Nelson Agholor's fumble recovery TD example of Eagles' relentless attitude

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Nelson Agholor's fumble recovery TD example of Eagles' relentless attitude

The game was over. There was no way the Bears were going to come back and win. 

There was also no way Nelson Agholor was going to stop running. 

Early in the fourth quarter, on the tail end of his 30-yard run, Jay Ajayi fumbled the ball forward from the Bears' 5-yard line. The Bears could have recovered it for a touchback, but Agholor entered the picture late to fall on the ball. Touchdown. 

"Great hustle by Nelson," Ajayi said, "keeping the play alive and making a bad play a good play."

One way to look at this play is that everything really is going the Eagles' way; they're even scoring on fumbles. 

The other is this: the Eagles never stops hustling. 

Before that play, the Eagles were already up 24-3 on a Bears team that simply couldn't move the ball offensively. A lot of players on a lot of teams would have watched Ajayi run from afar.

Not this team (see Roob's observations). Not Agholor. 

"That's habit. We do it all week in practice," Agholor said. "We try to trail runners, we try to get in front of runners. Convoy when guys are running, chase the ball carrier. Our coaches gave us credit for that in film in weeks past. This is an opportunity where that same habit and that same coachable moment came into play for a touchdown. I'm happy that was the result but I also wish I would have gotten there earlier so he could get his touchdown because he deserved that."

Running back Corey Clement, who was on the sideline for the play, said he didn't see Agholor until the last second. 

"That's just the type of team we are," Clement said. "We hustle and everybody tries to get into the end zone as much as we can."

In addition to that hustle touchdown from Agholor, he also had three catches for 32 yards, which included a 15-yard touchdown in the second quarter that showed off his play-making ability.  

On that touchdown, Agholor took a quick pass from Carson Wentz. He then used his speed to sprint around the right edge past safety Eddie Jackson and then leaped into the end zone over Kyle Fuller. 

"I had a lot of fun with the first one," Agholor said after the Eagles' 31-3 win (see breakdown)

Agholor was able to leap over Fuller because Fuller was already on his way to the turf thanks to some "great downfield blocking" from Alshon Jeffery. 

On the season, Agholor has 33 catches for 458 yards and six touchdowns. He came into this year with three career touchdowns. He has also set a career-high for yards receiving a few weeks ago. 

Agholor's transformation from a first-round bust into a viable offensive weapon is undoubtedly one of the biggest storylines for the 2017 Eagles. The team felt so strongly about his growth that they traded Jordan Matthews to the Bills before the season began — a bit of a gamble at the time. 

But it's paid off. 

From the moment Agholor got to OTAs this season, it was pretty clear something was different. He followed up his spring with a strong training camp and his success has flowed right into the regular season. His confidence, which wavered during his 2016 season, has been high all year. 

Now, here we are, almost in December, and Agholor is an absolute playmaker. 

"I'm so happy for him," tight end Zach Ertz said. "I think it's just a testament to hard work. He's one of the first guys in the building each and every day. He's on the JUGs each and every morning. He's worked his butt off to get to this point."

Agholor never stops working, even with a 21-point lead in the fourth. It got him an extra touchdown Sunday.

Michael Bennett thinks Eagles' DL can be among 'best ever'

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Michael Bennett thinks Eagles' DL can be among 'best ever'

As Michael Bennett watched the Eagles face the Patriots in Super Bowl LII, he couldn’t help but think about how he would fit with the Birds’ defensive line.

And how he could make an already impressive unit even better.

“Then a month later, it happens,” Bennett said at his introductory press conference in Philly on Monday afternoon. “Things always happen for a reason. This is just another great opportunity.”

Bennett is 32 now, but is coming off his third consecutive trip to the Pro Bowl. He clearly thinks he has plenty left in the tank and the Eagles obviously agree. They traded with the Seahawks to get him and then released a more expensive Vinny Curry.

The Birds then brought in Haloti Ngata and let Beau Allen walk in free agency. So the Eagles’ defensive line now includes Bennett, Ngata, Fletcher Cox, Tim Jernigan, Brandon Graham, Chris Long and Derek Barnett. The group includes five former first-round picks and has a combined 11 Pro Bowls between them.

On Monday afternoon, Bennett put the quarterbacks of the NFC East on notice (see story) and then didn’t mince words about how great this defensive line can be in 2018.

“I think it can be one of the greatest,” he said. “I think we can have one of the greatest defensive lines to ever play the game if we approach the game every single way. Just go out there and just keep doing what they’re doing and just finding a way to add and just keep showing how many great players.

“I think a great defensive line is about the rotation. It’s kind of like Golden State. You want to be able to have those guys who can come in and shoot and shoot and score every time.”

This isn’t the first time an Eagles defensive lineman has compared the unit to the Golden State Warriors. In fact, it was Curry who said it last October after the Eagles tortured San Francisco's C.J. Beathard for an afternoon at the Linc (see story). Curry’s out and Bennett is in, but the rotation is still going strong.

Bennett played 934 defensive snaps for the Seahawks in 2017. That was the third-most of any defensive lineman in the NFL. For comparison’s sake, Brandon Graham led the Eagles’ defensive linemen in snaps with 666 in the regular season; that ranked 43rd in the NFL among defensive linemen.

So maybe that means that the disruptive numbers Bennett put up in Seattle were because he played so much. Or, on the flip side, staying fresh might actually help increase his productivity and lead to more longevity. The Eagles are hoping for the latter.

“I’m comfortable with taking less plays, man,” Bennett said. “But, like I said, I came here to be an All-Star, just like I’ve been, to continuously play at a Pro Bowl level and I don’t think that’s no different. Just taking snaps off, being able to have a [longer] career, it’s something that every player wishes and dreams about. And this organization, when you think about play snaps and counts and keeping guys fresh for the moments that count.

“Because at the end of the day, it’s not about September or October or November; it’s about January and February. To be able to keep guys fresh and to have those opportunities where you have guys to be able to keep rushing the quarterback as savage as we can. You gotta go out there and play savage every single play and I think less snaps can give me the opportunity to do that.”

Michael Bennett's strong message to NFC East QBs

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Michael Bennett's strong message to NFC East QBs

It wasn't quite a WWE throwdown message, but Michael Bennett definitely put NFC East quarterbacks on notice during his introductory press conference at the NovaCare Complex on Monday afternoon.

He's coming for them.

And so are the rest of his defensive line teammates.

"I know Eli Manning is probably watching this and thinking, like, yes I'm coming," said Bennett, whom the Eagles acquired in a trade with the Seahawks. "I know Dak (Prescott) is watching this like, 'Yeah, he's coming.' Yeah, I am.

"And Alex Smith, he knows he can't run from me. I told him at the Pro Bowl. So it's definitely going to be a great season and it's going to be fun to chase quarterbacks. I just know third down it's just going to be ... and second down and first down, it's just going to be fun."

When Bennett, 32, named all three of the starting quarterbacks from the NFC East, he was actually answering a question about comparing the defensive schemes from Seattle and Philadelphia. Bennett began by saying that he played with some great players in Seattle, before saying he doesn't think there's a tight end in the NFL that can block him.

From there, he started to name the QBs.

Manning in New York. Prescott in Dallas. And recently-acquired Smith in Washington. They'll all be seeing Bennett twice this season.

Bennett is basically replacing Vinny Curry on the Eagles' defensive line, and Haloti Ngata is basically replacing Beau Allen. While Curry and Allen are younger, many think Bennett and Ngata are improvements in the short-term, which means the strength of the Eagles' defense from 2017 is even stronger in 2018.

While Curry had just three sacks in 2017 and has gone over the four-sack mark just once in his six-year career, Bennett has had at least five sacks in all of those last six seasons. Bennett has 48 sacks since 2012 and has been a Pro Bowler in each of his last three seasons.

While there was a report that surfaced saying Seattle was trying to part ways with socially active players, Bennett said he didn't give it much credence. His relationship with Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll goes beyond football and he knows Seattle was just trying to unload him to get something back in return; it's part of the business.

It seems likely that in Philly, Bennett will get a chance to play both inside and outside. His versatility was used in a similar fashion in Seattle, but he also played a ton of snaps, which he won't have to do in the Eagles' rotation. It should keep him fresh.

And it will probably keep opposing quarterbacks up at night.