Eagles

What is Eagles' formula to beat Tom Brady?

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What is Eagles' formula to beat Tom Brady?

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- If the Eagles are going to beat the Patriots in Super Bowl LII, their defensive line is going to need to be dynamic. 

It's as simple as that. 

Because the Patriots are going to take the field led by Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL, the Eagles' best chance to slow him down is by getting after him, hitting him and making his night miserable. It's not easy, but the front four needs to do it. 

"We look at it like that every week," defensive end Brandon Graham said. "As a defensive line, you have to disrupt the quarterback. As the leader of his team, that's how the offense gets going. Every week that's our standard. That's nothing new to us. We've been saying it all year."

Brady has played in seven Super Bowls and he's won five. The two he lost came to the New York Giants, who also had a dominating front four. 

Earlier this week, we caught up with former Giants pass-rusher Osi Umenyiora, who sees some clear similarities between those Giants teams and this Eagles team (see story). He thinks the Eagles have a real chance to win this game.  

The Eagles' defensive linemen didn't seem to know too much about those Giants' Super Bowl wins. They were young and seem to just remember that incredible David Tyree catch. But defensive line coach Chris Wilson watched and those games have been on his mind recently. 

"We go back and study but we try to go back and study things that are applicable, things that are current now and see how their mindsets were back then," Wilson said. "But so much has changed since those days. The one constant is Bill (Belichick) and Tom, they're consistent. But a lot of the pieces have changed. We go back and take a quick glance at it and see if they have any relevance now. If they do, we use it. If they don't, we just stick to what we have." 

The Eagles' front four has to get after Brady but it can't try to do too much. That's when things could get ugly. They have to be disciplined in their gaps and make sure they're doing what they're supposed to. 

"You just gotta do your job," Vinny Curry said. "Don't try to do nobody else's job. Do your job."

Those who have faced Brady before say that even when they get after him, he never really looks flustered. He might throw a few more incompletions than normal, but you're never going to see him hang his head or get some of the visible signs some other quarterbacks give. Wilson said the key is to just stay patient. 

"We're not blind to the fact, we know what we're up against," said Tim Jernigan, who spent the first few years of his career in the AFC. "I've had my experience playing against this guy. There were times where I beat the guy clean, never touched me, and I still never got to him. The guy is intelligent, he knows exactly where to go with the ball."

During the last two weeks of practice, backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld has been playing the role of Brady for the scout team. Everyone said he did a nice job and the Eagles could certainly use all the help they can get. 

Before these playoffs started, Fletcher Cox talked about how the defensive line is the highest paid unit on the team and the group needed to play like it. Through two games, he and his group certainly have. They have one more game to go. 
  
"I think it's just more magnified," Wilson said. "I think the biggest thing is the jump we made from Year 1 to Year 2. Now it's more magnified because now the whole world's watching. There are not 32 teams playing. Now you're down to that final four, there's more emphasis, there's more eyes on it. This is something I think they've been doing throughout the season."

Darren Sproles plans to retire after 2018 season

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Darren Sproles plans to retire after 2018 season

The 2018 season will be the final one for Darren Sproles.

The Eagles' running back announced in a blog post Sunday that he plans to play just "one more year." In fact, Sproles wrote that he had originally planned for 2017 to be his final season in the NFL, but that changed after suffering a season-ending torn ACL and broken arm against the Giants in Week 3. 

"An injury is different; It’s something you don’t have any control over but I feel like I left a lot out there, and I couldn’t let my career end like that," Sproles wrote.

"Coming back from any injury is tough—especially a knee injury for a running back. I wondered if I was going to come back the same, if I would still have my quickness. That’s the main thing because I don’t want to go out there and start getting smacked. Once I started rehabbing and running again I could tell I was good and ready for one more healthy year."

The 35-year-old agreed to terms on a one-year deal to return to the Eagles back in April. This coming season, he will be part of a crowded Eagles backfield that's headlined by Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement.

Over four seasons with the Birds, Sproles has compiled 2,420 yards from scrimmage and 14 touchdowns. He's also been a weapon on special teams, posting a 12.5 yards per return average and four touchdowns. Acquired in a trade from the Saints in 2014, Sproles has made the Pro Bowl three times as an Eagle and was named to Second Team All-Pro as a returner in his first season in Philly.

"I’m excited to come back and I am even more excited to come back to the defending Super Bowl champion, Eagles," Sproles wrote. "We have something special here with the team, the fans, and the city. We made history bringing the first Lombardi trophy to Philly and now we want to go back-to-back."

In the post, Sproles noted that he has his sights set on getting into the top five of the all-time leaders in all-purpose yards. Sproles currently sits eighth all-time with 19,155 yards. He should pass Steve Smith (19,180) and Marshall Faulk (19,190) with ease, but will have to leap Tim Brown (19,682) to get into the top five. The 13-year veteran wrote that it "will probably take until about mid-season (maybe a little longer)" to catch Brown.

The other players in the top five? Jerry Rice, Brian Mitchell, Walter Payton and Emmit Smith. Pretty good company.

Though, records weren't the thing that ultimately convinced Sproles to push his retirement back one more season.

"But I don’t do it for the records," Sproles wrote. "Yeah, it would be an honor to be mentioned in the same conversation as those guys—but that’s not what’s important. I love this game. I love what I do. When my daughter Devyn looked me in the eye and told me I have to play one more year—well, that was it."

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Eagles Mailbag: Trading Nick Foles; will Carson Wentz be ready?

Eagles Mailbag: Trading Nick Foles; will Carson Wentz be ready?

Training camp starts next week!

After a shorter-than-usual offseason, the Eagles will try to become the first team to repeat as Super Bowl champs in over a decade. 

We answered half of your questions yesterday (see story). The rest today: 

To me, this has always been the most likely scenario if Nick Foles were to ever get traded for a few reasons. The first is that by training camp, the Eagles will have a much better idea of whether or not Carson Wentz is ready to play. They can decide to either keep the insurance policy or trade it away. And you’re right, desperation will raise Foles’ price. 

I remember asking Howie Roseman about this exact possibility back in March. 

“I’d say that’s a possibility of anyone on our team,” Roseman said. “We’re going to do what’s in the best interest of the Eagles. I don’t want to make this about just Nick, but anything that can make us better at any time in the year, we have to look at.”

I think it would have to be a first-rounder. The Eagles already didn’t trade Foles for an early second-rounder this year and if Sam Bradford was worth a first-rounder, the Super Bowl MVP damn-well better be. Now, it’s rare to have a Teddy Bridgewater-type situation arise, but if it does, the Eagles will be waiting by their phones.  

(And side note: I don’t think Foles’ restructured contract changes anything.) 

My gut is that he’s ready for Week 1, but I don’t know. On one hand, it’s a really serious injury. On the other, I was incredibly impressed by how much he was able to do in the spring and how well he did it. 

The one thing I know is this: It won’t be a decision. Either Wentz is cleared and he plays or he isn’t cleared and he doesn’t. There can’t be any thought to resting him if he’s cleared to play. These games are too important and they’re going to need him in every one. 

The Rams improved their roster and should be one of the favorites to win the NFC. The Rams already had a quarterback and some key pieces around him and then they won the offseason. 

The brought in Ndamukong Suh, Brandin Cooks, Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. Now, putting a bunch of great players together isn’t enough — remember the Dream Team — but it’s a good start. And the Rams certainly added a lot of talent. 

This is a fair question after Nigel Bradham’s suspension, but the good news for the Eagles is that Bradham’s suspension is just one game. The Eagles should have had more depth but Paul Worrilow went down for the season in the spring on the same day they cut Mychal Kendricks. That leaves the Eagles with a depth problem. 

I think they’ll try to get a better sense of what depth they have during the first week or two of training camp. Let’s see what they have in Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nate Gerry, Corey Nelson, Joe Walker and LaRoy Reynolds. But I’d imagine the Eagles at least have a couple veteran names in mind. Remember, they did add Dannell Ellerbe late last season and I wouldn’t be surprised if they still have a short list of guys who would make sense. 

Hot dogs. Please don’t ask me if they’re a sandwich. 

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