Eagles

How Eagles are preparing for 'greatest quarterback of all time'

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How Eagles are preparing for 'greatest quarterback of all time'

At 40 years old, Tom Brady had one of his best seasons ever this year. 

He completed 66.3 percent of his passes — third-highest of his career — had a 102.2 passer rating — fifth-highest of his career — and threw four times more touchdowns (32) than interceptions (8).

He's now had four seasons with 4,500 or more passing yards and fewer than eight interceptions. Every other quarterback in NFL history combined has had two.

That's what the Eagles are up against next Sunday.

Brady may be 40 and in his 18th season, but he's still every bit as brilliant as ever.

"Greatest quarterback of all time, but that doesn't mean that he's unbeatable," Malcolm Jenkins said.

"We've got a destination that we're geared to. No matter who's in front of us, we've got somewhere to go. We're not worried about what's in front. We're going to run through what's there."

Brady has been better the second half of his career than the first. Since 2010, he has a 99-25 record and 263 touchdown passes and 61 interceptions.

On Sunday, the Eagles will try to join the Giants as the only team to beat him in a Super Bowl.

"What the Patriots do better than probably anybody is they create the matchups that they want," Jenkins said. "They get creative with their personnel and their formations and they'll spread you out to take advantage of a wide receiver on a linebacker, a tight end on a linebacker or a corner-receiver matchup. 

"So for us, we feel good about that. We do a good job of matching personnel, regardless of who we put on the field, but Brady's one of those quarterbacks that you've got to continue to be able to adjust.

"They'll go back at halftime and they'll make the proper adjustments. They'll do it mid-drive, mid-quarter, so you've always got to be on your P's and Q's being able to adjust. So everything that my book might say going into the game, three drives in you've got to throw it out because they've already changed, so you've got to have that flexibility on defense."

Brady did get sacked 35 times this year, the third-highest figure in his last 14 seasons and ninth-most in the NFL. This is not a great Patriots offensive line.

If the Eagles' vaunted defensive line can get to Brady, the Eagles will have a chance.

"What makes them so unique is (Brady) gets rid of the ball fast," Fletcher Cox said. "He’s not going to take a lot of hits. He knows where he’s going when the ball is snapped. 

"It's going to come down to the front four guys getting after the quarterback, making him uncomfortable in the pocket.”

The Eagles' defense has been hot, allowing just 17 points in two postseason wins.  

But the secondary has been very good much of the year. In 11 games since Week 8, only Russell Wilson, Jared Goff and Eli Manning have thrown more than one touchdown against the Eagles. During that span, the Eagles have allowed just 14 touchdowns and have 14 interceptions.

"I think we match up well," Jenkins said. "They've obviously got a great system, great offense, probably the best quarterback of all time, a great tight end, speedy receivers. 

"They've got a real good scheme, and they isolate people, but if there's any defense out there that can match up with every single person, I think it's this defense."

Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who began his coaching career under Bill Belichick in Cleveland, said it's a mistake to simply focus on Brady because the Patriots have so many talented players on offense.

"No player stands on his own," he said. "(Rob) Gronkowski, (Brandin) Cooks, (Danny) Amendola, (Chris) Hogan, (James) White, (Dion) Lewis — there are a million different guys in there. 

"The NFL in general, but particularly the Patriots, you can't scheme for one player. If you do, then they have plenty of other players that can make plays. You have to do a good job against their entire offense, and you can't really make it about one person.”

Brady was 23 for 33 for 236 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions against the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX. 

In seven Super Bowls, he's completed 67 percent of his passes and averaged 296 yards per game with 15 touchdowns and five interceptions.

“Everything runs through No. 12 (Brady) and 87 (Gronk)," Chris Long said. "In my opinion, those are two of the greatest to ever play at their positions. You can make an argument that they are the greatest.

"They work well as a team. Everything they do, they do on the same page. They have four or five really good running backs. Their offensive line, they’ve got one of the best-coached units in the league. 

"They just have a ton of weapons. You have to do everything well to beat them."

Nick Foles delivers powerful speech after winning Best Championship Performance award at ESPYS

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Nick Foles delivers powerful speech after winning Best Championship Performance award at ESPYS

A year ago at this time, Nick Foles was preparing for a season on the bench as he just tried to stick around the NFL after falling back in love with the game.

He has a little higher profile now.

While Foles is preparing to possibly head back to the bench in favor of Carson Wentz, he is now the reigning Super Bowl MVP and added another trophy to his case on Wednesday night, when he was given the Best Championship Performance award at the ESPYS.

During his acceptance speech, Foles thanked a bunch of folks, used the word “y’all” more than enough times to remind everyone he’s from Texas and spoke candidly about the incredibly unique path his career has taken.

Here is Foles accepting the award from comedian (and Jim Schwartz’s former college teammate … seriously) Jim Gaffigan.

No, an ESPY is no Super Bowl MVP, but it’s a pretty nice honor and Foles is certainly deserving after leading the Eagles to their first-ever Super Bowl. Just a reminder, Foles completed 65 percent of his passes for 373 yards and three touchdowns in Super Bowl LII.

Here’s his full speech from Wednesday night at the ESPYS:

I’m honored to be in front of all y’all. I never planned a speech. I quite frankly never expected to win this award or to even be in this moment. I just want to thank the good Lord for giving me the ability to play the game I love. You know, thank my wife Tori, she’s gone through her own battles the last five years. You’ve always been an inspiration. A lot of my family is here, so thank y’all for always supporting me.

It’s been a crazy career. If any of y’all know my career path, it doesn’t make sense. But you know, I’m here right now. My teammates, coaches, you know what, we faced so much adversity this year, we have an amazing team. It’s so much fun to go to work in that locker room every single day. I couldn’t have done it without y’all. We see what happened. We won the first Super Bowl in Philadelphia history, so we’ve got a special group of guys.

And then to the Philadelphia fans. Y’all get a (bad) rap everywhere, but the passion, y’all bring it every single day. So thank y’all. And finally, there’s a lot of kids watching this and it’s kind of been the theme. There are going to be people who doubt you. Don’t listen to them. What matters is what’s in here (taps on chest) and the people who love you and support you. Go out there every day and be bold. Thank you.

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Roob's 10 observations: Brian Dawkins' Hall of Fame, Nate Gerry & Zach Ertz vs. Jason Witten

Roob's 10 observations: Brian Dawkins' Hall of Fame, Nate Gerry & Zach Ertz vs. Jason Witten

Carson Wentz's remarkable consistency, expectations of Nate Gerry, questions at wideout, a Zach Ertz stat you absolutely won't believe and the rarity of Eagles Hall of Fame teammates.

Roob's 10 random Eagles observations don't get much more random than this!

1. Can we take a moment to talk about how insanely consistent Wentz was before he got hurt? Wentz’s lowest passer rating last year was an 83.0 in the loss to the Chiefs. He threw for 333 yards with two TDs and one INT and that was his worst game of the year. Wentz is one of just four quarterbacks in NFL history to open a season with a rating of 83 or higher in every game through the first 13 games of a season. Which of course is when his season ended. Including the last week of 2016, Wentz goes into 2018 on a streak of 14 straight games with a rating of 83 or higher. That’s seventh longest in NFL history, and the longest active streak. Wentz’s 21 career games with a passer rating of 83 or higher are tied for third most in NFL history by any QB after two seasons, behind only Dan Marino (23) and Russell Wilson (23). And he missed the last three games of the season. What a talent.

2. I’m curious to see Gerry this summer. With Mychal Kendricks off to the Browns and Paul Worrilow out for the season, there are roster spots to be won and playing time to be earned behind Nigel Bradham (out for the opener) and injury-plagued Jordan Hicks. After starting his rookie season on the practice squad, Gerry got an October promotion onto the 53 and got into 10 games and all three playoff games, almost all of it on special teams. He looked bigger and stronger in spring practices as he continues to transition from safety to linebacker. With a good summer, he can definitely find himself in the mix.

3. Ertz had nine third-down catches for first down in the 2017 playoffs. Jason Witten had eight playoff third-down catches for first down in his 15-year career.

4. And Ertz’s nine third-down catches in last year's postseason are the most by any tight end in a single postseason — and second most by any player — in the last 30 years.

5. The Eagles converted 61 percent of their third downs during the 2017 postseason, which is insane. That’s the fourth highest in NFL history by any team in a single postseason (among teams playing at least two playoff games). The Broncos converted 75 percent in 1997, the Rams 63 percent in 2004 and the Colts 62 percent in 1995.  

6. You thought Vaughn Hebron was fast? His daughter, Sanaa, won the AAU national title for the 400-meter dash this weekend in 55.31. That would have placed her fourth in the Big East championships this year. She’s 13 years old. Vaughn’s sons, competing in the 17-18 age group, are no slouches, either. Savion ran 10.78 and 21.68 for the 100 and 200, and Savaughn ran a 2:00 split on the Trenton Track club’s 3,200-meter relay team. So Vaughn right now is at best the fourth-fastest person in his own family. But he does have a couple Super Bowl rings.

7. So many questions at wide receiver behind Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor. Will Mike Wallace slow down at 32? Can Mack Hollins make a big jump in Year 2? Will Shelton Gibson show enough in camp to work his way into the roster mix? Can Markus Wheaton regain the form that made him so dangerous with the Steelers in 2014 and 2015? Can speedy Bryce Treggs make any sort of impact in his third year? Potentially, an exceptional group.

8. Nick Foles is the third-youngest active quarterback in the NFL with at least three career playoff wins. Foles turns exactly 29 years, six months on Thursday. Cam Newton (29, 68 days) and Andrew Luck (who turns 29 in September) also have three postseason wins.

9. Interesting that during 2004 and part of 2005 the Eagles had two future Hall of Famers, Brian Dawkins and Terrell Owens. What was the last Eagles team before 2004 with two Hall of Famers? It was actually 1997, when Dawkins and Richard Dent were briefly teammates. Before that, it was 1987 through 1989, with Reggie White and Cris Carter. Before that, you have to go back to 1968, with Bob Brown and Mike Ditka. So the 14 games that Dawkins and Dent played together during an otherwise forgotten 1997 season are the only Eagles games in the last 50 years where two future Hall of Famers played alongside each other on the same side of the ball.

10. Dawkins didn’t make a Pro Bowl until his fourth season and didn’t make All-Pro until his sixth. Keep that in mind when you’re deciding that “so-and-so can't play” two weeks into his rookie training camp.

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