Eagles

The 2 Ronald Darby plays more impressive than his INT

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The 2 Ronald Darby plays more impressive than his INT

Ronald Darby made what was perhaps the biggest play of Sunday's game when he picked off a pass with 57 seconds left in regulation against the Raiders. 

The Eagles drove down the field to win the game, so the interception was huge. 

It just wasn't what impressed defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz most about Darby's game on Christmas night. He was more impressed with Darby's plays on two wide receiver screens. 

"If he doesn't play those plays as well as he played, we might give up touchdowns on both of those," Schwartz said. "That probably went below the radar a little bit because he intercepted that ball at the end and gave us a chance to win, but those plays were every bit as important in keeping that score down and keeping us in the game."

Upon his arrival to Philly, Darby said he was physical in the run game and as a tackler when needed. He's been proving that since returning from his dislocated ankle several weeks ago. 

"I just went out there and played fast, really," Darby said Wednesday. "We saw it on film that they do that a few times. I just played it perfect." 

Let's take a look at both of the plays: 

This is the Raiders' first offensive play of the second quarter. The score is still 7-0 Eagles. Darby (circled) is on the bottom of the screen with off coverage against Cordarrelle Patterson, who hasn't had a great NFL career but can still absolutely fly. The Eagles are in nickel with a single high safety. That's important to remember because if the screen game works and gets past the first level, there's just one guy to beat. 

Just after the snap, the screen is on. Rookie left tackle David Sharpe lets Derek Barnett come free at Derek Carr as he starts to take off to get a block downfield. Patterson uses that cushion from Darby and gets ready to catch the quick pass. 

This play could have been really dangerous. The Raiders are about to have the ball in a speedy receiver's hands with an offensive lineman barreling down on the closest tackler and then just one guy to beat. 


But Darby baits Sharpe outside and is then able to use his quickness to cut back inside. His move leaves Sharpe off balance and falling to the ground. Darby then finishes the play and gets Patterson on the ground after a seven-yard gain, saving what might have gone for a long touchdown. That advantage in quickness made up for the 150-pound (!) size difference between the two players. 

"You just gotta know what you're going to do right away," Darby said about going against an offensive lineman. "You can't be indecisive, then you mess up." 

•••

This next play comes with 12:18 left in the fourth quarter. Darby (circled) is on the bottom of the screen in man coverage against Amari Cooper, the Raiders' most dangerous receiver. 

The Raiders show what looks like a pitch play to the right, but they're just setting up the wide receiver screen to the other side. Again, Sharpe leaves his man free to get out in front and block Darby. Cooper is about to cut back and make the catch. 

Just before the catch, you can see how the screen is set up. The Raiders will have Sharpe take Darby out of the play and then, just like the last time, Cooper has one man to beat to the end zone. But that's only if things work out perfectly. Things need to be perfect on screens. 

Sharpe simply overruns on his block. He gets too far toward the side of the field and Darby is just going to use his quickness to get inside and make the tackle before Cooper breaks downfield with a ton of room ahead of him. 

•••

So sure, Darby's interception was huge, but don't forget about these plays either. For a team that prides itself on its corners being able to tackle, Darby has seemingly fit the mold. There are plenty of cover guys in the league who avoid contact all the time. It appears the Eagles might have a guy who can do both. 

Concert celebrating Eagles' Super Bowl season sounds pretty epic

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Concert celebrating Eagles' Super Bowl season sounds pretty epic

Eagles fans will probably never stop reliving the first Super Bowl title in franchise history.

While watching highlights, wearing championship apparel and occasionally just looking in the mirror and reminding yourself, "We won the Super Bowl" are all good ways of remembering what the Birds accomplished, there's a pretty unique new way that you'll be able to experience it all over again.

On July 24, the Mann Center will be hosting "A Championship Season," a special event to honor the Eagles. 

Going by the Mann Center's description, it should be an incredible night.

The Mann Center, NFL Films, and the Philadelphia Eagles take center stage this summer to celebrate the Eagles’ Championship Season with the world premiere of this “Philly Special” concert event. Hosted by the “Voice of the Eagles,” Merrill Reese, relive NFL Films’ stunning video highlights of the Philadelphia Eagles Championship Season on three giant screens alongside the great Philadelphia Orchestra, performing live the inspiring, uplifting and wonderfully symphonic music of NFL Films. 

Part of the proceeds from "A Championship Season" will benefit the Eagles Autism Challenge and the Mann Center's free art education programs. 

If you want to be part of the epic celebration, get your tickets here

Carson Wentz was great in 2017, but there's one thing he'd like to improve

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Carson Wentz was great in 2017, but there's one thing he'd like to improve

He was among the NFL’s best in virtually every category. Fourth in passer rating. First in touchdown percentage. Eighth in interception percentage. Second in TD-to-INT ratio. He was even third in wins despite missing the last three regular-season games.

So what’s Carson Wentz’s approach going into 2018?

“I think we can improve everywhere,” he said. “Overall, I think we can keep making strides and keep our foot on the gas.”

And that starts with completion percentage.

Wentz completed just 60.2 percent of his passes last year, which ranked 23rd of 30 quarterbacks who threw at least 400 passes. 

Ahead of only Blake Bortles, Andy Dalton, Mitch Trubisky, Cam Newton, Trevor Siemian, Jacoby Brissett and DeShone Kizer.

Not the kind of company he wants to keep.

Wentz was so good in every other area he still fashioned a passer rating over 100. In fact, his 101.9 rating was the highest in NFL history by a quarterback completing 60.2 percent of his passes (minimum 400 attempts).

The league average last year was 62 percent. And for the sake of comparison, Nick Foles completed 64.7 percent of his passes if you combine the regular season and postseason.

Wentz dropped from 62.4 percent as a rookie to 60.2 percent last year.

Among 36 active NFL quarterbacks who’ve thrown at least 1,000 passes, Wentz’s 61.5 completion percentage ranks 21st.

 “I know I’d like to see my completions go higher,” Wentz said last week. “I think I was right around 60 percent and I expect more out of myself in that area.”

After 2016, Wentz identified red zone and third down as two areas he hoped to improve on. 

And he wound up leading the NFL in both red zone efficiency (NFL-best 116.3 passer rating) and third-down efficiency (NFL-best 123.7 rating).

“Third down, red zone, we were really good,” he said. “That’s something we really focused on from Year 1 to Year 2, but we (still) all feel we can definitely improve in those areas.”

Wentz also committed nine fumbles in 13 games, and only Jameis Winston and Russell Wilson had more.

“I think we had too many fumbles,” he said. “Balls on the ground too many times.”

Wentz, now nearly five months out from his knee injury, said he’s used a lot of his extra time at the NovaCare Complex this offseason focusing on what he can improve on in 2018, and one of those things is his upper-body strength.

“With all the extra rehab and not being able to run and do a lot of things early on you’ve really just got to focus on some different things and I got to do a lot of seated throwing and trying to build my arm strength and really take care of my upper body more than I have in the past,” he said.

“It’s been an interesting process not being able to get that true conditioning and that rehab in, but it’s exciting to start easing into the running and conditioning stuff. … 

“I feel good. I definitely feel working with the strength guys, we had some friendly competition stuff with the other (injured) guys in there rehabbing and I definitely feel like I’m making some strides in there.”