Eagles

Torrey Smith totally redeems himself

Torrey Smith totally redeems himself

After an all-too-familiar drop, Torrey Smith assured Nick Foles he would redeem himself. What followed was one of the most memorable catches in Eagles history: a 41-yard flea flicker in an NFC Championship Game.

Smith struggled with dropped passes all season long and never really materialized as the consistent deep threat the Eagles hoped for. But the seventh-year veteran knew they had the Vikings' number and pleaded with Foles to keep taking shots down the field.

Finally, Smith reeled in the long touchdown that felt like the dagger in the Eagles' 38-7 victory.

"We were talking about it all week, and we knew we were going to hit on one," Smith said postgame. "Just don't do anything differently, and I knew he was going to come back at some point."

Despite the trickery at the line of scrimmage, there was a high degree of difficulty involved with the catch. With All-Pro Vikings safety Harrison Smith in hot pursuit, Smith cradled the pass over his right shoulder as it came plummeting back to earth, got two feet inbounds and maintained control of the football while being tackled to the ground.

No matter. Smith wasn't about to let that one fall incomplete.

"I thought it I was inbounds, but I knew it was pretty close," Smith said. "Probably should've dragged my foot, but the ball kind of disappears a little bit when you catch it at that angle, and I wanted to catch it first."

Smith failed to haul in a potential 50-yard gain on the Eagles' first possession. The ball was slightly underthrown by Foles, allowing Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes to get back into the play and break up the pass.

Still, the ball was in Smith's hands, and he took full responsibility, going so far as to approach Foles on the sideline after the Eagles' drive ended in a punt.

"I had it," Smith said. "I should've caught it.

"I just told him, 'Don't do anything different.' I don't want him to think that it's his fault. That's my fault. That's a play I can make. I knew it was going to be contested when I slowed up a little bit, but that's a play I can make and I should make."

The opportunity for redemption came in the third quarter. Already leading the Vikings 24-7, Eagles coach Doug Pederson decided to go straight for the jugular after halftime, capping off an eight-play, 75-yard drive with the flea flicker.

Smith sold the call brilliantly, running at half speed to fool Waynes into thinking the ball was going elsewhere, only to take off and leave the defensive back in his dust.

"I knew that I had to get far enough down the field that he thinks I'm releasing like a pass, but then get my eyes back like lazy receivers do sometimes," Smith said. "We all do it, where you're like kind of looking to see where the ball is going.

"He looked, and I took off."

With the cornerback out of the play, the safety help was a little too late to break up a perfectly delivered pass from Foles.

"I don't know if I've ever run a flea flicker," Foles said. "It was my first time so I just tried not to smile. Any time you're a quarterback and you can have a play like that, it's pretty exciting."

Smith has taken his share of criticism throughout the season, finishing sixth in the NFL out of 94 qualifying receivers in drop rate, according to Pro Football Focus. Prior to Sunday, he caught just two passes of 40 yards or more all season long.

Yet neither Foles nor Pederson lost confidence in Smith and were comfortable going to the veteran wideout when it was time to drive the final nail in the Vikings' coffin.

"Nick did a great job of stepping up and sliding right, and then what a finish," Pederson said. "What a catch by Torrey, and right in the front corner of the end zone."

Eagles see honor of White House visit, but players still undecided

Eagles see honor of White House visit, but players still undecided

The Eagles organization accepted an invitation to the White House to commemorate its Super Bowl LII championship on June 5. The question is how many of the flock will be migrating to the nation’s capital that day? 

The decision was a hot topic of discussion on Tuesday, Day 1 of voluntary OTAs. 

“I’m excited to be going to be honored as world champions. It’s a great honor,” Doug Pederson said. “We’re still working through some logistics right now, so we don’t have all the details today, but excited to be going.”

So the head coach will be attending. As for Carson Wentz, “I know for me, personally, if the team decides as a whole, most guys want to go or be a part of it, I’ll be attending with them,” he said. “I think it’s just a cool way to receive the honor nationally and be recognized. I don’t personally view it — I know some people do and everyone has their opinion on it — but I don’t view it as a political thing whatsoever. I don’t mess with politics very often.”

Wentz may not mess with politics, but Donald Trump’s short tenure in office is the definition of polarizing and it’s impossible for some of his teammates to be apolitical when it comes to visiting the White House. 

“Because of the political climate we’re in, it will be taken as a political statement one way or another, whether you want it to or not,” said Brandon Brooks, who has yet to decide if he will be making the trip. “The biggest thing is you have to separate politics from the experience of going to the White House. Me, personally, it really is a tough decision because the president we have now, I agree with some things and some I don’t, so I’ll be looking within myself.” 

Some players such as Chris Long and Malcolm Jenkins are on record as saying they will not be going to the White House regardless of what the team as a whole decides. 

“For me, there’s a lot going on with that administration and I don’t think it’s the time to really have any kind of productive or constructive conversations about policy,” Jenkins said. “I definitely want to avoid being used as some kind of pawn. The way things have gone the last few months, I don’t think the time is right for that.”

Long and several other players made it very clear that whatever your choice, it will have no ill effect in the locker room. 

“As far as teammates, yeah, we all have a choice, so nobody’s judging anybody,” Long said. “It’s an honor to get to go to the White House and it means something different to everybody else.” 

Zach Ertz echoed Long’s sentiments about staying unified. 

“I’m still deciding. This isn’t going to be a divisive moment in the locker room,” Ertz said. “Guys are going to respect one another’s opinion. One of the things I’ve spoken about is my wife (U.S. women’s soccer player Julie Ertz) had gone in the past after they won the World Cup and she spoke about how fun it was to go there and to learn so much, see the history. So just an opportunity to go there whether you agree with the organization that’s in there or not. It’s the premiere building in this nation.”

Eagles reportedly turned down a Nick Foles trade offer from Browns

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USA Today Images

Eagles reportedly turned down a Nick Foles trade offer from Browns

Earlier this offseason, Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman explained why the price tag for Nick Foles would be high if they ever decided to trade him.

Turns out, he wasn’t kidding. 

Because according to NFL Network’s Mike Silver, the Eagles turned down an offer from the Cleveland Browns for the No. 35 pick in the 2018 draft.

That seems like a more-than-fair price for the 29-year-old quarterback who will be a backup if everything goes as planned in Carson Wentz’s rehab. But the Eagles have been consistent in their valuation of Foles, first by not trading him and then giving him more money with a mutual option for the 2019 season.

While Wentz was on the practice field Tuesday and looked great throwing the football and showing off some footwork (see story), it’s clear the Eagles still have some concerns about Wentz’s health in 2018. And having the Super Bowl MVP as a backup is the best insurance policy going. 

The report from Silver says that after the Eagles received the offer for Foles, they ran it by the quarterback, who told them he’d prefer to stay in Philadelphia. That also jives with Foles’ public comments about wanting to remain in Philly. He said that he’d obviously like to be a starter again, but in the right situation. He became a starter in a bad situation once in St. Louis. 

When talking about not trading Foles in March, Roseman mentioned the hit rate for certain rounds of the draft while weighing the prospect of trading an important piece like Foles. The Browns ended up keeping that No. 35 pick and took running back Nick Chubb out of Georgia. 

And it seems like the Eagles weren’t in love with that general area of this year’s draft. You’ll remember, they traded back from their No. 32 pick all the way to 49 to take tight end Dallas Goedert out of South Dakota State. While the No. 35 pick seems like it’s just out of the first round, it’s clear the Eagles, based on moving out of 32, didn’t value that area this year. At least not enough to part ways with Foles. 

“He’s still on the team because he’s an incredibly valuable member of the Philadelphia Eagles,” Roseman said at the annual NFL meetings in late March. “When you talk about that position and what’s gone on, you’ve seen it in the free-agent market, you’ve seen it in the trade market. We’re in the business of making sure we get the right value for the player. What our value is for a player is going to stick.”

During that same interview in March, Roseman was asked if he could see a situation unfold like the one that netted a first-round pick for Sam Bradford a few years ago. Roseman used his generic “we’ll do anything we think makes the team better” response. But if that type of opportunity arose, the Eagles would likely listen. 

With all the information we have, though, we know it would take a lot.