Eagles

Carroll: Russell Wilson's game vs. Eagles one of his best ever

Carroll: Russell Wilson's game vs. Eagles one of his best ever

SEATTLE — You can watch all the film in the world. Study every play Russell Wilson has ever run. Prepare like you've never prepared.
 
And still not be ready for what you're going to get.
 
The Eagles got vintage Russell Wilson Sunday night, and they had no answer.
 
"He's a human joystick, man," Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said.
 
The human joystick ended the Eagles' nine-game winning streak Sunday at CenturyLink Field, giving nightmares to a secondary that over the last few months has been one of the best in football.
 
Wilson completed 20 of 31 passes for 227 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions and ran for another 31 yards in the Seahawks' 24-10 win, but the numbers don't come close to representing just how brilliant the sixth-year pro was.
 
"I thought that Russell was spectacular," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said.
 
"I just thought that the stuff that he was able to create, it doesn’t really show up in the stats as much, but it was just an amazing night of football. That was fun to watch and I loved it.
 
“Russell was phenomenal tonight. I thought that was Russell showing you everything that he’s all about. From start to finish, from the first play of the game on. He was on it. He created. His execution was excellent. We didn’t turn the football over. Working the clock. Beautiful tempo. Decisions, checks. The whole night and the big plays were just coming out everywhere. 
 
"I really think that he had one of the best games that I’ve seen him play.”

Wilson has won more games than any quarterback in NFL history through six years, and he showed why Sunday night.
 
Every time the Eagles thought they had him wrapped up or pinned down, he escaped and made a play.
 
He's so unorthodox, so inventive, you literally have no idea what's next.
 
"It's very frustrating as a defensive back and a defense in general when a guy like that can extend those plays," Rodney McLeod said.
 
"It's very special and very unique in what he does. We tried to duplicate it as much as we could (in practice), but he made a lot of plays for that offense tonight.
 
"Some things we could do better. The penalties cost us, they extended drives, (we could) do a little better in coverage. But I think for the most part a lot of plays that you see are just him running around and making a play and giving his guys an opportunity to go up and make plays."
 
Wilson became only the fourth quarterback since 1985 with a passer rating over 118 and 30 or more rushing yards against the Eagles. But it wasn't so much the rushing yards that killed the Eagles as much as his mobility and creativity on the move.

"We shot ourselves in the foot," Jalen Mills said. "He made some plays, but at the same time, there were opportunities there that we left out there. A lot was on us. It wasn't anything he did. We just have to execute."

The six previous weeks? The Eagles had 13 interceptions and allowed just six touchdowns.
 
After facing the likes of Mitch Trubisky, Brock Osweiler and C.J. Beathard, the Eagles' secondary finally got tested, and the result wasn't pretty.
 
"It’s tough," safety Corey Graham said. "Heck of a player. He does a lot with his legs. Buys time to make plays. He’s a ballplayer, man.
 
"He’s scrambling, he’s buying time, he’s making guys miss, he’s spinning. Guys had him in certain situations and he just found ways to make plays. When it’s all said and done, he just made more plays than we did."
 
The ultimate Russell Wilson play came on a crucial fourth-quarter 3rd-and-8 with the Seahawks on their own 42-yard-line and leading by just seven.
 
Wilson ran six yards, then lateraled to Mike Davis, who ran 17 more yards for a huge first down. Four plays later, Wilson's third TD pass of the game restored the Seahawks' 14-point lead.
 
It was a play nobody else can make.
 
"Our DBs, we're taught to stay in coverage until he crosses the line of scrimmage," Jenkins said. "He crosses it and then option-pitches it out. Those are things you can’t really prepare for, and those are plays that make him special and a dangerous quarterback."
 
Carroll has been on the sideline for every game Wilson has ever played and still marvels at what he sees.
 
"The awareness, point guard, the whole thing," Carroll said. "Everything you’ve ever done in sports leads you to the moment to make that decision and then to do it and execute it like that? Basketball, baseball, football, everything he’s ever done.  It was an amazing play."
 
Wilson has faced the Eagles three times now and is 3-0 with six TD passes, no interceptions and a 104.9 passer rating.
 
Only Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning, Joe Montana, Matt Cassel, Milt Plum and Bart Starr have a higher rating against the Eagles.
 
"We had a good game plan against it, but sometimes its better in person than it is on film," Graham said. "He was amazing today. He was better than us."

Without Carson Wentz, Eagles have different plan but same goal

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Without Carson Wentz, Eagles have different plan but same goal

LOS ANGELES — Soon after the Eagles clinched the NFC East title Sunday night, Malcolm Jenkins was asked if the Eagles were still a potential Super Bowl team.

His answer: "Do we have a quarterback on the roster?" 

The goals haven't changed. The way the Eagles hope to accomplish those goals sure has.

The Eagles return to Philadelphia as NFC East champions after nine days on the West Coast, but they're also facing the strong likelihood of a stretch run and postseason without MVP candidate Carson Wentz, who suffered a left knee injury late in the third quarter of the Eagles' 43-35 win over the Rams at L.A. Memorial Coliseum.

Wentz was scheduled to undergo an MRI Monday morning in Philadelphia, and although there is a chance for good news, the Eagles fear that Wentz has a season-ending torn ACL in his left knee.

Which means the Eagles' 2017 fate likely rests in the hands of Nick Foles, who has changed teams after each of the last three seasons.

"Everyone's really excited because we put in a lot of work this season," Foles said. "Lot of work, we've won a lot of games, it's been a great team effort and Carson has been a big piece of that puzzle. 

"Everyone's really excited about the win, but you have your starting quarterback go down, it's emotional. It's emotional for me. I work with him every day, we do everything together. 

"I'm excited we won but at the same time, I'm dealing emotionally with seeing him go down. You never want that."

No team has repeated in the NFC East since the Eagles in 2003 and 2004. The division title is the Eagles' first since 2013 — when Foles was their quarterback — and 10th since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. Only one of the last 21 NFC East champs has won the Super Bowl — the Giants in 2011.

"Our plan is to win every game that we compete in," Jenkins said. "Obviously, your game-plan changes depending on your personnel so I'm sure there'll be some things we change just because Nick doesn't have some of the abilities that Carson has — talking about his mobility and all of that. 

"But at the end of the day, it doesn't change any of our goals. It sucks because Carson is your friend and he puts so much into the game and you hate to see him go down. It sucks for him, but as a team we still have all our goals in front of us."

This team has already overcome a ton of adversity, finding its way to 11-2, an NFC East title and control of its destiny for the No. 1 seed in the NFC after losing Jason Peters, Darren Sproles and Jordan Hicks to season-ending injuries.

"I'm proud of the guys," head coach Doug Pederson said. "But you know, we get back to Philly and we still have three games left and we still have an opportunity. Everything is still right in front of us for us to take and we've just got to make sure we take care of business.

"We're one step closer to where we want to be. We set goals before the season starts. Obviously, NFC East, we checked the box, put it behind us, and we move on. It's the New York Giants next week."

The Eagles' players and coaches were all wearing NFC East champion baseball caps in the L.A. Coliseum locker room Sunday night. The division title has been inevitable for several weeks. Despite losing Wentz, this team still has bigger goals.

"It feels great," veteran Chris Long said. "This hat is awesome to put on. It reflects a lot of hard work. 

"But it's not the end-all, be-all for us. We've got big things on our minds, but what it is is sequentially, we're able to check these boxes off and we'll move on to the next one."

Foles was on the field when the Eagles clinched the 2013 NFC East title and after stints with the Rams and Chiefs, he found himself on the field again four years later when the Eagles clinched their next division title.

"It means a lot to this team, it means a lot to me," Foles said. "I'm excited, we're NFC East champs.

"But it's emotional. A guy you work with every day, you think the world of, I think he's the MVP, it's not easy. But I know this team will step up and rally no matter what."

With backs against wall, Eagles' D delivers in crunch time

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With backs against wall, Eagles' D delivers in crunch time

LOS ANGELES -- As Carson Wentz was in the blue pop-up tent on the sideline and then as he walked slowly around the corner of the stadium and into the tunnel, the Eagles' defense was busy collapsing. 
 
While Nick Foles began to warm up on the sideline, the Rams went on a seven-play, 70-yard drive that took 3:22 and was capped by a one-yard score from Todd Gurley to take a lead. 
 
Game over, right? 
 
After all, the Eagles were without their MVP and their defense just couldn't seem to stop the Rams. 
 
Then the defense tightened up. 
 
And it helped the Eagles escape the LA Coliseum with a 43-25 win. 
 
"We found a way to get stops when we needed to," Rodney McLeod said. "We’re a resilient group and when our backs we’re against the wall, we had to show up, and that’s what we did tonight."
 
The big play was obviously the Chris Long strip sack. Until that play, it just felt like the Rams were going to keep driving down the field at will. They had already scored on their first two drives of the half and scored a third touchdown on a punt block and return. 
 
So at that point in the game, the strip sack from Long and the recovery from McLeod were enormous (see story)
 
That turnover was impressive, but so was the next Rams' possession. After the Eagles took a 37-35 lead on a Jake Elliott field goal, the Rams got the ball at their own 25-yard line. The Eagles forced a 3-and-out and the Rams didn't get the ball back until there was one second left. 
 
The last three times the Rams touched the ball, they had two fumbles and a 3-and-out. 
 
“We were giving them a lot," defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said. "We were giving them too much. We knew at some point we had to stop them. We got to stuff the run on first down, and then they got to run their normal offense. I think guys just knew. We settled down and did what we had to do, but giving credit to that team, that’s a really good team."
 
Until the last few drives of the game, the Rams were gashing the Birds. Todd Gurley had 135 total yards, Cooper Kupp had 118 receiving yards, and Jared Goff while wasn't dazzling, he was very efficient. 
 
Gurley sure looked like the best back the Eagles have faced all season. He averaged 7.4 yards per carry and had two touchdowns on Sunday. 
 
"Top back, Pro Bowl back," Nigel Bradham said of Gurley. "Definitely going to go down as one of the greatest backs in this game. Definitely probably see him in a gold jacket." 
 
But Gurley had 117 of his 135 total yards through three quarters. The Eagles were able to limit him in the fourth. 
 
Really, that was a theme. The Eagles' defense stepped up in crunch time. The Rams had 10 offensive plays in the fourth quarter for a total of 12 net yards. That came after the Rams had 128 yards on 10 plays in the third. 
 
The Rams averaged 12.8 yards per play in the third quarter and 1.2 yards per play in the fourth. 
 
Several Eagles defensive players credited Jim Schwartz with finding ways to adjust and stop the Rams and Gurley. 
 
"We just locked in as a group," McLeod said. "We made adjustments. Jim made some good adjustments. That's what you do when you're a good coach. That's a good team over there, great offensive coordinator. It was a chess game. We kind of mixed some things up and things worked in our favor. We got off the field when it counted."