San Diego Chargers

Eagles-Chargers: Roob's 10 observations

Eagles-Chargers: Roob's 10 observations

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CARSON, Calif. — A home game in Southern California, a team learning how to win, lots of LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement, some Zach Ertz … we've got you covered in tonight's 10 observations from the Eagles' 26-24 win over the Chargers at the Linc (well, technically at the StubHub Center) (see breakdown).

1. I've never seen anything like it, and I've never heard of anything like it, and I think the reason for that is because there's never been anything like it. Eagles fans flat-out took over StubHub Stadium on Sunday to the point where if you were just listening to the game, you would have sworn you were at the Linc. A rare combination of a Chargers team in its first year in a new city with virtually no home following and easy ticket accessibility combined with the fact Eagles fans always travel better than any other fans in the NFL anyway combined to make this a truly unique experience. Walking around the concourse before the game I heard repeated chants of "EAGLES, HOME GAME," along with constant "E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES" chants and even a few "DALLAS SUCKS" chants as the Rams put the finishing touches on the Cowboys in an earlier game. I literally saw one Chargers jersey for every 50 Eagles jerseys, and I'm not exaggerating. It was definitely a special day and a unique day.
 
2. I said it last week and I'll say it this week: This is a game the Eagles would not have won last year. They were missing guys. They gave up big plays and long touchdowns. They committed too many penalties (nine). They let the other team back in the game after building an early lead (14-0 last week, 13-0 this week). But once again, they found a way to win, and that's all that matters. It's like Jim Schwartz says — if you beat someone in chess, nobody complains that you lost your bishop. Learning to win is one of the hardest things for a team to do. Last year, the Eagles were 1-6 in games decided by a touchdown or less. They've won two of those games now in the span of eight days. Forget everything else. That's the most encouraging thing I see in this football team. They're learning how to win. The rest will come.
 
3. The Eagles allowed 14 fourth-quarter points against the Chiefs, 24 against the Giants and 14 against the Chargers. That's disturbing. They got away with it the last two weeks, but they are now allowing the most fourth-quarter points in the NFL, and this is the first time in franchise history they've given up 14 or more fourth-quarter points in three straight games. Are they gassed? We know they're undermanned, but a lot of teams are undermanned. They escaped the Giants and Chargers — two winless teams — but against better teams, you need to know how to put a team away late in games.

4. I knew he runs tough, I knew he runs aggressive, I knew he runs violently. The one thing I never realized about Blount was that he has incredible balance. We've seen that these last few weeks, but we saw it big-time Sunday. His ability to take a big hit and keep his legs moving and stay upright is remarkable. We saw in particular on his career-long 68-yard run in the fourth quarter, the longest run from scrimmage by an Eagle in 11 years — since Brian Westbrook's 71-yarder against the 49ers at what was then known as Monster Park in 2006. I didn't love the Blount signing. I don't like older backs. Especially ones coming off the workload he had last year — 334 touches, including the playoffs. But he's been really, really good. And much more than just a tough, short-yardage back. He's just a good back. Blount finished with 136 rushing yards on just 16 carries and added a 20-yard catch where he trampled a few more guys. (That said … Doug Pederson, after a guy runs 68 yards, don't give him the ball on the next two carries. Fresh legs!)
 
5. In two weeks since forgetting about the running game in Kansas City, Pederson has dialed it up 69 times. Un-freaking-believable. The Eagles are going to wind up leading the NFL in rushing. We just talked about what Blount did. Smallwood added 79 yards from scrimmage on 14 touches, and Clement, the undrafted rookie, was the guy getting the key third-down runs on the game-clinching drive in the final minutes (see rookie report). In all, the three-headed monster — Blount, Smallwood and Clement — ran 36 times for 200 yards. The last two weeks, the backs have 371 rushing yards. This is a machine. I don't know what clicked in Pederson, but if the Eagles can run the ball like this and Carson Wentz doesn't throw interceptions, they're going to be a hard team to beat.
 
6. Another big day for Ertz, with five catches for 81 yards, including a big 38-yarder that got the Eagles out of trouble when they were on their own 11-yard line and helped set up a field goal. Four weeks in, Ertz now has 26 catches for 327 yards. I predicted 100 catches for 1,200 yards, and he's on target!
 
7. Torrey Smith had another bad drop Sunday, this one costing the Eagles a 25- to 30-yard gain early in the second quarter. That's Smith's fourth drop this year, and all four have been potential big plays. And Smith has only 10 catches, so four drops and 10 catches is just awful. I won't call the ball in the end zone he didn't come up with a drop, but it's a play you'd like to see him make. Smith has made a couple big plays, but he's left a lot more big plays on the field. He finished with just one catch for nine yards Sunday. He needs to be better.
 
8. Wentz again didn't have huge numbers — 17 for 31 for 242 yards, but for the second week, he didn't throw an interception. The Eagles are now 7-2 when he doesn't throw one (and 3-8 when he does). Wentz put up huge numbers last year and lost games. He's managing the game just fine now, running when he needs to run, hitting big third downs when he has time and getting the ball in the end zone (see report card). The numbers aren't overwhelming, but the Eagles are 3-1 and in first place in the NFC East, and that's a nice place to be.
 
9. Has to be some concern with the Eagles' allowing big pass plays two weeks in a row — Eli Manning's 77-yard TD last week to Sterling Shepard and Philip Rivers' 75-yard TD to Tyrell Williams Sunday. This is the first time in 52 years the Eagles have allowed a TD pass of 75 yards or more in consecutive weeks, and just for some background, the Eagles didn't allow a single touchdown pass of 75 yards or more from 2000 through 2006. Last week, Manning beat Patrick Robinson, and it looked Sunday like rookie Rasul Douglas was the victim, although it also looked like safety Rodney McLeod was late giving help, too. Rivers went after Douglas a lot Sunday, and the rookie, who played so well the last two weeks, had a rough afternoon. Rivers added a 50-yarder to Keenan Allen in the fourth quarter. Now, Manning and Rivers have hit big plays against a lot of people over the last 15 years. And certainly not having Fletcher Cox pressuring Rivers hurt. But those are excuses. This team was supposed to be better equipped to not give up big plays. They have to get this solved soon.
 
10. OK, I wrote the other day that once Caleb Sturgis was healthy enough to kick again, the Eagles could have a tough decision on which kicker to keep. Sturgis has actually been very good since joining the Eagles in 2015. But Jake Elliott is on the verge of ending any suspense regarding that battle. Elliott, a week after his record-setting 61-yard game-winner, made all four of his field goal attempts Sunday, including a 53-yarder that made him the first Eagle in franchise history with a field goal of 50 yards or more in consecutive weeks. In fact, in just three games, Elliott already has the third-most field goals of 53-plus in Eagles history. David Akers had three in 188 games, Sturgis had three in 30 games. Elliott? He has two in three games. Elliott became only the second kicker in Eagles history to make three kicks from 45 yards in the same game. Akers did it in 2009 against the Cowboys. The Eagles have their kicker. 

NFL Notes: Colts rule QB Andrew Luck out for opener

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NFL Notes: Colts rule QB Andrew Luck out for opener

INDIANAPOLIS -- Andrew Luck will not play in Sunday's season opener against the Los Angeles Rams.

General manager Chris Ballard made the official announcement Monday.

Luck has not taken a snap or thrown a pass to a teammate since having January surgery to repair a partially torn labrum in his throwing shoulder.

Indy's franchise quarterback missed all of the team's offseason workouts, all of training camp and the preseason before he was activated from the physically unable to perform list Saturday. And it's no guarantee he'll be on the field later Monday when the Colts typically hold a light workout.

Scott Tolzien is likely to make his fourth NFL start, even after the Colts traded for Jacoby Brissett on Saturday (see full story).

Steelers: Bell returns after holdout
PITTSBURGH -- Pro Bowl running back Le'Veon Bell is officially back at work with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Bell signed his franchise tender on Monday, clearing him to return for the 2017 season. The team placed the franchise tag on Bell in February. He declined to sign his one-year, $12.1 million tender while waiting to see if a long-term deal could be reached. When the Steelers and Bell did not come to an agreement by the mid-July deadline, Bell opted to skip training camp and work out on his own.

The Steelers were given a two-week roster exemption for Bell, meaning they can carry an additional player on the 53-man roster.

Bell worked out with the rest of the team Monday. His status for Pittsburgh's season opener in Cleveland is uncertain (see full story).

Dolphins: Hurrican Irma could move opener to Thursday, according to source
MIAMI -- A person familiar with the discussions says the NFL is considering moving the Miami Dolphins' season opener against Tampa Bay to another site or earlier this week because of Hurricane Irma.

The person confirmed the discussions to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because the league and teams aren't talking publicly about the options.

Switching the game to Thursday or Friday is being considered, the person said, because Irma could threaten South Florida over the weekend. The game is scheduled for 1 p.m. EDT Sunday in Miami.

Playing the game at another site Sunday is also being discussed, the person said.

The teams share the same bye week in November, but would prefer to avoid moving the game to that weekend (see full story).

Bills: Taylor uncertain for opener after concussion
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor is still recovering from a concussion and it's uncertain if he can play in the season opener against the New York Jets on Sunday.

Coach Sean McDermott says Taylor has shown signs of improvement but remains in concussion protocol.

Taylor has been out since he was injured during the second series of a 13-9 preseason loss at Baltimore on Aug. 26. He missed practice last week but attended Buffalo's preseason finale against Detroit on Thursday.

Rookie Nathan Peterman could start against the Jets. The fifth-round draft pick has jumped ahead of veteran T.J. Yates for the No. 2 spot.

The Bills signed quarterback Joe Webb for insurance, with Yates also recovering from a concussion. Webb has been in the NFL seven seasons. He spent the past three with Carolina, where he was also used extensively on special teams.

To make roster space, Buffalo released veteran safety Colt Anderson (see full story).

Chargers: Backup QB Clemens re-signs
COSTA MESA, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Chargers have re-signed backup quarterback Kellen Clemens.

The Chargers put linebacker Denzel Perryman on the reserve/injured list to make room on the 53-man roster Monday.

Clemens has been Philip Rivers' backup for the past three seasons. He threw just 10 passes during that three-year stretch in relief of Rivers, who hasn't missed a game in 11 consecutive seasons.

Clemens was waived by the Chargers last weekend during roster cutdowns. Los Angeles kept quarterback Cardale Jones, acquired early in training camp in a trade with Buffalo.

The 34-year-old Clemens spent five years with the New York Jets and three with the St. Louis Rams before joining the Chargers in 2014.

NFL Notes: Stadium for Rams, Chargers delayed until 2020 by rain

NFL Notes: Stadium for Rams, Chargers delayed until 2020 by rain

LOS ANGELES -- The opening of the $2.6 billion football stadium under construction in Inglewood, California, has been pushed back one year to 2020 because of construction delays caused by Los Angeles' uncommonly wet winter.

Los Angeles Rams spokesman Artis Twyman confirmed the delay Thursday for the 70,000-seat stadium, which will be shared by the NFL's Rams and Los Angeles Chargers. The massive project also includes a 300-acre entertainment district.

The stadium was scheduled to open shortly before the 2019 NFL season but is now slated to open in the summer of 2020, the developers said in a statement.

Super Bowl LV already has been awarded to the stadium for Feb. 7, 2021, although the NFL now would have to waive a rule that prohibits a Super Bowl being played at a stadium before it has hosted two full regular seasons. The NFL hasn't yet decided how it will react to the just-announced delay.

The delay shouldn't disrupt the Los Angeles teams' current playing arrangements: The Rams plan to stay downtown in the Coliseum for the 2019 season, while the Chargers confirmed they will stay at the 30,000-seat StubHub Center in suburban Carson. The Rams moved to the Coliseum in 2016, while the Chargers are moving north from San Diego for the upcoming season.

According to the Rams, who are financing the new stadium, developers blame the delays on record rains in the Los Angeles area over the past several months. After ground was broken in November, the rainfall hindered the extensive excavation necessary to complete the project, forcing the crews to halt work for most of January and February (see full story).

Raiders: Board OKs conditional lease for Vegas stadium
LAS VEGAS -- The public board that oversees the proposed stadium where the Raiders want to start playing in 2020 on Thursday unanimously approved a conditional lease agreement for the facility after months of negotiations that were affected by the sudden exit of an instrumental financial backer of the $1.9 billion project.

The Las Vegas Stadium Authority board was running up against a deadline to approve the lease to avoid delaying the team's relocation by a year, as NFL owners gathering next week in Chicago plan to take up the document. It addresses various aspects related to the 65,000-seat stadium, including insurance, repairs, maintenance, naming rights and a rent-free provision.

"We got to the finish line in time, but we didn't start real well, and obviously, that kind of set off some events," board chairman Steve Hill said after the meeting. "We lost six weeks in the process, but we made up for it, the raiders made up for it, and we are here today where we need to be."

The six weeks were lost after casino mogul Sheldon Adelson withdrew his multimillion-dollar pledge from the project just days after the first draft of the lease agreement, which included a $1 annual rent, was unveiled in January. The billionaire's move sent the team searching for $650 million to fill the financial gap he created.

The team ended up securing a loan from Bank of America. Guests of hotels and other lodging facilities in the Las Vegas area are contributing $750 million through a room tax increase, while the Raiders and the NFL all along have been expected to contribute $500 million.

Steelers: Green, Warren released after failed physicals
PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers released tight end Ladarius Green and long snapper Greg Warren on Thursday after both failed physicals.

While Warren's departure became imminent after the Steelers made the unusual move of selecting long snapper Colin Holba from Louisville in last month's draft, cutting Green came as a surprise.

Pittsburgh made a rare splurge in free agency when it signed Green to a four-year, $20 million deal in March 2016, pegging him the big red-zone threat the team needed at the position following Heath Miller's retirement.

Green struggled to get healthy following offseason ankle surgery and spent the first half of last season on the physically unable to perform list. He ended up catching 18 passes for 308 yards and a touchdown before leaving a December victory over Cincinnati with a concussion. He did not dress the rest of the year as the Steelers reached the AFC championship game before falling to New England.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said before the draft that the team had no update on Green's status, adding that it would not affect the organization's plans. Pittsburgh did not select a tight end with any of its eight draft choices. The Steelers relied heavily on Jesse James and Xavier Grimble to fill in for Green last season, and both remain on the roster.

The 35-year-old Warren signed with the Steelers in 2005 as an undrafted free agent. He appeared in 181 regular-season and 15 postseason games with the team while helping the Steelers win two Super Bowls and appear in another.

"Greg has been a big part of our past success and we would like to thank him for his contributions and wish him nothing but the best," general manager Kevin Colbert said in a statement.