Eagles

The case for and against Carson Wentz still winning MVP

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The case for and against Carson Wentz still winning MVP

The case for Carson Wentz still winning MVP (Corey Seidman)

Prior to Monday Night Football, Bovada listed Tom Brady as the MVP favorite and Carson Wentz was no longer listed. Had the Patriots blown out the Dolphins as many expected, Brady would have surged into the MVP lead.

But he didn't. The Patriots' offense couldn't get anything going, failing to convert a single third down for the first time since 1991.

And even though Brady will probably play three more games this season than Carson Wentz, I still think Wentz can and will win MVP.

There are a bunch of reasons why.

1. Wentz led his team to an 11-2 record and put it in position to clinch the top seed in the conference, and the Eagles don't even have to be perfect the rest of the way to do it.

2. The key play that could end up enabling the Eagles to get home-field advantage through the playoffs was that gutsy touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery. Which Wentz delivered with a torn ACL. And which set the Eagles' franchise record for TD passes in a season. 

That kind of mystique matters come awards time.

3. Brady was a legitimate contender for the MVP award last season when he played just 12 games because of the four-game suspension. He finished second in MVP voting with 10 votes, behind Matt Ryan's 25.

4. Aside from Wentz and Brady, who are even the top candidates for MVP this season? Russell Wilson? His team isn't even currently in the playoffs. Antonio Brown? A wide receiver has never won MVP, even though Brown is deserving of breaking that trend. If Brown goes off against the Patriots on Sunday, it might make him the frontrunner. 

Standing in his way, however, is the tremendous success of his own teammate, Le'Veon Bell. Bell and Brown each have nine total touchdowns, and Bell has 1,684 yards from scrimmage compared to Brown's 1,518. How would you justify giving it to Brown over his equally deserving teammate?

If one of Brady, Bell or Brown has an enormous game Sunday, they could catapult to the top of the list. But if they have just an average game, Wentz will remain toward the top.

5. Voter fatigue is real with Brady, and this isn't even shaping up to be one of his best seasons. His 105.2 passer rating is just the fifth-highest of his career. His 27-to-6 touchdown to interception ratio is just the fifth-best of his career. His yards per attempt are fourth-best.

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The case against Carson Wentz still winning MVP (Dave Zangaro)

The Eagles haven't had an MVP since the 1960 season, when Norm Van Brocklin took the honor. 

They'll have to wait at least one more season. 

Because when Wentz went down on Sunday night, his MVP chances went too. 

Sure, the Eagles' quarterback had a really good first 13 games. His team went 11-2. He threw for 3,296 yards, with 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Those are really good numbers. 

But he just didn't play enough. 

The last time an NFL MVP played just 13 or fewer games was 1989, when Joe Montana won his first of two straight. Since then, of the 29 MVPs all 29 have played at least 14 games and 23 of them have played all 16. 

Sure, Brady finished second in MVP voting last season after playing just 12 games. But he didn't win it. And that was after 12 games in which he threw for over 3,500 yards, with 28 touchdowns and just two interceptions. His passer rating in those 12 games was 112.2. Wentz's this season was 101.9. 

What's even more notable was that Brady's 12 games in 2016 came in the last 12 games of the season after missing the first four because of suspension. When voting happened, Brady was still on the forefront of everyone's mind, leading his team into the playoffs. Wentz won't be forgotten, but recency has even more pull than mystique in voting. 

And then there are the candidates this year. Brady is the clear frontrunner. He's having another tremendous season. No, he didn't perform well on Monday night, but do you really expect him to not play well down the stretch? 

And the crazy thing about Brady is he's widely considered the greatest quarterback of all time, but has just two MVP awards. To put that in perspective, Peyton Manning has five, while Jim Brown, Johnny Unitas and Brett Favre each have three. Brady is tied with Steve Young, Kurt Warner, Joe Montana and Aaron Rodgers with two. 

So in some cases, voter fatigue might be a real thing, but in this case, it would make sense to see Brady get another one. 

Really, the way Wentz's worth to the Eagles would easily be proven is if the Eagles completely collapse down the stretch with Nick Foles. But with games against the Giants, Raiders and Cowboys, that seems unlikely. The Eagles win, Wentz loses. 

But there's always next year ... and the year after that.

Eagles finally activate Tim Jernigan after long layoff

Eagles finally activate Tim Jernigan after long layoff

It may be a case of too little too late, but defensive tackle Tim Jernigan is finally back.

The Eagles on Tuesday activated Jernigan from the reserve-non-football injury list, and he’s expected to make his 2018 debut on Sunday, when the Eagles face the Giants at the Linc.

To make room on the 53-man roster, the Eagles released defensive tackle T.Y. McGill.

Jernigan hasn’t played since the Super Bowl. He got hurt during an unsupervised offseason workout, underwent disc surgery and has been on reserve-NFI since. 

During the interim, the Eagles slashed his contract, converting guaranteed money to non-guaranteed salary, so in a way he’s playing for his roster spot these last six weeks. He's earning $3 million this year.

Once Jernigan was cleared to practice on Nov. 5, the Eagles had three weeks to either activate him or shut him down for the season.

How much he can play and how much he can contribute after missing all of the offseason, OTAs, training camp and the first 10 games of the season remains to be seen. 

But considering what the Eagles have been running out there at defensive tackle, it’s hard to imagine he won’t be a major upgrade.

In Jernigan’s absence and with Haloti Ngata in and out of the lineup (he missed three games), the Eagles used Bruce Hector in six games (he’s currently on the practice squad), Treyvon Hester in six games (he had been on the practice squad) and the last two weeks McGill, who got 15 snaps against the Cowboys and 30 against the Saints.

McGill, who had previously spent time with the Seahawks, Colts, Browns, Chiefs and Chargers, earned $82,941 for his two-week stay with the Eagles.

“It’s been a long journey for him,” defensive end Chris Long said of Jernigan earlier this month. “He’s very eager. He’s been patient, because that’s not something to mess around with, but at the same time, I know he wants to be back out here with us. We’ve watched him work every day and he’s ready to roll.

“He’s definitely a complete player. We’re not going to expect him to come back the first game and light the world on fire. [But] he’s going to be a valuable member of the team.”

Jernigan, 26, spent his first three seasons with the Ravens before the Eagles acquired him for a 2017 third-round pick. He started 15 games last year for the Super Bowl champs. He has 15½ sacks in four seasons.

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Eagles coaches to blame for failure to integrate Golden Tate

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Eagles coaches to blame for failure to integrate Golden Tate

During his Tuesday press conference, Eagles offensive coordinator Mike Groh was asked about some confusion the Eagles’ offense showed during their blowout loss to the Saints on Sunday. 

At first, Groh took responsibility, saying it “should not happen.” But then he added they have “a new guy” and are “trying to introduce some different personnel groups.” 

The “new guy” is, of course, Golden Tate, the super-talented and productive receiver the Eagles traded a third-round pick to get just three weeks ago. 

So then I asked Groh if it has been more difficult to fit Tate into the offense than they previously anticipated. Groh’s answer to that won’t instill a bunch of confidence in him or the rest of the Eagles’ offensive coaching staff. 

“I don’t know if it’s been more difficult, but it’s been challenging to integrate him,” Groh said. 

“Certainly, with the way we weren’t able to stay on the field the other day and finding a rhythm to the offense, that's part of it, then everything became a little disjointed. If we can do a better job of staying on the field and having drives then everybody gets more involved in the offense.”

It’s been challenging to integrate him? 

Challenging to integrate him?! 

Well, guess who that falls on. Yup, the coaching staff. If a team is struggling to integrate a guy who has been one of the most productive receivers in the NFL for the last half-decade, it all falls on the coaching staff. Figure it out. That’s what you’re paid to do. 

And partly because of their failure, this trade looks worse and worse by the day. 

The Eagles traded away a third-round pick for eight games of a 30-year-old receiver. You can argue the merits of that trade on its face and many did at the time it was made. But once that deal goes through, it’s on the coaching staff to make it work. And they haven’t made it work. 

In two games, Tate has played 54 snaps. He has seven catches for 67 yards. They brought Tate to be a spark to help a feeble offense, but in the two games he’s played, the Eagles have averaged 13.5 points per game. 

It’s not apple-to-apples, but look what the Cowboys have been able to do with Amari Cooper. In Cooper’s first three games since getting dealt to Dallas, he has 14 catches for 169 yards and a touchdown. 

What’s even more troubling about this situation with Tate is what it has meant for Nelson Agholor. We all knew Tate primarily plays in the slot, which is where Agholor has thrived. But it was on the coaching staff to figure it out and that’s what everyone was counting on. On Monday, Doug Pederson said he spoke to Groh about the need to get Agholor more involved offensively. 

“I think roles changed a couple weeks ago,” said Groh, who admitted Agholor is now asked to do some different things after the addition of Tate.  

Groh said he thinks Tate is getting more and more comfortable with the Eagles with each passing day. And he thinks they are “definitely making progress” with figuring out how to use Tate and all their pieces. Well, great. 

But the fact that they haven’t figured it out yet is disappointing. And it’s abject failure on the part of the offensive coaching staff.

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