Eagles

Eagles making NFL history on both sides of ball

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Eagles making NFL history on both sides of ball

In this week's edition of Roob Stats, we touch on some of the usual suspects — Carson Wentz, explosive offense and run defense — and add some interesting nuggets about Corey Clement, Jay Ajayi and even ... Nick Foles?

Have fun crunching the numbers!

The Wentz numbers
• Carson Wentz has thrown 17 touchdowns the last five games — more than he had all last year in 16 games. He's only the 10th quarterback in NFL history (and the first Eagle) with 17 or more touchdowns and three or fewer interceptions in any five-game stretch.

• Wentz's 23 TD passes through nine games make him the youngest quarterback with 23 touchdown passes this early since Dan Marino in 1984.

• Wentz has gone 11 straight games with at least one TD pass and one or fewer interceptions. That's one shy of the franchise record of 12, set in 1990 by Randall Cunningham.

• With seven games left, Wentz is on pace for 40 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Aaron Rodgers (2011, 2016) and Tom Brady (2007) are the only quarterbacks in NFL history to put up those numbers in a season.

• Wentz has had a passer rating of at least 83.0 in all nine games this year. He's the 10th quarterback in NFL history to open a season by hitting 83.0 or higher in each of his first nine games.

Run defense stats
• Fifteen running backs have had four or more carries against the Eagles this year, and 13 of them have averaged 3.5 yards per carry or worse. Nine of them have averaged 2.5 yards per carry or worse. 

• Opposing teams have run the ball only 166 times against the Eagles this year, the fewest in NFL history through nine games. The previous low was 171 against the 2003 Titans. 

• The Eagles haven't allowed a run longer than 16 yards in their last five games. They've only allowed three all year. Kareem Hunt is still the only running back to gain more than 40 yards against the Eagles this year.

• Jamaal Charles of the Broncos — who Pederson coached in Kansas City — has the highest per-carry average of any running back in NFL history at 5.4, but he gained one yard on four carries Sunday, the lowest average of his career in a game when he had more than one carry.

• The Broncos are the fifth team the Eagles have held under 65 rushing yards this year. The last time the Eagles held more teams under 65 rushing yards in a full season was 1991 when they held seven teams under. 

First-quarter defense
• The Eagles haven't allowed a first-quarter touchdown in nine games this year and 11 consecutive games dating back to last year. It's the longest the Eagles have gone without allowing a first-quarter TD since a 13-game streak in 1971. The Eagles have allowed only one first-quarter touchdown in 13 home games under Jim Schwartz.

• In all, the Eagles have allowed only 12 first-quarter points, fewest in the NFL. They're on pace to allow 21 this year, which would be the fewest in the NFL since the 2002 Giants allowed 16. The fewest the Eagles have ever allowed in a first quarter over a full season is 16 in 1971 (in 14 games).

Points piling up
• The Eagles have scored 26 or more points in seven straight games, matching the longest streak in franchise history. 

• They're also the 26th team in NFL history to win seven straight games while scoring 26 or more points in all seven games.

The Corey Clement section
• Clement's five TDs are already the sixth-most ever by any Eagles rookie and most ever by a rookie Eagles running back. The previous record of four was shared by Lee Bouggess in 1970, Shady in 2009 and Bryce Brown in 2012. 

• Clement is only the 11th Eagles running back ever with three touchdowns in a game, the first since Shady had three against the Jets in 2011. He's the first rookie to do it since Don Johnson against the Colts in 1953. 

• Clement is also the third rookie in Eagles history — and the first in 64 years — with a rushing TD and receiving TD in the same game. Two rookies did it in November of 1953 — Giancanelli against the Steelers and then Johnson later in the month against both the Colts and Giants.

Run differential is a huge stat
• The Eagles have now gone seven straight games rushing for at least 100 yards while allowing fewer than 100 yards. That's the fifth-longest such streak in NFL history.

• With 1,231 rushing yards and 598 rushing yards allowed, the Eagles are only the sixth team in NFL history to rush for at least 1,200 yards and allow fewer than 600 yards through nine games.

Miscellaneous
• Nick Foles' 39-yard completion to Nelson Agholor was the Eagles' longest pass play on a fourth down since Brian Mitchell's 57-yarder to Brian Dawkins on a fake punt against the Texans in 2001. 

• Doug Pederson now has a higher winning percentage as head coach of the Eagles than Andy Reid. Reid was 130-93-1 in his 14 years here, a .583 winning percentage. Pederson, who played for Reid and coached under him, is now 15-10 (.600).

Eagles' run defense faces toughest test yet vs. Bears' attack

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Eagles' run defense faces toughest test yet vs. Bears' attack

The Eagles may boast the No. 1 run defense in the NFL these days, but that ranking will be put to the test Sunday by the Chicago Bears (see matchups to watch).

“If we can’t stop the run, it’s going to be a long day,” Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said this week. “Let’s not get that mistaken.”

Few teams are as committed to the ground attack as the Bears, and even fewer are more productive. Since rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky became the starter in Week 5, Chicago ranks seventh in the league in rushing attempts. For the entire 2017 season, the offense is fifth with 131.8 rushing yards per game.

The Eagles are limiting opponents to nearly half that total at 71.0 yards per game. They’ve also faced only a smattering of backfields as talented as Chicago’s, if any. Plus, many offenses have abandoned the run — a strategy the Bears aren’t likely to attempt regardless of the score.

“We know they’re going to run the football,” Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham said. “They even run the football a lot of times on third-and-long. It’s something they’re going to do.

“There’s a reason why they’re fifth in the league in rushing.”

Given the nature of their passing attack, the Bears’ best shot at pulling off an upset at Lincoln Financial Field is to keep the Eagles' offense on the sideline.

“Even if it’s not getting you a whole lot," Jenkins said, "if you can slowly move the chains and control the game, I think that’s something that they’ll continue to do.”

Trubisky, selected with the second-overall pick in the draft, has begun making strides in recent weeks. He completed 60.0 percent of his passes and avoided throwing an interception in each of the last two games, both one-possession losses. In fact, the Bears haven’t lost any of Trubisky’s six starts by more than eight points, and are 2-4 since he’s taken over.

Trubisky wasn’t asked to throw the ball much in those two victories, either — a combined total of 23 pass attempts. Instead, Chicago was able to lean on running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen.

“It’s kind of like a thunder and lightning situation," Bradham said, "kind of what we had here at the beginning of the season with (LeGarrette Blount) and (Darren Sproles).”

Howard is the workhorse back and is often overlooked as one of the NFL’s bright, young stars due to the quality of his team. The 23-year-old was the runner-up to the rushing champion as a rookie in 2016 with 1,313 yards. Ten games into his second season, he’s up to 841 yards with a 4.4 average and five touchdowns.

A fourth-round pick from FCS school North Carolina AT&T in 2017, Cohen has immediately emerged as one of the league’s scariest change-of-pace/receiving backs. The 5-foot-6, 181-pound ball carrier has 537 total yards from scrimmage and leads the team with 33 receptions.

The duo is featured prominently in just about everything the Bears do on offense.

“They put both backs on the field at the same time a little bit, too,” Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. “Sometimes it's two-back sets, sometimes it's one.

“Traditionally there's a fullback back there in two-back sets, but not so much with the Bears. They can put two guys back there. It spreads you a little bit thin. You have to be very assignment-sound. It'll test us in the run game.”

Cohen, in particular, has caused defenses some problems because, much like Sproles for the Eagles, he can line up all over the formation. Some teams have even opted to roll coverages to his area of the field, though that might be as much about Chicago’s dearth of receivers as it is respect for the 22-year-old.

Whatever the case, Jenkins doesn’t expect the Eagles to roll coverages, adding that’s not something they’ve done all season. Regardless, with three run or pass plays of 35 yards or more this season, Cohen is a home run threat — although the Eagles aren't giving up many home runs (see story).

“He’s definitely a matchup issue, and they put him all over the place,” Jenkins said. “He’s at receiver, he’s in the backfield, he’s in the slot. Everybody is going to have to hold up. Whether he’s on a linebacker or a safety or a corner, we’ve seen him make plays at every position.

“He’s running post routes on corners and making the play. Then they’re able to line up and run the ball at pretty much anybody, so we’ll have our hands full with that.”

Howard is a threat to rip off long gains on the ground as well, with three runs of 50 and over. Then Trubisky is capable of taking off, too, with 163 yards rushing.

“His ability to make plays with his legs has been a positive,” Jenkins said. “He’s a mobile guy. When all else fails, he can escape the pocket and extend the play.

“Whether it’s scrambling for a first down, or scrambling to get somebody open, that’s always tough on the defense.”

Up until last week, it was beginning to look like there may not have been a running game in the league that the Eagles needed to fear. Then the Dallas Cowboys posted 112 yards last Sunday — tied for the most the Eagles have allowed all season and the most since Week 2. And Dallas was without All-Pro running back Ezekiel Elliott, who is suspended.

Then again, if the Bears are only able to muster 112 yards rushing this week, the Eagles might consider that a victory in itself.

To put those numbers in perspective, exactly half of the league is allowing more than 112.0 yards rushing per game this season. In other words, the Bears are probably going to have to fare a lot better than that to knock off the Eagles.

“I think we set that bar awful high,” Schwartz said. “Some people might get a pat on the back for that.

“It's a tribute to the players in the locker room that that's a poor performance for them, and they consider it a poor performance.”

Eagles' Dannell Ellerbe, Will Beatty playing catch-up with new team

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Eagles' Dannell Ellerbe, Will Beatty playing catch-up with new team

After signing with the Eagles about a week and a half ago, Will Beatty has been working hard to catch up. 

He's learning a new offense, new terminology, new teammates. 

And a new building. 

"I'm still trying to figure out where everything is here," Beatty said. "A lot of the doors here are not labeled, so it's like 'where does this door lead?'"

Eventually, the 32-year-old offensive tackle finds where he's going. For the most part, he just tries to follow his teammates. When he's the only player around, he begins to worry and checks the schedule to make sure he's not missing something. 

Beatty isn't alone. He was brought in last week a day after the Eagles signed veteran linebacker Dannell Ellerbe. Both players are veterans over 30. Both players have won a Super Bowl. And both are playing catch-up. 

How has it been going? 

"Really good," head coach Doug Pederson said. "In both cases, picking up the offense with Will and the defense with Dannell. Dannell has probably gotten a couple of reps with our defense in the past couple of weeks. Both of them are doing really, really well."

While Ellerbe has gotten some practice reps, don't expect him to have a role with the defense just yet. Pederson on Friday morning said Ellerbe's role is still to get comfortable with the defense. 

While Jim Schwartz said Ellerbe was going to learn all three linebacker positions, Ellerbe has been focusing more on MIKE and SAM. The former Saint said he likes to learn the entire concept of the defense. The biggest hurdle is learning the new terminology. 

"I've been sitting out since OTAs, so it's been a while," Ellerbe said. "It's like riding a bike. Just repetition."

Both players were inactive against the Cowboys, less than a week after their arrivals. It is yet to be seen if either will have roles down the stretch. 

When Beatty eventually finds his way to the practice field, he has been working with the Eagles' second-team offense, which means he's going against the Eagles' first-team defense every day. That's a good way to shake off some rust. 

For now, second-year player Joe Walker has been playing the MIKE position in the Eagles' base defense. If Ellerbe were to ever get on the field, it would likely be in that spot. But Walker has been playing OK since Jordan Hicks went down. 

During meetings, Beatty pretty much stays quiet when he has questions. He writes down what he doesn't understand and then brings it to offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland afterward so he doesn't slow down the entire group. It's basically like seeing a teacher after class for extra help. 

One of the tough parts about joining a team in the middle of the season is everyone is already settled into a routine. Beatty and Ellerbe are working just to catch up. 

"It's a little different, but would much rather be doing this than anything else," Beatty said. "This is a great organization. Everyone welcomed me with open arms."