Eagles

This weekend in Philadelphia sports reminds us of the power of nostalgia

This weekend in Philadelphia sports reminds us of the power of nostalgia

What a weekend.

We got to honor Dawk and Doc and the 2008 World Champions of baseball. We got to see our favorite athlete ever get immortalized. We got to shed a tear for our favorite workhorse. We got to remember the team that broke the championship curse. And then we got to see the Super Bowl champions back in their nest.

Nostalgia is such a powerful thing in sports, and this weekend was full of it in Philadelphia.

Think about everything that went down:

• Brian Dawkins went into the Hall of Fame and on a day he was honored, made his speech about helping others struggling with depression (see story). Of course he did.

• Roy Halladay and Pat Gillick were inducted into the Phillies’ Wall of Fame. Halladay was honored posthumously and there wasn’t a dry eye at Citizens Bank Park.

• The 2008 Phillies celebrated the 10th anniversary of their World Series win and brought back most of the members from that team. Even Jayson Werth, who fell out of favor with fans after going to the Nationals as a free agent, returned to a deserving hero’s welcome. It was a touching moment from an intelligent fanbase.

And then we saw these first-place Phillies pull off a sweep (see story).

• And the weekend was capped by thousands of Eagles fans showing up for an August practice to see the defending Super Bowl champions at Lincoln Financial Field. It was the first time the Birds were all together at the Linc in uniform since the NFC Championship Game that became a blowout party and sent them to Minnesota.

Sometimes, as sports fans, we get caught up in nostalgia. We remember things from the past fondly and sometimes even neglect the present. But this weekend, it was impossible to not get caught up in the magic. And, man, it was fun.

This weekend reminded me of why we’re all sports fans in the first place. These teams and these players connect us. How many people watched Dawk’s Hall of Fame speech with their dad or brothers or sisters? How many families watched the opening of Saturday’s Phillies game and shed a tear together remembering Doc?

How many folks double dipped on Sunday, getting a chance to see the last World Series champions at Citizens Bank Park and then walked down the street to see the Super Bowl champs at night? That had to be a great day.

A lot of times, we push sports to the back burner in the summer. We go to the beach, we go on vacation, we sit by the pool. But I’m guessing a lot of people this weekend pushed those other things aside and had themselves a great sports weekend.

There will be plenty of new memories to make and heroes to crown. But over the last few days, it was nice to remember the ones who came before.

With one big fix, 2018 Eagles can be an elite team

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With one big fix, 2018 Eagles can be an elite team

If you have an elite quarterback and a top-10 defense, you have a chance to be a special team.

We know the Eagles have the first. And they just might have the second.

I don't have to make much of a case for Wentz as a top-10 quarterback.

Without the benefit of a preseason, limited in training camp, victimized by drops and inconsistent offensive line play, Wentz has come in and performed at an extraordinary level these last four weeks.

He's completed at least 65 percent of his passes in all four starts, averaged just under 300 yards and thrown eight TDs to just one interception. The only other Eagles quarterback to ever have a four-game stretch like this was Donovan McNabb the first four weeks of 2004.

What's scary is that Wentz has gotten better each of these four games, and you know he's only going to keep getting better.

Top 10 quarterback? Heck, yeah.

The real question is how good is this defense, and honestly, I don't know the answer yet.

Six games in, two things stick out:

No. 1, they're allowing way too many big plays.

And No. 2, when they don't allow a big play, they're very good.

The Eagles have allowed seven plays of at least 45 yards, tied with the Raiders for most in the NFL. It's also the most they've given up six weeks into a season in at least 25 years.

Those seven plays have netted 420 yards, which equals an incredible 20 percent of all the yards the Eagles have given up all year.

This sounds nuts, but when the Eagles aren't allowing big plays, they're not allowing very much at all, and the numbers prove it.

The Eagles' defense has allowed the third-fewest first downs in the league, 17.7 per game. Only the Ravens (15.5) and Bears (17.0) have allowed fewer.

On third down, they're third-best in the league at 29.5 percent, behind only the Vikings (25.0) and Ravens (26.5).

And in the red zone, they're once again No. 1 in the league, allowing touchdowns on only seven of 21 opposing drives.

Add up all that, and you have a defense that, despite allowing big plays at an alarming rate, is still allowing the fifth-fewest points per game in the NFL.

Here's a look at the top 10:

12.8 … Ravens

16.0 … Bears

16.7 … Titans

17.2 … Cowboys 

18.3 … Eagles

18.3 … Seahawks

19.7 … Rams

19.8 … Jaguars

20.8 … Redskins

21.4 … Packers

The Eagles' defense has allowed just 11 touchdowns. Only the Jaguars (10), Titans (10)  and Ravens (8) have allowed fewer.

So there are signs of greatness. But in the midst of all of it are plays of 75, 75, 68, 55, 51, 50 and 46 yards.

What does this tell us?

If the Eagles can solve their problem allowing big plays, they have a chance to be a special team.

When you look at that list of top-10 defenses, how many of those teams also have top-10 quarterbacks?

Mitch Trubisky has played very well and given the Bears new life. Jared Goff, Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers are elite. Alex Smith and Dak Prescott have both been OK.

There are obviously teams whose quarterbacks are so good they keep their teams in every game, despite weak defenses. Matt Ryan, Pat Mahomes and Drew Brees lead teams with bottom-7 defenses that are nonetheless very dangerous. The Patriots are 20th in defense but will be a threat as long as Tom Brady is in uniform.

But the bottom line is the Eagles have a chance. 

On those key plays that are killing them, they obviously need to tackle better and cover better. If they can do that and either eliminate or drastically reduce those big plays, they're going to have a chance every week.

I don't think any of us know exactly who this Eagles team is yet. They're certainly not where they wanted to be at 3-3.

But I know exactly what they can be. And they're not that far off.

Eagles may have found the perfect trade partner in Jon Gruden's Raiders

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Eagles may have found the perfect trade partner in Jon Gruden's Raiders

In case you haven’t been paying attention to happenings out west, the Raiders stink. 

They’re 1-5 and it sure looked like Derek Carr was crying after taking another hit this weekend. If he was upset before, Carr might want to ignore this report from Jay Glazer, who says the Raiders are now shopping receiver Amari Cooper and safety Karl Joseph. 

A safety and receiver, huh? Those just happen to be two of the Eagles’ biggest needs right now. 

And the Eagles should at least take a look and maybe make a phone call. 

Amari Cooper 

Even though he suffered a concussion this weekend, the Eagles should probably at least take a look at the 24-year-old Cooper. The former first-round pick is now in his fourth NFL season and has averaged over 14.0 yards per reception. 

He’s not a Mike Wallace-type burner, but he can stretch the field and would give the Eagles a better option than Jordan Matthews or Kamar Aiken opposite Alshon Jeffery. Simply put, it seems like the Eagles need playmakers. And there’s no guarantee Wallace will return this season from that fractured fibula. 

Cooper would fit under the cap this season and next year is on his fifth-year option season at a hefty price of around $13 million. But if the Eagles traded for him, they could sign him to an extension and I never really worry about money when it comes to Howie Roseman. He can figure it out. 

Cooper has just 22 catches for 280 yards, but had a 128-yard game just a few weeks ago. He’s still got it. Not sure what the price would be — maybe it would be too high — but if the Raiders are really selling, the Eagles should at least be shopping. 

Karl Joseph

This one is a little tricker, just because I think the Eagles really value players who know their defensive system to play safety. 

But Joseph is another first-round pick and he played at West Virginia and the Eagles seem to like players from WVU. Joseph hasn’t lived up to his draft status, but maybe a change of scenery could help him. 

If the Birds bring in a safety, it would eventually allow Avonte Maddox to go back in the slot until Sidney Jones (hamstring) is healthy again. 

But even if they traded for a safety tomorrow, he might not be ready to play until after Jones is already back and then it would just send Maddox to the bench. 

Maybe the Eagles go after a safety, but I’m not expecting that to be as quick a fix as a position like receiver or running back. Trading for a safety who hasn’t previously played under Jim Schwartz would be more of a long-term move. 

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