Eagles

Eagles-Bears: Roob's 10 observations

ap-eagles-celebration-bears.jpg
AP Images

Eagles-Bears: Roob's 10 observations

BOX SCORE

They are so methodical, so thorough, so dominating right now it's almost like we're all dreaming, isn't it?

With their latest blowout win — 31-3 over the Bears Sunday at the Linc — the Eagles became only the fourth NFL team in the last 64 years to win four straight games by 23 or more points (see breakdown).

They gave up six rushing yards to the NFL's fifth-ranked rushing offense. That's the fewest rushing yards they've allowed in the last 71 years.

Their 24-year-old quarterback now has 28 touchdowns and five interceptions (see report card). Since Week 5, that's 22 TDs and three INTs. 

They're 10-1 with a nine-game winning streak, the last five by double digits.

They're annihilating people.

So let's go to Roob's 10 Observations and take a look at yet another blowout Eagles win!

1. What we're seeing right now is just flat-out scary. Honestly, I don't know how anybody is going to beat this team. I know the Patriots, Vikings and Saints are all really good, and there are some other capable teams out there, but the Eagles are just destroying teams right now, and I just don't see a weakness when I watch them. How do you beat a team that can score at will and isn't allowing its opponents to even breathe on offense? The Eagles have taken this thing to another level, winning these last four by an average of 27 points and allowing just three offensive touchdowns along the way. It's just such a pleasure watching football played like this. Aggressive. Unselfish. Physical. Disciplined. There's something special going on here, and, man, is it fun to watch.

2. What we're seeing from Carson Wentz right now is just off the charts. With all due respect to Donovan McNabb, he's playing at an unprecedented level in Eagles history. These last seven games, Wentz has 22 touchdown passes and three interceptions. That's in less than half a season. This is a 24-year-old kid. He's playing virtually perfect football every Sunday, and the stats, records and numbers are piling up faster than we can keep track of. But all he cares about winning, and the effect he's had on this team is remarkable. To see veteran guys like LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajayi and Alshon Jeffery, guys who've been stars with other teams, come here and just follow Wentz's lead is eye-opening. He commands that locker room and leads so naturally and effortlessly. The Eagles are playing with a lot of passion and joy right now, and it all starts with No. 11. He's just on another level right now.

3. One significant development over the last few weeks has been a gradually improving chemistry between Wentz and Jeffery. The last few weeks, Jeffery has really started to look like a No. 1 receiver. He's not putting up huge numbers, but he's distanced himself from the other wideouts as far as targets, production and just being that guy Wentz is looking for at big moments more than any of the other wide receivers. Also great to see Zach Ertz rebound with a huge game — 10 catches for 103 yards and his seventh touchdown. He's been a beast this year.

4. I was curious to see this matchup between the Bears' fifth-ranked rushing attack — averaging 132 yards per game entering Sunday — and an Eagles run defense that went into the game No. 1 in the NFL, allowing 71 yards per game. And wow. The Bears were under zero yards until a late 11-yard scramble by Mitch Trubisky. But even with that, they finished with 14 carries for six yards. That's the fewest rushing yards the Eagles have allowed in a game since 1946. You just can't run on this team. And then you have to chuck it, and that plays right into the hands of their pass rush and secondary. Six rushing yards? It's nuts.

5. Gotta give some props to Brandon Graham, who recorded his career-high seventh sack. Graham, now in his eighth year with the Eagles, has been through so much here but injects this defense with so much energy and life and passion. He came into the league as an under-sized pass-rushing specialist, but he's now really become a two-way player, the Eagles' best pass rusher on the outside and a willing and effective run stopper, too.

6. Doug Pederson has handled everything beautifully this year, but his handling of a potentially difficult running back situation has been brilliant. He has such an innate feel for what situations and plays are best suited to the different backs, and he's managed to keep them all happy and thinking team-first. Blount led the NFL in touchdowns last year. Ajayi was a Pro Bowler. But they've suppressed their egos, and whether those guys are getting the carries or Corey Clement or even Kenjon Barner, they're all supportive of each other and they're all genuinely happy for each other. I think it all starts with Blount. There were some questions about the guy when he got here, but he's been nothing but a team player here, and the other backs, the younger guys, just follow along. And Blount is running the ball great, too. 

7. The Eagles' defense allowed one touchdown in November. 

8. We don't spend much time talking about position coaches, but the improvement we've seen in every position group since last year, and ever since, the start of this year speaks volumes about the hands-on work being done at practice and in meetings by guys like Duce Staley, Mike Groh, Cory Undlin, Chris Wilson, John DeFilippo, Ken Flajole and the others. One of the underrated keys to the Eagles' initial success under Andy Reid from 2000-2004 was Big Red's first staff — position coaches like Ron Rivera, John Harbaugh, Brad Childress, Pat Shurmur, Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier, all of whom became NFL head coaches. This is the same sort of staff. Very hands-on, extremely engaged, tremendously respected in the locker room. And in a few years, several of these guys will be NFL head coaches as well. 

9. These next two games are going to be fascinating. The Seahawks have always been unbeatable at home, but they're not quite the same team anymore. And the Rams have been one of the NFL's hottest teams all year. But I think the Eagles win both games on this West Coast trip and get back to Philly 12-1 with only the Giants, Raiders and Cowboys standing between them and a 15-1 record and the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Beat the Seahawks and Rams, and the road to the Super Bowl will go right through the Linc.

10. Finally, I have to give a shout out to Brent Celek. He didn't catch a pass Sunday, but he did something much more meaningful. By playing in his 170th career game, Celek gained the distinction of playing in more games than anybody in franchise history who's never worn another uniform. Coming into the game, Celek was tied with Chuck Bednarik at 169. Celek, the only guy on the team who's played in a postseason win in an Eagles uniform, has represented that uniform and this franchise with so much class over the past 11 years. If anybody deserves to spend his entire career in Philadelphia, it's Celek. 

Eagle Eye: When does a contract negotiation become a problem?

usa-julio-jones-jalen-mills-eagles-falcons.jpg
USA Today Images

Eagle Eye: When does a contract negotiation become a problem?

In the latest edition of Eagle Eye, John Clark and Barrett Brooks are pumped for the start of training camp. Following MLB Commissioner's comments on Mike Trout's marketability, the guys discuss if it's on the player or the league to market an athlete? The Falcons said they will not give Julio Jones a new contract. At what point does a public contract negotiation become a distraction in the locker room?

1:00 - Guys are excited for the start of training camp.
4:45 - Is it on a player or a league to market an athlete?
11:00 - When does a Julio Jones contract situation become a locker room distraction?
18:00 - When money starts dividing a locker room.

Subscribe and rate Eagle Eye: Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Stitcher / Spotify / Art19

Eagles 2018 training camp battles: Weakside linebacker

ap-uspresswire-gerry-nelson-grugierhill.jpg
AP Images/USA Today Images

Eagles 2018 training camp battles: Weakside linebacker

As we get near the start of the Eagles’ 2018 training camp, we’re going to take a closer look at some of the key position battles to watch this summer.

Today we’ll look at weakside linebacker.

Names to know

Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nate Gerry, Corey Nelson

What to watch

After years of trade speculation, the Eagles finally just released Mychal Kendricks this offseason. It saved them $6 million in cap room and let Kendricks out of a situation he had been ready to leave for some time. It also left the Eagles with a void. No, Kendricks didn’t play at an All-Pro level last season, but he stepped into a larger role after Jordan Hicks went down and helped the Eagles win a Super Bowl. Now, he’s gone and his old starting gig is up for grabs.

When Nelson was signed this offseason and said he was told he’d compete at the weakside linebacker spot, it raised some eyebrows. That was Kendricks’ job and as long as he was on the team, he wasn’t going to give it up. Now, it all makes more sense.

The WILL linebacker in the Eagles’ system doesn’t play a ton. The Eagles are in their nickel package for around 75 percent of their defensive snaps, which means two linebackers instead of three as the team brings an extra DB on the field. So Hicks and Nigel Bradham will stay on the field for most of the game and the third linebacker will play about a quarter of the snaps. And it’ll be one of these three guys.

What all three guys seem to have in common is the ability to cover. Grugier-Hill and Gerry are both converted safeties and Nelson is much smoother in coverage than Kendricks ever was. All three are good athletes and have shined as special teams players, but are hungry for more responsibility.

It’ll be interesting to see if this competition goes into the season. Bradham is suspended for the season opener, so it seems like two of these guys will start next to Hicks. So read into it how you will … because the guy who plays the WILL in that game might not be the guy who plays it in the next game because the player at the SAM will be on the field more and could possibly be ahead on the depth chart.

Prediction

Grugier-Hill appeared to be in the lead for this job and I think he hangs on, although this one really is up in the air. I just think his two years in the defense will mean something to Jim Schwartz and it’ll be enough to give him an edge on a second-year player and a veteran special teams player. 

More on the Eagles