Eagles

Howie Roseman proving to be greatest sequel since The Godfather Part II

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USA Today Images

Howie Roseman proving to be greatest sequel since The Godfather Part II

Tim Jernigan, Alshon Jeffery, LeGarrette Blount, Patrick Robinson, Ronald Darby, Jay Ajayi, Chris Long and Jake Elliott.

A look at that list of names reveals players who have been integral pieces in contributing to the Eagles' 9-1 start. The other common denominators each share are they are all in their first season in midnight green and all were acquired through free agency or trades.

It's a pretty impressive list when you consider how each individual has impacted the Birds' season through 10 games. And the man ultimately responsible for all of these moves is The Godfather, Howie Roseman.

It's generally fool's gold when a team relies too heavily on trades and free agency. You only need to go as far back as 2011 to the Eagles' "Dream Team" to make this point. This isn't 2011, though. The 2017 club has plenty of homegrown talent, be it Carson Wentz, Lane Johnson, Fletcher Cox or Brandon Graham. But there is no denying what kind of contribution the other newcomers have given the Birds.

The Eagles had some glaring areas of need entering the season. Most notable were wide receiver, cornerback and running back. And while they drafted guys who have contributed at those spots, like Mack Hollins, Rasul Douglas, and Corey Clement (who they snagged as an undrafted free agent), the players brought here through signings and deals have reaped greater rewards this season.

That's not even mentioning the future investments like Sidney Jones, who could pay major dividends at corner in years to come.

Blount and newly acquired Ajayi have formed two-thirds of the Eagles' second-ranked rushing attack. Ajayi could be the gift that keeps giving, as he gains more knowledge of the playbook and reps. The 30-year-old Blount should be fresh down the stretch with the running back by committee approach the Birds employ.

And while Jeffery has not put up monster numbers, he's a big target that appears to be gaining more of a rapport with Wentz as the season has progressed, having been targeted 26 times the last three games while hauling in four touchdowns in that span.

All are essential pieces of this offense.

On the other side of the ball, Jernigan may not have been an obvious need, but has he ever had an impact? He and Cox represent the best duo in the NFL on the inside. He's been rewarded with a rich, new extension and he's a major reason the Eagles are the best team in the league against the run and have had so much success pressuring the passer.

The signing of Robinson went under the radar, for good reason. He played for three teams in the previous three seasons and looked as if he might be on his last legs entering his eighth season. Instead, he's been a find, manning the slot and providing coverage and tackling skills the Eagles' corners desperately needed.

Long has seamlessly incorporated himself into the Birds' defensive end rotation.

While his future with the club is still not a given for the rest of the season, Elliott has won the Eagles games with some big kicks in clutch time.

Combine the offseason moves with his drafts the past two years since regaining his organizational hand, and Roseman revisited is looking like the greatest sequel since The Godfather.

Stefen Wisniewski heads Eagles' inactives vs Giants

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USA Today Images

Stefen Wisniewski heads Eagles' inactives vs Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Eagles will be without their starting left guard Sunday afternoon against the Giants. 

Stefen Wisniewski (ankle) is officially inactive. Either Chance Warmack or Isaac Seumalo will play in his place. 

Wisniewski came into the weekend listed as questionable after he injured his ankle during the first half of last Sunday's game in Los Angeles. After Wisniewski came out against the Rams, he was replaced by  Warmack and then Seumalo. Both struggled against L.A. and Aaron Donald. 

Since joining the Eagles as a free agent, Wisniewski had played in all 29 games with the team. He earned the starting left guard job earlier this season. 

Joining Wisniewski among the Eagles' inactive players are Rasul Douglas, Wendell Smallwood, Marcus Johnson, Steven Means, Elijah Qualls and Dannell Ellerbe.  

Nick Foles will obviously get the start at quarterback and Nate Sudfeld will be the backup. This is the first time Sudfeld will be active for an NFL game. 

With Wiz out, offensive tackle Will Beatty is active for the first time as an Eagle. Douglas, the third-round rookie who played well when given a chance this season, is inactive for the first time since the season opener. 

Bryan Braman, who was brought back this week, is active and should immediately play a role on special teams. 

For the Giants, safety Landon Collins, who came into the weekend listed as doubtful, is active. 

Eagles-Giants thoughts, starting to solve the Nick Foles mystery

Eagles-Giants thoughts, starting to solve the Nick Foles mystery

Eagles-Giants
1 p.m. on FOX
Eagles -8

A game that until recently looked like a speedbump on the Eagles’ path to the playoffs has all of a sudden become a matchup of intrigue and mystery.

NFC East rivalry or not, the 11-2 Eagles were expected to dispatch the 2-11 Giants with relative ease, and still very well may. However, the season’s second meeting between the two teams has taken on a decidedly different feel now that it will feature Nick Foles under center for the Birds.

It’s become appointment viewing for an Eagles fan base collectively holding its breath, hoping to catch a glimpse into whether Foles possesses the ability to lead the team deep into the postseason.

Foles has made 36 career NFL starts — seven more than the quarterback he replaces, Carson Wentz — and has appeared in 46 games total, most of that with the Eagles. Nonetheless, the sixth-year veteran is viewed as something of an unknown entity. Foles was productive for several seasons, even historically prolific, but also lost a pair of starting jobs, nearly playing himself out of the league along the way.

Now in his second stint with the Eagles, the question is which version of Foles are the Eagles getting this time around, and can they still reach the Super Bowl with a new signal caller? We will begin to get some answers Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium.

In a position to succeed
Regardless of whether Foles is up to the challenge, it wouldn’t hurt the Eagles’ chances if they were able to finish what they started and earn the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. That could actually happen as early as Sunday.

A win over the Giants and a Vikings loss to the Bengals would be enough to clinch a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the postseason. Even if the Vikings don’t lose this week, the Eagles can secure the top seed in the conference with any two wins over the Giants, Raiders or Cowboys over the final three games. Of the three remaining opponents, only the Cowboys are currently above .500 at 7-6.

In other words, Foles shouldn’t have to do much heavy lifting until the postseason, while the Eagles can make his job a little easier in January if they take care of business down the stretch.

With a little help from his friends
Foles has been under the microscope all week, and the backup quarterback has been examined from just about every angle. There’s nothing much more to say about the Eagles from the offense’s standpoint, at least until we’ve seen it in action.

The group that’s flying under the radar in the aftermath of the injury to Wentz is the defense. Even the unit’s role in last week’s 43-35 win over the Rams has been overlooked to a degree, despite coming up huge in the fourth quarter.

After allowing the Rams to go up and down the field for the better part of the contest, the Eagles made two pivotal stops after Wentz’s exit. A Chris Long strip sack set up the game-winning field goal and that was followed by a quick three-and-out that allowed Foles and the offense to milk nearly the entire final two minutes of regulation.

That was against the No. 2 scoring offense in the NFL, and though the Eagles did surrender 35 points, the defense stepped up when it mattered.

Wentz might be out, but the Eagles’ defense still ranks first against the run, 13th against the pass, fourth in total yards, fifth in scoring and is tied for third in takeaways entering the week. This isn’t all about Foles and the offense. They are more than capable of limiting or completely shutting down an opponent.

Coming up short?
The one area of the offense that might be worth keeping an eye out moving forward is on third downs. The Eagles are third in the NFL with a 45.3 percent conversion rate, and Wentz just seemed to have a knack for making something happen even during third-and-long situations, often keeping the play alive or simply making a clutch throw.

Foles did find Nelson Agholor for a huge third-down conversion against the Rams, but Wentz has been uncanny in those situations. Foles is far less likely to extend a play with his feet, and he’s far more willing to make a safe throw to a checkdown receiver and live with a punt.

Perhaps more than anything else this season, that ability to keep drives alive was what made Wentz so dangerous and so difficult to defend. When it seemed the Eagles’ backs were against the wall, he’d throw a strike, or run around and find somebody or pick up the first down himself.

No matter what happens, the offense won’t be the same without Wentz. The guy is special. But on third down, in particular, there was a feeling no distance was too far, and a conversion was inevitable — and on occasion, it would break the will of opposing defenses.

The Eagles better get used to the idea of running on first and second down to create manageable thirds, punting when it’s not there and playing defense. Foles will do fine, but he’s not quite an unstoppable force, unlike Wentz.