Eagles

Carson Wentz levels up, places himself in elite QB tier after statement win

Carson Wentz levels up, places himself in elite QB tier after statement win

CHARLOTTE — This one meant more to Carson Wentz. Because of how many challenges he overcame. And how many challenges the Eagles overcame.
 
Wentz led the Eagles to their fourth straight win Thursday night, and nothing came easy for him in the 28-23 win over the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium (see observations).
 
Wentz got hit. Wentz got sacked. There were drops. There were penalties. There was a short week, a deafening hostile crowd, and, yes, there were officials who did not seem very interested in seeing the Eagles win (see story)

You name it, the Eagles were up against it. You name it, Wentz overcame it.
 
"It feels good, and I think it says a lot about the guys in this locker room. We stayed together the whole game," he said. "They did some good things defensively, some different pressure looks that we haven't seen.

"That's tough on a short week, but we found a way to win a close ballgame, and that's ultimately what we struggled with last year, winning on the road and winning close ballgames. We've done that successfully these first six games."
 
Wentz got battered early, got his sea legs in the second half and finished strong. 
 
He completed only 16 of 30 passes — just 53 percent — but threw three touchdowns and had no interceptions, and made big throw after big throw in the second half as the Eagles warded off every Panthers' comeback bid. 

The Eagles scored on three of their first four second-half drives, including a third-quarter TD drive in which Wentz was 5 for 5 for 90 yards and overcame a 2nd-and-25 and a 3rd-and-16.

"That was huge," Wentz said. "That was a huge drive. You never want to be in 3rd-and-16 and Carolina ... made it tough on us, but we found a way to convert that one and then had the big play shortly thereafter (37 yards to Alshon Jeffery) and just kept our foot on the gas and found a way to get in the endzone there."

That TD gave the Eagles a 12-point lead, and Wentz capped it with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor.
 
"That's the one thing about this kid — he's so tough mentally and physically," Pederson said. "He just stays in there and battles and still, his eyes are down the field. He doesn't let (getting hit) get to him. 

"He's a great leader of this football team even in his second year. Guys really respect the way he plays. It's exciting to see from your quarterback."
 
Wentz just keeps getting better, and it's easy to forget that he's only 22 games into his NFL career.
 
"He is a big quarterback, and he is fearless," Panthers cornerback James Bradberry said. "I saw him take on one of our linebackers and a safety down there by the goal line. You could tell he was trying to will his team to win."
 
These last two weeks, Wentz has thrown seven touchdowns and one interception. He threw 16 TDs all last year.
 
He's fashioned a passer rating of 90 or higher in four straight games — only two shy of the franchise record — and his 99.6 passer rating is eighth-highest in the league.
 
Wentz has a game in hand but is now tied with Aaron Rodgers with an NFL-best 13 touchdown passes. He had 16 all last year.
 
The last two weeks, Wentz has blossomed. He's got seven TDs, one interception, 526 passing yards and passer ratings of 128.3 and 110.7.
 
The Eagles are 5-1, winners of four straight, and their 24-year-old quarterback is a legitimate MVP candidate.
 
Wentz has won games before, but this felt different. This felt like a young player genuinely elevating himself into the pantheon of elite NFL QBs.
 
"You saw glimpses of it when he was in college, obviously, with the championships and the success that he had," Pederson said. "You just look at his whole sports life and the success he's had — you just never know though until you get them in your building and you start coaching them to see exactly what you've got.
 
"That goes with any player, but the quarterback position is so important in this league and that's one position that you've got to get right and he's the right player for the Philadephia Eagles."
 
With his win Thursday night, Wentz improved to 12-10 in his career (and 7-1 in his last eight starts). One more win ties Donovan McNabb for most wins by an Eagles quarterback in his first two years in the league. 
 
With 10 games to go.
 
McNabb is the greatest quarterback in Eagles' history, but after the Eagles beat the Cards at the Linc five days ago, he said he won't have any team records left in a decade.
 
"He's going to break all of them," McNabb said.
 
Wentz and his teammates aren't due back to the NovaCare Complex until Tuesday, so they have a few days to actually enjoy this one before starting preparations for the Redskins.
 
"It feels great," Wentz said. "That was a hard-fought win. On the road, on a short week, on primetime TV. So to come out of it 5-1 and to know that we're at home the next couple of weeks, that's big for us."

Breaking down 6 young Eagles Doug Pederson is impressed with

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USA Today Images

Breaking down 6 young Eagles Doug Pederson is impressed with

On Thursday, before the final practice of the long spring, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson was asked if there were any players lower on the depth chart who have stood out over the last few weeks. 

Pederson started by mentioning some players who came into the league last year. Eventually, he named six guys. 

Let’s take a look at each of them. 

Rashard Davis
The first name to come out of his mouth. Not bad for a first-year player from James Madison. Davis is 5-foot-9, 175. The receiver also has the ability to return, something we’ve seen him do since he’s been with the Eagles. 

Davis was signed as an undrafted free agent a year ago and spent most of the 2017 season on the practice squad. He was signed to a futures deal after the completion of the season. 

At JMU, Davis was a standout receiver and returner, on his way to being named an FCS All-American. Davis returned four punts for touchdowns and had 42 catches for 530 yards and three more touchdowns as a receiver. 

With the Eagles, he faces an uphill battle to make the roster, but they seem to like his versatility. 

Greg Ward
Pederson mentioned Davis and Ward in the same breath and it’s easy to see why. Both are smallish slot receivers who were a part of the same undrafted class. Ward’s story is slightly different though. At 5-11, 186, Ward was a prolific quarterback at the University of Houston but is making the transition to receiver at the NFL level. 

He was signed as an undrafted player last year and spent the season on the Eagles’ practice squad, at times taking over scout-team QB reps to imitate mobile quarterbacks. 

While at Houston, he proved to be a dual threat. He was a good passer, but his legs made him dangerous. This spring, Ward got some run with the first-team offense and the Eagles seemed to like his trick-play potential. This past week, we saw the offense run some trick plays with him, where he became the passer. On one, he even threw the ball to Nick Foles, sort of like the Philly Special. 

Shelton Gibson 
Last year, Gibson was a fifth-round pick out of West Virginia, but he didn't get to play a ton. He caught just two passes all season and they came in that regular-season finale against the Cowboys. 

But Gibson has looked good this spring (see story). That's a really good sign because he had a terrible spring and terrible summer as a rookie. It was probably in part because he came from a really simple college offense and had to pick up the Eagles' complex scheme. 

This year, he's thinking less and making more plays. 

Rasul Douglas 
It seems a little weird to put Douglas on this list after he was a third-round pick a year ago and then started five games in the Super Bowl season, but he’s buried on the depth chart. 

The thing that hurts Douglas is his body type. He’s strictly an outside cornerback. So while Sidney Jones, De’Vante Bausby and D.J. Killings have gotten first-team reps in the slot, Douglas is planted firmly behind Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby at outside corner. He’s probably behind Jones either way. 

That’s gotta be tough for Douglas, going from starter to being back on the bench. But he’s the perfect example of the depth this team has at the position. Pederson says Douglas has “emerged” this spring. 

Dallas Goedert
It’s no surprise Pederson is bullish on Goedert, whom he said is “going to be a nice fit for us as a tight end.” The rookie from South Dakota State had a great spring. He caught everything and is an athletic specimen. 

There’s a really good chance Goedert can be a monster in the red zone (see story).

Still, a long way to go, and we’ll see what happens when the pads go on, but there’s no reason to think Goedert can’t be a huge contributor as a rookie. 

Aziz Shittu
Probably a name you haven’t heard in a while, but Shittu has stood out as much as any defensive tackle can in non-padded practices. 

Shittu came to the Eagles as an undrafted free agent from Stanford in 2016. But thanks to that stupid college graduation rule he missed all those spring practices. That allowed another undrafted rookie (Destiny Vaeao) to get in front of him and Shittu never recovered. He was brought back to the practice squad in 2016 and then signed a futures contract before last season, but then suffered a knee injury in May and was placed on IR. 

It appears he’s healthy now and is showing some of that burst that made him intriguing to the Eagles in the first place. 

Eagle Eye: The Eagles got some really big rings

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Eagles

Eagle Eye: The Eagles got some really big rings

In the latest edition of Eagle Eye, Derrick Gunn and Barrett Brooks discuss the Eagles' Super Bowl rings. How does it compare to what Barrett got with the Steelers championship winning team in 2006? How will the players spend these coming weeks off? And the guys get you ready for the weekend.

1:00 - Eagles get their rings.
5:00 - Should Gunner and Barrett have gotten rings?
8:30 - What are those parties like?
11:00 - How hard is it to move on from last year and look ahead?
13:00 - This is when Super Bowls are won.
15:00 - Guys get you ready for the weekend with some weird news stories over this week.

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