Eagles

The formula for postseason dominance by Eagles' D

usa-fletcher-cox-brandon-graham.jpg
USA Today Images

The formula for postseason dominance by Eagles' D

The first half is for figuring a team out. The second half is for battering them into submission.

That's been the formula down the stretch for the Eagles' defense, which hasn't allowed a second-half point in its two playoff wins and has given up only 15 second-half points in its last five games.

"I really think it's a testament to our entire team of just staying on our pace and our tempo, controlling the line of scrimmage, running the ball on offense, just kind of wearing teams down so in the second half we've kind of got them right where we want them," defensive tackle Beau Allen said.

"It's conditioning. It's will. Call it whatever you want. We just kind of turn it on as much as we can later in games. That's when games are won or lost."

This wasn't the case early in the season. The Eagles' first nine games, they gave up 12.6 second-half points per game.

But since the first Dallas game, that figure has been 5.7. 

The Eagles are only the ninth team in NFL history to hold its first two postseason opponents without a second-half point.

In the Atlanta game, the Falcons' scored their only touchdown on an 18-yard drive midway through the second quarter, then didn't score on their last five drives. Last week in the NFC Championship Game, the Vikings took a 7-0 lead on their first possession, then failed to score on their last eight.

"We do a really good job of adjusting," Malcolm Jenkins said. "I think every team is going to come out and they'll have their scripted 15 plays, stuff they see on film, and even last week, we were a little unsettled (against the Vikings), just uncharacteristic, missed a couple tackles, got back to the sideline, calmed it down.

"Jim (Schwartz) does a good job of calming us down and gets us lined up and just able to play fast and when we do get our bearings we start getting negative plays on first down and second down, put you in third and longer, and all of a sudden we become that dominant defense we know we can be snap in and snap out. 

"So it's really just about getting that traction and once we get it and make those adjustments, guys start making plays."

The last team that really hurt the Eagles after halftime was the Rams back on Dec. 10, and that was kind of extenuating circumstances. But even in that game, after the Rams drove 75 yards for a TD to take the lead after Carson Wentz was lost for the season, the defense slammed the door the rest of the game, allowing just six yards on the Rams' last three drives and forcing two turnovers.

You really have to go back to the Seattle game on Dec. 3 to find the last time the Eagles' defense was really outplayed in a second half. 

"It's guys kind of understanding how a team is trying to attack us and what we need to do to stop them," McLeod said. "It's really just staying in front of the game. 

"We've got a lot of really good coaches who work hard, and as players, we're able to apply what they're saying and go out and do it on the field. 

"We get stronger as the game goes on. We come out after halftime and us defensively, we feel like we're one of the strongest teams, whether it's us getting a sack, getting a turnover, really feel like we're creating momentum that we can carry through the rest of the game."

The Eagles have only allowed two second-half touchdowns in their last five games, and one of them was against the Eagles' backups in that meaningless Dallas game.

Overall, the Eagles go into the Super Bowl having allowed 17.3 points per game, 14.5 per game since Week 8 and just 8.3 over the last four weeks.

The Eagles face the ultimate challenge in Tom Brady a week from Sunday, but this defense goes to Minneapolis on quite a run. 

"Corrections are going to be huge this week," McLeod said. "Longer halftime, going to be a lot of time to make those adjustments and corrections. It's going to come down to those things. 

"When you get to the Super Bowl, you have two great teams going at it. Two teams that are here for a reason. Those adjustments and corrections are going to be a difference maker."

Trey Burton denies report questioning his Eagles future

ap-trey-burton-eagles.jpg
AP Images

Trey Burton denies report questioning his Eagles future

Several hours after an NJ.com report surfaced that the Eagles were unlikely to re-sign Trey Burton, the tight end denied it on Twitter.

Replying to a tweet about the report from former Eagles teammate Emmanuel Acho, Burton said he hasn't spoken to anyone.

NJ.com's Matt Lombardo reported Friday that the Eagles made Burton an offer that the soon-to-be-free-agent "didn't consider serious."

"We are fully expecting Trey to sign elsewhere," the source said.

It wouldn't be surprising whatsoever if Burton leaves in free agency. A team will likely pay him starter's money and offer him a chance to start, which he doesn't have here with Zach Ertz firmly entrenched.

The Eagles are over the projected salary cap, and while they could create space in numerous ways, they also have to worry about re-signing key linebacker Nigel Bradham.

6 ways for Eagles to create cap space

6 ways for Eagles to create cap space

The Eagles are coming off a thrilling season but there's a lot of work to be done. 

The NFL's new league year begins on March 14 and the Eagles must be under the salary cap by then. The problem is that based on projections, the Eagles are set to be more than $9 million over the cap, according to OverTheCap. So it's time for some maneuvering. 

The good news is that Howie Roseman's specialty has always been finding unique ways to get the Eagles out of cap trouble. There are ways for him to do it again.

Cut Torrey Smith 
Probably the easiest one. Smith was a great teammate and a solid addition to the Eagles' locker room, and he really stepped up his game in the playoffs, but it's probably not enough to bring him back. He just wasn't good enough last season, and cutting him would save the Eagles $5 million in cap room with no dead money. The Birds still have Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor, while Mack Hollins is entering Year 2. 

Cut Brent Celek
This one will hurt, but Celek can take away the sting if he decides to walk away as a champion. He's set to have a cap number of $5 million. That's just way too much for what Celek provides these days. By cutting him, the Eagles would save $4 million in cap space. So just between Smith and Celek, the Eagles will almost get back to zero ... but there's other work to do. They'll still need money to sign free agents and draft picks. 

Extend Brandon Graham 
Graham is entering the final year of his contract with a cap number of $8 million. He wants a new contract and deserves one. Good news: An extension would work for both sides. Graham would get more money long term and the Eagles could get his cap number down this season. 

Rework/cut Vinny Curry
Curry is coming off of probably his best season in the NFL but will have an $11 million cap number. That's tough to swallow, especially with Derek Barnett waiting for his chance to start. It seems likely the Eagles will ask Curry to take a pay cut or rework his deal. If not, cutting him would leave $6 million in dead money but would also save $5 million in cap room. 

Trade Mychal Kendricks
If you remember, Kendricks actually wanted a trade last offseason. Good thing that didn't happen. Kendricks ended up being a big part of the Eagles' success in 2017. Depending on what happens with Nigel Bradham in free agency and with Jordan Hicks' Achilles recovery, trading Kendricks might again be an option. A trade would save $4.4 million in cap space. 

Trade Nick Foles 
This is such a tough one β€” we explore it more here. But basically, Foles is a pretty amazing insurance policy until we know when Carson Wentz is going to be ready. If the Eagles do trade Foles, it would save them $5.2 million that they could certainly use. The problem is that by the time they know Wentz's status, free agency will be long gone and that cap space won't help this year. But it could help in 2019.