Boston Scott

Why this Eagles youth movement just might work

Why this Eagles youth movement just might work

When the season began, the Eagles had one of the oldest groups of skill players in the league. The nine backs, receivers and tight ends on the field for the opener against the Redskins averaged 27.6 years old.
 
When the Eagles face the Redskins again on Sunday, that number will be down to 23.3.
 
DeSean Jackson and Darren Sproles are long gone. Alshon Jeffery’s season is over. 
 
The new guard is in place, and if the Eagles are going to win the NFC East it’s going to be with a bunch of kids with lots of energy and talent but very little experience.
 
But one thing stands out about all the young guys. They don’t act like young guys.

This is a youth movement by age but not by attitude.
 
“It comes from being around all these the vets and seeing how they go about their business,” rookie running back Miles Sanders said. “You don’t see a lot of playing around and joking around here. They go about their business and get their work done, and we kind of take after them. You don’t want to be the guy out there messing up or they’re not going to trust you to be out there. So it’s just that type of mindset that we have. We’ve got to be on our (stuff) and be accountable.”
 
When the season began, the Eagles had the 3rd-oldest roster in the NFL.
 
They’re now 17th-oldest.
 
It’s too early to determine how many of these young guys are here for the long haul. But one thing that ties them all together is a serious-minded approach to football. 

And that’s not always the case with young guys.
 
“It just shows how serious they are about it,” said Zach Ertz, at 29 an elder statesman. “As a veteran player, you want to see the young guys come in and take this extremely seriously because we put a lot of stock in this thing and we’ve been through it for so long and so it’s extremely important to us. So as a veteran player, you want to see that, and that’s a very easy way to gain trust from the older guys — seeing them approach it a certain way. Not just when they’re starting or playing a lot but how they’ve been approaching it the whole offseason.”
 
The Eagles go into Washington for a crucial game Sunday, and five running backs and receivers likely to be in the rotation — Sanders and Boston Scott at running back, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Greg Ward and Robert Davis at receiver — have played 44 career games.
 
Combined.
 
The Eagles are putting a tremendous amount of responsibility on these kids at a key moment in the season.
 
“Some guys have the work ethic, some guys just don’t have it,” Ertz said. “Some guys think they’re still in college, and it’s not a job, where other guys kind of embrace it and say, ‘This is my profession, this is what I’m going to do, this is what I’m passionate about and hopefully I want to play for a long time, so I’ve got to take this thing seriously and invest in it so it pays off in the long run.’”
 
Sanders, the rookie second-round pick, has had a significant role all year, but Scott, Ward, Robert Davis and Josh Perkins all came from the practice squad and Arcega-Whiteside didn't play for much of the season.
 
Now they’re all in key roles for a team that’s struggled but is somehow in the playoff hunt.
 
“These guys take it very seriously,” Nate Sudfeld said. “I’ve got a unique perspective on it because I’ve been around these guys for a long time, so I see the work they put in behind the scenes, and it’s not easy to keep putting in the work when you don’t feel like it’s showing out on game days because you’re not playing. But to see those guys putting in this work behind the scenes, doing things the right way, and taking advantage of opportunities, that’s why everyone respects them.”
 
We’ve all seen young guys who have plenty of talent but for whatever reason never pan out.
 
Maybe they liked to party too much. Maybe they didn't spend enough time studying. Maybe they thought talent along was enough to get by.
 
We haven’t seen any of that this year.
 
Where is this coming from?

A lot of it starts with Sanders, who is kind of the unofficial leader of the youth movement. At 22, he’s such a serious, driven kid, and his attitude clearly rubs off on everybody else.
 
But it goes deeper than that. A big part of player evaluation is trying to determine what kind of people you’re adding to your team. 
 
One clown, one key guy who isn’t putting in the work, can destroy a locker room. Because others invariably follow him and wind up off track themselves.
 
“These guys, they could very easily be just excited for the opportunity to get on the field, and it is a big moment for them, they’ve worked really, really hard and now have the opportunity to contribute as a starter in the NFL,” Malcolm Jenkins said. “But I think they’re all locked and loaded on what the team needs to do to win, and that’s a testament to them, it’s a testament to the leadership on the team, as well as the coaches. While they’re happy and excited to be here, it’s all business.”
 
Sanders certainly looks like a stud, but it’s way too early to predict what kind of careers most of these kids will have or what next year’s roster will look like.
 
But for a team that really hasn’t had many exciting young offensive contributors in recent years, at least there’s hope.

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Eagles’ defenders have seen those moves from Boston Scott before

Eagles’ defenders have seen those moves from Boston Scott before

There were plenty of people surprised about Boston Scott’s breakout performance on Monday night against the Giants. 

Eagles defenders were not among them. 

After a year of trying to stop Scott in practice, they were aware of just how dangerous the 5-foot-6 running back can be. They weren’t even surprised about this devastating juke move Scott put on veteran corner Janoris Jenkins in the fourth quarter. 

Heck, it’s even happened to Rodney McLeod before. 

“Yeah,” McLeod said with a laugh. “Well, I don’t know about that bad. I gotta talk to Jenk about that one. But, yeah, he’s given me a move in the open field. He has a good change of direction ability and quick burst. Glad to see him making plays for us.”

In the 23-17 overtime win, Scott finished with 10 carries for 59 yards and a touchdown and added six catches for 69 yards.   

His 128 yards from scrimmage are the most ever in a game for the Eagles from a guy formerly on their practice squad. 

Scott finally got a chance to shine in a game, but he’s been shining in practice for a while now. Eagles defenders seemed happy that this time it was against Jenkins and the Giants.  

“He does that to us,” Nate Gerry said. “He’s done that for the last year.” 

Scott was a sixth-round pick by New Orleans out of Louisiana Tech last year. He arrived to Philadelphia last December after the Eagles signed him off the Saints’ practice squad. He spent the remainder of last year on the roster, but didn’t really get a chance to play. 

This offseason, Scott had a good training camp but Darren Sproles returned, which basically bumped him to the practice squad. He stayed there until Oct. 11 and didn’t really get a chance to play much until Monday night. 

But Scott was impressive all summer and even earlier this year in practice. 

“He definitely has that switch,” linebacker T.J. Edwards said. “He has that burst that’s a little bit different from others. You definitely saw that on the field, that they weren’t expecting because they didn’t know who he was. But he was definitely a big factor.”

Earlier this week, head coach Doug Pederson said Eagles will find a role for Scott in the offense going forward. With four games left, Scott might be able to make an impact. 

Based on the reactions in the locker room since Scott’s breakout performance, he seems to be a favorite of his teammates. Scott is the prototypical hard-worker, gets in early, leaves late, just needed a chance. He finally got it and made the most of it. 

“It wasn’t a surprise for me at all,” McLeod said. “I’m just really glad he got his opportunity to get out there and showcase what he can do.”

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A record for Boston Scott and more in this week's Roob Stats!

A record for Boston Scott and more in this week's Roob Stats!

If you want Boston Scott stats, you know where to go. If you want Carson Wentz, second-half defense and Eagles-Giants all-time series stats, you know where to go. Most importantly, if you want stats on two-yard touchdowns — and who doesn't? — you know exactly where to go.

Right here.

One thing we've learned over the years: The stranger the game, the better the stats. And Monday night's Eagles-Giants game was really strange.

HOT START FOR WARD: Greg Ward’s 11 catches are most in Eagles history by an undrafted player in his first four games. The previous high was nine, by both Paul Turner in 2016 and Mike Siano of Springfield (Delco) in the 1987 strike replacement games.  

HISTORIC SECOND HALF: The Eagles only allowed 29 yards after halftime in their 23-17 overtime win over the Giants. The last time they allowed fewer yards after halftime was Sept. 23, 2001, when the Seahawks netted only 23 in the second half of a 27-3 Eagles win in Seattle.

LEAVING SHADY BEHIND: With 69 scrimmage yards Monday night, Miles Sanders increased his total for this year to 948, most ever by an Eagles rookie running back. LeSean McCoy had 945 in 2009. Sanders now needs just 61 yards to break the overall franchise rookie scrimmage record of 1,008, set in 2008 by DeSean Jackson.

AND STILL CHASING SHADY: With 45 rushing yards, Sanders increased his season total to 565, passing Billy Ray Barnes (529), Mike Hogan (561) and Bryce Brown (564) and moving into a tie with Po James for 4th-most ever by an Eagle rookie. He needs 13 to pass Keith Byars, 22 to pass Correll Buckhalter and 73 to pass McCoy.

THREE QUICK ONES ON BOSTON SCOTT:
1) Scott's 120 scrimmage yards after halftime Monday night are the most by an Eagles RB after halftime since Shady had 170 in the second half in the Snow Bowl against the Lions in 2013.
2) Scott’s 128 scrimmage yards are the most ever by an Eagle who had been on the practice squad.
3) Scott is only the 7th Eagles running back since 1991 to net at least 128 scrimmage yards on 16 or fewer touches. Herschel Walker, Brian Mitchell, Correll Buckhalter, Brian Westbrook, McCoy and Sproles also did it.

FINALLY GAINING THE ALL-TIME EDGE: The Giants won the first three Eagles-Giants games [in 1933 and 1934] and 17 of the first 20 meetings. As recently as 2008, the Giants led the series 80-66. Going into Monday night, the all-time series was tied 84-84-2. The Eagles now lead the all-time series for the first time ever.

THREE QUICK ONES ON ZACH ERTZ:
1) This was Ertz’s 19th game with nine or more catches. The only tight ends in NFL history with more are Tony Gonzalez [25] and Jason Witten [21]. Gonzalez played 270 games, Witten has played 252, Ertz has played 104.
2) Ertz has 827 receiving yards. He needs to average 58 in last three games to become the 9th tight end in NFL history with consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
3) By surpassing 800 yards on Monday night, Ertz became the first Eagle in history with five straight 800-yard seasons. Mike Quick, Tommy McDonald, Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson and Harold Carmichael have all had four straight. The only other tight ends with five straight 800-yard seasons are Gonzalez (7), Witten (7), Travis Kelce (6) and Greg Olsen (5).

ELITE COMPANY: Carson Wentz has 22 TD passes and 7 INTs. If he throws three or more TDs in the final three games and no more than three interceptions, he’ll become only the 4th QB in NFL history with three straight seasons of at least 25 TD passes and 10 or fewer interceptions. That’s only been achieved by Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

A DUBIOUS DISTINCTION: With Alshon Jeffery’s season over at 490 receiving yards, Nelson Agholor stuck at 363 yards with a knee injury, Mack Hollins next with 125 yards and now on the Dolphins, there’s a real possibility the Eagles won’t have a wide receiver with 500 yards this year. The last time that happened was 1964, when their top wideout, Ray Poage, had 479 yards.

THREE QUICK ONES ON 2-YARD TOUCHDOWNS:
1) The Giants game was the first in franchise history in which the Eagles scored three 2-yard touchdowns.
2) Ertz became only the 5th player in NFL history and the first Eagle with two 2-yard touchdown catches in the same game.  
3) Ertz had more 2-yard touchdowns Monday [2] than he had in his previous 103 career games [1].

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