Eagles

10 observations from Eagles minicamp: Wentz is up-and-down but hits DeSean on a bomb

10 observations from Eagles minicamp: Wentz is up-and-down but hits DeSean on a bomb

With today’s practice in the books, the Eagles have just one more before they break for summer and won’t be back until training camp. 

Today’s practice was a little more exciting than yesterday’s, so we had no trouble finding things to write about. 

Here are 10 observations from today’s penultimate minicamp practice: 

1. The play of the spring came during 11-on-11s today. Carson Wentz heaved up a ball to DeSean Jackson for what was about a 50-yard touchdown catch. Jackson ran a deep post and simply ran past Rasul Douglas in coverage; the Eagles’ defense was in dime. The ball was perfectly thrown from Wentz and he hit Jackson in stride for the touchdown. 

2. Wentz had an up-and-down day. That pass to Jackson was spectacular. 

So were two passes in the red zone on 7-on-7s. One of them was a perfect touch pass to Wendell Smallwood on a wheel route. Tre Sullivan had good coverage, but there was nothing he could do. On the very next play, Sullivan was covering Zach Ertz in the back of the end zone, but Wentz burned the ball in there for a touchdown. Sullivan had tight coverage on both plays but Wentz didn’t give him a chance. 

3. As great as some of his throws were, Wentz also misfired plenty of times and threw two picks. One interception came on a ball intended for Marken Michel, when Avonte Maddox leaped back and picked it off. As Maddox ran back to the huddle, he made sure he rubbed it in to the franchise quarterback. 

Hey, Carson! Thank you for the gift, bro!

The other interception came when Wentz tried to throw the ball across his body, but it was picked off by safety Andrew Sendejo, who jumped the route and was gone the other way for a pick-6. 

Wentz made some tremendous plays but lacked consistency Tuesday. There was another cross-body throw that was dangerous too. 

4. During 11-on-11s, Wentz threw the ball to Jackson in front of Sidney Jones and Jackson simply dropped it. And then Jackson dropped to the ground and did pushups as punishment. 

5. Attendance! 

Working on side fields: Fletcher Cox, Nigel Bradham, Brandon Brooks, Corey Clement

Limited practice participants: Ronald Darby, Rodney McLeod 

Watching practice: Nelson Agholor, Shelton Gibson, Miles Sanders

Gibson is a new addition to the injured group. Agholor has a “lower-body” injury, according to Pederson. Agholor will be ready for training camp and Sanders is expected to be ready too. 

For the second straight day, Mack Hollins practiced. Good sign. 

“It’s exciting,” Pederson said about Hollins. “All along, he’s done a great job this offseason with the progress he’s made and it’s exciting to see him moving around and doing some good things. Again, optimistic about his future.” 

6. Michel, who played the last few seasons in the CFL, caught a pass from Wentz and showed off his speed, breaking away from the pack as he hustled into the end zone for a long touchdown. Michel and Greg Ward are benefiting the most from Agholor’s absence. 

7. Boston Scott made a nice cut in the backfield to avoid a tackler and it drew "oohs" and "ahhs" from his offensive teammates. With his ability to cut, catch out of the backfield and return punts, he has a real shot at making the roster. 

8. During individual drills, we watched JJ Arcega-Whiteside make another tough leaping catch. “He might be good,” I said to a fellow reporter. Where else do you get analysis like that? 

And Roob ended up catching the moment with his phone camera. 

9. For the second straight day, the Eagles have limited Jason Peters and Jason Kelce; they’re taking fewer reps with the first team. The Eagles have done that before and it’s just to keep their reps lower and preserve their bodies. That’s good news for guys who get reps in their place, namely Stefen Wisniewski and Andre Dillard. But Wiz is a vet, so this really helps Dillard. There’s a good chance he’ll need to play at some point this season, so the more reps with the first team, the better. 

10. Alshon Jeffery is just a fun player to watch in practice. He had a sliding catch in the first 11-on-11 period today and yesterday threw Sidney Jones out of the way on a play that was called for OPI. I just like watching Jeffery catch balls during the individual portion of practice. 

 

Stupid Observation of the Day: It was during 7-on-7s when I looked down and noticed about 20-30 black ants crawling on my legs and shoes. Apparently, I was standing on their nest. They began to bite and I spent the next few minutes flicking them off of me. (So, sorry, I missed a few plays.) 

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Will Fletcher Cox be a Hall of Famer?

Will Fletcher Cox be a Hall of Famer?

This is our first in a series of stories looking at the Hall of Fame chances of current or recent Eagles who are still active in the NFL.

Today: Fletcher Cox
Saturday, July 20: Zach Ertz
Sunday, July 21: DeSean Jackson
Monday, July 22: Jason Kelce
Tuesday, July 23: LeSean McCoy
Wednesday, July 24: Jason Peters
Thursday, July 25: Darren Sproles

Numbers: Has 44 ½ sacks in 109 career games, ninth-most among active NFL defensive tackles.

Postseason numbers: Cox had one sack during the 2017 Super Bowl run but had six quarterback hits in the three playoff games.

Honors: Cox has made the Pro Bowl in each of the last four years and this past season was a first-team all-pro for the first time.

Favorite stat: Cox is only the ninth Eagle in franchise history to make four Pro Bowls before his 29th birthday and the first defensive lineman to do it since Reggie White.

Records and rankings

• Cox is sixth in franchise history in sacks. This past season he passed Andy Harmon (39 ½) for the most sacks in Eagles history by an interior lineman.

• Cox’s 10 ½ sacks last year are third-most in Eagles history by a defensive lineman, behind only Harmon in both 1993 (11 ½) and 1995 (11.0).

• This past season he became only the second player the Eagles have drafted since 1992 with double-digit sacks in a season. The other is Trent Cole.

Cox is one of only four defensive linemen to make the Pro Bowl in each of the last four seasons. The others are defensive tackles Geno Atkins of the Bengals, Jurrell Casey of the Titans and Aaron Donald of the Rams.

• Only seven Eagles in history have longer streaks of Pro Bowls than Cox: White (7), Pete Pihos (6) and Chuck Bednarik, Donovan McNabb, Tommy McDonald, Mike Quick and Troy Vincent (5 each). White is the only defensive lineman in Eagles history who was picked to more Pro Bowls.

Analysis 

Cox is at the same point now that Jason Peters was in his prime. He’s so dominating that he’s going to make the Pro Bowl every year that he’s healthy.

Cox is in his prime right now and let’s conservatively give him three more Pro Bowls. That would give him seven in his career, and taking a look at the 15 tackles in NFL history who made seven Pro Bowls, 13 of the 14 who are eligible have already been enshrined in Canton.

He’s already won a Super Bowl, made four Pro Bowls, been an all-pro and piled up 44 ½ sacks, and he’s only 28 and still getting better. And the Hall of Fame voters probably won’t consider it, but Cox is a beast against the run, as good a run stopper as we’ve seen in an Eagles uniform.

The biggest thing working against Cox is Aaron Donald, who is the best tackle in the game. Donald already has 59 ½ sacks in just five years, including 20 ½ last year. If the voters look back 10 years from now they may conclude that Donald was the elite defensive tackle of this generation and hold that against Cox.
 
But Cox is on his way to becoming an all-timer in his own right, and if he keeps stringing together Pro Bowl seasons and adds a couple more all-pro first-team honors it’s going to be impossible to keep him out of Canton.

Verdict: Will be a Hall of Famer.

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Is the 2019 Eagles roster the best we’ve seen under Doug Pederson?

Is the 2019 Eagles roster the best we’ve seen under Doug Pederson?

Over the last two years, the Eagles have been one of the top teams in the NFL, winning Super Bowl LII and then getting into the second round of the playoffs last year. They have 26 wins in the last two seasons, behind just the Patriots with 29. 

And the Eagles fully expect to compete for a championship this season. Based on the roster Howie Roseman put together, this team should be in the mix to win Super Bowl LIV in Miami. 

So before the team broke for summer, Doug Pederson was asked a pretty simple question: Is this the best roster the Eagles have had since he became head coach? 

From a talent-wise (standpoint), you know, yeah, I mean, I would say that it's pretty good. I would say that, you know, from a skill position on offense (standpoint), it's probably the best we've had going into my fourth season. 

“From a depth standpoint, as I mentioned earlier, I think it's equivalent to what we had going into the 2017 season. 

“But listen, all that can change in a heartbeat, as we know. This is a violent sport, violent game … and I'm not going to sit here and make predictions and put our team in a box that way, but we still have to go coach and play games, obviously. But on paper, it appears that way.

Pederson is right. On paper, you can certainly argue that this is the best roster he’s had. 

But he’s also right that injuries can change everything. That was the special thing about the 2017 season: despite injuries to many key players, the Eagles continued to roll. If Pederson is correct, that the depth on this roster equals the depth on the 2017 roster, that’s pretty damn important. 

Pederson also undersold how good his skill position players are this season by using the word “probably” before saying they’re the best he’s had. They are the most talented group he’s had. Period. And this collection of receivers should be the best in Eagles’ history. 

Let’s take a closer look at the top skill position players heading into all four seasons under Pederson: 

2016: Carson Wentz, Chase Daniel, Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, Kenjon Barner, Wendell Smallwood, Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Josh Huff, Dorial Green-Beckham, Bryce Treggs, Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Trey Burton 

2017: Wentz, Nick Foles, LeGarrette Blount, Sproles, Smallwood, Corey Clement, Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Agholor, Mack Hollins, Marcus Johnson, Shelton Gibson, Ertz, Celek, Burton 

2018: Wentz, Foles, Nate Sudfeld, Jay Ajayi, Sproles, Clement, Smallwood, Jeffery, Agholor, Wallace, Gibson, DeAndre Carter, Ertz, Goedert, Rodgers 

2019: Wentz, Sudfeld, Clayton Thorson, Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, Clement, Jeffery, Agholor, DeSean Jackson, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Ertz, Goedert, Rodgers 

I’d take the 2019 group without hesitation. 

It’s also important to note that those skill position players can only do their jobs if the offensive line in front of them is good and — more importantly for this team — healthy. The Eagles have some questions about health on their OL, but if that unit is solid, with these skill guys, this offense could be dynamic. 

Of course, talent alone doesn’t win. The Eagles know that. But talent is a pretty good place to start. And this roster is full of it.

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