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."

Patrick Robinson's concussion could open door for another CB

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Patrick Robinson's concussion could open door for another CB

Eagles nickel cornerback Patrick Robinson is in the NFL's concussion protocol, head coach Doug Pederson said on Monday. 

Robinson, 30, left Sunday's game in New Jersey in the third quarter. When the play happened, it looked pretty scary. Robinson was down on the field for a few minutes while his teammates looked on concerned. 

Eventually, he got up and began walking directly into the visitors' locker room. 

The good news for the Eagles is Robinson will have an extra day to get over the concussion because they don't play again until next Monday night (Christmas Day) against the Raiders. 

In Robinson's absence, Corey Graham played a season-high 54 snaps. He came in at safety, which allowed Malcolm Jenkins to play in the slot. Jaylen Watkins also got on the field for a handful of snaps. 

Rookie cornerback Rasul Douglas wasn't even active, so he wasn't an option on Sunday afternoon. It was the first time since the opener that Douglas was inactive. Douglas played pretty well when called upon earlier this season. With the return of special teamer Bryan Braman, the Eagles had to find an active spot. 

On Monday, Pederson tried to explain why Douglas didn't dress. 

"When you look at the whole picture, special teams, you have to look at everything," Pederson said. "And then you have to look at defensively, who gives us the best value. If a safety goes down, if a corner goes down, if a nickel goes down. Of course, Jaylen Watkins is in the mix of being that guy. And we've juggled that back and forth from week to week. That was kind of the reason."

If Robinson isn't ready by Monday, Douglas would presumably be active again. 

In surprise twist, Chance Warmack key in Eagles' win

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USA Today Images

In surprise twist, Chance Warmack key in Eagles' win

Most everybody expected the Eagles to beat the Giants on Sunday, but there was a surprise twist: They couldn't have done it without Chance Warmack.

Filling in at left guard for the injured Stefen Wisniewski, Warmack appeared to struggle early in the contest. The fifth-year veteran failed to reach some of his landmarks in the running game and lost his footing on a number of occasions. Pretty much the same issues that had prevented Warmack from winning the job or holding it down in the first place.

Only this time, Warmack seemed to get more comfortable as the game wore on, creating running lanes and holding his own in protection — and the Eagles' offensive line became a cohesive unit in the process.

"That's football," Warmack said following the Eagles' 34-29 win over the Giants at New York. "You get a feel, and sometimes it comes faster than others. After you get a feel for it, that's called reading the game.

"I felt like a little kid out there. It was good to play football and not think about anything, just go."

Signed as a free agent in March, and his contract subsequently extended in September, Warmack already had multiple opportunities to earn more playing time. Prior to Sunday, none of the chances had gone particularly well.

Warmack started Week 3 at left guard after Isaac Seumalo played himself out of the job, but he didn't perform at a high level and quickly found himself in a rotation with Wisniewski. The experiment ended after three weeks. Then with the injury to Wisniewski against the Rams, Warmack got another shot, only to wind up being benched for the second half for Seumalo.

The Eagles' reclamation project appeared to have hit a wall, but Warmack never gave up.

"Are you going to watch film and get better, or are you gonna to put your head down," Warmack said. "I don't care how bad I get beat, I'm gonna keep coming. That's my motto. Keep coming, keep fighting, keep playing. That's the game."

It may have helped Warmack was able to start and finish the entire game. It was the 26-year-old's eighth appearance of the season and his second start, but the first in which he played every snap (or even half).

Warmack refused to blame his previous poor play, though, on the quick hooks.

"I can't use that as an excuse," Warmack said. "Whatever happened in the game, I have to take that head-on, learn from that and get better. Whatever the situation is, accept that and keep moving."

The Eagles ran the football 27 times against the Giants for 108 yards — a solid 4.0 average. Nick Foles was sacked only once and hit a total of seven times, as the O-line was generally able to provide a clean pocket and keep the quarterback upright.

Obviously, all five guys up front deserve credit for the success of the offense. However, unlike the rest of the unit, Warmack didn't have nearly a full season's worth of games to prepare for the Giants.

"Great job," Eagles center Jason Kelce said. "(The Giants) have a big front, so this is a good game for him. He's a big guy, and it's going to be hard to overpower a guy like that.

"I was really happy for him. They give you a lot of different looks at times and they can make it challenging, and he listened, he was locked in and he did his job."

Foles called Warmack's performance, and the ability of the Eagles to overcome injuries all season, a "story."

"I've worked with him on scout team. I've seen him work every single day," Warmack said. "Going in there in this environment, (he) did an awesome job."

Everyone knew Warmack, the 10th overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, has this in him, if not more. That's why the Eagles went out and signed him despite his four disappointing seasons with the Titans, reuniting him with offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, his tutor at Alabama.

Sunday was a sign that Warmack is continuing to improve, and he'll be ready when his number is called again. If and when that time comes, this most recent outing could serve as a foundation of sorts moving forward.

"That's what it's all about," Warmack said. "Once you feel comfortable with what you're doing, just build off of that."