Eagles

Eagles notes, quotes and tidbits: No big egos fueling NFL-best

Eagles notes, quotes and tidbits: No big egos fueling NFL-best

You've probably heard a lot about how balanced and unselfish the Eagles are this season. They're 9-1 and haven't had a receiver go over 100 yards in a game. 

In a way, it's what makes them such a dangerous team. 

Opposing defenses can take away Zach Ertz. Or they can take away Alshon Jeffery. Or they can take away Nelson Agholor. 

They just can't take away everyone. 

And Carson Wentz has been comfortable throwing to all of his receivers all season. That balance has been key for the Eagles, but if Wentz doesn't trust his teammates, it doesn't happen. 

"Trust is never just given right away. It's got to be earned," Wentz said this week. "I think we've earned that throughout OTAs. We talked a lot about it, but going to North Dakota this summer, getting that bond with some of those receivers, training camp and everything. I think we've really developed a lot of trust with each other, the whole offense, receivers and tight ends especially. The more games, the more guys get thrown in, I don't really think twice about who's in there. I just kind of know the progression, know the read and just trust those guys." 

Whoever gets open, gets the ball. 

Wentz doesn't care if it's Alshon or Marcus Johnson. That trust has helped the Eagles become one of the most dangerous offenses in the NFL. 

It also wouldn't work with selfish players who demanded the ball. The Eagles haven't had a problem with that all season. Even Jeffery, who is in a contract season, hasn't caused a problem. In fact, Wentz said he's the perfect example of a team-first guy. When a teammate scores, it's Jeffery who gets to the end zone to help orchestrate the celebration. 

"I think it's really cool for me to see how excited guys get when other guys score," Wentz said. "Maybe another guy was open on the play, but his buddy scored and we're all celebrating together. I think that's just a sign of a really close team and I think we are."

Answering the Qualls
During training camp, rookie Elijah Qualls missed a few weeks with an injury, but when he came back, he looked much better and made the 53-man roster. Upon his return, Qualls said his time away gave him a different perspective and helped him improve. 

He's hoping that will be the case now. 

Qualls hasn't been active since the Arizona game. That's five straight games without suiting up. But that's likely going to change this weekend. Beau Allen (knee) is officially listed as questionable but after missing practice all week, it seems unlikely he's going to play. That should mean Qualls will be up. 

"I'm still learning how to be a professional," Qualls said. "And being able to watch how the group handles each week, both physically and mentally, as far as preparing for each team and recovering for games and everything like that and progressing each week. Being able to see that and how they do that and how people go about it with different approaches, I'm just taking all that and implementing it myself in a way that when it's my time to start playing, I can be as efficient as possible. 

"There's definitely things you can take from every experience. I'm not looking at this one as a bad one."

The last time Qualls was active he played 14 snaps against the Cardinals. That was the last game of a four-game stretch where he's seen his only game action. 

"I'm always looking forward to playing," he said. "I'm just excited to go out there and contribute. Obviously, it's a special team we have, so to be able to say I helped contribute, it's awesome." 

Two-point stance
After Jake Elliott went down in Dallas, the Eagles were left without a kicker, which changed normal procedure. Most notably, they went for two-point conversions after all four of their second-half touchdowns and converted thrice. 

So instead of four extra points, the Eagles walked away with six points. And over Doug Pederson's tenure in Philly, the Eagles are 10 for 13 going for it on two; that's 20 points instead of 13. 

Given their success on two-point conversions, it might make some sense to buck conventional wisdom and start trying it more often. Pederson has thought about it. 

"Yeah, I have," he said earlier in the week. "Of course, you always go into a game with a few in your pocket." 

He even cited the numbers, saying if the team is around 95 percent on extra points, the two-point conversion rate needs to be around 48 percent to work. 

Offensive coordinator Frank Reich said the team has around 15-20 two-point conversion plays. While defenses obviously differ, Reich said there are a handful of coverages teams will use in that part of the field. 

While the Eagles have had success, it might stand to reason that if they started going for two more often, opposing teams would have more film of what types of plays the Eagles prefer in those situations, which could hurt the percentage. 

Aside from that, looking at the overall numbers sometimes discounts the importance of a single game. For instance, if a team goes 10 for 15 on two-point conversions, it doesn't mean much if they lose a game when they go 0 for 2. 

Still, it's food for thought. 

"It's something we'll look at going forward," Pederson said. 

Quote of the Week I: 
"I texted him right after the game. I was like, 'look at you with the golden toe.'"

— Chris Maragos about Kamu Grugier-Hill, who was forced to kick off against the Cowboys.

Quote of the Week II: 
"I honestly didn't even know that. I guess that's cool and all but you know how I am about that stuff. At the end of the day, we're 9-1 and that's what we like. You know me, I don't get caught up in that stuff."

— Wentz on leading all players in Pro Bowl voting 

Quote of the Week III: 
"I don't know. We've got good tacklers."

— Jim Schwartz on why his defense has found success tackling 

Random media guide note: 
Alshon Jeffery's favorite movies are "Friday" and "The Notebook."

Eagles ‘optimistic’ several pieces could return Sunday

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NBCSP

Eagles ‘optimistic’ several pieces could return Sunday

As they get ready to face one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, the Eagles’ depleted secondary might get a boost just in time. 

Head coach Doug Pederson said Sidney Jones is day to day as they enter the week, but he’s optimistic Jones will be able to play Sunday in New Orleans. Jones has missed the last three games after leaving the Giants game on Oct. 8 with a hamstring injury. 

Getting Jones back would be big, especially after the Eagles lost Ronald Darby to a torn ACL in the last game. 

Before his injury, Jones had been the Eagles’ slot corner, but since then Jalen Mills suffered a foot injury that will likely keep him out again this week and Darby tore his ACL. Rasul Douglas will likely be one of the starting outside corners this weekend and Jones might be the other. 

“I think we’ll see him in both spots,” Pederson said. “Avonte (Maddox) has done a nice job in the nickel. He’ll probably continue to work in there. We’ll just ease Sidney back in today and see what he can do.”

Tim Jernigan 

He’s still on the Non-football Injury list, but Doug Pederson said Jernigan will “do a little more” this week in practice and the Eagles are optimistic about his chances to play this week. 

That would be another huge boost at a position where the Eagles could certainly use it. 

Before Jernigan would be able to play, he’d need to be put on the 53-man roster. The Eagles have a three-week window to either activate Jernigan or shut him down for the season. That window began last Monday. 

Richard Rodgers 

If you were curious why the Eagles used one of their two designations to return from IR on tight end Richard Rodgers, we got some clarity on Wednesday. Pederson said third tight end Josh Perkins has a significant knee injury and will miss time. 

Rodgers was cleared for practice yesterday and will be on the field later today. Pederson said Rodgers is day to day and they’re optimistic he’ll be able to play Sunday too. If not, the Eagles also added veteran Will Tye to the practice squad. 

With Rodgers designated to return from IR, the Eagles have just one remaining designation for either Mack Hollins or Mike Wallace. 

Darren Sproles

After suffering a setback last week, it doesn’t look like Sproles is going to be able to play for a while because of that hamstring injury. After saying he was optimistic about several players’ chances of playing this week, here were Pederson’s expectations for Sproles this week: 

“Continue to rehab and train and get healthy.” 

Sproles hasn’t played since the opener. He’s been a waste of a roster spot for months. 

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Is Mike Groh the right man to be Eagles' offensive coordinator?

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USA Today Images

Is Mike Groh the right man to be Eagles' offensive coordinator?

Here are three takeaways from offensive coordinator Mike Groh’s chat with reporters on Tuesday afternoon. 

Starting too slow 

Here’s a look at the Eagles’ scoring by quarter this season: 

Q1: 21 
Q2: 59
Q3: 58
Q4: 57

One of those things is not like the other. The Eagles’ slow starts this year have absolutely killed them. Sure, they were on a crazy run of winning coin flips and deferring early in the season, but they haven’t made the most of their first-quarter opportunities and it’s just killed the entire team — offense and defense. 

“Well, we've put a lot of energy and thought into it,” Groh said. “We know it's an area that we need to improve on. We've been able to do a lot better throughout the course of the game, and it's something that if it was one thing, it would be an easy fix. But it's a little bit of this, and a little bit of that. Kind of everybody has taken a share of that. We're pointing those things out that need to be corrected. Trust me when I say this, we're spending a lot of time trying to get it fixed.”

After nine games, there’s not a lot of confidence that they’ll be able to figure this out. Doug Pederson accepted responsibility for the first 15 scripted plays not working. The first play from scrimmage on Sunday asked Zach Ertz to block Pro Bowl defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence 1-on-1. 

Groh was asked if maybe the Eagles shouldn’t have a TE blocking “one of the best edge rushers” in the league. 

“Something to consider, for sure,” Groh quipped. 

Yeah. It is. 

A Golden opportunity 

The Eagles traded away a third-round pick for eight games of Golden Tate and then played him 18 snaps (29 percent) in his debut. Pederson said it was because the offense went with tempo and Tate’s plays were out of the huddle. That’s an explanation, but not a good one. It’s crazy Tate didn’t play more. 

“We brought him here to play him a lot,” said Groh, who added that they’ll continue to build on Tate’s package of plays. 

Groh wouldn’t say who will lose time because of Tate, but said it’ll probably depend on the play. The two most obvious candidates are Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor. 

Either way, Howie Roseman traded for a guy who was supposed to help this year and  then the coaching staff didn’t play him. Really, this is inexcusable. 

Are YOU the problem? 

The Eagles are scoring more 6.5 points fewer per game this season, so we’re all trying to figure out why. One reason floated more than a few time is the loss of offensive coordinator Frank Reich. 

I asked Groh on Tuesday if the transition from Reich to him has gone as smoothly as expected and if it has negatively affected the offense. 

“Well, sitting here with the record that we have, we're not pleased with where we stand, and we have aspirations to compete for the playoffs. I think that we're still in the playoff hunt, and we can do that. We've talked about some of the things that need to improve to give ourselves the best chance to do that.”

OK, so he clearly wanted no part of this question and I can’t say I blame him. It’s really hard to know how much swapping Reich for Groh has affected the offense. It’s really hard to gauge the value of an OC, especially when that role isn’t as a play- caller. But I think it’s a fair question. And I wonder how much it has hurt the Eagles this year.

 

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