Week 13 a well-timed wake-up call for Eagles

Week 13 a well-timed wake-up call for Eagles

When you win nine games in a row in the NFL, there’s bound to be a sense of invincibility. Not from the coaches mind you, but from the players and especially the fan base, there becomes an expectation each week.

The Eagles' last loss was Sept. 17. That’s a long time ago. The pre-Gabe Kapler era Phillies lost at home that day to Oakland. The Flyers were still 18 days away from their season opener. The Sixers would begin their training camp nine days later.  And many high-profile Hollywood and media types, now disgraced, were still employed.

It’s remarkable really that in such a week-to-week league that any team, let alone one that lost nine of its last 13 a season ago, could put together such an impressive streak. So naturally, when said team loses in a game in which it was favored, there’s going to be an overreaction. The Eagles were not going 15-1.

Seattle is arguably the toughest place in the NFL to play. The Seahawks entered the game 7-4, on the outside looking in for a wild-card berth. They had already lost two home games. Despite major injuries to their secondary, this was going to be a tough game. This was a desperate, perennial playoff team at home that had to have this game. Factor in the Eagles now admitting they did not practice in the ensuing weeks the way they should have to be prepared for such a game and this is far from a panic-time loss.

Yes, the way the game played out was painful. But I view this as a wake-up call at the perfect time. Let it be Week 13 rather than a first-round playoff game. You can commit a ton of penalties against the Bears and win. Do it against a team like the Seahawks and it’s tough to overcome. You may get lucky and recover your own fumble in the end zone against the same hapless team but most times, especially in the red zone, it’s a killer. If Carson Wentz scores on that run to start the second half, it is a completely different game.

As much as fans hate to hear this, there are times you tip your hat and give props to the other guy. Russell Wilson was brilliant. He outplayed Wentz, plain and simple. The Eagles' secondary had its problems and things that must be cleaned up for the Rams, but when the opposing quarterback buys an extra four seconds on multiple plays, no defensive backs will be able to hold up.

Wentz did not play well in the first half. He showed you in the second half the combination of heart and skill that makes him an MVP candidate.

Doug Pederson has pushed every right button since the loss to the Chiefs. He’s been aggressive all season. That’s his team’s identity. His approach was tentative, perhaps because he knew his team wasn’t ready. Perhaps not. Jim Schwartz has been masterful all year dialing up the right defensive calls. He guessed wrong on several occasions. Whoever you want to blame, it didn’t work. It happens. Plays are missed and in-game mistakes are made. Learn from it and don’t let it happen again.

The Eagles ripped off nine straight wins after their last loss. But the 9-3 Rams this week will be a much sterner test than the dumpster-fire Giants in Week 3. My confidence in this team was not swayed by the loss to the Seahawks. Despite all the self-sabotage, the officiating, etc., the Eagles were within a touchdown in the fourth quarter, playing their C-game.

With the scorching hot Vikings having an identical 10-2 record and several other teams on the Birds’ tail in the NFC, this is a huge game this week. But it goes beyond standings. We’ll find a lot out about this team’s makeup this week in SoCal. 

Based on what we’ve seen for a large majority of the season, the Seattle game will be the anomaly. Everything’s going to be alright.

Eagles agree to deal with WR Mike Wallace

Eagles agree to deal with WR Mike Wallace

The Eagles have found their replacement for Torrey Smith. 

Heck, they found an upgrade. 

On Thursday, the Birds agreed to terms with veteran speedy receiver Mike Wallace on a one-year deal. The deal is worth $2.5 million, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. 

This signing makes a ton of sense for the Eagles, especially if they weren’t ready to hand Mack Hollins the starting spot Smith left. Hollins can now split time with Wallace. Even if the Eagles didn’t trade Smith, they weren’t going to keep him at his price tag, so adding Wallace gives the Eagles a veteran with speed at a cheaper cost. 

Wallace, 31, is coming off a season in which he caught 52 passes for 748 yards (14.4 yards per reception) and four touchdowns. For comparison, in 2017, Smith caught 36 passes for 430 yards (11.9) and two touchdowns. And Smith dropped seven passes, while Wallace dropped just three, according to ProFootballFocus. In fact, Wallace's numbers weren't far off from Alshon Jeffery's stats last year (57 receptions, 789 yards, 9 touchdowns). 

While Wallace isn’t coming off his best season in 2017, he went over 1,000 yards in 2016 and has averaged 15.0 yards per reception during his nine-year NFL career. The Eagles hope he'll be the deep threat they thought they were getting in Smith. 

Since he entered the NFL in 2009, Wallace is second in the league in 40-yard receptions and in 50-yard receptions. He has 43 receptions of 40-plus yards (behind DeSean Jackson's 56) and 26 receptions of 50-plus yards (behind Jackson's 36). 

If that's not recent enough for you, the Eagles had seven pass plays of 50-plus yards in 2017; Wallace had three on his own. He can still stretch the field. 

The Eagles can now start Alshon Jeffery and Wallace on the outside, which will allow them to keep Nelson Agholor in the slot, where he was great last season. Then they’ll still have Hollins and Shelton Gibson (both draft picks from 2017) off the bench. Not bad. 

Wallace will turn 32 before the season starts, so the Eagles have added another veteran player, something they’ve done plenty this season. They already added Michael Bennett and Haloti Ngata. It’s pretty clear the Eagles see the need to maximize their window of opportunity and getting players to join them is probably easier coming off a Super Bowl win. 

Signing veterans on one-year deals certainly worked well for the Eagles last season and if this one works out too, they will have found a good fit for the 2018 season.  

Eagles' Super Bowl odds changed by free agency

USA Today Images

Eagles' Super Bowl odds changed by free agency

The Eagles pulled off trades and signed a few free agents after the new league year began on March 14 ... and it's shortened their Super Bowl odds. 

The Eagles' odds to win Super Bowl LIII improved from 9/1 to 17/2 between Feb. 5 and March 22, according to Bovada. Despite beating them in Super Bowl LII less than two months ago, the Eagles still trail the Patriots, who stood pat at 5/1. 

Here's the full top 10: 

1. Patriots: 5/1
2. Eagles: 17/2
3. Vikings: 9/1
4. Steelers: 12/1
5. Packers: 14/1
5. Rams: 14/1
7. Saints: 18/1
8. Falcons: 20/1
9. Texans: 22/1
9. Jaguars: 22/1
9. Raiders: 22/1

As for the rest of the teams in the NFC East, the next closest to the Eagles are the Cowboys, but their inactivity this offseason gave them longer odds, going from 18/1 to 28/1. The Giants' odds stayed at 50/1, while the Redskins' odds went from 50/1 to 66/1. 

And here's a fun prop bet: The over/under for Michael Bennett sacks in 2018 is set at 8. Last season, he had 8½ with the Seahawks. Now, he's playing on a dynamic defensive line but also figures to play less because of the Eagles' rotation.