Eagles

Eagles snap counts: Replacement corners play a ton vs. Jets

Eagles snap counts: Replacement corners play a ton vs. Jets

Even after Craig James made the game-saving play in Green Bay last week, he had a total of just three NFL defensive snaps under his belt. 

That changed in a big way in Sunday’s 31-6 win over the Jets. 

James, 23, played all but two defensive snaps for the Eagles: 57 of 59. It was the first start of his career. 

And 32-year-old Orlando Scandrick, who wasn’t even signed until last Friday, played 35 defensive snaps (59 percent) and had a monster day with 4 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and a fumble return touchdown. 

I know the Jets’ offense is completely inept and they had an unprepared backup quarterback playing behind an awful O-line, but give James and Scandrick credit. They held up. Give credit to Jim Schwartz and Cory Undlin for getting them ready too. There’s a tougher test next week. 

James started in place of Sidney Jones (hamstring). Jones was active, but did not play. He’ll get a chance to rest another week before the Vikings game. 

More defensive notes

• Malcolm Jenkins was the only defensive player to play all 59 snaps, so he’s the only one this season who hasn’t left the field, which is just what he does. He’s 334/334 on the season and has also played 24 special teams snaps. Jenkins was 1,180/1,180 in the regular season and playoffs last year. 

• As the Eagles work Kamu Grugier-Hill (MCL sprain in training camp) back into the defense, he has been splitting snaps with Nate Gerry, who had a huge pick-6. Gerry actually played more snaps than KGH again (22 to 20). Nigel Bradham and Zach Brown are still playing the most among LBs.  

• The Eagles used their dime defense less, so Andrew Sendejo’s playing time was limited to 17 snaps (29 percent). He played 65 of 81 snaps last week. This week’s usage is more ideal. 

• The last couple weeks, Josh Sweat has played one more snap than Vinny Curry in each game. Something to keep an eye on. 

• Brandon Graham had a sack once every 13.7 snaps against the Jets. That’s almost as impressive as Daeshon Hall, who had one sack on seven snaps. If he just played the whole game, he would have had eight sacks. That’s how this works, right? 

Defense 

Malcolm Jenkins: 59 (100%) 
Rasul Douglas: 58 (98%)
Rodney McLeod: 58 (98%) 
Craig James: 57 (97%) 
Nigel Bradham: 55 (93%) 
Fletcher Cox: 46 (78%) 
Derek Barnett: 43 (73%) 
Hassan Ridgeway: 41 (69%) 
Brandon Graham: 41 (69%) 
Orlando Scandrick: 35 (59%) 
Zach Brown: 31 (53%)
Nathan Gerry: 22 (37%)
Kamu Grugier-Hill: 20 (34%)
Akeem Spence: 20 (34%)
Josh Sweat: 19 (32%) 
Vinny Curry: 18 (31%) 
Andrew Sendejo: 17 (29%)
Daeshon Hall: 7 (12%) 
T.J. Edwards: 2 (3%)

Eagles offensive notes

• The Eagles were incredibly balanced in their running back rotation. Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard each got 29 snaps. While Howard is clearly their best option to run the football right now, Sanders has emerged as a receiving threat. The two players combined for 126 scrimmage yards on Sunday. 

• Nelson Agholor and Mack Hollins played a combined 92 snaps and had one catch for 20 yards on four targets. Hollins’ only target came on the play with the high snap when Carson Wentz just threw it away to avoid a sack. In the last two games, Agholor has played 117 snaps and has one catch. That production isn’t good enough. 

• With that lack of production, it’s fair to wonder about J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, who played just two snaps. But Arcega-Whiteside is Alshon Jeffery’s backup in the offense and Jeffery played all but five snaps on Sunday. 

• With Dallas Goedert over that calf injury, his snaps and Zach Ertz’s snaps were more even. Ertz played 58 and Goedert played 50. They were in 12 personnel a bunch. 

Offense

Brandon Brooks: 68 (100%)
Lane Johnson: 68 (100%) 
Jason Kelce: 68 (100%) 
Isaac Seumalo: 66 (97%) 
Carson Wentz: 63 (93%) 
Alshon Jeffery: 63 (93%) 
Jason Peters: 63 (93%) 
Nelson Agholor: 61 (90%) 
Zach Ertz: 58 (85%) 
Dallas Goedert: 50 (74%) 
Mack Hollins: 31 (46%) 
Miles Sanders: 29 (43%) 
Jordan Howard: 29 (43%) 
Darren Sproles: 10 (15%) 
Halapoulivaati Vaitai: 8 (12%) 
Andre Dillard: 6 (9%) 
Josh McCown: 5 (7%) 
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside: 2 (3%)

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40-year-old Josh McCown was getting ready to play WR on Monday night

40-year-old Josh McCown was getting ready to play WR on Monday night

The Eagles entered Monday night’s game with just three healthy wide receivers and after Alshon Jeffery and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside got hurt, they were down to just one. 

So who would have been the next guy in? 

Well, 40-year-old quarterback Josh McCown was getting ready. 

“I was ready to go,” McCown told NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Clark. “We had the helmet ready to go. The equipment guys were all over it. Had the radio-less helmet because you can’t have two green dots on the field at the same time.” 

McCown didn’t end up playing in Monday’s 23-17 overtime win. The Eagles got by with what they had, which meant playing third tight end Josh Perkins in several different spots. 

But the oldest player on the roster was ready. 

“We were ready to roll,” he said. “Shoot, I’d get in there and go. Obviously, as a quarterback, you know the offense. I guess it was like 12 years ago in Foxboro I had to go in and do it.”

That game McCown was talking about was on Dec. 3, 2006. That was the last time he caught a pass in an NFL game. 

In that game, McCown caught two passes for 15 yards from Lions quarterback Jon Kitna in a 28-21 loss to the Patriots. He also caught a 31-yard pass but it was brought back on an offensive pass interference call that he claimed was “a little suspect.” 

“Hopefully, I don’t get retroactively fined,” McCown said late Monday night, 13 years after the call. 

Is there a statute of limitations on that? 

Anyway, the fact that a 40-year-old McCown was even preparing to enter a game as a receiver is telling. First, about the injuries at that position. And, second, about the poor decision to go into a game with just three healthy receivers. 

Doug Pederson said the Eagles were hoping to have Nelson Agholor for the game, but he came in questionable and was inactive. 

At least they had McCown. 

“I’m not quite the option that J.J. (Arcega-Whiteside) is or Greg (Ward), obviously, but again, we were kind of up against it a little bit,” McCown said. “Just being able to have a contingency plan was the main thing. I was ready to roll.”

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Carson Wentz rallies Eagles past Giants throwing to ... who???

Carson Wentz rallies Eagles past Giants throwing to ... who???

It was Carson Wentz’s best stretch of football this year and it occurred under some of the most unusual circumstances you can imagine.

Tight ends playing receiver. Slot receivers playing outside. Practice squad guys in key roles.

A week after the Eagles blew a 14-point second-half lead to one two-win team, they rallied back from a 14-point second-half deficit against another two-win team.

And Wentz, after another slow start, finally looked like his old self.

Wentz not only rallied the Eagles back after they trailed by 14 points with two minutes left in the third quarter, he did it while throwing to Boston Scott, Greg Ward, Josh Perkins and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside – none of whom were even playing a month ago – as well as Zach Ertz.

It is not easy,” Ertz said. “As a quarterback, chemistry, trust and timing is the No. 1 thing, and he’s putting a lot of trust in guys that he does not have a lot of reps with, and I think that speaks volumes of him. Being able to go out there, and it doesn’t really matter who is out there, NFC East opponent, down 17-3, and play his best football in that second half all year? I am extremely proud of him tonight with the way he led us.

Wentz threw for 350 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles’ critical 23-17 overtime win over the Giants at the Linc.

But look at his numbers on the Eagles’ five drives during their late comeback: 21-for-28 for 226 yards with two TD passes to Ertz, including the game-winner in overtime.

You go into the game with three receivers and now you’ve got Greg Ward usually in the slot and he’s out there playing (outside)," Wentz said. "You’ve got guys moving around. For me, I’ve got no choice but to trust these guys. Some of these routes I’ve never even repped before in those situations, but they stepped up and made plays. They did a great job.

This was vintage Wentz. But it couldn’t have happened without guys making plays around him.

And it's been a while since we've seen that.

With Nelson Agholor out, Alshon Jeffery leaving with an early injury and Mack Hollins and Jordan Matthews long gone, Wentz had to rally the Eagles back from 17-3 with guys he’s barely practiced with.

With a shot at the playoffs at stake.

Just keep believing,” Wentz said. “Keep believing and it’s time to make a decision how this is going to define us. Obviously, we knew it was not our first half. That was a rough one and that was an ugly one. We just said, ‘Keep believing and keep staying together.’ Defense was going to take care of their piece, which they did. And we were able to do enough offensively to get this win.

Wentz has had his issues this year, and he had his issues in the first half Monday night.

But it’s amazing how much better he looks when guys are actually catching footballs for him.

This was the first time the Eagles have come back from a 14-point halftime deficit since the 2014 opener, when they beat the Jaguars 34-17 after trailing 17-0.

Before that? Giants in 2010 at the Meadowlands. You might remember a DeSean Jackson punt return as time expired?

In all, the Eagles were 2-45 in their last 47 games when they trailed by at least 14 points at halftime.

Wentz was asked how big it was for him to win his first overtime game and engineer a rally from 14 down at halftime for the first time in his career.

This is huge for this whole team,” he said. “To come in after halftime, to be where we were, and obviously knowing that our backs were against the wall, season on the line-type of thing, for guys to just stay tough and stay together late in the game … and get the win and drive down to score right away? It’s huge for me personally and for this entire team.

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