Eagles

Eagles Film Study: Jay Ajayi should be able to help

Eagles Film Study: Jay Ajayi should be able to help

The Eagles pulled off a pretty impressive trade Tuesday, getting Jay Ajayi from the Dolphins for a fourth-round pick. 

On the surface, that seems like a no-brainer. A 24-year-old coming off a Pro Bowl season? Sure!

There are, however, some red flags with Ajayi. There are some maturity concerns, along with a chronic knee issue. All those possible problems are outlined here

How about as just a player, though? 

Ajayi clearly wasn't having a repeat season down in Miami. He was off to a pretty rough start this year, averaging 3.37 yards per carry, which is actually lower than his average after contact from a year ago. That's jarring. 

But I turned on the tape Tuesday night and came away pretty impressed. Sure, there are some concerns with Ajayi, but it looks like the Eagles might have gotten a good player for a mid-round draft pick. 

To the tape: 

All of Ajayi's numbers are down this season, but one quick look at their games and it's pretty clear his offensive line in Miami just wasn't very good. Still, Ajayi would sometimes make things happen on his own. Just check out these three plays from the opener against the Chargers. 

His yards after contact numbers aren't great this season (2.88 average), but at times he's looked like the same guy who was second in the league in that category in his Pro Bowl 2016 season. 


On this play, Ajayi is able to generate plenty of steam running downhill out of the shotgun, which is important for the Eagles too. 

The outside linebacker comes clean and should have Ajayi down in the backfield for at least for a short gain. Doesn't happen. 

Ajayi drags Melvin Ingram ahead for six yards. 

•••

On this play, Jay Cutler was under center, which does help Ajayi get a head full of steam. Ajayi should be down after a short gain, but he's going to run right through a tackler. After this, he drags a couple others ahead for even more yards. 

He turns nothing into an eight-yard gain. 

•••

A little later in the game, Ajayi is able to take contact and simply spin out of it. This defensive back has no chance to take him down alone. Not only is Ajayi powerful, but he's also fleet of foot, which he shows here. 

•••

How about pass protection? 

As the trade deadline approached, there was a thought the Eagles would try to pick up a running back who was strong in pass protection. They've missed that since Darren Sproles went down. That's certainly not Ajayi's reputation. 

But in reading some things coming out of Miami on Tuesday, it seems like Ajayi was willing to block but sometimes wasn't in the right spot or didn't know his assignment. It seemed like there was just confusion at times. 

One thing stands out watching him, though: He certainly has the ability to block in the backfield. The Eagles' coaching staff — specifically Duce Staley and Jeff Stoutland — can work with his skills. It'll be up to Ajayi how good he becomes in this area. 

This first play came in Week 3 against the Jets. The linebacker is coming on an A-gap blitz and Ajayi recognizes it immediately. He nails his assignment here and stands him up.

••• 

This next play came in the Week 7 meeting against the Jets. At the time of the snap, the Jets are bringing a safety blitz around the left side of the defensive line. Ajayi sees it and picks it up. 

His form is perfect on this. He uses a wide base, bends his knees and pops the defensive back to his backside, giving Matt Moore plenty of time to deliver the ball. 

•••

While pass protection is one area that has come into question, another has been Ajayi's penchant to go for the big play rather than the sure one. Dolphins coach Adam Gase — without using Ajayi's name — was critical of this aspect of his game. 

There's something to this. 

On this play in Week 7, Ajayi has a few short yards up the gut if he wants it. But he sees a lot of room outside and decides to try it. 

The problem is his offensive line doesn't hold up and gets pushed back into him. Had the line held, maybe he is able to bounce this outside. But it actually goes for a four-yard loss. 

•••

Ajayi isn't a perfect player. He has his flaws and that's not even taking into account the ones he has in the locker room and inside his knees. But the flaws he has on the field are correctable and his talent hasn't gone anywhere. 

Maybe this move won't work out for the Eagles, but there's a really good chance it does. If it doesn't, it won't be for lack of talent. 

Meet the 99-year-old Eagles fan with a remarkable story

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Josh Potter

Meet the 99-year-old Eagles fan with a remarkable story

In Philadelphia, rabidly following the Eagles is a right of passage. Watch one game and you’re hooked. Like many lifelong fans, that’s what happened with Phil Basser.

In 1933. 

So to lump Basser in with the rest of the lifelong fans wouldn’t be right; he was actually born 15 years before the Eagles first took the field for their inaugural season in 1933. 

By now you’ve probably heard of Basser. How could you not have? He’s appeared in Sports Illustrated, made appearances on the local news and has become a Twitter sensation — all in the last week. He’s had a busier week than the team he roots for.

That busy week will culminate with suite tickets provided by the Eagles for Sunday’s NFC Championship Game. Eighty-two years after Basser attended his first game in 1936, he’ll attend his first playoff game and his first game in “many years.”

If you caught last Sunday’s Vikings-Saints game, you surely caught Millie Wall’s story; a 99-year-old fan attending her first playoff game. A constant camera fixture — she even got to meet Commissioner Roger Goodell — she became a social media star within minutes.

A tweet by SNF on NBC of Wall was quickly passed around Twitter, where Josh Potter, the grandson of Basser, first saw it. Potter replied to the tweet, making his grandpa an instant internet sensation. See, social media isn’t all terrible.

This week, Wall's Vikings and Basser's Eagles will battle for a trip to the Super Bowl. But don't expect Basser to talk any trash.

"To Millie, I would say, 'I will be sure to toast to your 100th on July 4th,'” Basser said in an email correspondence with NBC Sports Philadelphia.

For “a simple guy who likes to live under the radar” like Basser, his meteoric rise to fame “is all a bit overwhelming.”

“The upside is getting calls and emails from the children of my old friends who have long since passed,” Basser said. “When you get to be 99, you don’t have a lot of childhood friends around. It’s been nice to reminisce about my youth.”

Basser — born March 6, 1918, in Philadelphia — has overcome a lot in his 99 years. His mother passed away when he was just four years old. His father, unable to provide for him and his sister, was forced to place his children in a Germantown foster home. Still, his father would come and visit on weekends. Years later, his sister Rose passed away at just 8 years old. 

So Philadelphia, the city and the Eagles — Basser estimates he’s attended “about 25 games” in his lifetime, many of them in those early days in the 1930s — have a deeper meaning than most to Basser.

Then World War ll broke out. Basser originally trained to be a pilot but was rerouted to ground warfare after the Allied invasion at Normandy, where he eventually served as a second lieutenant in the Philippines. 

“After World War II, I never thought there would be another war,” Basser said. “I thought, ‘Hey, I could use the extra income,’ so I enrolled in the army reserves. I was shocked when the Korean War broke out.”

“I was all set to get shipped to Korea and was actually being examined in the Schuylkill Arsenal in Philadelphia when my lifelong best friend, Louis Wexler, ran in and said he had bad news. I was pulled out of line and he told that my dad had had a sudden heart attack and passed away. I was given a 90-day compassionate leave. After the 90 days passed, my orders were changed to ship off to Germany because of heightened tensions with the Soviets.”

Much like the 2017 Eagles, Basser has overcome a great deal in his lifetime. And still, he remains positive. The Eagles’ and Basser’s stories of perseverance collided on Dec. 10 when Basser experienced his worst moment as an Eagles fan, “watching my hero Carson Wentz get carried off the field” with a torn ACL.

But it hasn't been all bad. Unlike younger Eagles fans, Basser has seen the team reach the pinnacle of the sport.  

“Seeing them slog in the snow and blustery wind during the 1960 championship game at Franklin Field,” replied when asked about his favorite Eagles’ memory. “They had to be true soldiers to do that and I was so impressed and inspired by them, and best of all, they won!”

He saw their last championship, and this year, Basser is confident he'll see another.

“There is an old saying, ‘Always a bridesmaid but never a bride,’” Basser said. “Well this year, I can’t wait to walk you down that 100-yard aisle to Super Bowl victory!”

So you like the Eagles to beat the Vikings this weekend?

“A hard fought battle but the Eagles will soar to VICTORY!”

The positive man that he is, Basser offered some condolences for the Vikings. 

“To the Vikings, I would say, ‘Keep plugging. You’ll get to the big time one year. Just not this year!’”

10 Eagles stats your probably didn't know

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AP Images

10 Eagles stats your probably didn't know

Catches by a running back, a run from scrimmage by a wide receiver, run defense and long field goals highlight this week's edition of 10 Random Eagles Stats You Probably Didn't Know (that I didn't know either)! 

• Devonta Freeman averaged 4.4 yards per carry during the regular season, but against the Eagles he ran 10 times for just seven yards. His 0.7 yards-per-carry is the lowest ever against the Eagles in a playoff game by a running back with 10 or more carries. The previous low was Mike Alstott’s 1.47 for the Buccaneers in 2002 (17-for-25). It’s seventh-lowest in NFL playoff history and worst by a running back since Tyrone Wheatley of the Raiders averaged 0.6 yards per carry (12-for-7) in a loss to the Ravens in 2000.

• The Eagles threw the football to their backs less this year than any season since 1956 and less than any team in the NFL during the regular season. Yet Saturday’s game was their first ever in postseason history in which they had two backs with at least three catches — Corey Clement with five and Jay Ajayi with three. 

• The Eagles rushed for 96 yards Saturday, their seventh consecutive postseason game under 100 yards. That’s the longest postseason streak in NFL history without 100 rushing yards. The Eagles haven’t had 100 rushing yards in a playoff game since the 2006 conference semifinal loss to the Saints, when they had 123.

• Jake Elliott’s 53-yard field goal was the longest in NFL history by a rookie, breaking the record of 50 yards set by Stephen Gostkowski of the Patriots against the Chargers in 2006. It also broke the Eagles record of 51 yards set in the 2008 wild-card game against the Vikings by David Akers. It’s tied for 13th-longest field goal in NFL postseason history. 

• The Eagles held the Falcons to 86 rushing yards Saturday, ending a streak of nine straight playoff games in which they had allowed at least 100 rushing yards. That was the second-longest streak in NFL history. The 86 rushing yards are the fewest the Eagles have allowed in their last 14 playoff games. They held Tampa to 49 in 2002.

• Nelson Agholor’s 21-yard run was the longest in Eagles postseason history by a wide receiver. The previous long was a 13-yarder by Reggie Brown against the Giants in 2006. It was also the Eagles’ longest run from scrimmage in their last six games, since a 27-yarder by Correll Buckhalter against the Vikings in 2008.

• Saturday’s game was the ninth in Eagles postseason history in which they held a team to fewer than 200 passing yards and fewer than 100 rushing yards. They’re 9-0 in those games, allowing 8.0 points per game.

• The only team to score more than 10 points against the Eagles at the Linc in their last six home games is the Broncos, and they didn’t surpass 10 until they trailed 44-9. The Eagles’ defense has allowed 55 points in its last six home games, or 9.2 per game. 

• The Atlanta game was the first in Eagles postseason history in which they won despite no takeaways. They were 0-4 in franchise history in the playoffs when failing to force a turnover — the 1980 Super Bowl vs. the Raiders, the 1996 wild-card game in San Francisco, the 2001 NFC Championship Game in St. Louis and the 2003 NFC Championship Game against the Panthers at the Linc.  

• Matt Ryan’s 86.8 passer rating Saturday is the highest ever against the Eagles by a starting quarterback in a postseason loss. The Eagles had been 0-12 in franchise history in postseason games when the opposing starting QB had a passer rating higher than 84.5.