The plan for Nick Foles, Nate Sudfeld if Eagles clinch

The plan for Nick Foles, Nate Sudfeld if Eagles clinch

If the Eagles wind up playing a meaningless game or two, we'll probably see a mixture of Nick Foles and Nate Sudfeld at quarterback, head coach Doug Pederson indicated Monday.

The Eagles, 12-2, have clinched a first-round bye and can clinch home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs as early as Saturday, if the Packers beat the Vikings.

If that doesn't happen, they can clinch with a win over the Raiders at the Linc or on the final day of the season with a win over the Cowboys or a Vikings loss to the Bears.

If the Eagles have the No. 1 seed locked up at any point, Pederson will have to figure out a way to balance getting Foles work that he desperately needs after sitting on the bench for most of the last 14 months and also making sure Foles is healthy going into the playoffs.

The only other quarterback on the roster is Sudfeld, who has never played a regular-season snap in the NFL and has never even played in a preseason game for the Eagles.

In 2004, the Eagles clinched home-field with two weeks left, and Andy Reid -- who Pederson played for here and coached under both here and in Kansas City -- rested Donovan McNabb for most of the last two games.

McNabb played one series against the Rams and didn't play at all against the Bengals, and the Eagles suffered blowout losses in both games with Koy Detmer and Jeff Blake at quarterback on their way to the Super Bowl.

But McNabb had been the starter all year and for most of the last six years, since replacing Pederson in 1999. This is a totally different situation, since Foles' start against the Giants was his first in 14 months and first for the Eagles in three years.

Even with Sundays' win against the Giants, he's thrown only 107 passes since November of 2015.

"You want Nick to play as much as you can and get as many reps as you can and let him play and continue to work through some things and work the rapport with the offense and all of that," Pederson said.

Pederson wouldn't say exactly how much Foles would play against the Raiders and Cowboys if the Eagles do clinch Saturday.

"When we win and if we get to cross that bridge, we'll make that decision," Pederson said.

As for Sudfeld, his only NFL experience has been in the preseason with the Redskins the last two years, and obviously the Eagles don't want to go into the postseason with a No. 2 quarterback who's never played a regular-season snap in his life.

As a rookie last year, Sudfeld was 28-for-53 for 238 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions in preseason games against the Falcons, Jets and Buccaneers. This past summer, he was 33-for-56 for 360 yards with no TDs or INTs in appearances against the Ravens, Packers and Buccaneers.

His last action was Aug. 31 in Tampa. Four days later, the Redskins released him and the Eagles signed him to the practice squad. They signed him to the 53-man roster last month.

"Ideally, yeah, you'd like to get him some time and some reps here in the next couple of ballgames," Pederson said.

How Eagles could shut down Vikings' receiving duo

USA Today Images

How Eagles could shut down Vikings' receiving duo

When you think about the best wide receivers in the NFL today, names like Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, and DeAndre Hopkins come to mind and rightfully so, but the Minnesota Vikings have a pair of wideouts who have given opposing secondaries fits.

This season, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs have been the perfect complement to each other. Thielen finished the regular season with 91 receptions (eighth-best in the league), 1276 yards (fifth-best) and his 20 catches for 20 or more yards tied for fifth-best overall. As for Diggs, he finished with 64 receptions for 849 yards.

Together, Thielen and Diggs accounted for 54 percent of the Vikings' receiving yards this season. They also combined for 12 touchdowns. In the Vikes' miraculous playoff win over the New Orleans Saints, they accounted for 66 percent of the passing game. They have been the safety valves for Case Keenum all season long.

Minnesota offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur has the rare luxury of lining up either one of them on the inside or outside on any given play. Both are excellent route runners — whether it's doing deep or intermediate routes or crossing routes, and both are excellent blockers.

So how should Jim Schwartz defend against these two? Some believe help over the top on Thielen and playing single coverage on Diggs is the way to go. We may see that concept occasionally in the NFC Championship Game but I have a feeling Schwartz will come up with some variation we have not seen before. The Eagles are not going to completely shut these two down, but their damage can be minimized. Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson and the other DBs will put in a full day’s work shadowing these two.

Howie Roseman honored for his tremendous offseason

AP Images

Howie Roseman honored for his tremendous offseason

As the Eagles practiced on Thursday afternoon, just a few days before hosting the NFC Championship Game at Lincoln Financial Field, vice president of football operations Howie Roseman stood next to owner Jeff Lurie and watched the team he created. 

Of the 53 members on the Eagles' roster heading into this championship game, 25 weren't on the active roster last season. Roseman had a very busy offseason, molding the Eagles into a Super Bowl contender. 

For his efforts, the 42-year-old Roseman, who began with the Eagles as an intern in 2000, has been named the NFL Executive of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America. 

Roseman helped turn over a roster that went 7-9 last season into a team that went 13-3, earning the first-overall seed in the NFC. He built the team with enough depth to survive major injuries to Carson Wentz, Jason Peters, Darren Sproles, Jordan Hicks, Chris Maragos and Caleb Sturgis. 

Never afraid to make a trade, Roseman came back from his time away from football operations more aggressive than ever. He claims his year away from GM duties while Chip Kelly took over was both humbling and eye-opening. 

For this season, Roseman traded 25 spots in the third round to bring in veteran defensive tackle Tim Jernigan, traded away Jordan Matthews and a pick to bring in cornerback Ronald Darby and pulled the trigger on a midseason move to bring in Pro Bowl running back Jay Ajayi. 

In free agency, he signed Alshon Jeffery, Chris Long, LeGarrette Blount, Nick Foles, Patrick Robinson and Chance Warmack. He brought in several of those players on one-year prove-it deals, and for the most part, the team has gotten more than their money's worth out of them. 

He also helped hire VP of player personnel Joe Douglas to revamp the scouting department. That hire of a top personnel man was one of the conditions when Lurie reinstated Roseman to power following Kelly's dismissal. 

Roseman and Douglas spearheaded drafting a class that included Derek Barnett in the first round, an injured Sidney Jones in the second and some other contributors in the next five rounds. 

Aside from just bringing players in, Roseman has been able to manipulate the salary cap better than anyone in the league. It's been a strength of his since his arrival in Philly, so that should be no surprise. 

You could actually argue that Roseman's 2016 was more impressive. That's when he laid the groundwork for this playoff season by moving up and drafting Carson Wentz. But 2017 is when it all came together.