The formula for postseason dominance by Eagles' D

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The formula for postseason dominance by Eagles' D

The first half is for figuring a team out. The second half is for battering them into submission.

That's been the formula down the stretch for the Eagles' defense, which hasn't allowed a second-half point in its two playoff wins and has given up only 15 second-half points in its last five games.

"I really think it's a testament to our entire team of just staying on our pace and our tempo, controlling the line of scrimmage, running the ball on offense, just kind of wearing teams down so in the second half we've kind of got them right where we want them," defensive tackle Beau Allen said.

"It's conditioning. It's will. Call it whatever you want. We just kind of turn it on as much as we can later in games. That's when games are won or lost."

This wasn't the case early in the season. The Eagles' first nine games, they gave up 12.6 second-half points per game.

But since the first Dallas game, that figure has been 5.7. 

The Eagles are only the ninth team in NFL history to hold its first two postseason opponents without a second-half point.

In the Atlanta game, the Falcons' scored their only touchdown on an 18-yard drive midway through the second quarter, then didn't score on their last five drives. Last week in the NFC Championship Game, the Vikings took a 7-0 lead on their first possession, then failed to score on their last eight.

"We do a really good job of adjusting," Malcolm Jenkins said. "I think every team is going to come out and they'll have their scripted 15 plays, stuff they see on film, and even last week, we were a little unsettled (against the Vikings), just uncharacteristic, missed a couple tackles, got back to the sideline, calmed it down.

"Jim (Schwartz) does a good job of calming us down and gets us lined up and just able to play fast and when we do get our bearings we start getting negative plays on first down and second down, put you in third and longer, and all of a sudden we become that dominant defense we know we can be snap in and snap out. 

"So it's really just about getting that traction and once we get it and make those adjustments, guys start making plays."

The last team that really hurt the Eagles after halftime was the Rams back on Dec. 10, and that was kind of extenuating circumstances. But even in that game, after the Rams drove 75 yards for a TD to take the lead after Carson Wentz was lost for the season, the defense slammed the door the rest of the game, allowing just six yards on the Rams' last three drives and forcing two turnovers.

You really have to go back to the Seattle game on Dec. 3 to find the last time the Eagles' defense was really outplayed in a second half. 

"It's guys kind of understanding how a team is trying to attack us and what we need to do to stop them," McLeod said. "It's really just staying in front of the game. 

"We've got a lot of really good coaches who work hard, and as players, we're able to apply what they're saying and go out and do it on the field. 

"We get stronger as the game goes on. We come out after halftime and us defensively, we feel like we're one of the strongest teams, whether it's us getting a sack, getting a turnover, really feel like we're creating momentum that we can carry through the rest of the game."

The Eagles have only allowed two second-half touchdowns in their last five games, and one of them was against the Eagles' backups in that meaningless Dallas game.

Overall, the Eagles go into the Super Bowl having allowed 17.3 points per game, 14.5 per game since Week 8 and just 8.3 over the last four weeks.

The Eagles face the ultimate challenge in Tom Brady a week from Sunday, but this defense goes to Minneapolis on quite a run. 

"Corrections are going to be huge this week," McLeod said. "Longer halftime, going to be a lot of time to make those adjustments and corrections. It's going to come down to those things. 

"When you get to the Super Bowl, you have two great teams going at it. Two teams that are here for a reason. Those adjustments and corrections are going to be a difference maker."

Eagles see honor of White House visit, but players still undecided

Eagles see honor of White House visit, but players still undecided

The Eagles organization accepted an invitation to the White House to commemorate its Super Bowl LII championship on June 5. The question is how many of the flock will be migrating to the nation’s capital that day? 

The decision was a hot topic of discussion on Tuesday, Day 1 of voluntary OTAs. 

“I’m excited to be going to be honored as world champions. It’s a great honor,” Doug Pederson said. “We’re still working through some logistics right now, so we don’t have all the details today, but excited to be going.”

So the head coach will be attending. As for Carson Wentz, “I know for me, personally, if the team decides as a whole, most guys want to go or be a part of it, I’ll be attending with them,” he said. “I think it’s just a cool way to receive the honor nationally and be recognized. I don’t personally view it — I know some people do and everyone has their opinion on it — but I don’t view it as a political thing whatsoever. I don’t mess with politics very often.”

Wentz may not mess with politics, but Donald Trump’s short tenure in office is the definition of polarizing and it’s impossible for some of his teammates to be apolitical when it comes to visiting the White House. 

“Because of the political climate we’re in, it will be taken as a political statement one way or another, whether you want it to or not,” said Brandon Brooks, who has yet to decide if he will be making the trip. “The biggest thing is you have to separate politics from the experience of going to the White House. Me, personally, it really is a tough decision because the president we have now, I agree with some things and some I don’t, so I’ll be looking within myself.” 

Some players such as Chris Long and Malcolm Jenkins are on record as saying they will not be going to the White House regardless of what the team as a whole decides. 

“For me, there’s a lot going on with that administration and I don’t think it’s the time to really have any kind of productive or constructive conversations about policy,” Jenkins said. “I definitely want to avoid being used as some kind of pawn. The way things have gone the last few months, I don’t think the time is right for that.”

Long and several other players made it very clear that whatever your choice, it will have no ill effect in the locker room. 

“As far as teammates, yeah, we all have a choice, so nobody’s judging anybody,” Long said. “It’s an honor to get to go to the White House and it means something different to everybody else.” 

Zach Ertz echoed Long’s sentiments about staying unified. 

“I’m still deciding. This isn’t going to be a divisive moment in the locker room,” Ertz said. “Guys are going to respect one another’s opinion. One of the things I’ve spoken about is my wife (U.S. women’s soccer player Julie Ertz) had gone in the past after they won the World Cup and she spoke about how fun it was to go there and to learn so much, see the history. So just an opportunity to go there whether you agree with the organization that’s in there or not. It’s the premiere building in this nation.”

Eagles reportedly turned down a Nick Foles trade offer from Browns

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Eagles reportedly turned down a Nick Foles trade offer from Browns

Earlier this offseason, Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman explained why the price tag for Nick Foles would be high if they ever decided to trade him.

Turns out, he wasn’t kidding. 

Because according to NFL Network’s Mike Silver, the Eagles turned down an offer from the Cleveland Browns for the No. 35 pick in the 2018 draft.

That seems like a more-than-fair price for the 29-year-old quarterback who will be a backup if everything goes as planned in Carson Wentz’s rehab. But the Eagles have been consistent in their valuation of Foles, first by not trading him and then giving him more money with a mutual option for the 2019 season.

While Wentz was on the practice field Tuesday and looked great throwing the football and showing off some footwork (see story), it’s clear the Eagles still have some concerns about Wentz’s health in 2018. And having the Super Bowl MVP as a backup is the best insurance policy going. 

The report from Silver says that after the Eagles received the offer for Foles, they ran it by the quarterback, who told them he’d prefer to stay in Philadelphia. That also jives with Foles’ public comments about wanting to remain in Philly. He said that he’d obviously like to be a starter again, but in the right situation. He became a starter in a bad situation once in St. Louis. 

When talking about not trading Foles in March, Roseman mentioned the hit rate for certain rounds of the draft while weighing the prospect of trading an important piece like Foles. The Browns ended up keeping that No. 35 pick and took running back Nick Chubb out of Georgia. 

And it seems like the Eagles weren’t in love with that general area of this year’s draft. You’ll remember, they traded back from their No. 32 pick all the way to 49 to take tight end Dallas Goedert out of South Dakota State. While the No. 35 pick seems like it’s just out of the first round, it’s clear the Eagles, based on moving out of 32, didn’t value that area this year. At least not enough to part ways with Foles. 

“He’s still on the team because he’s an incredibly valuable member of the Philadelphia Eagles,” Roseman said at the annual NFL meetings in late March. “When you talk about that position and what’s gone on, you’ve seen it in the free-agent market, you’ve seen it in the trade market. We’re in the business of making sure we get the right value for the player. What our value is for a player is going to stick.”

During that same interview in March, Roseman was asked if he could see a situation unfold like the one that netted a first-round pick for Sam Bradford a few years ago. Roseman used his generic “we’ll do anything we think makes the team better” response. But if that type of opportunity arose, the Eagles would likely listen. 

With all the information we have, though, we know it would take a lot.