What Nick Foles learned from Monday night nightmare

What Nick Foles learned from Monday night nightmare

Nick Foles has been taking first-team reps in the Eagles' walkthroughs this week so it appears he's going to at least start in Sunday's meaningless regular-season finale. 

That's good. 

Because he and the rest of the offense have plenty to work on. 

The offense had a lackluster showing against the Raiders on Christmas night and the Eagles needed five takeaways on defense to pull out a close win. When asked what he learned from rewatching the tape, Foles mentioned staying "inside the chains" and keeping themselves out of 2nd- and 3rd-and-long situations. 

The Eagles went into last weekend as the NFL's top third-down offense but went just 1 for 14 on third downs against the Raiders. 

What can Foles do to improve in those situations?

"If stuff's not open downfield, get it to the back right away," Foles said. "If we get three yards, we get three yards. And then it's 2nd-and-7. That's better than 2nd-and-10. It's little things like that, where it's all correctable that I see on film, taking the completions. Obviously, be aggressive downfield, but if it's not there, get to the checkdown right away." 

The thought of Foles opting to check down more than he already does might make some Eagles fans nauseous, but Foles doesn't have Carson Wentz's escapability and his penchant for turning nothing into something. 

And Foles and the Eagles have a point about the bad situations they put themselves in on Monday. They had a total of 16 third-down situations (two were converted by penalty) and faced an average of 7.4 yards to go. Four of 16 were from 10 yards or more! That's not a recipe for success. 

"So whether it's me being smart with the football, keeping the ball in play, giving our guys the opportunity to make plays," Foles said, "that will help us a lot." 

Another thing Foles learned from Monday's game is that he needs to find a way to get Alshon Jeffery more involved. Monday was, statistically speaking, the worst game of Jeffery's six-year career. He had zero catches and was targeted just twice. It was his second-career two-target game and second-career zero-catch game. The others came in his rookie season in 2012. 

Chemistry between quarterback and receiver is especially important for a player like Jeffery, who is known for timing routes and 50-50 balls. Jeffery said he isn't worried about their chemistry (see story), but it takes a certain level of trust for a quarterback to throw the ball to a receiver who is covered. It's hard to build that trust in two games and a few practices.

And it's one thing for Foles to realize during the week that he should give Jeffery a chance at those 50-50 balls. It's another during a game, when bodies are flying and he's going through his progressions, to see Jeffery with a man on him and still pull the trigger. 

"It's hard to cover Alshon and even when he's covered, he's not covered," Foles said. "That's definitely something I took from the last game and I'll move forward with."

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

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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.