Eagles

Eagles' downfield passing attack is sorely missing DeSean Jackson

Eagles' downfield passing attack is sorely missing DeSean Jackson

When the Eagles brought back DeSean Jackson this offseason, we all talked about how he was going to be the downfield speed threat the Eagles had so desperately been lacking in recent years. We all thought he was going to add a key element to the Eagles’ offense. 

And he did. For one game. 

In the opener, Jackson went off, catching two deep ball touchdowns and showing off the kind of speed defenses have to respect. Then he got hurt. 

Since early in Week 2, the Eagles have really missed him. 

“Yeah, you miss his explosiveness, obviously, the threat to stretch a defense,” Doug Pederson said earlier this week. “His ability to get open.

“Yeah, you miss that, yet at the same time, though, we can't make excuses for it. We have to help him get healthy and get back on the field and then play with the guys we have.”

Jackson, 32, is still rehabbing from that abdominal injury. And while he’s apparently getting better, the Eagles are about to enter the toughest stretch of the season and Jackson’s health is a question mark. For now, it seems unlikely he’ll be back in time for this Sunday’s game in Minnesota. 

Carson Wentz has completed six passes of 30-plus yards this season. The first two went to Jackson in Week 1. Nelson Agholor caught one in Week 2. Since then, the last three passes of 30-plus yards have gone to rookie running back Miles Sanders. 

And the Eagles have completed just one 20-yard pass to their receivers in the last two games. They won both games, but they did it in spite of downfield passing. 

Look at the difference between Wentz’s attempts the last two weeks compared to Week 1 with Jackson in the lineup. 

On Sunday against the lowly Jets, Wentz attempted just two passes that traveled farther than 20 yards in the air. Both went to Agholor. On one, the defense was charged with an illegal contact. And on the other, Agholor was clearly contacted illegally by the defense but it wasn’t called. The Eagles challenged for defensive pass interference, but lost the challenge. 

That was offensive coordinator Mike Groh’s answer when asked about how the Eagles can get their deep game working without Jackson. 

“I think we got behind the defense twice the other day,” Groh said. “We had illegal contact on both plays, which really kind of negated those opportunities. We will continue to try to look for those, and when we get them, hopefully we hit them. We felt really good about those two plays. Unfortunately, we know how it played out.”

Sure, maybe if the Eagles connected on both of those plays, we’re not talking about this. But they didn’t. And they didn’t try any more. 

The real problem without Jackson is the guys who are filling in for him aren’t getting it done. Agholor is starting to look like he did early in his career. He’s dropped several balls, including what should have been a game-winner in Atlanta. And Mack Hollins hasn’t done nearly enough either. 

Meanwhile, rookie JJ Arcega-Whiteside can’t get on the field. That’s because he’s Alshon Jeffery’s backup, but there were receivers drafted after him who had the element of speed who would help right now. That’s not to make any declarative statements about his career — that would be crazy; it’s too early — but that draft pick isn’t helping right now. 

In the last two wins, the Eagles have gotten by without Jackson because of their ability to run the ball and their use of 12 personnel (two tight ends). But they’re just missing something without Jackson in the lineup. 

And it doesn’t look like they’ll have it back until he returns. 



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Eagles Injury Update: Latest on Derek Barnett, Nelson Agholor, Jordan Howard

Eagles Injury Update: Latest on Derek Barnett, Nelson Agholor, Jordan Howard

Derek Barnett and Nelson Agholor will likely be game-time decisions for Monday Night Football, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said on Saturday morning. 

Barnett (ankle) and Agholor (knee) both missed all three days of practice this week. 

Meanwhile, linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill is still in the NFL’s concussion protocol. He was just placed in protocol on Thursday, so he’s going to miss the Giants game. 

And Jordan Howard (shoulder) has still not been cleared for contact; he can’t play until he is and that’s not happening before Monday. So he’s going to miss his fourth straight game. 

Lane Johnson also missed practice on Friday and Saturday for a non-injury reason but is expected to play on Monday. 

If Agholor is unable to play, the Eagles would be left with just three healthy receivers on the roster: Alshon Jeffery, JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Greg Ward. 

“We’re very comfortable, obviously, with the guys we have,” Pederson said. “So if it’s three, it’s three. We brought up [Josh Perkins] a week ago to help us there, so it’s an addition there. We go and we go play. We’ll discuss those over the next couple of days leading up to the game. If we have to make a decision we will. We feel good with the guys we have in that receiver role.” 

If the Eagles do decide to make a roster move, they have three wide receivers on their practice squad: Robert Davis, Marcus Green and Marken Michel. 

While Agholor had his knee injury before last week’s game, Barnett got hurt during the loss in Miami, but was still able to play through the injury and play 50 snaps. Barnett has played the third-most defensive snaps on the team this year, so losing him for this game wouldn’t be insignificant. 

If Barnett can’t play, expect Josh Sweat and Vinny Curry to get more reps. After that, Genard Avery, Daeshon Hall and even Shareef Miller could see a few snaps. 

For the Giants: 

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Eagles vs. Giants 2019: TV schedule, storylines, game time and more

Eagles vs. Giants 2019: TV schedule, storylines, game time and more

The Eagles (5-7) are hosting the New York Giants (2-10) at Lincoln Financial Field on Monday night. 

Here’s everything you need to know: 

• 6:30 p.m.: Eagles Pregame Live on NBCSP 
• 8:15 p.m.: Eagles vs. Giants on ESPN 
• 11:30 p.m.: Eagles Postgame Live on NBCSP 
• 1 a.m.: Birds Outsiders on NBCSP 

The ESPN broadcast crew for this game is Joe Tessitore (play by play), Booger McFarland (analyst) and Lisa Salters (sideline). 

Merrill Reese, Mike Quick and Howard Eskin will have the call on 94WIP. 

The Eagles opened as 8.5-9.5 favorites over the Giants. They were 7.5-point favorites on the road last week against the Dolphins and lost. 

The referee for Eagles-Giants is Scott Novak. For the second straight week, the Eagles have pulled a first-year ref. Novak had been a side or field judge since 2014. He was the ref for the Eagles’ loss to the Vikings in Minnesota earlier this season. In that game, the Vikings were penalized four times for 30 yards, while the Eagles were penalized seven times for 49 yards. 

So you're telling me there's a chance 

No one wants to win the NFC East. With a win on Monday night, the Eagles can tie the Cowboys (6-7) for a lead in the division. According to FiveThirtyEight, if the Eagles beat the Giants, their chances to win the division would be at 47 percent. In any other season, they’d be completely out of contention but the NFC East is awful this year and it’s still wide open. 

Hello, old friend 

Rookie Daniel Jones has a high ankle sprain, so it looks like Eli Manning is going to start this game for the Giants. It’ll be his first start since he was benched early this season. The Giants’ offense will obviously change with Manning under center. We know he isn’t going to run or hold onto the ball. He’s going to get it out quickly. 

By the way, Manning’s career record right now is 116-116. 

Recent domination 

The Eagles haven’t lost to the Giants since Week 9 of the 2016 season, which means they’ve won five straight against the G-men. The Eagles are 9-1 in their last 10 games against the Giants and are 16-4 in their last 20 against them. This has been a very lopsided rivalry for a decade. 

But it is worth noting that four of those last five wins against the Giants have come by one score. Just one was a blowout. 

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