5 key Eagles matchups vs. Giants

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5 key Eagles matchups vs. Giants

Even with Nick Foles, the Eagles should probably crush the Giants this weekend. After all, what's been going on in North Jersey has been a disaster all season. 

The head coach and GM have already been fired. The franchise quarterback was benched and then brought back. Oh yeah, and the Giants have just two wins all season. 

It's a mess up there. 

But this is probably a good time to remind you that the Giants had a three-point lead on the Eagles until the final minute of regulation in Week 3. And had it not been for a 61-yard field goal from unknown rookie kicker Jake Elliott, the game would have gone to overtime and then who knows what happens. 

Sure, it's been a long time since Week 3, but the Eagles can't overlook any team, especially after losing Carson Wentz for the season. 

Here are five matchups to watch: 

Sterling Shepard vs. Patrick Robinson 
In the first meeting between these two teams, Shepard had a really good game. He caught seven passes for 133 yards and a touchdown. The big play was a 77-yarder. Believe it or not, that was the only touchdown of the season for Shepard. 

On that 77-yard touchdown, Robinson let Shepard catch the ball, but Chris Maragos took a bad angle toward Shepard that allowed him to go the distance. Maragos actually took out Robinson on the play. 

In that game, Robinson played pretty well and had an interception. Really, he's been solid all season. He's been one of the more pleasant surprises this year. 

Evan Engram vs. Malcolm Jenkins
While Robinson will be dealing with Shepard, Jenkins will have his hands full with Engram, who has become the team's top receiving threat with Odell Beckham Jr. on IR. Engram, the rookie tight end, has 55 catches for 623 yards and six touchdowns this season. He's already become a threat for the Giants. 

The good news for the Eagles is they've been decent against opposing tight ends, giving up 59 catches for 597 yards and five touchdowns. Eleven teams have given up fewer receiving yards to opposing tight ends. Jenkins is their best shot against Engram. 

Chad Wheeler vs. Brandon Graham 
On a line that still features Ereck Flowers at left tackle, it's worth noting that the Giants are down to rookie Wheeler at right tackle. Wheeler went undrafted out of USC, but has become the Giants' third right tackle this year. Bobby Hart began the season, then Justin Pugh got his turn, now it's on Wheeler. 

Wheeler has started the last three games at right tackle. During those three games, he's given up four sacks and 11 quarterback hurries, according to ProFootballFocus. 

This weekend, he'll see Brandon Graham, who has been an absolute force all season. Graham leads the team with a career-high 8 1/2 sacks and has been even more disruptive than that. 

Nick Foles. vs. Steve Spagnuolo
You might have heard that the Eagles have a new quarterback this week. Carson Wentz is out for the season after tearing his ACL, which means Foles will get the start against the Giants. It'll be up to defensive coordinator and interim head coach Spagnuolo to try to rattle him. 

All week the Eagles have said nothing changes with the quarterback switch. Sure, Wentz is just a more athletic player than Foles, so they'll miss that. But they claim they're just going to run their offense. That seems to be what the Giants are preparing to see. 

"We're going to play to defend the scheme," Spagnuolo said on a conference call with Philly reporters this week. "They're just a well-oiled machine right now." 

Eagles receivers vs. Giants cornerbacks
With a backup quarterback, it would make sense to see the Eagles come out and run the ball a ton on Sunday afternoon. But there will be the opportunity to pass against the Giants and their messy cornerback situation. Now, the Eagles should be able to run, too. The Giants are the 31st-ranked run and pass defense, so they stink in both areas. 

But what better opportunity for Foles to get a chance to work with his new receivers. Running the ball is probably going to be a key for the Eagles the rest of the way. They should absolutely run the ball. But running the ball alone won't be enough to win a championship. They'll need Foles to play well too. This could be a chance for him to build that confidence and have his teammates grow their confidence in him. 

More money might not be enough to keep Chris Long in Philly

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More money might not be enough to keep Chris Long in Philly

The Eagles have given veteran defensive end Chris Long a raise, but according to one report, Long is concerned enough about his playing time with the Eagles that he's mulling his options regarding his future.

What is certain is that at some point before March 15, Long signed a new contract with the Eagles that increases his 2018 base salary from $1 million non-guaranteed to $2½ million fully guaranteed.

However, NFL Network's Michael Silver reported Monday that Long may decide he doesn't want to accept the new contract — which he already signed.

According to Silver, Long is concerned about how many snaps he would get as a third-down rusher following the addition of Pro Bowl pass rusher Michael Bennett.

The Eagles officially acquired Bennett on March 14, although the deal was reported a week earlier. Long's new contract was filed with the NFLPA on March 15, but there is a good chance he agreed to it and signed it before the Bennett acquisition.

Whether or not Long knew Bennett was coming to the Eagles when he signed the restructured deal is unknown. But at some point Long knew about their interest in Bennett and even gave Bennett a "glowing recommendation" when the Eagles asked, according to an interview Long gave to SBNation.  

Long wouldn't appear to have many options. He could retire, in which case he would have to return the $500,000 bonus he received from the Eagles last week.

He could request a trade, which would be bizarre for someone who signed a contract extension just a few days earlier.

Or he could simply play under the terms of the contract restructure and pay increase, which was first reported by Field Yates of ESPN and confirmed by NBC Sports Philadelphia with a source familiar with the renegotiation.

As for the contract itself, including that $500,000 roster bonus — which was also in the previous version of the contract — Long would receive $3 million guaranteed this year instead of $1.5 million non-guaranteed plus $750,000 in easily achieved roster bonuses.

Long had five sacks and forced four fumbles last year as a rotational defensive end. He wound up playing 496 snaps, 10th-most on the defense and only about 10 per game fewer than starter and Pro Bowler Brandon Graham and five per game fewer than starter Vinny Curry, who the Eagles released.

Long, who turns 33 next week, has 63½ career sacks. His 5.0 sacks last year were his most since 2013. He's won back-to-back Super Bowls the last two years with the Eagles and Patriots.

What happens next?

Long has demonstrated that the money is secondary to him. He donated his entire 2017 base salary to charity.

At some point very soon, the Eagles will need him to decide whether he's even going to have a 2018 base salary.

Terrell Owens digs deep to find his Hall of Fame presenter

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Terrell Owens digs deep to find his Hall of Fame presenter

A day after we found out that Brian Dawkins picked Troy Vincent to introduce him at the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony this summer, Terrell Owens has picked his presenter. 

No surprise: It's not Donovan McNabb.

After alienating many people in the league throughout his tremendous career, Owens picked a name from his early days. Longtime NFL assistant coach George Stewart, who was Owens' receivers coach in San Francisco, will introduce T.O. at the 2018 induction. 

In a video released by the Hall of Fame, Owens said Stewart "knew what to get out of me."

Now special teams coordinator and assistant head coach for the Chargers, Stewart has been an NFL coach for three decades. He began his time in San Francisco in 1996 (Owens' rookie season) as a special teams coach but was their wide receivers coach from 2000-02.

"Things that George Stewart may say, it may be shocking to a lot of people, but not to him because he knows who I am," Owens said. "... To know who Terrell Owens is, you really have to spend some time with him. Fast forward, George Stewart became a father figure to me."

The first season Stewart became the 49ers' receivers coach, Owens went to his first of six Pro Bowls and was named an All-Pro for the first of five times in his career. Owens was a Pro Bowler and an All-Pro in all three of the seasons that Stewart held the position in San Francisco. 

Of course, Owens' growth under Stewart led to his becoming one of the biggest stars in the NFL.

Eventually, Owens forced his way out of San Francisco and got to Philadelphia. With the Eagles, Owens had a short and tumultuous two seasons, but was also dynamic on the field and nearly helped them pull off a Super Bowl win over the Patriots. 

Owens averaged 93.5 receiving yards per game during his time in Philadelphia, the highest average in franchise history. It wasn't his play that led to his downfall in Philly. It was his beef with McNabb, along with his attempt to strong-arm the Eagles into a new contract. 

Owens was a divisive personality for his entire career. It's likely the reason it took him three tries to make it into the Hall of Fame. Because his numbers don't lie: He's one of the best receivers of all time.