Eagles

Staying healthy not the biggest challenge for Carson Wentz

Staying healthy not the biggest challenge for Carson Wentz

The expectations are astronomical.

The comparisons are inevitable.

The pressure is incredible.

That’s the position Carson Wentz finds himself in this fall with his close friend Nick Foles now a Jacksonville Jaguar.

Wentz is The Guy now. The safety net is gone. He’s on his own now with only two possible outcomes: Win a Super Bowl and escape the inevitable Foles comparisons or fall short and deal with them the rest of his career.

We know Wentz is insanely talented.

He’s the only quarterback in NFL history to complete 64 percent of his passes with at least 70 touchdowns and fewer than 30 interceptions in his first three seasons.

But beyond whether he can stay healthy is the equally important question of whether he’s ready to handle living up to a flat-out legend.

As the only Eagles quarterback to win a Super Bowl, Foles’ legacy here is cemented for eternity.

A Super Bowl MVP. A statue. A best-selling inspirational autobiography.

That’s all Wentz has to live up to.

I think he’s very equipped to handle it,” Doug Pederson said. “He’s the type of guy who doesn’t let that kind of stuff bother him. Listen, he learned from Nick, from watching Nick and how Nick operated. He learned. He had two years of learning. I think this is a great opportunity for him to embrace his new role.

Until he wins a Super Bowl, everything Wentz does is going to be compared to what Foles did.

And no number of touchdowns, no amount of passing yards, no collection of Pro Bowl nods is going to change that.

It’s a tremendous amount of pressure trying to live up to a flat-out Philly legend.

There is going to be criticism, obviously, and there is going to be the comparison game and all that,” Pederson said. “But the best (thing) we can as coaches and players is to block it out and focus on what we’re doing. That’s what you see. He can tune that out pretty easily and just focus on his job, and getting ready for his next opponent.

There’s a school of thought that it will be good for Wentz that his pal is gone. 

The thinking is that Wentz will be able to really take ownership of the Eagles’ quarterback position now that Foles is with the Jaguars in a way he just couldn’t do when Foles was standing on the sidelines with the clipboard.

But even without Foles here literally, he’s sure here figuratively.

Pederson said the key for Wentz is to take what he’s learned from watching Foles the last two years — his ability to stay calm and relaxed in the face of adversity, to take what the defense gives him and not try to do too much, to rally the Eagles back from late deficits — and use it get the most out of his own prodigious talent.

The last two years we have been blessed … for what (Nick) has been able to do and I am happy for where Nick is and having an opportunity for himself,” Pederson said. “But this is also a great opportunity for Carson. To really regain the type of player he is, what we saw in 2017 and really what we saw in 2018 when he was playing.

Foles was 29 when he led the Eagles to the Super Bowl title.

Wentz is 26, and in the last 25 years only three quarterbacks — Tom Brady, Russell Wilson and Ben Roethlisberger — have won Super Bowls before their 27th birthday.

Wentz has plenty of time to join his friend and former teammate in achieving football’s greatest accomplishment. But every year he doesn’t, you know exactly what he’s going to hear.

We all know.

“Nick won a Super Bowl. When are you going to win one?”

That pressure only grew when the Eagles gave Wentz a four-year, $128 million contract extension.

Quite frankly, I don’t think a lot of that bothers him,” Pederson said. “He just moves on. He’s excited for this new season. It’s a new team, there are new guys around him. He’s energized, he feels good and I am just excited for that. I don’t like to look back. Can we learn from past experiences? Yeah we can learn from them, but I don’t want to keep going backwards, backwards, backwards. We are forward driven, forward thinking, and that is what he has to do as well.

Wentz has the arm to be the best. He has the legs to be the best. He has the mind to be the best.

The only way for him to escape the imposing shadow of his former backup is to win a Super Bowl. Or two.

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Eagles release linebacker Zach Brown

Eagles release linebacker Zach Brown

Three days after linebacker Zach Brown called Kirk Cousins “the weakest part” of the Vikings’ offense and one day after Cousins threw four touchdowns against the Eagles, the Eagles parted ways with Brown.

The Eagles signed the one-time Pro Bowler this past offseason to a one-year, $1.4 million contract, but he played only six games and made virtually no impact. He was credited with 29 tackles and two pass breakups.

The move came after head coach Doug Pederson met with the media earlier in the day and without comment. Pederson is not scheduled to meet with the media again until Wednesday.

The Brown signing was a big deal when the Eagles signed him in May. He was expected to help offset the departure of Jordan Hicks, who signed with the Cards.

Brown’s $1 million base salary and $400,000 signing bonus were guaranteed.

The move doesn't affect the Eagles' salary cap since Brown was playing on a one-year deal and his base and signing bonus were both guaranteed.

How much of the move was related to Brown’s ridiculous trash-talking last week, which backfired in embarrassing fashion, and how much was related to his nondescript level of play isn’t clear.

But the timing of the move is very unusual for a starting player and indicates there were important factors in play that led to the move beyond his performance on the field.

It's reminiscent of the Eagles releasing Jason Babin 11 games into the nightmarish 2012 season one year after he had 18 sacks.

Whoever winds up signing Brown will be his fifth team in the last five years.

Brown played 271 snaps in the Eagles’ first six games, second most of any linebacker behind Bradham’s 352.

The Eagles, who released cornerback Ryan Lewis earlier in the day, do have two open roster spots. One is expected to go to Jalen Mills, and the other would likely be a linebacker.

Former CFL star Alex Singleton, who had such a strong training camp, is on the practice squad and would be an obvious choice to replace Brown on the active roster.

With Nigel Bradham dealing with an ankle injury he suffered Sunday in Minnesota, the only healthy linebackers currently on the roster are Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nate Gerry, undrafted rookie T.J. Edwards and recent acquisition Duke Riley. Edwards has played only 12 defensive snaps this year — 10 of them in garbage time Sunday — and Riley hasn't played any.

Brown, who turns 30 next week, is in his eighth season. He was originally a second-round pick of the Titans in 2012 and spent four years with Tennessee, one Pro Bowl season with the Bills and two years with the Redskins before joining the Eagles.

The only news Brown made during his stay in Philadelphia was when he ripped Cousins, his former teammate with the Redskins.

After Cousins and the Vikings embarrassed the Eagles on Sunday, Brown declined to talk about it or apologize for his remarks.

The Vikings' Twitter account didn't hesitate to mock Brown after the game, although it did slightly misquote him.

Not the legacy anybody expected when the Eagles signed Brown.

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Eagles make move that seems to indicate a Jalen Mills return

Eagles make move that seems to indicate a Jalen Mills return

The Eagles on Monday afternoon made a move that seems to be a good sign Jalen Mills will return this week. 

A few hours after Doug Pederson said he expects Mills to practice this week, the Eagles waived cornerback Ryan Lewis, possibly to create a roster spot for Mills. 

Mills, 25, is still on the Physically Unable to Perform list with a foot injury that has kept him out nearly a year, but should practice this week and could be ready to assume a role on defense this Sunday night in Dallas. 

“We’re going to incorporate Jalen Mills a little bit this week in practice, we’ll see where he’s at at the end of the week and if he’s capable maybe there’s an opportunity there (for him to play),” Pederson said.

If Mills returns to practice this week, the Eagles will have three weeks to either add him to the active roster or place him on Injured Reserve. It looks like he’s clearly coming back to the Eagles’ roster and it seems like it will happen sooner rather than later. 

But even if Mills plays this Sunday, don’t expect him to have a huge role. He hasn’t played in a game since Oct. 28 last year in London. The Eagles will need to bring him back slowly. 

In addition to Mills, Ronald Darby (hamstring) is also expected to practice this week. While Mills and Darby aren’t saviors, they should at least help a secondary that was completely gashed by Kirk Cousins in Minnesota this past weekend. 

Lewis, 25, was signed to the Eagles’ practice squad on Oct. 1 and was called up on Oct. 4. He played 43 special teams snaps during his two weeks on the Eagles’ active roster. The Eagles’ practice squad is full at 10, but if Lewis clears waivers, he’s a candidate to return in that capacity.

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