Eagles

Jordan Matthews takes responsibility for missed opportunity on final play in Eagles' loss

Jordan Matthews takes responsibility for missed opportunity on final play in Eagles' loss

Despite digging an early 14-0 hole and leaving points on the field all day, the Eagles somehow still had a chance to take the lead on the Giants with 1:28 remaining. All Jordan Matthews had to do was wrap his hands around Carson Wentz's fourth-down pass and hold on.

Instead of a 17-yard touchdown that would've given the Eagles the lead, the ball grazed off of Matthews' fingers and fell to the ground incomplete. The play resulted in a turnover on downs, and all that was required of the Giants was two kneel-downs to seal a 29-23 victory in the Meadowlands (see Instant Replay).

"It was a good ball," Matthews said postgame. "Carson put it outside, good placement. I've just got locate it, find it and bring it in. That's really it, to be honest."

Despite Matthews' criticism of himself, Wentz felt he could have thrown a better ball to give his receiver more of a chance to haul it in.

“Obviously a little more inside," Wentz said his final pass.  "I didn’t want to fade [Matthews] too much like that. That’s red zone football. You’ve got to be precise down there, and we just missed that one."

While Matthews insists this was a play that he needed to make, it was by no means as it easy as it might sound. The third-year wide receiver didn't appear to immediately pick up the ball when it was in the air. Then the throw was ever-so-slightly out of reach, making for a high degree of difficulty with a defender in hot pursuit (see standout plays).

Regardless of whether or not the toss by Wentz was perfect, Matthews took full responsibility for not coming up with it.

"It's on me," Matthews said. "We're not going to get into all of that. If it's fourth down and the game is on the line and 11 picks me, I have to go get the ball. That's always been my mindset and that's the way I feel.

"He hits me on those plays all the time. He actually hit me on that pass earlier in the game too, so 11 knows where to put the ball. I just have to go find it."

Matthews finished with six receptions on 10 targets for 88 yards, but noticeably absent from the scoresheet. The Eagles sure could've used one from their top wideout, as the offense only managed score twice despite six trips to the red zone.

"I take that upon myself," Matthews said. "I know we get down there, that has to be our territory and that has got to be a place where I win. We're going to go back, watch the film, assess it and then figure out ways to actually get better down there. I'm one of the guys it starts with too, so we just have to improve there.

The final play wasn't Matthews' only opportunity to score for the Eagles. In the first quarter, Wentz had Matthews for what looked like a surefire 27-yard touchdown down the seam. Then out of nowhere, Giants safety Andrew Adams deflected the pass, just barely getting a finger on the ball, but enough to redirect it out of the open receiver's reach.

Matthews felt the throw was exactly where it needed to be. The Giants simply denied the Eagles' offense, which wound up going for it on fourth down two plays later, only to come up short again.

"I don't think anything could've been done," Matthews said. "He just made a great play.

"We run that seam play, and Carson always puts that on a line. It's not a ball that you want to put in the back of the end zone or high, because when it comes up, it's right on the back shoulder and you can just walk in. The DB made just a great play. He got it by his fingernail, so that's one of those plays where they got us."

Credit to the defense or not, it was another missed opportunity for the Eagles, who had plenty of them. Still, they had a chance to win it in the end, as they have in all four of their losses (see 10 observations).

The fact that the Eagles could just as easily be 5-3, 6-2 or even 7-1, but are instead sitting on a 4-4 record, is not something that's lost on Matthews.

"We have to win," Matthews said. "We've been in these situations a couple games now, so it's time for us to start winning these ball games. The game doesn't change whether it's two minutes left, down by six, or if it's the first quarter. We have to start winning these games, and that's on everybody, top to bottom."

While there are no moral victories in the NFL, there are plenty of teaching moments. Matthews said he doesn't believe his teammates are down and out or holding their heads in shame, and that they can actually learn a valuable lesson from these heartbreaking losses.

"I think the biggest thing that you learn is that same sense of urgency that you have to have at the end of the game, we have to come out with that," Matthews said. We have to come out with that same drive, that same attention to detail and that gotta-have-it mentality, we've got to go make a play right now. It comes, and lots of times it comes when we're down or late in games, and then it's too late.

"We don't need to keep putting ourselves in that same position, and when we do, it just has to be the same mentality. We just have to focus and execute."

Eagles' Brandon Brooks enters pivotal week in Achilles recovery

Eagles' Brandon Brooks enters pivotal week in Achilles recovery

Brandon Brooks is entering a very important week in his Achilles recovery. 

The Eagles’ Pro Bowl right guard hasn’t yet been cleared for full-team drills, but has been given the go-ahead to participate in 1-on-1s this week as the Ravens comes to town for joint practices. 

Brooks says Week 1 is still a possibility. 

“Still got time,” he said. “The biggest indication is going to be this week in 1-on-1s, see how it feels, not just against defensive players, but against another team. If things go well from there, progress from there.”

Brooks, 29, had a checkup on his Achilles last Wednesday, when they cleared him for the next step in his recovery. Now about seven months removed from the injury to his right leg, Brooks claims he’s still on schedule. 

More importantly, Brooks thinks there’s still enough time to get cleared and then prepared for the opener.  

“We've got 2½ weeks, so I’d say there’s more than enough time,” he said. 

This week, Brooks said, they want to see how his recovering leg responds. 

If things go well over the next several days, there’s a chance he could be cleared to progress to 11-on-11 team drills next week. 

“With team drills, man, you have a lot more going on around you, guys falling to the ground, things like that,” he said. “I think the best way you get live contact and it’s controlled is in 1-on-1s, that’s why we started there.” 

If Brooks isn’t ready for Week 1, Halapoulivaati Vaitai would fill in at right guard in the interim. 

We’ll learn a lot this week, one of the most important in his recovery yet. 

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What the Josh McCown signing means for Nate Sudfeld

What the Josh McCown signing means for Nate Sudfeld

Let’s be clear about one thing.

Josh McCown has nothing to do with Nate Sudfeld.

The Eagles didn’t sign McCown because they don’t have faith in Sudfeld. They didn’t sign him because they’re concerned with Sudfeld’s ability to be their No. 2. They didn’t sign him in case Sudfeld doesn’t work out.

They signed him simply because Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson believe the Eagles are a better team with McCown on the roster than without him.

If anything, the move is a sign the Eagles are not too pleased with Cody Kessler, who's been uneven in practice and has done nothing in his two brief preseason appearances to inspire confidence.

Kessler has consistently shown a disturbing habit of holding onto the football too long, and that’s what got him hurt Thursday night in Jacksonville, hanging onto the ball and suffering a concussion. It was eye-opening — and out of character — to hear Pederson after the game directly blame Kessler for the injury. That speaks volumes about the Eagles' confidence in the former Browns third-round pick. 

The guess here is that Kessler’s days in Philly are numbered. Has he shown you a reason to keep him? 

Think about where that would leave the Eagles at quarterback.

Sudfeld is out into the regular season with a broken left (non-throwing) wrist, and rookie Clayton Thorson has followed a poor debut with a much more impressive second game. But he’s not ready to be a No. 2. 

There’s still no guarantee he’ll make the 53 (see roster prediction), although if he follows his encouraging performance against the Jaguars with solid outings against the Ravens and Jets, it might be tough to clear him through waivers. But I doubt it.

We knew as soon as Kessler got hurt, the Eagles had to go out and get a quarterback. But it makes sense that they were interested in McCown even before that, since Kessler has struggled since camp opened.

McCown brings nearly two decades of experience playing quarterback in the NFL, and when you have 26-year-old Carson Wentz, 25-year-old Sudfeld and 23-year-old Thorson in your quarterback room, there’s tremendous value in a guy who’s been around since before the Linc was built.

But the Eagles also desperately needed somebody who can be effective as soon as the opener on Sept. 8 — just 21 days away — if he has to play, and McCown fits perfectly. He played as recently as last December and has 37 TDs, 23 interceptions, a 63 percent completion percentage and a respectable 85.9 passer rating over the last four years.

He’s smart, he’s athletic and most importantly he’s at a point in his career and in his life where he’s OK being a temporary No. 2 and a No. 3 for the rest of the year.

It’s not easy finding a guy who’s capable of playing in a meaningful game now but also content to be a No. 3 most of the year. The Eagles found him.

As for Sudfeld, you have to remember this is a guy who the Eagles believed in strongly enough that they went into a stretch run, a playoff run, a Super Bowl, with him as their No. 2. They never even thought about bringing in a veteran then with only Nick Foles and Sudfeld available.

And Suds hasn’t done anything since then to change anybody's minds.

He hasn’t played much in the regular season, but when he has? He’s been sharp — 20 for 25 for 156 yards, a TD, no interceptions and a 106.0 passer rating in parts of two games.

And then he obviously was very good in the preseason opener against the Titans before he got hurt.

There’s a reason the Eagles gave Sudfeld a second-round tender, which pays him just over $3 million this year.

Who would you rather have? Wentz, Sudfeld and Kessler or Wentz, Sudfeld and McCown?

Exactly.

This isn’t about Sudfeld at all.

It’s about being as prepared as possible for whatever happens next.

That’s what Roseman does.

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