Eagles

Rob's Rants: Finding stuff to rant about after a big Eagles win

Rob's Rants: Finding stuff to rant about after a big Eagles win

Keep in mind, there was a lot of good to take away from the Eagles' season-opening win on the road at Washington. Division victories on the road are never easy and rarely pretty. This was neither. Who cares?

Carson Wentz showed you why he will be a franchise quarterback. Think about how many QBs in the NFL can make the Houdini play he made on the Nelson Agholor touchdown. Less than 10? He wasn’t perfect and showed his youth at times, but he is legit.

My key to the Eagles' season was the defensive line, and it delivered. Four sacks, three turnovers, 64 rushing yards allowed and a direct hand in 10 of the Birds' 30 points.  

Wentz. The D. Agholor. Zach Ertz. There was a lot of good.

But this is not Rob’s Rhapsody’s. ... It’s rant time.

Balancing act
Thirty-nine passes to 24 called runs. That includes Wentz's four rushes/scrambles. This was a fear going into the season after Wentz threw the ball a rookie-record 607 times last year despite having a woeful receiving corps. Early on, I thought the Eagles did a nice job mixing things up. But as our Reuben Frank pointed out (see story), that ratio was 36 passes to 13 runs in the final three quarters. Two to one in favor of the pass is far too predictable. It’s not like the Eagles were trailing big and had to throw to get back in it. Blaming the backs and the line is valid. But the head coach has to stay committed to the run and avoid predictability.
  
Come on, Alshon 
Alshon Jeffery is being paid far too handsomely to not make plays on contested balls. It’s one game and they were not easy catches by any stretch, but one of his greatest attributes is winning 50-50 balls. And he did not win them Sunday. 
 
Just say no, Doug
Repeat after me, Doug: No more wide receiver screens. Once again, no more wide receivers screens. The Birds have a lot of more weapons this year. And by the look of Pederson’s chart, there are plenty of other options on the voluminous menu. Use them. 

Upon further review
The last thing I need in my life is more officials. Check that, the last thing I need in my life is more Dean Blandino. You remember good ole Dean, the former NFL vice president of officiating. As well as the chief Jerry Jones Dallas party bus guy and part-time Twitter troll. The Deaner is now one of FOX Sports' rules analysts along with Mike Pereira. 

So we now get to have Blandino shoved down our throats during game broadcasts. Lucky us. I’m sure he will be completely objective when it comes to reviewable plays during Cowboys games. The national media needed another Dallas sympathizer because Troy, Tony, Deion, Moose, Michael, Jimmy, Woodson, Keyshawn, etc., weren’t quite enough.       

Eagles' rookie schools veteran in intense practice

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Eagles' rookie schools veteran in intense practice

Rasul Douglas made a huge play during the special teams portion of Wednesday's practice. Going 1-on-1 against veteran special teamer Najee Goode, the Eagles' rookie plowed through him and sent Goode to the turf inside the practice bubble. 

Goode bounced up and locked down the next rep, but for a few seconds, there was pure exuberance on the practice field. A bunch of Douglas' teammates ran toward him and celebrated, while coaches gave him kudos. 

A couple hours later, Douglas didn't even remember it. 

"What play?" the rookie asked. 

After making sure he was serious, out came an iPhone to show Douglas this video: 

"Oh, I don't even remember that," he said. 

While Douglas might have been locked in and focused enough to forget about the most exciting play during the open portion of Wednesday's practice, it was the kind of play that got the whole team going. 

Without remembering the specific instance, Douglas rightly guessed that it was his defensive back teammates, who ran over to congratulate him and celebrate. 

"We get so happy when one of us makes a play because we work hard and we know our goals in our room," Douglas said. "And we know our energy transforms and just passes along to other people. You can get somebody energized and they get somebody else energized." 

Head coach Doug Pederson elected to have his team in pads Wednesday in an effort to keep the team's intensity and physicality high as the team gets ready for the NFC Championship Game. 

That play helped. 

"I think Coach Pederson talks about it all the time; match his intensity," linebacker Nate Gerry said. "So when you see something like that, I guess that's matching the intensity. It just kind of sets the tone for practice."

During the Eagles' first-round bye, the team's players council went to Pederson and asked for an extra day in pads. Pederson planned on one leading into the divisional round game against the Falcons, but his veteran leaders didn't want to go an extra week without that intensity, so the Eagles strapped on their pads. 

They did it again last week and they did it again Wednesday. 

All season the Eagles have believed they're going to play the way they practice, so it shouldn't be much of a shocker. Pederson and the Eagles — despite all the hoopla around the championship — tried to treat Wednesday like any other Wednesday. In part, that meant getting the pads on and going through a tough practice. 

"We ain't going to play on Sunday without pads, so you just have keep in tune with what you do," Douglas said. "I think pads are good." 

Zach Ertz makes largest jump in NFL jersey sales

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USA Today Images

Zach Ertz makes largest jump in NFL jersey sales

Eagles tight end Zach Ertz has moved into the top 10 in NFL jersey sales this week, according to national sales figures from Dick’s Sporting Goods.

This week’s Dick’s Jersey Report shows Ertz making the biggest jump in the top 10, moving up 22 spots from No. 29 last week to No. 7 this week.

“There must have been a lot of women’s soccer fans buying jerseys this week,” Ertz said jokingly, referring to his wife Julie, a member of the U.S. Olympic soccer team.

Could be. It’s not like Ertz had a huge game Saturday. He caught three passes for 32 yards in the Eagles’ 15-10 win over the Falcons in the conference semifinal playoff round at the Linc. But he did make his first Pro Bowl this year and finished the season with 74 catches for 824 yards and eight touchdowns.

Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who caught the miracle last-second pass from Case Keenum to send the Vikings into the NFC Championship Game in Philadelphia on Sunday, also made a huge jump, moving from No. 23 to No. 4.

Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz remains in the No. 2 position in jersey sales, despite not playing since he tore his ACL Dec. 10 in Los Angeles. Only Tom Brady’s jersey sold better over the past week.

The rest of the top 10 is Rob Gronkowski third, Antonio Brown fifth, Leonard Fournette sixth, T.J. Watt eighth, Julio Jones ninth and Le’Veon Bell 10th.

Wentz remains the top-selling jersey this year, according to Dick’s after finishing last year at No. 3. Tom Brady, the top-selling jersey last year, is No. 2, followed by Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Gronkowski.

There are no Eagles other than Wentz and Ertz in the top 50.