Zach Ertz, Nelson Agholor feel pain of plays they should have made vs. Falcons

Zach Ertz, Nelson Agholor feel pain of plays they should have made vs. Falcons

ATLANTA — Zach Ertz was so close and that’s what made it hurt even worse. 

The Eagles’ Pro Bowl tight end was visibly upset after the Eagles’ heartbreaking 24-20 loss to the Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday night. The Eagles went to him on fourth down from the Atlanta 16-yard line with just 38 seconds left in a one-score game. 

The Eagles needed 8 yards. 

Ertz got them 7 1/2. 

“I’m an emotional player and I feel like I kind of let my team down at the end,” Ertz said. “I tried my best and we were so close. And it’s going to hurt for a while. But I’ll be better.” 

Like Ertz, receiver Nelson Agholor also had a huge missed opportunity late in Sunday night’s game. Earlier on that final drive, Carson Wentz hit him with a beautiful deep strike down the left sideline that would have likely gone for a 60-yard touchdown. 

Agholor just dropped it. 

He lost the ball in the lights. 

“Yeah, but I still gotta make that play,” Agholor said. “It’s something that we prepared for in pregame. We were trying to track it in the light, make sure we knew how to track it. I gotta find a way to catch it all. Remember where it’s going to be and look it all the way in.”

The Eagles, of course, didn’t lose on Sunday Night Football because of the drop by Agholor or because Ertz didn’t go a half yard deeper on his route. They just hurt so much because after all the Eagles had gone through in this game, those two plays represented a chance for them to escape from Atlanta with an unlikely and hard-fought win. And it didn’t happen.  

A few years ago, when Agholor’s confidence waned, a drop like that might have sent him into a downward spiral. After Sunday’s game, he said, “That’s behind me. One hundred percent.” 

At least for Agholor, he found a little bit of redemption. Several plays after his drop, he caught a 43-yard pass on 4th-and-14 to keep the drive and hope alive. He leaped up in traffic and hauled in a pass. Agholor said he could walk away from Atlanta after making a play on the last target his way. 

Ertz didn’t get that chance. His last play left a sour taste.  

“It’s hard to not focus on that one play,” he said. “It’s the most recent play. It’ll be playing in my head a little bit the next couple days. Once I get back to work … I’m excited to get back to work.” 

Wentz said it’s important to let his receivers and tight ends know that even if they make a mistake, he’ll go right back to them. That’s exactly what happened with Agholor. And if the game kept going, he would have gone back to Ertz, too. 

In the end, Agholor and Ertz put together good games on the stat sheet: 

Agholor: 8 catches, 107 yards, 1 TD

Ertz: 8 catches, 72 yards 

But it’s the plays they didn’t make that will probably stick with them for a while. 

What’s the best way for them to get past this? 

“Just getting back to work,” Ertz said. “That’s the best way to get over something in this game, is just to get back to work and I’m looking forward to Wednesday. Thursday is when I start feeling better. And then get ready for Detroit. 

“We’re 1-1 right now. We’ve been 1-1 unfortunately multiple times in the last couple of years. The season’s not over. We played a really good team at home on Sunday Night Football and came up short. We’ll be better for this.” 

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Chris Long: Carson Wentz 'not the problem' with Eagles

Chris Long: Carson Wentz 'not the problem' with Eagles

Oh, the drama.

It always seems to pick up in the NFL when a team with expectations goes through tough times.

There has been a good deal of drama following the Eagles’ consecutive losses by a combined score of 75-30, dropping the team to 3-4.

Much of the drama has surrounded franchise quarterback Carson Wentz. ESPN’s Josina Anderson reported last week that an anonymous Eagles source had frustrations with Wentz and the team’s offense.

More dysfunction and confusion surrounding the report unfolded Monday after the Eagles’ 37-10 loss Sunday night to the Cowboys.

And everyone remembers the PhillyVoice report in January citing anonymous sources inside the organization calling Wentz “selfish” and “egotistical.”

On Monday’s Ryen Russillo Podcast for The Ringer, former Eagle Chris Long addressed the negative buzz around the Eagles, specifically Wentz. The two-time Super Bowl champion is fully aware the 2019 Eagles have a litany of issues outside of the play at quarterback. 

“In all of the losses to date except for [Sunday night], I didn’t think he generally looked bad at all,” Long said of Wentz. “They have two more wins if the players catch balls in the Atlanta game and the Detroit game — those are facts. I don’t think there would be this bubbling headline ready to overflow if it weren’t for those drops and some of the injuries. And then [Sunday night], he didn’t play well. Quarterbacks have bad games. There’s no way you can tell me he is not a franchise quarterback. I just don’t believe it. His ceiling is too high, we can’t cherry pick.”

Long was one of the leaders for the Eagles team that hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in February 2018. He was also great in the community and good with the media, according to those who cover the Eagles. If anonymous players are leaking information to reporters, Long has a big problem with that. Long’s final season was with the Eagles last year, so he obviously knows these teammates and the locker room very well.

Here was his perspective regarding the reports on Wentz:

I was bummed about that. No, I don’t think they’re right about it. Last year, it was complaints about leadership, over-targeting Zach Ertz. Listen, he targeted Zach Ertz a ton last year, but Zach was also very good. Could he have spread the ball around a little bit more? Sure. But I think he probably took that to heart, took the criticism, didn’t lash out at anybody, didn’t start screaming or kicking and coming in and motherf---ing people. Listen, if I was him and there’s people in the building that are talking about the franchise quarterback to reporters, you got a problem, come say it to me. … There was a big article questioning his leadership and his decision-making, etc. They tried to make it an Alshon [Jeffery] thing. A source told me that it wasn’t Alshon last year. Now this year, there’s the Justina thing, which is disappointing again. And again, people are trying to make it Alshon.

I’m disappointed with any player that has an issue with a teammate and doesn’t come to that teammate, and goes through a reporter. There had been situations where reporters had come to me because I’m media-friendly and tried to get me to sink people or sink coaches. I just don’t do it. Because it’s bulls--t. That’s not the way you do things. If you want your team to be successful, you have a man-to-man conversation with the person you think is the problem, if you think they’re the problem. And by the way, Carson is not the problem in Philadelphia. He’s just not.

The Eagles’ next four games come against the Bills, Bears, Patriots and Seahawks, teams with a combined record of 20-6.

Wins and staying in the playoff race will help quiet the drama and any anonymous voices.

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The strange, sad tale of Sidney Jones grows even stranger

The strange, sad tale of Sidney Jones grows even stranger

The strange odyssey of Sidney Jones grows even stranger.

With Orlando Scandrick released, Cre’Von LeBlanc not eligible to return from Injured Reserve until Monday and Avonte Maddox still in concussion protocol, Jones is the only logical candidate to play in the slot for the Eagles Sunday against the Bills.

Yes, the same Sidney Jones who was benched Sunday in Dallas and never got off the bench.

Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz met with the media on Tuesday but declined to confirm that Jones will be the Eagles' starting slot corner Sunday in Buffalo.

"We’ll see," Schwartz said. “He can play that position. Obviously, Malcolm (Jenkins) can play that position … and then sometime we’ll ... get Cre’Von and Avonte back too, so we’ve got a lot of different players who can play in that position, but Sid started last year in that position and was able to hold that position, so we have confidence that whoever we put in there will be able to accomplish that role.

To recap:

Jones began the season rotating with Rasul Douglas opposite Ronald Darby.
He started three games after Darby got hurt.
He left the Packers game early with a hamstring injury.
He missed the Jets game with the hamstring.
He had a nightmarish game in the loss to the Vikings.
He was benched Sunday for the Cowboys.

Now he’s most likely your slot. Temporarily.

Jalen Mills and Douglas started outside Sunday night in Dallas with Scandrick in the slot. But the Eagles released Scandrick on Monday.

On Sunday, Mills and Douglas or Darby will start in Buffalo. Douglas and Darby don’t play in the slot, and Jones and Craig James are the only other healthy corners on the roster.

How far has Jones fallen in the Eagles’ cornerback hierarchy?

In the Cowboys game, it was James who got a handful of snaps outside while Jones — active and in uniform — stayed on the sidelines.

"He was in a backup role," Schwartz said. “We had an injury outside just for a couple plays. Craig was backing up the outside and he was backing up the inside, so he still had a role.

So Jones, the 43rd pick in the 2017 draft, is now behind an undrafted 23-year-old street free agent who has had two stints on the practice squad this year and has already been released once this year by the Eagles.

And after playing 175 snaps of outside cornerback the first month and a half of the season and 52 snaps outside just seven days earlier, he apparently suddenly lost the ability to play outside corner because he practiced inside during the week.

Jones wasn’t in the locker room on Tuesday while it was open to the media.

Jones is only 23. His career has been marked by inconsistency, injuries and now a benching. 

Now he’s a backup at a position where the Eagles’ two best options are about to return in the next couple weeks, and he’s not even practicing at the position he began the season.

This isn’t trending in the right direction.

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