Eagles

Eagles rookie report: Barnett gets on the board; Hollins comes up clutch

Eagles rookie report: Barnett gets on the board; Hollins comes up clutch

The rookies were active early and often in the Eagles' 28-23 win in Carolina on Thursday night (see breakdown).

First-rounder Derek Barnett got on the sack board with a half-sack, WR Mack Hollins came up in the clutch and CB Rasul Douglas had an eventful night.

Here are a few highlights from Thursday's huge win.

1st quarter, 9:07, 1st-and-10 at CAR 49 - Eagles 0, Panthers 0
Hollins recorded two receptions late but made a big block early on. The rookie receiver is lined up to the left and tight to the line. LeGarrette Blount is running off tackle to that side. Veteran safety Jairus Byrd reads the play well and creeps up to the line of scrimmage. Hollins comes across Byrd's face and puts him on the ground with a nice block. Hollins' effort springs Blount for a 14-yard run.

1st quarter, 7:02, 4th-and-7 at CAR 32 - Eagles 0, Panthers 0
How good has Jake Elliott been? Well, even a poor snap couldn't stop him. Long snapper Rick Lovato snaps the ball off to the right. Punter/holder Donnie Jones does a tremendous job reaching to his right and still putting down a perfect hold. Elliott does an excellent job not losing his focus and nails a 50-yarder to give the Eagles an early lead (see 10 observations).

2nd quarter, 10:34, 1st-and-10 at CAR 16 - Eagles 3, Panthers 3
Welcome to the NFL, Rasul Douglas. The Panthers use a ton of motion, which is effective because of playmakers like rookies Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel and, of course, former league MVP Cam Newton. With both rookies in the backfield, Newton runs a triple option. With Vinny Curry crashing hard on McCaffrey going up the middle, Newton keeps it and gets 10 yards down the field before he even sees a defender. The defender he sees is Douglas, whom Newton fakes out of his cleats for a 16-yard score.

2nd quarter, 6:34, 3rd-and-5 at CAR 14 - Panthers 10, Eagles 3
Payback! In reality, Fletcher Cox makes this play by ferociously collapsing the pocket and forcing Newton to throw it up for grabs (more on Cox here). Douglas still has to be alert enough to know the ball is in the air and has reliable hands to come down with the ball. One of the easiest picks Douglas will ever get, but he still had to pull it in.

3rd quarter, 12:18, 1st-and-goal at PHI 5 - Eagles 18, Panthers 10
One of Carolina's biggest assets is its big receivers. On this play, Newton is looking for former first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin on a fade route. This plays right to Douglas' strength as a tall, long corner. The throw could've been better by Newton, but Douglas is in perfect position and makes a play on the ball. This was a big play. The Panthers would eventually have to settle for a field goal.

3rd quarter, 10:37, 2nd-and-10 at PHI 43 - Eagles 18, Panthers 13
Hollins makes his first of two big catches. On this play, the Eagles are lined up with trips to the right with Hollins being the receiver on the line. Nothing fancy here. Hollins runs an in and pulls in a huge 18-yard reception on third down. This play eventually led to a field goal.

3rd quarter, 1:21, 3rd-and-16 at PHI 18 - Eagles 21, Panthers 13
If the play on the field goal drive was big, this play was critical. On 3rd-and-forever, Carson Wentz does what he's done all season: stand up in the face of pressure and delivers an on-target throw to convert. Again, nothing fancy here by Hollins. Just a solidly run 20-yard in route. The rookie hauls it in for a big first down. This play led to the deciding touchdown (see report card).

4th quarter, 4:23, 2nd-and-10 at CAR 47 - Eagles 28, Panthers 23
This had to feel great for Barnett. Funny enough, after winning so many battles and coming up empty, Barnett loses early on this down. But as he's done all season, he doesn't give up on the play. The coverage is solid and Barnett is able to grab Newton's leg from behind. The rookie holds on for dear life and brings down one of the toughest QBs in the league to corral. 

Analysis
Six games in and the monkey is off Barnett's back. Really, it was only a matter of time. Two plays later, Barnett pressured Newton into a bad throw that was almost picked off by Douglas. Hopefully the sack (technically a half-sack) was the first of many for the 21-year-old.

Hollins looks like he's going to be a solid pro. As mentioned, he didn't do anything earth-shattering on either catch, but he ran the right route and secured the catch. That's more than can be said for some of the receivers that have come through here recently. 

Of course Newton made Douglas look silly on that TD, but Newton has done that to many DBs. It was another solid performance from the rookie overall. He nearly had a second pick later in the game. He led the nation in interceptions last season, so it's not a coincidence that this kid is always around the ball.

And ho-hum, Elliott nailed two more field goals (50, 48). Bye, Caleb Sturgis.

Nick Foles delivers powerful speech after winning Best Championship Performance award at ESPYS

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Nick Foles delivers powerful speech after winning Best Championship Performance award at ESPYS

A year ago at this time, Nick Foles was preparing for a season on the bench as he just tried to stick around the NFL after falling back in love with the game.

He has a little higher profile now.

While Foles is preparing to possibly head back to the bench in favor of Carson Wentz, he is now the reigning Super Bowl MVP and added another trophy to his case on Wednesday night, when he was given the Best Championship Performance award at the ESPYS.

During his acceptance speech, Foles thanked a bunch of folks, used the word “y’all” more than enough times to remind everyone he’s from Texas and spoke candidly about the incredibly unique path his career has taken.

Here is Foles accepting the award from comedian (and Jim Schwartz’s former college teammate … seriously) Jim Gaffigan.

No, an ESPY is no Super Bowl MVP, but it’s a pretty nice honor and Foles is certainly deserving after leading the Eagles to their first-ever Super Bowl. Just a reminder, Foles completed 65 percent of his passes for 373 yards and three touchdowns in Super Bowl LII.

Here’s his full speech from Wednesday night at the ESPYS:

I’m honored to be in front of all y’all. I never planned a speech. I quite frankly never expected to win this award or to even be in this moment. I just want to thank the good Lord for giving me the ability to play the game I love. You know, thank my wife Tori, she’s gone through her own battles the last five years. You’ve always been an inspiration. A lot of my family is here, so thank y’all for always supporting me.

It’s been a crazy career. If any of y’all know my career path, it doesn’t make sense. But you know, I’m here right now. My teammates, coaches, you know what, we faced so much adversity this year, we have an amazing team. It’s so much fun to go to work in that locker room every single day. I couldn’t have done it without y’all. We see what happened. We won the first Super Bowl in Philadelphia history, so we’ve got a special group of guys.

And then to the Philadelphia fans. Y’all get a (bad) rap everywhere, but the passion, y’all bring it every single day. So thank y’all. And finally, there’s a lot of kids watching this and it’s kind of been the theme. There are going to be people who doubt you. Don’t listen to them. What matters is what’s in here (taps on chest) and the people who love you and support you. Go out there every day and be bold. Thank you.

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Roob's 10 observations: Brian Dawkins' Hall of Fame, Nate Gerry & Zach Ertz vs. Jason Witten

Roob's 10 observations: Brian Dawkins' Hall of Fame, Nate Gerry & Zach Ertz vs. Jason Witten

Carson Wentz's remarkable consistency, expectations of Nate Gerry, questions at wideout, a Zach Ertz stat you absolutely won't believe and the rarity of Eagles Hall of Fame teammates.

Roob's 10 random Eagles observations don't get much more random than this!

1. Can we take a moment to talk about how insanely consistent Wentz was before he got hurt? Wentz’s lowest passer rating last year was an 83.0 in the loss to the Chiefs. He threw for 333 yards with two TDs and one INT and that was his worst game of the year. Wentz is one of just four quarterbacks in NFL history to open a season with a rating of 83 or higher in every game through the first 13 games of a season. Which of course is when his season ended. Including the last week of 2016, Wentz goes into 2018 on a streak of 14 straight games with a rating of 83 or higher. That’s seventh longest in NFL history, and the longest active streak. Wentz’s 21 career games with a passer rating of 83 or higher are tied for third most in NFL history by any QB after two seasons, behind only Dan Marino (23) and Russell Wilson (23). And he missed the last three games of the season. What a talent.

2. I’m curious to see Gerry this summer. With Mychal Kendricks off to the Browns and Paul Worrilow out for the season, there are roster spots to be won and playing time to be earned behind Nigel Bradham (out for the opener) and injury-plagued Jordan Hicks. After starting his rookie season on the practice squad, Gerry got an October promotion onto the 53 and got into 10 games and all three playoff games, almost all of it on special teams. He looked bigger and stronger in spring practices as he continues to transition from safety to linebacker. With a good summer, he can definitely find himself in the mix.

3. Ertz had nine third-down catches for first down in the 2017 playoffs. Jason Witten had eight playoff third-down catches for first down in his 15-year career.

4. And Ertz’s nine third-down catches in last year's postseason are the most by any tight end in a single postseason — and second most by any player — in the last 30 years.

5. The Eagles converted 61 percent of their third downs during the 2017 postseason, which is insane. That’s the fourth highest in NFL history by any team in a single postseason (among teams playing at least two playoff games). The Broncos converted 75 percent in 1997, the Rams 63 percent in 2004 and the Colts 62 percent in 1995.  

6. You thought Vaughn Hebron was fast? His daughter, Sanaa, won the AAU national title for the 400-meter dash this weekend in 55.31. That would have placed her fourth in the Big East championships this year. She’s 13 years old. Vaughn’s sons, competing in the 17-18 age group, are no slouches, either. Savion ran 10.78 and 21.68 for the 100 and 200, and Savaughn ran a 2:00 split on the Trenton Track club’s 3,200-meter relay team. So Vaughn right now is at best the fourth-fastest person in his own family. But he does have a couple Super Bowl rings.

7. So many questions at wide receiver behind Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor. Will Mike Wallace slow down at 32? Can Mack Hollins make a big jump in Year 2? Will Shelton Gibson show enough in camp to work his way into the roster mix? Can Markus Wheaton regain the form that made him so dangerous with the Steelers in 2014 and 2015? Can speedy Bryce Treggs make any sort of impact in his third year? Potentially, an exceptional group.

8. Nick Foles is the third-youngest active quarterback in the NFL with at least three career playoff wins. Foles turns exactly 29 years, six months on Thursday. Cam Newton (29, 68 days) and Andrew Luck (who turns 29 in September) also have three postseason wins.

9. Interesting that during 2004 and part of 2005 the Eagles had two future Hall of Famers, Brian Dawkins and Terrell Owens. What was the last Eagles team before 2004 with two Hall of Famers? It was actually 1997, when Dawkins and Richard Dent were briefly teammates. Before that, it was 1987 through 1989, with Reggie White and Cris Carter. Before that, you have to go back to 1968, with Bob Brown and Mike Ditka. So the 14 games that Dawkins and Dent played together during an otherwise forgotten 1997 season are the only Eagles games in the last 50 years where two future Hall of Famers played alongside each other on the same side of the ball.

10. Dawkins didn’t make a Pro Bowl until his fourth season and didn’t make All-Pro until his sixth. Keep that in mind when you’re deciding that “so-and-so can't play” two weeks into his rookie training camp.

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