Eagles

Eagles notes, quotes and tidbits: Doug Pederson talks Carson Wentz's end zone dive

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Eagles notes, quotes and tidbits: Doug Pederson talks Carson Wentz's end zone dive

Everyone in the city of Philadelphia held their breath in the second quarter Thursday when Carson Wentz scrambled near the goal line and tried diving into the end zone throwing shoulder first.

Hearts were in throats all across the Delaware Valley as Wentz took on Panthers safety Mike Adams, even though the 6-foot-5, 237-pound Wentz has the size advantage on the 5-foot-11, 205-pound Adams. That's a golden arm at stake.

He was stopped short and threw a touchdown pass on the next play to tie the game 10-10. More importantly, he wasn't injured.

"Well, at the time, I thought he was going to score, quite honestly," Pederson said. "You don't really want your starting quarterback to lead with your throwing shoulder, but I understand, too, the situation, and him trying to get in the end zone. There was a lane at the time, but in this league, everything closed fast. Could he have gone lower? Sure. But at the same time, I think he just saw the end zone and was trying to get in."

Pederson, when asked, said plays like that and when he stands in and delivers the ball with a blitz coming at him, resonate with teammates. They appreciate his toughness and will to win.

Lazy Sunday
As you watch football games from your living room this weekend, know the Eagles are probably doing the same thing.

After Thursday night's huge win over Carolina and with their next game not until next Monday night, the Eagles are in what's almost like a little bye week.

Doug Pederson gave his players and coaches the entire weekend off. While the injured players stuck around this weekend to get treatment, the others were free to go and do whatever they want.

Pederson said he wanted them to get away and "think about the first six weeks." Those are going to be some happy thoughts. The Eagles are 5-1 and look like the best team in the NFC.

The Eagles were going to start looking at film of Washington Friday night, but they weren't planning on taking a deep dive into the division opponent until after Sunday.

Players will start reporting back to the NovaCare Complex on Monday and the team will have a light 10/10/10 practice Tuesday. The real week of practice doesn't begin until Thursday, which will be like a normal Wednesday. With the Monday Night Football game, the Eagles just push everything back one day.

"We've got three really good, exciting games coming up before our official bye [week], all at home," Pederson said. "So it will be an exciting week. Looking forward to it."

Barnett gets his first sack
Sort of.

Derek Barnett was able to hold onto Cam Newton's leg for dear life in the fourth quarter before Justin Hamilton came and took Newton down. The seven-yard sack was split between the two players, neither of whom had an NFL sack coming into the game.

"Cam's a big dude," Barnett said. "He was trying to get out. And he almost did."

Barnett hasn't been producing the way fans probably hoped for his rookie season. The all-time sack leader at the University of Tennessee and the 14th overall pick has gotten close but didn't get one until Thursday.

Does he think this first half sack will open up the floodgates?

"I mean, I feel good rushing the last few weeks," Barnett said. "I just have to keep being critical of myself. My coaches and teammates have to be critical of me, too. It's just getting more reps and stuff and everything will slow down for me. But I feel confident rushing and stuff. I just have to become smarter and when I get at the top of my rushes, learn what to do and what not to do. I just have to keep grinding. The best thing about coming to work is that everybody is pushing each other. It's fun coming into work and getting better."

In the locker room after the win, plenty of his teammates were ribbing Barnett about his first sack. He couldn't help but smile when he heard some of it. Hopefully, for the Eagles, there will be plenty more sacks to come for him.

A numbers game
The Eagles are 5-1. That means they have a really good shot of making the playoffs, but nothing is a done deal.

Before this season, there have been 225 teams in NFL history to win five of their first six games. Of them, 173 have made the playoffs. That means there's a 76.9 percent success rate. Those are pretty good odds. But you'll remember, the 2014 Eagles started the season 5-1 and failed to make it into the playoffs.

Pederson now has to make sure his players don't think they've accomplished everything yet.

"It's tough. It's a fine line because the players are — they're going to read and they're going to listen to all the media outlets on TV and stuff and just hear how people are talking about them and saying how good and how great they are," he said. "But [we have] to keep it real, too. That comes from me. Yeah, we're winning these games, but there is a lot to fix, a lot to correct as well. It's never perfect. [The] bottom line [is] we do want to win the game, but at the same time, I've got to keep them focused and grounded on — even some of the situational stuff still.

"We've got to eliminate the big play on defense. We've got to get better in the red zone on offense, and just keep working in those areas. We weren't as good on third down last night, so we've got to keep working that area. So just keeping them focused and detailed on those specific areas."

Best quotes from after Thursday's game
"It was tough. Maybe Carolina had a little bit of help tonight, them being at home. But we were able to overcome it; that was the most important part." — Rodney McLeod

"He was like, 'Man, I don't know who you is, but you a beast. And I'm like, 'You don't know who I am? You must not know football. But you know me today.'" — Nigel Bradham on his interaction with a Panthers player

"S---, it felt good. It felt like he's back to his normal self. Dominating, doing what he do." — Tim Jernigan on getting Fletcher Cox back

Random media guide note: Halapoulivaati Vaitai says the strangest thing he likes to eat is octopus.

Eagles use dominant second half to blow out Cowboys

Eagles use dominant second half to blow out Cowboys

ARLINGTON, Texas — There was no fiery halftime speech. There were no lineup changes. There weren’t even any major adjustments. The Eagles went into the locker room Sunday night at halftime flat and rusty. They came out unstoppable.
 
“It shows we're resilient,” Carson Wentz said. “We knew coming into the locker room at halftime that we left a lot out there. We knew that we're much better than that and we had to go execute. It shows that we have a lot of believe in each other and we can get the job done.”
 
The Eagles couldn't do much right in the first half and couldn't do much wrong in the second half.
 
"We were positive," guard Stefen Wisniewski said after the Eagles had finished off a 37-9 destruction of the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium (see Roob's observations). "No one is going to get our heads down.
 
"We know we’ve got a lot of talent on this offense. It’s one of the best offenses in the league. Even if someone slows us down for a little while, we’re not going to panic. We’re just going to keep believing in what we do, keep swinging, just keep believing it’s going to work and it did.” 
 
First half: They scored seven points.
Second half: They scored 30 points.
 
First half: They gained 115 yards.
Second half: They gained 268 yards.
 
First half: Their running backs gained 25 yards
Second half: Their running backs gained 202 yards.
 
A different team.
 
“We just decided to run the ball,” Lane Johnson said.
 
“The first series (of the game), we ran the ball and got a touchdown. Then we got away from it a little bit. We came out the second half and ran the ball right at ‘em, and they didn’t have an answer.”
 
The Eagles outscored the Cowboys, 30-0, in the second half, turning a two-point deficit into their eighth consecutive win. At 9-1, the Eagles have not only the best record in the NFL but a four-game lead in the NFC East with six games to go.
 
This was the first time in franchise history the Eagles have scored 30 second-half points after going into halftime trailing. It’s only the fifth time they’ve scored seven or fewer first-half points and 30 or more second-half points (see breakdown).
 
“We were kind of a little bit asleep in the first half,” Jay Ajayi said. “We woke up in the second half, got to our run game and just dominated after that.”
 
The Eagles finished the first half with five straight drives that netted five yards or less. They opened the second half with touchdown drives of 75, 90 and 85 yards.
 
In the first half, the Eagles didn’t have a running play longer than seven yards. In the second half? Ajayi had a 71-yarder, LeGarrette Blount had a 30-yarder and Corey Clement had an 11-yarder for a TD.
 
The Eagles’ backs averaged 3.1 yards per carry before halftime and 8.4 after halftime.
 
“We just had to stay relaxed," Clement said. "We knew the game plan that was worked up by coach (Doug) Pederson was going eventually pan out."
 
Wentz didn’t have a huge day, but he didn’t need one (see report card). In the second half, he was 7 for 9 for 88 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions and a couple two-point conversion passes.
 
“We were just off a little bit in the passing game (in the first half),” head coach Doug Pederson said. “You could see a little bit of the frustration with (Wentz). I just keep talking to him and saying, 'Hey we just have to keep with the game plan. Trust the game plan. Trust the guys. We'll get this thing fixed,' and (he) just did that.
 
“Just kept shooting. Kept dialing up throws. Wanted to get him on the edge a little bit, so we moved the pocket some. That also can help the quarterback get in a little bit of a rhythm but just stayed the course.”
 
How rare is it for the Cowboys to lead a game at halftime and then allow 30 or more second-half points? It's now happened four times in franchise history.
 
The last time the Cowboys were shut out for a second half while allowing 30 or more points? It was 1962.
 
“The biggest thing was just staying with the game plan,” Wentz said. “They made plays and we didn't later in that first half. We just had to stay with what we knew what we could do. Execute better and stay out of some of those 3rd-and-long situations."
 
Maybe it had something to do with the bye week. The Eagles sure opened the game like a team that hadn't played in two weeks.
 
"I hate using the term rusty, but we weren't playing up to our ability in the first half," Johnson said. "Came back in the second half and just dominated."

Kamu Grugier-Hill proves everyone wrong as … Eagles' kicker

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Kamu Grugier-Hill proves everyone wrong as … Eagles' kicker

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Kamu Grugier-Hill's career as an NFL kicker got off to a rather inauspicious start. 

After Jake Elliott left the game with a concussion, the linebacker began to warm up his right leg on the Eagles' sideline in the first half of the 37-9 win over the Cowboys (see breakdown)

His first kick sailed wide right, missing the net and soaring into the stands. 

"Oh yeah," fellow linebacker Najee Goode said with a smile. "He definitely hit somebody. He hit a fan and the fan stood up."

Before that practice kick, punter Donnie Jones offered to move the net closer to Grugier-Hill, but the emergency kicker declined. 

That was a mistake. 

"I was like, 'Oh this is going to be a little rough,'" Grugier-Hill said about that miss. "After that, I kind of got a hold of it."

After that first bad attempt, Grugier-Hill settled down and actually had a decent showing as a kicker (see Roob's observations). He practiced some in the dark during a Jerry Jones ceremony at halftime. 

He didn't attempt any field goals or extra points, but he did kick off after four touchdowns and even got a touchback on one of them. 

Grugier-Hill, 23, practiced kicking just one time this season. Chris Maragos had been the Eagles' emergency kicker until he went down for the season with a knee injury. Fipp made Grugier-Hill practice it once. 

Despite practice time, Grugier-Hill was confident in his kicking abilities. He played soccer through sophomore year in high school and said he was an All-Conference and second-team All-State punter in high school in Hawaii. 

"I knew he could kick," cornerback Jalen Mills said. "We call him the Flying Hawaiian. He can do it all."

The Eagles were able to joke about Grugier-Hill's kicking prowess in the winning locker room, but for a while, they were in a precarious situation. 

Coming out after halftime, they were trailing 9-7 and had to play the rest of what looked like a close game without a kicker. 

Goode said it was obviously a blow, but noted the Eagles' offense was able to help out because they can put up points (see report card)

It did change the game because the Eagles didn't try any field goals after Elliott left the game and they went for two on all four of their second-half touchdowns. They converted on three of four. 

"I don't even know if everybody on offense knew right away," Carson Wentz said. "I was in the know, but I don't even think everyone knew. It is what it is. We executed I thought pretty well on those two-point plays. That's why you have a lot of those plays dialed up. You don't think too much about it." 

While the Eagles didn't announce when Elliott suffered his concussion, it's likely it happened on the opening kickoff. Return man Ryan Switzer took the kickoff 61 yards, but Elliott was there to greet him on the sideline to help prevent a touchdown. It looked like Elliott took a shot to the head. 

He continued to play, but after missing a 34-yard attempt was taken inside to get checked out. 

After Elliott went inside, Grugier-Hill began to practice kicking. It was an unusual situation for him, but he claimed he wasn't nervous. 

"Everyone expected me to do bad anyways," he said, "so I [didn't] have anything to lose."