Eagles

Carson Wentz, Eagles proving better than anyone in red zone

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Carson Wentz, Eagles proving better than anyone in red zone

If the Eagles cross their opponent's 20-yard line there's a good chance they're going to score a touchdown. 

A really good chance. 

In fact, they're better at scoring touchdowns in those situations than any other team in the league. The Eagles have become the best red-zone team in football.

Through 11 games, the Eagles have scored a touchdown on 71.8 percent of their trips into the red zone. The next closest team is Green Bay, which is scoring at a 67.7 percent clip. 

Against the Bears, the Eagles scored on three of their five trips to the red zone but were really better than that. Their fourth trip was ruined when a fumble happened on the snap from the backup center to the backup quarterback. And the final trip into the red zone ended in victory formation as the clock ran out. 

While the Eagles have scored touchdowns on 28 of their 39 trips into the red zone this season, they've been even better in their last six games. Since the Carolina game, the Eagles have scored on 18 of 22 trips to the red zone — an amazing 81 percent. 

"I think for us, it's just the continuity of continuing to rep and to execute the same concepts over and over each week," head coach Doug Pederson said on Monday. "I think it's one of the things that I credit the offensive coaches for is maximizing our personnel down there, creating some matchups. You saw yesterday with Alshon (Jeffery) at the one time on a linebacker, right before the half, and just putting our guys in positions to be successful.

"And then obviously this was — [defensive coordinator Vic Fangio] for the Bears is not a big zero-blitz guy bringing everybody in. He showed that yesterday and we were able to adjust and make some plays down there and score a touchdown to Nelson (Agholor) on one of those.

"So yeah, we just continue to execute our plan, execute our schemes, things we have worked on all offseason, all training camp and continue to get better."

The Eagles spend a good portion of every Friday practice working on situational football, which includes red-zone work. That seems to be paying off. 

The Eagles' improvement in the red zone this season is pretty incredible. Last season, they scored touchdowns on just 49.1 percent of their red-zone trips, so they were toward the bottom of the league. In fact, their 71.8 percent success rate this season is considerably higher than any success rate under Chip Kelly or Andy Reid. The closest mark came in the 2004 Super Bowl season when the Eagles scored on 63.8 percent of their trips to the red zone. They're eight percentage points better so far in 2017!

Part of the reason for this rise in success is pretty simple. It's the same reason Pederson gave a couple weeks ago for his team's success on the road: This Eagles team is just better. They're a better football team.

The other obvious answer is Carson Wentz. 

So much of red-zone success simply boils down to quarterback play and the Eagles have a potential MVP working for them. Pederson admitted a lot of the Eagles' success in the red zone comes "pre-snap" based on what the defense is showing. 

"You get a lot of information pre-snap on any down," Pederson said, "but particularly in the red zone when things become a little tighter, a little faster, lanes are a little narrow, or the ball has to be out a little faster, things like that."

Wentz is responsible for a lot pre-snap, but once the ball is in his hands, he makes things happen, too. He's been dynamic in the red zone this season. His 118.1 passer rating in the red zone is the third highest in the NFL and is actually 14 points higher than his overall passer rating. Just Eli Manning (121.2) and Drew Brees (118.4) have higher red-zone passer ratings. And Wentz has a better red-zone passer rating than Aaron Rodgers (116.2) and Tom Brady (108.3).

Check out Wentz's numbers in the red zone: 31 for 47, 242 yards, 20 TDs, 0 INT

And now Brady's red-zone season stats: 39 for 64, 243 yards, 20 TDs, 0 INT

Yup, the two MVP candidates are pretty close.   

“The biggest thing is the game plan we have coming in each week," Wentz said. "Our coaches do a tremendous job of getting guys in the right positions to make plays. Our balance of being able to run the ball down there and throw the ball has been big for us, too. And then it just comes down to guys making plays. We’re just making more of them right now. The tighter you get to the red zone, the defense has to declare their coverage a little more. In the back of our heads, we have those things we can go to versus different looks. Sometimes you have to change things, and sometimes you just let it roll. Coach called a great game.”

Pederson said that earlier in the season, he thought the Eagles struggled in the "big red-zone area," which is inside the 30. He challenged his offense to get better in those situations. He wanted the Eagles to run the ball better and take care of the football better in the red zone.

It worked. 

"They really have since that point, it was about after Week, maybe 3 or 4, somewhere in there, they have really embraced that," Pederson said. "And again, it comes down to their preparation and the way they practice on Fridays when we do our red zone. Just they don't want to be denied."

Where should Carson Wentz land on NFL's top 10 list?

Where should Carson Wentz land on NFL's top 10 list?

We now officially know Carson Wentz will be somewhere in the top 10 of the NFL Network’s top 100 players of 2018. 

We just don’t know where he’ll land. 

As far as the other Eagles on the list, the Super Bowl champions weren’t extremely well-represented: 68. Zach Ertz, 69. Fletcher Cox, 95. Lane Johnson, 96. Malcolm Jenkins. 

Before tearing his ACL and LCL on Dec. 10 in Los Angeles, it seemed like Wentz was on his way to an MVP season. In 13 games, Wentz threw for over 3,200 yards and a franchise-record 33 touchdown passes. 

Wentz is the only player in the top 10 who has never been anywhere on the top 100 list before. Can he go from off the list to No. 1?

Here’s the list of players (in alphabetical order) who will be unveiled in the top 10 on Monday night. 

  • Le'Veon Bell 
  • Tom Brady 
  • Drew Brees 
  • Antonio Brown
  • Aaron Donald 
  • Todd Gurley
  • Julio Jones 
  • Von Miller 
  • Aaron Rodgers
  • Carson Wentz

In the comments below, leave your top 10 in order. We’ll see how close everyone can get. 

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Jalen Mills' charity softball game takes over Reading soon

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Jalen Mills' charity softball game takes over Reading soon

Carson Wentz held his inaugural AO1 Foundation softball game earlier this month and the event was a huge success, raising over $850,000 for charity. 

Saturday afternoon, another Eagles player has a charity softball game. 

This time, green-haired cornerback Jalen Mills will take over FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading. The home run derby starts at 1 p.m. and the softball game is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. Tickets are still available.

According to the website, the game will help benefit the National Youth Foundation.

As for the list of players and celebrities, several of Mills’ current and former teammates are expected to show. 

Here’s the full list provided on the website: 

Eagles
Corey Clement 
Bryce Treggs
Rashard Davis
Mike Wallace 
Alshon Jeffery
Jason Peters
Brandon Graham
D.J. Killings
Rick Lovato

Other NFL players
Terrence Brooks
Kwon Alexander
Duke Riley
Tyrann Mathieu
Jamal Adams
Steven Johnson
Leonard Fournette

Other celebrities
Musical artist Fat Boy SSE
Former Little League World Series star Mo’ne Davis
Philly rapper Gillie Da Kid
Competitive eater Notorious B.O.B. 
Sports agent Drew Rosenhaus
Radio host DJ Diamond Kuts
Super fan Barry “The Hatchet” Vagnoni

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