Malcolm Jenkins

5 key matchups Eagles need to win to beat Seahawks

5 key matchups Eagles need to win to beat Seahawks

After crushing their last four opponents by an average of 26.75 points per game, things are about to get a little tougher for the Eagles

As you might have heard, the Eagles (10-1) have beaten just one team with a winning record this season. They're about to play two back to back.

Before they play the Rams in L.A., they'll have to take on the Seahawks (7-4) in CenturyLink Field, where Seattle is traditionally really tough to beat. It's worth noting, however, that the Seahawks have lost their last two home games.

Seattle hasn't lost three straight home games since 2008.

But the Eagles have a real chance to make that happen this weekend. Here are five matchups to watch Sunday night: 

Russell Wilson vs. Eagles D 
The days of the Seahawks being a run-first team are long gone. This offense is extremely reliant on Wilson's ability to throw the football. And some of the things he's been able to do this season are amazing. 

Wilson has thrown for over 3,000 yards and 23 touchdowns in the first 11 games this season. But what makes Wilson so dangerous is his ability to run. And it's not just scrambling. Wilson can buy time and still deliver downfield. 

Jim Schwartz said Wilson is unique because he can escape the pocket vertically, where most passers can do it horizontally. 

"You have to stay alive on everything," Schwartz said. "Our D-linemen are going to have to do a great job staying on their feet and staying alive. You can never go to sleep because if he's scrambling one way, there's a good chance he's coming back to you. We have to stay alive in coverage as well as our rush, and he threatens the whole width of the field and the whole length of the field."

Wilson basically plays backyard football and is the Seahawks' entire offense. It'll take a group effort to stop him. 

Doug Baldwin vs. Eagles corners
We mentioned that the Seahawks are a pass-happy offense these days and Baldwin is their main receiver. He already has 58 catches for 698 yards and four touchdowns this season. 

Baldwin is a speedy receiver, but the good news for the Eagles is that his big plays have come from the left side of the field. He has four catches for 111 yards on 20-plus plays to the left side of the field, according to ProFootballFocus. That's important to note, because that's the side of the field where Ronald Darby lines up. Darby is the Eagles' fastest outside corner. 

Jimmy Graham vs. Malcolm Jenkins
Graham is starting to become that weapon we all remember him being. This season, he has 49 catches for 447 yards and eight touchdowns. Only one player in the NFL has more receiving touchdowns (DeAndre Hopkins has nine).

Graham has been really dangerous in the red zone. He has more red-zone targets (21), receptions (13) and touchdowns (eight) than any other player in the league. 

Maybe he's not the Graham we once saw in New Orleans, but this guy is pretty damn dangerous and it'll be up to Jenkins to slow him down. 

Carson Wentz vs. Earl Thomas
The Seahawks have lost Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, but they still have at least one great player in their secondary. Thomas is still playing at a ridiculously high level. 

While there are maybe a few occasions where Thomas is down in the box now that Chancellor is out, he's still a true free safety, centerfielder. 

"Anytime you have a safety like that, that has free rein to be all over the field, that's big," Wentz said. "That's big to just know where he's at, at all times. Pick up on some tendencies, which there aren't many because he does kind of fly around and he's got no real responsibility. It seems like the coach just tells him to make plays and fly around and he does a great job of that. You just have to be smart with using your eyes and knowing where he's at, at all times."

Halapoulivaati Vaitai vs. Michael Bennett 
Bennett leads the Seahawks with 7½ sacks this season and although he wasn't mentioned in the group of top pass rushers the Eagles will face this season, he has been very disruptive. 

The interesting thing about Bennett is that he's normally on the left side of the defensive line but will move to the right side, too. According to ProFootballFocus, he has 313 pass rush snaps from the left and just 60 from the right. He's also been much more productive on the defensive left. Of his 52 total pressures, 47 have come from the left. 

But facing the Eagles, that would mean going against Lane Johnson, who is playing at an All-Pro level. It'll be interesting to see what the Seahawks do, but it would make plenty of sense to see them flip Bennett to the defensive right to go against Vaitai instead. 

Johnson said he thinks he'll have Bennett over him plenty on Sunday, but knows the Seahawks like to move him around. 

"They'll bounce him around," Johnson said. "They pick a matchup they like and keep him there." 

Malcolm Jenkins will no longer raise his fist in protest

USA Today Images

Malcolm Jenkins will no longer raise his fist in protest

Malcolm Jenkins plans to stop raising his fist during the national anthem starting this week, the Eagles' safety told reporters on Thursday. 

Jenkins, 29, has raised his fist during the anthem dating back to last season to protest racism and social injustice in the United States. 

Jenkins said he's encouraged by the NFL's recent steps to thwart social injustice. The league is reportedly close to pledging nearly $100 million to causes important to the coalition of players that Jenkins has been leading. Jenkins also cited the "resources" and "platform" the NFL has proposed to build when explaining his decision. 

Here is Jenkins' full reasoning: 

Two players — 49ers safety Eric Reid and Dolphins safety Michael Thomas — withdrew from the players' coalition on Wednesday, displeased with the direction leaders Jenkins and Anquan Boldin had taken it. Reid said Jenkins texted him to ask if they'd be comfortable ending demonstrations if the NFL donated money. Reid said that was "the last straw."

While Jenkins has done plenty off the field for causes important to him, the raising of his right fist during the national anthem is what has gained the most publicity. Jenkins viewed it as a way to use his platform to start a conversation, and in that regard, it worked. 

Before this season, Jenkins had to think about whether or not he wanted to continue his demonstration. He was worried that the demonstration would shift the focus to anthem protests instead of the actual issues. That might have happened as well. 

"A demonstration is one part of the grand scheme of things," Jenkins said in August.

49ers' Eric Reid: Malcolm Jenkins 'didn't stand by his word'

USA Today Images

49ers' Eric Reid: Malcolm Jenkins 'didn't stand by his word'

San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid says he left The Players Coalition because founder Malcolm Jenkins excluded Colin Kaepernick from meetings, and asked players if they would stop protesting the anthem if the NFL made a charitable donation to causes they support.

"Malcolm did text me this morning asking if we would be comfortable ending our demonstrations if the NFL made a donation," Reid said Wednesday. "At that point, that was the last straw for me. He had a conversation with the NFL. We agreed that multiple people would be part of the conversations with the league so it just wouldn't be him. He didn't stand by his word on that. At no point did we ever communicate an agreement with the NFL to end the protest."

Jenkins, a safety for the Eagles, said he was surprised Reid withdrew from the coalition after having a conversation with him Tuesday night. He said even though they had disagreements, he thought the talk ended on good terms.

"I'm not sure about whether Kaepernick wants to be involved," Jenkins said. "I saw this as an opportunity to create a group of players that could use their voice together to really make some change, and we still have that opportunity. We've been able to go from protests to now speaking with ownership about something that's never been in place before. We're proud of that. And we'll continue to work with whoever wants to be in that conversation."

Reid and Miami Dolphins safety Michael Thomas both sent tweets Wednesday morning saying they were leaving the coalition because they didn't believe Jenkins and former receiver Anquan Boldin, a co-founder, shared their interests.

"I haven't been satisfied with the structure of the coalition or the communication Malcolm has been having with the NFL on his own, speaking on behalf of protesting players when he doesn't protest," Reid said, referring to Jenkins raising his fist instead of kneeling during the anthem. "We communicated these concerns to him numerous times and have had numerous phone calls about it. Our concerns haven't been reflected with how the organization is being run, so I felt like I needed to make a departure from it."

ESPN reported the NFL submitted to players the final draft of a proposal in which the league would contribute nearly $100 million to causes that are important to players in the coalition. Jenkins called it "encouraging" and said he would consider ending his protest if the NFL followed through on its plan.

Reid emphasized it's only a proposal.

"It hasn't been brought to ownership yet. It's not real," he said. "I give kudos to the NFL for wanting to step up and help us with regard to systemic oppression. I question their intent behind it. I personally think they just want the protests to end because it's hurting their bottom line."

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy didn't reveal the nature of the discussions with the players.

"We have had conversations with the players since the summer and those discussions continue. We do not have a comment on specifics of the conversations," McCarthy said.

Kaepernick, who began kneeling during the national anthem before the 2016 season and currently is out of the NFL, did not attend a meeting between players and league representatives in October. Kaepernick has filed a grievance against the NFL alleging he was not signed because of collusion by owners who wanted him out of the league because of the protests.

"Malcolm kicked Colin out of the coalition following the meeting in New York at the beginning of the season," Reid said. "There's a group message. (Jenkins) is the administrator and he took Colin out."

Jenkins said the cause remains the same for all involved.

"I'd be surprised if you heard anything different as far as what they want to get accomplished," Jenkins said. "If you talk to Eric or Mike or any of those guys, if you ask them what they want to get accomplished, they'll say they want to change systematic oppression. They want to provide resources to disenfranchised communities. They want to stop police brutality. All of those things are in the same line, and that message hasn't changed. I just think there might be a disagreement as to how to go about doing it."

Jets linebacker Demario Davis has no problem with leadership.

"The Coalition has been a very solid group, as far as I've been concerned," Davis said. "Everything's been positive. Talks between leadership, which is Anquan and Malcolm, and ownership, and it's been very positive. We hope we make leeway in the negotiations and how we can get things done the best way to help the community."