Eagles

5 reasons to watch the final quarter of the Eagles’ season

5 reasons to watch the final quarter of the Eagles’ season

The Eagles’ loss to the Dolphins was probably enough to make some fans swear off football for the rest of the year. I get that.

But there are still plenty of reasons to watch the final quarter of the Eagles’ season.

Let’s be honest, too. You’re going to watch.

Playoffs are still in play

As minimal as their chances feel, the Eagles are still in the playoff hunt. They’re just a game behind the Cowboys in the NFC East and will be in if they win out. That’s obviously a tough sell right now after watching them lose to the Dolphins, but the Eagles have a 35 percent chance to make the playoffs. If they make it, then they’d host a game in the wild card round.

If this isn’t enough of a reason for you — and I get that — there are still some others that have more long-term implications.

Carson Wentz

The Eagles already made their decision on Wentz this past offseason when they signed him to a $108 million deal. So he’s not going anywhere. But the franchise quarterback can play well in these last four games and let us know that guy, the special player, is still in there. And just finishing a season would be something he hasn’t done since his rookie year in 2016.

Right now, he’s on pace for 3,786 yards, 26.7 touchdowns and 9.3 interceptions. He could end up with a new career-high in yards. Wentz would need to average 290 passing yards in the last four games to become the Eagles’ first-ever 4,000-yard passer. But it’s really not about the numbers. It’s about leaving the fanbase with a feeling of confidence after his fourth NFL season.

Will Doug find it again?

Along the same lines as Wentz, let’s see if Doug Pederson can re-find some of the magic he had a couple years ago. Let’s just see some better game-planning and in-game decisions. We all understand that Pederson has built up enough equity to outlast this disappointing season, but he could leave fans with some confidence that he can still be the same coach he was in 2017. This will also let us know if his messaging is still working with this team; does the locker room stick together?

Decisions on upcoming free agents

There are several key players who are set to become free agents at the end of this year and the Eagles will have to make decisions about: Rodney McLeod, Ronald Darby, Nelson Agholor, Tim Jernigan, Jordan Howard, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Jalen Mills. And then the Eagles will also have to decide whether or not they want to pick up their option on Nigel Bradham, and if they want to try to move on from a guy like Alshon Jeffery.

The Eagles have always worked hard to keep their core players but it could be time for a new infusion of players. This could be an interesting offseason.

Rookie/young player development

In these last four games, the Eagles are going to try to win, but I’d prefer to see as much of their young talent as possible. That means finding snaps for J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. That means seeing how Miles Sanders handles being the lead back. That means actually letting Shareef Miller play and making Josh Sweat the top rotational defensive end; I know what Vinny Curry is at this point. Let’s see if there’s a future with some of these guys. The problem is that the Eagles are still trying to win, so it’s not like they’re just going to start playing all the developmental guys, but we’ll get our glimpses.

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How close were the Eagles to keeping Raheem Mostert?

How close were the Eagles to keeping Raheem Mostert?

Several years before his monster game for the 49ers over the Packers, Raheem Mostert was just another undrafted rookie trying to make the Eagles' roster. Mostert on Sunday became the first player in NFL history with 200 rushing yards and four touchdowns in a playoff game.

Four years ago, he was an Eagle. Here's a story NBC Sports Philadelphia's Reuben Frank wrote on about Mostert's preseason back in August of 2015.

•••

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Just when we were all set to concede a roster spot to Kenjon Barner, Raheem Mostert does this.

Fifteen carries for 69 yards, eight catches for 93 yards and quite a statement that if the Eagles are going to keep a fourth running back, it should be him.

Barner, a third-year pro from Oregon, was terrific the first few games of the preseason, with two punt returns for touchdowns, a 50-yard gain on a screen pass and a rushing touchdown.

Mostert, a rookie from Purdue, has quietly been very good playing in Barner’s shadow, but with Barner getting just a couple touches Thursday night against the Jets, it was Mostert’s turn to shine.

He became the first Eagle in at least 15 years with 60 or more yards both rushing and receiving in the same preseason game.

For what it’s worth, only five Eagles in the last 50 years have had 60 rushing yards and 90 receiving yards in a regular-season game -- Brian Westbrook four times, Wilbert Montgomery three times and Timmy Brown, Ricky Watters and LeSean McCoy once each.

“I was just really trying to focus on the task at hand and trying to make a couple big plays out there and help the team out,” Mostert said at his locker.

“That was my main focus. I thought I did a pretty good job, but there’s always room for improvement. But I really tried my best and that’s all I can do.

“I came in with focus, My mentality was I’m going to stick it out, I’m not going to quit, I’m going to keep fighting, keep pushing, and at the end of the day that’s all anybody ever asks me to do in the NFL.”

Mostert finished the preseason with 351 yards from scrimmage, most by an Eagle in a preseason in at least 20 years.

That’s a ton of yards. Nearly 90 per game.

He averaged 4.0 yards on 39 carries and added 194 yards on 14 catches.

No back in the NFL had as many yards from scrimmage this preseason or as many total yards, including returns. He finished fourth in the NFL this preseason in receiving yards and fifth in rushing yards.

All of which guarantees Mostert absolutely nothing.

Barner’s numbers were impressive too. And with DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles -- three Pro Bowlers -- there may not even be a spot on the 53-man roster for a fourth running back.

Final cuts are due Saturday, but head coach Chip Kelly is expected to trim the Eagles’ roster on Friday afternoon.

“I’m not really too worried about it,” Mostert said. “Whatever happens happens. I’m just going to continue to push and just do my thing. Honestly. I’m not too worried about the cuts. I’m going to just work on what I’ve got to work on, regardless.”

Mostert was a two-time Big East sprint champ in college, but unlike most track guys that come to the NFL, he’s a physical runner, a capable blocker and a polished receiver.

“When you look at some of those track guys, you’re like, ‘OK, they’re fast and that’s about it. They can’t catch, they can’t block,’” Eagles running backs coach Duce Staley said. “He’s totally different. He brings a lot to the table. He’s aggressive, he can block, he can catch.”

There’s a school of thought that Barner, as a third-year pro who’s bounced around the league a bit, will be easier to sneak through waivers if he’s released. So you keep Mostert instead of leaving him unprotected and release Barner, hoping to add him to the practice squad.

The other school of thought says that Barner has done more than enough to warrant a roster spot and you keep him and let Mostert go, hoping nobody claims him, then bring him back on the practice squad.

The only certainty is that Mostert will be somewhere. Either on a 53 or on a practice squad.

Not that he wants to get released and start over somewhere else.

“I definitely think that [I’ll be somewhere], but I’m not going to be happy about it,” he said. “I know I can do a lot more and minimize the mistakes that I’ve had because I’ve had a lot of mistakes.

“It’s all on what I put on film, that’s what really matters. I’ve just got to continue to do the little things right in order to be special and be great for the team.

“Whatever the outcome is, I’m not too worried about it. I’ve just got to keep pushing, keep fighting. … Just to be the ultimate player.”

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Andy Reid’s former Eagles players are thrilled he’s going back to Super Bowl

Andy Reid’s former Eagles players are thrilled he’s going back to Super Bowl

One of Andy Reid’s biggest strengths — one he shares with Doug Pederson — is that his players love him. He connects with them.

That’s why it should come as no surprise that so many of his former players are really happy for him right now as Reid is heading back to the Super Bowl 15 years after he took the Eagles.

It seems like most of Philadelphia will be pulling for the Chiefs in two weeks.

But we also know a bunch of Reid’s former players and co-workers from Philadelphia, some who played in Super Bowl XXXIX, will be rooting hard for Big Red in Super Bowl LIV.

Here were a few of their reactions on Sunday night:

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