Eagles

Eagles wouldn't still be playing without mid-season additions

Eagles wouldn't still be playing without mid-season additions

The Eagles set their 53-man roster on Sept. 1. Then the real work began.

This has been a difficult season. The Eagles couldn’t score for much of the season. And stopping people was a problem as well. They were a mess.

After an embarrassing 48-7 Week 10 loss to the Saints, they sat 4-6 — one more win than the Jets and Browns — and had an 11 percent chance just to reach the playoffs.

But Howie Roseman, Joe Douglas and their scouts didn’t give up and start preparing for the draft.

They kept tweaking. They kept looking under rocks for players who could make a difference. They cut guys, signed guys, traded guys, promoted guys, claimed guys and even re-signed guys they had already released.

They reshaped the Eagles’ roster in midflight, and gradually the moves began to pay off.

With a roster packed with new faces, the Eagles transformed from a 4-6 also-ran in mid-November into an NFC Final Four team in mid-January.

Some 71 players have been on the active roster at some point this year, and when the Eagles beat the Bears Sunday in a wild-card game at Soldier Field, they did it with a bunch of guys who weren’t even on their radar when the final roster was set on Sept. 1.

Consider:

Golden Tate — acquired from Lions Oct. 30: After an up-and-down regular season, Tate caught the game-winning touchdown pass from Nick Foles on a 4th down with a minute left.

 Cre’Von LeBlanc — claimed off waivers Nov. 5: Has solidified a nickel spot that was in disarray the first half of the season and played his best game as a pro Sunday against the team that released him earlier in the season.

Jordan Matthews — signed Sept. 19: Finished the regular season third among Eagles WRs with 300 yards on 20 catches along with two TDs. Drew a 33-yard pass interference on Prince Amukamara in the third quarter Sunday that set up the Eagles’ first touchdown.

Treyvon Hester — signed from practice squad Oct. 2: Has become a key rotational defensive tackle and recorded one of the biggest special teams plays in franchise history when he blocked Cody Parkey’s potential game-winning field goal.

 Tre Sullivan — signed from practice squad Oct. 10: Has become such a key part of the secondary that he played a career-high 48 of 64 snaps against the Bears as part of the six-DB package Jim Schwartz used most of the game. Sullivan was credited with three pass knockdowns.

 Daeshon Hall — signed Dec. 11: Hall, now with his fourth team this year, has become a key part of Dave Fipp’s special teams rotation since arriving here just a few weeks ago. He had half a sack against the Texans and has played 51 special teams snaps the last four games — all wins.

Where would the Eagles be without them?

The Eagles had 21 guys in uniform Sunday in Chicago who weren’t even on the roster when they won the Super Bowl a year ago. That’s 40 percent.

Things change quickly in the NFL, and the worst thing you can do after you experience success is, stand pat.

Roseman and Douglas and their anonymous scouts — the guys who work thanklessly in dark, windowless rooms, as Schwartz put it Tuesday — have done a brilliant job looking in every nook and cranny of the NFL to find players who can help.

Doug Pederson and the veterans have helped acclimate all the newcomers into the Eagles’ culture of unselfishness and hard work.

And the position coaches have done a brilliant job taking the new additions and taught them, coached them, shaped them and prepared them so in front of a hostile crowd at Soldier Field they could be key components of a huge upset win over a 12-win Bears team.

Not every move has worked. The Eagles signed Dexter McDougle, played him in the slot for two weeks, then released him.

Has anybody seen Markus Wheaton, Kamar Aiken, T.Y. McGill or De’Vante Bausby lately?

But nobody nails every move. And the moves the Eagles did nail have helped turn what was a lost season just seven weeks ago into what’s become a very unexpected, very exciting and very successful one.

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Add Ronald Darby to the list of injured Eagles

Add Ronald Darby to the list of injured Eagles

Starting cornerback Ronald Darby popped up on the Eagles’ injury report Friday with a hip flexor strain and is questionable for the Eagles’ game Sunday against the Redskins.

Darby wasn’t on the injury report Wednesday or Thursday and was a full participant in practice. He’s listed as a limited participant on Friday, which likely means he either got hurt during practice or an injury he suffered Monday night against the Giants got worse.

In either case, it’s yet another injury for an injury-riddled team. The only defensive players to start all 13 games are Malcolm Jenkins, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Rodney McLeod.

The Eagles do have some depth at cornerback, since they’re carrying seven corners on the 53-man roster.

Jalen Mills is expected to be OK for Sunday after hurting his elbow in the Giants game. He was a full participant on Friday after being limited on Thursday.

Rasul Douglas would likely be the starter opposite Mills if Darby can’t play. Douglas has started 17 games in his three-year career, including five earlier this year.

Avonte Maddox can play outside but has been in the slot for the nine games he’s been healthy, averaging 46 snaps per game. Sidney Jones, who started four games earlier this year, is also available. Cre’Von LeBlanc is being brought back slowly after being on IR most of the year, and Craig James hasn’t played a defensive snap in nearly two months.

Darby missed half of the 2017 season with an ankle injury, half of last year with a torn ACL and four games earlier this year with a hamstring injury. He’s played only 29 of a possible 50 games since he got here in the summer of 2017.

The Eagles have don’t have a cornerback who’s played defense in every game this year. They’ve used eight different combinations of starting corners in 13 games.

The Eagles signed the 25-year-old Darby to a one-year contract worth $6.5 million. He has two interceptions in nine starts.

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Eagles vs. Redskins 2019: TV schedule, storylines, game time and more

Eagles vs. Redskins 2019: TV schedule, storylines, game time and more

The Eagles (6-7) are visiting the Redskins (3-10) at FedEx Field on Sunday afternoon. 
 
Here’s everything you need to know:  

•12 p.m.: Eagles Pregame Live on NBCSP
•1 p.m.: Eagles at Redskins on FOX 
•4 p.m.: Eagles Postgame Live on NBCSP 
•10 p.m.: Birds Outsiders on NBCSP 
 
The FOX broadcast crew for this game is Thom Brennaman (play by play), Chris Spielman (analyst) and Shannon Spake (sideline). You can also stream the game on FuboTV.
 
Merrill Reese, Mike Quick and Howard Eskin will have the call on 94WIP. 
 
The Eagles opened as 6-point favorites in some places but that has slipped to around 4 1/2 points. The over/under is 39. 

The referee for Eagles-Redskins is second-year referee Shawn Smith. This is his first game reffing an Eagles game. The Eagles were 2-1 with him as an umpire in 2016 and 2017. 

Keep it going

The Eagles got off to a terrible start against the Giants last week before they turned it around, scoring the last 20 points of the game and getting a huge overtime win. So which team shows up on Sunday? The team that fell behind 17-3 to the Giants or the team that rallied to a win? 

It’ll be key for the Eagles to find what works for Carson Wentz in this game a little earlier. They got him into rhythm last week, but that didn’t happen until the third drive of the third quarter. 

No receivers left 

The Eagles began the season with DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor. That was nice for that one game. Going into Week 15, with Agholor’s status uncertain, the Eagles’ top three receivers might be J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Greg Ward and Rob Davis. Not exactly what the Eagles had in mind this offseason. 

A rookie QB 

The last time the Eagles faced Washington, in the opener, Case Keenum was the starter. So this will be their first time facing rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins. While the Redskins have won two of three, they’re still a mess of an organization, so who knows what the future holds for Haskins. They have an interim coach and it’s possible the next head coach will want to pick his quarterback, which could leave Haskins in limbo. But there’s also a possibly Haskins is still their long-term QB. It’ll be interesting to see what happens down there.  

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