Roob's 10 observations from Eagles-Patriots preseason game

Roob's 10 observations from Eagles-Patriots preseason game


FOXBORO, Mass. — Nate Sudfeld slinging it all over the field, Nick Foles struggling, Shelton Gibson’s remarkable growth, and disappointing Eagles debuts for a couple veterans.

It was a mostly ugly performance Thursday night at Gillette Stadium for the Eagles.

Then again, they won the one that mattered.

Three weeks before opening day, here are our 10 instant observations from the Eagles’ 37-20 loss to the Patriots in the second preseason game of the summer for both teams (see breakdown).

1. Scary seeing Foles get banged up on one of Halapoulivaati Vaitai's several terrible snaps. You could see Foles was in a lot of pain as soon as he got hit by Adrian Clayborn, the Patriots’ veteran defensive end, but the diagnosis of strained shoulder was a huge relief. He wasn’t even taken inside for X-rays or an MRI, which is a really good sign. As for "Big V," he played so well down the stretch and in the postseason last year and especially in the Super Bowl, it’s surprising to see him struggle so much in a preseason game. But he had a rough night. It looks like the Eagles dodged a bullet with Foles. I’m not sure we’ll see him again in the preseason, but I would think he’d be fine by the opener if Carson Wentz isn’t ready and the Eagles need him.

2. As for Foles' performance … it was bad. Really bad. He’s a rhythm quarterback, and he never got into a rhythm against the team he performed so brilliantly against six months ago. The numbers were ugly in his 2018 debut: 3 for 9 for 44 yards before he got banged up. But I don’t worry about Foles. Ever. He missed a bunch of practice days, he wasn’t getting good protection, he was victimized by a couple drops, and he was out there without his top two wideouts. When the games matter, if he has to play, Foles will be fine.

3. I love watching Sudfeld play quarterback. I’m convinced he can play in this league. He’s got a tremendous touch on the mid-range and deep balls, he’s exceptional down near the end zone, and don’t forget he’s out there playing with backup linemen and receivers. He can sling it. That 57-yarder to Gibson over the top from the Eagles’ end zone was an absolutely ridiculous throw, and his touchdown to Rashard Davis in the left corner of the end zone was spectacular. Sudfeld threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns Thursday night and has now thrown five TDs in parts of two games this preseason. He does tend to sometimes hold onto the ball too long, but the kid is a talent, and the Eagles are going to get offers. That’s probably why they’re taking a look at Christian Hackenberg, in case they need another No. 3. Sudfeld can flat-out play in this league. I don’t know where, but he’s going to have a long career.

4. Love what I’m seeing from Gibson. To make a 53-man roster, you’ve got to be talented and you’ve got to be tough, and Gibson showed both those things Thursday night. He had a 46-yard kickoff return early, and then in the second quarter, after getting helped off the field with a right leg injury and examined for several minutes by trainers, he grabbed his helmet, went back in the game and caught a touchdown pass from Sudfeld on a nifty outside move. That’s two weeks in a row with a TD catch for Gibson. Then he pulled in that 57-yarder in the third quarter and finished with five catches for 90 yards. He’s made an astonishing leap from last year, hasn’t he? Impressive stuff. He’s got the team made. And not only does he have the team made, he’s worked his way right into the WR rotation.

5. One guy who looks great is Jordan Hicks. He’s really made a miraculous recovery from a very serious Achilles injury, and he looks as good as new. Hicks has been very active and physical in these two preseason games, and most importantly he’s healthy.

6. The refs flagged Rodney McLeod, Nigel Bradham and Jeremy Reaves for personal fouls for lowering their head to initiate contact, and like it or not, that’s going to be called all year, and the Eagles need to understand that and adjust accordingly. Now, the rule is probably being called closer in the preseason than it will be during the regular season. That’s always the way it is with a new rule or interpretation. But with 15 yards at stake every time you get called, these guys need to learn what the NFL is looking for very quickly.

7. What a disappontment Matt Jones has been. Jones made his Eagles debut Thursday night after missing the Steelers game, and it was pretty much a disaster. This is a kid who was among the NFL’s leading rushers in 2016 before he got hurt, and he should really flash playing against backups. He should dominate. But he was 6 for 19 rushing and dropped three passes, including one that was intercepted. It’s hard to imagine him helping this team. Or any team.

8. That battle for the fourth running back spot isn’t going well for anybody right now. Josh Adams was out Thursday, Donnel Pumphrey hasn't played, Jones was terrible in his debut, and Wendell Smallwood got only four carries against the Patriots and managed just one yard, although it didn’t look like he had anywhere to run on two of those down at the goal line.

9. Wasn’t the best debut for Mike Wallace. Had one drop, had another that wasn’t quite a drop but he should have caught, and finished with no catches. The Eagles are going to need Wallace if Alshon Jeffery isn’t ready for the opener. I don’t generally worry about veterans like Wallace. They know how to turn it on when the regular season arrives. He looks fast in practice and I know he can catch the ball. But he won’t play in the preseason finale in two weeks against the Jets, so that Browns game next Thursday becomes big for him to come away with a few positives.

10a. I’m going to keep raving about Dallas Goedert. He just doesn’t look like a rookie. I don’t know if there’s enough footballs to go around, but I see him as a 35-40 catch guy now. He followed his 4 for 66 against Pittsburgh with a 3 for 57 against the Patriots. Impressive kid.

10b. Finally this: Two hours before kickoff, Jason Peters was in the north end zone working for quite a while with Taylor Hart, "Big V," Jordan Mailata and a couple of the other young offensive linemen. Peters isn’t playing or practicing yet, but what this guy does solely for the good of the team is remarkable. He’s really like another coach out there. For a future Hall of Famer to be so generous and so giving of his time and knowledge just speaks volumes about what kind of person J.P. is.

(Reuben Frank/NBC Sports Philadelphia)

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After ‘shocker’ of a cut, Eagles LB group is a reminder of volatility in the NFL

After ‘shocker’ of a cut, Eagles LB group is a reminder of volatility in the NFL

At one point on Tuesday afternoon, Nigel Bradham limped past an empty locker stall where Zach Brown’s nameplate had already been replaced by a generic one that says “Philadelphia Eagles.” 

How’s that for a reminder of how quickly things can change in the NFL? 

“It’s a crazy league,” Kamu Grugier-Hill said. “You know how the business is. Guys come in and out, injuries happen. It’s our job to always be ready and answer the bell.”

Bradham is “day to day” with an ankle injury suffered against the Vikings, while Brown was released on Monday, just a day after he played 58 snaps. 

In one day, Brown went from being a starter to out of a job. 

A few of his now former teammates on Wednesday said that they were surprised by Brown’s release, but at the same time, understand the volatility of life in the NFL. 

“It’s a shocker,” said Nate Gerry, who became good friends with Brown. “But, like I said, s— happens.” 

Grugier-Hill said he found out about Brown like everyone else, when the news hit the internet. 

Sometimes, that’s just life in the NFL. 

“I think at all times, I have learned this is how the business works,” T.J. Edwards said. “You never know what’s going to happen and you have to be prepared at all times to fill a role or do whatever you have to do to show your worth.”

Like Jim Schwartz the day before, head coach Doug Pederson didn’t want to delve into the specifics of why the Eagles cut a starting linebacker six weeks into the season, but did agree with Schwartz that the Eagles need more production from their linebacker group. 

While Pederson said Brown’s comments about Kirk Cousins didn’t have anything to do with his release, Pederson was less clear when asked if the move was strictly based on on-field reasons. 

“Obviously we're based on performance,” Pederson said. “I'm not going to get into a lot of the whys as to why we did it, but we need more production there and so we made a change.”

Without Brown and possibly without Bradham this weekend, the Eagles’ linebacker group could have a much different look when it takes the field against the Cowboys on Sunday night. The good news is that Grugier-Hill says he’s starting to feel like himself after recovering from an MCL sprain in the summer. 

Grugier-Hill along with Gerry and rookie Edwards will likely get most of the playing time. Duke Riley is in the mix as well and Alex Singleton has been called up from the practice squad. 

But the Eagles could very well be in a situation this Sunday where the two linebackers who have played the most for them this season aren’t on the field. 

“It’s part of the business. People come, people go,” Gerry said. “The week’s gonna go on, no one’s gonna feel sorry for you. You’re just gonna have to pick up where you left off and you have to get better each week.” 

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NFL trade deadline: 8 cornerback targets for Eagles with Jalen Ramsey off the board

NFL trade deadline: 8 cornerback targets for Eagles with Jalen Ramsey off the board

After Eagles fans had hoped for weeks that Howie Roseman would pull the trigger and land Jalen Ramsey, the Pro Bowl cornerback was dealt to the Rams for two first-round picks and a fourth-round pick on Tuesday night. 

We can all debate whether or not the Eagles should have paid that price — and that is a fun debate — but it won’t change anything. Ramsey is off the table and the Eagles have less than two weeks before the trade deadline on Oct. 29. 

Here are several other cornerbacks who might be available in a trade: 

CB Patrick Peterson (Cardinals) 
Peterson is 29, but it somehow feels like he’s been a rumored trade target for the Eagles for about 15 years. The former first-round pick has truly been a great player for a long time. He’s been in the league eight years and is an eight-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro. Peterson missed the first six games of the year because of a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs, but he’s back now and ready to play. The Cardinals have been hesitant to trade him, but they’re 2-3-1 and rebuilding with a rookie quarterback. Peterson has one year left on his deal after this season. The price would be relatively high for him, but maybe the Eagles can get a few years of Peterson at a high level. 

CB Chris Harris Jr. (Broncos) 
Harris is 30 and in the final year of his contract, so he might just be a rental. The Broncos don’t seem eager to trade away players and they have won two straight games (2-4), but they should probably still sell. Harris worked his way from being an undrafted rookie to a four-time Pro Bowler. He’s been at his best as a nickel, but can play outside too. 

CB Xavien Howard (Dolphins) 
I don’t think Miami is going to trade Howard, but I’d at least make a call. He’s still just 26 and had seven interceptions in a Pro Bowl season last year. Howard has a knee injury right now too, which would be another hurdle. And the Dolphins did sign him to a big contract in May, so they seem to view him as a piece for the future. 

CB Desmond Trufant (Falcons) 
The Falcons fooled me again this season. I thought they were going to be good and they stink to the point where they probably should be selling. Trufant is 29 now and under contract for three more seasons. He’s pretty expensive, but he would help and Roseman can figure out the numbers. 

CB Josh Norman (Redskins) 
No, Norman isn’t what he once was with the Panthers, but he’d be an upgrade for the Eagles. There are some reasons not to make this move, though. He’s 31, has a loud personality and a bloated contract with another year on it after this season. But if the compensation is right, it wouldn’t be a horrible idea. 

CB Janoris Jenkins (Giants) 
Not sure how the Giants would feel about trading Jenkins in the division, but the 30-year-old is having a good season with three interceptions in six games. He has one more year under contract after this season with a salary of over $10 million next year, but the Eagles could get out of it or restructure. 

CB Trumaine Johnson (Jets) 
Johnson has a ridiculous salary after signing a five-year, $72.5 million deal last March and the Jets should be eager to dump that off. Heck, they benched him earlier this season. But maybe a change of scenery would do the 29-year-old good. 

CB Artie Burns (Steelers) 
The former first-round pick hasn’t played up to that status and has fallen out of favor in Pittsburgh. He’s also in a contract year, so the Steelers might want to get something for him before he walks as a free agent. It probably wouldn’t take much to get him to Philly. 

If the Eagles don’t trade for a cornerback, there are other positions that would make sense, too. Here are a few names I’d at least call about: EDGE Von Miller (Broncos), EDGE Vic Beasley (Falcons), EDGE Carson Dunlap (Bengals), DT Geno Atkins (Bengals), DT Leonard Williams (Jets), WR Emmanuel Sanders (Broncos), A.J. Green (Bengals), WR DeVante Parker (Dolphins). 

Roseman has pulled off significant moves in each of the last two seasons: for Jay Ajayi in 2017 and for Golden Tate last year. He has less than two weeks to get one done this year. 

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