Eagles' unselfishness reaches new heights with Ertz

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Eagles' unselfishness reaches new heights with Ertz

The Eagles took their unselfish nature to new levels on Sunday when teammates insisted on force-feeding Zach Ertz the football in garbage time so he could break 100 yards.

The score was 31-3 with under seven minutes to play in the fourth quarter, and several Eagles starters were already out of the game. Not Ertz. He was busy hauling in a five-yard pass from backup quarterback Nick Foles on 3rd-and-3 against a hapless Bears squad with no hope of coming back — all because it put him over the century mark.

Why was it significant to get Ertz to 100 yards? After all, he'd already reached that mark five times in his career, including a career-best 152 receiving yards last January against the Giants.

This time, it was all because Ertz became the first Eagles player to reach 100 yards receiving in 2017.

"When I was at 9-for-98, they were telling me, 'Hey you just need one more catch, just get one more catch,'" Ertz said postgame. "So we said on third down, I was going to go in there if it was a pass.

"I knew I was getting the ball. I knew it. There was no way I wasn't getting that ball, that last one. It's fun. I mean, I think it shows how close these guys are, how much we truly care about one another. Everyone is happy for the other man's success. I think that's a testament to this team."

Afterward, Eagles coach Doug Pederson tried to pour a little cold water on the idea the goal of the play was to push Ertz into triple-digits, while also admitting he was aware they were closing in on the feat.

Surely, he knew what would happen when Ertz went back into the game for that third-down call.

"We kind of knew a little bit in the second half he was getting close, but we were still just trying to finish the game," Pederson said. "It just so happened that he was able to catch that last pass from Nick and get the 100 yards."

Ertz had a team-high 10 receptions (on 12 targets) for 103 yards and a touchdown. Yet, while the numbers were seemingly important to his teammates, Ertz's concern was on a victory that improved the Eagles' record to 10-1.

"All we're focused on is winning the football game," Ertz said. "You can tell how much each and every person cares about one another when I finally had 100 and everyone else was so happy for me."

Maybe players grew tired of being asked about the absence of a 100-yard receiving performance in the midst of a nine-game winning streak. As they maintained all along, that it took until Week 12 has been a reflection of the amount of talent in this offense.

It's also a reflection of their heart, because Alshon Jeffery or even Nelson Agholor, with the season he's having, could demand the ball much more.

Instead, everybody keeps on waiting for their turn for the good of the collective.

"It just shows you how unselfish this team is, the fact that it's not all about one guy," Pederson said. "It's everybody. Everybody's making plays on offense.

"The fact that we're spreading the ball around and everybody's involved and we're still being efficient on offense is a tribute to the way these guys work and practice each week."

According to Ertz, their motivation is not difficult to understand.

"All of us have had the individual success, but none of us have really had the team success that we're all striving for," Ertz said. "Everyone is putting their egos aside and just focusing on winning."

The Eagles had 420 yards of total offense against the Bears — 176 on the ground, 244 through the air. That was with perhaps taking their foot off the gas pedal in the second half after jumping out to a 24-0 lead before heading into the locker room.

It's tough to say what's scarier — that Ertz believes this wasn't quite a "complete" offensive performance for the Eagles, or that they did this while half the locker room was feeling under the weather.

"The full team has kind of been under the weather getting back from Dallas early," Ertz said. Obviously, it's tough this time of year.

"Not everyone was healthy, I can tell you that much."

Whatever their ailments, nothing was going to dampen the Eagles' enjoyment of Ertz's chase for 100 yards and another W.

Eagles agree to deal with WR Mike Wallace

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Eagles agree to deal with WR Mike Wallace

The Eagles have found their replacement for Torrey Smith. 

Heck, they found an upgrade. 

On Thursday, the Birds agreed to terms with veteran speedy receiver Mike Wallace on a one-year deal. The deal is worth $2.5 million, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. 

This signing makes a ton of sense for the Eagles, especially if they weren’t ready to hand Mack Hollins the starting spot Smith left. Hollins can now split time with Wallace. Even if the Eagles didn’t trade Smith, they weren’t going to keep him at his price tag, so adding Wallace gives the Eagles a veteran with speed at a cheaper cost. 

Wallace, 31, is coming off a season in which he caught 52 passes for 748 yards (14.4 yards per reception) and four touchdowns. For comparison, in 2017, Smith caught 36 passes for 430 yards (11.9) and two touchdowns. And Smith dropped seven passes, while Wallace dropped just three, according to ProFootballFocus. In fact, Wallace's numbers weren't far off from Alshon Jeffery's stats last year (57 receptions, 789 yards, 9 touchdowns). 

While Wallace isn’t coming off his best season in 2017, he went over 1,000 yards in 2016 and has averaged 15.0 yards per reception during his nine-year NFL career. The Eagles hope he'll be the deep threat they thought they were getting in Smith. 

Since he entered the NFL in 2009, Wallace is second in the league in 40-yard receptions and in 50-yard receptions. He has 43 receptions of 40-plus yards (behind DeSean Jackson's 56) and 26 receptions of 50-plus yards (behind Jackson's 36). 

If that's not recent enough for you, the Eagles had seven pass plays of 50-plus yards in 2017; Wallace had three on his own. He can still stretch the field. 

The Eagles can now start Alshon Jeffery and Wallace on the outside, which will allow them to keep Nelson Agholor in the slot, where he was great last season. Then they’ll still have Hollins and Shelton Gibson (both draft picks from 2017) off the bench. Not bad. 

Wallace will turn 32 before the season starts, so the Eagles have added another veteran player, something they’ve done plenty this season. They already added Michael Bennett and Haloti Ngata. It’s pretty clear the Eagles see the need to maximize their window of opportunity and getting players to join them is probably easier coming off a Super Bowl win. 

Signing veterans on one-year deals certainly worked well for the Eagles last season and if this one works out too, they will have found a good fit for the 2018 season.  

Eagles' Super Bowl odds changed by free agency

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Eagles' Super Bowl odds changed by free agency

The Eagles pulled off trades and signed a few free agents after the new league year began on March 14 ... and it's shortened their Super Bowl odds. 

The Eagles' odds to win Super Bowl LIII improved from 9/1 to 17/2 between Feb. 5 and March 22, according to Bovada. Despite beating them in Super Bowl LII less than two months ago, the Eagles still trail the Patriots, who stood pat at 5/1. 

Here's the full top 10: 

1. Patriots: 5/1
2. Eagles: 17/2
3. Vikings: 9/1
4. Steelers: 12/1
5. Packers: 14/1
5. Rams: 14/1
7. Saints: 18/1
8. Falcons: 20/1
9. Texans: 22/1
9. Jaguars: 22/1
9. Raiders: 22/1

As for the rest of the teams in the NFC East, the next closest to the Eagles are the Cowboys, but their inactivity this offseason gave them longer odds, going from 18/1 to 28/1. The Giants' odds stayed at 50/1, while the Redskins' odds went from 50/1 to 66/1. 

And here's a fun prop bet: The over/under for Michael Bennett sacks in 2018 is set at 8. Last season, he had 8½ with the Seahawks. Now, he's playing on a dynamic defensive line but also figures to play less because of the Eagles' rotation.