Eagles

Gunn on One: Alshon Jeffery thinks Carson Wentz is like 'a 10-year vet'

Gunn on One: Alshon Jeffery thinks Carson Wentz is like 'a 10-year vet'

With four touchdown catches in his last three games, it certainly looks Alshon Jeffery is on the same page with Carson Wentz. In this week's Gunn On One, I sat down with the Eagles' wide receiver and talked about his first season with the team thus far. 

Gunner: You said Carson Wentz is a big reason why you wanted to come here. How much better is he than you expected?

Jeffery: I think he's getting better and better every week. I mean, he's still a young player. This is his second year. He's doing things a 10-year vet does.

Gunner: You spent five years in Chicago. How strange is it going to be to line up against the Bears Sunday?

Jeffery: It may be a little strange, but at the end of the day it's football. I'm on a new team now. They put their pads on just like me when I line up against them. I don't look at it as the Bears, to me it's a normal game. It's a business, that's how I look at it.

Gunn: Your numbers keep going up, which means your value goes up. You're 27 now and will be 28 in February. How much as you look down the road to after the season do you weigh wanting to stay here in Philadelphia versus getting as much as you can on the open market with the mindset that it could be your last big contract as a pro football player? 

Jeffery: I haven't even thought about that, man. I'm just focusing on playing the Bears this week and just locking in on practice. The extended contract stuff, I'll let Howie (Roseman) and my agent settle that when it presents itself. Right now I'm just focused on the season.

To hear the extended version of my conversation with Jeffery, tune into Eagles Pregame Live Sunday at noon on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

Nick Foles channels 'inner Carson Wentz' in 1st Eagles start in 3 years

Nick Foles channels 'inner Carson Wentz' in 1st Eagles start in 3 years

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Just think how crazy it all is. Nick Foles, traded away by the Eagles three years ago for his replacement, benched twice and then unwanted by the Rams, a backup for a year with the Chiefs, returns to the team that he took to the playoffs four years ago and does this.

Foles recalled his 2013 glory days Sunday, throwing four touchdown passes and no interceptions in the Eagles' closer-than-it-should-have-been 34-29 win over the Giants at MetLife Stadium (see breakdown).

In his first start in 14 months and his first in an Eagles jersey in more than three years, Foles made Carson Wentz's season-ending injury a little easier to take.

He was terrific.

“It’s really special," Foles said. "This whole journey and being back in Philly, it’s crazy, if I’m being honest. 

"Just wearing the Eagles jersey. To go back to Philly and wear it, I take a lot of pride in that. I can’t say enough about our guys. They made some big plays to help with those touchdowns, but it’s a special moment for sure."

Foles completed 24 of 38 passes for 237 yards in his second career four-TD game and first since the record-setting seven-TD game in Oakland in 2013 (see Roob's observations).

This is a guy who hadn't started a game since November 2016 for the Chiefs and hadn't started a game on the road since November 2015 with the Rams.

And he became the fifth quarterback ever to throw four TD passes and no interceptions while completing 63 percent of his passes against the Giants in East Rutherford (or New York).

"He was phenomenal," Corey Clement said. "I think everybody's doubt really fueled him today. He was definitely relaxed. We depended on him, and he came up huge, just like we knew he would."

The Eagles improved to 12-2 and for the first time since the 2004 Super Bowl season clinched a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Foles improved to 16-9 in an Eagles uniform and 15-4 since 2013.

"I thought he played well, really well," head coach Doug Pederson said. "I'm sure there are some things he would like to do over, each game is going to be that way. But I thought he handled himself extremely well. A lot of poise back there. Took some shots but bounced up."

With his four touchdowns, Foles now has 50 in an Eagles uniform. He passed Carson Wentz (49) and into 12th place in Eagles history.

“He wants to be here so bad," Foles said. "He’s one of the greatest competitors I’ve played with and going out there and getting this win, I know he’s excited.”

There was one play where Foles actually looked like Wentz.

Foles isn't the slickest guy in the pocket, but he adroitly sidestepped Jason Pierre-Paul, buying himself time, then fired down the field to Torrey Smith, who drew a 32-yard pass interference down to the 5-yard line. Two plays later, Foles threw the first of his four TDs.

"I channeled my inner Carson Wentz right there," Foles said with a laugh. "Just made a play and tried to get him to move and step up, and then if the defender doesn’t hold Torrey and hold his arms down, it’s probably a touchdown, but Torrey did a great job fighting through it, we get the call, get down there and get this thing rolling."

Foles spread the ball around, with four guys finishing with between 40 and 60 yards (Jay Ajayi, Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor), and four guys catching touchdowns (Jeffery, Agholor, Ertz, Trey Burton).

It was a vintage Nick Foles performance.

“You get the butterflies, for sure," Foles said. "I think any game you ever play in, you get that excitement because it’s a big stage, there’s a lot going on. But once you get on the field you just play ball. 

"You live in the moment and there’s just something that comes out of you, and you just go out there and just play."

Wentz is out for the year with a torn left ACL, so this is Foles' team as long as the Eagles keep playing.

"Obviously, it sucks not having (Wentz) in there, but we knew all throughout the week, Nick would do his thing," Ajayi said. 

"We just let him play his game, as you saw. He played a great one. He did his thing, just operated like we thought he would. Just threw a bunch of touchdowns today."

Foles finished with a passer rating of 115.8, his eighth career game with a rating of 115 or higher.

That's sixth-most in Eagles history, even though he's 15th in franchise history in QB starts.

He can play.

After so much disappointment in his career — he even considered retiring after the 2015 season — this was quite an emotional day for Foles.

“Huge," he said. "Just getting back out there playing a full game on the road in New York. NFC East.

"There’s definitely some things when I go back and watch it that I can clean up, absolutely. The big thing is you keep playing when something does go wrong or you miss a throw or maybe the decision wasn’t what I wanted. 

"I can absolutely get better. There’s a lot to be improved on and I’m going to continue to do that."

Extra emphasis on special teams bails Eagles out

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Extra emphasis on special teams bails Eagles out

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Eagles blocked three kicks Sunday, and they needed every one of them to secure a 34-29 victory over the New York Giants (see breakdown).

Derek Barnett blocked an extra point in the first quarter, a play that wound up putting the Giants behind the eight ball for the rest of the game. Kamu Grugier-Hill blocked a punt in the second quarter, which led to an Eagles touchdown. Then in the fourth quarter, Malcolm Jenkins blocked a field goal that could have given New York the lead.

It was, by far, the Eagles' best special teams performance of the season to date, one in which the unit had been preparing for all week.

"All week we knew we could do things here, pick apart them here," Grugier-Hill said, "so we went in with a really good plan and we executed."

It could've been the game plan devised by special teams coordinator Dave Fipp, or the hard work of the players in the film room and on the practice field (see Roob's observations). Or, as Barnett suggests, it might've been the Eagles finally playing to their capabilities.

“We executed," Barnett said. "That's about it. There's nothing else behind it.”

The Eagles' special teams had been uncharacteristically poor over the previous five contests. At one point, the coverage units allowed a kick or punt return of 39 yards or more in three straight games. But the biggest miscue of all came last week in Los Angeles — a blocked punt that nearly helped swing the outcome in the Rams' favor.

For a franchise that has routinely fielded some of the best special teams units in the league, the performance was unacceptable.

“Our standard is higher," Grugier-Hill said. "The last three or four years, we've been the top special teams in the league, so to have those down weeks, we've been really putting emphasis on everyone elevating their game and doing better.”

The emphasis paid off. The Eagles made a bit of history, becoming the first NFL team to block an extra point, a field goal and a punt in the same game since the Buffalo Bills did it in 1991.

More importantly, the Eagles were able to swing the momentum in their favor time and time again, and ultimately, they pick up the win as a result.

"We knew from some things that we saw on tape that we had a couple guys that we could attack," Jenkins said.

In addition to the game plan, the Eagles shored up their special teams this week with the re-signing of Bryan Braman. Furthermore, the Giants aren't exactly known for fielding in a quality unit in any phase of the kicking game.

The Eagles had a plan. They had the personnel in place. They were up against inferior competition.

But it all came back to execution (see report card).

“Just getting off the rock, playing physical, not stopping and just keep on going forward," Barnett said. "Schematically? I don't know the answer. That's a coach question. Whatever they do, we do up front, and if everybody executes it — it's all 11 of us, not just one — if we all execute, we'll get the outcome we want.”

Braman, who signed Tuesday and was back in action for the first time since 2016, gave a similar evaluation.

"Everybody comes off the ball like they're the ones that are going to be able to block it," Braman said, "and the scheme and everything ended up paying off."

The Eagles' stellar special teams performance also happened to be timely, as it was the first game without injured starting quarterback Carson Wentz.

Coming down the stretch, the club will be counting on contributions from all three phases to overcome the loss of a leader and an MVP-caliber player.

On Sunday, special teams held up their end of the bargain and then some.

“When a starter like Carson goes down, everyone needs to elevate their game," Grugier-Hill said. "It's not just defense, it's defense or even offensive guys, they need to individually pick up their game.”