Broncos make QB change ahead of game vs. Eagles

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Broncos make QB change ahead of game vs. Eagles

The Broncos' quarterback situation is so bad that in Week 9 against the Eagles, they're forced to start a player who was traded in a salary dump over the summer, then cut by the worst team in the league.

That's right, on Sunday at the Linc, the Eagles will face Brock Osweiler.

Broncos head coach Vance Joseph announced the QB switch Wednesday. Denver had been starting Trevor Siemian, who has been atrocious lately. Siemian has been battered around behind a poor Broncos offensive line, and on Monday night against the Chiefs, the impact of all those QB hits was quite clear. Siemian was skittish, made bad decisions and turned the ball over three times.

"With our team working so hard, the guys putting in max effort [Monday night] and not having a chance to win the football game, I think it's fair to evaluate the quarterback and all positions," Joseph said Tuesday.

"When you watch Trevor, even last night, he made three horrible interceptions. I mean, horrific decisions with those three he threw last night. He had 20 other plays that were really, really good. When you watch your starting quarterback make 20 or 25 amazing throws, amazing checks and three horrific interceptions, that's when it becomes an issue. In your heart you know he can play better because those three balls he threw, you just can't throw. The 20-plus plays he made in the third and fourth quarter, it keeps you excited about the guy. That's the issue. 

"Again, it's about results and we haven't had them. We've lost three games in a row, and again, yesterday with four turnovers. At the end of the day, it's about results. It's not about how he's played, it's the end result that we're not getting and it's not good."

Osweiler began his career with the Broncos before signing with the Texans. Houston lavished him with a four-year, $72 million contract that included $37 million guaranteed. But he was so, so bad that after one season, the Texans traded two draft picks (a 2018 second-rounder and 2017 sixth-rounder) to the Browns just for them to take Osweiler's remaining contract.

The Browns cut him six months later and he returned to the Broncos, who are paying him just $775,000.

In 15 games last season, Osweiler completed 59 percent of his passes for 2,957 yards with 15 TDs and 16 interceptions. He averaged just 5.8 yards per pass and had a QB rating of 72.2.

Doug Pederson uncertain on Eagles' kickers heading into game vs. Bears

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Doug Pederson uncertain on Eagles' kickers heading into game vs. Bears

One kicker is getting better. One kicker just got hurt. One kicker isn’t even a kicker at all. Who’s going to kick Sunday? Maybe Caleb Sturgis, maybe Jake Elliott, maybe someone else. Definitely not Kamu Grungier-Hill. 
Does that clear everything up?
Head coach Doug Pederson revealed Monday that Elliott, the rocket-legged rookie, will be the Eagles’ placekicker long-term moving forward, but he also said he doesn’t know whether Elliott — who suffered a concussion Sunday night during the win in Dallas — will be available for this Sunday’s game at home against the Bears.
"We haven't made any decisions yet," Pederson said. "We still have a couple days before we have to make a decision."
Elliott replaced Sturgis, who suffered a quad strain in the opener against the Redskins and has been on Injured Reserve since. 
Ideally, the Eagles want Elliott to be cleared through the NFL’s concussion protocol and be able to kick Sunday so they can keep Sturgis on Injured Reserve. 

If Elliott isn’t ready, they could activate Sturgis, who Pederson said is "close," but that would mean they would have to clear a spot on the 53-man roster for a guy who they don’t plan on keeping long-term. 
"He's continuing to rehab, he's begun a kicking regimen," Pederson said. "He's getting himself back to where he was prior to the injury. He's close. He's close."
If neither Elliott nor Sturgis is able to go, the Eagles could add a third kicker for a week or two, although that would also require keeping two kickers on the 53 (and another on IR).
"Again, you're talking about roster spots and making moves and things of that nature," he said. "We're not there yet. We'll continue these discussions the next couple days."
Most importantly, Pederson said that despite Sturgis’ excellent track record since joining the Eagles, Elliott will be the team’s kicker once everybody is healthy. 
"I think so," Pederson said. "If he's healthy and he can play. You hate to disrupt that right now. I'd have to say yes to that one."
Sturgis is scheduled to be a free agent after the season. Elliott is under contract through 2018, and the Eagles control his rights through 2019.
Elliott, whom the Eagles signed off the Bengals’ practice squad in September, is 17 for 21 this year. He missed from 34 yards against the Cowboys Sunday night, although that miss came after he apparently suffered the concussion. 

Pederson said the concussion symptoms weren't discovered until after Elliott had attempted the field goal.
Elliott has made five of six attempts from 50 yards and out, including the franchise-record, game-winning 61-yarder against the Giants.
Sturgis is 7 for 11 as an Eagle from 50 yards and out. Including his years with the Dolphins, he's an 81.0 percent kicker, although with the Eagles he's made 84.8 percent of his field goal attempts -- third-best in franchise history behind Cody Parkey (87.5 percent) and Alex Henery (86.0 percent).
"I think moving forward, as we continue to evaluate this week, we'll find out more in the next couple days with Jake, and I don't want to put myself in a box, but we'll keep all the options open," Pederson said.
"It kind of goes back to the same old thing. We still have a couple days here today and tomorrow to evaluate Jake and see where everybody's at. There's still a little while before we play Sunday."
There's one other option.

No, not letting Grugier-Hill kick. Going for two all the time.
Pederson -- who's 9 for 12 as Eagles head coach on two-point conversion attempts -- admitted he's thought about it.
"Yeah, I have," he said. "You always go into a game with a few (plays) in your pocket. You never expect that situation again like we had last night. But, yeah, you look at the numbers. If you're around 94, 95 percent on the extra point from the 15-yard line, your conversion rate should be in that 47, 48, 49 percent on a two-point conversion. So we look at all of that.
"We keep a couple extra plus-five red zone plays in our pocket for that situation. It just worked out, I think 3-for-4 last night. It's something we'll look at going forward."

Win over Cowboys cements Eagles' status as legit Super Bowl contender

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Win over Cowboys cements Eagles' status as legit Super Bowl contender

Philadelphia sports fans have earned the right to lack optimism when it comes to their teams. Years and years of heartache, disappointment, expectations and injuries have brought about a psyche of waiting for the safe to drop on their heads.

That next shoe will be dropping any time now. Some would describe the collective sporting outlook as “Negadelphia” and there is some truth that. There are some fans in this city that can tend to see the mole on the supermodel. But for the most part, they’ve come by their skeptical point of view through good ole fashion practice and repetition.

Randall Cunningham in 1991, the 2011 Phillies, the Tampa NFC title game, Joe Carter, Leon Stickle, Patrick Kane. Those names and events leave scars. And I’m one who generally subscribes to the never-get-ahead of yourself philosophy. But what I’m about to say flies in the face of even my own personal creed.

They are that good. Say it to me, they are that good.

One more time, they are that good.

Speaking of the 9-1 Eagles, of course. The same Eagles team that has scored 320 points through 10 games. The most in the NFL and in franchise history through that span of games. The same Eagles team that is eighth in points allowed and the best in the league against the run. They're tied for the fourth-most sacks. And, oh yeah, their quarterback has 25 touchdowns to five interceptions and is the frontrunner for the MVP.

Did I mention the coach?

Doug Pederson has pushed every right button. Take Sunday vs. the Cowboys for example. The Eagles' offense was listless and struggling in the first half. They managed only seven points, even after being gifted two turnovers.

Pederson didn’t feel the need to flip tables or make some drastic adjustments, he simply instructed his players to stay the course, to believe in what they’ve done all season. The Eagles outscored Dallas, 30-0, in the second half (see story).

The point is, they are a complete team. They've won eight in a row. They're 4-0 in the NFC East, 7-0 in conference and 4-1 on the road. They are not a fluke.

And it's OK to enjoy this.

Don't miss out on the opportunity to smell the roses with this special team. Live in the moment. Revel in it, in fact. This doesn't happen very often. Let's get ahead of ourselves a little.

I know you've been burned in the past. I know the futility of never winning a Super Bowl and going 40-plus years without a Cup or more than 30 years without an NBA championship can beat you down. But savor this.

In the history of the Eagles organization, which dates back to 1933, the club has gotten off to a 9-1 start five times. The previous four seasons, they've won a championship twice and twice they've been to the Super Bowl.

Does that mean this team is guaranteed anything? No.

The playoffs and a division title are a pretty good assumption at this point, beyond that all bets are off. Injuries are always the x-factor, home field, etc., we know all the requisite reasons why things can change quickly especially in that league.

But that same logic applies to every team. The Eagles have overcome losing their future Hall of Fame left tackle, their middle linebacker and do-it-all running back/return man and have yet to lose without them. You’re not jinxing or mushing them by believing in them and puffing your chest out a little.

This team is built for the long haul, they are young and good in most positions, which bodes well for the future. But we’re dealing in the here and now and this team has a legitimate shot at winning the whole thing. And it’s OK to say out loud.

They are that good.