Eagles

Titans love to run, which will play right into Eagles' hands

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Titans love to run, which will play right into Eagles' hands

In an era where the average team throws 41 times a game and runs 24 times a game, the Tennessee Titans are a rare exception to NFL convention.

They run more than they throw. Way more.

The Titans love to run. Which should play right into the Eagles’ hands Sunday, when they face the Titans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.

The Titans are averaging 32.7 rushing attempts per game so far, second-most in the league (they have one carry fewer than the Redskins). But they’re only 24th in yards per carry (3.7).

It’s an anachronistic way of operating an offense in the NFL these days.

So far, the Titans have run 54 percent of the time and thrown just 46 percent.

The league averages are 37 and 63.

So Tennessee runs 27 percent more than the average 2018 NFL team.

They’re averaging six more rushing attempts per game through three weeks than passing attempts.

The combination of a very good defense and ball control means the Titans want to win low-scoring games, like they did Sunday, 9-6 over Jacksonville.

They’ve only scored three offensive TDs this year, but they’re 2-1.

The Titans are the only NFL team that hasn’t scored or allowed more than 50 points, and they’re actually only the third team to do that after three games in the last nine years.

But in the Eagles, the Titans will see the best rushing defense in the league.

Since 2016, they’ve allowed an NFL-low 89 rushing yards per game. This year, that number is an NFL-best 61.7, their lowest since 2008.

At their current pace, the Eagles will become only the 11th team since 1960 to allow fewer than 1,300 rushing yards in consecutive seasons.

The Eagles have faced 54 runs so far this year, only four for 10 yards or more and only two of those by running backs.

Nobody has even rushed for 40 yards against the Eagles in their last five games, the first time that’s happened since the last two games of 2002 and the first five games of 2003.

The Eagles haven’t allowed a second-half run over nine yards this year and just one over six yards.

So a team that wants to run far more than it throws is about to take on a historically great rush defense.

“They are committed to the run,” Jim Schwartz said. “They've invested a lot of resources in it.

“Drafted a couple offensive lineman, offensive tackles (in the first round). They’ve got a veteran offensive line. They have a Heisman Trophy running back. They had probably their premier free-agent pick-up this year, Dion Lewis, and they have a running quarterback.

“So obviously it's what they want to do and they're committed to it, so it's our job to combat that. … So our goal is to get opponents stopped. However we do it, we do it.”

Lewis is the Titans’ leading rusher with 143 yards but only 3.7 per carry. Derrick Henry, the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner for Alabama, has 139 yards but only a 3.0 average.

QB Marcus Mariota is averaging 6.6 yards per carry and has a 5.9 career average, ninth-highest in NFL history.

He’s really the Titans’ only threat in the backfield.

“He's probably the fastest quarterback in the NFL right now,” Schwartz said. “Looks like a 40-yard dash he's running so fast.”

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Eagles hold video meeting with possible sleeper pick WR Quartney Davis

Eagles hold video meeting with possible sleeper pick WR Quartney Davis

The Eagles are exploring all options to fix their wide receiver corps in this month's NFL Draft. Fans want Howie Roseman to spend top-tier draft picks on big-name receivers, but the team doesn't seem fixated on just one round.

Which is why they recently held a video conference with Texas A&M wide receiver Quartney Davis, a possible sleeper wide receiver pick who could be available come the later rounds in the draft, according to the Houston Chronicle's Aaron Wilson.

Davis caught 99 passes for 1,201 yards and 11 TD across his two years with Texas A&M. He saw his receptions and yards jump from 2018 to 2019, but his touchdowns and yards per reception both fell.

NBC Sports Philadelphia's Dave Zangaro explored the Eagles' likely wide receiver options at each level of the draft, and noted Davis could be a solid late-round option to flesh out Carson Wentz's potential weapons.

The Eagles, however, certainly aren't the only team interested in Davis. From Wilson:

"Texas A&M wide receiver Quartney Davis, a rising NFL Draft prospect from Langham Creek High School, has video conferenced with the New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings.

"Davis worked out and met privately for the Arizona Cardinals prior to the social distancing edict from the NFL prompted by the coronavirus pandemic."

Davis, who stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 200 pounds, ran the 40-yard dash at this year's NFL Combine in 4.54 seconds.

It's worth noting that, over the last 20 years, the Eagles have drafted just two wide receivers after the third round who went on to catch at least three touchdowns with the team: Jason Avant and Riley Cooper.

But in a draft noted for its depth at wide receiver, the Eagles are likely checking in on every possible option at the position ahead of April 23.

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NFL Draft Rumors: Eagles could pick these defenders instead of WR in first round

NFL Draft Rumors: Eagles could pick these defenders instead of WR in first round

We're just 15 days from the 2020 NFL Draft, and draft rumors are swirling more than the winds over the Schuylkill. One rumbling we've heard more than once now: the Eagles might be interested in using their No. 21 pick on a defender.

Over at Sports Illustrated on Wednesday, NFL insider Albert Breer answered in a mailbag column one of the hottest questions in this year's draft: Are the Eagles taking a wide receiver in the first round?

And Breer, like Adam Schefter before him, isn't sold. Breer even listed a few possible defensive options the Eagles might like more than, say, LSU wideout Justin Jefferson at No. 21:

I get the idea that Eagles fans are ready to burn the Linc to the ground if Philly doesn’t take one in the first round—given the inactivity in fixing that position this offseason, and awkward contractual spot they’re in with Alshon Jeffery. But I’m not totally convinced it happens.

(...) 

Let’s say (Xavier) McKinney is there. Or K’Lavon Chaisson is there. Or (CJ) Henderson is there and the value in pairing him with Darius Slay, and fixing the corner spot once and for all, is too great.

And to further this, let’s say (Ceedee) Lamb and (Jerry) Jeudy are gone. If Henry Ruggs is there, maybe you take him. Or maybe you think to yourself that taking one of the others makes sense, knowing a similar player, in K.J. Hamler, might be around in Round 2. If Ruggs is gone? Then, it’d seem, the value of the defensive guys may further outdistance, say, Justin Jefferson.

The odds say Jefferson is a likely pick for the Eagles, and they've been linked to him many times. But is that more out of convenience and perceived fit?

Howie Roseman is nothing if not a guy who wants to get value out of his draft picks, and if he thinks the best value at No. 21 is taking a cornerback like CJ Henderson instead of a wide receiver like Jefferson, he'll make the defender move every time.

NBC Sports Philadelphia's Reuben Frank examined today some possible options at wide receiver who might be available in the third round. This is a deep wide receiver draft.

Eagles fans are, indeed, hungry for a young star wide receiver. Roseman knows this, but he still might zig on draft night when fans want him to zag.

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