Eagles

What quiet preseason could mean for Mike Wallace

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What quiet preseason could mean for Mike Wallace

We haven’t seen a lot from Mike Wallace this summer, and that could mean one of two things:

1. At 32 years old and in his 10th NFL season, Wallace has hit the veteran wall. He only caught one short pass in the preseason — a  meaningless three-yarder from Nick Foles in Cleveland Thursday night — and showed no sign of the big-play receiver who’s averaged 15 yards per catch throughout his career.

OR

2. Wallace is the kind of veteran who knows exactly what he needs out of a training camp, who knows how to pace himself, who knows when it’s time to turn on the juice.

The Eagles need Wallace. With Alshon Jeffery’s status up in the air for the first few weeks of the season, they need a legit starting-caliber receiver opposite Nelson Agholor.

And Wallace is the only real candidate.

Shelton Gibson has had a very good preseason and has the team made, but is he ready to be a major regular-season contributor? We don’t know that yet.

Mack Hollins has experience and showed flashes last year, but he’s been hurt all summer and projects as more of a situational receiver than an every-down guy. 

DeAndre Carter looks fantastic, but he’s never played a regular-season NFL game.

Kamar Aiken and Markus Wheaton have had success in the league on Sundays but haven’t shown anything this summer to make me think they’re going to even make the team much less contribute.

It leaves Wallace, who turned 32 earlier this month.

Wallace is coming off a pretty good season with the Ravens — 52 catches for 748 yards and four TDs. The year before that he was over 1,000 yards.

But receivers can lose it fast, and it traditionally happens somewhere in that 29-to-31 age range.

Miles Austin’s numbers the year before he joined the Eagles at 31 years old in 2015 weren’t far off Wallace’s numbers last year. And we all know how that went.  

Kevin Curtis was a 1,000-yard receiver at 29, out of the league at 31.

Jason Avant had a career-high 53 catches at 29 but only caught 15 when he was 32.

Look at Jeremy Maclin. He just turned 30 in May and his career is in limbo.

Receivers are lost without their legs, and it’s just really tough to keep your legs healthy when you’re in your eighth, ninth and 10th season putting them through the grind of an NFL season.

When the legs go, the career goes.

The history of Eagles receivers in their 30s is not a good one.

The last wide receiver to catch a pass for the Eagles after his 32nd birthday was Irving Fryar back in 1996.

Harold Carmichael had a 1,000-yard season at 32 but that was nearly four decades ago! 

But there’s reason to believe these trends won’t affect Wallace. 

Looking back at Wallace’s last few preseasons, the numbers aren’t exactly inspiring.

He was 3 for 40 last year with the Ravens and 3 for 37 the year before that and had very good regular seasons. In 2015 he caught 4 for 52 in the preseason with the Vikings and in 2014, he didn’t catch a pass in the preseason and had the best year of his career.

Sure seems like one of those guys who knows how to turn it on when he has to.

Remember how bad DeMeco Ryans looked in his first Eagles training camp? Remember how ineffective LeGarrette Blount looked last summer?

Some older veterans just know what they need to get ready for training camp, and they don’t care about anything else.

But here’s the biggest thing with Wallace.

He looks fast.

Watching him at training camp, it’ s clear he can still run. And with a wide receiver that’s really the only thing that matters.

The Eagles have had no shortage of veteran wide receiver failures lately — from Chris Givens to Rueben Randle to Dorial Green-Beckham. Guys like Wheaton and Aiken are on the brink of joining that group.

But the one thing Wallace has that none of the others did is that burst. That breakaway speed that separates productive wide receivers from guys who are out of the league.

It’s still there. We saw it throughout camp. He can still run.

It’s a very thin line in the NFL for receivers and corners. Your 40 time drops a 10th of a second, you’re out of the league.

The numbers haven’t been there. The stats aren’t there. The catches aren’t there. 

But the eye test tells me Mike Wallace can still play. And the Eagles desperately need that to be the case.

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Why Eagles will miss joint practices this summer

Why Eagles will miss joint practices this summer

We learned two things on Tuesday night about the NFL’s restrictions for training camps this summer:

One is that NFL teams will reportedly be required to stay at their own facilities this summer. That won’t be a big deal for the Eagles who haven’t held training camp at Lehigh University since 2012. 

But the other probably will affect them. 

Based on a memo sent by commissioner Roger Goodell to all 32 teams on Tuesday night, joint practices will be prohibited this year. 

While this decree makes sense when we’re talking about limiting exposure during the COVID-19 age, it could throw a wrinkle in the Eagles’ summer plans. While we don’t know for sure that the Birds were going to hold joint practices, we do know Doug Pederson is quite fond of them. 

The Eagles practiced with the Dolphins in 2017 and the Ravens in 2019. The only reason they didn’t have joint practices in 2018 was because the schedule didn’t work out. 

And this year, an obvious joint practice opponent would have been the Patriots, who come to Philly for Week 3 of the preseason. The Patriots held joint practices from 2012-17 and held joint practices with two teams last summer. They practiced with the Eagles in 2013. 

The Patriots open their 2020 preseason schedule with the Lions and head coach Matt Patricia, their former defensive coordinator. They also held joint practices with the Lions last year too, so perhaps the Patriots would have practiced with them. But they could have held double joint practices again this year if allowed. 

The Eagles also open their preseason against Frank Reich’s Colts and then go to Miami for Week 2. They obviously have a history with Reich and they held joint practices with the Dolphins a few years ago. So there were plenty of options this summer. 

But you can forget all that. 

So what will change now that we know the Eagles can’t hold joint practices? 

Well, they’re probably going to have to play a little harder during the preseason, especially in the third preseason game. Historically, that third preseason game has been the dress rehearsal game. But last year, Pederson got a lot of that work in during the joint practices with the Ravens.

Pederson said coaches could actually evaluate better in joint practices than they could during preseason games. 

"Yeah, because in practice sometimes you don't get all the situations in a game that you'd like to see your players in," Pederson said last summer. "So practices, I can set practices up that way. I can set them up hard. I can set them up where we're in pads, or going live, whatever it might be that we can really get a true evaluation of a player.

"The only real change from a game to a practice is in a game you don't get to do it over. At least in a practice setting, if we make a mistake, we can line up and do it again, and so we can correct that mistake right away.  In preseason games, we can't do that. We get a little bit better evaluation in practice in that case."

Another element the Eagles will miss from joint practices is the break in monotony. It gets old facing your teammates in practice for five to six weeks and going against another team can provide a boost. 

For now, the Eagles are fully planning to begin their training camp at the NovaCare Complex in late July. They have held their entire offseason program virtually. Pederson has previously said the Eagles will need a full training camp to prepare for an on-time start to the 2020 season.

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How the NBA playoff schedule could create insane overlap with 2020 NFL season

How the NBA playoff schedule could create insane overlap with 2020 NFL season

The NBA's Board of Governors is expected to approve a 22-team proposal from NBA commissioner Adam Silver this week, bringing basketball back in late July after four and a half months off.

There's so much to unpack, but one of the more interesting nuances in the unique proposal is pretty clear.

This fall, the NBA will intersect with the NFL, and it will be wild.

The proposed date for a hypothetical Game 7 of the NBA Finals is scheduled for Oct. 12, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowksi, which is the final day of the NFL's Week 5:

That means, for five weeks, sports fans will toggle back and forth between meaningful NFL football and playoff basketball.

What if the Sixers somehow go on a deep playoff run? Could we be watching Sixers playoff games and early-season Eagles games on the same days?

Looking at the lengths of the most recent conference finals and NBA finals series, the Sixers would likely need to reach the conference finals in order to overlap with the Eagles' regular season games.

(I know that those who watched the Sixers' 2019-20 regular season can't imagine that scenario, but you never know.)

The 2019 NBA Finals was on pace to play seven games in 18 days, meaning a seven-game Finals series could possibly start on Sept. 25, two days before the Eagles host the Bengals in Week 3.

Last year, the league put five days between the conference finals and the NBA Finals, and the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals took 15 days to play six games. Could a seven-game Eastern Conference Finals start on Sept. 8 and end on Sept. 20, the same day the Eagles host the Rams? That, too, is possible.

Of course, this is simply going off what happened last year, when the league was operating normally and also building its schedule to account for travel days. Since this year's NBA playoffs will be held in one location, and without much wiggle room, the schedule might be a bit different.

I'd imagine everyone in charge of scheduling sports for late September and early October will try to keep the Finals aways from Sundays, meaning Philly sports fans' craziest scenario would be riding the high of a Game 4 NBA Finals victory (?) into a big Sunday Night Football road matchup with the 49ers.

Which would still be wild.

And this is all before you remember the Flyers will be playing playoff hockey this year, likely beginning their postseason in late July or early August, and a potential shortened MLB season could also be underway.

The picture will round into shape better when the playoffs actually begin and the series take shape. But after extended break, it seems September and October could be quite a time for sports fans.

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