Eagles

Carson Wentz's big plays and historic numbers for Eagles' D

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Carson Wentz's big plays and historic numbers for Eagles' D

In this week's edition of Roob Stats, we look at first-quarter defense, touchdown streaks, 50-yard touchdowns and 50-yard field goals and much more!
 
First-quarter defense 
• The Eagles have now gone 10 straight games without allowing a first-quarter touchdown. That's their longest such streak since a 13-gamer in 1971.
 
• In 12 home games under Jim Schwartz, the Eagles have allowed just one first-quarter touchdown … an Aaron Rodgers touchdown pass last November.
 
Fletcher Cox vs. Brandon Graham
• Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham continued to battle for the Eagles' career sack lead among active players, with each recording sacks against the 49ers.
 
• Graham now leads Cox 33-32 in a crowded field. There are 11 Eagles with between 29½ and 34 sacks. Graham is tied for 10th in Eagles history with William Thomas, and Cox is now tied for 13th with Corey Simon.
 
• Two more sacks will move Graham past William Fuller (35½) and Dennis Harrison (34). Next for Cox is Kenny Clarke (32½).
 
Ertz piling up the touchdowns
• Zach Ertz became the first Eagles tight end with a touchdown catch in four straight games since three-time Pro Bowler Charle Young did it over the 1974 and 1975 seasons. Young was actually at the game Sunday, his first trip back to Philadephia in 40 years.
 
• Only two Eagles tight ends have had more touchdowns in an entire season than the six Zach Ertz already has: Pete Retzlaff had eight in 1964 and 1965 and Brent Celek had eight in 2009.
 
Big plays from Wentz
• Carson Wentz’s 53-yard TD pass to Alshon Jeffery gave him five TD passes of 50 yards or more this year, which halfway through the season is already fourth-most in Eagles history and tied for fifth-most in NFL history after eight games.

• Nelson Agholor, Torrey Smith, Mack Hollins and Jeffery all have at least one 50-yard TD catch. The last time the Eagles had four guys with a 50-yard TD in the same season was 2006 (Correll Buckhalter, Brian Westbrook, Donte' Stallworth, Reggie Brown and Hank Baskett).
 
• Wentz has now had a passer rating of 83 or higher in nine straight games, the second-longest streak in Eagles history behind Michael Vick's 11-game streak in 2010.
 
• Wentz now has 19 touchdown passes and five interceptions halfway through the season. Only one other quarterback in his second year has had 19 or more TDs and five or fewer INTs in a season and that's his backup, Nick Foles (27-2 in 2013).
 
• Wentz is one of only six QBs in NFL history 24 or younger with 19 touchdowns in the first half of a season. Dan Marino had 24 in 1984, Bobby Layne 20 in 1951 and Derek Carr (2015), Matt Stafford (2011) and Deshaun Watson Wentz did it this year.
 
Weekly Jake Elliott stats
• Jake Elliott's 51-yard field goal Sunday gave him five 50-yard field goals in his first seven career games. That broke the Eagles record of four 50-yarders in a season set last year by Caleb Sturgis.
 
• It's also already the third-most 50-yarders in NFL history by a rookie behind Blair Walsh, who made 10 in 2012, and Greg Zuerlein, who made seven, also in 2012.
 
• Elliott already has the sixth-most 50-yarders in Eagles history, behind only David Akers (15), Sturgis and Tom Dempsey (7) and Paul McFadden and Tony Franklin (6).
 
Miscellaneous facts and figures
• The Eagles have scored 26 or more points in six straight games, matching third third-longest streak in franchise history. They scored 26 in seven straight games both over the 2003 and 2004 seasons and in 2010.

• Corey Clement’s 5.4 yards per carry average on 10 for 54 is the highest by an undrafted Eagles rookie with at least 10 carries since Vaughn Hebron had a 6.6 average vs. the Cardinals in 1993.

• The Eagles' streak of six straight games rushing for 100 or more yards and allowing fewer than 100 yards is the 12th-longest such streak in NFL history.  

• The Eagles on Sunday scored two touchdowns in the final three minutes of a first half for the first time since 2009, when they did it against the Giants on a 54-yard Donovan McNabb TD pass to DeSean Jackson and — after a Quinton Demps interception — McNabb's 23-yard TD pass to Jeremy Maclin.

• The Eagles have scored 28 or more points in three straight games despite not scoring a first-quarter touchdown in any of them. It's the first time in franchise history that's happened.

Carson Wentz was great in 2017, but there's one thing he'd like to improve

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Carson Wentz was great in 2017, but there's one thing he'd like to improve

He was among the NFL’s best in virtually every category. Fourth in passer rating. First in touchdown percentage. Eighth in interception percentage. Second in TD-to-INT ratio. He was even third in wins despite missing the last three regular-season games.

So what’s Carson Wentz’s approach going into 2018?

“I think we can improve everywhere,” he said. “Overall, I think we can keep making strides and keep our foot on the gas.”

And that starts with completion percentage.

Wentz completed just 60.2 percent of his passes last year, which ranked 23rd of 30 quarterbacks who threw at least 400 passes. 

Ahead of only Blake Bortles, Andy Dalton, Mitch Trubisky, Cam Newton, Trevor Siemian, Jacoby Brissett and DeShone Kizer.

Not the kind of company he wants to keep.

Wentz was so good in every other area he still fashioned a passer rating over 100. In fact, his 101.9 rating was the highest in NFL history by a quarterback completing 60.2 percent of his passes (minimum 400 attempts).

The league average last year was 62 percent. And for the sake of comparison, Nick Foles completed 64.7 percent of his passes if you combine the regular season and postseason.

Wentz dropped from 62.4 percent as a rookie to 60.2 percent last year.

Among 36 active NFL quarterbacks who’ve thrown at least 1,000 passes, Wentz’s 61.5 completion percentage ranks 21st.

 “I know I’d like to see my completions go higher,” Wentz said last week. “I think I was right around 60 percent and I expect more out of myself in that area.”

After 2016, Wentz identified red zone and third down as two areas he hoped to improve on. 

And he wound up leading the NFL in both red zone efficiency (NFL-best 116.3 passer rating) and third-down efficiency (NFL-best 123.7 rating).

“Third down, red zone, we were really good,” he said. “That’s something we really focused on from Year 1 to Year 2, but we (still) all feel we can definitely improve in those areas.”

Wentz also committed nine fumbles in 13 games, and only Jameis Winston and Russell Wilson had more.

“I think we had too many fumbles,” he said. “Balls on the ground too many times.”

Wentz, now nearly five months out from his knee injury, said he’s used a lot of his extra time at the NovaCare Complex this offseason focusing on what he can improve on in 2018, and one of those things is his upper-body strength.

“With all the extra rehab and not being able to run and do a lot of things early on you’ve really just got to focus on some different things and I got to do a lot of seated throwing and trying to build my arm strength and really take care of my upper body more than I have in the past,” he said.

“It’s been an interesting process not being able to get that true conditioning and that rehab in, but it’s exciting to start easing into the running and conditioning stuff. … 

“I feel good. I definitely feel working with the strength guys, we had some friendly competition stuff with the other (injured) guys in there rehabbing and I definitely feel like I’m making some strides in there.”

Forget empty Day 2 of draft, Eagles hoping to find gold in Day 3

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Forget empty Day 2 of draft, Eagles hoping to find gold in Day 3

The Eagles are scheduled to have a pretty boring Day 2 of the draft this year. Because after they pick at No. 32, they don’t have another selection until the 31st pick of the fourth round. 

That means 98 players will be taken between the Eagles’ first and second picks. And they’ll have to watch other teams pick that entire Friday (Rounds 2-3) without them … unless they make a move. 

“We’re not looking at it like we’re sitting out on Friday,” Eagles de facto GM Howie Roseman said. “We’re going through our draft process looking at every scenario. When we get to Friday, we get to Friday.” 

Even if the Eagles don’t make a move, they’ll be plenty busy Saturday, the final day of the draft. They have two fourth-round picks and one pick in the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds. 

Eagles personnel head Joe Douglas showed up to his media availability with a stat ready to go to illustrate the importance of Day 3. 

“We’re excited that we have five picks on Saturday,” Douglas said. “When you look at the Super Bowl, there’s 22 starters that were third-round picks or lower. Of those 22, 18 of them were fourth-round picks or lower. So 18 starters in the Super Bowl this year were fourth-round picks or lower, including six of them that were undrafted free agents. We choose to keep the glass half full.” 

Douglas is right on all those stats — 22 of 44 starters in the Super Bowl were drafted in the third or lower and 18 of them would be considered Day 3 picks. Not bad. 

Here’s how the Super Bowl starters broke down by round: 1-10, 2-12, 3-4, 4-4, 5-3, 6-3, 7-2, UDFA-6. 

The Eagles accounted for seven of the 18 players who were drafted in the fourth round or later, so the Patriots were the ones who found even more value late in drafts. And of those seven, just three were original Eagles — Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Jason Kelce and Jalen Mills. 

Of the six undrafted players who started in the Super Bowl, two were from the Eagles — LeGarrette Blount and Rodney McLeod. Neither was an original Eagle, but the Birds also relied heavily on running back Corey Clement, who was an undrafted rookie last season. 

With a dearth of high draft picks, it would make sense if the Eagles attack the undrafted market following the draft, but Douglas thinks it won’t be as easy as many might think. 

“You would think because we’re coming off a Super Bowl, we don’t have a second or third round pick that it would be a lot easier after the draft,” Douglas said. “But my experience coming off a Super Bowl, it’s sometimes harder to get guys to commit to your roster because agents and players have a perceived notion that it’s going to be that much tougher to make the team. I think that’s going to be a challenge. I think that’s going to be a challenge for us and we know it and we’re going to attack it.”

The Eagles in recent years have shown a willingness to pony up significant money to entice undrafted players to sign with them, and if Douglas is right, they might need to do it again to land some this year. 

Either way, the Eagles know how important Day 3 and beyond can be. So when they’re bored on Day 2, they don’t plan on losing focus.