Eagles

Because they won, Eagles able to laugh off unfairly officiated game

Because they won, Eagles able to laugh off unfairly officiated game

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Eagles were able to joke about it. They were able to laugh off the laughable disparity in penalty flags on Thursday night. 

Because they won. 

Despite the historic lopsided margin in penalty yards on Thursday Night Football, the Eagles were able to leave Bank of America Stadium with a 28-23 win over the Panthers. 

But after the game, as the Eagles sat in the visitor's locker room, they didn't feel like they just beat the Panthers. They felt like they beat the refs too. 

"That was crazy, man," defensive tackle Tim Jernigan said. "I don't know. The only thing we can do is be resilient, man, keep fighting. And just try to keep fighting through. You don't know what you're going to get thrown at you in this game."

The Eagles were penalized 10 times for 126 yards on Thursday night. The Panthers were penalized one time for one yard. The Panthers were flagged a couple more times but both penalties were declined by the Eagles. 

Still, the disparity was historic. 

It was the first time in NFL history one team had over 120 penalty yards while the other had less than 10.  

"Ten to one," head coach Doug Pederson said with a smirk after the game. "Hey, it’s part of the game. We’ve got to do a better job. We’ve got to clean it up. Can’t have 10 penalties."

On Friday morning, Pederson said they will send clips to the league to seek clarification, a process they go through every week. 

Thursday was the first time since 2007 the Eagles had been penalized for that many yards in a game and their 126 penalty yards were 12th most in franchise history. It was the first time since 2015 one of their opponents had just one penalty. 

"We felt like a lot of those were ticky-tack, or weren’t good calls," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "For us, adversity is nothing new for us. We just kind of strap up and keep playing, and hunker down. We continue to play aggressively, that is the biggest thing. We don’t want that to take away our aggression, or our ability to make plays. So we just go to the next play." 

Coming into Thursday, the Eagles were well aware of which officiating crew would be throwing flags in Charlotte, Jenkins said. They likely knew them as the same crew that hit them for 14 penalties and 111 yards in Detroit last season, while flagging the Lions just twice for 18 yards. 

In fact, the last four times Pete Morelli's crew has officiated an Eagles game it's been away from Lincoln Financial Field. The disparity in penalties is shocking. In those last four games, dating back to 2013, Morelli's crew has hit the Eagles with 40 penalties for 396 yards. Eagles opponents have been penalized eight times for 74 yards. Pederson said he does think the league is aware of the disparity. 

For fairness' sake, the last Eagles home game Morelli officiated came in 2012, coincidentally against the Panthers. The Eagles were flagged five times for 30 yards in that one, while the Panthers were hit with six for 101. But two wrongs don't make a right. Especially not on Thursday night when the Eagles seemed to be on the wrong end of many calls. 

"Coach hinted that they called a lot of OPI but they actually called a lot of DPI tonight," safety Rodney McLeod said. "It was tough. Maybe Carolina had a little bit of help tonight, them being at home. But we were able to overcome it; that was the most important part."

Amazingly, the Eagles were able to overcome it on Thursday night and they have actually won two of those last four Morelli-officiated games. 

Four of the Eagles' 10 penalties came on defense and gave the Panthers a new set of downs. It can be tough for a defense to regroup after those types of penalties, especially when they're questionable, but the Eagles were able to do that on Thursday night. 

"It is hard. Penalties always extend drives," McLeod said. "That's what we always talk about. The cornerbacks got some tough calls tonight but they stayed at it. They didn't flinch, not one bit. They stayed aggressive and were able to make some big plays down the stretch for us."

One of the questionable calls on Thursday came in the first quarter when running back LeGarrette Blount was hit with an unnecessary roughness after it looked like he finished his block to the whistle. At least that's what the Eagles argued. Blount said he wasn't given an explanation as to why he was flagged and didn't think he did anything to deserve it. 

In the fourth quarter, rookie Derek Barnett was hit with an unnecessary roughness when he took down Cam Newton on third down. Actually, it was a dead ball foul because the Panthers didn't get the snap off. Barnett said he kept going because he never heard a whistle. It didn't matter; the flag came out anyway. He was offered no explanation of why. 

"We didn't hear no whistle," Barnett said. "We would have stopped if we heard the whistle."

Three plays after the Barnett penalty, Cam Newton hit Christian McCaffrey for a 1-yard touchdown to cut into the Eagles lead, 28-23. 

It could have been a killer penalty, and it might have seemed like it at the time, but the Eagles rebounded. They won the game despite the penalty flags. They're 5-1 and have the best record in the conference. 

That's why they were able to joke about it after the game. 

"I didn't agree with those calls but at the same time, we're 5-1," Jalen Mills said, "so I don't really have nothing negative to say."

Ronald Darby returns to practice for Eagles, status for Monday uncertain

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Ronald Darby returns to practice for Eagles, status for Monday uncertain

There's some good news coming out of the NovaCare Complex on Thursday: Ronald Darby is back at practice. 

Head coach Doug Pederson said Darby, who has missed every game since the opener with a dislocated ankle, will practice this week, at least as a limited participant. 

"I can't commit at this time if he's going to be ready (to play on Monday night)," Pederson said, "but we're going to give him some reps this week and see where he's at but he's doing extremely well."

Darby will be practicing this week but it seems unlikely he'll play on Monday night at the Linc. Pederson said "stars (would) have to align" for that to happen. 

Still, practicing is a great sign.

Darby was carted off the field in the second quarter of the opener against Washington with a pretty gruesome-looking ankle injury. It looked like his season was over. But the Eagles put a "4-6 week" label on the injury and there's a reason they didn't put him on IR. 

The injury was a dislocated ankle that didn't need surgery. That last time he spoke to reporters, in mid-September, Darby was confident he'd return in 4-6 weeks. 

So what would Darby have to show to play this week? 

"Obviously with the time off, there's a lot of things that are involved, conditioning No. 1," Pederson said. "That's probably the most important thing. How sore does he get during the week? And by no means do I want to rush him back and just say 'hey, we said this is the week, let's go play.' There's a lot of factors that have to be sort of right, stars have to align for him to be ready to go. But this week will be good just to get back and begin that process of practice and getting that conditioning back."

Darby's return to practice isn't the only good news on Thursday. Jordan Hicks (ankle) and Wendell Smallwood (knee) will also practice. 

Hicks left last week's game early with that ankle injury but Pederson said Hicks is "fine " and there "should be no issues."  

Smallwood has missed the last two games with a knee injury he suffered in LA against the Chargers. Pederson said Smallwood will be limited to start the week but they'll ramp it up as the week goes on. 

Eagles place special teams ace Chris Maragos on injured reserve

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Eagles place special teams ace Chris Maragos on injured reserve

The Eagles will be without one of their best special teamers the rest of the way. 

The team officially placed special teams ace Chris Maragos (knee) on injured reserve on Thursday morning. 

Maragos went down on punt coverage in the fourth quarter last week against the Panthers. Maragos was in pain and was seen leaving the stadium with a huge brace on his right knee. 

To fill his roster spot, the Eagles have promoted linebacker and fifth-rounder Nate Gerry to the active roster. The Eagles also signed WR Rashard Davis to fill Gerry's spot on the practice squad. 

Gerry is converting from college safety to NFL linebacker but could play a role on special teams. 

Maragos, 30, needed to play on defense a few weeks ago because of injury but his main role with the team is as a special teams ace. He has played more special teams snaps (126) than any other player on the Eagles and is tied for the team lead with six special teams tackles.

He was also voted as one of the Eagles' five captains for the season. The Eagles have two offensive captains, two defensive captains and Maragos was their special teams captain. 

Last November, Maragos signed a three-year extension worth $6 million that goes through the 2019 season.