Eagles

Eagles acquire Jay Ajayi in trade with Dolphins

Eagles acquire Jay Ajayi in trade with Dolphins

Howie Roseman has come out swinging on trade deadline day. 

The Eagles have acquired running back Jay Ajayi from the Dolphins for a fourth-round pick in 2018.  

So far, 2017 has been disappointing for Ajayi. In seven games this season, he has rushed for 465 yards on 138 carries (3.4 average) and no touchdowns. 

But in 2016, he showed what he can do. Ajayi finished last season with 1,272 yards rushing and eight touchdowns on his way to his first Pro Bowl. Ajayi rushed for over 200 yards in three different games. Ajayi has more 200-yard individual performances than the Eagles have in their history. Duce Staley did it once and Shady McCoy did it once; that's it. 

Ajayi is also fifth in the NFL in rushing yards since the start of last season. Of the seven players who have rushed for 1,600-plus yards since the start of 2016, the Eagles have two (Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount). 

He also has some ability as a receiver out of the backfield, which is important to the Eagles. Ajayi has 48 career catches for 308 yards. 

Ajayi has dealt with a knee injury this year, so that will be something to monitor. ESPN's Jeff Darlington said the Dolphins don't believe Ajayi "has much left in his knees." But he'll need to pass a physical upon arrival to complete the trade. If everything checks out, the Eagles just bolstered their offense with a Pro Bowler. 

After losing Darren Sproles, the Eagles have been trying to get by with what they had. Blount, Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement took over and the team even brought back Kenjon Barner. At times, the run game has looked good, but there's been inconsistency too. This move leaves them with five running backs for now. 

Ajayi, 24, was a fifth-round pick in 2015, which means he's still cheap. He has a base salary of $615,000 in 2017 and is under contract for a little bit more than that in 2018. The money part of the equation was big because the Eagles had just under $5 million in cap room to work with this year. 

Another area that is important to the Eagles is pass protection. They lost a lot in that area when Sproles went down this season. Ajayi isn't very good either, but he's at least a little better than some of their other backs in that department. According to PFF, Ajayi is the 22nd-best blocking running back in the league, while the next closest Eagle is Blount at 42. Ajayi has had 19 pass block snaps this year and has given up one sack, one hit and three hurries. 

It'll be interesting to see how Ajayi not only fits in the offense but also how he fits in the locker room. Head coach Doug Pederson expressed concern Monday about how a new player would affect the chemistry of the team, and apparently that's one reason the Dolphins dealt him

"That's why you have to be careful, I think," Pederson said. "It's gotta be the right fit. It can't just be anybody. From my standpoint, you don't want to disrupt the chemistry that is going on in the dressing room right now. Those guys are playing with a lot of confidence and they're rallying around each other so it would have to be a pretty special fit to make it work."

Soon enough, we'll see how Ajayi fits. 

It shouldn't be much of a surprise that the Eagles are buyers at the trade deadline. They're 7-1 but have lost some key pieces to injury and have a real chance at making a Super Bowl run this season. 

Recently, Dolphins coach Adam Gase has been highly critical of his team, Ajayi included. Gase said his running backs need to block the right guys and accept short gains instead of trying to break off big ones.  

The Eagles gave up a fourth-round pick in the 2018 draft for Ajayi but they'll still have two picks in that round. One was their own, one comes from the Eric Rowe trade and one comes from the Sam Bradford trade. The Eagles don't have a second- or third-round pick in 2018. 

The trade deadline is at 4 p.m. today. 

To make room for Ajayi on the roster, the Eagles placed Jordan Hicks (Achilles) on injured reserve.

When do players know their football days are over?

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USA Today Images

When do players know their football days are over?

In the latest edition of Eagle Eye, Derrick Gunn and Barrett Brooks discuss Father's Day weekend. What kind of basketball parent is Barrett? The guys give their 53-man roster after spring practices. Tom Brady says he can feel his playing days are getting numbered. When do players first start realizing that the end is near and what makes that reality most difficult? Also, how should the Giants handle Odell Beckham Jr.'s contract situation?

"I think that Saquon [Barkley] is going to be better than [Ezekiel] Elliott." — Barrett Brooks.

1:00 - What kind of basketball parent is Barrett?
3:00 - Father's Day weekend recap.
5:00 - Eagles' 53-man roster after spring practices.
15:30 - Tom Brady tells Oprah the end is near ... when do players start seeing that reality?
20:00 - The hardest part about having to say goodbye to football.
23:00 - Odell Beckham Jr.'s contract situation.

Press Taylor was right choice for Eagles' QBs coach

Press Taylor was right choice for Eagles' QBs coach

The Eagles were just a few days away from the Super Bowl and there was a clear indication of just how loose the team really was. 

On Feb. 1, Carson Wentz tweeted out a photo proving it. 

So, what’s the point of this? Why show a photo that Wentz sent out from an escape room well over four months ago?

Well, because it was a little glimpse into the future. Because the five guys in that photo are going to be the five guys in the Eagles’ quarterback room this season. 

Along with Wentz, Nick Foles and Nate Sudfeld, the other two are Press Taylor (sitting) and Spencer Phillips. This offseason, after John DeFilippo left Philadelphia to take the offensive coordinator job in Minnesota, the Eagles promoted Taylor to take his position as quarterbacks coach and then promoted Phillips to take Taylor’s spot as the assistant quarterbacks coach. 

It was probably a no-brainer. 

And it’s crazy to think, but just a year after the Eagles blocked DeFilippo from leaving the organization, DeFilippo has left … and the Eagles are going to be just fine. 

At the time, before the 2017 season, it made sense to block DeFilippo. He was seemingly integral to the development of a young Wentz and he certainly deserves plenty of credit for the big jump in Wentz’s play last season. But now, without him, the Eagles are going to keep a finely-tuned machine running. And they’re going to do it with a very young and very promising coach. 

Taylor is just 30 years old, which seems incredibly young for a coach who is supposed to lead the most important position room for the Eagles and possibly the most important position room in the entire league. He’s just one year older than Foles. 

He might be young, but Taylor is uniquely positioned to handle this responsibility. And aside from his football acumen — which has been touted by his superiors — it’s his relationship with the players in the room that made him such a no-brainer replacement for DeFilippo. 

“I feel really close (to Wentz, Foles and Sudfeld),” Taylor said last week. “I know what makes them tick going into it. And then we all had our own relationships. Obviously, I wasn’t their quarterbacks coach at the time, but I was in the room, sat through those conversations, had my own conversations out on the practice field. I feel like I know the things they like, the things they didn’t like. And then was able to learn from the other guys, the other coaches in the room.”

After the Super Bowl, Taylor is probably best known in the city for bringing the Philly Special to the Eagles. In his position last year, it was his job to mine gadget plays from around the league and found that play being used by the Bears the season before (see story). And that’s great. But all the stuff we don’t know about last year is what’s going to make the most difference for the Eagles this season. 

Taylor has been with the Eagles since 2013, when Chip Kelly brought him to town. And then Doug Pederson was smart enough (and without ego) to keep Taylor in 2016. The brother of Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor, Press has quickly worked his way up the ladder. 

Last week, Wentz was asked if the team wanted his opinion before promoting Taylor. 

“I think it was pretty much known how we felt about Press beforehand,” Wentz said. “We’ve seen Press behind the scenes the last couple years and how hard he works. A lot of guys have a ton of respect for him as a person and as a coach. I know that’s where I sit. So far, it’s been great. He understands the game extremely well. We’re very like-minded, both on and off the field. The relationship I have with him personally and the relationship he has with all the quarterbacks has been tremendous so far.”

The relationship between Taylor and the QBs is so important. Relationships for this entire coaching staff are so important. Really, that’s what has made Pederson so special. He has that “emotional intelligence” and understands how to deal with his players. 

Taylor seems to have that too. And really, that’s why the Eagles’ QB room won’t miss a beat. 

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