Sea of Eagles fans create Linc-like atmosphere at StubHub Center

Sea of Eagles fans create Linc-like atmosphere at StubHub Center

CARSON, Calif. — Instead of windmills, there were palm trees. Instead of crab fries, there was sushi. And instead of 60,000-plus, there were just 25,374 fans in attendance. 

But if you closed your eyes, it still felt like the Linc. 

"It was incredible," Brandon Brooks said. "Hats off to the fans. It felt like a home game."

For the most part, Eagles fans always seem to travel well, especially to the West Coast. But Sunday at the StubHub Center was different. It really did feel like a home game. 

As Eagles fans created a sea of midnight green where powder blue should have been, the Eagles gave them plenty to cheer about in a 26-24 win Sunday afternoon in aptly named Carson, California (see breakdown).  

"I'm kind of starting to not be stunned by our fans," Carson Wentz said. "It is unbelievable. They travel so well. They're at every game. It's so enjoyable. They make it so fun, but it's starting to be the norm almost, so to speak. Hats off to them, they bring it every game no matter where we're at, so I'm really thankful for those guys."

Running back Wendell Smallwood said he was on the field before the game and heard loud booing coming from the stands. He thought it was because Wentz was coming out of the tunnel. He was wrong. The Chargers were the ones getting booed in their own makeshift stadium. 

At times, the fans in powder blue let their presence be felt. Toward the end of the game, when the Bolts were making the game mighty interesting, they waved their rally towels and spun them over their heads. It's just that Sunday more rally towels were probably used by Eagles fans to wipe the sweat from their foreheads under the Southern California sun. 

Like Smallwood, several other players said it was during early warmups when they began to realize Sunday's game wasn't going to be a normal road game. Fans in Eagles jerseys new and old lined the parking lots and the tunnel onto the field. 

Every time an Eagles player ran to or from the tunnel, the crowd went nuts. 

And it didn't stop when the game started. When Chris Long picked up his strip sack, the place exploded. When LeGarrette Blount rumbled for a 68-yard gain, it erupted again. 

But perhaps the best sign that Sunday was like a home game was in the first half, when on two separate occasions, "Cowboys suck!" chants broke out in the stands. 

"It was like we were at the Linc all over again," Jason Peters said. "The crowd got us going early and we got on top of them and we just finished it at the end."

"Eagles fans," Alshon Jeffery said. "Fly Eagles Fly. We can't wait to get back to Philly this week. Anytime, we're on the road, we appreciate the support."

After the win, there was one pretty obvious question: Have you ever seen something like this? 

"I can't recall a time," head coach Doug Pederson said, "but it was great to see Eagle nation out there, the fans to come support the guys. It's a long trip for us obviously. Great to see the fans out there. They were huge today, and it was a fun atmosphere."

This was the first of three games the Eagles have on the West Coast this season, a far from favorable schedule. But when they flew out of Philly on Saturday morning, the six-hour trip took them to a place that felt pretty comfortable. 

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers was the one who seemed to struggle with the crowd noise. 

“It’s certainly not ideal," Rivers said. "That’s where I was trying not to go with your question. I don’t think, in a lot of ways, it compares to other teams having three straight home games."

The Eagles won just one road game all last season. Through a quarter of the 2017 season, they already have two. Sure, Sunday didn't feel like a road game but it still counts. 

And the sushi wasn't bad. 

Eagles Stay or Go — Young CBs and a new return man?

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Eagles Stay or Go — Young CBs and a new return man?

As we continue our offseason series examining the future of the world champion Eagles, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro try to figure out who will be on the roster in 2018. 

We go alphabetically — Part 1 was Nelson Agholor to Derek Barnett, Part 2 was De'Vante Bausby to Brandon Brooks, Part 3 was Billy Brown to Vinny Curry. Today is Darby to Ertz. 

Ronald Darby
Roob: I’m still not completely sold on Darby. He made some big plays but also needs to be more consistent. That’s probably true of every young cornerback, and Darby certainly has all the tools to be a very good corner in the NFL. He just turned 24, he’s got world-class speed and when he gets his hands on the ball he’s always a threat to go the distance. The Eagles have a whole stable of young corners, and he’s in a similar position to Jay Ajayi in that he has one year left on his rookie four-year deal with another team, an AFC East team — in this case the Bills — and 2018 will give the Eagles a long look at him with a full training camp and season in an Eagles uniform. Darby will definitely be here in 2018. Beyond that, we’ll see.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: When you think about Darby's road to becoming a Super Bowl champion last season, it's pretty crazy. He gets traded to the Eagles during training camp, has to catch up and learn the defense and then dislocates his ankle in Week 1. He eventually came back as the Eagles' starter and never looked back. He's still just 24 and is really talented. Darby is about to enter the final year of his rookie contract, so the Eagles are going to have a decision to make about him soon enough. But for now, this is a no-brainer. 

Verdict: STAYS

Rashard Davis
Roob: Davis came and went on the practice squad throughout the year, but he was along for the Super Bowl ride in Minneapolis as a practice squad receiver, so the Eagles must like him. Davis had a decorated career at James Madison, where he was a record-setting punt returner, and that’s something the Eagles could be looking for depending what happens with Darren Sproles. Davis remains a long-shot, but he is an interesting guy. Stranger things have happened. Especially around here lately. 

Verdict: GOES

Dave: Davis didn't even spend all year on the Eagles' practice squad in 2017, but the team did bring him back and he'll be with them this spring. An undrafted receiver out of James Madison University, there's not a ton of people who even know about him. His best chance to make the Eagles' roster is as a returner, especially if Kenjon Barner isn't back. Not completely out of the question, but he has a steep uphill climb. 

Verdict: GOES

Rasul Douglas
Roob: I really like Douglas. What he lacks in pure speed he makes up for with intelligence and preparation. He’s a physical corner, likes to support the run, a sure tackler. He started five games while Ronald Darby was out and played surprisingly well for a rookie third-round pick, even picking up two interceptions in the first month of his pro career, both in key situations in close games. Whether or not he eventually moves into the slot or even safety remains to be seen, but I expect Douglas to be around here for quite a while. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Douglas had a pretty weird year. He was a third-round pick and would have had the opportunity to win a starting job but struggled some early during training camp. If he didn't, the team might not have made the move to trade for Darby. But when Darby went down, Douglas became a starter and played really well, finishing with two interceptions. He's not the fastest guy, but his length and ballhawk skills make up for it. With Darby and Jalen Mills and Sidney Jones all in the mix, how does Douglas fit in? That's not clear yet, but he'll be back for his second year. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dannell Ellerbe
Roob: Ellerbe gave the Eagles functional linebacker play after joining the Eagles late in the season to provide defensive depth in place of Jordan Hicks. He was solid against the run and provided veteran leadership during the postseason run. He essentially did exactly what the Eagles brought him in to do. But Ellerbe is 32 and has nine years under his belt, and the Eagles will no doubt go younger at linebacker moving forward. Whatever happens, Ellerbe now has two Super Bowl rings — one with the Ravens and one with the Eagles. Not a bad career!

Verdict: GOES

Dave: The Eagles were looking for a veteran to play on base downs, so they went out and got Ellerbe from the street in November. The 32-year-old eventually became a starter, but never played much. He then missed the NFC Championship Game with an injury and played just a few snaps in the Super Bowl. The Eagles need to upgrade and get younger at linebacker. Ellerbe shouldn't be back. 

Verdict: GOES

Jake Elliott
Roob: Yeah, he missed too many PATs, but the positives sure outweigh the negatives with Elliott. If Elliott didn’t prove his worth with the 61-yard game-winner against the Giants, he sure did with fourth-quarter field goals of 42 and 46 yards in the Super Bowl. Those are incredibly tough pressure kicks with the whole world watching, and Elliott crushed them. Caleb Sturgis is a very good kicker. Elliott is a potentially great one.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: This time last year, Elliott was still at Memphis getting ready for the draft. A lot has happened since then. He went in the fifth round to the Bengals, but he lost the competition in Cincinnati, was placed on their practice squad, and stayed there until Sturgis got hurt in the first week of the season. Elliott came to the Eagles and in his second game, he became a hero when he made a 61-yard, game-winner against the Giants. The crazy thing about it is, if Elliott missed the 46-yarder just before the game-winner, he would have been 2-for-5 and in jeopardy of getting cut. But that didn't happen and now it's his job for good. 

Verdict: STAYS

Zach Ertz
Roob: Ertz has established himself as a top-three tight end in this league, behind Gronk and probably a little behind Travis Kelce, although it’s close. As good as Ertz was during the regular season, earning his first Pro Bowl honor, he was massive in the postseason, with 8-for-93 against the Vikings and 7-for-67 with two huge catches in the Super Bowl — the two-yard gain on a fourth-quarter 4th-and-1 with the Eagles trailing by one at their own 45 and his go-ahead touchdown a few moments later. Ertz has the sixth-most catches by any tight end in NFL history after five seasons and the 10th-most yards. He’s already the greatest tight end in Eagles history, and he just turned 27. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: There's no question about it. Ertz has grown into one of the best and most complete tight ends in the NFL. He's one of the best weapons on the team and he's going to have a chance to continue to grow his already-impressive chemistry with Carson Wentz. 

Verdict: STAYS

Turns out, Alshon Jeffery was injured all season

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Turns out, Alshon Jeffery was injured all season

We all know about the myriad injuries the Eagles suffered on their way to the Super Bowl.

Nobody knew about this one.

Alshon Jeffery had surgery Wednesday morning to repair a torn rotator cuff that he played through all season, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Per Rapoport, Jeffery suffered the injury in training camp this past summer. We did know Jeffery suffered some sort of shoulder injury during the summer. Even after he returned, Doug Pederson remained very cautious with Jeffery. At the time, that seemed strange. Pederson just kept saying he held him out at his own discretion, even though it seemed like Jeffery and Carson Wentz needed time to build chemistry. All that seems to make more sense now.

Rotator cuff injuries can be especially difficult for wide receivers (over-the-head catches) and any skill player who gets tackled to the ground. In recent years, rotator cuff tears have either ended the season or caused multiweek absences for Eric Decker, Martellus Bennett and Plaxico Burress, among others. 

Jeffery's ability to play the whole season with a shoulder injury makes what he was able to do all the more impressive. He made a quick impact, catching two touchdowns and a two-point conversion in Weeks 1-4, then scored seven TDs from Weeks 8-14 before turning in a strong postseason.

Along the way, Jeffery earned a new contract that pays him $26.75 million guaranteed with a full value of $52 million. 

Safe to say that playing through pain worked out. How crazy is it to consider now that on Wentz's crucial Week 14 touchdown pass to Jeffery in L.A., the QB had a torn ACL and the receiver had a torn rotator cuff.

Jeffery confirmed the surgery via Instagram story on Wednesday afternoon.