Eagles

The 5 biggest questions about the Eagles after the bye week

The 5 biggest questions about the Eagles after the bye week

The bye week is over and we’re about to really learn about this team.

The Eagles (5-4) return to work this week as they prepare for the shorter second half of their season. It all begins on Sunday at home against the Patriots.

Even after a rough start, the Eagles still have a chance to make it to the playoffs, but it won’t be easy.

These are the five biggest questions facing them:

1. Will receiver play get better?

DeSean Jackson is on IR after having core muscle surgery, so after weeks of everyone just waiting on his return, we now know that isn’t happening. Without Jackson, the Eagles’ receivers have been awful. Dropped passes, fumbles, overall lack of production. The only difference in talent is that Jordan Matthews is back and simply adding Matthews won’t be enough to turn everything around. The Eagles need Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor to play better. There’s just no way around that at this point. Both have been major disappointments this season.

2. Will the pass rush continue to get there?

In the last few games, we’ve really seen Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham come on. And now Tim Jernigan is back and Derek Barnett has quietly been very solid for much of the year. But this defensive line needs to be the backbone of the team. Sure, Jim Schwartz will mix in blitzes here and there, but the front four needs to provide most of the Eagles’ pass rush. If Cox, Graham, Barnett, Jernigan and the rotational players can get consistent pressure, it would go a long way.

3. Is the secondary really better?

The returns of Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby have seemed to solidify a secondary that was in a bad state not that long ago. But we’ve seen Mills and Darby have their good and bad moments in the last few years, so let’s see if their promising play continues. A starting trio of Mills-Darby-Avonte Maddox is probably the best the Eagles have to offer. A few coverage sacks could help that pass rush, too.

4. Late-season magic from Doug and Carson?  

In each of the last two years, it’s been Doug Pederson and Nick Foles taking the Eagles down the stretch. Now it’s time to see if the franchise quarterback can do it. Right or wrong, the credit or blame goes to Pederson and Carson Wentz. We’ve seen Wentz play at an All-Pro level and we’ve seen Pederson be one of the best offensive play-callers in the NFL. But can they both hit their strides to get the Eagles in the playoffs in 2019?

5. Will Eagles take care of business in their division?

Four of the Eagles’ last seven games are against NFC East opponents. While the game against the Cowboys at home in Week 16 could very well decide the winner of a playoff spot, the Eagles need to clean up against the Giants and Redskins too. The Eagles need to win both against the Giants and their one against the Redskins; just take care of business. If the Eagles sweep their four division games, I like their chances of getting into the playoffs.

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Snubbed Eagle Lane Johnson added to Pro Bowl team as alternate

Snubbed Eagle Lane Johnson added to Pro Bowl team as alternate

Lane Johnson is a Pro Bowler after all.

Johnson, snubbed in the original Pro Bowl announcement, has been added to the NFC Pro Bowl team as an alternate, according to Adam Caplan of Sirius XM Radio.

This is Johnson’s third consecutive Pro Bowl appearance. There was no word on which offensive lineman dropped out of the game.

It was a little surprising that Johnson didn't make the team initially. He's considered one of the NFL's most dominating right tackles and was a first-team all-pro in 2017.

He didn't seem thrilled when the original team was announced a month ago:

Johnson missed the last three games of the regular season and the playoff loss to the Seahawks with a high ankle sprain, and it’s unknown whether he’ll be able to play in the Pro Bowl on Sunday in Orlando.

But for the purposes of bonuses and status, he’s now officially a three-time Pro Bowler.

Johnson becomes the seventh offensive lineman in Eagles history selected to three or more Pro Bowls.

Jason Peters was picked to seven between the 2009 and 2016 seasons. Tra Thomas, Bob Brown, Bucko Kilroy, Jason Kelce, Jim Ringo and Brandon Brooks have all been picked to three.

The 29-year-old Johnson becomes the Eagles’ sixth Pro Bowler, joining Brooks, Kelce, Fletcher Cox, Zach Ertz and Rick Lovato.

Johnson, the fourth pick in the 2013 draft, recently signed a contract extension that runs through 2025.

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Jim Caldwell out as Dolphins QBs coach, possible OC candidate for Eagles

Jim Caldwell out as Dolphins QBs coach, possible OC candidate for Eagles

On Monday night, the Dolphins announced their 2020 coaching staff and there was a notable omission.

No Jim Caldwell.

So now the 65-year-old former head coach, OC and quarterbacks coach has plenty of free time if the Eagles want to interview him for their offensive coordinator opening (if they haven’t already).

According to ESPN, Caldwell is interested in coaching after missing the 2019 season for health reasons.

Shortly after the Eagles fired Mike Groh earlier this month, ESPN’s Tim McManus mentioned Caldwell and Kevin O’Connell as candidates. O’Connell has since joined the Los Angeles Rams as their offensive coordinator, a position that is somewhat like the one in Philly because the head coach is the primary play-caller.

Earlier on Monday, we learned that USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell, who interviewed with the Eagles, is expected to return to Southern California for next season. So cross him off the list.

Caldwell is an intriguing name because of his history with quarterbacks. It would make sense for the next offensive coordinator to be someone who could have a positive influence on Carson Wentz as he enters what should be the prime of his career.

While candidates like Harrell and Chiefs offensive coordinator Mike Kafka are fast-risers in the coaching world, Caldwell has been coaching longer they’ve been alive. He has an impressive resume.

Caldwell has been an NFL head coach twice (Colts and Lions) and was the quarterbacks coach with the Colts from 2002-08. Peyton Manning went to nine straight Pro Bowls with Caldwell coaching him.

The Eagles are taking their time choosing a coach but their brass is in Mobile, Alabama, this week for the Senior Bowl and that can often be an opportunity to meet with several coaches within a few days. It would make plenty of sense if Caldwell is on their list; and now his schedule should be wide open.

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