Eagles

Vinny Curry: 'Turn the tape on this year and you know what's up'

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Vinny Curry: 'Turn the tape on this year and you know what's up'

Eagles defensive end Vinny Curry has two main goals. First, is to help the Eagles win. 

Second? 

"My second goal is, when you turn the tape on," Curry said, "you're going to see 75 on there, flashing."

He's accomplishing both of those goals in 2017. 

The Eagles have an incredibly talented defensive line, but Curry isn't the player grabbing headlines. Brandon Graham leads the team in sacks and has been its most disruptive player. Fletcher Cox is on his way back to the Pro Bowl. Tim Jernigan came in a trade and already got paid. Chris Long has brought veteran leadership and has made news for his charity work off the field. And Derek Barnett is the exciting first-round pick. 

Curry? It can be easy to forget about him. 

But Curry is quietly putting together a great season. 

"He's had a tremendous year for us," defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. "He's played with power. He's played the run extremely well. He's done his job, and I think that's the greatest compliment I can give a player. He does his job. He's there when we need him. ... He's just been steady and consistent the whole year. Plays with toughness. He brings a physical edge to us, and he's done his job when he's called upon, and like I said, I think that's the greatest compliment you can give a player."

Through 11 games, Curry has three sacks, which isn't great, but it's also more than he had in 16 games last season. And his production shouldn't be judged by sacks alone. That would be unfair. Curry also has eight quarterback hits, 16 quarterback hurries and is tied for the team lead with seven tackles for loss. 

"He's done a lot," Graham said. "He comes in focused every day, ready to go. I think he's gotten better in Year 2 (in the defense), as far as what they ask him to do. And now he's just making plays. Now, it's all about getting better each week." 

Curry has also proven to be a huge run-stuffer for an Eagles' defense that is the best run-stuffing team in the league. 

Some think Curry, 29, has gotten better against the run, but he doesn't think so. 

"You never got to see me play the run game," Curry said. "That's an illusion that people were led to believe. People never saw me play the run game. I came in on third downs. Right now, I'm playing first and second downs now and you can see it. I'm just trying to do my job to the best of my ability and not let the guys down on my part."

In 2016, Curry was the first defensive end off the bench after Graham and Connor Barwin. The Eagles actually tried to give Curry the chance to win a starting gig, but Graham got in there and played so well they couldn't take him off the field. 

During last season, Curry battled through injuries, including an MCL sprain, and played just 43 percent of the Eagles' defensive snaps. 

Curry's disappointing 2016 season came sandwiched between his signing a $46.25 million extension and the Eagles' bringing in Long and Barnett this offseason. Curry didn't pay it any mind though. 

"You've been around me a long time," Curry said. "Every year there's another story out about Vinny and something else. You know how it goes. I don't really get into none of that. I just come in and do my job. If last year, people were judging me on that, then shame on them. You feel me? Turn the tape on this year and you know what's up."

Curry, who was a second-round pick in 2012, had never started an NFL game before this season. He has started all 11 games this season as the Eagles have jumped out to a 10-1 record. Perhaps more importantly, Curry is playing a career-high 54 percent of the defense's snaps. 

In a way, Curry's role has flipped this season. He's playing more first and second downs, where he used to come in as a third-down specialist. Curry said it's just important for his unit to check their egos, something he said isn't difficult at all, especially when the team is 10-1. 

These days, Curry gets his playing time cut because the Eagles need to get Barnett into the game. The first-round pick already has 4½ sacks this season. It's a lot easier for Curry to accept the rotation because of how well Barnett is playing. 

"I ain't mad for five minutes," Curry said. "That man can play." 

But so can Curry. And he's proving it again this season. 

With Jay Ajayi playing more, one Eagles RB lost snaps

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With Jay Ajayi playing more, one Eagles RB lost snaps

Jay Ajayi keeps playing more and more. So someone had to lose snaps. 

On Sunday against the Giants, that someone was rookie Corey Clement. 

Clement played just 10 snaps in the 34-29 win over the Giants at MetLife Stadium. It was the fewest snaps he's played since the Carolina game back on Oct. 12, when he also played 10 snaps. 

While Clement didn't play a ton, he got the ball on half of his snaps. He had four carries for 17 yards and one catch for one yard. 

For the third straight week, Ajayi led the Eagles' running backs in snaps. He's clearly getting in rhythm as the Eagles' top back (see story). He played 35 of 68 offensive snaps (51 percent) against the Giants. He was followed by LeGarrette Blount (17 snaps), Clement (10) and Kenjon Barner (6). 

The entire offensive line and Nick Foles played all 68 snaps. That includes Chance Warmack, who started in place of an injured Stefen Wisniewski. 

Trey Burton played just 11 snaps, his fewest in a game since the Chargers game in Week 4. But he made the most of them, catching a wide open touchdown in the second quarter. Zach Ertz played 60 snaps, Brent Celek played 23. 

On defense, Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod and Nigel Bradham didn't leave the field, playing all 88 snaps. 

The 88 snaps the defense played was easily the most of the season. The previous high was 82 against the Panthers. The Eagles' defense couldn't get off the field and gave up 504 total yards to Eli Manning and the Giants (see story). Their 88 snaps was the second-highest total under Jim Schwartz. The only other time with more was 89 against the Giants in their second meeting last year. 

After Patrick Robinson left after 47 snaps with a concussion, veteran safety Corey Graham ended up playing 54 snaps (61 percent) and made the clinching play at the end (see story). That's the most he's played all season. He played just 10 snaps last week.  

Najee Goode got eight snaps at linebacker in the team's base package. That was a little surprising because Joe Walker returned from injury. Walker didn't get on the field on defense. 

Here are full snap counts: 

Offense
Lane Johnson - 68 snaps (100 percent)
Halapoulivaati Vaitai - 68 (100)
Chance Warmack - 68 (100)
Brandon Brooks - 68 (100)
Jason Kelce - 68 (100)
Nick Foles - 68 (100)
Alshon Jeffery - 61 (90)
Zach Ertz - 60 (88)
Torrey Smith - 51 (75)
Nelson Agholor - 49 (72)
Jay Ajayi - 35 (51)
Brent Celek - 23 (34)
LeGarrette Blount - 17 (25)
Mack Hollins - 13 (19)
Trey Burton - 11 (16)
Corey Clement - 10 (15)
Kenjon Barner - 6 (9)
Isaac Seumalo - 4 (6)

Defense
Malcolm Jenkins - 88 snaps (100 percent)
Nigel Bradham - 88 (100)
Rodney McLeod - 88 (100)
Jalen Mills - 85 (97)
Ronald Darby - 84 (95)
Fletcher Cox - 70 (80)
Brandon Graham - 63 (72)
Mychal Kendricks - 61 (69)
Corey Graham - 54 (61)
Patrick Robinson - 47 (53)
Vinny Curry - 46 (52)
Derek Barnett - 42 (48)
Tim Jernigan - 41 (47)
Chris Long - 39 (44)
Beau Allen - 32 (36)
Destiny Vaeao - 23 (26)
Najee Goode - 8 (9)
Jaylen Watkins - 7 (8)
Kamu Grugier-Hill 2 (2)

Eagles thrilled to avoid another wild-card nightmare

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Eagles thrilled to avoid another wild-card nightmare

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — They lost in the wild-card round the last three times they reached the playoffs — 2009, 2010 and 2013.

They've lost in the wild-card round six times since 1989, four of them at home. 

The Eagles are 6-6 in the wild-card round since 1989, and only three teams have lost more wild-card games during that span — the Lions (0-8), Vikings (3-7) and Bengals (1-7).

Nobody has lost more home wild-card games since 1989. Nobody.

The Eagles haven't won a wild-card game since 2008 in Minneapolis and they haven't won one at home since 2006 against Eli Manning and the Giants.

So the message, if you're the Eagles, is: PLEASE STAY AWAY FROM THE WILD-CARD ROUND.

And this year, thanks to their 12-2 start, the Eagles can.

The Eagles on Sunday clinched a first-round bye for the first time in 13 years.

"To me, the significance of having a first-round bye is it puts you one game closer to the Super Bowl," Malcolm Jenkins said. "Two is obviously a lot easier than three. You've still got to win some games, but at least we know we don't have to play that wild-card weekend, we don't have to go on the road that second weekend. You're off that first weekend, your odds go up."

The Eagles can clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs as early as Saturday if the Vikings lose to the Packers or with a win Monday night against the Raiders at the Linc (where Nick Foles has won eight straight starts).

"It's big," Brandon Graham said. "Get your body together before getting to the real, real deal. 

"It's a reward. To know that we've got a first-round bye and we don't even have to worry about that first round of the playoffs? Third time I've been in the playoffs, second time I've played, first time I've gotten a first-round bye. It's huge."

The Eagles have only earned a first-round bye five previous times since the AFL-NFL merger and the inception of the wild-card round in 1970 — in 1980, 1988, 2002, 2003 and 2004.

They were at home for the conference semifinals every year but 1988, when they lost to the Bears in the Fog Bowl at Soldier Field in Chicago.

"We're slowly checking boxes," head coach Doug Pederson said. "NFC East a week ago and a bye and a home game (in the conference semifinal round) now. Check the box."

If the Eagles don't clinch the No. 1 seed this coming weekend, they can do it the last weekend of the season either with a win over the Cowboys at the Linc or a Vikings loss at home to the Bears.

"It's something this organization earned, and we have to keep on fighting and have the same mindset that got us to this position and keep on winning football games," Nelson Agholor said. "Stay hungry."

If anybody understands that simply clinching a first-round bye doesn't mean you're going to make it to the conference championship game, it's Foles.

He was with the Chiefs last year as Alex Smith's backup when they earned a No. 2 seed before losing at home to the Steelers.

"I was fortunate enough to be a part of one last year in Kansas City, but … we can't focus on that," he said.

"It's a long season and guys who are nicked up, it can help with their injuries. But we have to finish these games out strong and keep improving. We still have a lot of work to do this season."