Carson Wentz a big beneficiary of Alshon Jeffery extension

Carson Wentz a big beneficiary of Alshon Jeffery extension

It's no surprise it didn't take Carson Wentz very long to tweet out his enthusiastic response to Alshon Jeffery's new contract. 

Because aside from Jeffery, whose pockets deepened on Saturday, Wentz was the biggest winner of the day. 

How excited was Wentz? 

Six exclamation points and a sunglasses emoji, which is 2017 speak for pretty darn excited. And Wentz should be excited. He found out another one of his top targets, the guy he is finally starting to click with, is locked up through 2021. 
As much as this Jeffery extension is about keeping a good player in town, it's really about one thing. 

It's the one thing the entire franchise should revolve around: maximizing the potential of Carson Wentz. 

We've already seen how much of a difference having real receivers has made for Wentz. After a year of throwing to Bryce Treggs, Paul Turner and DGB, the Eagles gave Wentz some real NFL weapons and the kid is already knocking on the door of an MVP award. 

The Eagles now have Zach Ertz and Jeffery — Wentz's two most important targets — locked up through the 2021 season. They're not going anywhere and neither is Wentz. Sure, eventually, the Eagles will have to pay Wentz a mega contract, but until then, the quarterback is relatively cheap. The Eagles need to strike now. 

More importantly, the Eagles have to realize that having a quarterback as good as Wentz without giving him help would be a complete waste. 

You don't need to look back far into the history books to see the evidence of that. For years, Donovan McNabb threw to guys like Todd Pinkston, James Thrash, Charles Johnson, Torrance Small and Freddie Mitchell. Instead of a "Who's who," the Eagles simply had a lot of "who?"

But the one time McNabb was given a true No. 1 receiver, we all know what happened. When Terrell Owens came to town, McNabb had his best pro season and the Eagles went to the Super Bowl. 

How many times over the last decade have you wondered what would have happened if the TO-McNabb marriage worked? Likely Super Bowls, rings, parades, but we'll never know. 

I know what you're thinking and you're right. Jeffery isn't TO. He's not a future Hall of Famer. He's not one of the best receivers of all time. He's not even one of the elite receivers of today. 

But he is a No. 1 receiver. And at 27, he is the type of player who can still grow with a young quarterback. 

And he's actually got one thing on TO: he's a team-first guy. He hasn't cared about his stats at all this season, which is even more impressive considering he was in a contract year. As Wentz has been spreading the ball around, Jeffery's numbers haven't inflated, which could have been potentially losing him money every week. And he never complained. Not once. 

His numbers actually aren't bad either. 

Through 11 games, he has 43 catches for 619 yards and seven touchdowns. I'll give you one guess at the only Eagles receiver to put up those stats or better through 11 games in the McNabb era.

Yup, TO. 

But what's even more about Jeffery's season is how much better he's been recently. In his last four games, he has 17 catches for 265 yards and five touchdowns. This recent streak really shouldn't be surprising. 

So much of Jeffery's game revolves around chemistry with his quarterback. All those back-shoulder throws, all those fades, it takes time. He and Wentz simply haven't had a ton of it. Even during this training camp, Jeffery was sidelined by a shoulder injury and then was held out longer because Doug Pederson wanted to rest him. Jeffery began the season healthy but lost out on valuable chemistry-building time with Wentz. 

Back in the summer, Jeffery got a chance to see his old quarterback, when Jay Cutler and the Miami Dolphins came to town for a week of practice. Cutler had been Jeffery's quarterback for the first five of his seasons in the NFL. Eventually, during that time, Cutler learned to trust Jeffery on those back-shoulder and fade routes, on those 50-50 balls. Eventually, the two knew each other's every move. 

During training camp, I asked Jeffery how long that took. 

"Over time and over years," Jeffery said. "We were together for a long time, so when we'd line up, I'd know what he wants and he knows what I like. It takes time over years."

Now, he gets to form that bond with Wentz. No wonder the QB was so excited. 

Eagles' season opener will be a juicy rematch

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Eagles' season opener will be a juicy rematch

These poor Minnesotans can't seem to get rid of Philly.

First, the Eagles spanked their Vikings in the NFC Championship Game, then the Eagles won a Super Bowl two weeks later in their stadium. And now the Vikings have to open up the 2018 NFL season back at the Linc.

The Eagles are going to host the Vikings on Thursday, Sept. 6 at Lincoln Financial Field to open the NFL calendar, according to Howard Eskin.

Of course, the last time the Vikings came to the Linc they scored the first touchdown of the game before the Eagles scored the next 38 points to crush the No. 2 seed in the NFC, 38-7.

After Kyle Rudolph caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Case Keenum early in the first quarter, the Eagles' defense clamped down and the offense, led by Nick Foles, exploded. The biggest play of the game (one of the biggest of the season) was Patrick Robinson's 50-yard pick-6 later in the first quarter. The Eagles took a 24-7 lead into the locker room and halftime and much of the second half became a party on the sideline and in the stands, where a "Foles-Skol" chant broke out several times.

Of course, the Vikings are going to look different this time. Case Keenum has moved on to Denver, and the Vikings brought in Kirk Cousins from Washington. In his career against the Eagles, Cousins is 4-3 with a passer rating of 99.7.

The full NFL schedule probably won't be released until mid-April. We also know the Eagles will face the Jaguars in London on either Oct. 21 or 28.

Here are the teams the Eagles will face in 2018:



Roob's 10 mid-March Eagles observations

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Roob's 10 mid-March Eagles observations

We're deep into free agency, the draft is rapidly approaching and the 2017 Super Bowl champion Eagles are being reshaped into a new team.

Which means it's a perfect time for a Roob's 10 Observations.

1. As the Eagles move on from LeGarrette Blount and reshape the running back position, it’s intriguing to ponder just how good Corey Clement can be. From what I saw last year? I think the kid can be a stud. His touches were limited until late in the season, but how many rookies have had 300 rushing yards, 200 receiving yards and averaged at least 4.4 yards per carry and 13 yards per catch? Would you believe three in the last 40 years? A guy named Jesse Clark with the Packers in 1983, a guy named Adrian Peterson with the Vikings in 2007 and a guy named Corey Clement. It’s tough to project, but he can run, he can block, he can catch, he’s got a real flair for making big plays and a terrific knack in the red zone. Can’t wait to see him in an expanded role.

2. As for Blount, you can’t overstate his value to the Eagles last year, both as a running back and a leader. For a guy with his resume to come into that locker room and not once complain about his workload — even when he had no carries against the Chiefs — was remarkable. His selfless attitude really resonated with the young guys in the locker room. And I know a lot of fans were upset to see him go, but as incredible as his Super Bowl performance was, you can’t forget that in the seven games leading up to the Super Bowl he averaged 2.9 yards per carry. And he’s 31 years old. If the reported numbers are correct, Blount’s $4.5 million 2018 salary makes him the 12th-highest-paid running back in the league. Good for him. I wish him well. He was a huge part of that 2017 team. But it made no sense for the Eagles to bring him back.

3. It’s amazing how much money teams keep throwing at Sam Bradford. He’s got 34 wins in eight seasons, he’s never had a winning record, he’s never made a postseason, and on the rare occasions when he’s been healthy, he’s won only 43 percent of his starts. Oh, and he’s missed 42 games since 2013. “He’s our guy!”

4. Speaks volumes that both Blount and Torrey Smith singled out Duce Staley in their tweets or Instagram posts saying goodbye to Philly after joining new teams. Staley wasn’t even Smith’s position coach, and he still singled him out. Blount wrote: “To my main man Coach Duce Staley — You have impacted my life on and off the field and pushed me to be the best version of me I can be and for that I thank you!” Staley is such a natural leader and such a big part of what the Eagles accomplished in 2017. He’s going to be a head coach one day.

5. The Eagles lost Vinny Curry, but they have Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Michael Bennett and Chris Long. They lost Trey Burton and Brent Celek, but they have Zach Ertz. They lost Smith, but they have Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Mack Hollins. They lost Blount, but they have Jay Ajayi and Clement. They lost Patrick Robinson, but they have Sidney Jones, Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, Ronald Darby and Daryl Worley. They’ve lost a lot, but they’re still stocked at every position where they lost someone. Pretty darn good roster planning.

6. I feel like in the wake of Nick Foles’ brilliant postseason, people are forgetting exactly how good Carson Wentz was before he got hurt. So here’s a list of every quarterback in NFL history with 33 or more touchdown passes and seven or fewer interceptions in a season before his 30th birthday: Carson Wentz.

7. I wonder how much Haloti Ngata has left. He’s 34, he’s coming off a torn biceps, and he’s five years removed from his last Pro Bowl. Beau Allen was quietly a solid backup defensive tackle and played a big role in that D-line rotation the second half of the season after Tim Jernigan hurt his ankle. I don’t mind the signing. Ngata comes cheap and there’s really nothing to lose. But it’s been a while since he’s been a dominant player, so it’ll be interesting to see how he fits in.

8. If you’ve never been to Canton, Ohio, plan your trip now. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is a great place to visit any time. But the weekend of Brian Dawkins’ induction is going to be unforgettable. Dawk’s speech is going to be epic.

9. The Philly Special may be the greatest play in Eagles history, but where does the fourth-quarter, fourth-down conversion rank? The Eagles trailed with 5½ minutes left and faced a 4th-and-1 inside midfield when Foles converted a short completion to Ertz. If they don’t convert, they lose. That’s gotta be a top-10 all-time play. Maybe top-five.

10. Tight ends with more catches than Ertz in their first five NFL seasons: Kellen Winslow Sr., Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten and Antonio Gates.