Eagles

NFL’s former VP of officiating calls Clowney hit ‘a cheap shot'

NFL’s former VP of officiating calls Clowney hit ‘a cheap shot'

If you think the Jadeveon Clowney hit that knocked Carson Wentz out of the Eagles’ playoff game on Sunday was a cheap shot, you’re not alone. 

FOX rules analyst and former NFL VP of Officiating Mike Pereira was on 94WIP on Tuesday and he agrees with you. 

Here’s what Pereira said about the play: 

I think it was a cheap shot. And the reason that I base it on that is on regular speed video and not slow motion. … I mean, he takes a shot. Listen, I don’t think Clowney tried to hurt anybody but I do think he tried to punish him. That was my opinion of the play. Needlessly punish him. 

And for those who don’t think it was cheap, then I would say I respect your opinion, but do me a favor and go back and look at it in real time, the live shot, which seldom do the networks go back and show. Some of them don’t even record the original line feed. But go back and look at that and tell me it was not necessary. To me, unnecessary equates to cheap. That’s my view on the play. 

Pereira said he thinks the play should have resulted in a 15-yard penalty for hitting a defenseless player. 

He explained that, sure, Wentz loses certain protections as a quarterback when he becomes a runner. But Pereira argued that Wentz was going to the ground when Clowney hit him and Wentz was “absolutely” defenseless at that point. 

“I mean, Wentz is heading to the ground, he actually hit the ground about the same time as the contact occurs,” Pereira said. “You could look at it and say, you could make it somewhat similar to a quarterback giving himself up. The defender, talking about Clowney here, is beginning to start to make the tackle. And so you can say if he hit him in the body, if he hit him in the back, he would be OK. But as a defenseless player, since he’s on his way to the ground or on the ground, you have to stay away from the head or neck area.”

NFL Network on Tuesday reported that the league won’t suspend Clowney for the hit but is looking into the possibility of a fine.

Pereira is very interested to see if the NFL fines Clowney but thinks there’s a good chance it doesn’t because the refs are already on record saying it shouldn’t have been a penalty. 

Referee Shawn Smith told a pool reporter after the game there was not a penalty called because they deemed the contact “incidental.”

Pereira on Tuesday wasn’t buying that. He called the hit “unnecessary and forceful.” 

You can listen to the full interview here: 

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What landmark contracts for George Kittle, Travis Kelce mean for Zach Ertz

What landmark contracts for George Kittle, Travis Kelce mean for Zach Ertz

Updated: 4 p.m.

George Kittle and Travis Kelce didn’t just reset the tight end market on Thursday. They obliterated it. 

And you can bet Zach Ertz is taking note. 

The 49ers and Kittle agreed to a groundbreaking contract for the All-Pro tight end that comes with an average of $15 million per season. And then the Chiefs and Kelce agreed on a deal that came in a little under that. 

Ertz, 29, is still under contract through the 2021 season but is also in line for a contract extension of his own. And while you might not think he deserves as much money as Kittle or Kelce, Ertz might think so. 

Check out what Ertz said about the comparisons to Kittle and Kelce last week: 

I do consider myself in that upper echelon of guys, in that same tier with all those guys,” Ertz said last Friday. “I don’t mean any disrespect, but I think a lot of guys in this building feel the same way about me. I’m never in the business of comparing people. I think all three of us are at the top of our games, and I think we’re all perfect in the offense that we play in, honestly. I think we all have unique skill sets. We’re all very different, with some similarities. But overall I don’t think my game is any less than any of their games.

We’ll eventually find out if the front office agrees with him. Because the Eagles are going to face a really critical decision soon regarding Ertz. And the existence of Dallas Goedert only adds more layers to this situation. 

Ertz, 29, signed an extension in 2016 that gave him an average per year of $8.5 million. While he might not get to the $15 APY that Kittle just got, he’s going to aim to be in that area. That’s the natural progression of contracts in the NFL. My guess is he gets in the $11-13 million per season range, which is still a really big investment on a player who will likely be over 30 when that deal happens. 

For a long time, the market for tight ends has been really stagnant. The Jimmy Graham $10 million APY had been the benchmark until Austin Hooper passed that with a $10.5 APY this offseason. Now, Kittle and Kelce have demolished that. 

It’s also worth noting that NFL Network’s Mike Silver reported earlier this offseason that Ertz actually turned down a deal during the 2019 season that was more lucrative than the deal Hooper signed. That should give you an idea of Ertz’s mindset. (But it was the right decision; let Kittle or Kelce reset the market.) 

There’s no questioning what Ertz has meant to the Eagles offense. He’s been their leading receiver in each of the last four seasons and this is the guy who caught the game-winning touchdown in the Super Bowl! He’s in the middle of an absolutely tremendous career. 

Ertz last week emphasized his desire to play for the Eagles for his entire career. But it’s never that simple. 

Remember, Goedert is still just 25, he has two more years left on his rookie contract and is already a top 10 tight end in the NFL. And while Ertz has put up incredible — like Hall of Fame — receiving numbers, Goedert is definitely a more well-rounded player. Heck, ProFootballFocus actually ranked Goedert ahead of Ertz for the 2020 season.

The one thing that seems clear is that it’s going to be really hard to keep both talented tight ends long-term. 

If the Eagles want to keep Ertz, they’re going to have to give him a huge contract. These new tight end deals just created some framework and a potential obstacle. 

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Doug Pederson hints at big role for Greg Ward Jr. with Eagles this season  

Doug Pederson hints at big role for Greg Ward Jr. with Eagles this season  

Greg Ward Jr. became a great story for the Eagles last season, when he began the year on the practice squad and ended up being their best receiver down the stretch. 

But is he more than a good story? 

Doug Pederson seems to think so. 

The one thing now as he goes into this season, he's in that rotation, in that starting mix for us,” Pederson said on a Zoom call with reporters Wednesday. “It's just a matter of him embracing every day, getting better. Being a former quarterback, he understands our offense. Being in our offense, he knows the concepts and the routes. He and Carson (Wentz) have a really good feel for one another.

“I think for him now it's just a matter of continuing to get better each and every day and putting in the work. We expect some really big things from Greg. He can also be a leader. He can be a leader of that group. Him and DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, these guys, they can be leaders now and mentors to these young players.

In one year’s time, Ward has gone from practice squad player to being a leader in a wide receiver room that includes three draft picks, an undrafted rookie and a second-year draft pick. 

Ward, 25, is technically in Year 4 of his NFL career but he didn’t get a chance to play until the 2019 season and even then he didn’t play until November. 

Ward finished last season with 28 catches for 254 yards and a game-winning touchdown in a huge contest against Washington. 

Maybe Ward will never become a star player in the NFL, but he’s sure-handed, dependable and earned the trust of his quarterback and coaching staff last season. 

If you look at the Eagles’ group of receivers, Ward is probably the top candidate to win the slot job. DeSean Jackson is going to be the starting Z receiver and at the X the Eagles have Alshon Jeffery and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Rookie 1st-round pick Jalen Reagor is learning both outside spots. 

Eventually, could Reagor play in the slot? Absolutely. In fact, I’d love to see him in there because he’d bring an explosiveness to the position that Ward probably can’t offer. 

But Ward is going to play a lot in 2020. He’s going to have a chance to become more than a great story. 

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