Eagles

Rams head coach Sean McVay has had Eagles' number

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Rams head coach Sean McVay has had Eagles' number

When Sean McVay left the Redskins to become head coach of the Rams, the Eagles weren't sad to see him go. But while McVay may be out of the NFC East, he presents a pivotal challenge for the Eagles' defense in Week 14.

McVay was the offensive coordinator in Washington for three seasons, a period during which the Redskins posted a 5-1 record against the Eagles. Simply put, they had no answer for McVay's offense, which averaged 29.3 points per game over that span.

That was the Redskins, who never had an offense finish better than 10th in scoring under McVay. On Sunday, the Eagles will be tasked with slowing the No. 1 scoring offense in the NFL — which is tied only with their own.

The Rams' offense is a talented bunch to begin with. Jared Goff is proving worthy of the first overall draft choice last year. Ranked second with 1,502 yards from scrimmage and tied for first with 11 total touchdowns, running back Todd Gurley is a legitimate MVP candidate. The front office added legitimate weapons at wide receiver in Sammy Watkins, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. The offensive line is among the league's most improved units.

It's also been a remarkable turnaround from last season, when the Rams finished dead last in both scoring offense and total yards, with much of the same personnel in place. McVay's impact is real.

You don't need to tell the Eagles that. In Washington, McVay's offenses averaged 427.0 yards per game in six meetings — 284.3 through the air, 141.0 on the ground. To put those numbers in perspective, the Redskins' offense would've been a top-five unit in all three categories if they played the Eagles every week.

Three times, the Eagles surrendered 493 yards or more of total offense to Washington. Twice, the Redskins gained over 200 yards on the ground alone. The Eagles never held Washington to fewer than 23 points, 305 yards of total offense or 84 yards rushing.

Granted, the Eagles weren't exactly a defensive powerhouse between 2014 and 2015, routinely finishing at or near the bottom of the league in most major categories. Even last season, under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, the defense was middle of the pack.

Times have changed. The Eagles have since transformed into one of the best defenses in the NFL. Schwartz's unit ranks third in total yards allowed (293.2), sixth in points per game (17.9), third in takeaways (22), and No. 1 against the run (68.1) in 2017.

Last season, the Redskins averaged 27.0 points, 413.5 total yards and 163.5 yards on the ground with two total turnovers in two tangos with Scwhartz's defense. Things may not come that easy for McVay this time around.

At least the Eagles hope not. Despite having a division title and a playoff spot all but wrapped up, this will be an important test. Though 10-2, the Eagles have beaten only one team with a winning record. Furthermore, home-field advantage and a first-round bye in the postseason are still on the table, and at 9-3, the Rams are one of the teams vying for both. A loss in Los Angeles would make it extremely difficult for the Eagles to secure either.

Yet, solving McVay's offense may also be easier said than done. The Rams are the best offense the Eagles have seen all season, led by a coach who has had their number in years past.

It's going to be a test of where the Eagles stand in the NFC hierarchy and of the progress they've made as a defense. Because if past experience is any indicator, the matchup with McVay is one that looks worrisome.

Roob’s 10 observations: Anthem policy, Kendricks’ career, Wentz

Roob’s 10 observations: Anthem policy, Kendricks’ career, Wentz

Some thoughts on the NFL’s new anthem policy, Mychal Kendricks’ release, Carson Wentz’s return to practice and – of course – the Joe Callahan Stat of the Day!

It’s all in this week’s OTA edition of Roob’s 10 Random Eagles Observations!

1. The NFL’s anthem policy banning players from peaceful demonstrations during the anthem bothers me for a few reasons. First of all, it’s a dangerous precedent for the league to unilaterally restrict any such form of personal expression. Legislating opinions never works. Players are going to find other ways to express their opinions, and the policy is only going to breed resentment between the players and the league, which is the last thing the league needs right now. But more than that, I really have problems with the word “disrespect.” When someone arbitrarily decides what is and what isn’t “disrespectful,” you really get yourself in a lot of trouble. Nobody who’s listened to Malcolm Jenkins so eloquently discuss his reasons for raising his fist during the anthem would ever accuse him of being disrespectful. And also, since this is a policy that affects mainly African-American players, it has strong racial implications. These are issues that aren’t going to just away, whether or not the NFL tries to make them disappear.

2. And I found Eagles owner Jeff Lurie’s statement uncharacteristically tepid and vague. Lurie has been courageously supportive all along of Jenkins, Chris Long and all the players league-wide who’ve used their platform to fight for equal rights and social justice. All that statement did was avoid taking a stand on the new NFL policy. Disappointing.

3. Onto football matters! There’s no question the Eagles are a better football team with Mychal Kendricks on the field. Kendricks was solid last year and very good in the postseason. But the bottom line is Kendricks has felt unwanted and disrespected for a long time. The Eagles have been trying unsuccessfully to unload his contract for a couple years, and Kendricks knew he had no future here. If a team doesn’t want a player and the player doesn’t want to be with the team, it’s not a healthy relationship. And that’s why Kendricks is gone. But Kendricks handled what could have been an ugly situation with class and professionalism, and he’s got a Super Bowl ring to show for it. He never became the Pro Bowl player I expected when I first saw him play in 2012, but he was a decent player here for six years, and he leaves as a champion.

4. Jason Kelce announced the start of the 5K at the Eagles Autism Challenge at the Linc in terrible conditions and parodied his Super Bowl parade speech: “They said it was too cold! They said it was too rainy!” Hilarious.

5. Watching Carson Wentz actually participate in individual drills at practice Tuesday morning was pretty wild. For him to be out there looking comfortable and fluid taking drops and firing passes just 5 1/2 months after hobbling off the field at L.A. Coliseum was awfully encouraging.

6. I’m really starting to think Wentz plays Sept. 6.

7. One note about the Eagles’ linebacker depth. The days where teams ran three linebackers out there on every play are long gone. The Eagles last year played three linebackers on about 12 percent of their defensive snaps. In the Super Bowl, the Eagles played a total of three reps with three LBs. So if Jordan Hicks can stay healthy and Nigel Bradham plays like he did last year, the Eagles will be fine. Big if with Hicks. When the Eagles do play three ‘backers, I expect Corey Nelson to handle that role. Really, it comes down to Hicks staying healthy.

8. Career completion percentages of current Eagles quarterbacks:

82.6 percent … Nate Sudfeld
71.4 percent … Joe Callahan
61.5 percent … Carson Wentz
61.1 percent … Nick Foles

9. Was fun watching Mike Wallace run around at practice on Tuesday. Excited to see what he brings to this offense. He’s 31, an age where many receivers are slowing down, but he was one of just two receivers in their 30s last year who caught 50 passes and averaged 14.0 yards per catch (Ted Ginn was the other). And with Nelson Agholor and Alshon Jeffery here, he doesn’t have to be THE GUY. None of them do. That’s the beauty of this offense.

10. Potentially, this is the best trio of receivers the Eagles have ever had. Would you rather have DeSean, Maclin and Avant or Jeffery, Agholor and Wallace? I think this group is more versatile and slightly more talented. It’s close.  

Eagles sign undrafted linebacker Kyle Wilson

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Eagles sign undrafted linebacker Kyle Wilson

After releasing veteran Mychal Kendricks and losing Paul Worrilow for the season, the Eagles have added linebacker depth in rookie Kyle Wilson.

Wilson, who stands 6-foot, 230 pounds, participated in the Eagles’ rookie camp earlier this month.

"I feel like my game can translate pretty well to the NFL," Wilson told the Wichita Eagle Beacon, his hometown newspaper.

"I can make plays at linebacker and on special teams. I have a good football IQ and called all the plays for my defense at Arkansas State. I just want to keep proving people wrong."

Wilson was unrecruited out of Wichita South High School and began his collegiate career at football powerhouse Hutchinson Community College in Kansas before transferring to Arkansas State, where he played for two years.

"I have never been a huge name," Wilson said. "Didn't have any scholarship offers coming out of high school and was forced to go to junior college. Only had three offers leaving there. I have always played with a chip on my shoulder."

The Eagles now have nine linebackers on the roster, including Wilson, projected starters Nigel Bradham and Jordan Hicks, veterans Corey Nelson, Kamu Grugier-Hill and LaRoy Reynolds, late-round draft picks Nate Gerry and Joe Walker and undrafted rookie Asantay Brown from Western Michigan.