Giants bench Eli Manning and Eagles will be sad to see him go

Giants bench Eli Manning and Eagles will be sad to see him go

Some big news out of North Jersey this morning as the Giants have officially named rookie Daniel Jones their starting quarterback. 

After 15-plus years of service and two Super Bowl rings, Eli Manning is heading to the bench. 

This is a development the Eagles won’t be happy to see. For the most part, they have owned Manning in his career. 

But this is the right call from Pat Shurmur and the Giants, although, I have to admit I’m a little surprised it happened this soon. I thought we’d at least have a few more weeks of Eli purgatory. But now the Giants can at least get their first-round pick some game experience, although it’s hard to imagine the Giants’ offense will all of a sudden pick up. He might give them a better shot. 

Really, the Giants shouldn’t have even brought Manning, 38, back this season. He’s getting paid a ton of money and now he’ll be getting paid a ton of money to not play. 

The Eagles don’t face the Giants until Week 14 this season (they also play them in the regular season finale), so it always seemed very possible (likely even) that Jones was going to be the starter by then anyway. If anything, this is bad news for the Eagles because Jones will now have more experience under his belt by the time the Eagles see him later this season. 

And, in a larger sense, this is bad news for the Eagles because it appears the Giants have finally moved on from a situation that has really stunted their progress for several years now. I’m sure the Eagles didn’t mind the Giants’ holding on to Eli over the past few seasons. At least now the Giants can attempt to move on. 

Manning might end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day, but the Eagles should consider putting him in their Hall of Fame too. In his career against the Birds, Eli Manning is 10-20 in the regular season and 0-2 in the playoffs. Manning has lost his last five games against the Eagles and is 4-16 against the Birds since 2009. 

Manning now has a record of 116-116 and maybe that’s fittingly how his career will end. 

Well … until like Week 6 when Jones has a bad game and Shurmur goes back to him. 

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Double teams frustrating Zach Ertz, stalling Eagles' offense

Double teams frustrating Zach Ertz, stalling Eagles' offense

Considering the way the Eagles’ wide receivers have played since DeSean Jackson got hurt, why wouldn’t you double Zach Ertz and make somebody else beat you?

That’s what teams are doing to the Eagles right now, and to a large extent it’s working.

Ertz has seen more double teams than ever this year, in particular the last few weeks. His numbers are down — from 48-for-480 at this point last year to 33-for-366.

That in itself isn't a huge issue. Nobody expected him to catch another 116 passes this year. The problem is nobody has picked up the slack.

It's one of the big reasons the Eagles’ offense hasn’t been able to find a consistent rhythm since Jackson got hurt.

It’s frustrating at times, but I’ve got to focus on not allowing it to frustrate me,” Ertz said Wednesday. “Obviously, that just means I’ve got a lot of respect from the other (team). But at the same time, I'm not going to be satisfied with just being a guy out there. I'm going to focus on being better each and every week. I feel like I've played well at times, a little inconsistent.

Ertz is still fourth among NFL tight ends with 33 catches and sixth with 366 yards, and he’s on pace for just under 1,000 yards this year.

But we've yet to see him really go off this year. He's got an uncharacteristic three drops and had a costly fumble in Minnesota on Sunday.

“I feel like I've played pretty well,” he said. “Obviously, had a fumble last week that was unacceptable. Probably had one drop that was uncharacteristic, didn't really see the ball until late. Not an excuse by any means. But I’ve just got to keep pushing, keep pressing, and it’ll come.”

Ertz has gotten doubled at times throughout his seven-year career, but generally somebody else was there to take advantage of the single coverage and big plays.

This year, with Jackson out, the wide receivers have been largely quiet, and for whatever reason Dallas Goedert hasn’t put up big numbers either.

Ertz said all he can focus on is beating the double team and making plays no matter what coverages he’s seeing.

“If you have an out-breaking route, beat the guy that's on the outside,” he said. “If you have an in-breaking route, try and beat the guy on the inside. At the end of the day, they're putting two guys on you, other guys are going to make plays.”

It’s not like Ertz isn’t producing. 

He’s one of only three players in the NFL who’s had 50 yards in every game. The others are Travis Kelce and Michael Thomas.

It’s just that six games in, nothing has come easy for him.

And the double teams aren't going to stop until other people start making enough plays to keep defenses honest.

I always know Zach’s going to get his, the same goes for Dallas, the same goes for Alshon (Jeffery), Nelson (Agholor), Mack (Hollins), Miles (Sanders),” Carson Wentz said. “We’re going to get everyone involved, and that’s what I think we do a really good job of. But there’ve been weeks sometimes they double him, they do different things, they cheat the safety toward him, and I don’t think overthink that and keep playing ball.

The Eagles don't have a wide receiver among the top-50 wideouts in the NFL in yards, and Agholor and Jeffery rank 71st and 79th in the NFL in yards per catch.

Ertz has 470 career catches. With 30 more, he’ll become the 17th tight end in NFL history with 500 catches. 

Unless he gets a little help, it could take a while to get there.

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Eagles rave about linebacker T.J. Edwards as rookie prepares for bigger role

Eagles rave about linebacker T.J. Edwards as rookie prepares for bigger role

I spent this past summer reporting and writing my “Surviving Camp” series, which follows one Eagle through training camp. This year’s subject was undrafted rookie linebacker T.J. Edwards. 

The big question was always: Will he make the team? 

Turns out I wasted my time. I should have just asked Kamu Grugier-Hill. He apparently knew the answer the whole time. 

“T.J. is a smart player. He came in and immediately we all knew he was going to be special. You can just see with his instincts that he was going to fit in and he was going to make it,” Grugier-Hill said. 

“We knew before training camp that he was going to make the team already. He was an undrafted guy and for guys like that, it’s a battle to make the team. But we could tell right away.”

Not only did the Eagles like Edwards enough to keep him around at final cuts, but they’re now ready to give him a role on defense. The Eagles cut Zach Brown on Monday and since Nigel Bradham is dealing with an ankle injury, Edwards could get a chance to play meaningful snaps this weekend. 

Against Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys in a battle for first place in the NFC East. 

Gerry said Edwards is “definitely ready” for the task. And Edwards agreed. 

“I’m definitely ready,” Edwards said. “I don’t know what that situation looks like. I’m gonna kind of leave that up to the coaches on what they want to do. Definitely ready to go in whatever spot they need me to.”

While Edwards has learned the SAM and WILL positions in the Eagles defense, he’s probably most at home in the middle. Edwards feels most comfortable at the MIKE position, where he’s played the most at every level. 

If Bradham can’t play on Sunday, there’s a good chance we could be looking at a starting linebacker unit with Grugier-Hill and Gerry at the outside ‘backer spots and Edwards in the middle of the defense. 

Of course, when defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz met with reporters earlier in the week, he wasn’t eager about divulging his defensive game plan, but admitted the release of Brown “maybe” meant an increased role for Edwards. 

“All that kid has done when we put him in the game is make the plays that have come to him,” Schwartz said. “He has been physical, he has been a sure tackler, and he has been assignment sound. Those are all three good things to be said about a linebacker.” 

Edwards said he’s now “light years” ahead of where he was in camp and is ready to take on the responsibility of his possible new role. 

What makes a good MIKE ‘backer? 

“I think communication and confidence, really,” Edwards said. “Making sure everyone is on the same page. It’s your job to connect the front end and the back end, so communication from that standpoint is the biggest thing.”

Against the Vikings, Edwards played 10 defensive snaps toward the end of the game. He played two in the previous week against the Jets. While that’s not a ton of playing time, he said those reps gave him some confidence going forward. And Grugier-Hill said, in those snaps, Edwards “was making stuff happen.” 

It seems like he’ll get even more chances to do that this weekend. 

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