Eagles

Eagles 43, Rams 35: Studs, duds, turning point and more

usa-torrey-smith-alshon-jeffery.jpg
USA Today Images

Eagles 43, Rams 35: Studs, duds, turning point and more

BOX SCORE

LOS ANGELES — The Eagles won a game, but they might have lost their season. 

With Nick Foles under center, the Eagles came back to beat the Rams, 43-35, at the L.A. Coliseum (see Roob's observations), but franchise quarterback Carson Wentz left the game early with a knee injury late in the third quarter (see story)

Now all they can do is wait and hope. 

The Eagles clinched the NFC East and also took back sole possession of the No. 1 spot in the NFC after Carolina beat Minnesota earlier in the day. With the win, the Eagles got back to their winning ways after a loss in Seattle. They improved to 11-2. This is the Eagles' first 11-win season since 2009. 

It's just that everything feels so hollow after the Wentz injury. 

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the Eagles fear Wentz tore his left ACL, but the team hasn't confirmed anything since they ruled him out for the game. 

With the loss, the Rams fell to 9-4. It was just their second loss in their last eight games. 

Chris Long made a huge play in the fourth quarter (see report card). He had a strip sack that set up Jake Elliott's eventual game-winning field goal. 

After Wentz came out, Foles did enough to help the Eagles come back and win the game. It might be his job for a while.

The Eagles took a 10-point lead into halftime, but that wasn't going to be enough in this shootout. The Rams were able to come back and score the first 14 points of the second half to take the lead. 

When Wentz threw a touchdown pass just before leaving the game, the Eagles took a 31-28 lead, but the Rams answered on the next possession. The Eagles' defense had trouble stopping Todd Gurley and the Rams' offense. 

Turning point
Long's strip sack came at a time where the Eagles absolutely needed somebody to step up and make a play. The veteran pass rusher did just that. 

Key stat
Before leaving, Wentz had another four-touchdown game. Before the Arizona game this season, he had never had a three-touchdown game. Since then, he's had six in nine games. 

Offensive stud
Before going out, Wentz was having another Wentz-like game. With his third-quarter touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery (No. 33), he became the Eagles' single-season passing touchdown record holder. He broke Sonny Jurgenson's franchise record that had stood since 1961. 

Offensive dud
LeGarrette Blount had some opportunities but didn't make the most of them. Meanwhile, Jay Ajayi was much more explosive. For some reason, he didn't get the bulk of the carries. 

Defensive stud
Fletcher Cox is always disruptive but he really seemed to get after Goff on Sunday. It had to feel good facing a quarterback who isn't as elusive as Russell Wilson. 

Defensive dud
Nigel Bradham didn't have a bad game, but he dropped a couple possible interceptions. One came just a couple plays before the Rams scored their second touchdown. He could have kept points off the board. 

Rodney McLeod didn't have a very good game either. He was beaten in coverage a couple times and missed a couple tackles. 

Key plays
• Brandon Graham scooped up the ball and scored a touchdown at the end of the game. 

• Long got a strip sack on Goff and McLeod was able to scoop it up to give the Eagles the ball on the Rams' 25-yard line. That eventually set up a 33-yard field goal from Elliott to give the Eagles a 37-35 lead. 

The Eagles' defense forced a three-and-out on the next drive. And the Eagles were able to kill some time. 

• Foles led a drive that was capped with a 41-yard field goal from Elliott. That made the score: Rams 35, Eagles 34. 

• Gurley seemed pretty unstoppable as the Rams drove down the field on a 75-yard touchdown drive to put them up 35-31 as Wentz was taken into the locker room. 

• After Wentz threw touchdown pass No. 4 of the game, he left with a knee injury and did not return. 

• On 4th-and-goal from the 2-yard line, Doug Pederson left his offense on the field and Wentz found Alshon Jeffery for a touchdown to put them back on top 31-28. It was a tremendous fingertip catch from Jeffery. 

• Donnie Jones had his punt blocked by WR Michael Thomas. It was then scooped up by Eagles 2016 draft pick Blake Countess and returned for a 16-yard touchdown to give the Rams their second lead of the game (28-24). It was their second touchdown in 1 minute and 34 seconds. 

• The Rams came out after halftime and went down the field to score easily. They went on a 71-yard touchdown drive and had the Eagles completely off balance. 

• Pederson challenged a first down spot around the two-minute warning and got it overturned to force a punt. The Eagles were then able to march down the field and get a field goal to give them a 10-point lead (24-14) heading into the locker room. 

• Bad tackling got the Eagles again in the second quarter. Jim Schwartz wasn't happy with his team's tackling in Seattle and this play was like seeing that again. Cooper Kupp caught the ball near the left sideline and made Malcolm Jenkins and Patrick Robinson miss on his way to a 64-yard play. He scored a touchdown a couple plays later to make the score 21-14. 

• Burton's second touchdown catch came early in the second quarter. This time, he caught an 11-yard pass for a touchdown. It was also Wentz's 32nd of the season, tying the franchise record. 

• The Eagles third drive resulted in a touchdown too. This drive went 88 yards on seven plays. Wentz hit Burton for a 20-yard touchdown, his first of the game. Somehow, Wentz was able to weave it through traffic and Burton made a tremendous catch. 

• After a bad first drive, the Eagles responded, going on a 75-yard drive of their own. The big play was the first of the drive when Wentz hit Corey Clement for a 28-yard screen pass. It was the longest pass to a running back all season. 

• The game didn't get off to a good start for the Birds. Wentz's second pass of the game was bobbled by Nelson Agholor and then an interception. On the ensuing drive, the Rams went 37 yards with no trouble to take a 7-0 lead. Gurley broke off a 30-yard run.

Injuries
Wentz left late in the third quarter. He suffered a knee injury and did not return. 

Left guard Stefen Wisniewski injured his ankle in the first half and did not return. Chance Warmack and then Isaac Seumalo filled in. 

The Eagles didn’t have Zach Ertz (concussion) or Joe Walker (neck) for this game. Both were listed as questionable coming into the weekend. 

Up next
The Eagles return to the East Coast, but their road trip isn't over. They're up in North Jersey to face the Giants next Sunday. 

Forget empty Day 2 of draft, Eagles hoping to find gold in Day 3

us-kelce.jpg
USA Today Images

Forget empty Day 2 of draft, Eagles hoping to find gold in Day 3

The Eagles are scheduled to have a pretty boring Day 2 of the draft this year. Because after they pick at No. 32, they don’t have another selection until the 31st pick of the fourth round. 

That means 98 players will be taken between the Eagles’ first and second picks. And they’ll have to watch other teams pick that entire Friday (Rounds 2-3) without them … unless they make a move. 

“We’re not looking at it like we’re sitting out on Friday,” Eagles de facto GM Howie Roseman said. “We’re going through our draft process looking at every scenario. When we get to Friday, we get to Friday.” 

Even if the Eagles don’t make a move, they’ll be plenty busy on Saturday, the final day of the draft. They have two fourth-round picks and one pick in the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds. 

Eagles personnel head Joe Douglas showed up to his media availability with a stat ready to go to illustrate the importance of Day 3. 

“We’re excited that we have five picks on Saturday,” Douglas said. “When you look at the Super Bowl, there’s 22 starters that were third-round picks or lower. Of those 22, 18 of them were fourth-round picks or lower. So 18 starters in the Super Bowl this year were fourth-round picks or lower, including six of them that were undrafted free agents. We choose to keep the glass half full.” 

Douglas is right on all those stats — 22 of 44 starters in the Super Bowl were drafted in the third or lower and 18 of them would be considered Day 3 picks. Not bad. 

Here’s how the Super Bowl starters broke down by round: 1-10, 2-12, 3-4, 4-4, 5-3, 6-3, 7-2, UDFA-6. 

The Eagles accounted for seven of the 18 players who were drafted in the fourth round or later, so the Patriots were the ones who found even more value late in drafts. And of those seven, just three were original Eagles — Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Jason Kelce and Jalen Mills. 

Of the six undrafted players who started in the Super Bowl, two were from the Eagles — LeGarrette Blount and Rodney McLeod. Neither was an original Eagle, but the Birds also relied heavily on running back Corey Clement, who was an undrafted rookie last season. 

With a dearth of high draft picks, it would make sense if the Eagles attack the undrafted market following the draft, but Douglas thinks it won’t be as easy as many might think. 

“You would think because we’re coming off a Super Bowl, we don’t have a second or third round pick that it would be a lot easier after the draft,” Douglas said. “But my experience coming off a Super Bowl, it’s sometimes harder to get guys to commit to your roster because agents and players have a perceived notion that it’s going to be that much tougher to make the team. I think that’s going to be a challenge. I think that’s going to be a challenge for us and we know it and we’re going to attack it.”

The Eagles in recent years have shown a willingness to pony up significant money to entice undrafted players to sign with them and if Douglas is right, they might need to do it again to land some this year. 

Either way, the Eagles know how important Day 3 and beyond can be. So when they’re bored on Day 2, they don’t plan on losing focus. 

Eagles reward Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles with reworked contract

usa-nick-foles-celebrate.jpg
USA Today Images

Eagles reward Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles with reworked contract

The Eagles gave Nick Foles a little raise on Friday, reworking the Super Bowl MVP’s contract, a league source confirmed. 

Basically, the Eagles are rewarding Foles after he helped the franchise win its first-ever Super Bowl a few months ago. 

Foles, 29, is still entering the final year of his contract with the Eagles, but the new deal also includes a mutual option for the 2019 season, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia. The mutual option will still allow Foles the possibility to test the free agent market next season, but could leave the door open to a possible return beyond this upcoming season. 

Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport from NFL Network first reported the revised contract, which includes a $2 million signing bonus and “several millions in incentives if he’s the starter and hits various benchmarks,” according to Rapoport. 

That part makes a ton of sense. If for some reason Carson Wentz isn’t ready to play in 2018 or if he goes down again, Foles will have a chance to earn what might be closer to starter money. 

Foles was set to earn a base salary of $4 million in 2018, with a salary cap hit of $7.6 million on the contract before Friday’s renegotiation. 

Wentz and Foles grew very close last season — third-string QB Nate Sudfeld too — and have both been very selfless in a situation that would be awkward for many others in the league. But both have been incredibly selfless throughout the entire process. Just this week, Wentz admitted he had to fight jealousy but was truly happy for his teammate and friend, who became the Super Bowl hero (see story)

Earlier on Friday, Foles tweeted out this photo with his wife and daughter from the NovaCare Complex. That’s a $2 million smile.