Eagles

At least Eagles’ defense is playing well enough to win right now

At least Eagles’ defense is playing well enough to win right now

The Eagles say they don’t point fingers and they shouldn’t. 

Team unity and all that. 

“We’re a team,” Doug Pederson said after Sunday’s 17-9 loss to the Seahawks. “And when we win, we win as a team. When we lose, we lose as a team. Today, we lost as a team.”

The Eagles don’t point fingers. So I’ll do it for them. 

In back-to-back weeks the Eagles’ defense has given up 17 points to offenses led by future Hall of Fame quarterbacks. The Eagles’ defense has done more than enough for the Eagles to win these two games. 

The offense has failed them. 

Maybe that’s to be expected. On Sunday, after Brandon Brooks left the game, the Eagles were without five or six starters on that side of the ball. But that unit’s inability to make even the simplest plays and its inability to hold onto the football voids the built-in excuse. It wasn’t all Carson Wentz. It wasn’t all Doug Pederson. It wasn’t all the receivers. But that whole unit has been a mess recently. 

The Eagles held Tom Brady without a touchdown pass and lost 17-10. 

The Eagles held Russell Wilson to 215 total yards and lost 17-9. 

Wilson said the Eagles’ defense was one of the best the Seahawks played all year and they still won easily. That shouldn’t happen. 

Since Week 8, the Eagles’ defense has given up an average of 15.25 points per game. Just the Ravens have given up fewer points per game in that span. 

This isn’t the way the Eagles expected things to go. They thought they were going to have a high-flying offense and the defense would just need to be OK. But it turns out, it’s the other way around. 

The defense has gotten healthier. Fletcher Cox is back to his dominating self, Tim Jernigan returned, Nigel Bradham is back, the secondary has been stabilized by the returns of Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby. This defense is pretty good right now. The offense isn’t. 

Things got so bad on Sunday that when Rodney McLeod picked off a pass in the third quarter, he tried everything to score, including a pitch to Avonte Maddox, because the offense stinks so bad. 

OK, he was a little more diplomatic about it. 

“Just trying to make a play man, and flip the field position or get into the end zone,” McLeod said. “At that point in the game, how the game is going, they’re making plays on defense, we’re making plays. So anytime we can get our hands on the ball, the mentality is to try to score.”

But you were probably thinking the same thing, right? 

Once McLeod picked off that ball, you were probably thinking, “He better score because the offense sure isn’t going to.” And you were right! The Eagles punted a few plays later. 

At this point, though, the Eagles are actually lucky when they punt. Because they also turned the ball over five times on Sunday, sometimes putting their own defense in a horrible spot. Malcolm Jenkins’ message for Wentz and the offense was pretty clear on Sunday: Don’t force anything, we got you. 

Jenkins said the Eagles have to be comfortable winning games that are 12-9 or 9-6. 

On Monday, Pederson noted that eventually the offense needs to be able to put up 30-plus points, especially if this team really wants to make a playoff push. 

But, for now, Pederson didn’t disagree with Jenkins’ assessment. 

“I think right now where we are, that's a realistic approach,” he said. “That doesn't mean you go into conservative mode and it's three yards and a cloud of dust, but I do think that our offense, we talk all the time [about how] we want to finish every drive with a possible kick, whether that's a punt or a field goal, or an extra point. Those are the things that we talk about. But right now, and the way our defense has been playing, I think you have to play to that strength.”

The Eagles are right to avoid pointing fingers. They have to avoid a divisive situation. It’ll be up to their leaders to make sure it doesn’t happen. 

“There won’t be any of that,” said Jason Peters, still the intimidating Bodyguard. “Not in our locker room. Not while I am here. We’ll keep all the guys together, rally around each other and just go forward.”

But the fact is that the Eagles’ defense is playing well enough for the Eagles to go on a run. The offense just needs to stop letting the team down. 

I’m pointing the finger at them. Just please don’t tell Peters. 

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Zach Ertz's urgent message if there's no high school football

Zach Ertz's urgent message if there's no high school football

Pennsylvania high school football is in jeopardy, and Zach Ertz wants to make sure all the kids who are likely to miss out on the experience are OK.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday “strongly recommended” that high school football – and all interscholastic sports state-wide – be postponed until Jan. 1, 2021, at the earliest.

The Pennsylvania Scholastic Athletic Association, the governing body for Pennsylvania high school sports, met Friday and decided to delay the start of fall sports until Aug. 24 but has not yet decided whether all sports will indeed be cancelled for the rest of this calendar year.

During a Zoom call Friday, Ertz brought up the situation without being asked and emphasized how important it is – based on his own experiences as a teenager – that if high school sports are cancelled for kids to be provided other opportunities to learn, to grow, to develop and to keep them off the street.

I just want to talk a little bit about high school football and my experience,” Ertz said. “I was 15 years old, my parents separated, I was the oldest of four boys, and the only thing that I knew how to do, the only way I could express myself -- I was so frustrated inside -- the only thing I could do was play football. All I did was lift weights, play football, play basketball, and that allowed me to kind of release my internal stress and pressure that I had built up. 

“And Tom Wolf  came out with the recommendation that there is no fall football or fall sports in general. And the adversity I faced when I was 15 is about 1-1,000th of what many kids in this state in particular are going to be facing if they don’t have an outlet, if there is no football in the fall for these kids, and I would just really challenge everyone if the decision is no football, there’s got to be an alternative where we (don’t) just allow these kids to go about their days with no guidance, with no further investment. 

“Obviously, football costs money. So if they were to disband football, where is that money going to go? I’d love to see it invested in these kids to make sure that they’re OK and taken care of and not on the streets from 3 to 7. Because that’s what I was fortunate enough to do. I had organization after school with football and basketball and I couldn’t imagine the path that I would have gone down if I didn’t have football to express myself. 

“I want kids to be healthy, first and foremost, that is the primary goal, and if that is the decision to really think outside the box and how we can keep these kids safe.

Ertz grew up in Danville, Calif., and played football and basketball at Monte Vista High School. He earned a scholarship to Stanford, where he spent three years before joining the Eagles in 2013.

He ranks 13th in NFL history among tight ends with 525 receptions.

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The 10 greatest NFL players who became irrelevant Eagles

The 10 greatest NFL players who became irrelevant Eagles

They’re all-time NFL greats. And they’re former Eagles.

But they were never both at the same time.

We thought it would be fun to come up with a list of the 10 greatest NFL players who finished their careers in obscurity as Eagles.

Two rules: They weren’t allowed to spend more than one season with the Eagles and their final NFL game had to be in an Eagles uniform.

That eliminates guys like Mark Bavaro, Roy Green and Greg Townsend.  

But there are some pretty notable players - including three Hall of Famers - who finished their brilliant NFL careers as mediocre and forgotten Eagles.

Interesting to note that seven of the 10 played for the Eagles between 1993 and 1997!

Tomorrow, we'll do the opposite top-10 list ... the 10 greatest players who began their career in obscurity with the Eagles! 

1. DE Richard Dent

Before he was an Eagle [1983-1996]: Four-time Pro Bowler with the Bears and an all-pro and Super Bowl MVP in1985. One of only six defensive players named Super Bowl MVP.  Ranked 3rd in NFL history with 133 sacks through 1996 (behind Reggie White and Bruce Smith). One of only four players in NFL history with consecutive 17-sack seasons (White, J.J. Watt and Mark Gastineau are the others). Was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.

As an Eagle [1997]: Had 4 1/2 sacks in 15 games with no starts playing for a 6-win team. Finished third on team in sacks, behind Rhett Hall [8.0] and William Thomas [5.0]. 

2. WR James Lofton

Before he was an Eagle [1978-1992]: Eight-time Pro Bowler with Packers and Bills. 

Held NFL record with 13,821 yards when he signed with Eagles and ranked 3rd with 750 catches [behind Art Monk and Steve Largent]. Had 18.4 yards-per-catch average, 4th-highest in NFL history. Had 6th 1,000-yard season at 35 years old. One of seven players in history to average over 20 yards per catch four times. Named to NFL team of the decade for the 1980s. Inducted into Hall of Fame in 2003.

As an Eagle [1993]: Played nine games. Caught 13 passes for 167 yards and no TDs. Final career reception was 32-yarder from Bubby Brister against 49ers on final day of 1993 season.

3. WR Art Monk

Before he was an Eagle [1980-1994]: Held NFL record with 934 receptions when he signed with Eagles and ranked 4th with 12,607 receiving yards. Set NFL record with 106 catches in 1984 all-pro season. Won two Super Bowls. Had over 1,000 yards in postseason. Named to NFL team of the decade for the 1980s. Inducted into Hall of Fame in 2008. 

As an Eagle [1995]: Played in three games. Caught six passes for 114 yards. Final career reception was a 36-yarder from Rodney Peele in Christmas Eve loss to Bears at Soldier Field. Monk broke his arm on the play while being tackled by Mark Carrier. He never played again.

4. PR-KR Mel Gray

Before he was an Eagle [1986-1997]: Three-time all-pro and three-time Pro Bowl returner with the Lions. Had six kick return TDs and three punt return TDs. Led NFL in kick return average in 1991 and 1994 and in punt return average in 1987 and 1991. One of four players in NFL history to average 10 yards per punt return and 24 yards per kick return and one of only four players with 3 TD returns on both punts and kicks. Was named to the team of the decade for the 1990s second team as both punt returner and kick returner.

As an Eagle [1997]: Played in three games. In his first game called for a fair catch of a Brad Maynard punt at the Eagles’ 5-yard-line.  Returned two punts for an 8.5 average and one kickoff for 8 yards. 

5. WR Mark Duper

Before he was an Eagle [1982-1992]: Had 511 catches for 8,869 yards and 59 touchdowns with the Dolphins, made three Pro Bowls, had five straight years averaging at least 18 yards per catch and as of the end of the 1992 season had a 17.4 yards-per-catch average, 6th-highest in NFL history.

As an Eagle [1993]: The Eagles actually signed him on Aug. 18, two days after Carter retired. He was released 12 days later (along with Casey Weldon, Siran Stacy and Ephesians Bartley). 

6. DT Michael Carter 

Before he was an Eagle [1984-1992]: Three-time Pro Bowler and all-pro defensive tackle with 49ers. Starter on three 49ers Super Bowl teams. Olympic silver medalist in the shot put in 1984.

As an Eagle [1993]: Signed with the Eagles on July 15 and retired on Aug. 16. 

7. DT Haloti Ngata

Before he was an Eagle [2006-2017]: Ngata made five straight Pro Bowls as a Raven and two all-pro teams.  He was a starter on the Ravens’ Super Bowl-championship team in 2012. His teams made the playoffs in 9 of his 13 seasons. His 19 career playoff games are 2nd-most in NFL history by a defensive lineman (Vince Wilfork played in 24). He’s already been inducted into the Ravens’ Ring of Honor. 

As an Eagle [2018]: Played in 13 games starting nine for the 2018 Eagles. Played 368 snaps and had 17 tackles. Retired after the season.

8. RB Chris Warren

Before he was an Eagle [1990-2000]: Warren was one of the most accomplished running backs in the NFL in the 1990s. He made three straight Pro Bowls for the Seahawks, had four straight 1,000-yard seasons and during the 6-year span from 1992 through 1997 was the 3rd-leading rusher in the NFL, behind only Hall of Famers Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith. 

As an Eagle [2000]: With Duce Staley out for the season and the running game ineffective, the Eagles signed Warren late in the 2000 regular season. He rushed for 42 yards in the regular-season finale against the Bengals, then was 22-for-85 in the playoff win over the Bucs - the Eagles’ first playoff win under Andy Reid. In Eagles history only Wilbert Montgomery has more carries in a playoff game. Warren ran for 11 yards against the Giants a week later in his final NFL game.

9. DT Keith Millard 

Before he was an Eagle [1985-1992]: Two-time all-pro defensive tackle for Vikings. Had 54 sacks as an interior lineman. Set NFL record for defensive tackles with 18 sacks in 1989. His 51 sacks remains 2nd-most in NFL history by a defensive tackle in his first five seasons (behind Aaron Donald’s 59 1/2). 

As an Eagle [1993]: Played in 14 games, starting six on a defensive line with Andy Harmon, William Perry, Mike Floes and Clyde Simmons. Played his final NFL game on final day of 1993 season - also Lofton’s final NFL game. Sacked Steve Bono on the final play of his career.

10. WR Carlos Carson

Before he was an Eagle [1980-89]: Caught 353 passes for 6,372 yards and 33 touchdowns with the Chiefs and made the Pro Bowl in 1983 and 1987. Had three 1,000-yard seasons, and in 1983 finished second in the NFL to Mike Quick with 1,351 yards. Piled up 6,431 scrimmage yards in a Chiefs uniform.

As an Eagle [1989]: In his first game as an Eagle, against the Redskins at the Vet, he dropped a perfectly thrown pass from Randall Cunningham that would have been a long touchdown. He finished the season with one 12-yard catch and minus-nine yards on an end around for three scrimmage yards.

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