Eagles

Roob's observations after Eagles right the ship with big win over Bills

Roob's observations after Eagles right the ship with big win over Bills

BOX SCORE 

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — A win that saved the season.

The Eagles went into Buffalo Sunday and scored 31 points against the NFL’s No. 3 scoring defense, grinding out 222 yards and three TDs rushing in a commanding 31-13 win over the Bills.

So the Eagles are back to 4-4 after losing by 18 in Minnesota and 27 in Dallas. They’re only half a game and a tiebreaker behind the idle Cowboys. Most importantly, they have life at the midpoint of the season.

Let’s get right to our 10 instant Eagles observations.

1. There was a lot working against the Eagles this past week, and you don’t need me to recap everything, but between off-field distractions, back-to-back lopsided losses, a third straight road game and a top-3 Buffalo defense, not to mention some rainy and windy conditions at New Era Field, they had a lot to overcome Sunday. The most encouraging thing to come out of this win was just that it shows that the locker room is still together, and Doug Pederson still has his players’ attention. To come into this building and find a way to beat a 5-1 Bills team after everything that’s happened? Just a huge character win.

2. The Eagles ran the ball well the whole game, but that 8 1/2-minute drive to open the fourth quarter was just massive. The Eagles ran the ball on 11 of 14 plays and put the game away by running right at the heart of one of the NFL’s best defenses. And they did it without Miles Sanders, who was out with a shoulder injury. Pederson kept feeding Jordan Howard and he responded with 96 forceful rushing yards on 23 carries. Just kept moving the chains. And the offensive line, which wasn’t great the whole game, was huge on that drive. The Eagles’ running game has been up-and-down this year, but this was a statement drive to seal a crucial road win over a quality opponent. 

3. Brandon Graham’s strip sack and recovery of Josh Allen's fumble deep in Eagles territory just before halftime was the play of the game. The Eagles were able to capitalize and take an 11-7 lead at a point when yards were very hard to come by for the offense. That was the first of two Graham sacks, and he now has 6.0 sacks in his last four games after recording 4.0 in his previous 20 games. I had my doubts about bringing Graham back for a 10th season, especially with $27 million in guaranteed money at 31 years old. But he’s playing at a high level right now. His effort is non-stop and it’s paying off lately. 

4. A huge play in this game was Ronald Darby’s pass breakup on the Bills’ 4th-and-10 from the 29-yard-line late in the third quarter. With the Eagles up 24-13, they needed a stop, and Allen’s pass to John Brown was on target, but Darby — in his first action in a month — got a hand in front of Brown and batted the ball away. No way that play gets made while Darby was out.

5. He got hurt soon after, but Sanders’ 65-yard touchdown run was an eye-opener. This is a guy who had 42 yards combined with a 2.2 average his last three games. He just absolutely exploded — behind a Howard block — and when he’s in the open field, he’s unstoppable. The issue has been getting him to the second level. But this is only his eighth career game, and to record the Eagles’ longest rushing TD in seven years was impressive. Pederson reduced Sanders’ role the last few weeks but didn’t entirely stop using him, and his belief in the rookie from Penn State paid off. Sanders still needs to do this consistently, but his ability in the receiving game (3-for-44 Sunday) and this explosion in the running game is a dangerous combination. 

6. The Eagles’ defense really needed a performance like this. After the last two weeks? They had to be great Sunday. The Bills don’t have a particularly high-powered offense, and Allen still made more plays in the passing game than you would have liked, but the Eagles held Frank Gore to 9-for-34 rushing and the Bills netted just 253 yards of offense. Most importantly, they kept the Bills from getting any big plays both with Gore in the running game or Brown in the receiving game. Buffalo didn’t have a 30-yard play.  

7. I thought a really key moment for the defense was late in the third quarter, when Boston Scott’s fumble on a kickoff gave the Bills the ball at the Eagles’ 43-yard-line with the Bills down 11. How many times have we seen the defense buckle in that situation when the Eagles really needed them to stand up tall? This time, they came up huge, stopping the Bills on that Darby fourth down, and the game was essentially over after that.

8. In all, the Eagles ran an incredible 40 times for 218 yards. That’s their most rushing yards since they had 256 in Dallas in 2014, and their most carries since they had 42 against the Chargers in L.A. in 2017. To do that against this defense after struggling to run the ball with authority much of the season is enormous. Running the ball does so much. Keeps the defense off the field. Wears down the opposing defense. Gets the offense into a rhythm. Keeps pressure off Carson Wentz. They’ve got to be able to run it effectively more consistently, but this was one heck of a performance.

9. Wentz was efficient throwing the ball on a blustery day — 17-for-24 for 172 yards with a TD and no interceptions — but he really made an impact with his athleticism. On that key 8 1/2-minute drive in the fourth quarter, he converted a 3rd-and-5 with a 13-yard scramble and then ran 11 yards on a 3rd-and-10. Then he rolled out as if to run, drawing defenders, and threw to a wide-open Dallas Goedert for a first down. Nobody was going to put up big passing numbers on a day like this — not in these conditions, not against this opponent — but Wentz was in command from start to finish and made big plays whenever he had to, especially on third down. Encouraging day for Wentz.

10. Looking at the big picture, the Eagles really salvaged their season with this one. At 4-4 in a division where nobody has played consistently well and with the Cowboys still having to come to Philly in December, there’s no reason they can’t win the NFC East. But they have to find a way to play like this week in and week out. They have to be consistent. They can’t go out and get blown out two weeks in a row. The Eagles really righted the ship with this one. It’s a win that inspires confidence in this team and this coach. The schedule doesn’t get any easier with the Bears, Patriots and Seahawks. But for this win to really mean anything, they have to keep fighting the way they fought Sunday.

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Eagles announce several new jersey numbers for 2020 season 

Eagles announce several new jersey numbers for 2020 season 

We have a long way to go before the start of the 2020 season but we have some jersey number updates from the Eagles. 

Most of these new numbers are for new players, but Jalen Mills is also switching out of the number he’s worn for the first four years of his career. 

Here they are in numerical order: 

Jalen Mills: 21

Mills spent the first four years of his career in No. 31. But his rookie contract is over and he’s returning as a safety in 2020. So new position, new number. 

“It’s just recreating myself,” Mills said this week. “Recreating that Green Goblin, that monster. It’s a new position, it’s a new feel, and it’s going to be new energy.”

Mills said he admires guys like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, who each changed their jersey numbers throughout their NBA careers. 

The No. 21 became available after Ronald Darby left in free agency to head to Washington. Darby wore 41 back in 2017 when he arrived in a training camp trade; Patrick Robinson had the 21 on his one-year deal.

Complete Eagles history at 21: James Zyntell, Les Maynard, Paul Cuba, John Kusko, Herschel Stockton, Allison White, Chuck Cherundolo, William Boedeker, Al Pollard, Jim Carr, Joe Scarpati, Ray Jones, Jackie Allen, Wes Chesson, Al Clark, John Sciarra, Evan Cooper, Eric Allen, Bobby Taylor, Matt Ware, William James, Joselio Hanson, David Sims, Roc Carmichael, Jerome Couplin, Leodis McKelvin, Patrick Robinson, Ronald Darby

Darius Slay: 24 

In Detroit, Slay wore No. 30 during his rookie season back in 2013 but had the No. 23 in the next six years. But in Philly, Rodney McLeod has 23, so Slay is happily changing to 24 to honor the late Kobe Bryant.

“I’m going Kobe mode,” Slay said. “Black mamba. Rest in peace to the  One of my favorite players. I will look good in 24.”

Last season, Jordan Howard wore the No. 24 during his one-year stint with the Eagles. 

Complete Eagles history at 24: Howard Auer, Joe Carpe, Dick Lachman, Jack Knapper, Herman Bassman, Joe Pilconis, Rabbit Keen, Bill Schneller, Dom Moselle, George Taliaferro, Don Schaefer, Nate Ramsey, Artimus Parker, Henry Monroe, Zac Henderson, Ray Ellis, Russell Gary, Reggie Brown, Alan Reid, Alan Dial, Corey Barlow, Tim McTyer, Darnell Autry, Rod Smart, Blaine Bishop, Sheldon Brown, Joique Bell, Brandon Hughes, Nnadmi Asomugha, Bradley Fletcher, Ryan Mathews, Corey Graham, Jordan Howard

Will Parks: 28 

During the first four years of his NFL career, Parks wore No. 34 in Denver as a sixth-round pick. But that number is owned by Cre’Von LeBlanc in Philly. 

So Parks will hop into the No. 28 that was vacant for most of last year until Jay Ajayi was signed during the season. 

Complete Eagles history at 28: Dick Thornton, Guy Turnbow, Algy Clark, Joe Pilconis, Max Padlow, J. “Stumpy” Thomason, Harry Klopenburg, Ray Keeling, Bob Jackson, Paul Dudley, Jim Gray, Bill Bradley, Lou Rash, Greg Harding, Don Griffin, Mel Gray, Clarence Love, Amp Lee, Correll Buckhalter, Ramzee Robinson, Marlin Jackson, Dion Lewis, Earl Wolff, Wendell Smallwood, Jay Ajayi

Nickell Robey-Coleman: 31

As an undrafted player, Robey-Coleman came into the league and wore No. 37 for his first three seasons in Buffalo before he got a big-time improvement and took over 21 in 2015. For the last three seasons, he wore 23 with the Rams but that’s taken by McLeod here. 

So he’ll be in the 31 that Mills wore for the last four years. 

Complete Eagles history at 31: Joe Carter, Tom Graham, Irv Kupcinet, William Brian, Bob Masters, Emmett Mortell, Jerry Ginney, Phil Ragazzo, Jim Castiglia, Ted Williams, Art Macioszczyk, Dan Sandifer, Ebert Van Buren, Ron Goodwin, Tom Bailey, Wilbert Montgomery, Troy West, Tyrone Jones, Brian O’Neal, Derrick Witherspoon, Al Harris, Daryon Brutley, Dexter Wynn, Ellis Hobbs, Curtis Marsh, Shaun Prater, Byron Maxwell, Jalen Mills

Trevor Williams: 41

You might have forgotten the Eagles signed Williams back in January, but the cornerback and Penn State product has 39 NFL games and 27 starts to his name with the Chargers and Cardinals. 

He has previously worn 42, 24 and 22. 

Complete Eagles history at 41: Ted Schmitt, Foster Watkins, Buist Warren, Gil Steinke, Frank Ziegler, Jerry Norton, Bob Freeman, Howard Cassady, Harry Wilson, Richard Harvey, Randy Logan, Earnest Jackson, Keith Byars, Alvin Ross, Fred McCrary, Johnny Thomas, William Hampton, Thomas Tapeh, Stephen Spach, Tanard Davis, Antoine Harris, Jarrad Page, Emil Igwenagu, Randall Evans, Ronald Darby, De’Vante Bausby

Jatavis Brown: 53

Everyone pretty much understood that Nigel Bradham wasn’t going to return to the Eagles in 2020 but now they went ahead and gave his number away. Bradham wore 53 for the last four seasons in Philly. 

During his first four NFL seasons with the Chargers, Brown was No. 57 but that’s occupied in Philly by second-year linebacker T.J. Edwards. 

Complete Eagles history at 53: Walt Masters, Alex Wojciechowicz, Ken Farragut, Bob Pellegrini, John Simerson, Bob Butler, Harold Wells, Fred Whittingham, Dick Absher, Dennis Franks, Fred Smalls, Jody Schulz, Dwayne Jiles, Maurice Henry, Ivan Caesar, John Roper, Bill Romanowski, N.D. Kalu, Hugh Douglas, Mark Simoneau, Moise Fokou, Ryan Rau, Najee Goode, Nigel Bradham

Javon Hargrave: 93

Not long after news broke that Tim Jernigan was heading to Houston, Hargrave got his jersey number. 

A switch was necessary for Hargrave, who wore 79 during his first four seasons in the NFL with the Steelers. The Eagles already have a No. 79 who is pretty good in right guard Brandon Brooks. And Hargrave wore 97 in college but that number in Philly is owned by Malik Jackson. 

Complete Eagles history at 93: Tom Strauthers, John Dumbauld, Ray Phillips, David Bailey, Greg Townsend, Daniel Stubbs, Darion Conner, Pernell Davis, Levon Kirkland, Marco Coleman, Jevon Kearse, Trevor Laws, Jason Babin, Brandon Bair, Tim Jernigan

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NFL Draft Betting: Take this under on running back D'Andre Swift

NFL Draft Betting: Take this under on running back D'Andre Swift

With the 2020 NFL Draft just weeks away, now is the time to start scouting your first round bets - if you haven't already.

NBC Sports Philadelphia betting expert Brad Feinberg has identified one over/under he likes quite a bit: local product and Georgia running back D'Andre Swift's draft slot at 31.5.

Feinberg said he likes the under on Swift going before the 31st overall pick this year.

"There is a separate bet you can make, will there be a running back taken in round one of the NFL draft, where the yes is minus-300," Feinberg explained.

In this year's draft, Swift is largely considered the best running back prospect available, so Feinberg sees the likelihood of Swift earning a first-round nod as fairly high.

Plus, history is on Swift's side. 

Despite the supposed league-wide devaluation of the running back position, at least one running back has been selected in the first round in each of the last five NFL drafts, with three in 2018, and two in both 2017 and 2015.

While NFL general managers aren't eager to spend big money on running backs, but when they can be had on rookie contracts and with fresh legs, they feel like good investments.

And Swift seems to be a good first-round investment.

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