Eagles-Giants notes, quotes and tidbits: 4th-and-8, Shepard's TD-no TD

Eagles-Giants notes, quotes and tidbits: 4th-and-8, Shepard's TD-no TD

Going for it on 4th-and-1 or 4th-and-2 or even 4th-and-3 is one thing.

But 4th-and-8?

The Eagles led 7-0 with 2:36 left in the first half and were at the Giants' 43. Doug Pederson went for it, but Carson Wentz was sacked for a 6-yard loss. 

Fortunately for Pederson, that decision, along with some other things — e.g. a shaky game by Wentz and a costly fumble by his buddy Zach Ertz — will be overshadowed by Jake Elliott's 61-yard game-winning bomb.

But why did Pederson go for it? 


"It was something that I discussed with the guy that's helping me upstairs with analytics," Pederson said after his team's 27-24 win (see studs, duds and more). "Where we were on the field, what we were doing offensively at the time. The defense was playing extremely well. [We] had an opportunity to keep ourselves on the field at the time, so I elected to go for it at that point. Obviously, we didn't get it. The defense held."


The Giants appeared to score a touchdown when Sterling Shepard joined Calvin Johnson and Dez Bryant by making a catch that's a catch on the playground but not in the NFL (more on that below). Two plays later, the Giants went for it on 4th-and-goal from the 1, but the Eagles stuffed Orleans Darkwa. 

Then they returned to their locker room still up seven. No harm, no foul.

But analytics aside — and there is an involved study on the subject — Pederson did acknowledge that it's a "risky" play. And when it was suggested that his numbers guys might be telling him what he wants to hear because he likes to be aggressive, Pederson said he trusts his staff to give him all the relevant information so he can make the final call. 

"Our guys are right on point with it, all the way down to replays, challenges and things of that nature," Pederson said. "So they give me the information, and it's my job to pull the trigger."

The Eagles made their two other fourth-down conversions, albeit on QB sneaks that gained a yard. Wentz said he's "always down to go with the quarterback sneak" in those situations. As for the 4th-and-8, Wentz admitted the blame doesn't solely reside with Pederson. 

"They just had good coverage, and we were playing aggressive," he said. "Unfortunately, I just held onto the ball too long."

Shepard's TD catch-no-catch
It certainly looked like Shepard had made the 1-yard TD reception. He caught it and took a couple steps in the end zone before falling out of bounds and dropping it when he hit the ground. 

He ran around looking for congratulations as if he had scored, but he didn't complete the process of making the catch.

So no score.

"I’m trying to figure out what a touchdown catch is and what isn’t a touchdown catch right now," Giants coach Ben McAdoo said.

Said Eli Manning, "Everybody knows the rules, have to finish the play, finish the catch."

Seems like we've been hearing that for a while.

Pass interference?
That wasn't the only call that worked in the Eagles' favor. After the Giants took a 21-14 lead in the fourth quarter, cornerback Eli Apple was called for pass interference on a deep ball to Torrey Smith. 

The 36-yard gain set up Corey Clement's 15-yard game-tying touchdown run.

First, there didn't appear to be significant contact on the play, and second, the ball sailed out of bounds and could have been deemed uncatchable. 

"Me and the [official] had an intellectual conversation about how it was catchable and how I was kind of like the receiver on that play because I was in front of him," Apple said. "He thought it was pass interference, but those are the calls they make and you have to continue to play."

This was pass interference
Later in the fourth, Malcolm Jenkins clothes-lined Odell Beckham Jr. on a deep ball down the sideline. Beckham, who had a step on Jalen Mills, didn't think the play was dirty.

"He made a smart play," Beckham said. "I'm running down the field. I'm gonna make a play, so he stops that. It's football. He made a play to stop me from making a play. 

"Nothing dirty to me."

Roob's 10 mid-March Eagles observations

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Roob's 10 mid-March Eagles observations

We're deep into free agency, the draft is rapidly approaching and the 2017 Super Bowl champion Eagles are being reshaped into a new team.

Which means it's a perfect time for a Roob's 10 Observations.

1. As the Eagles move on from LeGarrette Blount and reshape the running back position, it’s intriguing to ponder just how good Corey Clement can be. From what I saw last year? I think the kid can be a stud. His touches were limited until late in the season, but how many rookies have had 300 rushing yards, 200 receiving yards and averaged at least 4.4 yards per carry and 13 yards per catch? Would you believe three in the last 40 years? A guy named Jesse Clark with the Packers in 1983, a guy named Adrian Peterson with the Vikings in 2007 and a guy named Corey Clement. It’s tough to project, but he can run, he can block, he can catch, he’s got a real flair for making big plays and a terrific knack in the red zone. Can’t wait to see him in an expanded role.

2. As for Blount, you can’t understate his value to the Eagles last year, both as a running back and a leader. For a guy with his resume to come into that locker room and not once complain about his workload – even when he had no carries against the Chiefs – was remarkable. His selfless attitude really resonated with the young guys in the locker room. And I know a lot of fans were upset to see him go, but as incredible as his Super Bowl performance was, you can’t forget that in the seven games leading up to the Super Bowl he averaged 2.9 yards per carry. And he’s 31 years old. If the reported numbers are correct, Blount’s $4.5 million 2018 salary makes him the 12th-highest-paid running back in the league. Good for him. I wish him well. He was a huge part of that 2017 team. But it made no sense for the Eagles to bring him back.

3. It’s amazing how much money teams keep throwing at Sam Bradford. He’s got 34 wins in eight seasons, he’s never had a winning record, he’s never made a postseason, and on the rare occasions when he’s been healthy, he’s won only 43 percent of his starts. Oh, and he’s missed 42 games since 2013. “He’s our guy!”

4. Speaks volumes that both Blount and Torrey Smith singled out Duce Staley in their tweets or Instagram posts saying goodbye to Philly after joining new teams. Staley wasn’t even Smith’s position coach, and he still singled him out. Blount wrote: “To my main man Coach Duce Staley – You have impacted my life on and off the field and pushed me to be the best version of me I can be and for that I thank you!” Staley is such a natural leader and such a big part of what the Eagles accomplished in 2017. He’s going to be a head coach one day.

5. The Eagles lost Vinny Curry, but they have Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Michael Bennett and Chris Long. They lost Trey Burton and Brent Celek, but they have Zach Ertz. They lost Smith, but they have Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Mack Hollins. They lost Blount, but they have Jay Ajayi and Clement. They lost Patrick Robinson, but they have Sidney Jones, Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, Ronald Darby and Daryl Worley. They’ve lost a lot, but they’re still stocked at every position where they lost someone. Pretty darn good roster planning.

6. I feel like in the wake of Nick Foles’ brilliant postseason, people are forgetting exactly how good Carson Wentz was before he got hurt. So here’s a list of every quarterback in NFL history with 33 or more touchdown passes and seven or fewer interceptions in a season before his 30th birthday: Carson Wentz.

7. I wonder how much Haloti Ngata has left. He’s 34, he’s coming off a torn biceps, and he’s five years removed from his last Pro Bowl. Beau Allen was quietly a solid backup defensive tackle and played a big role in that D-line rotation the second half of the season after Tim Jernigan hurt his ankle. I don’t mind the signing. Ngata comes cheap and there’s really nothing to lose. But it’s been a while since he’s been a dominant player, so it’ll be interesting to see how he fits in.

8. If you’ve never been to Canton, Ohio, plan your trip now. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is a great place to visit any time. But the weekend of Brian Dawkins’ induction is going to be unforgettable. Dawk’s speech is going to be epic.

9. The Philly Special may be the greatest play in Eagles history, but where does the fourth-quarter fourth-down conversion rank? The Eagles trailed with 5½ minutes left and faced a 4th-and-1 inside midfield when Foles converted a short completion to Ertz. If they don’t convert, they lose. That’s gotta be a top-10 all-time play. Maybe top-five.

10. Tight ends with more catches than Ertz in their first five NFL seasons: Kellen Winslow Sr., Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten and Antonio Gates.

Torrey Smith says Carson Wentz is going to get PAID

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Torrey Smith says Carson Wentz is going to get PAID

We all know just how good Carson Wentz is. Heck, the entire NFL knows just how good Wentz is after the Eagles' QB put together a remarkable season with 3,296 passing yards and 33 TD tosses … in just 13 games.

But we and the entire league also know what that means: Wentz is going to get a lot more zeros added to his paycheck soon.

Wideout Torrey Smith, recently traded by the Eagles to the Panthers, knows full well what Wentz's worth is and isn't shy to talk about it, as he did at his charity basketball event in Maryland Saturday evening.

"When Carson's time comes, they're going to need a Brinks truck the size of this arena," Smith, who caught 33 balls for 692 yards and two TDs from Wentz last season, told ESPN's Jamison Hensley while noting the Eagles are taking full advantage of Wentz's discounted rookie deal right now.

Wentz is in the middle of a four-year, $26.6 million deal signed after he was drafted No. 2 overall in 2016. The deal expires after the 2019 season, but obviously, Howie Roseman and crew know this all is looming. And they also know recent QB contract numbers have continued to skyrocket.

San Francisco recently made Jimmy Garrapollo, he of seven career starts but also of five straight wins to end last season after his trade from New England, the richest QB in league history with a five-year, $137.5 million deal. Detroit gave Matthew Stafford a five-year, $135 million deal prior to last season, a few months after Oakland gave Derek Carr a five-year, $125 million extension. Those three are the top-paid QBs in the league.

Long story short: With the way Wentz has performed with 7,049 passing yards and 49 TDs in 29 career starts, he's going to get paid.

And Roseman's acts of salary cap magic are going to have to continue because Wentz is going to get paid sooner than later, and the whole league knows it.