Eagles

Eagles Injury Update: Patrick Robinson returns from concussion

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

Eagles Injury Update: Patrick Robinson returns from concussion

While all eyes were on Jay Ajayi as the running back took the practice field for the first time as an Eagle on Wednesday, another key player returned. 

Just a few days after suffering a concussion against the 49ers, Patrick Robinson was back on the field, which means he already cleared the concussion protocol and will be able to play against the Broncos on Sunday. 

Robinson, 30, left Sunday's game after just 18 snaps. Dexter McDougle filled in, playing 32 snaps. 

On a one-year deal, Robinson has been a revelation for the Eagles this season. After a horrendous training camp, Robinson was moved to the nickel corner position after the Ronald Darby trade and began to flourish. He has arguably been the Eagles' best cornerback this season, so getting him back is a big boost. 

It's still unclear if Darby will return to game action this week. But on Wednesday, he began his third straight week of practice. Darby hasn't played since he dislocated his right ankle in the season opener in Washington. 

He has been listed as questionable for the last two weeks after being a limited practice participant. 

With a bye week after this Broncos game, it might make sense for the Eagles to wait. 

How can the Eagles slow down Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins?

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USA Today Images

How can the Eagles slow down Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins?

Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz met with reporters on Tuesday for his weekly press conference. 

Here are my three big takeaways: 

Praise him like you should 
Avonte Maddox returned to the Eagles’ lineup on Sunday in LA after missing the previous three games and the Eagles started him at his third different position this season. That’s pretty incredible. 

After the game, Fletcher Cox praised Maddox after the game, saying the rookie is small but has the heart of a giant. On Tuesday, it was Schwartz’s turn to praise the talented and versatile rookie defensive back. 

“I don't know if we win that game without Avonte, though,” Schwartz said. “Not just making the interception but played really good in the pass game. That tackle he made in the two-minute drive at the end, that's a big-time play -- the plays that you'll see from him, if you're watching highlights of the game or the last play of the game, his interception, but that tackle had every bit as much to do with us winning that game and it's really encouraging to see.”

When asked what Maddox’s best position is, Schwartz joked linebacker and then joked that Maddox could probably use his natural leverage to rush the passer. 

Schwartz is absolutely right to praise Maddox and I’m not sure where his best position is either. His body type (5-9) makes me think he’s a nickel corner, but he’s already shown me he can play outside and at safety. The good news for the Eagles is that next year they can figure out where to play everyone else, then plug him in. 

Stopping Nuk 
The Eagles have faced plenty of good receivers this season, but there’s an argument to be made that DeAndre Hopkins might be the best receiver in the league. He has 94 catches for 1,321 yards and 11 touchdowns, but the most impressive thing about Nuk is his penchant for spectacular catches. Schwartz said the biggest thing that stands out about Hopkins is that ability to come down with contested catches. 

“He has some rebounder-type skills in him,” Schwartz said. “Charles Barkley would lead the NBA in rebounds when he’s 6-3. Those guys that just have a knack for high point and a knack for knowing -- but I think that sort of stands out the most.”

I used to cover the Texans when Hopkins was just entering the league and he has the best hands of any player I have ever covered. The dude just catches everything. It’s like his hands are made out of Velcro. 

So what’s the coaching point against a guy like that? 

“Be strong on defense,” Schwartz said, kind of shrugging. “It's like when I used to have Calvin Johnson, what do you tell the guy, get taller? Hey, jump higher.”
 
More from the blitz 
The Eagles blitzed a little more on Sunday than they have in recent weeks. But I do like that Schwartz is able to joke about how infrequently he uses the blitz. 

“We blitz more than a couple of those games where we blitzed zero or one -- I don't think seven really makes the radar as far as blitzing a lot.”

He mentioned that the front four did a good job of getting to the passer on Sunday, which allowed them to be selective with the blitz. He said it helped them blitz “on our terms” and not out of necessity. That’s a good way to look at it.

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Film shows how Eagles ran behind Dallas Goedert, Zach Ertz

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NFL

Film shows how Eagles ran behind Dallas Goedert, Zach Ertz

Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert are both praised plenty for their abilities as receivers, but let’s take a look at the job they did in the run game against the Rams. 

The Eagles spent more than half of their offensive snaps Sunday in 12 personnel and it helped get their running attack going against the Rams, who stubbornly stayed in their nickel defense. 

Ertz and Goedert were able to help clear some big holes and helped the Eagles get in the end zone three times. 

It was the first time all year the Eagles had three rushing touchdowns in a game and just the second time since the 2014 season. And all three rushing touchdowns Sunday came with the Eagles in their 12-personnel package. 

This first play we’re going to look at comes late in the second quarter. It’s 1st-and-goal from the 6-yard line. The Eagles are in shotgun with Josh Adams to Nick Foles’ left. On that side of the line, Goedert and Ertz are tight next to Jason Peters. 

Goedert is about to block two guys on this play and won’t look like a rookie doing it. 

Goedert’s first man is the linebacker Cory Littleton (58) and then he’ll take out No. 43 John Johnson III as Ertz will take over the block on 58. 

Goedert engages on 58 but has his eyes on the next level. The hole is already created because Peters is taking Michael Brockers (90) out of the play. 

After Goedert leaves 58 for Ertz, he is able to get his shoulder out there to take on Johnson and create a hole for Adams, who runs in the 6-yard touchdown. Goedert doesn’t take Johnson out of the play, but he slows him down just enough to prevent him from making the tackle as Adams drags him across the goal line. 

It’s a thing of beauty. 

 

That’s not a play most rookie tight ends are able to make. And it’s the type of play we have to remember when we get that itch to look at Goedert’s receiving numbers and be unimpressed. 

“That’s one of the areas where he’s shown tremendous amount of improvement in,” offensive coordinator Mike Groh said. “He was not asked to do a ton of that in college. So to really be doing for the first time in the NFL is something that usually takes tight ends a year or two. He’s really developed. Justin Peele has done a great job of getting him coached up. Dallas is a tough guy and he’s really got a lot of strength there at the point of attack.”

This next play comes on 1st-and-goal from the 9-yard line in the third quarter. At this point, the game was still tied 13-13. Again, the Eagles are in 12 personnel, but this time, Goedert and Ertz are lined up to the right of Lane Johnson. Foles is in shotgun with Smallwood to his right. 

This time, Goedert is asked to block No. 94 DE John Franklin-Myers 1-on-1 as Ertz gets to the next level on 43. 

Johnson and Brandon Brooks create the hole, but the key is that Goedert needs to hold it against a defensive lineman who outweighs him 30-plus pounds. It’s Ertz’s job to simply run over 43 and he does. 

“I think Zach takes a lot of pride in being a complete player, not just a pass-catching tight end,” Groh said. “And he’s done a really good job too.” 

This is a pretty big freakin’ hole. Ertz just keeps his block on Johnson and Smallwood shows off his balance after Johnson tries to trip him up low. 

 

This was an impressive play and not the last time we were going to see the Eagles run out of 12 personnel in their big win. 

This play is actually Smallwood’s second touchdown of the third quarter. Surprise, the Eagles are back in 12 personnel after they already had plenty of success with this personnel grouping. It’s 2nd-and-2 from the Rams’ 4-yard line with the Eagles up 23-13. 

This time, Goedert and Ertz are lined up to the left of Peters. Ertz’s job is to handle 43 again, while Goedert is again asked to first block a defensive lineman. He blocks the the right DE until he passes him off to Peters and gets to the next level and then he blocks 26 (linebacker Mark Barron). 


Goedert and Peters double the lineman but here’s the point where Goedert takes care of the linebacker. Give credit to Stefen Wisniewski and Jason Kelce for helping to create that hole as the RDT slants to the wrong side. Ertz has his man with no problem outside. 

Another nice hole for Smallwood, who picks up his second rushing touchdown of the quarter. Smallwood came into Sunday night with three career touchdowns. 

 

The Rams stubbornly stayed in nickel for most of Sunday’s game, which made it a little easier for the Eagles to run out of their 12 personnel package, but we might be seeing a slight shift in philosophy. With Ertz playing so well and with Goedert coming on strong, the Eagles have the ability to be readily good and versatile with two tight ends. 

Obviously, Ertz’s ability as a pass-catcher is special and Goedert has the ability to catch too, but the strength in this personnel grouping is being able to do both. We saw the Eagles have the ability to dominate the run game in this way on Sunday. 

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