Carson Wentz increased his career total to 723. That's the most pass attempts in NFL history by a quarterback in his first 19 games. The previous record was 719 by Andrew Luck. The record for 20 games? It's 754 by both Luck and Drew Bledsoe. So Wentz needs 32 passes against the Chargers for the most attempts through 20 games. I like his odds!
 
• Zach Ertz had eight catches against the Giants, his 10th career game with eight or more catches. That already equals the most in franchise history. Jeremy Maclin and Brian Westbrook also had 10 games with eight catches in an Eagles uniform, although Westbrook did it in 107 games and Maclin in 73. Ertz got there in 64 games.
 
• Ertz already has the 16th-most games in NFL history with eight catches by a tight end, but he's only two out of the top-10. Here's what that list looks like:
 
41 … Tony Gonzalez
33 … Jason Witten
20 … Antonio Gates
20 … Raymond Berry
19 … Shannon Sharpe
17 … Kellen Winslow Sr.
15 … Jimmy Graham
14 … Todd Christensen
13 … Ozzie Newsmen
12 … Jordan Reed
12 … Ben Coates
11 … Rob Gronkowski
11 … Heath Miller
11 … Greg Olsen
11 … Jeremy Shockey
10 … Dallas Clark
10 … Zach Ertz
 
• Ertz increased his career total to 268 catches after the equivalent of four full seasons -- 64 career games. That's the seventh-most catches ever by a tight end after 64 games, behind only Kellen Winslow Sr. (344), Kellen Winslow Jr. (313), Jimmy Graham (310), Rob Gronkowski (302), Antonio Gates (292), who the Eagles will see Sunday, and Mike Ditka (279).
 
• Through three games, the Eagles have scored just 10 points in the first quarter, 16 in the second quarter and 17 in the third quarter. But they rank second (to the Chiefs) with 34 fourth-quarter points -- only nine fewer than they've scored in the first three quarters combined. Similarly, they've allowed just three points in the first quarter, 17 in the second quarter and 10 in the third quarter, but they've given up an NFL-high 38 in the fourth quarter -- eight more than they've allowed in the first three quarters combined. They are only the 10th team in NFL history to both score and allow 34 or more fourth-quarter points in their first three games.
 
• With LeGarrette Blount (12 for 67) and Wendell Smallwood (12 for 71) both averaging 5.5 yards per carry, Sunday's game was the first in 44 years for the Eagles in which two running backs averaged over 5½ yards per carry with at least 12 carries. Last time it happened was Oct. 7, 1973, when Norm Bulaich (13 for 104) averaged 8.0 yards per carry and Tom Sullivan (26 for 155) averaged 6.0 in a 27-26 loss to the Bills at Rich Stadium.
 
• The Eagles haven't allowed a rusher to gain more than 31 yards in their last three Week 3 games. In 2015, the Jets' leading rusher, Bilal Powell, had 31 yards. Last year, the Steelers' leading rusher in Week 3 was DeAngelo Williams with 21 yards. And on Sunday, the Giants had two players with 22 rushing yards.
 
• The Eagles on Sunday became only the 11th team in NFL history to win a game despite allowing 24 or more fourth-quarter points. Teams allowing 24 or more fourth-quarter points are now 11-88-1. The Eagles are the first to win such a game since 2012, when the 49ers beat the Patriots 41-34, despite being outscored 24-10 in the fourth quarter. The most points the Eagles allowed previously in the fourth quarter of a win was 22. They led the Bears 30-0 going into the fourth quarter in 1994 before allowing three Erik Kramer touchdown passes and hanging on to win 30-22.
 
• Corey Clement’s 15-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter Sunday was the longest by an undrafted Eagles rookie in 62 years. Their last longer TD run by an undrafted rookie was Ted Wegert’s 29-yarder vs. the Steelers on Oct. 30, 1955, at Connie Mack Stadium. Clement's run was also the Eagles' longest fourth-quarter rushing TD since Bryce Brown's 65-yarder against the Bears in 2013 (with the Eagles leading 47-11).
 
• Sunday's game was also the Eagles' first in eight years in which five different players had a double-digit run. On Sunday, Smallwood (20), Blount (20), Clement (15), Wentz (11) and Darren Sproles (11) each had a run of at least 10 yards. Last time five Eagles did that was Sept. 13, 2009, when DeSean Jackson (25), Brian Westbrook (17), Donovan McNabb (15), LeSean McCoy (11) and Leonard Weaver (11) did it against the Panthers in Charlotte, N.C.
 
• That game against the Panthers was also notable because it was the last time before Sunday in which the Eagles won a game without a pass play of 20 yards. Their longest completion in that win over Carolina was McNabb's 18-yard completion to Jason Avant. Their longest completion Sunday was Wentz's 19-yarder to Alshon Jeffery on the game's final play from scrimmage.
 
• The Eagles are now 6-2 when Wentz doesn't thrown an interception. They're 3-8 when he does.
 
• Rasul Douglas -- at 22 years, 28 days old -- is the youngest Eagle to record an interception in 14 years, since Rod Hood picked off Patrick Ramsey of the Redskins at the Linc on Oct. 5, 2003. Hood was 26 days younger than Douglas at the time. The only other Eagles who've had an interception who are younger than Douglas: Joe Scarpati (21 years, 227 days), Bobby Taylor (21-313) and Seth Joyner (21-363).
 
• The Giants failed to record a rushing touchdown for the eighth straight game at the Linc. Their last rushing touchdown in Philadelphia came in 2009, when Ahmad Bradshaw scored from a yard out with the Eagles up 23 points in the third quarter. In all, the Giants have three rushing touchdowns in their last 15 games against the Eagles.
 
• One final note about Darren Sproles. The 5-foot-6 running back, out for the rest of this season, has 19,155 career all-purpose yards, eighth-most in NFL history. That's 3,366 rushing yards, 4,656 receiving yards, 2,792 punt return yards and 8,350 kickoff yards. (That's 19,164 yards -- he also has nine career lost fumble return yards to get to 19,155). The only player not drafted in the first three rounds with more career yards is former Eagle Brian Mitchell (23,330). Of the 48 players in NFL history with 3,000 or more yards both rushing and receiving, his rushing average of 4.9 is the highest.