Nick Foles doing the most important job of all

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Nick Foles doing the most important job of all

Nick Foles looked just like Nick Foles last weekend. Which means he got the ball in the end zone, did enough to get the win, and — more than anything — protected the football.
We all know about the 27 TDs and two picks in 2013, but not throwing interceptions has been a hallmark of Foles' six-year career. Other than a couple disastrous games during a disastrous 2015 season in St. Louis with the Rams, Foles has been remarkably stingy when it comes to throwing picks.
That continued last Sunday, when he didn't throw any interceptions in his first start in 14 months, a 34-29 Eagles win over the Giants.
“Any time a quarterback can protect the ball and not throw interceptions, that’s huge," said Foles, who took over at quarterback for the Eagles after Pro Bowler Carson Wentz's season-ending knee injury.
"Every quarterback wants to be aggressive, but you take pride in playing good football and not shifting the momentum to the other team, because that’s what interceptions are, they shift the momentum, and a lot of times (the opponent) ends up with good field position and the game changes. 
"But definitely look at that as good decision making, going through my reads, my progressions, and if it’s not there, being smart. That’s the toughest thing. When you’re dropping back and everything’s going on, part of you wants to force it, but you have to make the right decision and not force the ball and sometimes throw it away."
Foles was 24 for 38 for 237 yards against the Giants with four touchdowns and no INTs. It was the 17th time in his career he's thrown at least one touchdown and no interceptions in a game, and he's 15-2 in 17 such games. 
The Eagles, 12-2, can clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoff bracket Monday night with a win over the Raiders at the Linc. 
Foles goes into Monday's game having thrown 140 consecutive passes without an interception, the longest active streak in the NFL. 
That streak began late in the 2015 season with the Rams, continued with the Chiefs last year and includes his 52 passes with the Eagles this year.
"It's part of the role now," Doug Pederson said. "He's no longer the backup. He's the starter. It's important that we take care of the football and don't turn it over. He did a nice job in the game not doing that.
"I think the turnovers and the giveaways, whether it be a fumble or an interception, are huge. That's something you're going to notice with Nick. Nick is OK throwing the ball away. Under duress, he's going to throw it out of bounds or skip it somewhere, and live to play another down. 
"That's kind of built into him. He does a nice job that way."
Despite a four-interception game at Lambeau against the Packers and a three-INT game against the Bengals in Cincinnati while he was with the Rams in 2015, Foles goes into Monday night having thrown one interception every 50 attempts in his career -- 27 INTs in 1,337 attempts.
Only eight quarterbacks in NFL history have thrown interceptions more infrequently than Foles — including former teammate Sam Bradford and current teammate Wentz.
Foles has a lower interception percentage than every quarterback in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
He opened the 2013 season with 201 consecutive passes without an interception, extending his streak to 238 consecutive passes overall without an INT — the eighth-longest streak in NFL history.
But Foles doesn't just avoid interceptions. He's aggressive and throws a lot of touchdown passes as well.
In 19 games in an Eagles uniform since 2013, Foles has thrown 44 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
He's one of only six quarterbacks in NFL history to average both 4½ touchdowns and 2.0 or fewer interceptions for every 100 pass attempts.
The others are Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Derek Carr — who faces the Eagles on Sunday for the Raiders — and Wentz.
The nature of the Eagles' offense means you have an aggressive mentality but still want to protect the football.
And it's not easy to do both.
"it's hard, especially for our guys, who like their head coach and like their offensive staff, we preach touchdown (and then) check-down mentality," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. 
"We want to push the ball down the field, we want to get chunk plays. When we get in the red zone we want to throw the ball into the [end] zone, but that's not an excuse to be careless. We still have to maintain discipline.
"How do you be aggressive and disciplined at the same time? That's just a lot of preparation, a lot of practice, a lot of mental drilling. Having that unique 'it' factor to be able to do it. That's why some guys make it and some guys don't. They can't figure out how to be aggressive and be disciplined at the same time. Obviously, Nick has proven he knows how to do that."
Not trying to jinx anybody here, but Foles' last interception came on Dec. 6, 2015, when Rashad Johnson of the Cards picked him off at Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis in his final game for the Rams.
His last INT in an Eagles uniform came on Nov. 2, 2014, when the Texans picked him off three times at NRG Stadium in Houston — A.J. Bouye had a pick-six against Foles and Jumal Rolle picked him off twice, two of his three career interceptions.
But for the most part, Foles has been in an interception-free zone.
He's thrown 10 or more passes 28 times for the Eagles. He's had two INTs four times, one nine times and none 15 times.
“When you’re in a rhythm, it’s easier to do," Foles said. "It’s when you’re pressing, you’re trying to make things happen, you tend to force things, and that’s speaking from my experience. 
"If you prepare well and you play smart, there’s times you’ll dirt the ball or throw it away if you feel it’s not there, but there’s other times when you have to be aggressive and let your guys make plays. 
"You never worry about that when you play the game. You go out there and you sling it and you trust your guys to make plays."

More money might not be enough to keep Chris Long in Philly

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More money might not be enough to keep Chris Long in Philly

The Eagles have given veteran defensive end Chris Long a raise, but according to one report, Long is concerned enough about his playing time with the Eagles that he's mulling his options regarding his future.

What is certain is that at some point before March 15, Long signed a new contract with the Eagles that increases his 2018 base salary from $1 million non-guaranteed to $2½ million fully guaranteed.

However, NFL Network's Michael Silver reported Monday that Long may decide he doesn't want to accept the new contract — which he already signed.

According to Silver, Long is concerned about how many snaps he would get as a third-down rusher following the addition of Pro Bowl pass rusher Michael Bennett.

The Eagles officially acquired Bennett on March 14, although the deal was reported a week earlier. Long's new contract was filed with the NFLPA on March 15, but there is a good chance he agreed to it and signed it before the Bennett acquisition.

Whether or not Long knew Bennett was coming to the Eagles when he signed the restructured deal is unknown. But at some point Long knew about their interest in Bennett and even gave Bennett a "glowing recommendation" when the Eagles asked, according to an interview Long gave to SBNation.  

Long wouldn't appear to have many options. He could retire, in which case he would have to return the $500,000 bonus he received from the Eagles last week.

He could request a trade, which would be bizarre for someone who signed a contract extension just a few days earlier.

Or he could simply play under the terms of the contract restructure and pay increase, which was first reported by Field Yates of ESPN and confirmed by NBC Sports Philadelphia with a source familiar with the renegotiation.

As for the contract itself, including that $500,000 roster bonus — which was also in the previous version of the contract — Long would receive $3 million guaranteed this year instead of $1.5 million non-guaranteed plus $750,000 in easily achieved roster bonuses.

Long had five sacks and forced four fumbles last year as a rotational defensive end. He wound up playing 496 snaps, 10th-most on the defense and only about 10 per game fewer than starter and Pro Bowler Brandon Graham and five per game fewer than starter Vinny Curry, who the Eagles released.

Long, who turns 33 next week, has 63½ career sacks. His 5.0 sacks last year were his most since 2013. He's won back-to-back Super Bowls the last two years with the Eagles and Patriots.

What happens next?

Long has demonstrated that the money is secondary to him. He donated his entire 2017 base salary to charity.

At some point very soon, the Eagles will need him to decide whether he's even going to have a 2018 base salary.

Terrell Owens digs deep to find his Hall of Fame presenter

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Terrell Owens digs deep to find his Hall of Fame presenter

A day after we found out that Brian Dawkins picked Troy Vincent to introduce him at the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony this summer, Terrell Owens has picked his presenter. 

No surprise: It's not Donovan McNabb.

After alienating many people in the league throughout his tremendous career, Owens picked a name from his early days. Longtime NFL assistant coach George Stewart, who was Owens' receivers coach in San Francisco, will introduce T.O. at the 2018 induction. 

In a video released by the Hall of Fame, Owens said Stewart "knew what to get out of me."

Now special teams coordinator and assistant head coach for the Chargers, Stewart has been an NFL coach for three decades. He began his time in San Francisco in 1996 (Owens' rookie season) as a special teams coach but was their wide receivers coach from 2000-02.

"Things that George Stewart may say, it may be shocking to a lot of people, but not to him because he knows who I am," Owens said. "... To know who Terrell Owens is, you really have to spend some time with him. Fast forward, George Stewart became a father figure to me."

The first season Stewart became the 49ers' receivers coach, Owens went to his first of six Pro Bowls and was named an All-Pro for the first of five times in his career. Owens was a Pro Bowler and an All-Pro in all three of the seasons that Stewart held the position in San Francisco. 

Of course, Owens' growth under Stewart led to his becoming one of the biggest stars in the NFL.

Eventually, Owens forced his way out of San Francisco and got to Philadelphia. With the Eagles, Owens had a short and tumultuous two seasons, but was also dynamic on the field and nearly helped them pull off a Super Bowl win over the Patriots. 

Owens averaged 93.5 receiving yards per game during his time in Philadelphia, the highest average in franchise history. It wasn't his play that led to his downfall in Philly. It was his beef with McNabb, along with his attempt to strong-arm the Eagles into a new contract. 

Owens was a divisive personality for his entire career. It's likely the reason it took him three tries to make it into the Hall of Fame. Because his numbers don't lie: He's one of the best receivers of all time.