Eagles

Eagles roll over 49ers despite off day from Carson Wentz

Eagles roll over 49ers despite off day from Carson Wentz

Even when things aren't going smoothly for Carson Wentz, the second-year quarterback keeps finding ways to get the job done.

Wentz played arguably his worst game of the 2017 season Sunday. He missed wide-open receivers. He took sacks. The offense was inconsistent as a whole. And yet the Eagles still managed to defeat the 49ers, 33-10 (see breakdown).

Much like the steady rainfall at Lincoln Financial Field, Wentz's performance wasn't pretty. But it was good enough.

"We were sluggish early on," Wentz said. "(The 49ers) did some good things that kind of limited what we did offensively, and we just had to make some adjustments and stick to our game plan.

“Offensively, I know we have to be better. We have to be better in starting out sluggish like that two straight weeks, and we have to get that cleaned up.”

Wentz completed 18 of 32 passes (56.3 percent) for 211 yards with two touchdowns and one interception for an 84.2 passer rating — one point higher than his lowest mark of the season. We could quibble over which outing is actually the 24-year-old's worst, but this was against a 49ers squad still searching for its first win.

San Francisco was tied at zero or behind 3-0 for almost the entire first half.

"First of all, it's a good defense," coach Doug Pederson said. "They are very active on third down, really active on all downs.

“We didn't execute the protection as well. We got it fixed and were able to kind of hold it and piece it together, but at the same time, we've got to do better in that area.”

Protection was one of the issues. The 49ers blitzed early and often, sending a variety of pressures, some of which the Eagles hadn't seen on film. Wentz was sacked three times, all in the first half, before the offense was able to get it corrected.

The pass rush has become a common theme in the Eagles' slow starts of late, as defenses continue to search for ways to rattle Wentz.

"We're seeing blitz quite a bit," Pederson said. "I think we're probably the No. 1 team, offensively, that's being blitzed in the NFL right now. Teams are just coming after us.

“I don't know if it necessarily disrupted Carson. Obviously, it made him move around a little bit in the game, but later on, we were able to fix the protection.”

Pressure was certainly one aspect, but Wentz also missed the mark at times, including a potential 22-yard touchdown to Alshon Jeffery late in the first quarter.

Jeffery had his man beat. Wentz's 3rd-and-8 pass was overthrown. And while there was a pass rusher in his face, it's a play that was there to be made.

Fortunately, Wentz doesn't let the occasional misses bother him too much.

"It's a next-play mentality," Wentz said. "When you play this much, you're going to miss some throws. It kind of ticks me off right away, but it's just on to the next.

"I know I still have confidence in myself, coach still has confidence that we'll make the throw the next play. There's a handful of them this afternoon that I definitely wanted back, but that's the way it goes sometimes."

Wentz would eventually find Jeffery for their first big hook-up of the season — a 53-yard touchdown in the third quarter that helped put the 49ers away (see Roob's observations).

"We've missed a couple of those throughout the season, so when we finally hit that one today, I was super excited because I just have to get that guy a chance to make plays sometimes," Wentz said.

“He went up and got that ball, broke some tackles, got in the end zone, and that's why we brought him here. We brought him here to make those big plays.”

Big plays such as those have helped the Eagles snap out of similar funks at the beginnings of their games against the Redskins and Panthers. The ability to go the distance of the field in a snap demoralizes opponents, as it seemed to the 49ers, who were only down 20-7 at the time.

But the other reason the Eagles have been able to survive slow starts by Wentz and company is the defense. Shortly after the Eagles pulled ahead 9-0 late in the second, it was a Jalen Mills interception and 37-yard return for a touchdown that initially gave the team a commanding lead.

By simply limiting turnovers — just the one interception — Wentz was able to manage the game.

"I think he did a good job as far as not turning the ball over today, and we did a good job as far as causing turnovers today," defensive end Brandon Graham said. "We just have to make sure we keep protecting the offense and keep hiding some of the flaws sometimes.

“When we can't get it going (on offense), we have to make sure we get them going by bringing our energy.”

The Eagles' offense was thankful for the bailout.

“It was just really sloppy, probably the sloppiest we've been all year," Johnson said. "Hats off to the defense. They definitely won the game for us.”

Though it rained for much of the contest and the field was wet throughout, Wentz downplayed the conditions as a reason for his struggles, calling the weather a "non-factor." He certainly seemed to be pushing the ball downfield with minimal issues and no noticeable effect (see report card).

It simply wasn't the offense's best game, and while it may have been good enough to beat the 49ers, everybody realizes it might not be enough next week or the week after.

"I'm happy. I'm just disappointed," Johnson said. "Any time the offense doesn't play the way we're capable of, it feels like a loss for us.

“We found a way to win, but just kind of disappointed with how we played today.”

At the same time, the fact the Eagles won without Wentz's completing 70 percent of his passes, throwing for over 300 yards or scoring four touchdowns was a positive. It was proof this team is more than just its quarterback and is capable of winning even when Wentz doesn't have his best day.

“At the end of the day, if the quarterback, in Carson's case, doesn't have the numbers but we win, I'd rather have the win," Pederson said. "We can fix the other and get better, and move on to next week.”

Wentz is on pace to throw for 4,126 yards, with 38 touchdowns to 10 interceptions, and he has the Eagles off to a 7-1 record. I think he's going to be just fine.

Eagles gain 'more resources' by trading out of NFL draft 1st round

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Eagles gain 'more resources' by trading out of NFL draft 1st round

It’s not that the Eagles didn’t want to pick a player at No. 32. It’s just that they believed they could get equal value at No. 52. And add an additional second-round pick as well.

So to Howie Roseman, this trade was a no-brainer.

To the surprise of no one, the Super Bowl champion Eagles traded out of the first round late Thursday night.

They shipped No. 32 overall — the final pick in the first round — along with one of their fourth-round picks (No. 132) for the Ravens’ second-round pick this year (No. 52), a fourth-round pick this year (No. 125) and a second-round pick in next year’s draft (see story).

“We felt what we were going to get at 32 was going to be a strength tomorrow as well,” said Roseman, the Eagles' vice president of football operations.

“We felt where this draft was strong continues to be strong [Friday], which gives us the chance to get a good player.

“There’s not many times you get an opportunity to move back in the draft and get a second-round pick, so for us, we thought it was the right value.”

The deal left the Eagles without a first-round pick for the first time since 2009 and only the third time in the last 25 years.

“There were some guys we really liked on the board,” Roseman said. “But as the round goes and you start getting calls and guys come off the board, some teams bail out and some teams come back in.

“We did not come into tonight thinking we were going to trade out. We wouldn’t have traded out just to trade out, because we did think there was good value at 32.

“We felt this was a really good trade for both teams. For the way we’re trying to build, it was really important that we got more resources moving forward."

With salary cap trouble looming in 2019, it makes sense for the Eagles to start stocking up on future draft picks — which equals cheaper talent.

“We felt like the value was right for us and where we are as a football team, where the value was in this draft," Roseman said.

So the Eagles remain without a third-round pick in this year’s draft, but the bottom line is that they shipped a first-round pick and a fourth-round pick for two second-round picks and a fourth-round pick.

As of the end of activity Thursday, they have a second-round pick on Friday, two fourth-round picks (No. 125 and No. 130), a fifth-round pick (No. 169), a sixth-round pick (No. 206) and a seventh-round pick (No. 250).

There are some very significant Eagles-Ravens connections. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh was on Andy Reid’s coaching staff in 1999 when Eagles head coach Doug Pederson was the team’s opening day quarterback. 

And Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas worked under Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome in Baltimore for over a decade.

With the 32nd pick, the Ravens drafted Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner.

“We kind of had a thought [the Ravens were interested in making a deal] with all the conversations we’ve had,” Roseman said. “We knew they were interested in adding firepower. We knew if there were certain players on the board, the phone was going to ring.”

The Eagles have drafted some of the best players in franchise history in the second round — Brian Dawkins, Eric Allen, LeSean McCoy, Randall Cunningham and DeSean Jackson, to name a few (see gallery).

With No. 52, they could go after a running back, a linebacker or an interior lineman, although with Roseman and Douglas, anything is on the table.

“We’re excited about moving back and seeing if we can make some of that magic happen in Round 2,” Roseman said.

Eagles trade out of NFL draft 1st round in deal with Ravens

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Eagles trade out of NFL draft 1st round in deal with Ravens

Eagles fans waited all night … so they can wait a little more.

The Birds held on to the No. 32 pick all night, but traded it to the Ravens when they finally got on the clock. The Ravens moved up to get quarterback Lamar Jackson from Louisville. 

The Eagles in return got picks 52 (second round), 125 (fourth) and a 2019 second-round pick. The Ravens got 32 and 132 (fourth).

Basically, the Eagles moved back 20 spots from 32, moved up seven spots in the fourth round, but the big pickup is that second-rounder in next year’s draft.

Last week, Eagles de facto GM Howie Roseman said the Eagles were “open for business” and the Ravens were buyers on Thursday night. 

“We felt like the value was right for us, where we are as a football team,” Roseman said after the round concluded. “Where the value was in this draft. There were a bunch of players that we still like and are optimistic to get tomorrow.” 

This is the exact scenario the Eagles were hoping for — that a quarterback fell to the 32nd pick and a team would be willing to go up and get him. It happened when the Vikings moved up to get Teddy Bridgewater.

Coming into this draft, Jackson was on a list the Eagles compiled of players who could garner interest if they slipped to 32. They were concerned, however, that one of the teams just before them would also be willing to trade down. 

“There was a bunch of phone calls,” Roseman said. “It’s interesting, as you get closer to your pick and guys get excited about guys and you get some guys that bail out. They call and say ‘that was our guy, we’re out.’ And then you’ll have guys come in. We just try to keep track of that.”

Even as the Eagles were on the clock at 32, they were fielding offers from multiple teams. Roseman said it came down to value. And the value of a second-round pick, even though it won’t help them this year, was too much to turn down.  

Roseman hinted that his relationship with Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome helped pull off the trade. The two have had discussion about this type of hypothetical before, so when the situation arose, both sides were ready. 

Here are the Eagles’ six draft choices heading into Friday:

2 (52)
4 (125)
4 (130)
5 (169)
6 (206)
7 (250)

The Eagles came into the draft with just six picks, tied for the fewest amount in the league. They still have six. 

The second and third rounds of the draft kick off on Friday night at 7 p.m. and the Eagles will actually have a pick to make. The fourth through seventh rounds go on Saturday, starting at noon. The Eagles have five picks on Saturday.