Eagles

Reunited with Nick Foles, Alshon Jeffery turns in monster game vs. Rams

Reunited with Nick Foles, Alshon Jeffery turns in monster game vs. Rams

LOS ANGELES — When Alshon Jeffery met with the media late Sunday night after a monster game against the Rams, he brought a football with him.

And it didn’t leave his hands.

Asked what was significant about that ball, Jeffery smiled and just said: “It’s been a while.”

It had been quite a while since we saw this Alshon Jeffery — skying high for jump balls, turning in big plays up and down the field, looking every bit like a star receiver.

Jeffery was the biggest beneficiary of the Eagles’ quarterback change in the Eagles’ 30-23 win over the Rams at L.A. Coliseum.

It was impossible to ignore the fact that Jeffery made more big plays in one game with Nick Foles than in most of a season with Carson Wentz.

Jeffery’s two longest catches this year came Sunday night from Foles, as did four of his nine longest:

50 yards … Foles yesterday
36 yards … Foles yesterday 
31 yards … Wentz vs Titans
31 yards … Wentz vs Vikings
29 yards … Wentz vs Panthers
26 yards … Foles yesterday
21 yards … Wentz vs Giants [2]
20 yards … Wentz vs Panthers
18 yards … Foles yesterday

Jeffery didn’t play the first two weeks of the season, so the Rams game was his first this year with Foles.

In 11 games with Wentz, Jeffery averaged 54 yards. He had eight for 160 Sunday night.

Nick did a hell of a job just finding me, just finding me, just making plays. Whoever’s out there, it doesn’t matter. If it’s Carson, Nick, Ertz, me, Nelly. We’re just trying to make plays. It doesn’t matter who’s catching it and who’s throwing it.

But it does seem to matter.

Jeffery’s 160 yards were his most since 2013 with the Bears and third-most of his career.

It was the most receiving yards by an Eagle since Jeremy Maclin had 187 in a game in Arizona back in 2014.

For whatever reason, Wentz was just reluctant to chuck the ball deep this year, and when he did, he was off. Maybe his surgically repaired knee wouldn't allow him to plant firmly enough to be able to launch the ball down the field. Maybe his back injury prevented him from going deep.

One thing is clear.

Foles is a gunslinger and he didn’t hesitate getting the ball vertical to Jeffery.

He didn’t look underneath. His eyes were always down the field.

That meant the numbers were down for the tight ends and backs but way up for the outside receivers.

And that gave the offense more juice than it's had in a long time.

In 24 games with Wentz over the last two years, Jeffery has averaged 12.6 yards per catch.

In seven games with Foles, he’s averaged 17.2 yards per catch.

Different quarterback, different Alshon.

“None of that really matters,” Jeffery said. “As long as we’re winning games that’s all I really care about. Just winning games.”

How can Foles and Jeffery have such a connection when they haven’t played together since the Super Bowl?

“You know, I watched all the practices, been doing the scout team and I know the guys,” Foles said. “I mean, you go out there, I’m a thrower. I just read their body language and throw the ball. They made a lot of great plays. Alshon, great catches.”

The last six weeks were tough for Jeffery.

With Wentz clearly unable or reluctant to get the ball down the field, Jeffery had six straight games under 50 yards.

For the first time in his career.

Sunday made up for all of it, and largely because of it the Eagles are back in the playoff mix.

“I’m just patient, man,” he said. “I’m just trying to control what I can control. I tell Nick and Carson all the time just throw it up. I’m going to catch it and no one else is going to catch it.”

And for the first time in a long time, one of them was listening.

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How close were the Eagles to keeping Raheem Mostert?

How close were the Eagles to keeping Raheem Mostert?

Several years before his monster game for the 49ers over the Packers, Raheem Mostert was just another undrafted rookie trying to make the Eagles' roster. Mostert on Sunday became the first player in NFL history with 200 rushing yards and four touchdowns in a playoff game.

Four years ago, he was an Eagle. Here's a story NBC Sports Philadelphia's Reuben Frank wrote on about Mostert's preseason back in August of 2015.

•••

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Just when we were all set to concede a roster spot to Kenjon Barner, Raheem Mostert does this.

Fifteen carries for 69 yards, eight catches for 93 yards and quite a statement that if the Eagles are going to keep a fourth running back, it should be him.

Barner, a third-year pro from Oregon, was terrific the first few games of the preseason, with two punt returns for touchdowns, a 50-yard gain on a screen pass and a rushing touchdown.

Mostert, a rookie from Purdue, has quietly been very good playing in Barner’s shadow, but with Barner getting just a couple touches Thursday night against the Jets, it was Mostert’s turn to shine.

He became the first Eagle in at least 15 years with 60 or more yards both rushing and receiving in the same preseason game.

For what it’s worth, only five Eagles in the last 50 years have had 60 rushing yards and 90 receiving yards in a regular-season game -- Brian Westbrook four times, Wilbert Montgomery three times and Timmy Brown, Ricky Watters and LeSean McCoy once each.

“I was just really trying to focus on the task at hand and trying to make a couple big plays out there and help the team out,” Mostert said at his locker.

“That was my main focus. I thought I did a pretty good job, but there’s always room for improvement. But I really tried my best and that’s all I can do.

“I came in with focus, My mentality was I’m going to stick it out, I’m not going to quit, I’m going to keep fighting, keep pushing, and at the end of the day that’s all anybody ever asks me to do in the NFL.”

Mostert finished the preseason with 351 yards from scrimmage, most by an Eagle in a preseason in at least 20 years.

That’s a ton of yards. Nearly 90 per game.

He averaged 4.0 yards on 39 carries and added 194 yards on 14 catches.

No back in the NFL had as many yards from scrimmage this preseason or as many total yards, including returns. He finished fourth in the NFL this preseason in receiving yards and fifth in rushing yards.

All of which guarantees Mostert absolutely nothing.

Barner’s numbers were impressive too. And with DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles -- three Pro Bowlers -- there may not even be a spot on the 53-man roster for a fourth running back.

Final cuts are due Saturday, but head coach Chip Kelly is expected to trim the Eagles’ roster on Friday afternoon.

“I’m not really too worried about it,” Mostert said. “Whatever happens happens. I’m just going to continue to push and just do my thing. Honestly. I’m not too worried about the cuts. I’m going to just work on what I’ve got to work on, regardless.”

Mostert was a two-time Big East sprint champ in college, but unlike most track guys that come to the NFL, he’s a physical runner, a capable blocker and a polished receiver.

“When you look at some of those track guys, you’re like, ‘OK, they’re fast and that’s about it. They can’t catch, they can’t block,’” Eagles running backs coach Duce Staley said. “He’s totally different. He brings a lot to the table. He’s aggressive, he can block, he can catch.”

There’s a school of thought that Barner, as a third-year pro who’s bounced around the league a bit, will be easier to sneak through waivers if he’s released. So you keep Mostert instead of leaving him unprotected and release Barner, hoping to add him to the practice squad.

The other school of thought says that Barner has done more than enough to warrant a roster spot and you keep him and let Mostert go, hoping nobody claims him, then bring him back on the practice squad.

The only certainty is that Mostert will be somewhere. Either on a 53 or on a practice squad.

Not that he wants to get released and start over somewhere else.

“I definitely think that [I’ll be somewhere], but I’m not going to be happy about it,” he said. “I know I can do a lot more and minimize the mistakes that I’ve had because I’ve had a lot of mistakes.

“It’s all on what I put on film, that’s what really matters. I’ve just got to continue to do the little things right in order to be special and be great for the team.

“Whatever the outcome is, I’m not too worried about it. I’ve just got to keep pushing, keep fighting. … Just to be the ultimate player.”

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Andy Reid’s former Eagles players are thrilled he’s going back to Super Bowl

Andy Reid’s former Eagles players are thrilled he’s going back to Super Bowl

One of Andy Reid’s biggest strengths — one he shares with Doug Pederson — is that his players love him. He connects with them.

That’s why it should come as no surprise that so many of his former players are really happy for him right now as Reid is heading back to the Super Bowl 15 years after he took the Eagles.

It seems like most of Philadelphia will be pulling for the Chiefs in two weeks.

But we also know a bunch of Reid’s former players and co-workers from Philadelphia, some who played in Super Bowl XXXIX, will be rooting hard for Big Red in Super Bowl LIV.

Here were a few of their reactions on Sunday night:

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