Eagles

Eagles notes, quotes and tidbits: Fletcher Cox calls 49ers' Joe Staley to clear the air

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Eagles notes, quotes and tidbits: Fletcher Cox calls 49ers' Joe Staley to clear the air

Fletcher Cox made sure to call Joe Staley this week after his block on the 49ers' offensive tackle left Staley with a gash under his eye and a fractured orbital bone.

At the time, Staley thought it was a dirty hit, so Cox called him to clear the air. 

"We talked through it and he did tell me that he's been on the opposite side of that situation," Cox said. "And at that point right there during a football game, what can I do besides check on him? He's fine and we have no beef or nothing going on."

Cox said it was a mistake that his hand slipped through Staley's face mask. Cox said he was glad Staley was OK (relatively) and was thankful he didn't break his hand. 

The block came after Jalen Mills' second-quarter interception and helped Mills get into the end zone for his first career pick-six. 

"This game is so fast," Cox said. "Most people don't understand. I understand that he was probably frustrated at the time and thought it was a dirty play. But honestly, who goes out and pokes people in the eye on purpose? We got helmets on so why would you do that?"

Three's company
There was absolutely no doubt for Nate Sudfeld. 

He wanted to stay in Philadelphia. 

And that's exactly what happened. Sudfeld, the Eagles' third-string quarterback, was signed to the 53-man roster earlier this week as the Eagles prevented the Indianapolis Colts from poaching him off the practice squad. 

"Never for one minute that I've been here have I thought that they didn't believe in me and I've wanted to play my best for them," Sudfeld said. "I'm thrilled that they think of me that much and did everything they could to keep me around and see a future with me being a part of it."

Keeping Sudfeld might have surprised some fans, but it's pretty clear the Eagles must think a lot of him. They showed interest in him during the 2016 draft when Washington took him in the sixth round. But Sudfeld never forgot about his encounters with the Eagles. He even chatted with Eagles coaches before the two games against them last season. 

Sudfeld likes it so much in Philly he said he would have even considered staying on the practice squad instead of joining the Colts' 53-man roster. Good thing for him, the Eagles didn't know that. They signed him so they wouldn't lose him. He's felt the love from the Eagles for a long time. It's why he decided to come to Philly this September instead of staying in Washington. 

"Absolutely," Sudfeld said. "They showed interest during the draft process and then got to see them before games and things last year. They were saying hi. That little stuff has been great." 

Nick Foles is obviously the Eagles' backup quarterback for now, but it seems possible that Sudfeld could end up being the Eagles' backup quarterback at some point. There are always teams who need quarterbacks and Foles might not be a bad option for some of them. 

Did Sudfeld really think about leaving? 

Yeah, of course. But he talked it over with his family and his agent. "Ultimately, I'm happy I stayed here," he said.

More praise for Wentz
It's going to become an every week thing. The opponents who are about to play the Eagles are going to praise Carson Wentz. That's how well he has been playing this season. 

The top-notch Denver defense is no exception. 

Von Miller is impressed: 

“He just has that vibe about him. I hate comparisons in the National Football League. I don’t want to compare him to Ben Roethlisberger or Aaron Rodgers or Andrew Luck because he’s totally different than them. He does have the ability to stay up. He’s not trying to go down. He’s out there trying to play football. He’s not even playing quarterback. He’s out there playing football. It’s similar to Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck, but like I said, I’m not making any comparisons. He’s totally different. He’s faster than those guys. He’s quicker than those guys. It’s going to be a tough challenge.”

Here's head coach Vance Joseph when asked how Wentz went from North Dakota State to the NFL's MVP race: 

“I’m not sure. His background, but he’s the second pick of the draft for a reason. He’s a talent. He uses his legs. He’s a big guy, he has a great arm and he has great legs. He has courage and poise and he’s smart. I’m not sure how he got to that school, but where he is now, he’s a special player. He’s up for the MVP, in my opinion, watching the guy play. He is a playmaker and he plays with a lot of courage. He has some Brett Favre in him. He doesn’t slide, he runs for first downs and he hangs in the pocket and holds the ball a long time on occasions to make big plays. He’s a special player. I’m not sure how he got there, but where he is now, he’s special.”

Here's what Broncos DC Joe Woods had to say about Wentz: 

“He’s a big guy. He can make all the throws. He has great touch on his deep ball. Guys just bounce off of him in the pocket. I know guys compare him to Ben Roethlisberger and I see why. He is a good young quarterback. It’s only going to get better. He’s doing a hell of a job right now.

Quote of the Week I: "I'm just glad now that there's two backs I don't want to see in December are both on my team. Good luck to everybody else." — Malcolm Jenkins on the trade for Jay Ajayi

Quote of the Week II: "I always say, man, it's an 80-20. Eighty percent chance I'm gonna catch it. Twenty percent chance it's going to be incomplete." — Alshon Jeffery on 50-50 balls 

Quote of the Week III: "I woke up today as a Philadelphia Eagle and I’m very excited about that." — Jay Ajayi 

Random media guide note: If Destiny Vaeao could play another sport, he would want to be a forward for the Manu Samoa rugby squad. 

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 by the Chicago Bears on Sunday (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,” said Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham. “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, if you can slowly move the chains and control the game, I think that’s something that they’ll continue to do,” Jenkins said.

Chosen with the second-overall pick in the draft, Trubisky 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, kind of what we had here at the beginning of the season with (LeGarrette Blount) and (Darren Sproles),” Bradham said.

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.

“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 se on, 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.

“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.”

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.

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."