Eagles' offense worried? Lane Johnson contradicts himself

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Eagles' offense worried? Lane Johnson contradicts himself

Some are looking at the Eagles' shaky 19-10 win over the Raiders on Monday as a sign of trouble on the horizon with the playoffs fast approaching. Lane Johnson, on the other hand, might tell those people they should be grateful for what they were given on Christmas Day.

"If we win, we win," Johnson said from the Eagles' locker room postgame. "It's just at a point though where we're winning the game, nobody's satisfied anymore.

"We won the game. That's all that matters."

That may be, but could you imagine Johnson saying something similar when the Eagles were deep into their nine-game winning streak earlier this season?

Probably not, because it wasn't happening.

To be fair, Johnson wasn't trying to make the case the Eagles performed up to expectations against the Raiders. Quite the contrary. The Pro Bowl right tackle understands that the offensive performance probably wouldn't be enough to beat most teams in the postseason.

The Eagles mustered 216 yards of total offense and found the end zone only once while turning the ball over twice in the victory.

"We're not proud," Johnson said. "We didn't play well. We didn't execute well. Even though we won, we're still not happy with how we did. Moving forward in the playoffs, we have a lot of stuff to fix."

At the same time, Johnson didn't seem to think there's a whole lot of validity to questions of whether the Eagles are regressing.

"If we don't win in a certain fashion, there's going to be, 'Hey, we're not good enough,'" Johnson said. "I've been hearing it my whole career. It's so ridiculous.

"Moving forward, we have to drown out distractions and try to win one game at a time, because it's really hard."

The win on Monday moved the Eagles' record to 13-2 and clinched the top playoff seed in the NFC. It was also their third consecutive W.

It was also the third straight in which the Eagles played poorly in at least one phase and the third that required late-game heroics to secure the outcome. And not coincidentally, it was the third game the team finished without starting quarterback Carson Wentz.

There's good reason for the increasing concern outside the Eagles' locker room.

Johnson's comments also seem to indicate a shift in his own philosophy from earlier this season.

The fifth-year veteran compared the offense's performance versus the Raiders to how the unit fared in the Eagles' 33-10 win over the 49ers back in October. Yet, the difference in Johnson's sentiment less than two months later following a similar result is startling.

"I feel like a loss right now," Johnson said immediately after the 49ers game. "Just the way that we performed in the first half is not the way that we wanted to execute."

For the most part, Eagles players are continuing to say the right things — although some might be feeling additional pressure since Wentz went down.

Last week, Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby aimed a Twitter rant at his critics after a poor performance by the secondary in a win over the Giants. And safety Malcolm Jenkins, while attempting to rationalize Darby's outburst, may have inadvertently slipped in a little commentary about the atmosphere surrounding the franchise.

"We understand that we play in Philly, so we're looking for every reason to create a panic," Jenkins said Monday.

Can't think of any legitimate reason why the fans would panic about every mistake right now, big or small.

Johnson and his teammates are correct that the important thing is the Eagles ultimately defeated the Raiders. It would also be accurate to say many of the recent issues are correctable, and the squad could be firing on all cylinders come January.

But it feels like the mood has changed as the Eagles begin to realize their margin for error has been dramatically reduced. All of a sudden, a win that might've felt like a loss in October has become one everybody should be happy about in December.

So if nobody seems satisfied by a narrow victory over an opponent flying across the country to play on Christmas Day having just been eliminated from playoff contention, that's at least partly a result of the mindset Johnson and the Eagles instilled all season long — up until now.

Brian Dawkins chooses longtime teammate for Hall of Fame intro

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Brian Dawkins chooses longtime teammate for Hall of Fame intro

Brian Dawkins has chosen longtime teammate and close friend Troy Vincent to introduce him this summer at Dawk's Hall of Fame induction.

Dawkins was selected in February for enshrinement in the 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction class.

"The presenter that will actually be on the stage will be Troy Vincent," Dawkins said in a video posted on the Pro Football Hall of Fame's website.

"My teammate in Philadelphia. We came there the same year. Almost from Day 1 he kind of ... not kind of, he took me under his wing on becoming a professional. Not just a football player but a professional. The details. The details that he went through, the particulars of how he played the position of cornerback was the same way he lived his life (and ran) his businesses that he had off the field.

"He's a guy I can call anytime. Any time of night. And tell him 100 percent all what's going on with me, and I know he's not going to judge me, and it's not going to leave his lips (for) anybody else.

"And the most important thing for me, being a man of faith, is that I know he's going to pray with me. So all those things combined are the reasons why Troy was the perfect guy to introduce me to the Hall of Fame."

Vincent, a native of Trenton and graduate of Pennsbury High in Fairless Hills, Bucks County, spent his first four seasons with the Dolphins before signing an offer sheet with the Eagles before the 1996 season that the Dolphins didn't match.

The Eagles drafted Dawkins in the second round a month after signing Vincent, and the two spent eight years together in the secondary, reaching the playoffs five times and the NFC Championship Game three times.

During those eight seasons, Vincent reached Pro Bowls and Dawkins made the first three of his nine Pro Bowls.

Vincent retired after the 2006 season and Dawkins after the 2011 season.

Dawkins, Vincent and Eric Allen are the only Eagles defensive backs picked to five or more Pro Bowls.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame 2018 enshrinement ceremony is scheduled for Aug. 4 in Canton, Ohio.

Dawkins' former Eagles teammate, Terrell Owens, will also be inducted. He hasn't yet announced who will present him.

Dawkins will be the 21st former Eagle inducted into the Hall of Fame but only the ninth who spent the majority of his career with the Eagles.

Was Carson Wentz sending Nick Foles a message with Instagram video?

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Was Carson Wentz sending Nick Foles a message with Instagram video?

Offseason quarterback controversies are a rite of passage in the NFL. A time-honored tradition, really. 

We’ve certainly had our share in Philadelphia over the years. There were calls for Ron Jaworski to sit in favor of a young Randall Cunningham. Then cries for Jim McMahon to take Randall’s place. When Andy Reid drafted Kevin Kolb in 2007, that began a groundswell that he was the better choice than Donovan McNabb. Of course, most recently we had the Michael Vick/Nick Foles back and forth. To look back now, it seems silly these were even debates.

Most of the time, when you have these “controversies,” it generally means you have no quarterback on your roster. Not always. The 49ers in the late-80’s and early-90’s had Joe Montana and Steve Young, both Hall of Famers and all-time great quarterbacks. Both also won Super Bowls for San Francisco. But that is the exception. So is the 2018 Philadelphia Eagles’ situation.

I use the word “situation” and not “controversy.” Because there is no controversy. If Wentz is cleared by the Eagles’ medical staff, he starts Week 1. Period. What Foles did was incredible and will go down as one of the great — if not the greatest — stretch we have seen in Philadelphia sports history. He came up as big as you can. But Wentz he is not. That’s no disrespect to Foles. There are a handful of people on the planet who are in Wentz’s class.

Just a refresher course on what Wentz did in 13 games last season (his second in the NFL, by the way). He threw for 33 touchdowns, seven interceptions, 3,296 passing yards and had a 101.9 passer rating. The 33 TDs were the second-most in the NFL despite his missing the final three games. He also led his team to an 11-2 record before succumbing to that knee injury late into that Rams game that clinched the NFC East. He would have been the league MVP had he not gotten hurt.

There is a great luxury having Foles on this team. Wentz does not have to come back before he is able. If he’s not ready, you have the best backup in the league to start the season. But that’s the only scenario in which Foles plays Week 1. Simply put: Wentz is the better quarterback. And he has earned the right to start the opener if cleared. 

Some people read into Wentz's Instagram video of himself throwing earlier in the week as him somehow sending a message to Foles. I don’t buy it. I think Wentz’s message was to the fans and himself that I’ll be back, better than ever.

Wentz and Foles are both good teammates who put the team above themselves. Sure, Foles is a competitor and would likely prefer to start. But there won’t be any behind-the-scenes maneuvering to undercut Wentz. And Wentz is secure enough to be able to handle a Super Bowl MVP backing him up and all that goes along with that. Not to mention a coaching staff and organization that won’t allow outside noise to become a distraction.

Wentz over Foles. There’s no quarterback controversy.