Eagles

After 2 days of joint practices, Ravens understand hype around Eagles’ offense

After 2 days of joint practices, Ravens understand hype around Eagles’ offense

There’s been a ton of buzz around Carson Wentz’s upcoming season. Plenty of national talking heads have even picked him as an MVP candidate.

All-Pro safety Earl Thomas III understands the hype.

After admitting it was tough to get a truly great read on Wentz after just two Eagles-Ravens joint practices this week, the 30-year-old six-time Pro Bowl safety offered this:

I would tell you, in this league there’s a small pool of guys that you would classify at an elite level,” Thomas said to NBC Sports Philadelphia. “And I think he’s definitely in that pool.

Thomas is a no-nonsense, speak-the-truth kind of guy. So if he’s saying this about Wentz, you can probably take him for his word. And in a controlled practice like this, Wentz wasn’t even making the off-schedule plays that have largely defined his success in the NFL.

Still, for two days, Wentz and the Eagles’ offense had a spirited clash against a Ravens’ defense that was No. 1 in the league last season and boasted a very strong secondary before adding Thomas. Over those two practices, Wentz won some battles and the Ravens won some battles.

But a few Ravens defensive backs got on the bus Tuesday wholly impressed by the offense they faced at the NovaCare Complex.

“That’s a potent offense that has some big-time playmakers,” nine-year vet Jimmy Smith said. “It was good to get out there and practice against them.”

The Eagles have no shortage of offensive weapons this season and Dallas Goedert wasn’t even on the field for these two practices as he recovers from a calf injury.

But having Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Nelson Agholor on the field is enough of a handful. And after hearing all those names, Thomas quickly interjected that Darren Sproles (even at 36 years old) is still a matchup problem too.

Trying to cover everyone is pretty difficult.

“Yeah, it kind of makes it tough to game plan,” fellow starting corner Marlon Humphrey said. “Every team just about has a guy you want to double, but when you kinda got two or three guys you could double, it makes things a little bit tougher.”

What also makes this group of Eagles’ receivers so difficult is that they’re all so complementary.

• Jeffery is the big-bodied veteran who uses that body to catch 50-50 balls

• Agholor is the shiftiest of the bunch but has lightning speed too

• Jackson is the deep-threat who takes the top off the defense

And Pederson lines them up everywhere. Each of those three receivers lines up inside and outside at times. Imagine facing Alshon on one play and DeSean on the next; that’s tough.

“I don’t think I’ve really seen a guy like DeSean Jackson,” said Humphrey, a former first-round pick entering Year 3. “I noticed it yesterday and then I watched it on film. He kind of just glides over the ground. I knew he was fast, but I didn’t know he was that quick at the line. To be [entering his 12th season], he’s pretty fast. Some good work.

“The best thing for me was I got a chance to go against a big guy like Alshon Jeffery, who if he gets any sort of separation it’s usually a catch and really good speed too. And against an MVP-caliber quarterback. Really good opportunity to work for us.”

It was also a good opportunity for us to find out what we already suspected. This Eagles’ offense could be pretty good.

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Erase Jay Gruden's name from your Eagles coaching wish list

Erase Jay Gruden's name from your Eagles coaching wish list

Another of the most qualified remaining candidates for the Eagles’ offensive coordinator vacancy is off the board.

Jay Gruden, recently fired after six mediocre years as the Redskins’ head coach, is close to joining the Jaguars to fill their offensive coordinator vacancy, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Assuming the deal is completed, Gruden will become the Jaguars’ third offensive coordinator in three years. He replaces former Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, fired last week after just one year in Jacksonville. DeFilippo replaced Nathaniel Hackett, who was fired and spent this past year in the same position with the Packers. DeFilippo was recently hired by Matt Nagy as QBs coach of the Bears.

Ten teams were in the market for an offensive coordinator when the regular season ended.

Of those 10, the Eagles are one of only two still hanging a "Help Wanted" sign on their front door. 

The other is the Vikings, whose offensive coordinator this past year, Kevin Stefanski, was named last week as head coach of the Browns.

Gruden, whose older brother John was the Eagles’ offensive coordinator under Ray Rhodes from 1995 through 1997 and is now head coach of the Raiders, spent 2011 through 2013 as the Bengals’ offensive coordinator before replacing Mike Shanahan as head coach of the Redskins in 2014.

His teams went 38-57 in six years and reached the playoffs only once, losing a wild-card game to the Packers in 2015.

In Jacksonville, Gruden will presumably be working with 2017 Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, who was the Jaguars’ opening-day quarterback this past year but was hurt much of the season and then benched later in the year for rookie Gardner Minshew.

It’s not known whether the Eagles had any formal interest in Gruden, but he was certainly one of the most intriguing remaining candidates for the opening.

The Eagles fired Mike Groh 12 days ago after two years as offensive coordinator one day after head coach Doug Pederson said both would remain on his staff.

Among the candidates the Eagles have been linked with who are now expected to remain in their current position are Chiefs quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka, Ravens QBs coach James Urban (who spent three years as Bengals WRs coach under Jay Gruden) and USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell.

Other qualified candidates who are off the board include Chan Gailey, hired as Dolphins offensive coordinator; LSU passing game coordinator Joe Brady, who was hired by the Panthers; Joe Moorhead, who was hired Tuesday as Oregon’s offensive coordinator; and former Eagles offensive coordinator and recently fired Giants head coach Pat Shurmur, who was hired as OC of the Broncos.

Earlier Tuesday, we outlined some of the top remaining candidates, including current Eagles position coaches Duce Staley and Press Taylor.

The Eagles also remain without a wide receivers coach, a secondary coach and a defensive line coach. The team fired receivers coach Carson Walch and d-line coach Phillip Daniels, and secondary coach Cory Undlin accepted the defensive coordinator position with the Lions.

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Here's a sneak peak of the 2020 NFL Draft venue ... and it's 100% Las Vegas

Here's a sneak peak of the 2020 NFL Draft venue ... and it's 100% Las Vegas

The blueprint for the 2020 NFL Draft venue has been revealed and it's just what you would expect it to be in Las Vegas.

The draft has become quite a production in recent years, but this has to top all previous attempts if it's executed the way they're saying.

Reportedly, players will be transported to the stage by a boat. Which could be an epic moment for the draftees ... but could also add a significant amount of time to the already long night of events.

The red carpet stage has a more traditional look when it comes to a draft setting, but since it's Vegas, it's go big or go home.

There are currently mixed opinions about it all, but here are some of the funniest:

 

 

 


The draft will be held from April 23-25 where the Eagles currently hold the 21st overall pick.

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