Eagles' D recovers for most dominant half since 1999

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Eagles' D recovers for most dominant half since 1999

Nothing was said.

"Nothing needed to be said," Malcolm Jenkins said. "We knew what was at stake."

The Raiders had taken a three-point lead early in the second half with a 69-yard field goal drive, and the Eagles' defense was struggling. Again.

Jalen Mills gave up a 63-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper early in the second quarter, and the Eagles let Jalen Richard ramble 34 yards on the third play of the second half to set up that go-ahead field goal.

Right there you had the fourth-longest TD pass against the Eagles under the Doug Pederson-Jim Schwartz regime and the longest run by an opposing player at the Linc since 2015.

Safe to say many at the Linc felt the No. 1 seed slipping away.

"Our backs were against the wall," DB Corey Graham said. "We knew how things were looking. We knew the situation."

After that long run by Richard? The Eagles' defense finally got its edge back.

After 3½ subpar games, the Eagles' defense played some of its best ball when it was needed most.

The rest of the way, the Eagles held the Raiders to 45 net yards and forced five turnovers in the game's final 19½ minutes.

With the 19-10 win, the Eagles improved to 13-2 and locked up home-field until the Super Bowl.

"We were just locked in," Mills said. "I know I had a mishap early, but at the same time, we're an aggressive defense. We have to stay aggressive, and sometimes that's just what it is. By staying aggressive, you see what happened in the second half. We started getting turnovers."

It was the first time since the last day of the 1999 season and a win over the eventual Super Bowl-champion Rams at the Vet that the Eagles forced five turnovers in a half.

"And we needed all five to win the game," Jenkins said. "It was just one of those games where the defense needed to get some stops to put our team in a position to win. It was the exact opposite last week (against the Giants).

"Whatever it takes to get the 'W.' We obviously know what it means to get turnovers, especially turnovers in the red zone or in plus territory. We had a problem with field position pretty much the whole second half, so those stops were huge to keep points off the board."

It's no secret the Eagles' defense has struggled, allowing 82 points and 1,121 yards in a loss to the Seahawks and wins over the Rams and Giants.

Did they lose their edge? Could they get it back?

On national TV, with the season in the balance, they answered those questions.

"We needed to redeem ourselves because we gave up a long run and a long pass and other than that, we knew if we made them earn it, it was going to be hard for them," said Chris Long, who was in the middle of that second-half revival.

"And once we stuck to just making them earn it we were able to settle down a lot. At the end of the day, it's 10 points, and we have a lot we need to improve defensively, but it's 10 points."

The Raiders' first six drives averaged 34 yards and netted 10 points.

Their next nine averaged 5 yards and netted no points.

Marshawn Lynch, who had 84 yards on his first 17 carries, was just 8-for-11 with a fumble the rest of the way. And Derek Carr threw for just 22 yards with two interceptions in the second half.

"It's one of those games that we really needed as a defense," Graham said. "The last couple games haven't been the type of games that we really wanted. They haven't been the type of games that we should be playing. Really good to see what we're capable of doing when we have to do it."

Patrick Robinson and Ronald Darby had interceptions, Jenkins and Vinny Curry forced fumbles, and rookie Derek Barnett finished things off as time expired by scooping up a loose ball and returning it for a TD while the Raiders tried a bunch of desperation laterals.

"You have these types of games all throughout the year," Graham said. "This was one of the ones that was a defensive game, and we just had to get back to what we do. 

"You want to dominate every game, but you have to be realistic. You're going to have some weeks where the numbers aren't the same as they normally are. But that doesn't mean you're a bad defense, and that's all it was for us. We had a couple games where we played some high-powered offenses and we weren't at our best, but we bounced back."

Bottom line is the Super Bowl now goes through the Linc, where the Eagles are 7-0 this year and 13-2 the last two years and have allowed opposing teams to score just 13½ points per game this year.

"We just needed the win," Jenkins said. "End of the day, we wanted to win the game and we wanted home-field advantage, and we had the opportunity tonight in front of the world to do it and we wanted to make sure this opportunity didn't slip away."

When do players know their football days are over?

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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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