Eagles

Eagles hoping to get one of their corners back next week

Eagles hoping to get one of their corners back next week

The Eagles have been losing cornerbacks at an alarming rate.

Next week, if all goes well, they’ll actually get one back.

Jalen Mills, who hasn’t played in almost a year because of a mystery foot injury, is eligible to come off the in-season PUP list on Monday. 

It’s tough not being out there," he said Thursday. "Not being able to at least play with my guys, it’s always hard.

Mills will meet with his doctor early in the week and if he’s cleared, he’ll practice when the Eagles’ work week begins on Wednesday. If that goes well, he could play against the Cowboys a week from Sunday in Arlington, Texas.

They need him.

For sure, I’m just going to be excited,” Mills said. “Adrenaline’s probably going to be going through the roof. Go out there and have a lot of energy and create some.

The Eagles for a second straight year have been decimated at cornerback.

They currently have four corners on the shelf, including Mills and Ronald Darby (hamstring), the Super Bowl starters, along with Cre’Von LeBlanc (knee) and Avonte Maddox (concussion, neck)

And that doesn’t even include Sidney Jones, who hasn’t played since early in the Packers game because of a hamstring injury but is expected back Sunday in Minnesota.

The Eagles beat the Jets on Sunday with three cornerbacks in uniform who weren’t on the team two weeks earlier - Craig James, Orlando Scandrick and Ryan Lewis.

They've used 12 cornerbacks in 23 games since last year began, and Rasul Douglas is the only one who has played in every game.

LeBlanc is on Injured Reserve and eligible to return after the Bills game in two weeks. Darby and Maddox are both on the 53-man roster right now but seem to be a ways away.

Mills, the Eagles’ 7th-round pick in 2016, became a full-time starter in 2017 and started the first eight games of 2018, but his foot began bothering him at some point toward the middle of the season, and he hasn’t played sine the Eagles-Jaguars game in London last Oct. 28.

Mills has declined to exactly what the injury was, but it does seem like it’s finally behind him.

It was something serious,” he said. “It’s a long (healing) injury. Just have to take your time with it. Training staff did a great job with me as far as my recovery and rehab and making sure I’m running good, I’m cutting, I’m planting the way I could before the injury.

It’s too early to get a sense of where the Eagles will put everybody once Mills does return to action.

Most likely Mills will start with limited reps, perhaps in the red zone, where he’s most effective.

However it lines up, the Eagles will certainly be stronger defensively with Mills than without him.

(The Cowboys has) always been the plan,” Mills said. “But it’s really all about the doctor and what he says. He’ll tell me what I can and can’t do, just sticking to the plan. They’ve had a great plan for me and I feel great now. Whatever he says I can and can’t do I’ll just follow.

How challenging has it been to go nearly a year without playing football?

As a true competitor, you want to be out there regardless of the situation,” he said. “Of course I want to be out there. … I’ve dealt with adversity before, not just the football aspect but just my life in general, so as far as that goes just keeping a strong mind and strong head. I’ve got great teammates and great coaches (and) they keep me into it.

Here are the Eagles’ starting cornerback combinations since last season began:

6 games – Darby / Mills
3 games – Maddox / Douglas / LeBlanc
2 games – Darby / Douglas / Maddox
2 games – Jones / Douglas / LeBlanc
2 games – Maddox / Douglas
2 games – Darby / Jones / Maddox
1 game – Darby / Mills / Dexter McDougle
1 game - Darby / Mills / Jones
1 game – Jones / Douglas / Maddox
1 game – Chandon Sullivan / Davonte Bausby
1 game – Douglas / Jones 
1 game – Douglas / Craig James

So they’ve used 12 starting combinations in 23 games since opening day last year.

Barring more injuries or setbacks, that number will increase soon. And that's good news for the Eagles' defense.

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Eagles snap counts: Miles Sanders gets increased load without Jordan Howard

Eagles snap counts: Miles Sanders gets increased load without Jordan Howard

Without Jordan Howard in action Sunday against the Patriots, Miles Sanders played the most snaps in any game of his young career and didn’t end up with much to show for it in the Eagles’ 17-10 loss

Sanders played 64 snaps. He had 11 carries for 38 yards (3.45) and two catches for nine yards. Sanders’ previous high for snaps in a game was 36 in the opener.

Meanwhile, Boston Scott played a career-high 14 offensive snaps and had seven carries for 26 yards (3.7). 

That means Sanders touched the ball on 20 percent of his snaps and Scott touched the ball on half of his. Something seems off here. Sanders is one of the Eagles' only explosive players; it would have helped if the coaching staff found a way to get him more involved. 

If you’re wondering, Jay Ajayi did suit up on Sunday but didn’t play. 

More offensive notes

• We do this every week, but the receiver production wasn’t there again. Nelson Agholor played 66 snaps and caught four passes for 40 yards, which is tremendous production compared to the other receivers. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside played 19 snaps and eventually hauled in that big 29-yard pass. 

But Jordan Matthews (64 snaps) and Mack Hollins (13) combined to play 77 snaps and had a total of one catch for six yards on seven targets. 

Overall, Eagles receivers played a total of 162 snaps and had six catches on 17 targets for 75 yards. 

• Lane Johnson played 25 snaps before leaving the game with a concussion in the second quarter. The offense scored its 10 points with him on the field. 

• Jason Peters played 73 of 75 snaps. He left the game briefly, but was able to return. But this means he’s played every snap in just two of seven starts this season. 

• Since Johnson left the game early, Jason Kelce is the only offensive player to not leave the field this year. He’s 724/724 on the season. 

Offense 

Brandon Brooks: 75 snaps (100%) 
Isaac Seumalo: 75 (100%) 
Jason Kelce: 75 (100%) 
Carson Wentz: 75 (100%) 
Jason Peters: 73 (97%) 
Zach Ertz: 67 (89%) 
Nelson Agholor: 66 (88%) 
Jordan Matthews: 64 (85%) 
Miles Sanders: 64 (85%) 
Dallas Goedert: 61 (81%) 
Halapoulivaati Vaitai: 51 (68%) 
Lane Johnson: 25 (33%) 
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside: 19 (25%) 
Boston Scott: 14 (19%) 
Mack Hollins: 13 (17%) 
Andre Dillard: 8 (11%)

Defensive notes

• The core secondary was pretty much on the field all game and that unit has really stabilized. Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod and Jalen Mills played all 74 snaps and Ronald Darby played 70. 

On the season, Jenkins is now 656/656 on defense and has chipped in 58 snaps on special teams. 

• The Eagles used two varieties of dime on Sunday. Some with four corners, some with three safeties. Rasul Douglas played 18 snaps, while Rudy Ford played 15. Ford had played just one defensive snap this season before Sunday, so maybe this was just a specific game matchup thing. 

• Genard Avery played 10 snaps after playing three in his Eagles debut two weeks ago. Jim Schwartz is building on the package for Avery. 

Defense 

Malcolm Jenkins: 74 (100%) 
Rodney McLeod: 74 (100%) 
Jalen Mills: 74 (100%) 
Nathan Gerry: 73 (99%) 
Ronald Darby: 70 (95%) 
Fletcher Cox: 66 (89%) 
Brandon Graham: 65 (88%) 
Derek Barnett: 65 (88%) 
Avonte Maddox: 63 (85%) 
Kamu Grugier-Hill: 40 (54%) 
Timmy Jernigan: 29 (39%) 
Josh Sweat: 24 (32%) 
Rasul Douglas: 18 (24%) 
Anthony Rush: 18 (24%) 
Rudy Ford: 15 (20%) 
Vinny Curry: 14 (19%) 
T.J. Edwards: 11 (15%) 
Genard Avery: 10 (14%) 
Albert Huggins: 8 (11%) 
Duke Riley: 3 (4%)

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Carson Wentz is right: He has to be better

Carson Wentz is right: He has to be better

Carson Wentz said it around a half dozen times about several topics during his 8 1/2 minute postgame press conference following Sunday’s 17-10 loss to the Patriots.

“I have to be better.”

He’s right.

Sure, Wentz went into Sunday’s game without Jordan Howard and without Alshon Jeffery. Then it certainly hurt to lose Lane Johnson in the second quarter. And, overall, his teammates aren’t giving him enough help.

But forget all those excuses for a second. Wentz is right. He needs to be better. He certainly needed to be better on Sunday.

Sometimes the franchise quarterback has to put the team on his back and win a tough game. Wentz had that chance on Sunday night and he didn’t come through.

Even after all their offensive pitfalls on Sunday, Wentz was able to lead the Eagles’ offense down the field late in the fourth quarter with a chance to tie the game. The Eagles began a drive at their own 6-yard line and got all the way to the New England 26.

That’s where the drive stalled.

Down seven points, the Eagles had a 1st-and-10 from the Patriots’ 26-yard line with 1:18 left on the clock and Wentz threw four straight incompletions. By the time the Eagles got the ball back, the game was basically over.

“I have to be better in those situations,” Wentz said. “I have to be better and give them a chance. They made a couple of good plays on the other ones. Like I said, it’s frustrating to be right there and fail to execute four straight times.”

On first down, Wentz overthrew Zach Ertz. On second down, he soared a ball over Nelson Agholor in the flat. On third down, he missed Ertz again. On fourth down, he threw an impressive deep ball into the end zone that Agholor couldn’t pull in.

Ertz had caught every ball thrown his way on Sunday night until this crucial drive. And then that normally reliable connection failed the Eagles at the worst possible moment. One was just a bad throw from Wentz. On the other, Ertz had an option route and explained he should have been more “definitive” for Wentz.

“There are two definitely to Ertz that I think we both want to have back,” Wentz said. “We just weren’t on the same page a little bit. And one I definitely missed.”

While his teammates didn’t give him a ton of help, Wentz missed far too often against the Patriots.

Wentz on Sunday completed just 20 of 40 passes for 214 yards and a touchdown. He was also sacked five times — on some of them he held the ball too long — and also lost a fumble.

“I have to get rid of the ball,” Wentz said. “They had some good coverages and stuff, but I have to get rid of the ball and be better with that.”

His 50 percent completion percentage against the Patriots tied his single-game NFL low. (He completed 11 of 22 passes against Washington in Week 6 of his rookie season.)

While Wentz definitely made some great plays on Sunday — like the first play of the penultimate drive, when he escaped pressure and hit J.J. Arcega-Whiteside for a big gain — he wasn’t consistent enough.

Now, this doesn’t have to devolve the way most debates around Wentz usually do. It’s possible to criticize Wentz’s performance on Sunday without saying he’s not a franchise quarterback. It’s possible to criticize Wentz’s performance without mentioning a certain former Eagles quarterback who helped win the Super Bowl a couple years ago.

But it’s also completely fair to expect more out of Wentz.

On Sunday night, Wentz spoke at the lectern in the bowels of Lincoln Financial Field wearing a camouflage sport coat, but it certainly didn’t help him disappear.  All eyes are always on No. 11.

I give Wentz credit for owning his mistakes on Sunday. He could have passed off blame to a lack of weapons or a lack of protection or a lack of production from the guys around him. None of that would have been wrong.

But Wentz was right. He needs to be better. And it’s fair for us to agree with him.



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