Eagles

Dorial Green-Beckham disappears after active first drive

Dorial Green-Beckham disappears after active first drive

It appeared Dorial Green-Beckham might have turned a corner for the Eagles during their opening possession on Monday. The second-year wideout hauled in four passes for 53 yards on the scoring drive, including catches on three straight plays to set up a touchdown run.

Yet that increased involvement in the offense proved to be short lived. While he managed to finish with a season-high 82 yards through the air to lead all Eagles players in the loss to the Packers, Green-Beckham came up with only two more receptions the rest of the night, one in garbage time.

"Our offense didn't have a lot of opportunities," Green-Beckham said postgame. "Green Bay was holding the ball all through the quarter. They eliminated chances for us.

"We've got to be better ourselves and overall we just have to play together as a team. When situations don't go the way as planned, we've got to figure out a way to win."

Following their 11-play opening drive, the Eagles wound up with only six more possessions the rest of the game. Still, Carson Wentz targeted Green-Beckham six more times in the contest, to minimal success.

Afterward, the rookie quarterback felt the Packers changed their approach on the defense.

"It’s hard to say that we went away from it," Wentz said. "It’s just the way that they started playing some different coverages, I think more importantly."

The Eagles were shorthanded at wide receiver, something the Packers clearly seized upon and were able to take advantage of. Nelson Agholor was inactive after admitting he's battling confidence issues. Then in the second quarter, Jordan Matthews went down with an ankle injury, returned for one series in the second half, then never returned.

Matthews' injury may have been a game-changer. With their leading receiver out of the lineup, the Eagles never got past Green Bay's 30-yard line the rest of the way.

"It's big," Green-Beckham said of the injury to Matthews. "It's tough to have a receiver go down, but it's all up to us. We have to go out there and know every position and go out there and play."

"Obviously, it’s tough with a guy like Jordan, to lose him, but we felt confident with the next guy up," Wentz said. "We just struggled to get in a rhythm."

Green-Beckham thought the offense missed Agholor's presence as well, noting the Eagles "don't have too many receivers." In his absence, Bryce Treggs finished with one reception for 11 yards, while Paul Turner — active for the first time in his NFL career — was not targeted.

While the aerial attack was clearly hindered once Matthews went down, if there was any silver lining at all, it was seeing Green-Beckham produce at new levels for the Eagles.

Green-Beckham's production has been inconsistent, but better of late. Monday marked the third time in five games the 23-year-old had at least five catches and 50 yards receiving, and six catches for 82 yards against the Packers were his highest totals since Week 15 of last season with the Titans.

Seeing as he came over to the Eagles in a trade in August, it makes some sense Green-Beckham is only now beginning to build a rapport with Wentz.

"I thought DGB played a great game," Wentz said. "I think we’re getting a really good connection. He's competing his tail off and he's doing a good job, so I think that’s a good sign for us."

"I feel like it's building," Green-Beckham said of the chemistry with Wentz. "Each and every week we communicate, and that's one thing you have to do as a receiver, always communicate with your quarterbacks and be on the same page."

Green-Beckham is still learning the finer nuances of playing wide receiver. That was on full display in perhaps his most memorable play from Monday, an offensive pass interference penalty that erased a 41-yard catch-and-run by Darren Sproles in the fourth quarter.

While it seemed like it might've been a ticky-tack call by the officials, Green-Beckham didn't argue the point later.

"I agree," Green-Beckham said of the call. "That's my fault. I knew what I was supposed to do, but I was just trying to protect our running back. I felt like (the defender) was going to drive down on us, so I just went to block him."

Green-Beckham knows it wasn't a perfect outing, and he's still very much a work in progress. Yet overall, while not pleased with the outcome of the game, he seemed satisfied with the effort he gave.

"One thing that I came out here and did — I played hard," he said. "Came out here and fought and made the catches that were thrown my way."

Eagles Mailbag: Faith in Nate Sudfeld, Vinny Curry signing, spreading it around

Eagles Mailbag: Faith in Nate Sudfeld, Vinny Curry signing, spreading it around

The offseason marches on with your questions. 

I already answered your first bunch, including questions on Sidney Jones, Jay Ajayi and running backs in the draft. Now, it’s time for Part 2 of 3. 

Let’s get to it: 

I got a few questions about Nate Sudfeld this week and I certainly understand why. He’s now the Eagles’ backup quarterback and Carson Wentz has finished the last two seasons on the shelf. I think there are legitimate reasons for concern. From the time the Eagles got Sudfeld, I thought he was a possible QB2. The problem here is that he is unproven; we haven’t seen much of him outside of summer practices and minimal game action. It’s somewhat of a gamble for a team with Super Bowl aspirations to go into a season with an unproven backup, especially because of Wentz’s injury history. 

But, to be clear, I like what I’ve seen from Sudfeld. He seems to be pretty athletic and has a big arm. The Eagles have shown how much they like him at every turn. This is one of those situations where I’m skeptical, but just kind of trust their evaluation. 

I don’t think the Curry signing affects Long’s decision as much as it tells us the Eagles are preparing for the possibility Long isn’t back. You have to remember, Curry can play inside and outside, so he might not take as many reps from Long as you think. We’ll see what happens soon with the draft. Long has said he doesn’t want to return as just a locker room guy and a high draft pick would take even more playing time away from him. The Eagles should hope he returns, though. Even at his age, he’s still a productive pass rusher. 

This is one of the big ideas I want to ask Doug Pederson about next week at the owners meetings. The Eagles now have a bunch of different pass catching options. They have a really talented trio of receivers to go along with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. Even though Goedert is a really impressive young player, it’s hard to imagine he would be left out at times. The Eagles didn’t trade for DeSean Jackson to sit him on the bench and they aren’t pay Nelson Agholor over $9 million this season to be a spectator. And Alshon Jeffery is going to play. 

It’s a good problem to have, but Pederson needs to figure out a way to get everyone involved. It might be a nightmare for fantasy football owners, though, because I think the game plan will change based on the matchups from week to week. Some weeks they’ll go heavy 11 personnel, but I wouldn’t rule out heavy 12 personnel with Ertz and Goedert on the field sometimes too. 

I don’t. I do agree that running back and linebacker are their two most pressing needs, but I just wouldn’t use a top pick on a linebacker. Maybe they’ll surprise me, but I think it’s much more likely they leave the first two days of the draft with a running back instead of a linebacker. I still believe the Eagles will use No. 25 on a lineman (offense or defense) and will then look at running back with one of their second-round picks. I think they use a Day 3 pick on a linebacker unless they really think they found tremendous value. 

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Eagles are getting older, and that's a growing concern

Eagles are getting older, and that's a growing concern

Taken individually, all the Eagles’ moves so far this offseason make sense. 

Taken as a whole, they raise concern whether the Eagles are getting too old. More specifically, whether Howie Roseman is committing too many dollars to guys on the back end of their careers.

Jason Peters got another year. He’s 37. Jason Kelce got another year and is now signed through 2021. He’s 31. Brandon Graham got a pretty big three-year deal. He turns 31 in a couple weeks.

DeSean Jackson got a sizable contract for a guy who’s 32. Andrew Sendejo is 31. Vinny Curry turns 31 this summer. 

I’ve got no problem with any of the moves taken apart from the others. But the analytics make it pretty clear that older guys are more likely to get hurt or see their production diminish dramatically. 

We saw it last year with guys like Peters, Darren Sproles, Haloti Ngata and Mike Wallace. 

Now, young guys get hurt too, but the older you are as a team, the more you’re at risk. And when those older guys have high cap figures, it makes it tough to function when they start missing time.

According to pro sports salary cap tracker Spotrac, the Eagles had the 17th-oldest team in 2017, when they won the Super Bowl, and the ninth-oldest team last year, when they advanced a round deep in the playoffs. 

Today — and obviously rosters are nowhere near settled — the Eagles have the fifth-oldest team in the NFL.

The Eagles’ nucleus is guys in that 28-to-32 range. Alshon Jeffery, Malcolm Jenkins, Kelce, Nigel Bradham, Fletcher Cox, Zach Ertz, Jackson, Graham, Malik Jackson. 

Who are their best players under 28? Carson Wentz is 26, Nelson Agholor is 25, their promising young defensive backs like Avonte Maddox, Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones are all in their early 20s. Derek Barnett is only 22. 

But there are question marks about every one of them.

This is why Roseman, Joe Douglas and Co. have to nail this draft and the next couple drafts. This is a roster that really needs an infusion of young talent. 

When this current group of veteran stars moves on, who takes over?

Roseman has had only three drafts since being returned to power, and he’s taken only six guys in the first three rounds. Of that group, Wentz is a certified Pro Bowler and a star, although he still needs to show he can stay healthy. 

And Dallas Goedert certainly seems like a stud. 

But the others — Barnett, Jones, Isaac Seumalo and Douglas — are works in progress.

The Eagles have found one Pro Bowl defensive player in their last 13 drafts, and that was Cox in 2012. 

Their draft record has been better on offense, but the Lane Johnson/Ertz draft is now six years old.

The Eagles aren’t in the danger zone. Not yet. But things change quickly in the NFL and teams that can’t keep up in terms of young talent inevitably fall by the wayside.

The Eagles have three of the first 57 picks in next month’s draft, and as of now they have their own picks in the first four rounds of the 2020 draft, plus two 5’s in addition to the compensatory picks they’re stockpiling.

So the opportunity is there to get younger. To get faster and more durable. To find the talent to remain a perennial contender for a deep postseason run.

Right now, the Eagles have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL. I see them as a legit Super Bowl contender.

But in the next few years, the face of the Eagles will change dramatically. 

To remain competitive, to remain elite, they need stars to emerge once guys like Peters, Graham, Jenkins, Jackson and Kelce either move on, retire or experience a downturn in their productiveness.

All they have to do is find them.

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