Eagles

Who's going to be the Eagles' backup QB in 2020?

Who's going to be the Eagles' backup QB in 2020?

How important is backup quarterback for the Eagles? Say what you want about Carson Wentz, and I still have the utmost confidence in him, but the reality is he’s failed to finish the last three seasons and goes into his 5th NFL season with three career postseason passing yards.

I don't expect him to keep getting hurt, but if he does the Eagles have to be prepared with a QB who can win games.

The Eagles need to figure out cornerback and wide receiver and pass rush. But they also need to figure out who Wentz’s backup will be because there’s a good chance it will be someone new.

Nate Sudfeld and Josh McCown are both unrestricted free agents and both could well be gone soon.

It’s hard to tell what the Eagles think of Sudfeld, but certainly leaving him at No. 3 after he was fully healed isn’t exactly a huge vote of confident, and he might want to sign somewhere where he feels he has at least a chance to compete for a starting job.

McCown still wants to play, and the Eagles love him. But he turns 41 in July and is coming off a torn hamstring injury and probably would be No. 3 if he comes back.

There’s no way the Eagles are going to draft a quarterback high enough to be No. 2.

What does it all mean?

The Eagles will likely be either signing or trading for Wentz's backup over the next month or so.

Here are some candidates, and no I didn’t bother including guys like Tom Brady, Dak Prescott or Philip Rivers because that ain't happening.

THE TOP GUYS

JOE FLACCO: The South Jersey native, now 35, probably understands his starting days are over. But he’s good enough to be a solid backup. Wasn’t horrible in Denver last year playing under recent Eagles hire Rich Scangarello before getting hurt and then benched. Was critical of Scangarello’s play calling, and although he won’t be calling plays here that could be an issue. He’s under contract but the Broncos would be happy to unload him.

COLIN KAEPERNICK: He hasn’t played since 2016 and I would guess he wants starter money. But if he’s willing to be a backup and isn’t trying to break the bank and he’s in shape? You could do worse than a 32-year-old with four career playoff wins and more than twice as many career TD passes (72) as interceptions (30). And you know the owner would be open to an out-of-the-box move like signing Kaep.

CASE KEENUM: Would Keenum return to the site of Pat Robinson’s 50-yard pick-6 that started the Eagles off on a 38-7 destruction of Keenum and the Vikings in the 2017 NFC Championship Game? If the money's right, sure. Keenum makes a lot of sense. He’s a free agent, he’s played well the last few years – for three different teams (51 TDs, 27 INTs since 2017) – he’s won in the playoffs, and he won't be looking for a starting job. And he won’t cost a fortune. He's at the top of my list.

MARCUS MARIOTA: Imagine if he finally makes it here five years after Chip? Mariota is a free agent and after losing his job last year to Ryan Tannehill his days in Tennessee appear over. Mariota is only 26 and could very well get starting offers. But if not? He wouldn’t be cheap, but he’s played in the postseason, he won a playoff game (in K.C.) and you’d feel good about his ability to go in and win games if he had to play.

THE SECOND TIER

CHASE DANIEL: The 33-year-old Daniel, who spent 2016 here, didn’t play badly for the Bears the last two years when Mitch Trubisky was hurt and is now a free agent. Does he still harbor ill will for getting bypassed for the starting job when Sam Bradford was traded? Maybe. If not he’d actually make sense.

COLT MCCOY: The 33-year-old journeyman has won 7 of 28 career starts and has nearly as many INTs (27) in his career as touchdowns (29). He’s a free agent. He’s available. I don’t want him.

GENO SMITH: It seems like he’s been around forever, but Geno is only 29 and headed into free agency. He’s got plenty of experience – 40 career starts – but he’s only thrown 96 passes since the start of the 2015 season and has no playoff experience. Hard to get excited about Geno but they could do worse.

LONGSHOTS

TEDDY BRIDGEWATER: Good free agency timing for Bridgewater, who went 5-0 this year with a 99.1 passer rating in five starts in place of injured Drew Brees. I assume he’s going to get a sizable contract and a chance to start – either somewhere else as a UFA or with the Saints if Drew Brees retires. On the small chance that doesn’t happen? I’d go after him in a second.

JAMEIS WINSTON: Probably the last thing you want is a backup quarterback who turns the ball over constantly. Winston this year became not only the first QB to throw for 5,000 yards with 20 INTs, he became the first QB to throw for 5,000 yards and 30 INTs. He’s a talented kid and somebody will give him at least a chance to start.

NICK FOLES: It’ll never happen for about 1,000 reasons, but I’m sure the Jaguars would love to unload his contract and turn things over to Gardner Minshew.

OK, MAYBE NOT

BRETT HUNDLEY: Hundley has only taken a few snaps the last couple years after starting nine games for the Packers in 2017. He didn’t play well in those nine games. He does have some experience and is a free agent. Long-shot but could be in the mix.

KYLE LAULETTA: After the Eagles released rookie 5th-round pick Clayton Thorson at the end of training camp, they signed Lauletta, the Giants 2018 4th-round pick, to their practice squad, where he remained all year. Lauletta, the only QB the Eagles have under contract other than Wentz, has a live arm, but are the Eagles ready to turn the No. 2 job over to him? No way.

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Jason Kelce egregiously snubbed by NFL's all-decade voters

Jason Kelce egregiously snubbed by NFL's all-decade voters

Jason Kelce was the best center in the NFL over the last decade and no fraud all-decade team is going to change that.

The NFL on Monday announced its team of the decade, and it was good to see LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Fletcher Cox and Jason Peters named. All are deserving.

But the absence of Kelce is egregious. 

Not surprisingly, the same people who haven’t figured out that Eric Allen was one of the greatest cornerbacks to ever play the game — the Pro Football Hall of Fame voters — are the same people who have decided that Kelce wasn’t one of the two best centers in the NFL from 2010 through 2019.

Alex Mack and Maurkice Pouncey were the centers named to the team of the decade, and guess what.

Kelce has made first-team all-pro more than both of them combined.

Kelce three times, Pouncey twice, Mack zip.

Pouncey deserves one of the two slots. He’s made eight Pro Bowls with the Steelers and played on six playoff teams and a Super Bowl loser. Hell of a career.

Mack? Ask any defensive tackle in the NFL if he’d rather face Kelce or Alex Mack. 

Mack’s been a really good player, and he does have more Pro Bowls than Kelce. But he was a 1st-round pick, and those guys tend to make Pro Bowls much earlier than 6th-round picks like Kelce. 

Kelce didn’t make his first Pro Bowl until his fourth season, and he was absurdly snubbed in the Pro Bowl voting in 2017 and 2018, when he was the best center in football, made first-team all-pro both times and didn’t get picked to the Pro Bowl team.

Kelce is the only active player in the NFL that’s had two all-pro seasons in which he didn’t make the Pro Bowl and one of only six in history.

It’s tough making up ground when you’re a 6th-round pick. You come into the league with no hype, and unless you see the guy play every Sunday you can’t imagine he’s really that good.

The rest of the country finally realized in 2017 what we already knew. Kelce guy is a beast. It took way too long. And judging by this NFL all-decade team people still haven’t figured out how good he is.

Kelce has added a dimension of athleticism to the center position that may be unprecedented. What he lacks in size and strength he makes up for in determination, intelligence and leverage. 

Kelce is one of six centers in NFL history to make first-team all-pro three straight years, the only one to do it in the last 20 years. All the others are Hall of Famers.

He’s also one of only seven centers in NFL history to be named all-pro three times AND to win a Super Bowl or NFL Championship. He’s the only one to do it in the last 35 years.

Kelce did make the Pro Football Writers Association all-decade team, so at least somebody got it right.

The thing that’s really disturbing is that Kelce is building a Hall of Fame resume, and the people that snubbed him for this honor could very well do the same when he’s in the Hall of Fame conversation. All-decade teams are one of the leading criteria Hall of Fame voters cite when justifying their picks.

All I know is Kelce is one of the smartest, toughest guys I’ve ever seen. He’s played through injuries that would have ended most guys’ seasons and some guys’ careers.

And he’s done it at a consistently high level since beating out Jamaal Jackson for the starting job in the summer of 2011.

Kelce probably doesn’t give a darn about all this. He’s never been one to take individual honors seriously. That’s not why he plays the game. 

He plays the game for moments like Feb. 4, 2018, and that’s something that none of the so-called experts can ever take away.

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NFL to reverse controversial pass interference rule for 2020 season: report

NFL to reverse controversial pass interference rule for 2020 season: report

After a one-year flirtation with pass interference challenges didn't really solve anything, the NFL is expected to end the experiment.

Pass interference replay "almost certainly will not be extended", according to a report Monday from NFL.com's Judy Battista:

This isn't terribly surprising. The rule was put in place largely because Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints complained very loudly after an enormous missed call in the 2018-19 postseason.

That crucial uncalled pass interference, you might recall, was committed by new Eagles cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman:

The 2019 regular season allowed coaches to challenge pass interference calls, either called or uncalled, but the results were a mixture of underwhelming and frustrating.

Eagles fans probably remember this very obvious Avonte Maddox pass interference that wasn't called, was challenged by Packers coach Matt LaFleur, and then still wasn't called:

That was insane.

"The cumulative effect of the misses, plus the replay spotlight on these misses, has really taken its toll," former NFL ref and current NBC rules analyst Terry McAulay told the New York Times last November.

The line for what constitutes pass interference was shown - as football watchers already knew - to be an indistinct and ever-moving line, and the ability to challenge the calls just created one more layer of aggrivation.

If the league does indeed remove the rule, it will be a victory. Fans, players, and coaches will still yell about missed pass interference calls - but at least they won't have to do it twice.

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