Doug Pederson impressed by how Carson Wentz has handled the heat

Doug Pederson impressed by how Carson Wentz has handled the heat

The only Bird to feel more heat than Carson Wentz this Thanksgiving was the turkey in the oven.

Wentz has handled the heat considerably better.

“He does not let that affect him mentally,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “He continues to work in practice, work with his guys. He’s been great in the meetings. As they say sometimes, iron can sharpen iron. This is one of those situations where he gets sharper. He lasers in, focuses on his job and helping our team win.”

This is probably the most criticism Wentz has faced during his four years in the NFL. In 2016, he was a rookie, so he was kind of given a pass. In 2017, he was playing at an MVP level before getting hurt. And in 2018, everyone was still living in the afterglow of the Super Bowl.

But expectations were high in 2019. And while injuries have really hurt the offense, Wentz hasn’t returned to MVP-candidate form. Right now, he’s coming off one of the worst games in his career.

Against the Seahawks, Wentz missed open targets, took bad sacks and turned the ball over as the Eagles fell to 5-6 on the season.

Even if you haven’t been listening to sports talk radio, you know what’s being said. You know how critical — some of it warranted, some of it not — folks are being of Wentz. And the franchise quarterback was likely a hot topic of conversation around your Thanksgiving dinner table on Thursday.

Through it all, it seems like Wentz is holding up very well. On Wednesday, he proclaimed his confidence in turning the season around. He claimed he was just focused on keeping his even keel.

Pederson said there are a few ways he knows if outside criticism is bothering a player. One can be a tip, somebody saying Player X is reading too much. Or sometimes a player’s body language in the building and at practice gives him an indication that their focus is wavering.

He hasn’t seen those things with Wentz.

And it’s a trait the Eagles probably noticed early on with Wentz, even when they were scouting him out of North Dakota State.

“Well, you never really know until you’re in it,” Pederson said. “But it is part of his chemistry and his makeup and that’s what we really appreciate about him and his leadership and how well you can block … it’s no different than a game. You go into a game and something negative happens in a game, you just have to go to the next play. It’s no different. You just gotta block it out the best you can and move on to the next play.”

Any starting quarterback in Philadelphia is going to be under a lot of pressure, but Wentz is under even more than usual. He’s the franchise quarterback, who watched his backup win the Super Bowl and then got paid $100 million.

The heat is on Wentz right now. The good news is it appears he’s far from cooked.

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Eagles fans won't be allowed at games this fall, health officials say

Eagles fans won't be allowed at games this fall, health officials say

Eagles fans should start coming to grips with watching games from their couch in 2020.

After the city of Philadelphia cancelled "large public events" through February 2021 on Tuesday, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, health officials provided an update on the feasability of fans watching Eagles games in person.

Philadelphia Department of Health commissioner Thomas Farley and Philadelphia managing director Brian Abernathy made it sound all but certain that Lincoln Financial Field stands will be empty.

Per the Inquirer:

"I do think that games can be played with the kind of safety precautions that they're proposing. I do not think that they can have spectators at those games. There’s no way for them to be safe having a crowd there," Farley said. "I can't say what the plans are for the league, but from a safety perspective, they can play games but not [have] crowds."

"The Eagles are still going to be allowed to play, although without crowds. The Phillies will continue to be allowed to play, although without crowds," Managing Director Brian Abernathy said.

Abernathy said NFL guidelines also "remind teams that local authorities have the ability to ban fans, so I don't expect any issues."

"We have been in communication with the Eagles. We have told them our expectations are that they don't have fans," Albernathy said.

Whether other teams around the country will be able to host fans, based on differing guidance from state officials, remains to be seen. Earlier this month, reports emerged claiming the NFL is considering fan waivers for those interested in attending home games this season.

A season without home fans also means the Eagles stand to lose a sizable sum of money if the NFL plays its 17-week regular season as scheduled.

As NBC Sports Philadelphia's Dave Zangaro noted, the Eagles will be one of the 10 teams most affected (financially) by a lack of fans at home games:

The Eagles in 2018 were tied for eighth in the NFL with $204 million in stadium revenue. Just the Cowboys, Patriots, Giants, Texans, Jets 49ers and Redskins made more.

In late June, the organization informed season ticket holders that their ticket installment payments would not be billed, fueling speculation that games would be played in empty stadiums this fall. 

Barring a drastic change in the pandemic's trajectory between now and early September, it seems that speculation was right.

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With Jason Peters, Eagles getting much more than just a right guard replacement

With Jason Peters, Eagles getting much more than just a right guard replacement

A month ago, just hours after Brandon Brooks blew out his Achilles, I wrote this: 

"Jason Peters doesn't have a job, and the Eagles don't have a right guard. This is a no-brainer."

And I also wrote this: 

"Howie Roseman should be on the phone right now with Peters, offering him a few million bucks to return to Philly and reinvent himself as a guard."

Nice to see Howie's listening!

Peters is back to play right guard, and that's great news for the Eagles.

Nothing against Matt Pryor, who I think would have done a capable job at right guard if he got the call and has a nice future ahead of him.

But Jason Peters is in an entirely different class. It's not often you lose a 3-time Pro Bowler and get to replace him with a 9-time Pro Bowler.

Peters is 38 and going into his 18th season, but this is not a normal human being. There is zero question Peters can not only handle right guard but also thrive there.

It makes sense in so many ways.

Peters may not have the quickness and athleticism he had in his prime, but he's still as powerful as ever, and moving from tackle to guard there's less of a premium on movement and running and footwork and more of a premium on strength and power. 

J.P. is a football player more than he is a tackle or a guard. He's a student of the game, and if two decades working under people like Juan Castillo and Jeff Stoutland doesn't prepare you for a position switch, nothing can.

The Eagles get a lot out of this deal. They get a mentor for the young offensive linemen. They get an emergency left tackle if something happens with Andre Dillard. They get a future Hall of Famer in between Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson. And they get one of the team's biggest inspirational leaders back in the locker room.

And Peters gets to extend a career that's been in limbo since the Eagles cut ties with him back in March.

If it's 3rd-and-2 and you're running Miles Sanders behind Kelce, Peters and Johnson, I like your chances.

The big question with a position switch like this is always whether the guy really wants to make the change. If your heart isn't in it, you won't succeed.

Left tackle may have more cachet than right guard, but for Peters, it's never been about his ego. The guy's made nine Pro Bowls, and he's going to the Hall of Fame. He's secure with his legacy.

The dude just loves to compete and he loves to win, and now he has the chance to do that again.

"As long as I can do it, I'm going to (play)," Peters said last summer. "Whether that's tackle or guard, I can play all the way across the board." 

There are a lot of people out there who aren't J.P. believers anymore. Too many penalties, too many injuries.

And I get that. But moving inside will eliminate a lot of those concerns. And it's not like everybody else on the team has been healthy the last few years. 

Peters finished strong last year and that was encouraging. He missed those three games against the Cowboys, Bills and Bears with a knee injury, but the last eight games he missed six of 599 snaps and played at a high level during the stretch run.

If the price of having a Hall of Fame backup right guard is a few false starts and a handful of missed snaps here and there? I can live with that.

And if anybody can go in and play a new position without OTAs, minicamps or preseason games, it's Jason Peters. 

"I still can get it done," Peters said after last season ended. "If I couldn't get it done, I would just walk away. But I can still go."

This is a move that had to be made. And if you don't think he can pull it off? Then you just don't know Jason Peters.

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