Eagles

Don't be surprised if Eagles vs. Saints is close

Don't be surprised if Eagles vs. Saints is close

The Eagles are nine-point underdogs this Sunday in New Orleans. The Eagles are coming off an embarrassing loss on national television. The Saints look unstoppable seemingly rolling out of bed and putting up at least 30 points. Why does all of that point to the Eagles staying within the number and maybe even winning outright?

Every football fan can be prone to being a prisoner to the moment. This gets especially magnified when you get dominated on Sunday or Monday Night Football. That type of loss in front of a national audience can skew one's opinion on the team too far one way or the other. This season, there have been 10 occasions when a team has gotten embarrassed on Sunday or Monday night (embarrassed defined as losing by at least two scores). Yes, the Eagles only lost by one score, but I think the whole region can agree that it was an embarrassment this past Sunday night. Here's how the previous ten teams fared:

Week 1:
Jets 48, Lions 17. Next game: Lions 27, 49ers 30 (Lions cover +6, lose outright)
Rams 33, Raiders 13. Next game: Raiders 19, Broncos 20 (Raiders cover +5.5, lose outright)

Week 3:
Patriots 10, Lions 26. Next game: Dolphins 7, Patriots 38 (Patriots cover -6.5)

Week 4:
Ravens 26, Steelers 14. Next game: Falcons 17, Steelers 41 (Steelers cover -3.5)

Week 5: 
Redskins 19, Saints 43. Next game: Panthers 17, Redskins 23 (Redskins cover +1, win outright)

Week 7:
Bengals 10, Chiefs 45. Next game: Buccaneers 34, Bengals 37 (Bengals fail to cover -3.5 despite leading 34-16 at the start of the 4th quarter)

Week 8:
Saints 30, Vikings 20. Next game: Lions 9, Vikings 24 (Vikings cover -5)
Patriots 25, Bills 6. Next game: Bears 41, Bills 9 (Bills fail to cover +10)

Week 9:
Packers 17, Patriots 31. Next game: Dolphins 12, Packers 31 (Packers cover -12)
Titans 28, Cowboys 14. Next game: Cowboys 27, Eagles 20 (Cowboys cover +7.5, win outright)

Week 10:
Cowboys 27, Eagles 20. Next game: ???

Teams that got blown out on Sunday or Monday night are 8-2 against the spread their next game (including two outright wins by underdogs). Aside from a blown cover from the Bengals, the only team that failed to cover were the Nathan Peterman-led Buffalo Bills.

Teams are never as bad as their worst game (Eagles losing to the Cowboys) or as great as their best game (Saints winning 51-14 in Cincinnati). The elephant in the room of course is New Orleans has a different kind of home field advantage. However, it is so uncommon for an elite quarterback like Carson Wentz to get that many points. Russell Wilson covered +10 and Aaron Rodgers covered +7.5 at the Rams. 

Don't be surprised if the Eagles keep it close on Sunday.

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2019 NFL draft: How and why Eagles traded up for OT Andre Dillard

2019 NFL draft: How and why Eagles traded up for OT Andre Dillard

What was it like as the Eagles watched one of their favorite players tumble into the teens and then into the 20s? 

“Total anarchy,” Howie Roseman said jokingly, through a big grin. 

Roseman, Joe Douglas and Doug Pederson were all smiles shortly after the Eagles traded up to draft Washington State offensive tackle Andre Dillard at 10:42 p.m. on Thursday night. 

It wasn’t hard to figure out why. 

After the pick, Roseman revealed that the Eagles had Dillard (6-5, 315) rated as a top-10 player in the 2019 draft class and the very top tackle on the board. A run of defensive linemen pushed the availability of top-tier offensive linemen deeper into the night. In Nashville, Dillard had to wait to hear his name called. 

The Eagles were done waiting. 

The Birds traded up three spots from 25 to 22 to nab Dillard at a slot much later than they ever anticipated he’d be available. When he showed up for work on Thursday, Roseman didn’t think they were going to walk out of the NovaCare Complex at night’s end with Dillard as an Eagle. 

Our evaluation was that this was the best tackle in the draft, so usually those guys go in the top 10. That’s how we had them rated. When he started to fall, we saw an opportunity to get a top-10 player and when you have a top-10 player at an important position, it doesn’t matter about the depth on our team. We’re trying to load up on the lines. We’ve talked a lot about that with you guys and that’s how we roll.

For the second straight year, the Eagles made a trade with the Ravens involving first-round picks. Here’s the breakdown of this one: 

Eagles got: No. 22 (Dillard) 

Ravens got: No. 25 (WR Marquise Brown), No. 127 (fourth round) and No. 197 (sixth round) 

Roseman said the Eagles really wanted to get in front of the Ravens but couldn’t get a deal done. Eventually, the Eagles jumped up three spots in a trade with the Ravens to get in front of the Houston Texans, who desperately and clearly needed offensive line help. The Texans took Alabama State offensive tackle Tytus Howard at 23. 

“Obviously, we thought that was a spot there was a chance they were going to take an offensive tackle, which they did,” Roseman said. “We just had to go by our board and [Dillard] was the top guy on our board. Certainly we thought that if we didn’t get to Baltimore’s spot, there was a chance we’d lose the player and I think all of us really wanted to make sure we got the player.”

This is the third time during Roseman’s tenure that the Eagles have traded up in the first round. The first two were for Brandon Graham in 2010 and Fletcher Cox in 2012. So he has a good track record. 

On Thursday, as Dillard began to slide deeper into the first round, the Eagles took notice. Pederson said he started to make eye contact a little more. Roseman said it was important for the Eagles to not lose either of their two second-round picks. Mission accomplished. The Eagles kept No. 53 and 57 and gave up two Day 3 picks instead. 

The Eagles have been impressed with Dillard for a long time, especially since his performance at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama this winter. Douglas credited senior director of college scouting Anthony Patch and West Coast area scout Ryan Myers for their work on Dillard. And offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland is apparently infatuated with the newest Eagle. It sounds like there might have been some table-pounding from Stout on this one and the Eagles put a lot of stock into his evaluations. Roseman said Dillard has gotten the highest-badge of Stoutland praise: he calls him an “unusual” player. 

A report surfaced earlier in the night that the Eagles almost pulled off a trade to move up to No. 13 for Clemson DT Christian Wilkins. Roseman wouldn’t confirm or deny that report. But they made a trade they were clearly happy about.  

“This is not a normal guy,” Roseman said about Dillard. “This is not a normal athlete.”

And the Eagles were able to make a modest trade-up to get him at 22. No wonder they were all smiles. 

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2019 NFL draft: Eagles trade up to take OT Andre Dillard

2019 NFL draft: Eagles trade up to take OT Andre Dillard

With the 22nd pick in the draft, the Eagles on Thursday night selected Washington State offensive lineman Andre Dillard.

They couldn’t wait to take him. The Eagles traded up three spots to take Dillard. They gave up a fourth-rounder (127) and a sixth-rounder (197) to make the move from 25 to 22 (see story)

The 6-foot-5, 315-pound Dillard gives the Eagles an NFL-ready offensive lineman who can back up Lane Johnson and Jason Peters this year and presumably compete for a starting job next year assuming Peters retires.

Dillard is a smooth, polished three-year starter with terrific footwork and strength. Any question about whether he was a top-25 pick went out the window when he crushed it at the combine, where he ran 4.96, had the second-fastest cone drill and the fastest short-shuttle drill among linemen.

The biggest question about Dillard is his run-blocking ability, since Washington State basically throws every down — the Huskies had 4,859 passing yards and just 1,096 rushing yards last year. But he’s athletic enough that getting up to par shouldn’t be a problem. And the way the NFL is these days, pass blocking is far more important.

The Eagles have some questions along the offensive line, with Peters nearing the end, Stefen Wisniewski gone, Jason Kelce openly mulling retirement on an annual basis and Brandon Brooks coming back from an Achilles injury.

Jordan Mailata is an intriguing prospect but remains untested, Halapoulivaati Vaitai has been a Super Bowl starter but has been very inconsistent as he moves into his fourth season and Matt Pryor hasn’t played.

Dillard is the third offensive lineman the Eagles have drafted in the first round since 2011 and the first Washington State player the Eagles have drafted since receiver Brandon Gibson in the sixth round in 2009.

The only Washington State player the Eagles have ever taken in the first three rounds is linebacker James Darling, a second-round pick in 1997. Darling spent 10 years in the NFL, the first four with the Eagles.

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