Eagles

Carson Wentz injury more proof Philly fan paranoia is real

Carson Wentz injury more proof Philly fan paranoia is real

Woe Is Us.

“The sports gods have something against us.”

“These refs are out to get us.”

“We always go up against the hot goalie.”

“Things are going too well, something bad is going to happen.”

Admit it, if you’re a Philadelphia sports fan, those words to some degree or another have come out of your mouth more than once. True, you could probably apply those paranoid rants to most sports cities. But today, you, the Philadelphia sports fan, have every right to feel like there’s a higher power conspiring against you.

Carson Wentz's injury is not a gut-punch, it’s a haymaker that just connected clean on the jaw and down went the Eagles' Super Bowl hopes. With Wentz under center, the Eagles were capable of beating any team. With Nick Foles, a playoff win or two is surely possible. The Birds have overcome serious injuries this season. Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks and Darren Sproles were major losses for this team, and to the players' and the coach’s credit, they have been able overcome them.

But with all due respect to those guys, including future Hall of Famer Peters, this is different — 57 years of championship futility went to 58 with 3:53 left in the third quarter last night in Southern California when Wentz's left knee got crunched.

Things were just too perfect. Second year, MVP-front-running quarterback, tough defense, head coach proving all the naysayers wrong, leading his team to the best record in the conference. A bye, home-field advantage, Minnesota here we come. Finally putting an end to the “How many rings do you have?” discussion. Dare to dream. It was all setting up too perfectly ... then boom.

If you grew up here or have lived here long enough, you bare the scars of Philadelphia’s sports past. Whether it’s the Phillies' collapse in 1964, Black Friday, Bernie’s eye, Leon Stickle, the Sixers up 3-1 in 1981, Randall’s knee in 1991, Joe Carter, JVR over Patrick Kane, Ryan Howard’s Achilles ... and that's just to name a few. The list could go on and on and on. The Philadelphia sports fan's paranoia is not unfounded. And here is yet the latest, shining example.

To be blunt, Wentz has brass balls. We didn’t need to see him stay in the game for four additional plays after his knee injury Sunday to know that. He stands in the pocket with defenses bearing down on him like no quarterback I’ve ever seen. His fearlessness is perhaps the greatest attribute of his many. He’ll dip his shoulder and take off out of the pocket like a running back. He’s strong enough to shrug off a would-be sack in the pocket and make an incomprehensible play. But the courage comes with a price and the bill came due. And you know what? It sucks. Only in Philadelphia can you have the irony of winning a wild road game with a backup quarterback against a really good team while clinching the division title ... and yet you’re somehow left feeling deflated.

It’s not easy being green, as Kermit The Frog once said. Truer words have never been spoken.

How Eagles could shut down Vikings' receiving duo

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USA Today Images

How Eagles could shut down Vikings' receiving duo

When you think about the best wide receivers in the NFL today, names like Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, and DeAndre Hopkins come to mind and rightfully so, but the Minnesota Vikings have a pair of wideouts who have given opposing secondaries fits.

This season, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs have been the perfect complement to each other. Thielen finished the regular season with 91 receptions (eighth-best in the league), 1276 yards (fifth-best) and his 20 catches for 20 or more yards tied for fifth-best overall. As for Diggs, he finished with 64 receptions for 849 yards.

Together, Thielen and Diggs accounted for 54 percent of the Vikings' receiving yards this season. They also combined for 12 touchdowns. In the Vikes' miraculous playoff win over the New Orleans Saints, they accounted for 66 percent of the passing game. They have been the safety valves for Case Keenum all season long.

Minnesota offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur has the rare luxury of lining up either one of them on the inside or outside on any given play. Both are excellent route runners — whether it's doing deep or intermediate routes or crossing routes, and both are excellent blockers.

So how should Jim Schwartz defend against these two? Some believe help over the top on Thielen and playing single coverage on Diggs is the way to go. We may see that concept occasionally in the NFC Championship Game but I have a feeling Schwartz will come up with some variation we have not seen before. The Eagles are not going to completely shut these two down, but their damage can be minimized. Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson and the other DBs will put in a full day’s work shadowing these two.

Howie Roseman honored for his tremendous offseason

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AP Images

Howie Roseman honored for his tremendous offseason

As the Eagles practiced on Thursday afternoon, just a few days before hosting the NFC Championship Game at Lincoln Financial Field, vice president of football operations Howie Roseman stood next to owner Jeff Lurie and watched the team he created. 

Of the 53 members on the Eagles' roster heading into this championship game, 25 weren't on the active roster last season. Roseman had a very busy offseason, molding the Eagles into a Super Bowl contender. 

For his efforts, the 42-year-old Roseman, who began with the Eagles as an intern in 2000, has been named the NFL Executive of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America. 

Roseman helped turn over a roster that went 7-9 last season into a team that went 13-3, earning the first-overall seed in the NFC. He built the team with enough depth to survive major injuries to Carson Wentz, Jason Peters, Darren Sproles, Jordan Hicks, Chris Maragos and Caleb Sturgis. 

Never afraid to make a trade, Roseman came back from his time away from football operations more aggressive than ever. He claims his year away from GM duties while Chip Kelly took over was both humbling and eye-opening. 

For this season, Roseman traded 25 spots in the third round to bring in veteran defensive tackle Tim Jernigan, traded away Jordan Matthews and a pick to bring in cornerback Ronald Darby and pulled the trigger on a midseason move to bring in Pro Bowl running back Jay Ajayi. 

In free agency, he signed Alshon Jeffery, Chris Long, LeGarrette Blount, Nick Foles, Patrick Robinson and Chance Warmack. He brought in several of those players on one-year prove-it deals, and for the most part, the team has gotten more than their money's worth out of them. 

He also helped hire VP of player personnel Joe Douglas to revamp the scouting department. That hire of a top personnel man was one of the conditions when Lurie reinstated Roseman to power following Kelly's dismissal. 

Roseman and Douglas spearheaded drafting a class that included Derek Barnett in the first round, an injured Sidney Jones in the second and some other contributors in the next five rounds. 

Aside from just bringing players in, Roseman has been able to manipulate the salary cap better than anyone in the league. It's been a strength of his since his arrival in Philly, so that should be no surprise. 

You could actually argue that Roseman's 2016 was more impressive. That's when he laid the groundwork for this playoff season by moving up and drafting Carson Wentz. But 2017 is when it all came together.