Eagles

Nelson Agholor and Howie Roseman, please accept our apologies

Nelson Agholor and Howie Roseman, please accept our apologies

Wednesday on Quick Slants, we felt the need to own up to our mistakes. We had previously written off two men who have helped the Eagles to their NFL-best 6-1 record, so a couple apology letters were in order.

• • •

Dear Howie,
Like many ... there was a time when I felt that you had to go. Some of your personnel decisions left me beating my head against the wall, wondering who thought it was a good idea to put you in charge. Your drafts and free-agent signings were more misses than hits.

For every Zach Ertz and Fletcher Cox you drafted, there were way too many Danny Watkinses, Marcus Smiths, Jaiquawn Jarretts and Daniel Te'o-Nesheims.

Many of your free-agent signings were free falls. Yeah, I'll give you credit for getting it right with Connor Barwin and Malcolm Jenkins. But you bamboozled us with Nnamdi Asomugha, Bradley Fletcher, Vince Young and Byron Maxwell.

But you were man enough to step to the podium time and time again to dodge every verbal stone hurled your way to explain your perplexing moves and vowed to get it right.

After the Chip Kelly fiasco, surely Jeffrey Lurie would look outside the organization to bring a fresh thought process to lead this team in a new direction, but oh nooooo, he put you back in charge, and I thought to myself: Another seven-year drought is upon us.

But lo and behold, since you've returned from exile after wandering the deserts pondering football life, you've become the Theo Epstein of the NFL. You cleaned up and cleared out Kelly's mistakes. You brought in a true football mind in Joe Douglas, and you revamped your scouting department.

What you did in 2016 to maneuver up the first-round ladder in the draft to select your new franchise quarterback was nothing short of brilliant. The free agents you signed in 2017 have been excellent.

This year, I don't go to practices wondering how many of these guys are getting cut after the season. Instead, I wonder how many of them you will be able to keep. 

Like you, I stand here today a changed man. I no longer call for your head on a silver platter. Instead, I applaud you for being aggressive and daring. I'm man enough to admit I was wrong about you. You have finally earned my respect.

Sincerely,
D-Gunn

• • •

Dear Nelson,
Let me first apologize for not being sympathetic to your cause. 

I never had the weight of living up to being the first-round draft pick of the Eagles. I was drafted in the second round.

I saw what Mike Mamula went through mentally to live up to those expectations. I also admit that I played O-line, so I never had to catch a football thrown 50 yards over your shoulder while a 220-pound safety running a 4.4 40 comes hurling at you trying to knock your head off.

Although I never signed the petition to get you cut — because I don't believe in stopping a player from getting their money — I did wager a dollar, or two, or three, or even 4,000 that you wouldn't last the offseason in Philly.

So I now give you mad props and respect for proving myself and the 3.5 million people in Philadelphia wrong for selling you short and thinking you wouldn't last as an NFL player.

Congrats and carry on — you are now the best wide receiver on the roster. So, my apologies, Nelson Agholor.

I know what it is to feel the high expectation of playing in the City of Brotherly Love, which gave you no love. At least they let you stay and work out your difficulties. Me? They cut and kicked me the hell out of town!

Sincerely,
Barrett Brooks

Updating Eagles position battles after 2nd preseason game

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USA Today/AP Images/NBC Sports Philadelphia

Updating Eagles position battles after 2nd preseason game

We’ve already updated our five Eagles position battles three times since the start of training camp, but it’s time to do it again. 

We have the last days of training camp and the game against the Patriots to judge. 

Let’s jump in: 

Nickel corner 

8/11: Sidney Jones practices after suffering a sprained left ankle in the game, but doesn’t do 11-on-11 drills. De’Vante Bausby starts the day as the nickel corner, but rookie Avonte Maddox also gets some first-team reps. This is the first time we’ve seen Maddox with the starters. 

8/12: After getting some first-team reps yesterday, Maddox gets all the first-team reps. He’s come really far and gets praised by Jim Schwartz after practice. It’s possible he has overtaken Bausby on the depth chart. Jones is back doing 11-on-11s but works with the second team. 

8/13: Maddox again gets first-team reps and has his best day of camp. He gets an interception and several batted passes. Jones works with the second team, has a rough day, but comes up with a huge pick-6 late in the practice. 

8/14: Maddox again gets work with the first team. Jones comes on as the LCB after Mills leaves practice early. 

Preseason game 2: Ronald Darby and Rasul Douglas start the game outside (Mills is out) and Jones starts in the slot. But Maddox quickly rotates in. Both Jones and Maddox give up a touchdown but do some good too. 

Updated prediction: The Eagles have given Maddox a lot of time with the first team, but I think it’s still clearly Jones’ job. But it also seems like Maddox might have passed Bausby on the depth chart. 

Weakside linebacker

8/11: As we’ve seen for a long time, Nate Gerry gets first-team reps, but only at the start of 11-on-11s. Finally, Kamu Grugier-Hill gets worked in with the ones. Not sure why this took so long, but KGH definitely deserves the extra reps. 

8/12: The Eagles weren’t in their base package very much today, but KGH gets the minimal first-team reps. Interestingly enough, at one point Gerry and Grugier-Hill were the two linebackers in the first-team nickel package. They’re not overtaking Jordan Hicks or Nigel Bradham, but maybe coaches wanted to see them side by side with the ones. 

8/13: Gerry picked off a pass at point-blank range. When the Eagles use their jumbo package, Hicks, Bradham, Gerry and Joe Walker are out there. 

8/14: Gerry gets first-team reps, but Walker is on the field in the jumbo package again. 

Preseason game 2: As has been the case for a while, Gerry gets the start ahead of Grugier-Hill at the WILL. He has a good game but plays a lot longer than I would have anticipated. Both guys get in with the first team at WILL, but Gerry stays on the field in the jumbo package, with Hicks, Bradham and Joe Walker. 

Updated prediction: We haven’t even mentioned Corey Nelson in a while; that’s how little impact he’s made. Gerry is the frontrunner, but KGH has been really good too. If nothing else, the Eagles’ linebacker depth is a little better than we first thought. 

Defensive line

8/11: The starting line of Long, Cox, Vaeao and Barnett remains the same. Michael Bennett continues to get worked in for Vaeao on third downs, creating a scary, scary line. Elijah Qualls bounces back from a penalty-filled game to make a TFL and does well in 1-on-1s. 

8/12: For the first time for a non-rotational reason, we see Haloti Ngata get first-team reps at DT instead of Vaeao. Bennett gets work inside on clear passing downs. 

8/13: Didn’t see too much new with the starters, but keep an eye on rookie Bruce Hector. Hector has been working with the second-team defensive line ahead of Qualls at times. 

8/14: Ngata gets some first-team reps next to Fletcher Cox again. The Eagles might be preparing him to start Week 1 very soon. 

Preseason game 2: Big day for Ngata, who starts next to Cox. And Ngata makes some plays; really the first time we’ve seen evidence he still has something left to give. That’s a great sign for the Eagles. A lot of Bennett inside and not just on third downs. Vaeao doesn’t start but shows some good pass-rush ability. 

Updated prediction: For a long time, it looked like Vaeao was going to be able to hold off Ngata. Don’t think that’s happening. Expect the old vet to start next to Cox until Tim Jernigan is ready to return. 

Running back 

8/11: Donnel Pumphrey misses practice again, but Matt Jones returns. Corey Clement was also not at practice after apparently suffering an injury during the first preseason game. Without some bodies, Josh Adams and Wendell Smallwood both got some work with the first team. 

8/12: Still no Pumphrey or Clement. Pump wasn’t even out watching practice; Clement showed up late with a compression sleeve on his calf. It seems clear the Eagles are more interested in getting Adams and Smallwood reps with the ones and twos than Jones. 

8/13: Pump and Clement are still out. Adams is having a good day until he pulls up lame after a run play in the red zone. He doesn’t get back in. 

8/14: Adams misses practice after pulling up lame yesterday. Pump and Corey Clement each miss today as well. That means Jay Ajayi, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood and Matt Jones get all the reps. 

Preseason game 2: Adams and Pumphrey sit with their injuries, which gave Jones and Smallwood plenty of opportunities. They didn’t make the most of them. Smallwood had one yard on four carries, while Jones dropped three passes. Ajayi, minus one bad play in pass pro, head a good night. 

Updated prediction: I still think one of those last four running backs is going to make the roster, but I have no idea which one. For now, I think Smallwood has a slight advantage. 

Third safety 

8/11: Corey Graham made a nice play on a receiver and would have popped him in a real game. 

8/12: Not much here. Graham and Sullivan continue to work with the second team, with Stephen Roberts being the next guy up of note. 

8/13: Trey Sullivan has a really good day, making a few plays in the end zone. 

8/14: Not much again. Graham is the next guy up, but Sullivan gets some significant snaps too. 

Preseason game 2: Graham gets on the field early as a safety so Malcolm Jenkins can play nickel corner a little. Jeremy Reaves has a nice game but gets called for a new helmet penalty. Stephen Roberts gets hurt. 

Updated prediction: This battle hasn’t been much of one for a while. Graham is the third safety. Trey Sullivan is likely on the roster because of Chris Maragos’ injury. Maybe Reaves can sneak on the practice squad.

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A closer look at Nate Sudfeld's dimes against Patriots

A closer look at Nate Sudfeld's dimes against Patriots

If you don’t want to buy into the Nate Sudfeld hype after just one good preseason performance, that’s certainly understandable. 

So just to make sure we’re on the same page, I’m not either. I’m not saying he’ll ever be a great quarterback or a starter or even a good backup in the NFL. 

But after watching him against New England on Thursday night, I am ready to say this guy can toss some dimes. 

He did it all night against the Patriots. 

I don’t care if it’s preseason and I don’t care if there are high school kids out there on defense, it doesn’t change the fact that some of his throws Thursday were simply impressive. I’m not too surprised by it; he’s shown that ability in practice. But what we’ve also seen from Suds in practice is inconsistency. It looked like he was able to get into a rhythm Thursday. 

Let’s take a look at some of his throws (we’ll go in chronological order) that impressed me from the other night: 

This first one came on Sudfeld’s second drive (second quarter). It’s been interesting watching him this summer. Sometimes it seems like moving around in the pocket gets him going. On this one, it was the opposite. Wendell Smallwood picked up the blitz to buy some time, but Sudfeld couldn’t step into the throw. He was forced to throw off his back foot but showed the arm strength to get the ball downfield. 

Suds sees the blitz and recognizes the 1-on-1 down the sideline. DeAndre Carter was basically tackled early for DPI, but it looked like he had a step on the defender and the throw was going to be right there. 

Sudfeld normally looks pretty good throwing on the run. You could argue this pass was a little underthrown, but it was still put in a good spot for Kamar Aiken in the end zone. Keion Crossen, No. 35, seemed determined to just never let a receiver catch a ball against him again. Another clear DPI. 

A few plays later, Sudfeld hit Shelton Gibson for the first touchdown of the day. We’re going to skip that one, because Gibson’s route was so great, all Suds had to do was loft it up. 

This one came with just 52 seconds left in the first half. Really good experience for Sudfeld in the two-minute offense. The Patriots are using a deep zone, trying to prevent a huge play, but Sudfeld hits Goedert perfectly in stride over a trailing Patrick Chung for 28 yards. Hitting Goedert in stride is huge here because it allows Goedert’s momentum to help get him out of bounds and stop the clock. 

Just two plays later, Sudfeld hits Carter in perfect stride. Poor Crossen didn’t have a very good night. But even with Sudfeld’s double-pump and without him stepping into it, he has plenty of arm and hits Carter in stride. Again, that helped stop the clock. 

Those two throws got the Eagles down inside the 10-yard line with 30 seconds left. The Eagles didn’t score, so Sudfeld gets some of the blame, especially after a weird shovel pass on the fourth down play. But that experience of moving a team down the field in 52 seconds is very valuable. 


We lumped those two together because they happened the same way in a game. First, Sudfeld tried Goedert in that corner of the end zone and then on the next, he came back to Richard Rodgers for the touchdown. Good idea by Doug Pederson to pretty much run the same thing again.

On that second one, watch Sudfeld throw that ball off his back foot. That’s impressive arm strength. That’s a few times now we’ve seen him show off that arm without stepping into a throw. 

I love this one. The Eagles are backed up on their own 2-yard line but they’re coming out firing. Watch Sudfeld look off the safety and then drop a perfect pass in there. Bread basket. 

 
The touchdown to Rashard Davis was just pretty. Nice clean pocket and Sudfeld picked apart the defense. There wasn’t a ton of room for error there between two defenders and near the sideline, but it’s a perfect pass. 

There were a bunch of perfect passes from Sudfeld on Thursday night. I know it was just one preseason game, and that’s why we’re not getting carried away. 

But … feel free to at least be a little intrigued. This guy is probably the backup of the future and fans should feel better about that today than they did this time last week.

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