Eagles

Roob’s observations after shorthanded Eagles come back to beat lowly Giants in OT

Roob’s observations after shorthanded Eagles come back to beat lowly Giants in OT

BOX SCORE 

Just what we all expected. Boston Scott leading the Eagles back from a 14-point halftime deficit to an overtime win over one of the worst teams in football.

You never know. You really don't.

But the Eagles beat the Giants on Monday night, 23-17 in overtime, the losing streak is over, the Eagles are back in a virtual tie with the Cowboys, the division is there for the taking and if you went to bed early, don't you feel stupid?

Here are 10 instant observations about the strangest game of the year:

1. Honestly, when it was 17-3 at halftime, I didn’t think they had a shot. They looked dead. They looked lost. They looked done. I wasn’t sure this team had any fight left. It’s hard to get too excited about a rousing comeback against a 2-10 team that hasn’t won a game since September, but when you’re facing a four-game losing streak of your own and a second straight loss to a last-place team, you’ll take it. Whatever Doug Pederson told these guys at halftime worked. The Eagles got some juice from some unexpected people — Scott, Josh Perkins and Greg Ward, who were all on the practice squad earlier this year. All of them made big plays on the two second-half TD drives. And for the first time in a long time the Eagles actually looked like a real football team. They’re still a 6-7 team that struggled to beat a 2-10 team at home. But it’s way better than the alternative.

2. Whatever Pederson said or did at halftime, what we saw in that second half and OT — the Eagles outscoring the Giants 20-0 to win a game they had to win — is evidence that Pederson's message and his voice are still getting through to the guys in the locker room. That’s the most important takeaway of this game. That first half was grotesque, but this team still has some pride and still has some fight, and still cares and is still willing to play hard for Pederson. That’s why he’s not going anywhere after this season. There will be changes. Probably major changes. We all saw Monday night why the head coach won’t be one of them.

3. Carson Wentz has taken a lot of heat lately, and he’s deserved some of it. But you saw in that second half and overtime what happens when he gets some help from the people around him. When people actually make plays. Wentz after halftime was 22-for-31 for 228 yards, two TDs to Zach Ertz and no interceptions. And that’s with two wide receivers who entered the game with 13 career catches. Wentz is not the problem. He never was.

4. Let’s talk about Scott. With Miles Sanders cramping up in the second half, Scott really gave this team some juice. Seemed like he woke up the whole team. Woke the whole stadium up. Made big play after big play and looked like a young Darren Sproles out there. Would you believe he had 114 yards from scrimmage after halftime? Scott scored the Eagles’ first TD, had a huge 25-yard run in overtime and finished with 69 yards receiving and 53 rushing. This is a guy who had 23 career rushing attempts and one career catch before Monday night. On a team with a lot of guys who have come up small in big situations, a guy who was on the practice squad two months ago came up huge.

5. Add in Perkins (5-37) and Ward (4-34) and that’s 15 catches for 140 receiving yards and 10 carries for 59 more yards for Eagles who were on the practice squad earlier this year. Turns out the practice squad is where the talent’s been hiding all year.

6. Let’s take a look at what the Eagles’ defense did in the second half. After getting gashed twice on big plays in the first half, they held the Giants to 29 yards and no points in the second half. That’s 29 yards on 21 plays over seven drives. After allowing 37 points in Miami and 17 in the first half Monday night, it was an incredible bounce-back for a maligned unit.

7. With Derek Barnett out, Vinny Curry was pressed into action, and it’s been a quiet year for Curry. Really a quiet few years. But Curry had his first two-sack game in more than four years, and that was big. Curry's another one of those 2017 Super Bowl guys who probably won’t be here next year, but it was nice to see him make a legit contribution to a big win.

8. Ertz was coming off one of his worst games in recent years but once again was huge in big situations Monday night. He finished 9-for-91 with two touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime, and now has 42 catches in his last four games. Sometimes it’s easy to take Ertz for granted, but the guy is really, really good and really, really clutch. 

9. All week we wondered why the Eagles weren’t activating a wide receiver. “We’re very comfortable with the guys we have,” Pederson said. “If it’s three, it’s three.” Now, remember, when the Eagles released Jordan Matthews and Mack Hollins, they added a cornerback and a guard. So not only did they go into this game with three receivers, two of them — JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Greg Ward — have barely played NFL football. Then Alshon Jeffery gets hurt, and it left the Eagles with an undrafted free agent who’s played three career games and a rookie averaging about 20 snaps a game. The Eagles were lucky to survive it, but it was a grave miscalculation putting the coaches and the quarterback in this position.

10. It’s hard to believe after all this team has been through — back-to-back blowout wins on the road, three-game losing streak, unimaginable loss to a two-win Dolphins team — this team is tied for first in the NFC East. Win three games and go to the playoffs. What a strange year. At halftime, you’re thinking about firing everybody. An hour and a half later, you’re thinking about the playoffs. They almost lost to another two-win team with a coach that’s about to get fired and a quarterback that’s about to retire. Instead, they’re three wins from a home playoff game. Football’s weird. Football’s great.

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Similarity Travis Kelce sees between Eagles' Super Bowl LII team and Chiefs' Super Bowl LIV team

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Similarity Travis Kelce sees between Eagles' Super Bowl LII team and Chiefs' Super Bowl LIV team

Travis Kelce is about to play in his first Super Bowl but it’s not the first time he’s been around the biggest game in the sport. 

The Chiefs' tight end, and brother of Jason, was around the Eagles’ run to Super Bowl at the tail end of the 2017 season so he has an idea about what the week is like and what it takes to win it all. 

And Kelce, speaking to reporters in Miami, said he sees one big similarity between the Eagles in Super Bowl LII and his Chiefs that will play in Super Bowl LIV: 

I was out there in Minnesota. It was a very unique situation because I got to see it almost second hand and really kind of in the background of the Eagles, asking my brother everything that was going on that week. 

“It was unique how tight of a team they were, how their chemistry ... they just felt like a brotherhood, even from the outside. You could just tell how tight-knit that group was. With that being said, I think this team has the exact same feeling going into it. How much we appreciate each other and have fun on the field with each other and make sure we’re doing the right things so we’re accountable for each other.

There was definitely something special about that Eagles team that played in Super Bowl LII. It’s probably a bit much to call it a team of destiny, but that team had a special feel to it. And a big part of it is because of how close they were. 

In some sense, it shouldn’t be too surprising to see an Andy Reid-led team have a similar feel. The atmosphere around the 2017 Eagles was created in part by Doug Pederson and his coaching staff. Pederson wanted his guys to have fun, he wanted them to be themselves. And, of course, Pederson is a protégé of Reid. Both men are known as players coaches. 

As of early this week, Travis Kelce said he hadn’t yet asked his older brother about tips for Super Bowl week or playing in the big game. Jason was at the Pro Bowl with his family and baby daughter, so Travis wanted to give him a chance to enjoy himself. 

But Travis said he does plan on chatting with Jason soon. He wants to ask for tips about some things he might not know about playing in the big game, anything that will give him an advantage on Sunday evening. 

For now, how tight-knit the Chiefs are certainly won’t hurt. 

“Everyone is just enjoying their time, being themselves,” Kelce said. “I love this team more than any other team I’ve ever been on, man, because it’s that much more fun.”

Sound familiar? 

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Super Bowl LIV vs. XXXIX: Comparing Andy Reid’s 2 title game teams 15 years apart

Super Bowl LIV vs. XXXIX: Comparing Andy Reid’s 2 title game teams 15 years apart

Andy Reid is heading back to the Super Bowl after 15 years, but does he have a better shot to win this time? 

We all remember Super Bowl XXXIX and the way the Eagles lost to the Patriots. 

That Eagles team was 13-3 (they were 13-1 before they decided to rest starters and cruise into the playoffs) and finished in first place in the NFC East. This year’s Chiefs team, led by Reid, was 12-4 and finished in first place in the AFC West. 

Like these Chiefs, those Eagles took down their first two playoff opponents with relative ease. In 2005, the Eagles’ won their two playoff games before the Super Bowl by an average of 15 points per game; these Chiefs won their first two by an average of 15.5. 

This is just a fun exercise, but let’s go position-by-position to figure out which of Big Red’s Super Bowl teams is better. 

Quarterback

Eagles: Donovan McNabb

Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes 

No, McNabb clearly didn’t have his best performance in Super Bowl XXXIX but he was no slouch coming into that game. Remember, that 2004 season was the fifth straight Pro Bowl season for him and 2004 was his best season. He set an Eagles record with 3,875 yards and had 31 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He finally got a big-time receiver — sure, we know that didn’t end well — and had the best season of his career. 

But Mahomes is just better. He didn’t have the numbers this year that he did last year but he’s arguably the best player in the league. In the last two seasons, he’s thrown 76 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. In these playoffs, he has eight touchdowns and zero picks. 

Edge: Chiefs 

Offensive line

Eagles: Tra Thomas, Artis Hicks, Hank Fraley, Jermane Mayberry, Jon Runyan 

Chiefs: Eric Fisher, Stefen Wisniewski, Austin Reiter, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Mitchell Schwartz 

Schwartz is one of the best right tackles in the league and overall the Chiefs have a really good unit, even with Wiz filling in at left tackle. They deserve a ton of credit for their success. But the Eagles back then had their bookends in Thomas and Runyan, and Mayberry at right guard who won a Pro Bowl a couple years earlier. If Shawn Andrews was able to stay healthy that year, this would be a runaway. Still … 

Edge: Eagles 

Wide receiver

Eagles: Terrell Owens, Todd Pinkston, Greg Lewis, Freddie Mitchell 

Chiefs: Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson 

In that Super Bowl, the Eagles got one of the greatest receivers in the history of the NFL back in action and he was tremendous. After missing a month and a half with a broken leg, T.O. went for nine catches and 122 yards in that Super Bowl. And that season in 14 games, he caught 77 passes for 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns. Owens was great … but the rest of that group was average, even though Pinkston was better than you remember. 

And if you take a look at the speed the Chiefs have on offense, most of it is at receiver. These guys seem to make big play after big play. So the Eagles had the best individual receiver but they don’t have a better group. The Chiefs are four deep. 

Edge: Chiefs 

Running back 

Eagles: Brian Westbrook, Dorsey Levens, Josh Parry 

Chiefs: Damien Williams, LeSean McCoy, Darwin Thompson 

Williams is a pretty good player and he’s had two solid games in the playoffs. But Shady has played one snap in the playoffs and simply hasn’t been himself in a while. And remember, Westbrook in 2004 had his breakout season. He had over 1,500 yards from scrimmage. And in the two playoff games before the Super Bowl, Westbrook had 252 scrimmage yards and a touchdown. 

Edge: Eagles 

Tight end

Chiefs: Travis Kelce, Blake Bell 

Eagles: L.J. Smith

I always think about what a shame it was that Chad Lewis got hurt in the NFC Championship Game and couldn’t play in the Super Bowl that year. That left the Eagles with L.J. Smith, who had 377 receiving yards in 2004. Meanwhile, Kelce happens to be one of the best tight ends in the league and has been to five consecutive Pro Bowls while going over 1,000 yards in each of the last four years. This one is easy. 

Edge: Chiefs 

Defensive line

Eagles: Derrick Burgess, Corey Simon, Darwin Walker, Jevon Kearse, Hollis Thomas, Hugh Douglas, Sam Rayburn, Jerome McDougle 

Chiefs: Frank Clark, Chris Jones, Tanoh Kpassagnon, Terrell Suggs, Derrick Nnadi, Mike Pennel, Xavier Williams, Khalen Saunders 

This one was really tough to figure out and the numbers tell me the Eagles have it. They had the NFL’s 16th-best rushing defense, while the Chiefs had the NFL’s 26th-best rushing defense. And The Eagles had 47 sacks in 2004, while the Chiefs had 45 in 2019. But Kearse and Douglas weren’t the same guys they once were. Burgess hadn’t yet gone to Oakland to have his breakout seasons. Simon was solid and the Eagles had a good rotation. 

But the Chiefs have a couple of elite players in Clark and Jones. So, to me, they have the best edge player and the best interior lineman of this group. And Kpassagnon puts the group over the top after his two-sack performance in the AFC Championship Game. This one was admittedly really close and I went back and forth a few times. 

Edge: Chiefs 

Linebacker

Eagles: Jeremiah Trotter, Mark Simoneau, Keith Adams, Mark Simoneau, Dhani Jones, Ike Reese 

Chiefs: Damien Wilson, Anthony Hitchens, Reggie Ragland 

This one was really hard to judge because these are basically different positions that we’re comparing 15 years apart. The Chiefs’ linebackers wouldn’t have been very good in 2004 and the Eagles’ linebackers wouldn’t have been very good in 2019. Responsibilities of linebackers have changed so much. 

Above we looked at the Eagles’ run defense and a huge reason for their success was Trotter, who was an elite player back in 2004 once he took his starting job back. He’s the best player of the bunch and even with Adams and company with him, I’m leaning that way. 

Edge: Eagles 

Cornerback

Eagles: Lito Sheppard, Sheldon Brown, Rod Hood 

Chiefs: Charvarius Ward, Bashaud Breeland, Kendall Fuller 

Nothing wrong with Ward or Breeland, who’ve both been playing pretty well. But Lito and Sheldon were just better. Remember, Sheppard had an All-Pro season in 2004 with five interceptions and two returned for a touchdown. And Brown also had a very good season; he had 2 INTs, 16 PBUs and 3 sacks. 

Edge: Eagles 

Safety

Eagles: Brian Dawkins, Michael Lewis 

Chiefs: Tyrann Mathieu, Daniel Sorensen 

If Juan Thornhill was healthy this would be a little closer but the promising rookie has missed the playoffs with a torn ACL. And Mathieu is an undeniably great player. But Dawk is a Hall of Famer and he was right in the middle of his prime for the Super Bowl run. And Lewis that season made his only Pro Bowl. This one was pretty easy. 

Edge: Eagles 

Special teams 

Eagles: David Akers, Dirk Johnson, Rod Hood, J.R. Reed, Brian Westbrook 

Chiefs: Harrison Butker, Dustin Colquitt, Mecole Hardman 

In 2004, Akers was a Pro Bowler, making 27 of 32 field goals. But Butker has been very good in 2019, making 34 of 38 and was 3 for 6 on field goals of 50-plus. Ultimately, having Hardman’s ability to break one is a bit of an X-factor. His 58-yard return against the Texans really helped turn that game around. 

Edge: Chiefs 

Takeaways: This was really close. With the way the way I broke the categories down, it came out 5-5. But that’s not to say I couldn’t have had the secondary as one position and the DL as two. But the point of all this is that these are two different but very good teams. I think many people have forgotten just how good that 2004 Eagles team was. They were 13-1 before they rested starters in the last two games of the regular season. 

Ultimately, I’m giving the slight edge to the 2019 Chiefs for two reasons. First, I’ll ride with Mahomes. Not taking away anything from McNabb back in ’04 because he was really good that season, but Mahomes is just special. And I’ll always give a nod to the team with the better quarterback. And the other reason is Reid himself. I think he’s simply a better coach than he was 15 years ago with the Eagles. He’s learned a lot and maybe he’s still not the best game-day manager but he has been very innovative with his offense in KC and there’s a good chance he finally gets it done this year. 

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