Why Eagles needed dogfight with Giants

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Why Eagles needed dogfight with Giants

They were supposed to blow the Giants out. They should have blown the Giants out. The best team in football against one of the worst?

It didn't happen that way. And looking back at the way things unfolded Sunday at the Meadowlands, Doug Pederson says now there may have been some value in the way everything happened.

The Eagles escaped East Rutherford, New Jersey, with a way-too-close win over a last-place team, and Pederson says now being down two touchdowns to a two-win team on the road with your backup quarterback maybe wasn't the worst thing for this football team to experience.

"The beauty of it is, we were in a dogfight and we needed to be in a dogfight," Pederson said Wednesday.

The Eagles overcame a 13-point second-quarter deficit and a late Giants drive down to the 6-yard line to win 34-29 Sunday, clinch a first-round bye and improve to 12-2.

After a series of blowout wins, the Eagles over the last three weeks have lost to Seattle and overcome deficits against both the Rams and Giants.

Pederson conceded Wednesday the Eagles may have been looking past the Giants.

"I think sometimes it’s human nature," he said. "We’ve all been in situations where sometimes you just know you’re probably going to win the football game. At the same time, you either look past it or whatever goes through your mind.

"I can remember when I was coaching high school ball, and you kind of go through the week like, 'Oh, we got this,' and then you’re in a dogfight.

"The beauty of it is, we were in a dogfight and we needed to be in a dogfight the other day."

The Giants scored three touchdowns in the game's first 16½ minutes and led 20-7. The Eagles outscored them, 27-9, the rest of the way.

"I talk about starting fast every week on offense, defense and special teams and obviously, we didn’t start fast enough on defense and it was that wakeup call, and it’s going to happen," Pederson said. "Listen, it’s going to happen.

"Offense might be sluggish and the defense has to step up, and last week, it was the offense coming through. That’s the beauty of football. It’s a team sport. We were in a dogfight and we figured out how to win the game."

Sunday's game was the first the Eagles have won after trailing by 13 or more points since the Chip Kelly Eagles upset the Patriots in Foxboro in 2015 after trailing 14-0 in the first quarter.

"We rebounded and had a great second half and found out what our team was made of," Pederson said. “I just think it shows character, it shows grit, determination, the ability to pull out a game in the fourth quarter.

"The things we’ve talked about all season with this football team, that we learned from a year ago, and really understanding what’s at stake for us. What’s on the line. Just bearing down and doing your job and finding ways. Sometimes as ugly or sloppy as it can be, you figure it out."

During their nine-game winning streak, the Eagles outscored their opponents by an average of 17 points.

The last three weeks? They lost by 14 and won two games that were decided in the final minutes.

But the Eagles are now 4-0 in games decided by six or fewer points, and that doesn't include the Rams game, which was a two-point game until no time was on the clock.

Last year, they were 1-5 in close games.

Pederson said the Eagles need to understand how to win these close games with the playoffs on the horizon.

“Going to be in that (close) game," he said. "Because now, you’re talking about six teams that can win, the know how to win, who are there for a reason. Everybody is good and you have to practice well during the week and prepare well during the week and come to play.

"That’s definitely something we can lean on and learn from going forward, but we just can’t have those lapses during the postseason."

As Bradham re-signs, he lauds former teammate

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As Bradham re-signs, he lauds former teammate

After getting the opportunity to stay with the Super Bowl champions, Nigel Bradham spoke at length and quite passionately about someone who didn’t get the same opportunity.
Brent Celek.
Bradham, the veteran linebacker, spent the last two years with Celek, who the Eagles released earlier this week after 11 seasons.
“That’s obviously devastating, man,” Bradham said. “Taking about a guy who was here his whole career and the way he came every day and his character every day.
“He really … me and a lot of guys on our team what it takes to win a Super Bowl, and he let us know it doesn’t come easy, it takes work, and he came in and worked every day. Like no other.”
Celek was due to earn $5 million in 2018 but is counting only $1 million in dead money against the 2018 cap, so the Eagles gained $4 million under the cap by releasing him.
That cap space certainly helped them find room to re-sign Bradham, who enjoyed a career-best season in 2017 for the Super Bowl champs.
But Bradham was effusive in his praise for the veteran tight end, who has played the fourth-most games in Eagles history.
“You would never know he was (11) years in because of the way he worked,” Bradham said. “So when you lose a guy like that it obviously takes a toll on your team.
“You hate to lose guys like that that meant so much and impacted this team so much. His leadership was on another level. He went over and beyond the things he could have done as a leader. Obviously, wish he could be here still.”

Should the Eagles take a RB at 32?

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Should the Eagles take a RB at 32?

The Eagles on Friday reportedly hosted a formal visit with LSU running back Derrius Guice.

If the Eagles have real interest in Guice, they know he won’t be there beyond pick 32. He might not even be there at pick 32. So would the Eagles seriously consider taking a running back with their first-round pick?

The Eagles’ running back situation is murky going forward. LeGarrette Blount has found a new home. Jay Ajayi will have an enormous role in this offense, but is only signed through 2018. Corey Clement will likely take on a bigger role after he proved himself as a pass catcher and, more importantly, a pass protector. Kenjon Barner’s value is strictly as a returner, a need the Eagles may look to address elsewhere. Then there’s former mid-round picks Wendell Smallwood and Donnel Pumphrey who I mention in this space simply because they have roster spots as of today. And don’t forget about Darren Sproles, who’s still lingering in free agency.

The free agent market is less than inspiring. Adrian Peterson is out there but he’s not going to play for free. Do you want to bring back former Eagle DeMarco Murray or (almost former Eagle) Frank Gore? Didn’t think so. You could take a chance on an Eddie Lacy or a Matt Jones, guys who showed promise but lost their way. But, again … meh.

Last year’s running back draft class was crazy deep and talented. So much so that the Eagles were able to pick up Clement off the street after he didn’t get selected. This year’s class isn’t far behind it.

There’s an obvious RB1: Penn State’s Saquon Barkley. No, Eagles fans. It’s not happening. You’re only setting yourself up for disappointment. Instead, focus on the guys the Eagles have an actual shot at getting. Guice, for one, would be an excellent addition as a lead back. There’s also USC’s Ronald Jones, a Jamaal Charles clone that would fit like a glove in this offense. Then there’s Georgia’s dynamic duo of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Chubb is more of a bell cow while Michel is more dynamic.

The history of the Eagles drafting running backs high is not illustrious. Since they made one of the worst decisions in franchise history by selecting Michael Haddix No. 8 overall in the loaded 1983 draft, it’s been a somewhat mixed bag. They took Keith Byars No. 10 overall and Anthony Toney in the second round in 1986. Byars was OK, but Toney was a bust. They took Siran Stacy in the second (48th overall) in 1992 who never logged a single NFL carry. They did better in 1994, selecting Charlie Garner in the second round (42nd overall), and hit it out of the park in 2009, selecting their all-time leading rusher LeSean McCoy at pick 53.

The Eagles clearly have running backs on their radar in this draft. Though their history isn’t great with drafting them high, this would be the year to do it.