Eagles

Even on an off night, Eagles set some records

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AP Images

Even on an off night, Eagles set some records

It wasn't his best game, but for purely statistical purposes Carson Wentz did accomplish some pretty impressive things Sunday in Seattle.

Let's take a look as we kick off this week's edition of Roob Stats:

• Wentz had one touchdown pass and one interception against the Seahawks, giving him 14 straight games with one or more touchdown and one or no interceptions. That's the eighth-longest streak in NFL history, behind only streaks by Matt Ryan (21), Aaron Rodgers and Vinny Testaverde (19), Steve Young (17), Trent Green (16) and Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning (15). 

• The streak of 14 straight games with a touchdown pass is second-longest in Eagles history behind Randall Cunningham's 18-game streak over the 1987 and 1988 seasons.

• Wentz now has 29 touchdowns and six interceptions, which makes him only the third player in NFL history with 29 or more TDs and six or fewer INTs after 12 games. The others are Tom Brady (2007, 2015) and Rodgers (2011, 2014). 

• Wentz threw for 348 yards Sunday night, his eighth career 300-yard game. He's only the fifth quarterback to throw for 300 yards eight times in his first two NFL seasons, and two of the others had previous professional football experience. Dan Marino (10) and Jeff Garcia, Andrew Luck and Kurt Warner (9) are the only other QBs to throw for 300 yards eight times in their first two seasons, but Garcia and Warner weren't rookies in their first NFL seasons.

• With a passer rating of 86.2 Sunday, Wentz became the fourth quarterback in NFL history to open a season with a passer rating of 83 or higher in the first 12 games of a season. The others are Peyton Manning, Rivers and Rodgers.

• Wentz's 51-yard pass to Nelson Agholor was his seventh completion of 50 yards or more this year. He shares the NFL lead with Alex Smith. Jared Goff, Andy Dalton and Jacoby Brissett have six. The last Eagles QB with more than seven 50-yarders in a season was Donovan McNabb, who had nine in 2009.

Amazing Non-Wentz stats
• The Eagles gained 425 yards but scored just 10 points. It's the first time since 1955 they've gained over 400 yards but scored just 10 points. They had 408 yards in a 17-10 loss to the Bears at Wrigley Field in 1955. There have been only nine games in NFL history where a team has netted 425 or more yards but scored fewer points.

• Sunday's game was also only the second in franchise history where the Eagles outgained a team by more than 100 yards and lost by 14 or more points. In 1997, they opened the season with a 31-17 loss to the Giants despite outgaining them by 138 yards.

• The Eagles have held 14 straight opponents to fewer than 115 rushing yards, the third-longest streak in franchise history behind a 29-game streak over the 1933-35 seasons and a 15-game streak in 1991 and 1992.

• The Eagles are also the 15th team in NFL history that hasn't allowed more than 115 rushing yards in any of its first 12 games in a season. The Vikings also haven't.

• Agholor had three catches of 25 yards or more Sunday night. He had only two all last year.

• The Eagles have gained 375 or more yards and allowed 325 or fewer yards in four straight games, which matches the second-longest streak in NFL history and longest since 1953 (although 25 other teams have done it four straight weeks since 1953). The 1953 Eagles had a streak of six straight games gaining at least 375 yards and allowing 325 or fewer yards.

Eagles' maligned cornerbacks among NFL's best in one crucial area

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AP Images

Eagles' maligned cornerbacks among NFL's best in one crucial area

Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby have both given up big plays this year. It's no secret. We've all seen it. When you're a cornerback, there's nowhere to hide.

What's much less obvious and just as important is that Mills and Darby have also very quietly become one of the league's best cornerback tandems in the red zone, which gives them the ability to make up for many of their mistakes between the 20s. 

The Eagles are the NFL's best red-zone team after six weeks, and Mills and Darby — with a combined eight pass breakups inside the 20 — are one of the big reasons why.

Let's take a look at some numbers.

Here are the top five red-zone defenses in the league as measured by points allowed per red-zone drive:

1. Dolphins 3.43

2. Eagles 3.62

3. Vikings 3.91

4. Titans 3.94

5. Ravens 4.17

And the top five red-zone defenses in the league in terms of yards allowed per pass play:

1. Jaguars 1.04

2. Giants 1.33

3. Titans 1.41

4. Eagles 1.44

5. Broncos 1.65

In terms of touchdown percentage, the Eagles are No. 1 in the red zone, allowing seven TDs on 21 drives, and in terms of yards per play in the red zone, they're also No. 1, allowing just 1.65 yards per play.

Inside the 5-yard line, teams are averaging negative-.27 yards per pass play against the Eagles.

That's going backwards.

And in the middle of all of it are Mills and Darby.

Much maligned by fans, both have been very good where it matters the most.  

Mills, in particular, has been a weapon, with four PBUs inside the 5-yard-line. Only three other players leaguewide have more than one.

"We put a lot of emphasis as a defense on red zone," Malcolm Jenkins said. "We don't help our corners at all in the red zone, and we bank on them using great technique.

"It's a huge part of what we do on defense, and we'll continue to put pressure on those guys to … play that way."

Opposing quarterbacks are completing just 40 percent of their passes against the Eagles in the red zone, the third-lowest figure in the league.

To excel in the red zone, you need corners who are confident, physical and aggressive, and the Eagles certainly have that.

Both have the discipline to keep their eyes on the quarterback, which is crucial in close quarters because the ball arrives so fast.

Mills leads the NFL with six pass breakups inside the 20, including touchdown-saving plays on Julio Jones, Adam Thielen and Odell Beckham Jr. Darby has two pass breakups inside the 20.

The Eagles have allowed eight TD passes in six games, sixth-fewest in the league. 

What goes into the success Mills and Darby have had inside the 20? Defensive backs coach Cory Undlin spoke about that this week:

"They take a lot of pride down there. We've been going in the red zone since we've been here, and we take a lot of pride in that and they're both competitive guys. They study hard, and you've got to play with great technique down there or it's not good. I think they just have a lot of confidence in it and believe in the scheme and they go out there and do everything they possibly can and make sure the ball doesn't get caught on them. They have not been perfect at all, but normally when we get down there, we feel pretty good about the ball not getting caught on them."

The Eagles will certainly have their hands full Sunday at the Linc when they face the Panthers.

Cam Newton is quite a weapon down near the goal-line. His 115.7 passer rating in the red zone is second-best in the league, behind only Kirk Cousins, and his three red-zone TD runs are eighth-most in the league.

"Just staying aggressive, that's the key," Darby said. "Being aggressive and not being afraid to make mistakes. It's all confidence down there and go out and compete. 

"They drive down the field and even if they get the ball on the 20, hold them to three points or no points, and we feel like it's a huge turnaround in the game."

Six games into the season, the Eagles' defense is 12th in the NFL in yards allowed and 17th in yards per play.

Yet they're No. 5 in points allowed.

What does that tell you?

They're making mistakes between the 20s and making up for them inside the 20.

It's a dangerous way of going about your business, but so far it's working.

"As a defense, we take a lot of pride in red zone," Mills said. "If they don't score, they don't win. That's the mindset of our defense."

Eagles' oldest players have struggled to stay healthy in 2018

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USA Today Images

Eagles' oldest players have struggled to stay healthy in 2018

Father Time is undefeated. And, this season, the Eagles are losing that battle. 

The Birds have seven players who are 32 or older. Five of those seven have been injured and have missed time. 

That shouldn’t be much of a surprise, but the Eagles were hoping to get more out of these veterans. It hasn’t happened so far this season. Take a look. The star denotes a player who has been injured this season:

*36 — Jason Peters

*35 — Darren Sproles

*34 — Haloti Ngata 

*33 — Corey Graham 

33 — Chris Long 

32 — Michael Bennett 

*32 — Mike Wallace  

The only players on that list who have stayed healthy are Long and Bennett. They've been half of the Eagles’ rotation at defensive end and Bennett has proved valuable playing inside. That’s great. 

But Peters has been hampered by a quad injury and partially tore his right biceps in the last game. He’s going to keep playing through injury, but he’s played every snap in just two of six games so far. The Eagles plan to let him play through this most recent injury. 

Sproles has missed the last five games after suffering a hamstring injury following the season opener. There’s no such thing as a minor hamstring injury for a 35-year-old running back.

Corey Graham is also hamstrung. He left early in the Vikings game, missed the Giants game and is in danger of missing this week. 

And Ngata missed the last two games with a calf injury but looks like he might be able to play this Sunday. 

Wallace is probably a little bit of a stretch. He broke his fibula, which makes it much harder to think age mattered. But hamstrings, quads and calves … those are soft tissue injuries and age might have played a big role. 

On Wednesday, I asked Doug Pederson if these injuries will make the Eagles rethink their philosophy: 

"I don't think so. I think sometimes it's kind of the expectation a little bit. You kind of know what you're getting with guys. Listen, these guys have all contributed wherever they have been. Obviously, Darren, couple stops he's been at; Jason has been here most his career; Corey, the stops he's been at. These guys have played a lot snaps.

"It's one of the things where we know if we can just manage and get them through each week and get them ready for game day where they can give us valuable game snaps, that's what you want. You kind of know what you're getting and that's OK."

That’s an interesting answer. The Eagles know that older players are prone to break down, but they decided to rely on them anyway. For what it’s worth, Malcolm Jenkins, Jason Kelce and Brandon Graham are all 30 and have been able to stay on the field this whole season. The Eagles have been able to rely on some players over 30. 

But those guys are getting older each day. And we’ve seen what that age can do to football players. 

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