Eagles

Eagles-Jaguars NFL Week 8 predictions for London game

Eagles-Jaguars NFL Week 8 predictions for London game

The Eagles (3-4) are across the pond to take on the Jaguars (3-4) at Wembley Stadium in London. 

Once thought to be a possible Super Bowl preview, this is now a matchup between two teams desperate for a win. 

To the predictions: 

Reuben Frank (4-3) 
It’s sad that I had to even think about who to pick Sunday considering the Eagles are facing a team that’s lost its last three games by an average of 20 points, has scored four touchdowns in its last three games and just benched its quarterback. But that tells you where the Eagles are. Like the Jaguars they’re 3-4, like the Jaguars they’ve won just one of their last four games, and like the Jaguars, they’re capable of losing to anybody right now. 

Unlike the Jaguars, I still think there’s a good team lurking somewhere in the Eagles’ locker room, although we haven’t seen it yet. With each passing week, it seems more and more like the Eagles are a bad team and not just a good team that’s playing poorly. There’s still some hope the Eagles can turn this thing around, but it has to start Sunday and it has to start with the Jaguars. I’m not sure how they’ll do it, but I just can’t imagine they can lose to Jacksonville. They’re not that bad. Are they? So I’ll go with the Eagles finding their way to the bye week 4-4.

Eagles 23, Jaguars 17 

Dave Zangaro (1-6)
I’ve gone back and forth on this one. I think this is a tough trip for the Eagles. Flying across the ocean and changing the routine so much is hard, but the routine here hasn’t been working well either. And I keep thinking about last year’s trip to California. After getting their butts kicked in Seattle, they spent the week in Orange County and got a big win over the Rams at the LA Coliseum. I think we can draw some parallels to that experience. 

And as big of a mess as the Eagles have been, the Jaguars are in even worse shape. They’ve lost three in a row and have been outscored by an average of 20 points per game. Did we mention Blake Bortles is still their quarterback? Sorry to give them the kiss of death. 

Eagles 24, Jaguars 20

Derrick Gunn (2-5) 
This was supposed to be a matchup of Super Bowl contending powers, but it has turned out to be a battle of two squads struggling to stay afloat.

Jacksonville has been outscored 90-28 during its current three-game losing streak. Quarterback Bortles was benched in his last outing, but has been given a vote of confidence and will be under center against the Birds. The Jags’ lethargic run game, hampered by Leonard Fournette’s hamstring issues, could get a boost with the addition of Carlos Hyde, whom they got in a trade with Cleveland.

The Eagles’ lethargic pass rush took another severe hit when we found out that Derek Barnett is out for the season after having shoulder surgery. Meanwhile, the Birds' high-powered offense has had a power outage this season. They have scored more than 23 points in a game only once this season.

One of these teams will get a temporary reprieve after this game with hopes that it will help them turn the corner. The one big difference for me is I’ll take Carson Wentz any day of the week over Bortles, so I’m slightly confident the Birds find a way to pull this one out. 

Eagles 23, Jaguars 17

Ray Didinger (3-4) 
How important is the turnover ratio in pro football? Look no further than the Eagles and Jaguars. Last year, they were in the NFL's final four. This year, they are limping along with matching 3-4 records. Many factors enter into it, but I think the turnover ratio is the biggest. 

Last season, both teams were near the top in that critical category. The Eagles were plus-11, the Jags were a plus-10. This year, it is a total flip. The Eagles are a minus-four (10 turnovers to six takeaways). The Jags are even worse with a minus-12 (17 turnovers to five takeaways). Both teams need to rectify that if they hope to turn their seasons around.

I don't want to overthink this. The Eagles have Wentz at quarterback, the Jaguars have Bortles. I'll take Wentz.

Eagles 24, Jaguars 17

Andrew Kulp (3-4) 
How the heck should I know? Expert predictions, my a… Oops. What I meant to say was the Jaguars have been outscored 90-28 in their last three games, while the Eagles, for all their inconsistencies, are probably two plays away from being 5-2 rather than 3-4.

Then again, the Eagles are also two different plays from being 1-6 instead of 3-4, so I guess I really don't know what to think at this point. Something tells me this might be just what the doctor ordered for the Jaguars — a game on their home away from home in London, vs. an opponent with a million injuries and who simply hasn't looked right all season.

At this point, your guess is as good as mine.

Eagles 20, Jaguars 19 

Corey Seidman (2-5) 
Bortles is atrocious and might not even finish this game. Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook are capable of a nice grab here and there, but the Jaguars' group of skill players is not special.

The Eagles are also allowing an NFL-best 55.3 rushing yards per game. Perhaps T.J. Yeldon hurts them in the passing game but the Birds should be able to stifle Yeldon and Hyde on the ground.

The 2018 Eagles aren't as good as last year's team, but the Jaguars' drop-off from last season to this season might be even larger. This Jacksonville team can be beaten on the ground.

It just might take more creativity than usual for the Eagles. The Jags have been the best team in the NFL against opposing wide receivers and tight ends. The player they struggled most with this season was Cole Beasley, whose shiftiness resulted in nine catches, 101 yards and two TDs. Could mean Nelson Agholor finally breaks out.

Eagles 23, Jaguars 16

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Malcolm Jenkins reacts to settlement in Colin Kaepernick collusion case

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Malcolm Jenkins reacts to settlement in Colin Kaepernick collusion case

In the wake of news that the NFL had settled collusion cases brought forth by Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid, fellow activist and Eagle Malcolm Jenkins has weighed in. 

Despite some disagreements between the men in the past, Jenkins has always maintained that Kaepernick and Reid belonged in the league and thought NFL owners colluded to keep Kaepernick and Reid out of the NFL. 

Reid is now employed by the Carolina Panthers, but Kaepernick hasn’t played in the NFL since 2016. 

You’ll remember in October, Jenkins and Reid got into a heated exchange before the Eagles-Panthers game at the Linc. And after the game, Reid called Jenkins a sellout and a coward (see story).  

That day, Jenkins refused to get into a war of words. 

"I would never get up here and say anything bad about somebody who I know [their] intentions were about helping their communities, especially another black man," Jenkins said on Oct. 21, after the game. "I'll leave it at that."

The exchange between Jenkins and Reid that day stemmed from lingering animosity about the way the Players Coalition — led by Jenkins — brokered a $90 million deal with the NFL to help with projects dealing with racial inequality. 

On Friday afternoon, the NFL released the following statement: 

"For the past several months, counsel for Mr. Kaepernick and Mr. Reid have engaged in an ongoing dialogue with representatives of the NFL. As a result of those discussions, the parties have decided to resolve the pending grievances. The resolution of this matter is subject to a confidentiality agreement so there will be no further comment by any party."

Because of the confidentiality agreement, we don’t know how much this settlement is worth, but it’s likely to be very significant. It’s also unclear if the NFL admitted any wrongdoing in the settlement. 

The grievances began when Kaepernick and Reid claimed they had been blacklisted by the NFL for demonstrating during the national anthem. Kaepernick began those protests by sitting and then later taking a knee. 

Jenkins raised his fist during the anthem but stopped once his Players Coalition brokered that deal in 2017. Jenkins raised his fist in the Eagles’ preseason opener in 2018, but did not during the 2018 season. Jenkins has said many times he wants the focus to be on work in the community and not the demonstrations. 

A tweet earlier on Friday falls in line with that. 

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This offseason, Eagles need to finally find stability at running back

This offseason, Eagles need to finally find stability at running back

When Chip Kelly traded away LeSean McCoy nearly four years ago, he sent the Eagles down a road of complete instability at that position. In the four seasons since that move, the Eagles have had four different leading rushers. 

This offseason, it’s time for the Eagles to find a new featured back. 

There are options, of course. They can try to pick one up in free agency, they can make a trade or they can try to draft the next guy, which is probably the way I’d lean.  

I know what you’re going to say: Well, the Eagles won a Super Bowl with a running back by committee. Doug Pederson seems to prefer it.

I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. This past season, the Eagles seemed eager to find out if Josh Adams could be the lead guy. They want someone to be the starter and at least be the primary runner of the group. That guy needs to be a three-down back who can catch the ball too. 

Think about this: Before Chipper traded away McCoy, Shady led the Eagles in rushing for six straight seasons. Before then, Brian Westbrook led the team in rushing for six straight seasons. So that was 12 straight years (2003-2014) with two of the best running backs in franchise history. Before then, Duce did it in four of five seasons and, before that, Ricky Watters did it for three straight. The Eagles haven’t had this type of instability at running back since the '80s. 

Since Shady’s last season in Philly, DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, LeGarrette Blount and Adams have all had their turn as the Eagles’ leading rusher. 

And in 2014, his last season with the Eagles, McCoy rushed for 1,319 yards. In the four years since, the Eagles’ top two rushers in each season added together haven’t reached that total. The closest they came was when Murray and Mathews combined for 1,241 in 2015. 

Take a look at the last four years: 

2018
Josh Adams: 120 carries, 511 yards, 3 TDs
Wendell Smallwood: 87 carries, 364 yards, 3 TDs
Corey Clement: 68 carries, 259 yards, 2 TDs
Jay Ajayi: 45 carries, 184 yards, 3 TDs
Darren Sproles: 29 carries, 120 yards, 1 TD

2017
LeGarrette Blount: 173 carries, 766 yards, 2 TDs
Corey Clement: 74 carries, 321 yards, 4 TDs
Jay Ajayi: 70 carries, 408 yards, 1 TD 
Wendell Smallwood: 47 carries, 174 yards, 1 TD
Kenjon Barner: 16 carries, 57 yards, 1 TD
Darren Sproles: 15 carries, 61 yards 

2016 
Ryan Mathews: 155 carries, 661 yards, 8 TDs 
Darren Sproles: 94 carries, 438 yards, 2 TDs
Wendell Smallwood: 77 carries, 312 yards, 1 TD
Kenjon Barner: 27 carries, 129 yards, 2 TDs
Byron Marshall: 19 carries, 64 yards 
Terrell Watson: 9 carries, 28 yards, 1 TD

2015
DeMarco Murray: 193 carries, 702 yards, 6 TDs 
Ryan Matthews: 106 carries, 539 yards, 6 TDs
Darren Sproles: 83 carries, 317 yards, 3 TDs
Kenjon Barner: 28 carries, 124 yards

In the four years since Shady has been gone, the Eagles have drafted just two running backs. They took Smallwood in the fifth round of the 2016 draft and took Donnel Pumphrey in the fourth round of the 2017 draft. Smallwood has at least developed into a serviceable backup/rotational player, but Pumphrey hasn’t played a single snap in the NFL. 

Looking at the position now, there are obvious question marks just with the guys who were on the team last year. Ajayi is coming off a torn ACL, already had knee problems and is a pending free agent. Darren Sproles is a 35-year-old pending free agent who might retire. Clement is under contract but is coming back from a season-ending knee injury of his own. Adams was the leading rusher in 2018 but was benched in the playoffs. And Smallwood is under contract but clearly isn’t going to be the No. 1. 

The Eagles haven’t drafted a running back in the first two rounds since they took Shady back in 2009, but with two second-round picks this year, maybe that changes. Either way, it’s time to finally find some stability that hasn’t been there for the last four seasons.

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