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Remembering the origin of Donnie 'Longball' Jones

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Remembering the origin of Donnie 'Longball' Jones

Few punters enjoy the level of fanfare that surrounded Donnie Jones during his five seasons with the Eagles, but he wasn’t always a star.

When Jones signed with the Eagles in 2013, he was just another anonymous free-agent punter. He wouldn’t come to be known as “Donnie Longball” until later that year.

Jones’ rise in popularity began Week 11 against Washington with a 70-yard punt that likely saved the Eagles from a humiliating defeat.

Despite amassing a 24-0 lead after three quarters, the Eagles were running out of gas. Washington scored back-to-back touchdowns to cut the deficit to eight in the fourth quarter, then forced a three-and-out to get the ball back with over three minutes remaining. Another score felt inevitable.

The ensuing punt pinned Washington’s offense at its own 4-yard line, giving a fatigued Eagles defense the margin for error it so desperately needed to close out the win. The drive came within 18 yards of the end zone, where finally Fletcher Cox pressured Robert Griffin III into an ill-advised throw intercepted by Brandon Boykin with 24 seconds remaining.

Jones finished with six punts for 50.7 yards per attempt — a season high. Four of his kicks were downed inside Washington’s 20-yard line, including the bomb at the end to help secure an Eagles victory.

Maybe the Eagles would’ve won without a 70-yard punt. Maybe they wouldn’t have. Either way, Jones could’ve revealed in his 15 minutes of fame, then faded back into relative obscurity, like a lot of specialists.

Except Jones outdid himself in the Eagles’ very next game coming off of a bye week.

If Jones played an exceptional game against Washington, his efforts could be described only as Herculean vs. the Cardinals. And if he was merely one of a handful of heroes in the previous win, he was legitimately the most valuable player the following contest.

The Eagles called upon Jones to punt eight times against the Cardinals, including five straight possessions at one point in the second half. Of those punts, seven were downed inside the opposing 20 — the NFL record is eight — with a 44.3 average and a long of 69.

The Eagles edged the Cardinals by three, 24-21. It wasn’t just one memorable kick. Each time Jones stepped on the field was pivotal.

In those two games alone, Jones pinned 11 of 14 punts inside the opponents’ 20 with a 46.8 average. His kicks totaled 655 yards compared to just three return yards. With that performance, he became the fourth punter in NFL history to win Special Teams Player of the Week in consecutive games and the first since 1999.

Jones became an instant Eagles legend in the process.

It didn’t hurt Jones was the first quality punter the franchise had in years. He remained a model of consistency for the remainder of his Eagles tenure. There also aren't a whole lot at that position — for any team — who ever made quite that level of impact in one game, let alone two.

Jones earned his reputation, he earned his place as an Eagles great, and it’s not at all far-fetched to suggest there might never be another punter as beloved and embraced.

What's really going on with Michael Bennett and the Eagles?

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What's really going on with Michael Bennett and the Eagles?

A commentator’s seemingly innocuous remark about Michael Bennett’s role with the Eagles quietly became a subplot this week after the defensive end refused to speak to reporters.

Is the three-time Pro Bowl selection “none too happy” being a “backup” in Philadelphia, as NBC’s Cris Collinsworth indicated during the Eagles’ nationally televised opener? Only Bennett can say for sure, and he reportedly declined the opportunity when approached by team employees, while coaches denied knowledge of any issue when questioned.

But did Bennett’s actions betray the company line one week later when he appeared to take issue with being removed from a game? Good thing pictures are worth 1,000 words because the 10th-year veteran had nothing to add, essentially telling the media “no comment,” which naturally only adds to the mystery.

So what are we to believe exactly?

For starters — see what we did there, Michael? — let’s revisit March after Bennett was traded to the Eagles from the Seahawks.

“I think a great defensive line is about the rotation,” Bennett said.

“I’m comfortable with taking less plays, man.

“Just taking snaps off, being able to have a [longer] career, it’s something that every player wishes and dreams about. And this organization, when you think about play snaps and counts and keeping guys fresh for the moments that count.

“Because at the end of the day, it’s not about September or October or November; it’s about January and February.”

Bennett understood the situation he was walking into and not only seemed OK but also enthusiastic. As recently as training camp, there was no sign of distress.

“Obviously I care [about starting]," Bennett said to NJ.com. “But at the same time, I am not going to make it the most important thing to me. The most important thing for me is just getting in the game and playing as high as I can.”

Still fine. From July to September, with only two games in the books, how did we get to “none too happy?”

It’s entirely plausible Collinsworth’s anecdote was blown out of proportion. Bennett averaged eight sacks per season over the previous six. Yeah, the guy wants to play, and rightfully believes he should. Doesn’t necessarily mean he’s requesting a trade, either. Perhaps this is considered the coloring aspect of the color commentator job.

Furthermore, Bennett’s refusal to speak to the media may be the result of people twisting his words, not to hide his discontent. Wouldn’t be the first time somebody played that card in Philadelphia.

The controversy's very premise has flaws. While Bennett happened to finish fourth in snaps among Eagles ends against the Buccaneers in Week 2, he was just one snap behind Brandon Graham for most in the opener — hardly reason to complain.

And Bennett’s interaction with a coach on the sideline last week — does anybody have a transcript? Otherwise, we might not want to put words in another person's mouth.

Then again, maybe Bennett was pissed. He played the fewest snaps of Eagles defensive ends against the Bucs, yet led the group in quarterback hits and matched Derek Barnett with a tackle for loss.

All of which suggests if there is anything to these rumors, maybe the best answer is simultaneously the easiest — the Eagles need to put Bennett on the field more.

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You have to see this terrible Phillie Phanatic costume

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You have to see this terrible Phillie Phanatic costume

October is rapidly approaching, which of course, includes the wonderful holiday of Halloween.

If you’re looking for that perfect costume that absolutely does not even slightly resemble your character, look no further.

Behold, this company is advertising a Phillie Phanatic costume for the low price of $399.99 that literally looks nothing like the most beloved mascot in all of Major League Baseball.

We have many questions about what exactly went into the design of the costume, which is actually on sale, but you can see it for yourself right here and below:

So if you’ve got $399.99 to spare and are looking to dress up as the Phanatic, we do not recommend buying this one.

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