Eagles

Nate Sudfeld confident in his ability to be Eagles’ backup QB

Nate Sudfeld confident in his ability to be Eagles’ backup QB

Had Nate Sudfeld not fractured his non-throwing wrist last summer, there’s a very good chance it would have been him attempting to lead the Eagles to an improbable playoff win against the Seahawks instead of 40-year-old Josh McCown after Carson Wentz suffered a concussion. 

But Sudfeld’s injury in August forced the Eagles to go out and lure McCown out of retirement. And once they did, even when Sudfeld was healthy, McCown wasn’t going to be the Eagles’ third-string quarterback. 

It was literally a bad break for Sudfeld. 

The 26-year-old quarterback didn’t technically hit free agency this year but he got close. Sudfeld at least got to test the waters of free agency during the legal tampering period before agreeing to a one-year, $2 million contract the day before the start of the new league year. 

When asked if the Eagles offered him any assurances about being the No. 2 quarterback, Sudfeld did not answer directly. But it seems like there’s a really good chance he’ll finally be Wentz’s No. 2 in 2020. 

“I don’t want to get into specifics but I’m very excited about the opportunity to come back and feel really good about coming back to Philadelphia,” Sudfeld said on a conference call this week. “Really excited to get back to work.” 

Will the Eagles bring in another veteran quarterback or draft a rookie to compete with him? It’s unclear. 

I think the NFL is obviously a meritocracy,” Sudfeld said. “As people have said before, it’s really ‘What have you done for me lately?’ What are you doing at each step? You have to keep proving yourself and you have to keep proving. 

“I definitely have a ton of confidence if I’m ever in a situation where I’m head-on-head competing with somebody. I have a lot of confidence in myself. I haven’t ever really had that opportunity so I’m looking forward to that if that comes.

The debate about whether or not Wentz is an injury-prone player has become trite at this point and it’s really not worth getting caught up in. But the fact remains that the final snaps in each of the Eagles’ last three seasons have been taken by his backup. 

Because of that, maybe it would have made sense for the Eagles to go out and grab a backup quarterback with some significant experience, sort of like what they did when they were forced to last year, signing McCown. 

Sudfeld might be great. But we just don’t know. 

Even he admits that. 

“The crazy thing about quarterback, especially, is you never really know about a guy until they’re thrown in there,” Sudfeld said. “The only way to get experience is to get experience.”

The Redskins drafted Sudfeld in the sixth-round out of Indiana back in 2016, but he left after one year to join Doug Pederson and the Eagles. At every turn, the Eagles have shown faith in him. They brought him in from Washington, they promoted him to the active roster that season to avoid losing him, they left him as the backup to Nick Foles in 2017 and 2018 after Wentz went down. And now they’ve brought him back as a free agent. 

And there’s a lot to like about Sudfeld. He’s 6-6 with a big arm and the ability to move in and out of the pocket. He’s shown his skills in practices and in the preseason. 

But in four NFL seasons, he’s thrown a total of 25 passes in the regular season. 

General manager Howie Roseman said that with the unique challenges of this offseason — we still don’t know if there will be spring practices — it was important to bring back a guy who knows the offense. Roseman said they really like him as a player too. 

With the NFL’s open negotiation period last week, Sudfeld got a chance to gauge interest from other teams and learn what they value in his game. It was a good experience, he said. But, ultimately, he felt like there was more left to do in Philly, at least for 2020. 

“Obviously, I want to be a starter someday,” Sudfeld said. “I want to play in this league. But I understand that it’s a process to get there and you have to get on the field.”

In a few months, he might be one injury away. 

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Is there hope for Sidney Jones?

Is there hope for Sidney Jones?

Who’s CB2?
 
Whenever we toss around all the scenarios, there’s one that’s so unlikely we generally just dismiss it outright.
 
What if Sidney Jones can play?
 
The Eagles currently seem to have Avonte Maddox penciled in at outside corner opposite Darius Slay, the three-time Pro Bowler they acquired in March from the Lions. That would leave Cre’Von LeBlanc and Nickell Roby-Coleman competing for the slot.
 
It’s hard not to like what Maddox brings to the defense. He’s tough, physical, smart, instinctive and active. 
 
He’s also probably best suited to the slot and only projected as an outside corner because Jones has been injured and ineffective, Rasul Douglas has been inconsistent and prone to allowing big plays, Jalen Mills is now penciled in at safety and LeBlanc is also probably best as an inside corner as well.
 
It’s not ideal. 
 
But what if Jones figures it all out in Year 4? What if it all comes together mentally and physically for the former second-round pick out of Washington.
 
It’s hard to imagine because Jones’ first three NFL seasons have been so disappointing.
 
The first year he rehabbed the Achilles, blown out before the draft at his pro day. The second year he started the first six games of the season in the slot before hamstring injuries ruined the rest of his season. And last year he was again in and out of the lineup with more hamstring injuries and eventually as a healthy scratch.
 
It’s not much of a resume.
 
But here’s the thing about Sidney.
 
We’ve seen some flashes. Enough that we can at least pose the question: Can Sidney Jones be a viable starting cornerback for the Eagles in 2020?
 
Let’s look at those first six games of 2018, before he got hurt. The Eagles only allowed eight TDs in those six games — sixth-best in the league at that point — and were fourth in the NFL allowing just 18.3 points per game. That was with Jones playing about 40 snaps per game.
 
And there were moments last year where he showed up.
 
He picked off Matt Ryan with the Eagles down 10-3 in Atlanta to set up a field goal. He batted down Dak Prescott’s 4th-down pass to Michael Gallup in the final moments of a huge over the Cowboys. He had that INT off Daniel Jones at the Eagles’ 6-yard-line at the Meadowlands on the final day a week later to seal a win and get the Eagles into the playoffs.
 
It’s not a lot to go on. And certainly the disappointing moments have outnumbered the encouraging ones by a long shot.
 
Getting benched against the Vikings. Hamstring injury after hamstring injury. Dropping below Craig James and even Orlando Scandrick at one point on the depth chart. A healthy scratch in last year’s playoff loss to the Seahawks. 
 
But here’s the thing. Jones just turned 24 last week. He’s younger than Andre Dillard, who’s only in his second season. At one point before his 2017 pro day he was seen as a mid-first-round talent.
 
We’ve seen him make a few plays that make you think, “Maybe?”
 
If he can ever get his hamstrings healthy enough to run, can he be a viable starter?
 
Heck, as CB2 he wouldn’t even have to match up with the best receivers the Eagles face. Slay would handle that, and Jones would only have to contend with the other team’s WR2.
 
This is Jones’ last chance with the Eagles. He’s going into the final year of his four-year rookie deal, and if he doesn’t figure this thing out this summer, his next opportunity will be somewhere else.
 
Sometimes last chances have a way of getting a player’s attention. Maybe something will click, he’ll find a way to get physically stronger and more durable and get his speed back to the 4.47 he ran at the combine.
 
Is any of this likely? Honestly? No. 
 
The odds are against Jones. He’s a longshot at this point. 
 
But when you’ve seen a guy make plays here and there, it’s hard not to wonder whether he can make them consistently.
 
In this strangest of NFL offseasons, maybe we all have one more giant surprise in store for us.

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Eagles 2020 breakout candidate: Can Boston Scott keep it going?

Eagles 2020 breakout candidate: Can Boston Scott keep it going?

Over the next two weeks, we’re taking a look at 10 Eagles players who might be primed for a breakout season in 2020. 

Up first: Boston Scott 

Age: 25

How acquired: Signed off Saints practice squad in December 2018 

Entering: Year 3 

Some would argue that Scott already broke out against the Giants in Week 17, when he had three rushing touchdowns and was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week, but now we need to see Scott play at a high level consistently. 

There’s been a lot of buzz around the Eagles’ possibly adding a veteran free agent running back to the mix, but even if they do, Scott should still have a chance to have a significant role with the Eagles. Will he do enough to be the true No. 2 after Miles Sanders? 

It certainly seems like he has that potential. And a Sanders-Scott 1-2 punch could be a long-term thing if he continues to progress. 

Remember, for as good as Scott was at times in the 2019 season, he still has just 61 career carries. But what was certainly encouraging was the way Scott played down the stretch when the Eagles needed him to show up. In the last four games of the regular season, Scott had 151 yards rushing and 199 yards receiving; he averaged 87.5 scrimmage yards per game during that span. 

And despite his limited height (5-6), Scott has a nose for the end zone. That natural leverage and his stout build (he’s listed at 203 pounds) help him score touchdowns. He scored five touchdowns on 61 carries in 2020 and three of them were 2-yarders. 

On runs where the Eagles needed 1 to 5 yards for a first down, Scott converted 12 times, including 4 touchdowns. 

During last season, Scott showed off his versatile set of skills. He’s a good runner between the tackles, but has the ability to be shifty in open space, catch out of the backfield and even return kicks and punts. 

Scott was originally selected in the 6th round by the Saints out of Louisiana Tech in the 2018 draft. The Eagles’ signed him off the Saints’ practice squad in Week 15 back in 2018. 

At Louisiana Tech, Scott in his senior season had 1,228 yards from scrimmage and nine touchdowns, while also handling kick return duties his last three years. He had just 32 receptions in college but it’s a part of his game that was underutilized back then. He ended up with 24 catches in his second NFL season once he finally got on the field. 

Scott began the 2019 season on the Eagles’ practice squad but was called up in October and ended up being a big reason the Birds got into the playoffs. 

Last season, Scott ended up third on the team in all-purpose yards with 721. But there’s still room for growth and it’s up to Scott to solidify his role in 2020. 

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