Eagles

Would Doug Pederson really consider benching Nick Foles?

Would Doug Pederson really consider benching Nick Foles?

Would Doug Pederson consider benching Nick Foles during a playoff game if Foles continues to struggle?

It's hard to imagine, but Pederson wouldn't rule it out.

"It's hard to say right now until I'm in that situation, quite honestly," Pederson said Tuesday. "It's a one-game season and it's hard to be in desperation mode. But if you're in that mode, who knows?"

Foles threw four touchdown passes against the Giants at the Meadowlands in his first start after replacing injured Carson Wentz, but in the equivalent of five quarters against the Raiders and Cowboys, he's generated just one touchdown on 18 drives, and those drives have averaged just 15 yards apiece.

The only other quarterback on the roster is Nate Sudfeld, who completed 19 of 23 passes against the Cowboys in his NFL debut Sunday but for only 134 yards. Neither quarterback completed a pass longer than 16 yards in the season-ending loss to Dallas.

The last time an Eagles quarterback was benched because of his performance in a playoff game was Ty Detmer in the 1996 wild-card game against the 49ers at Candlestick Park.

Detmer completed 14 of 21 passes for 148 yards but threw two red-zone interceptions in a game the Eagles went on to lose 14-0. Head coach Ray Rhodes replaced Detmer late in the third quarter with veteran Mark Rypien — who had won a Super Bowl five years earlier with the Redskins. Rypien finished the game, going 5 for 12 for 77 yards and an interception and failing to generate any points.

In the 2003 NFC Championship Game, Andy Reid turned to Koy Detmer — Ty's younger brother — with the Eagles trailing the Panthers 14-3 at the Linc, but that had more to do with Donovan McNabb being unable to function after suffering torn rib cartilage earlier in the game than his three interceptions. Detmer went 7 for 14 for 88 yards and an interception, and the Eagles lost 14-3.

In a 1990 wild-card game at the Vet, with the Eagles trailing the Redskins 13-6, head coach Buddy Ryan benched a struggling Randall Cunningham for a series in the third quarter for Jim McMahon, who had won a Super Bowl with the Bears five years earlier.

But McMahon went 0 for 3 and Cunningham returned and finished the game, which the Redskins won 20-6 — with Rypien at quarterback. Ryan was fired the next day.

The Eagles will open the playoffs in the conference semifinal round at 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 13 against the Saints, Panthers or Falcons.

Pederson emphasized that the Eagles' recent struggles aren't solely about Foles.

"I do know this," he said. "It's not about one guy. It's about 11 guys on offense, defense and special teams. A lot of contributing factors go into winning a game."

Pederson laughed when asked if he's spent any time since the Dallas game thinking about changing quarterbacks.

"No," he said. "I was thinking about New Year's and having a good time with my family."

Lane Johnson using underdog status to raise money for Philly schools

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Lane Johnson using underdog status to raise money for Philly schools

How do you turn being a home underdog into a good thing? Use it as motivation to win a football game.

How do you turn being a home underdog into a great thing? Raise money for Philadelphia schools and win football games. That’s what Lane Johnson is doing.

After the nation doubted the Eagles against the Falcons, Johnson and Chris Long donned dog masks after divisional round win, embracing the role of underdogs. Now, Johnson has his own T-shirt and is raising money. A lot of it, too.

Shirts can be purchased at lj65.shop for just $18 and Johnson tweeted that more than 3,000 have already been sold.

Hopefully, the home dogs continue to eat this weekend against the Vikings.

Game-winning stand just another play for Eagles' defense

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Game-winning stand just another play for Eagles' defense

There were no special instructions. No extraordinary measures taken. Not much was said. Not much needed to be said.

The game was on the line. The season was on the line. For the Eagles' defense, it was just another play. The stakes were just incredibly high.

It was 4th-and-goal for the Falcons at the Eagles' 2-yard-line in the final seconds Saturday.

Give up a touchdown, and the season's over. Stop the Falcons and you're one game closer to the Super Bowl.

"Our guys, we don't do a whole lot," Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. "Our guys know what to do, and they have downloaded that software enough that it's a little bit automatic for them.

"We also didn't change. We don't surprise the players. What we practiced in our red-zone period is what we played."

The Falcons had already driven from their own 24-yard-line down to the 2-yard-line.

Their quarterback, Matt Ryan, has the fourth-highest passer rating in NFL postseason history, behind Jeff Hostetler and Hall of Famers Kurt Warner and Bart Starr.

That's what the Eagles' defense was up against.

"At that point, you sort of have to trust the players and the players have to trust the scheme," Schwartz said. "I think you saw a combination of both of those. We didn't feel the need to blitz. Played coverage, played good technique."

The clock showed 1:05.

Ryan’s two favorite receivers, Julio Jones and Mohamad Sanu, both lined up on the right side of the formation, Jones outside with Jalen Mills on him and Sanu in the slot with Malcolm Jenkins covering him in a battle of North Jersey natives.

Ryan took the shotgun snap from center Alex Mack at the 7-yard-line and immediately rolled to his right, retreating to the 10 as he neared the sideline.

Nigel Bradham, lined up as the left linebacker, trampled blocking tight end Levine Tollolo, who had his hands full with Brandon Graham, and ran around guard Wes Schweitzer, giving him an angle on Ryan. 

Meanwhile, Vinny Curry, after getting cut blocked to the ground by Falcons running back Tevin Coleman, quickly bounced back up and began pursuing from Ryan’s left. 

Ryan pumped once toward Sanu, who was covered by Jenkins. He quickly looked left but saw only Curry closing in. Thanks to the pressure, he had to quickly backpedal back to the 14-yard-line and finally was forced to unload that lob toward Jones at the right sideline in the end zone.

At that point, it was up to Mills, who had Jones blanketed, and the rest is history.

The ball went through Jones’ hands, his feet came down out of bounds anyway, and after an agonizing moment looking for flags, the play was over.

"A lot gets made of what Jalen did, rightfully so," Schwartz said. "You're talking about a Pro Bowl, All-Pro receiver, 1-on-1. But Malcolm playing the seven route to Sanu and Rodney (McLeod’s) ability to help him leverage that, that was because he's looking for Julio Jones first.

"Julio slips, he's looking for Sanu, nowhere to go and now he has to re-rack that thing and by then, Nigel is closing down on him and everything else.

"If Malcolm doesn't get that route that he covered, if he doesn't get that covered, nobody's talking about Jalen Mills right now."

Mills was physical with Jones but not physical enough to draw a flag. Schwartz said Mills has made huge strides this year with his technique, and on the biggest play of his life, his technique was perfect.

"It's one thing to have confidence, but that's just not the sole requirement for the position," Schwartz said.

"There's a lot of technique that goes along with playing, and I think if you look at that last play, he did a great job of staying square. Meaning his shoulders were perpendicular to the line of scrimmage.

"What the receiver there is trying to do is get you turned so he can come back for the ball. He could never get Jalen turned."

Mills is 23 years old, a second-year pro, a former seventh-round pick, a first-year starter.

To think that he made one of the most historic plays in Eagles postseason history is remarkable.

"I think every player makes a big jump from year one to year two, as far as knowledge of scheme and knowledge of opponents and things like that," Schwartz said.

"(Defensive backs coach Cory) Undlin and Jalen have worked really hard. He's haunted the hallways quite a bit, even on off days this year, just trying to improve his technique. It hasn't been by chance that his technique has gotten better. It's a lot of hard work that's gone into it from a coaching standpoint and from a player's standpoint."

The bottom line is that this defense has played tremendous football all year.

And with the season on the line, everybody simply went out and did their job. Nothing more, nothing less.

"I just think a part of our success is our guys just understand what's asked of them in the schemes," Schwartz said.

"They communicate well. We don't make a lot of mistakes, mental mistakes, and I think that makes it hard to drive the ball on us.

"When you get into those situations where is it's closed quarters and you don't have to defend deep balls, our guys have a good understanding of what opponents are going to do. I was proud of them on that play."