Eagles

Eagles' secondary relished opportunity to 'shut that up' against Giants

Eagles' secondary relished opportunity to 'shut that up' against Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — They got everybody off their back.

For now, at least.

The Eagles’ much-maligned secondary was terrific Thursday night in the Eagles’ 34-13 win over the Giants at MetLife Stadium (see 10 observations).

It shut down Odell Beckham Jr., it didn't allow a passing touchdown, it knocked a ton of passes down, and for the first time this year it played up to its high standards.

“I feel like every time things go bad, it’s always the secondary’s fault,” Ronald Darby said. “So we just took it upon ourselves to shut that up and go out there and make plays, and that’s what our key objective was.”

Beckham managed just 44 receiving yards with a long gain of 12 yards, most of it in garbage time, and although Giants rookie Saquon Barkley had a brilliant evening with 229 yards from scrimmage, the Eagles’ secondary had by far its strongest game of the season.

Eli Manning, who’s thrown more touchdowns against the Eagles than any QB in history, didn't throw a touchdown, got picked off by Kamu Grugier-Hill and had nine passes knocked down, four by Darby.

Manning looked old and washed up. The Eagles' secondary looked fast, aggressive and confident.

“Feels good,” Jalen Mills said. “We were out there communicating, which is the biggest part in secondary play. We played fast.”

The Eagles’ pass defense has actually been among the NFL’s best this year. Other than a terrible first half in Tampa. 

The Eagles have allowed just eight TD passes in six games, and their red-zone defense is second best in the NFL.

But Darby is right.

On days when nobody plays well, most of the criticism is aimed at the corners.

They’re easy targets. When they mess up, it’s easy to see.

“It comes with the territory,” Darby said. “That’s the sport. That’s what you signed up for. That’s what you get paid for. You’ve just gotta go out there and keep competing.

“It’s a team sport. You talk bad about one, you’re talking bad about all of us. So just go out there and have fun.”

Mills had a very good day, especially in the red zone. The Giants were 0 for 3 inside the 20, managing just two field goals, and Mills was a big reason why. His toughness and aggressiveness are magnified inside the 20.

“We put the work in, even on a short week, and guys executed,” Mills said. “Banged up, short week, guys in the trainer’s room. This feels like — not to try to reminisce or anything — but it feels like one of those team wins from last year.”

The Eagles, already without starting safety Rodney McLeod, lost nickel corner Sidney Jones early in the second quarter, which left Rasul Douglas playing safety for the first time in his life. Rookie Avonte Maddox was already playing safety for the first time in his life.

Malcolm Jenkins is the only defensive back the Eagles had in uniform over the age of 24.

People need to realize how young and talented and confident and deep this group is.

At one point, Mills left the field and safety Tre Sullivan — who wasn't even on the roster a few days ago — came in for a few snaps, with Douglas moving to outside corner and Maddox back to nickel.

“We had cornerbacks playing safety, safeties playing nickel … a lot of moving parts,” Maddox said. “We all learn every position in case something like this happens, and we were ready.”

Since allowing Ryan Fitzpatrick four TD passes in Week 2, the Eagles have allowed just four touchdown passes the last four games.

And they’ve done it despite injuries, guys in new positions and some pretty accomplished receivers across the line of scrimmage.

“They’re very dynamic in that they can all play multiple positions,” Jordan Hicks said.

“Malcolm’s such a great leader for that room with the young guys. We have so much confidence in them. That’s the fabric of this team. When one person goes down, the next guy goes in. That’s the expectation.

“If you don’t, you’re playing lower than our expectations, no matter the situation, and guys understand that, and it showed tonight.”

Darby made it clear he relished the opportunity to quiet a lot of doubters Thursday night.

“It feels good, but they’re always going to be lurking,” he said. “So you’ve got to stay on top of your game.”

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The top 10 worst performances ever by Eagles RBs

The top 10 worst performances ever by Eagles RBs

Even the best running backs have really bad days. So do the really bad ones!

Yesterday, we counted down the 10 greatest performances in Eagles history by running backs. Today, we celebrate the 10 worst!

Usual rule applies: No back can be listed more than once. Why? Nobody wants to read about 10 Michael Haddix games! 

1. Steve Van Buren, vs. Browns, Dec. 3, 1950 
The game:
Browns 13, Eagles 7, Cleveland Municipal Stadium
The stats: 10 carries, minus-2 yards
The story: Even Hall of Famers have bad games, and Van Buren had the worst game of his career against the Browns, who a few weeks later won the NFL Championship. Van Buren finished his career with a 4.4 rushing average. Without this game, he would have been at 4.5. The only game in Eagles history where a back had 10 or more carries and negative yards. And the 3rd-worst rushing performance ever by a Hall of Fame running back.

2. Ricky Watters, Sept. 3, 1995, vs. Buccaneers
The game:
Buccaneers 21, Eagles 6, Veterans Stadium
The stats: 17 carries, 37 yards, 2 fumbles
The story: The stats were bad enough, but what made this such a disaster for Ricky in his first game as an Eagle was his notorious explanation for a lack of effort on two late but catchable passes from Randall Cunningham: “Hey, I’m not going to trip up there and get knocked out. For who? For what?” Ricky apologized the next day and went on to have three straight Pro Bowl seasons. But he never did shake the “For Who, for What” tag.

3. Al Pollard, Oct. 19, 1952, vs. Browns
The game:
Browns 49, Eagles 7, Shibe Park
The stats: 5 carries, minus-11 yards
The story: Poor Al Pollard. It’s not easy to average negative 2.2 yards per carry. That’s the fewest yards in Eagles history on five or more carries and 11th-worst in NFL history by a non-quarterback. That one game drops Pollard’s career rushing average from 3.7 to 3.4.

4. Keith Byars, Oct. 26, 1986, vs. Chargers
The game: 
Eagles 23, Chargers 7, Veterans Stadium
The stats: 10 carries, 0 yards, 1 TD
The story: Here’s what Byars’ day looked like in order: +2, -3, -2, +7, +1, 0, -1, -3, -3, +2TD. He’s one of only three players in NFL history – and the only one in the last 65 years – with 10 or more carries, zero or fewer yards and a rushing TD. Byars’ 0 yards is the second-fewest in Eagles history on double-digit carries, two more than Van Buren against the Browns in 1952.

5. DeMarco Murray, Sept. 20, 2015, vs. Cowboys 
The game:
Cowboys 20, Eagles 10, Lincoln Financial Field
The stats: 13 carries, 2 yards
The story: A year earlier, Murray was a 1st-team all-pro and led the NFL in rushing for the Cowboys. But against his former team, he averaged 5.5 inches per carry (although he did catch 5 passes for 53 yards). His 2 yards are the fewest in franchise history on 13 or more carries and 9th-fewest in NFL history. It’s the worst rushing performance ever by a defending NFL rushing champion.

6. LeSean McCoy, Sept. 21, 2014, vs. Redskins
The game:
Eagles 37, Redskins 34, Lincoln Financial Field
The stats: 19 carries, 22 yards
The story: McCoy’s average of 1.16 yards is 5th-lowest in NFL history on 19 or more carries. In the second half, Shady had 14 carries for 11 yards, and in the 4th quarter he was 6-for-4 rushing. McCoy averaged 4.2 yards per carry that year. Without that game, it would have been 4.4. 

7. Michael Haddix, Sept. 22, 1985, vs. Redskins
The game:
Eagles 19, Redskins 6, RFK Stadium
The stats: 14-for-20 rushing, 1 catch, minus-3 yards
The story: Haddix had 38 career games with an average of 2.5 or worse. During his career – from 1983 through 1990 – only one running back (Tony Paige) had more (40). But his performance against the Redskins in 1985 was historic. His 1.4 rushing average is 3rd-worst in Eagles history on a minimum of 14 carries. But factor in his negative-3 receiving yards and you have 15 touches for 17 yards. That’s the 2nd-fewest scrimmage yards in Eagles history on at least 15 touches (read below for the only worse game). He’s one of only eight players in NFL history to average 1.4 yards per game or worse and have minus-3 receiving yards in the same game!

8. Bryce Brown, Dec. 9, 2012, vs. Buccaneers
The game:
Eagles 23, Buccaneers 21, Raymond James Stadium
The stats: 12 carries for 6 yards
The story: This is called coming back down to Earth. In the previous two games, filling in for injured LeSean McCoy, the rookie 7th-round pick rushed 43 times for 347 yards and four TDs. Needless to say it’s the worst performance in NFL history by a back coming off consecutive 165-yard performances. The 4th-lowest rushing average in Eagles history on 12 or more carries.

9. Heath Sherman, Oct. 6, 1991, vs. Buccaneers
The game:
Buccaneers 14, Eagles 13, Tampa Stadium
The stats: 35 carries, 89 yards
The story: When you have Brad Goebel at QB, you have to try to run the ball, and Rich Kotite tried and tried and tried and tried. The Bucs stacked the box, Heath Sherman kept pounding and he never got anywhere. Sherman’s 89 yards are 3rd-fewest in NFL history on 35 or more carries. Best part about it is that we blasted Kotite for giving Sherman 35 carries and Keith Byars and Robert Drummond a combined three carries. So the next week Heath goes 7-for-29 in a loss to the Saints and we ask Kotite why he didn’t get more carries, and Kotite flips out: “Last week it was too many carries, now it’s not enough carries! It’s ABSURD! It’s ABSURD!” 

10. Wilbert Montgomery, Dec. 24, 1978, vs. Falcons
The game:
Falcons 14, Eagles 13 [wild-card game]
The stats: 16 carries, 19 yards, 1 TD, 1 catch, minus-5 yards
The story: Two years later, Montgomery would have one of the greatest games in NFL postseason history. But in the grim loss to the Falcons – that’s the one Mike Michel’s missed PAT cost the Eagles at least overtime – Montgomery had one of the worst games in NFL playoff history. His 19 yards are 3rd-fewest in NFL postseason history on 15 or more carries and his 14 scrimmage yards are the fewest in NFL postseason history and 3rd-fewest in NFL history in any game on at least 17 touches. 

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Emmanuel Acho gives epic defense of Doug Pederson

Emmanuel Acho gives epic defense of Doug Pederson

In a recent CBS Sports’ ranking of the top 10 head coaches in the NFL, Doug Pederson came in ninth. Ninth!

He was behind guys like Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay and Eagles fans weren’t very happy about it. 

After all, this is a head coach who has led the Eagles to three consecutive playoff berths despite staggering injuries. And in 2017, he led them to the franchise’s first Super Bowl win despite injuries to several key players, including Carson Wentz, who was likely the league’s MVP. 

But he was still ninth on this list and former Eagle Emmanuel Acho was having none of that on FS1’s Speak for Yourself. 

Most of the things Acho says in the video are things Eagles fans already know about. But they are things that he wanted FS1’s national audience to realize. Pederson really is one of the best coaches in the NFL and he deserves to have his name closer to the top of the list. 

Acho played for the Eagles from 2013-15, so he never played under Pederson. He spent his entire Eagles career with Chip Kelly as his coach. 

But there are still many players on the Eagles’ roster who were his teammates back then, so he has probably heard plenty of great things about Pederson. One of the most impressive parts about Pederson’s time as head coach is the total buy-in he gets from his players. His guys fight for him. 

That’s a big reason why he has been able to rally teams that have been decimated by injuries. No one wants to let Pederson down. In that respect, he’s an awful lot like Andy Reid.

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