Philadelphia Eagles

On the rise? Roseman: 'Arrow's up' for Nate Allen

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On the rise? Roseman: 'Arrow's up' for Nate Allen

After watching Nate Allen awake from the doldrums last season and actually become a capable safety again, the Eagles believe the fifth-year pro is ready to take another step.

Maybe even fulfill that potential he had when they drafted him 37th overall in 2010.

At the owners meetings in Orlando on Monday, Eagles general manager Howie Roseman discussed the one-year deal Allen signed last week to rejoin the club he started 16 games for last year and the improvement Allen showcased under the new coaching staff.

Allen will have the chance to compete with second-year pro Earl Wolff -- and perhaps a draft pick -- to start opposite free-agent signing Malcolm Jenkins, giving the Eagles a tandem that they believe can be effective, if not prolific.

“It’s not going to be perfect at every position, obviously. But when you talk about Nate -- we had an opportunity to go back and watch Nate and see the growth,” Roseman said. “What we’re asking him to do is a lot different than what he was asked to do in the past.

“Obviously, all the other stuff is off the charts with Nate -- his work ethic, his character, his drive to try to be a better player. So you just kind of hope to see the growth continue in a young player, because he still is a young player.

“It’s interesting -- when you look at some of these free agents who got some big money, a lot of those guys didn’t really evolve until their fourth or fifth year. Some of those guys even had to go into last year taking one-year contracts in free agency and then got paid after that. That’s what you hope for with Nate.”

Allen didn’t have an outstanding 2013, but he played very steadily and limited negative plays. More importantly, he stayed healthy and started every game for the first time in his career.

He recorded his first interception since 2011 and his first sack since his rookie season, playing for the first time in coordinator Billy Davis’ hybrid 3-4 scheme. His tackling, abysmal the two prior years, improved dramatically.

The Eagles think Allen can make more strides with another round of spring and summer camps under Davis, Allen’s fourth different coordinator.

“Yeah. We think the arrow’s up and he’ll certainly benefit from having the same cast of characters around him in terms of coaches and scheme,” Roseman said. “So that’s what we’re looking for. I think it’s really important that we create competition everywhere.

“We continue to do that, and I think that’s another thing we did when we brought in Darren [Sproles] on the offensive side of the ball. We want to have a team that has competition at all these positions, so I wouldn’t rule anything out.”

With Jenkins, Allen, newcomer Chris Maragos and Keelan Johnson, the Eagles lack star power at safety as the NFL continues its trend toward pass-first offenses. But Roseman said the team would continue to explore upgrades at the position through free agency and the draft.

There’s no reason to think the Eagles won’t draft another safety if he’s the best prospect on their board when they pick.

The Eagles let big-ticket safeties, such as Jairus Byrd and T.J Ward, go elsewhere for big-time dollars and were more than content to bring in guys who they believe fit their philosophy and scheme without choking up cap space.

“You start 22 guys, and it’s such a team game that one player isn’t going to put you over the top in any way,” Roseman said. “We sit there and try to think of any example where just one specific player puts you over the top -- obviously the quarterback position is so important in this game, but at the other 21 positions, you look at it and we have to find fits. We have to find guys that we utilize in our scheme and are right fits for our scheme.

“For us, it’s all about making sure that the guys that we’re paying money to are fitting our scheme. Not just paying because they can do something well, but we’re not going to maximize their talents. We have a limited amount of resources -- we have a limited amount of picks, we have a limited amount of money to be able to build our team.

“And that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to build our culture, trying to build a team. And obviously when you’re at this moment in time, sometimes it’s hard to see the complete picture. But we’re trying to execute it.”

CSNPhilly.com contributor Jeff Shain assisted with this story.

Zach Ertz: Criticism of Doug Pederson's play-calling was 'definitely misconstrued'

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Zach Ertz: Criticism of Doug Pederson's play-calling was 'definitely misconstrued'

Eagles tight end Zach Ertz and right tackle Lane Johnson clarified comments that were interpreted as critical of coach Doug Pederson’s play-calling.

Several Eagles players lamented the lack of offensive balance following the Eagles’ 27-20 loss to the Chiefs in Week 2, with Ertz’s postgame interview in particular drawing attention (watch here). The fifth-year veteran’s statements about the lopsided run-pass ratio were viewed by many as a direct indictment of Pederson — evidence, perhaps, the head coach runs the risk of a locker-room mutiny, if he runs nothing else.

Ertz attempted to set the record straight on Wednesday.

“Those were definitely misconstrued,” Ertz said after practice. “I would never second-guess Doug’s play-calling. I’ve never been a guy to question the head coach. People kind of took it way out of context.”

While Ertz acknowledged balance was an issue in Kansas City, he explained the ratio was a symptom of the problem, for which some of the responsibility falls on the players.

“I said, ‘It started with myself in the run game. I’ve got to be better,’” Ertz said. “And I said, ‘Ideally, in a game, it would be 50-50 if the situation presents itself,’ but that game, it never presented itself to be the opportunity to run the ball because we were down. We had to throw the ball 17 straight times at the end of the game, so the numbers were very skewed.

“People took my comments way off. I was pretty disappointed with how they were perceived, but I guess it is what it is.”

Pederson’s play-calling has been closely scrutinized since last season, but the fervor over offensive balance reached new levels this week. Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz dropped back to pass a whopping 56 times, compared to only 14 handoffs in the loss.

Everybody, including Ertz, seemed to recognize it’s difficult to beat an NFL opponent that way.

“You can't be throwing the ball 40 times in a game,” Ertz said Sunday postgame. “How many times did he throw today?

“That's not ideal. Low 30s is probably where you want him at. Thirty runs, 30 passes, if you're going to get 60 plays.

“We want to be a balanced offense. We’ve got the linemen to do it, we've got the running backs to do it, we've got the tight ends to block, we've got the receivers to block, we've just got to go out there and put it together.”

At the same time, the Eagles have struggled to run the football consistently in 2017, averaging only 3.5 yards per handoff. Furthermore, the passing game was working against the Chiefs, allowing Wentz to throw for 333 yards. The Eagles offense never took the field with a lead at any point during the contest, either, and therefore maintained an aggressive approach throughout.

Johnson appeared to question the run-pass ratio postgame as well, saying the Eagles have to run the ball to take pressure off of Wentz. On Wednesday, however, Johnson defended the game plan against Kansas City’s defense.

“(Pederson) felt outside on the edge that they couldn’t guard Zach, they couldn’t guard (Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery). You saw (Ertz and Jeffery) made big plays, so they really couldn’t.

“That’s what he saw, pretty much was mismatches all week. You saw Ertz with a big game. That’s why we threw the ball so much.”

Ertz also feels Pederson’s plan was appropriate plan given the circumstances.

“You’re going to put your team in the best position,” Ertz said. “Whatever he thinks the matchups are to benefit the team, whether it be in the run game or the pass game, that’s going to be the majority of the play calls.

“It’s going to differ each and every week, and that’s why you build an offense like we have, because we’re able to be so different each and every week, and it’s just going to depend on the week, on the matchup.”

There’s no denying that Ertz, Johnson and probably the rest of the roster would either agree with or wouldn’t mind a little more play-calling balance from Pederson. That’s not a sign of a head coach losing the locker room. The players are confident in Pederson to make the correct calls and right the ship – and for their part, that they will be able to execute in the run game when the time comes.

“We have a lot of great pass-catchers on this team,” Ertz said. “That’s not a knock on (our run game). I think we’re a very balanced team. Our O-line can run the ball when we establish the run game.

“We’re going to be better at it this week, the rest of the season hopefully. We have a lot to improve on as an offense. We’re not going to be where we are now in five weeks or so. We’re excited about having the opportunity to play a really great front this week, and we have to establish the run game.”

Eagles injury update: Secondary hamstrung for second straight day

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Eagles injury update: Secondary hamstrung for second straight day

It looks like all three members of the Hamstrung Trio (see story) weren't practicing again on Thursday. 

At the start of Thursday's practice, Rodney McLeod, Corey Graham and Jaylen Watkins, who suffered hamstring injuries on Sunday against the Chiefs, were not participating. This will be the second straight day all three will miss practice. 

McLeod was the only member of the trio to even make an appearance at practice before reporters were kicked out after individual drills. He walked onto the field with a compression sleeve on his right leg and began to watch.

There was, however, a new safety on the field. Newcomer Trae Elston, who was claimed off waivers from the Bills, was on the field for the first time with the Eagles. He was wearing No. 35. 

It'll be tough for the Eagles to get Elston caught up by game time on Sunday at 1 p.m. Aside from Elston, the Eagles have just Malcolm Jenkins and Chris Maragos as safeties, although linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill could be used in a pinch and Jenkins thinks a couple cornerbacks have the ability to play safety (see story)

Ronald Darby (ankle) and Destiny Vaeao (wrist) were the other two Eagles who weren't practicing on Thursday. Darby is out for at least another few weeks with his dislocated ankle. 

Vaeao missed the Chiefs game and looks to be in danger of missing another week. In his absence, rookie sixth-round pick Elijah Qualls played nine snaps and played well. Qualls could see his workload increase as the fourth DT against the Giants.