Cody Kessler

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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Cody Kessler’s injury raises plenty of new questions for Eagles

Cody Kessler’s injury raises plenty of new questions for Eagles

JACKSONVILLE — It seems like the Eagles might need to sign another quarterback. 

Doug Pederson on Thursday night was not ready to make that admission. 

“We’ll evaluate Cody (Kessler) again tomorrow and over the weekend,” Pederson said. “We’re going to get through the next few days, we’re going to evaluate everything. Obviously, really excited for Clayton (Thorson), getting a lot of time. We’re just going to evaluate where we are and make a decision as we go.”

Just a couple hours earlier, Pederson watched his backup quarterback go down for the second time in two weeks. After Nate Sudfeld broke his wrist in the first preseason game, this time it was Kessler who went down with a concussion early in Thursday night’s 24-10 preseason win at TIAA Bank Field. 

Kessler was pummeled on a blindside hit by Datone Jones in the first quarter and was taken off the field for evaluation. Pederson intimated the hit was Kessler’s fault, that he should have seen the pressure coming and delivered the football earlier. 

In any case, the Eagles will be back at practice Sunday and now have just two healthy quarterbacks: Carson Wentz and Thorson. 

Pederson was asked if they needed to have three quarterbacks heading into a new week of practice. He said they don’t. 

“We can get by with the two guys,” he said. “It does put a little more load on both of those guys. Until we can evaluate Cody further, we’re not ruling him out until we evaluate him.” 

Kessler is now in the concussion protocol. While every concussion is different, it’s rare that a player is able to return from a concussion in one week’s time. So if the Eagles don’t plan on playing Wentz much or at all in the third preseason game, that would leave them with just Thorson. 

That might force the Eagles to sign a quarterback, but it won’t even answer the biggest question that is still lingering: 

Have the Eagles seen enough of Kessler to go into the season with him as the backup until Sudfeld heals? 

“It’s still early,” Pederson said. “Obviously, this is what the preseason is for, to give these guys some opportunity. We still have a couple games left and we’re going to do our due diligence to make sure we see enough of everybody at every position to make educated decisions at the end.” 

But there’s a chance Kessler’s concussion could force him to miss one or both remaining preseason games. Will he still be their best option to back up Wentz in Week 1? 

Adding another twist in this whole situation is that Thorson actually played well on Thursday night. What if he plays well the rest of the preseason? Would the Eagles tab the rookie fifth-rounder as the backup? Would they be too worried to try to sneak him through waivers and to the practice squad?

That means this could set up a situation where the Eagles are forced to keep four quarterbacks on their roster going into Week 1. 

These injuries have not changed Pederson’s mind about his plan for Wentz. 

“We’re going to get some great work with Baltimore coming into town,” Pederson said. “The plan has always been to really push the starters in practice and make sure they’re prepared there.”

There’s a lot of angst in Philly about the backup quarterback position, but it could all eventually be moot if Wentz stays on the field. That’s the plan anyway. But with two weeks left in the preseason, there are still plenty of questions about the backup job and not much time for answers.

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Roob's 10 observations from Eagles-Jaguars

Roob's 10 observations from Eagles-Jaguars

JACKSONVILLE — The Eagles keep losing quarterbacks at an alarming rate, although some good things came out of their 24-10 preseason win over the Jaguars Thursday night at TIAA Bank Field. The loss of Cody Kessler to a concussion a week after Nate Sudfeld broke his wrist puts the Eagles in a difficult position 23 days before opening day.

And I think by this point nobody in their right mind wants to see Carson Wentz before Sept. 8.

Here are some observations on the Eagles’ QB situation and a bunch of other stuff off the second of four games in a way-too-long preseason:

1) At their current rate, the Eagles are going to get four quarterbacks hurt this preseason. With Wentz and Clayton Thorson their only healthy QBs with two preseason games remaining, you would think they have no choice now but to sign a quarterback. Who knows, maybe they would just keep running Thorson out there and use Braxton Miller or Greg Ward — who were both big-time college quarterbacks — if the rookie gets hurt. But Sudfeld isn’t expected back until a few weeks into the regular season, and you never know how long anybody will take to be cleared after suffering a concussion. It’s hard to imagine going into the regular season with just Wentz and Thorson. But you also can’t bring in a quarterback cold 23 days before opening day and realistically expect him to be ready to play. Someone who knows the offense? Christian Hackenberg, who was here last preseason? No thanks. It has to be someone like Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, Josh McCown or Brock Osweiler, veterans who were in the league last year and wouldn’t need a long process to become football ready. Sanchez and McCown have officially retired, but they’re out there. What about Colin Kaepernick? I answer that here. Precarious situation.

2) That said, Thorson played well Thursday night, leading three TD drives, including one of 87 yards and one of 90 yards. A week after a lost debut against the Titans, the rookie fifth-round pick threw a 38-yard touchdown to Ward on a 4th-and-7, had a real nice 3rd-and-7 conversion to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, converted another 4th down with a 25-yard strike to Will Tye and finished 16-for-26 for 175 yards, a TD and an interception off the hands of rookie DeAndre Thompkins that wasn’t his fault. Thorson definitely calmed down after last week and made some throws that honestly we haven’t even seen him make in practice. Interesting question: If Thorson continues to play well and Kessler doesn’t play again in the preseason, do you make Thorson your No. 2 until Sudfeld comes back if Kessler is healthy? Have you seen enough from Kessler to trust him? There’s a lot to sort out, but definitely an encouraging night for the rookie from Northwestern.

3) Seeing the improvement Thorson made in just a week really speaks volumes about the Eagles’ offensive coaches, especially quarterbacks coach Press Taylor, and the work they do behind the scenes. Thorson was so bad last week he had a passer rating of 0.0. But he looked like a different guy against the Jaguars. Obviously, he has a long way to go, but for a fifth-round rookie, you look for improvement, and we definitely saw it last night.

4) A couple encouraging signs from two young defensive ends. Daeshon Hall, a third-round pick of the Panthers just two years ago, had two sacks, including his second strip-sack in two weeks, and Shareef Miller, the Penn State rookie from Northeast Philly, also picked up his second sack in two weeks and had a tackle for loss. Josh Sweat had a couple moments, too.

5) Linebacker Zach Brown flashed again, and that’s good news for a team that’s still missing its two best linebackers — Nigel Bradham and Kamu Grugier-Hill. Brown is a little limited in what he can do. You probably don’t want him out there in coverage on 3rd-and-8. But considering the state of the Eagles’ linebacking corps in general, it’s definitely encouraging seeing Brown so active and physical. 

6) I really think the Eagles have themselves a running back in Miles Sanders. He only got five carries Thursday night and only has eight in two games, but we saw last night what we’ve seen all along in practice, a shifty, decisive back who has the ability to get yards after initial contact. Sanders had a 12-yarder and a 16-yarder and finished 5-for-31. Still not enough work to get into any kind of rhythm, but you have to like what you see.

7) With the Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard additions, Josh Adams has been kind of a forgotten guy this summer, but last year’s Eagles rushing leader had himself a nice game and did two things he wasn’t able to do last year. Adams, who didn’t look like much of a receiver last year (seven catches all year), looked very comfortable taking a short pass from Thorson and navigating traffic for a 19-yard gain in the third quarter. The Eagles have worked a lot with Adams in the receiving game, and that’s a play he wouldn’t have made last year. Adams also had a one-yard TD run, which is notable since he was an NFL-worst 0-for-7 last year on 3rd- and 4th-and-1 (or goal). Adams is still facing an uphill battle to get back on the 53 man roster and the fumbles are still a concern, but it’s nice to see improvement from Year 1 to Year 2.

8) Every time I start to worry about Jake Elliott, he makes a huge kick. He crushed a 52-yarder against the Jaguars a week after hitting a 53-yarder against the Titans. His lack of consistency still concerns me — he missed a 40-yarder last week. If he can just make the kicks he’s supposed to make, he can play here for a decade.

9) I’ve liked Greg Ward since he first got here back in 2017. He’s smooth and fast and for a guy who played QB in college, he catches the ball really well. He’s also an active special teamer and when it comes down to picking the bottom of the roster receivers he’s making a case for himself. You saw his athleticism on that 4th-down 42-yard TD Thursday night, and you saw his versatility on his incomplete pass down the field. It wasn’t complete, but you know Doug Pederson would love to keep a guy who has the versatility to make big plays in a few different ways. 

10) One guy we really haven’t talked at all about this summer is tight end Josh Perkins, but he’s had a really nice camp, he catches everything, and with Richard Rodgers sidelined for close to two weeks now, Perkins has put himself in position for a possible roster spot. Perkins isn’t considered a great blocker on the line of scrimmage, but he had a fantastic block down the field on the Ward touchdown Thursday night.

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