Trade-happy Eagles look to make more moves


Trade-happy Eagles look to make more moves

At the end of the second day of the NFL draft, the Eagles had made three total picks, none from their original slot.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be.

When you combine general manager Howie Roseman’s perpetually itchy draft trigger finger with this year’s dizzying swapping spree across the league, the ingredients were in place for the Eagles to come away from this draft with more than the six picks they took into it.

As it currently stands, the Eagles are slated to make four more selections Saturday -- the fourth- and fifth-rounders they acquired from Houston and the fifth- and seventh-rounders of their own. The fourth-rounder, the 101st overall pick, will open the third and final day.

But don’t get too excited about the leadoff spot. Chip Kelly already dropped hints that he’s ready to move again.

“I thought we really did a good job of putting ourselves in position [for Saturday],” Kelly said after taking receiver Josh Huff in the third round (see story). “We have the first pick [Saturday] morning, which is an interesting pick because I think everybody thinks overnight who they like, so sometimes it’s got a little bit more (trade) value.”

Given the supreme talent of this year’s draft -- it’s been called the deepest in decades -- skeptics may question why the Eagles so willingly passed on picking twice in the third, even as high-profile players tumbled to 83rd, where they were supposed to pick before trading with Houston.

The Texans then took mammoth Notre Dame defensive tackle Louis Nix, a 340-pound galoot who might have helped the Eagles in January, when they were getting steamrolled up front in a playoff loss to the Saints at the Linc.

Some analysts considered the former Irish lineman a top-40 pick. Kelly admitted that Nix could have fit the team’s defensive scheme.

Then why pass for lower-rated prospects?

“I don’t think it’s necessarily that way, because not everybody sees it the way we see it, or we don’t see it the way they see it,” Kelly said. “I don’t think we went back far. We really feel having the top pick [Saturday] morning has a little bit more value.

“So, really, when you go back to the top of (round) four, you’ve gone back to the end of the three. The way we look at it kind of conceptually is, ‘I can take him with this pick or if I back up maybe he’s still here and I get him.’ So you’re getting a 2-for-1 is what you’re trying to do. Now, sometimes it doesn’t always work that way because the risk
is when I back up, he gets picked.”

The Eagles already played the game and lived to tell. They moved down in the first round, from 22 to 26, still hoping to land pass rusher Marcus Smith despite the four-slot drop.

They held their breath when the Chiefs, picking 23rd, took Auburn pass rusher Dee Ford. It easily could have been Smith.

“So you’re gambling a little bit,” Kelly said, “kind of playing with the house’s money.”

If they hold still Saturday -- fat chance of that -- the Eagles will pick 101st, 141st, 162nd and 237th. Those might not sound like attractive slots, especially knowing they surrendered an 83rd overall, but Kelly insisted that there’s more than enough talent left on the board.

”There’s guys right now that we still have rated in the third round that are there that will be there [Saturday] morning when we wake up and we make our first selection [in the] beginning of the fourth round,” he said. “But we picked up another pick, so we got an extra body.”

Doug Pederson not afraid to get aggressive with play-calling

Doug Pederson not afraid to get aggressive with play-calling

Talk to Doug Pederson and he comes across … what’s a nice way to put it … dry?

Very nice guy. Very friendly. Very down to earth. But not the most dynamic personality in public.

Which is why his personality on gameday has been so surprising.

Pederson is a risk-taker as a play-caller. Aggressive and fearless.

Whether it’s going for it on fourth down with the lead, going for two after a successful PAT or throwing deep in a situation that doesn’t necessarily call for it, Pederson has proven to be the proverbial riverboat gambler that Chip Kelly was expected to be but never became.

“My personality is probably a little more conservative by nature, I think,” Pederson said Monday. “You'd probably agree with that.”

Pederson got a laugh with that comment because his public persona is exactly the opposite of his gameday demeanor.

It only took one day before we all got a taste of Pederson’s fearlessness.

In the season opener against the Browns, with the Eagles clinging to a 15-10 lead and a rookie quarterback making his first NFL appearance and a 4th-and-4 at the Browns’ 40-yard line, he kept the offense on the field.

Carson Wentz responded by connecting with Zach Ertz on a five-yard gain to move the chains, and one play later, the Eagles took command on Wentz’s 35-yard TD pass to Nelson Agholor.

Six weeks in, the Eagles are 5 for 5 on fourth down. Only the Falcons have converted more fourth downs in the NFL this year, and they’re 6 for 10.

In the win over the Bears, the Eagles were 3 for 3 on fourth down, their best fourth-down conversion day in nine years.

This is the first time in 14 years the Eagles have converted five or more fourth downs through six games.

According to Pro Football Reference, the Eagles are one of only seven teams in NFL history to attempt five or more fourth-down plays through six games and still be at 100 percent. The Lions are also 5 for 5 this year.

Pederson said analytics are a big part of his decision-making process, but he also trusts his instincts.

“I think it's both,” Pederson said. “But I trust our guys and I trust our offensive line and I think it sends a great message to the rest of the team, to the defense and special teams, that, ‘Hey, if we can convert this and stay on the field,’ it sends a good message.

“And on the other side of that, if you do convert, [it’s about] the message you send to the other team and the fact that you're going to stay aggressive.”

The Eagles are 29th-best in the NFL on third down at just 34 percent. But they’re one of only three teams that’s at 100 percent on fourth down.

“It's kind of a crazy deal when you're not great on third down, but you can be 5 for 5 on fourth down and convert them,” Pederson said. “It's a weird deal. But credit to the guys for the execution.

“I'm going to continue to look at it. I don't ever want to be in a position that I'm going to jeopardize the team at the time [by being too aggressive]. Looking at the five fourth-down decisions this year, I don’t think they put us in any harm at that time.”

Wentz is 3 for 3 for 21 yards on fourth down, with the four-yard completion to Ertz, a seven-yard first down to Jordan Matthews in the Bears game and a nine-yarder to Dorial Green-Beckham, also in the win in Chicago.

He also rushed six yards for a first down on a 4th-and-2 Sunday in the win over the Vikings. The Eagles’ other fourth-down conversion this year was Ryan Mathews’ one-yard TD on a 4th-and-goal against Chicago.

Pederson said as an assistant coach under Andy Reid, he always found himself asking himself whether he would be conservative or aggressive in crucial situations.

We’re all learning the answer now.

“Yeah, you definitely put yourself in those situations, as a coordinator and a position coach,” he said. “Putting yourself in those spots, it's a lot easier when you're not making the decision obviously to go, ‘Oh, yeah, I would have not gone for it there or not gone for it there.’

“Now, being in this position, it's my tail on the line if we don't convert.”

NFL Notes: Giants release kicker Josh Brown

NFL Notes: Giants release kicker Josh Brown

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants have released placekicker Josh Brown after police documents revealed Brown had admitted to repeatedly abusing his former wife while they were married.

The release came Tuesday shortly after the player issued a statement insisting that he never hit his wife during a six year period when he admits spousal abuse.

Giants President John Mara says the team was "misguided" in how it handled its relationship with Brown. He says the team hopes Brown will dedicate himself to rehabilitation and becoming a better person and father.

Brown was previously suspended for the opening game of the season for violating the league's personal conduct policy after the NFL investigated his arrest in May 2015 for spousal abuse against his now ex-wife, Molly. Brown was not charged by local authorities in the case in Washington state.

Dolphins: RB Foster abruptly retires
MIAMI -- Four-time Pro Bowler Arian Foster says he can no longer take the punishment an NFL running back endures, so he is retiring midway through an injury-plagued season with the Miami Dolphins.

Foster, 30, tried to come back from a torn Achilles tendon, but was slowed this season by groin and hamstring injuries. He announced his retirement Monday on the website Undefeated as the Dolphins began their bye week.

The team confirmed the decision, effective immediately.

"There comes a time in every athlete's career when their ambition and their body are no longer on the same page," Foster wrote. "I've reached that point. It's hard to write those words because this game has been everything to me ... my therapy, my joy, my solace and my enemy."

Foster signed a $1.5 million, one-year contract with the Dolphins in July after spending his first seven NFL seasons with the Houston Texans. He holds the Texans' franchise record with 6,472 yards rushing.

This season he rushed for 55 yards on 22 carries, and he had 5 yards on three carries Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.

"My father always said, `You'll know when it's time to walk away,'" he wrote. "It has never been more clear than right now. I'm walking away with peace. I know it's not commonplace to do it midseason, but my body just can't take the punishment this game asks for any longer."

Foster was one of several Miami players this season to kneel during the pregame national anthem to protest social inequality. His playing time was curtailed with the emergence of Jay Ajayi, who tied an NFL record by surpassing 200 yards rushing in consecutive games (see full story).

Jaguars: DT Miller out for year with torn Achillies
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars will be without defensive tackle Roy Miller for the rest of the season because of a torn right Achilles tendon.

The Jaguars (2-4) made the announcement Tuesday, two days after Miller left the game against Oakland and did not return.

A disruptive run-stopper whose 10 tackles this season don't show how important he is to Jacksonville's defense, Miller will be placed on injured reserve and undergo surgery later in the week.

Abry Jones is expected to replace Miller in the starting lineup when the Jaguars play at Tennessee (3-4) on Thursday night.

Miller has 244 tackles, eight sacks and a forced fumble in eight seasons. He has missed just six games in his previous seven years.