Eagles

Déjà vu: Eagles help Falcons relive a nightmare

Déjà vu: Eagles help Falcons relive a nightmare

The Atlanta Falcons came to Philly to start their 2018 season fresh and ended up reliving a nightmare they've been haunted by for eight months.

One play to win the game.

Throw the ball to Julio.

Nope.

"It's déjà vu all over again," Jalen Mills said after Thursday night's 18-12 win (see 10 observations).

In the same fashion the Eagles ended the Falcons' 2017 season, they gave them a loss to start their 2018 season. You'll remember Matt Ryan rolling right and trying to find Julio Jones in the end zone in the divisional round last year. Jones didn't catch that ball and came down out of bounds against tight coverage from Mills.

This time?

It was Ronald Darby on Jones ... and on the left side. One second left from the 5-yard line.

Same result.

"You lined up on 11, you know you're hot," Darby said. "You gotta lock in and make a play. Last game, my boy J-Mill made the play. In this game, I made it. That's why you have guys like us, to go out and compete. We just find a way to win."

This time, Jones was actually able to catch the ball but his momentum carried him out of bounds. Darby did a good job to stick with him and make sure he didn't land in the green.

After he made the game-ending play, Darby took off running, trying to do his best impression of Mills from last year's divisional round win.

He didn't get very far.

"I tried to run around," Darby said. "I was tired, so I couldn't run all the way down the field."

It was an exhausting game in 80-plus degree temperatures in South Philly. The last time these two teams played, it was in January.

So Thursday was a little different.

"It kind of did [remind me of last year's game]," Chris Long said. "Just hotter."

The Falcons got into the red zone five times on Thursday night but scored just one touchdown and one field goal on those drives.

The Eagles' defense put together a pretty spectacular performance. At times it bent ... it didn't break.

And on Thursday, even the last play wasn't the last play. The Eagles actually stopped the Falcons on 4th-and-goal, but an illegal contact penalty against Jordan Hicks — "I can't put our team in that situation," he said — gave the Falcons one more play with one second left.

The Eagles didn't panic. Malcolm Jenkins stressed for his teammates to regroup.

They did.

"All of us want to be the guy to make that play," Darby said. "Like, please come my way. I want to be the guy who celebrates, I wanted everybody to be yelling. Ya feel me?"

Yeah, we feel ya, Darb.

The Eagles somehow pulled off a nearly identical win against the same team eight months apart. The Falcons are going to have nightmares for a long time to come.

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Eagles NFL draft options at 25: Jerry Tillery

Eagles NFL draft options at 25: Jerry Tillery

Jerry Tillery arrived at Notre Dame as an offensive lineman, and with his quickness and athleticism he probably would have been a pretty good one. But he moved to defense as a freshman, and the move certainly paid off.

Tillery had some issues early in his career. He was suspended for the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State as a freshman for violating team rules and in a game against USC as a sophomore got into trouble for stepping on a player’s leg and kicking another player while he was on the ground. But he grew into a leader and one of the most dominating interior linemen in the country.

Tillery blossomed as a junior with nine tackles for loss and 4 ½ sacks and earned All-America status this past year with 10 ½ TFLs and eight sacks. At 6-6, 295, Tillery is a force against the run but also a ferocious pass rusher. Tillery is still raw and prone to occasional technique breakdowns, but his upside is off the charts.

Current roster at DT: The Eagles desperately need help at defensive tackle behind projected starters Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson. With Haloti Ngata retired, the only other interior linemen on the roster are former practice squadders like Treyvon Hester and Bruce Hector. 

How he would fit: He’d play immediately. The combination of Hester, Hector, Ngata and Detiny Vaeao played more than 800 combined snaps on defense last year, so if ideally Cox and Jackson play about 75 percent of the snaps, that leaves about 35 snaps per game for the third defensive tackle. Perfect for a rookie.

Eagles history at DT in draft: The Eagles have taken four defensive tackles in the first round since 2000 – Corey Simon, Mike Patterson, Brodrick Bunkley and Cox. All but Patterson were among the first 14 picks. Only the Rams and Jaguars have also taken four tackles since 2000. Before that there was Leonard Renfro in 1993 and Jerome Brown in 1987.

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Other options at 25 

Are Eagles more likely to trade up or down in 2019 draft?

Are Eagles more likely to trade up or down in 2019 draft?

During his joint 42-minute pre-draft media availability this week, Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman was asked a simple question: 

Are you more interested in trading up or down in the first round? 

His answer was not nearly as simple: 

Who’s on the board? What’s the value? What are we getting?

His point, of course, was that they’ll have to see how the first round is going before figuring out whether or not they’d be willing to trade up to target a player or trade back to acquire more draft picks. At No. 25, it seems like they’re in a good position to do either. And Roseman is never shy about making draft-day trades. 

I still think the Eagles are more likely to trade up to get what Roseman calls a “difference-maker,” but that doesn’t mean a trade down isn’t possible. 

Remember, for Roseman, the draft isn’t about just getting good players; it’s about getting good players for good value. Earlier this week, Roseman outlined three reasons to make a trade in the first round: 

1. Trading up: If there’s a fall-off point in talent in the first round, it makes sense to move up to get a difference-maker. The Eagles are sitting at 25, so if they have 20 players they think are first-round worthy (even though their grading scale doesn’t work by round), there’s a chance they’ll have to move up to get one of those top players. They’ll do their research, but won’t truly know if one of those top-tier players will be available at 25 until the players start getting picked off the board. 

2. Trading down: If the Eagles are on the clock at 25 and they have, say, four players who are graded equally or close to it, they could add value by moving back three or four spots. They would get more or better later-round picks and still get a player they view as an equal to whomever they’d get at 25. 

3. Trading down: If they’re on the clock at 25 and they don’t think any of the players are worthy of that pick, they can hope someone else sees value there. In that case, they can trade back and get into a pocket of that round or the next round where they’d feel more comfortable making a pick. 

Since he became the Eagles’ GM in 2010, Roseman has been in charge of eight drafts (not including the 2015 draft under Chip Kelly). In those eight years, he has made 25 draft-day trades and four of them include first rounders. That’s over 3.0 per year and he’s never not made a trade during the draft. (This doesn’t include the two trades in 2016 to get in position to draft Carson Wentz; those happened before the draft.) 

Of the four Round 1 trades, two were to trade up, two were to trade down. 

• In 2010, the Eagles traded picks Nos. 24, 70 and 87 to move up to No. 13 to draft Brandon Graham. 

• In 2012, the Eagles traded Nos. 15, 114 and 172 to move up to No. 12 to draft Fletcher Cox. 

• In 2014, the Eagles traded No. 22 down to No. 26 to draft Marcus Smith. The Browns wanted Johnny Manziel. The Eagles also got No. 83. 

• In 2018, the Eagles traded out of the first round (No. 32) when the Ravens wanted to draft Lamar Jackson. The Birds ended up trading back up higher in the second to take Dallas Goedert the next day. 

Roseman has talked before about the usual talent cutoff in first rounds. There are only a certain amount of “difference-makers” atop every draft — it differs by team — and on Tuesday, he said most drafts don’t have “32 legitimate first round grades” on players. He, of course, didn’t say whether or not this is one of those years, as to not tip his hand. But the Eagles are already running through all the hypothetical situations. And this is the time where preliminary phone calls between teams about draft-day intentions start happening. Roseman always says trades happen because of relationships around the league. 

So the reason Roseman didn’t answer the question on Tuesday is because he probably really doesn’t know what’s going to happen when the draft kicks off. He certainly has more of an idea than he let on — I still think the Eagles are in prime trade up territory — but there’s no point in tipping his hand. 

The only thing we know for certain: Roseman isn’t one to shy away from draft-day moves, so there’s a good chance we see one again next week. 

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