Eagles

Nick Foles says Eagles nearly wasted Philly Special in NFC Championship Game

Nick Foles says Eagles nearly wasted Philly Special in NFC Championship Game

The Philly Special is one of the most legendary plays in NFL history because the Eagles used it against the Patriots in their incredible Super Bowl LII win. 

It almost didn’t happen like that.  

Nick Foles on his podcast with Chris Maragos, The Mission of Truth, said the Eagles almost ran the Philly Special two weeks earlier in the NFC Championship Game against the Minnesota Vikings, which would have essentially wasted it. 

“There’s a lot of detail in the book ‘Believe It’ but this is one I don’t think is there,” Foles said. “We were going to run the Philly Special vs. the Minnesota Vikings and Doug called the play.”

But Foles said he played most of that NFC Championship Game in pain after taking a rib shot early from a blitzing Anthony Barr. While Foles was able to make it through the game and the Eagles won 38-7, that rib pain was one of the main reasons why Foles suggested to Doug Pederson to hold the call.  

The Eagles almost ran the Philly Special early in the fourth quarter during the NFC Championship Game when they already had a 24-point lead. 

We were already up, I think, 31-7, something like that,” Foles said. “I talked to Doug and I was like, ‘ah, we don’t need it. We’re up by so much, let’s not waste it.’ But in reality, another reason was I was worried about turning and running out and trying to catch the ball. I didn’t know if I would be able to lift my arm up and turn and catch it because of the rib shot earlier in the game.

Instead, the Eagles called a play that put Alshon Jeffery in motion and Foles hit him in the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown pass that extended the lead to 31 points and gave us the final score of 38-7. Foles said that watching that touchdown play back, he can see just how stiff he was from the pain. 

So it’s a good thing Foles took a rib shot early in that game. Because if Foles felt fine the Eagles might have run the Philly Special two weeks too early. 

“It almost happened and it was one of those moments honestly it probably does happen if my ribs aren’t killing me,” Foles said. “Because it would have just lit the Linc on fire. It was already insane. Obviously, the Philly Special became a legendary play. I’m glad we didn’t use it then.” 

Yeah, Foles isn’t alone. Who knows what would have happened if they had. 

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NFL rumors: Some teams have 'snitch hotlines' set up for COVID-19 rule breakers

NFL rumors: Some teams have 'snitch hotlines' set up for COVID-19 rule breakers

The NFL seems to be taking cues from the NBA on how to handle its impending COVID-19 season - well, in one area, anyway.

One of the more joke-friendly aspects of the NBA's bubble in Orlando was the league's so-called "snitch hotline", which players could use to report other players' unsafe behavior, particularly behavior that might jeopardize the bubble itself.

Apparently, some of the people in charge of NFL teams saw the idea and decided it was a good way to keep everyone in check.

Because at a least "a few teams" have set up their own snitch hotlines as players return to team facilities for training camp, according to Yahoo! Sports:

A few teams have set up a phone number that employees can call if they want to report protocols being broken or other concerns.

"We call it a 'COVID help line' but it's a snitch line," one employee said.

Asked if they would consider calling it, the employee laughed and said, "Hell, no. I'm not calling that thing. I doubt anyone will ever call it. It's supposed to be anonymous, but I wouldn't take that chance."

Another employee said they have been instructed to report protocol issues but given no structure for how to do it.

"We were told that if we see something that we should say something," the employee said. "But I don't even know how that's supposed to work. I don't even know who I'm supposed to tell."

Everyone in the basketball world pointed to Oklahoma City point guard Chris Paul as the player most likely to use the NBA's "snitch hotline".

So which teams have set up these lines - and which players are going to use them?

Here's one guess: Patriots head coach Bill Belichick isn't going to be punishing rule-breakers any time soon

Jokes aside, the idea of reporting risky conduct shouldn't be so taboo. More than just the ability to play football, people's health and safety will be on the line during the NFL season, and players need to take that responsibility seriously.

The league sent a memo to teams on Monday evening outlining potential fines for high risk behavior during the 2020 NFL season, including going to clubs, bars, and house parties without personal protective equipment.

As NBC Sports Philadelphia's Dave Zangaro pointed out Monday, in such uncertain times, most safety measures are good measures:

Without being in a bubble, the NFL is counting on its players acting responsibly to limit the spread of the coronavirus. While all of these things might seem obvious, the added incentive to not get fined might prevent some stupid behavior. 

The Eagles are scheduled to start their season Sept. 13 against the Washington Football Team.

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Eagles having an 'open competition' for other starting cornerback spot

Eagles having an 'open competition' for other starting cornerback spot

It’s one of the more intriguing competitions of this Eagles training camp and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz says that the battle for CB2 will be an “open competition.” 

We all know Darius Slay will be one of the Eagles’ starting cornerbacks to open the 2020 season and we all assume Nickell Robey-Coleman will be the nickel cornerback. 

But what about the other starting outside job? 

Well that’s what the abbreviated training camp that we’ll have will decide,” Jim Schwartz said last week on a Zoom call with reporters. “There’ll be open competition in there. We’ll have a lot of different guys.

A lot of different guys really boils down to three: Avonte Maddox, Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas. 

All three of those guys have been with the Eagles for at least two seasons.

“One of the things that has happened to us over the last couple of years is we’ve had a lot of different guys play because of injuries in the secondary,” Schwartz said. “You know, that’s tough during the season but what it’s done is it’s given us a lot of different options, guys that have played a lot of football.” 

Remember, the CB2 job in 2020 is a pretty important one for a couple reasons. One is that Slay will often travel to cover the other team’s best receiver. So the other corner better be able to play on both sides of the field. And if teams don’t want to throw at Slay, that means the other cornerback might get a lot of action. 

The other thing to remember is that the Eagles also have a new defensive backs coach this season in Marquand Manuel, who will bring his own teachings and techniques. We don’t know how his coaching will mesh with the three candidates but we’ll find out soon. 

Let’s take a closer look at all three options, ordered by likelihood to win the job: 

Avonte Maddox 

Maddox, 24, was a 4th-round pick in 2018. During his two years with the Eagles, he has played outside corner, nickel corner and even safety to varying levels of success. At 5-foot-9, he seems best suited as a nickel corner but the Eagles are set there with Robey-Coleman and Cre’Von LeBlanc. So Maddox will get a shot to be a starter on the outside. He’s the favorite. 

Schwartz seems to be a big fan of Maddox. Even during Maddox’s rookie season, Schwartz felt comfortable moving him around the defense and letting him play different positions. Schwartz once compared Maddox to Cortland Finnegan, another undersized corner who played inside and outside for Schwartz in Tennessee. Finnegan was an All-Pro in 2008.

In two seasons, Maddox has played 25 games and started 15. He had two interceptions as a rookie but didn’t have any last season. Maddox needs to find more consistency. 

In his two-year career, Maddox has played just 28.3% of his snaps at outside cornerback, according to PFF. He’s had some success outside but he’s also had his share of bad plays from the outside as well. 

Sidney Jones

Jones, 24, was a 2nd-round pick in 2017 and the Eagles would probably love nothing more than to see Jones dominate in training camp, take over this position and never give it back. But he lost a valuable spring of competition and that might have him behind Maddox to start. 

Jones was on his way to being a no-doubt 1st-round pick back in 2017 when he tore his Achilles at the Washington pro day. But the Eagles gambled anyway and drafted him with the 43rd pick. Now entering Year 4, as Howie Roseman said, “It’s time for him to prove it.” This is a contract season for Jones and we’ve only ever seen flashes of the supremely talented guy we thought the Eagles were getting. 

In his three NFL seasons, Jones has played in 22 games with 8 starts. He had two interceptions — the first two of his career — in 2019. 

The good news is that some of those flashes came in crucial situations last season. While Jones claims he never lacked confidence, it seemed like he was able to gain a bunch by making some huge plays last year. But we’ve never seen that consistently from him. If we see it in training camp this year, he has a shot to be a starter. 

Rasul Douglas

Of the three, Douglas actually has the most playing experience, but is the longest shot to win this job. In three seasons since he was a 3rd-round pick in 2017, Douglas has played in 46 games with 18 starts and has 5 interceptions. Despite seeing playing time as a starter after injuries, Douglas has never been able to hold onto that role. 

This offseason, the Eagles got Douglas to agree to a pay cut. If he hadn’t, he most likely wouldn’t be on the team right now. Douglas was scheduled to have a base salary of over $2 million in 2020 but his new base salary is $835,000, according to a league source. 

Of the three candidates, Douglas is the longest and rangiest at 6-foot-2, but he lacks some speed. He has started at least five games in each of the last three years with varied results. If he can’t win a job as a starter — and I think he’s probably third in the pecking order — he might be worth keeping around as an experienced backup. 

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