Eagles

What does Jim Schwartz see when watching film of Drew Brees?

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What does Jim Schwartz see when watching film of Drew Brees?

Every week, Jim Schwartz sits down with a video compilation of all the mistakes the opposing quarterback has made.

This week was the Drew Brees mistake reel.

“I looked at his interception reel,” he said. “That was one. Didn't take us long to get through the sack and interception reel. His incompletions, didn't take us long to get through those.

“I mean, he's playing at an insane level right now.”

Brees, now 39 and in his 18th season, is off to the greatest nine-game start of any quarterback in NFL history, and the challenge Sunday afternoon will be enormous for an Eagles secondary that’s been dealing with injuries, inconsistency and late-game breakdowns all year.

Brees has completed 77.3 percent of his passes — by far the highest in NFL history after nine games — and his interception ratio — one in 304 pass attempts — is also best ever after nine games.

His 21 TDs are eighth-most at this point in a season and his 123.8 passer rating is third-highest.

He’s been sacked only nine times. He’s thrown only 69 incomplete passes.

He’s had a passer rating of 114 or higher in seven of nine games.

“When I was a kid, if a quarterback completed 50 percent of his passes, that was considered good,” Schwartz said. “If he had as many touchdown passes as interceptions, it was considered playing pretty good quarterback. Then it started becoming, you need to throw twice as many touchdowns as interceptions. Then you need to complete 60 percent of your passes. Now pretty much everybody is like near that 70 percent. He's close to 80. He's 77 point something. How about 21-1 touchdown-interception (ratio)? He's made those things the new standards. “

Schwartz is right.

As recently as 1993, only 19 quarterbacks in NFL history had ever completed 63 percent of their passes in a season.

This year the average completion percentage of the entire league is 65 percent.

And Brees is making a run at becoming the first 80 percent passer in history.

“Extremely accurate quarterback, smart, knows where to go with the ball,” Schwartz said. “Still has good mobility, can buy time. We certainly have our work cut out for us. He's got good players around him.

“They're also, I think, maybe lost in the fact that he's played at such a high level, they're a very good run team also. (Mark) Ingram, (Alvin) Kamara, doesn't matter who they hand the ball off to, they've been a consistent run team.

“Very good offensive line. There is a reason that they're the No. 1 scoring offense in the NFL. … It’s a points business, and they're putting up points like nobody else.”

One other thought from Schwartz's presser Tuesday:

• The Eagles gave up 10 points in their fourth-quarter collapse against the Titans, 21 points in the fourth quarter against the Panthers and 14 more against the Cowboys on Sunday night.

Schwartz talked about the late-game collapses: “I think so many of those have come down to a play in a drive that we got a chance to get it stopped, and we haven't made the play. The theme of the fourth quarter is we need to finish, and we need to make the plays when they count. We haven't done that. That's why we're 4-5. Whether it was Carolina, whether it was last week, whatever week it is, we need to make those plays not just in the beginning of the game. We started some games pretty good. It doesn't matter, it's a 60-minute game.”

But why? 

Schwartz doesn’t think his players are gassed at the end of games, but it sure looks like they are. Maybe the short offseason has been catching up with the defense late in games. 

The absence of takeaways is certainly a factor. The Eagles have faced 223 fourth-quarter plays and they have just two fourth-quarter takeaways after recording 11 last year. 

The Eagles also aren’t getting the same amount of pressure in the fourth quarter. They sacked Matt Ryan three times in the fourth quarter on opening day, but they have just three fourth-quarter sacks in six games since.

Whatever the reason, the Eagles' defense clearly isn't the same late in games.

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Eagles release popular special teamer Chris Maragos

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Eagles release popular special teamer Chris Maragos

Chris Maragos, the popular special teams ace whose career has been derailed by a serious knee injury, was released Friday by the Eagles.

Maragos, 32, played in 47 of 48 games from 2014 through 2016, mainly on special teams but a significant amount at safety in 2015. But he suffered a career-threatening knee injury against the Panthers in Charlotte on Oct. 12, 2017, and hasn’t played since.

Maragos, who won a Super Bowl ring with the Seahawks in 2013 in addition to one with the Eagles in 2017, made all the road trips with the Eagles this past season even though he had no chance of playing simply because he was so respected in the locker room and such an effective leader.

“I’m really more of a coach and cheerleader these days than anything else,” he said with a smile before one game this past season.

Maragos went undrafted out of Wisconsin in 2010 and after a season with the 49ers played three years with the Seahawks before signing with the Eagles before the 2014 season.

He was signed through 2019 and will count $250,000 in dead money against the Eagles’ salary cap, which gives the Eagles a $2 million cap savings.

Maragos earned over $10 million in his career, including over $7 million from the Eagles, according to Spotrac. His career earnings high of $2.5 million came in 2016.

Maragos has had two knee operations since originally getting hurt against the Panthers, most recently this past fall. 

Even healthy, Maragos probably wouldn’t have fit in the Eagles’ plans this coming season.

Since re-signing Rodney McLeod to a contract restructure that lowered his 2019 cap figure from $.9 million to $4.84 million, the Eagles have safeties Malcolm Jenkins, McLeod and Tre’ Sullivan under contract, along with Avonte Maddox, who can play either safety or cornerback. 

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Eagles sign Jake Elliott and Rick Lovato to one-year deals

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Eagles sign Jake Elliott and Rick Lovato to one-year deals

The Eagles will have all three of their specialists back for the 2019 season. 

On Friday afternoon, the Eagles announced they signed kicker Jake Elliott and long snapper Rick Lovato to one-year deals that will take them through the next NFL season. 

Both players were set to become exclusive rights free agents, so the Eagles basically controlled their rights. It should have been a no-brainer to bring both back. 

The deals are just one-year contracts similar to what the exclusive rights deals would have been, according to league sources. 

Punter Cameron Johnston was already under contract for the 2019 season, so the trio of specialists will be intact for at least one more year. 

Elliott, 23, joined the Eagles in Week 2 of the 2017 season when Caleb Sturgis was injured. The Eagles signed him off the Bengals’ practice squad; the Bengals had drafted him in the fifth round. With the Eagles, Elliott went on to have a really good rookie season, highlighted by the 61-yard game-winner against the Giants in Week 3. He also hit a 42-yarder and a 46-yarder in Super Bowl LII. 

In both of his first two seasons with the Eagles, Elliott has made 26 of 31 field goal attempts. He is 7 of 11 from 50-plus during his first two NFL seasons. 

Lovato, 26, joined the Eagles in Week 15 of the 2016 season after Jon Dorenbos broke his wrist. The next year, Lovato beat out Dorenbos for the long snapper job. When Lovato was signed during 2016, he had been working at his family’s restaurant in New Jersey. 

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