Eagles

Carson Wentz will instantly transform Eagles into better team

Carson Wentz will instantly transform Eagles into better team

I keep hearing that we shouldn't expect Carson Wentz to come in and be a savior. That we shouldn't expect him to come in and be Superman.

Yeah, wrong.

Wentz is Superman, last I checked, and we’re all about to see it.

Forget all this nonsense about how it’s going to take Wentz a while to get back to game speed. That it’s going to take him weeks or maybe even the rest of the season to get comfortable again after a 9 1/2-month layoff to rehab his torn ACL.

This is the guy who, as a rookie, didn’t play in the last three preseason games because of a cracked rib and barely practiced the last month of the preseason before suddenly getting a promotion from third-stringer to starter eight days before the regular season and then began his career by throwing for 278 yards and two touchdowns against the Browns. Then took off from there.

Remember?

And now in his third season after making a run at an MVP last year he’s going to suddenly need all this time to find himself?

Stop.

Wentz isn’t hurt anymore. He’s fine. He’s not going to change the way he plays. He’s not going to go out and be careful or be cautious.

He didn't miss a single practice this preseason. Not one. And he’s somehow not going to be ready Sunday?

This is Carson Wentz we’re talking about, and not only is he going to be ready from the get-go, he’s going to raise everybody’s level around him.

That’s what MVPs do.

Nick Foles was a fantastic caretaker of the position, and Philadelphia will never forget that he was the first quarterback to lead the franchise to a Super Bowl title.

But what Wentz does is restore some order to an offense that so far this year has been inconsistent and sloppy. He’ll get the ball down the field. He’ll convert third downs. He’ll use his legs to avoid trouble in the pocket.  

He’ll avoid the long stretches of shaky play we often get from Foles in between his moments of brilliance.

He’ll make the players around him better. Average receivers will make plays, because he’ll be able to get them the ball. Mediocre backs and tight ends will pick up their game. Even the offensive line will look better because Wentz will get rid of the ball quickly.

I have a hunch we’ll see a different Eagles team Sunday. A cleaner product. A more streamlined, more efficient offense.

There is no process with Wentz. There is no getting comfortable.

It’s his first game in 9 ½ months, but isn’t that what opening day is for everybody else? So he didn’t play in preseason games. Do you really think a guy who last year threw 33 TDs and seven INTs needs to play against a bunch of Browns or Jets scrubs in a preseason game?

No. He's Carson Wentz.

Don’t let anybody tell you Wentz needs time. Don’t let anybody tell you he won’t be himself until maybe the Vikings or Giants game. Don’t let anybody tell you he needs to stay out of harm’s way for a few weeks.

Nah.

Wentz is going to go out there Sunday starting from the first play from scrimmage and he’s going to play the same brand of football that we saw him play last year, when he was having an MVP season before he tore up his knee.

If he gets hit? He gets hit.

If he needs to run for a first down? He’ll run for a first down.

If he has to scramble around the pocket to keep a play alive? He will.

The difference between Nick Foles and Carson Wentz is that Foles is a legend and Wentz is a superstar.

And the instant he walks onto that field, the Eagles will become a different team.

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Former Eagle Connor Barwin hired as special assistant to the general manager

Former Eagle Connor Barwin hired as special assistant to the general manager

Connor Barwin spent a lot of time at the Eagles’ complex the last couple months of the season, and now we know exactly why.

The Eagles on Friday afternoon announced that Barwin, who spent four years playing for the Eagles, has joined the team's front office in the role of special assistant to the general manager.

I'm done playing football, but my football career is not over," Barwin said in an interview on the team’s web site. "I want to stay involved. I want to help this team wherever I can and also learn the other side of the game from the coaches and the personnel side. There's still a lot that I can learn about the on-field part of the game, as well. I love being around the game. I still want to win a Super Bowl, multiple Super Bowls.

According to the Eagles’ web site, Barwin will work with the player personnel staff during the offseason and work on player development during the season, with an emphasis on mentoring players making the challenging transition from college to the NFL.

Barwin, 33, retired after spending last year with the Giants. He began his career with the Texans before signing a six-year, $36 million deal with the Eagles before the 2013 season.

He spent four of those seasons here and made his only Pro Bowl in 2014, when he had a career-high 14 1/2 sacks - the most by any Eagle over the last eight seasons.

Despite playing only four years here, Barwin ranks 15th in franchise history with 31 1/2 sacks, tied with Mike Mamula.

When Chip Kelly and his staff were fired after the 2015 season and new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz switched from a 3-4 defense under Bill Davis to a 4-3, Barwin moved from outside linebacker to defensive end. He had five sacks in 2016 and was released after the season.

Barwin spent 2017 with the Rams and 2018 with the Giants. He had 56 1/2 sacks in 10 seasons.

"I got to play for a bunch of really great coaches and look inside how other organizations are run," Barwin said. "That's some insight that I can bring to the Eagles."

Even after he left the Eagles, Barwin always considered Philadelphia home. He has made a huge impact in the community with his Make the World a Better Place foundation, which refurbishes and rebuilds parks and rec centers in Philadelphia.

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Eagles reportedly interviewing Graham Harrell for offensive coordinator job

Eagles reportedly interviewing Graham Harrell for offensive coordinator job

We have a new and interesting name in contention to be the Eagles’ next offensive coordinator.

The Eagles on Friday interviewed Southern California offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Graham Harrell, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane.

This is an interesting approach from the Eagles and Harrell would certainly qualify as an outside-the-box hire. 

Harrell, 34, spent last season at USC but notably has an extensive history with Mike Leach and his Air Raid Offense. Harrell played for Leach at Texas Tech from 2004-08 before going to the CFL and NFL and then coached under Leach at Washington State from 2014-15. 

So Harrell would likely be able to bring some new and potentially exciting concepts to Doug Pederson’s offense. Remember, Jeff Stoutland is the Eagles’ run game coordinator, which meant that Mike Groh was pretty much the pass game coordinator for the last two seasons before he was fired. Since he wouldn’t call plays, that would basically be Harrell’s role if he got the job in Philly. 

At USC, Harrell was hired by head coach Clay Helton when Kliff Kingsbury left after a month to take the head coaching job with the Arizona Cardinals. USC wanted to have an Air Raid style, so they turned to Harrell. 

In his one year as the offensive coordinator at USC, the Trojans improved drastically in major statistical categories on offense from 2018: 

Points per game: 26.1 to 32.5
Yards per game: 382.6 to 454.0 
Passing yards per game: 248.2 to 335.8  

Check out this interesting excerpt from an Aug. 1 story in Sports Illustrated about Harrell’s hire at USC and his thoughts on the offensive system he comes with:

“People hear Air Raid and they think five wide receivers, no tight ends, 60 pass attempts and 50 points a game. To Harrell, the Air Raid is something else. It is working to death a small number of plays, with shorter playcalls, perfecting those plays and out-executing — not out-scheming — the opponent. Option-based coaches, like former Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson, operate under similar mentalities, but with a different focus: rushing the football. Leach does it through the air. “You can’t do everything. I think a lot of people try to take a little bit of everything offensively,” Harrell says. “If you do that, you don’t have much of an identity. You’re just O.K. at everything and not really good at something.”

At times over the last few seasons, the Eagles have found success after simplifying. They’ve also found success using an up-tempo pace to get Carson Wentz into a rhythm. These seem like concepts that would mesh with Harrell’s philosophy. 

And we also know that Pederson values coaches who, like himself, were once players. After he left Texas Tech, Harrell played one season (but was injured) for the Saskatchewan Roughriders and then was a backup quarterback in Green Bay for a few seasons and with the New York Jets for a season in 2013. Harrell’s only NFL game action came in 2012 as a member of the Packers. He played in four games and threw just four career passes. 

Since then, though, he’s been a quick riser in the coaching world. And he has some fresh ideas that might help an Eagles offense that has been far too stagnant at times over the last couple seasons. 

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