Eagles

9 positives from an Eagles season that came up short

9 positives from an Eagles season that came up short

The Eagles made the playoffs

This might seem too obvious, but there’s something to be said for staying off the list of Super Bowl champions who missed the playoffs the next season. At one point, it looked like the Eagles might even become the first team to finish with a losing record the following year since the Bucs in 2003.

Beyond that, the run to the playoffs was unexpected and plain fun. The Eagles won six of their last seven games, including the memorable Double Doink in Chicago, before the magic finally wore off in New Orleans. Considering their 4-6 record in November, that’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Vintage Cre’Von LeBlanc

There’s no way a team can overcome the sheer number and magnitude of injuries the Eagles faced and make the playoffs without the rise of at least one player from obscurity. That would be Cre’Von LeBlanc.

How good was LeBlanc? The Eagles may very well have found their nickel cornerback for 2019, perhaps beyond. The third-year veteran is under contract through next season, and there’s no question he’ll be competing for the job after the fine job he did in the slot over the last seven games. Not bad for a guy who only signed in November.

Isaac Seumalo turned out to be a player

This time last year, Seumalo looked like a bust. He lost his starting job the previous season and spent much of OTAs and training camp as a third-string center. Somehow, he managed to win his job back at left guard and actually played very well.

Maybe Seumalo was worth a third-round draft pick after all.

Cameron Johnston

Yes, the punter. Johnston finished third in punting average and first in net average. Granted, this is not a super exciting development, although, at one point in the season he was one of the Eagles’ few consistent players.

Zach Ertz makes history

It’s not every year you see somebody catch 116 passes in a season. Until 2018, the league had never seen a tight end do it — and it could be a long time until we see one do it again. It was easy for Ertz’s record-setting campaign to go somewhat underappreciated while the Eagles were struggling, but it was a special feat nobody should soon forget.

At least Carson Wentz’s knee is OK

Hopefully, the back injury isn’t something that will affect Wentz beyond this season. The good news is that knee seems fine after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ACL and LCL. Look for some of his mobility and that uncanny escapability to return in 2019.

A proper sendoff for Nick Foles …

While there’s nothing positive about Wentz’s latest injury, if this was Foles’ last go-round with the Eagles, as expected, at least he got the chance to go down swinging. Another improbable Foles run excited the fanbase, in a sense giving Philadelphia a chance to say goodbye.

… And likely avoided a quarterback controversy

It was the epitome of bittersweet. Foles simultaneously raised his trade value, should the Eagles attempt to deal him this offseason, while his performance in the playoffs and particularly against the Saints made it clear why the organization is sticking with Wentz.

Nobody would take that certainty over another Super Bowl, given the choice. Yet, if there was any benefit to this season ending when and how it did, this was it.

The organization is positioned to compete

The Eagles had the depth to overcome a zillion injuries because the job Howie Roseman and the front office did. They had the ability to climb out of a 4-6 hole because Doug Pederson and the coaching staff held the locker room together and adjusted their schemes. Despite everything that went wrong, this wound up being one of the top eight teams in the NFL in 2018.

No matter where the roster goes from here, the leadership is in place to replenish the talent pool, then guide the Eagles back to the Super Bowl. I have zero doubt they will be back on the big stage soon.

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What has Miles Sanders done to turn his season around?

What has Miles Sanders done to turn his season around?

Remember how overmatched Miles Sanders looked after gaining just 25 yards on 11 carries in the opener against the Redskins? Remember how lost he looked a week later when he was just 10-for-28 in Atlanta?

Three weeks into his rookie season, Sanders was averaging 3.1 yards per carry and ranked 28th out of 33 qualifying running backs.

Six from the bottom.

Since then?

Sanders has blossomed.

In the Eagles’ last nine games, Sanders is averaging 5.1 yards per carry, 7th-best in the league of 53 backs during that span.

Six from the top.

In a season with very few positives, Sanders’ development has been fun to watch.

What’s been the difference?

Sanders is just seeing things better, he’s running more decisively and he's moving the chains forward.

Nothing demonstrates that better than his percentage of carries that have gone for one or fewer yards.

In his first game, more than half his carries went for one or fewer yards (6 of 10). Through five games he was still at 35 percent, with 19 of 53 runs that went less than two yards.

In the last seven games, that number has dropped precipitously. Of his 62 carries since the Vikings game, only nine — nine of 62 — have been one or fewer yards. 

“I feel like I’ve been getting better and better each week,” the second-round pick from Penn State said. “Everybody’s been telling me that, but most importantly, I’ve been noticing it myself, just trying to get better and do it each week. I feel more confident just as far as reading where I’m supposed to be, getting my eyes in the right place and just playing ball out there.”

Sanders has 520 rushing yards and needs 118 to break LeSean McCoy’s franchise rookie rushing record of 637, set in 2009.

He has 879 scrimmage yards and needs 130 to break DeSean Jackson’s franchise rookie scrimmage yards record of 1,008, set in 2008.

Going into this weekend, he was second to Raiders 1st-round pick Josh Jacobs among rookies with 879 scrimmage yards and fourth in rushing (behind Jacobs, David Montgomery and Devin Singletary).

Is Doug Pederson using Sanders enough?

That’s a different question. 

Sanders is averaging 4.5 yards per carry overall but still has only the 30th-most carries in the league and the 25th-most touches among running backs. 

“I think you're seeing the patience in the running game,” Doug Pederson said. “His vision is better, it's improved from Week 1 to Week 13. The more he gets time, the more he gets snaps, the better he'll get.”

Sanders has taken care of the production. Now it’s up to Pederson to take care of getting him more snaps.

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Eagles vs. Giants live: Highlights and analysis from NFL Week 14 game

Eagles vs. Giants live: Highlights and analysis from NFL Week 14 game

9:57 a.m.: Good morning, everyone! 

We have waited a long time for tonight, but the Eagles will host Eli Manning and the Giants tonight at the Linc. Here are five matchups to watch.

If you’re heading to the game, bring your rain gear. 

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