Eagles

Patriots' top CB says Zach Ertz was ‘crying’ to officials

Patriots' top CB says Zach Ertz was ‘crying’ to officials

Despite all the attention he received on Sunday, Zach Ertz still had nine catches for 94 yards against the Patriots in the Eagles’ 17-10 loss. 

But the Patriots felt like they did a pretty good job on the Eagles’ Pro Bowl tight end. 

And their top cornerback, Stephon Gilmore said he saw some frustration come from Ertz during the game. NBC Sports Boston’s Phil Perry noted that after a third down play late in the third quarter, Ertz seemed to be pleading with an official for a call. 

He was crying," Gilmore said, via NBC Sports Boston. "He do that on film a lot. If you get into him. If he don't get the ball or he don't get a call, he'll cry. But he's a good receiver. He's a good tight end. He's a great player . . . He's a great player, but when he don't get his way, he'll complain to the ref. But who don't do that?

To be fair, a lot of great players complain to the officials. It can be annoying for opposing teams and fans to watch, but they do it because they sometimes get calls. Even if it doesn’t happen right then, maybe they get a makeup call later in the game. 

On Sunday, the Patriots’ game plan for Ertz was pretty clear, although Ertz was a little surprised he wasn’t doubled more. 

Basically, Ertz was either covered by Gilmore or was doubled. 

Ertz’s nine catches are the most against the Patriots this season and his 94 yards are the second-most they’ve given up. But the Patriots did control him for most of the afternoon. Through three quarters, Ertz had six catches for 37 yards. 

“I felt like we had a pretty good feel as the game got going,” Ertz said. “Obviously, you can game plan during the week. ‘I feel like they’re going to do this’ or ‘I feel like they’re going to do that.’ But once the game started, the first, second drive, I kind of knew the plan they had for me. I feel like I played alright. I’ve got to watch the film. Just extremely disappointed with that second-to-last drive.”

On that second-to-last drive Ertz was talking about, he was targeted twice and those were the only two targets on which he didn’t have catches. Both came in a series of four straight incompletions from Carson Wentz from the Patriots’ 26-yard line. On one, Wentz just threw a bad pass. On the other, Ertz felt like he needed to be more “definitive” in his option route. 

Ertz is four inches taller and 48 pounds heavier than Gilmore, but Gilmore is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. Bill Belichick game plans every week to take away his opponents’ best player and that meant giving Ertz a lot of attention. 

It’s impressive that Ertz was still able to put up the numbers he did despite all that attention, but the Patriots still got a win and didn’t let Ertz beat them. 

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Cooking up on-field comfort food with Carson Wentz

Cooking up on-field comfort food with Carson Wentz

Doug Pederson called Monday night’s 23-17 win over the Giants the best game of Carson Wentz’s career but it certainly didn’t start that way. 

After the Eagles’ second drive of the third quarter, Wentz was actually struggling. 

So what changed? 

Well, the Eagles’ offensive coaches cooked up some “comfort food,” as offensive coordinator Mike Groh called it, for Wentz. 

“I wouldn't want to give away any game-plan secrets there,” Groh said. “But I'm sure you can speculate a little bit as to what those things might be. But try to find easy completions where you can get the ball out of your hand in rhythm and once you get one or two of those, a lot of times you just kind of settle in the game. And then the game comes to you.”

Rhythm can be an important thing for quarterbacks and Wentz is no different. Groh said we could speculate and it isn’t hard to figure out how the Eagles were finally able to get Wentz into a rhythm in the second half on Monday. 

On the third drive of the third quarter, the Eagles began to use an up-tempo offense and utilized short throws and screen passes. 

It worked. 

Just take a look at Wentz’s splits before that drive and after it began: 

Before: 12/23, 98 yards, 63.3 passer rating 

After: 21/27, 227 yards, 2 TDs, 126.4 passer rating 

First, the tempo really seemed to work. The Eagles have used the no-huddle plenty during Wentz’s four years in Philly and it’s just up to Pederson’s discretion. They have even opened games with it before. 

“That’s one thing I’ve always loved about coach since I’ve been here is he has a feel for when we need something to change,” Wentz said. “When we’re struggling. Sometimes we do tempo early because that’s what we see when we’re scouting other teams, that’s what we see is going to work. Sometimes we get to it later in games. Some games we don’t even use it. I think coach has a really good feel for it. I think that was the case the other night. I think that definitely helped us get out of the rut we were in.”

Aside from going with tempo, the Eagles made life easier on Wentz with shorter passes. There were plenty of easy reads, screens and throws to the flat. Those aren’t necessarily all easy throws to make, but they’re also not 20 yards downfield. 

On the tempo drive and the one that followed it, the Eagles seemed to get Wentz in a rhythm. None of the first eight passes on those two drives traveled more than 10 air yards.  

Against the Giants, this is what worked. But the specifics sometimes change. 

“The so-called 'comfort food,' it’s all based on what coverages we’re getting, how teams play us,” Wentz said. “But that concept, just finding completions, finding a way to get into a rhythm. Like I said, each week is always different, but there’s always those completions within a game that do kind of get you going and get you going in the right direction.”



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5 matchups to watch as Eagles visit Redskins in NFL Week 15

5 matchups to watch as Eagles visit Redskins in NFL Week 15

The Eagles (6-7) head to Washington to face the Redskins (3-10) on Sunday afternoon at FedEx Field. 

Here are five matchups to watch: 

Dwayne Haskins vs. Jim Schwartz 

Case Keenum was still starting in the opener, so this will be the Eagles’ first shot at the rookie first-round pick. Haskins has played in seven games this year with five starts and is 2-3. He has completed just 55 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and seven interceptions. 

Since Jim Schwartz became defensive coordinator, the Eagles are 4-1 against rookie starting quarterbacks: Dak Prescott x2, C.J. Bethard, Mitchell Trubisky and Luke Falk (the only loss came to Prescott in 2016). In those five games, those quarterback have three touchdowns and seven interceptions. 

And those four quarterbacks in five games have combined for a passer rating of 53.8. 

Schwartz on Wednesday was asked how playing young quarterbacks benefits his defense. 

“I don't know, I've never really thought about it that way,” he said. “We have a job to do every Sunday and we try our best to accomplish that. Every game plan is different, every experienced quarterback is different and every rookie quarterback is different. So, I don't know if there would be a whole lot of carry-over from week-to-week. I don't have a folder somewhere that says, ‘Rookie Quarterback’ and you pull that out and that's the game plan. It depends on a million different other considerations going into it.”

Terry McLaurin vs. Eagles corners 

In his first NFL game, McLaurin had five catches for 125 yards and a touchdown against the Eagles in the opener. That included a 69-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. 

The Eagles have been susceptible to big plays before. And McLaurin has the ability to make big plays. He has averaged 15.3 yards per catch this season. 

Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills will have to be ready for the speedy rookie. 

Adrian Peterson vs. Eagles linebackers 

The future Hall of Famer isn’t playing like he’s still in his prime, but he’s still one of Washington’s biggest weapons. And he still ranks tied for fifth in the NFL in average yards after contact per attempt at 2.7. If you miss tackles against him, he’ll make you pay. 

“He's strong, still has great vision and is a very productive runner,” Schwartz said. “We're going to have our work cut out for us. We saw it last year. He's one of those guys that if you fit a run wrong, he can make you pay by taking it to the house. He did it against us in that first game last year.”

Miles Sanders vs. Washington run defense 

Washington is bad in several key areas. One of them is rushing defense, where they’re giving up 134.8 yards per game. But it’s important to note that they’re giving up just 4.4 yards per attempt. So they’re not really as bad as they appear. 

In that opener, the Skins really bottled up Sanders, who had 11 carries for 25 yards and one catch for two yards. But since then, Sanders has really come around and is having one of the better seasons we’ve ever seen from a rookie in Eagles history. 

Coming into Sunday’s game, Sanders has 948 yards from scrimmage this season. With three games to go, he is just 60 behind DeSean Jackson for the Eagles’ rookie record. 

Brandon Brooks vs. Matt Ionnidis 

The former fifth-round pick out of Temple leads Washington in sacks with 8 1/2 and has four in his last three games. Even without Ryan Kerrigan, who will miss this game, that’s still a relatively solid defensive line and Ionnidis has arguably been their best player. He primarily lines up on the left side of the defensive line, so we get to watch him go against Brandon Brooks, who has been playing like one of the best guards in the league this season. 

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