Eagles Wake-Up Call: The Magic Man
Here’s this week’s roundup of national Eagles stories, plus a couple of late announcements yesterday from the team:
Jon Dorenbos delivered another spectacular performance on America’s Got Talent last night.
The Eagles signed a 24-year-old who appeared in seven games for the Bears last season and two for the Packers.
#Eagles claim DT Bruce Gaston off waivers from the San Diego Chargers.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) August 30, 2016
The Eagles announced Jeremiah Trotter and Merrill Reese as the newest inductees into the team’s hall of fame:
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) August 31, 2016
Carson Wentz will be the starting quarterback before Thanksgiving hits, opines Andy Benoit of the MMQB.
1. Carson Wentz will become this team’s starting quarterback before Thanksgiving. If the more experienced Sam Bradford were an old steady veteran, that’d be one thing. But Bradford is up-and-down in several core departments of professional quarterbacking, including: precision accuracy, pocket poise and coverage diagnosing. He struggled mightily in Chip Kelly‘s system early last season, and that’s a system built on basic reads and route concepts.
If there had been a high first-round rookie QB behind Bradford last season, he likely would have been benched. Doug Pederson‘s scheme is user-friendly, like Kelly’s, though in slightly different ways. Remember: Bradford, like Wentz, has never played in it before. And while Wentz faced lower level competition at North Dakota State, he still had complete command of that pro-style offense. He called protections at the line of scrimmage; he adjusted running plays; he made audibles; plus his reads often weren’t dictated by the play design, but rather, by the defensive look. He’s more prepared to play than a typical rookie QB.
Amy Parlapiano of SI.com thinks the Eagles are the dark horse candidate to win the NFC East.
Over in Philly, Byron Maxwell, Kiko Alonso and DeMarco Murray were shipped out of town this March in what can only be described as a purge of all things related to Kelly. As for who the Eagles do have? A new coach, Doug Pederson, for starters, plus an unreliable quarterback in Sam Bradford, an unimpressive group of receivers outside of Jordan Matthews and a run game led by the talented but easily-injured Ryan Mathews. Matthews and tight end Zach Ertz are the only two real reliable receiving targets for Bradford, which isn’t too promising of a scenario.
There is something to be excited about, though, in Jim Schwartz’s arrival as defensive coordinator. He brings with him a switch to a 4–3 front, which should help turn around a unit with a ton of talent that failed to consistently produce last year. Fletcher Cox’s new role will allow him to be even more disruptive on the line, which should scare every opponent on the schedule. Of course, amid it all, the unavoidable story here is whether No. 2 pick Carson Wentz will get a shot at starting quarterback duties early. That would provide some drama, but the much more realistic scenario is that Bradford puts together a competent but underwhelming year that leaves the Eagles on the outskirts of the playoffs again, despite promising defensive improvement.
Dark Horse: Philadelphia Eagles
It’s not difficult to imagine the Redskins, Giants or Cowboys taking the crown, but Philadelphia is in a rebuild and will probably only realistically be ready to return to contention in a couple of years. But if Bradford succeeds in ’16, it’s not crazy to think they could get some momentum going under Pederson. The defense, which has been great in the preseason, could be the difference maker.
Elliott Harrison of NFL.com predicts two different outcomes for the upcoming Eagles’ season.
Ceiling: 10-6. Quarterback Sam Bradford plays lights-out football, running back Ryan Mathews stays healthy all season and Doug Pederson proves more than ready to be a head coach. The offensive line performs consistently, providing the offense time to gel.
Floor: 4-12. The secondary can’t hold the fort, with Malcolm Jenkins unable to play at such a high level again, and the pass rush isn’t stout enough to compensate. Rookie QB Carson Wentz is forced to play before he’s ready, with WRs dropping passes like it was 2015. That’s 4-12, folks.
Dorial Green-Beckham received a positive review from Bucky Brooks of NFL.com in his second preseason game with the Eagles.
The recent trade for Green-Beckham gives the Eagles more size and playmaking ability on the perimeter. DGB flexed his muscles against the Colts on Saturday, showcasing his athleticism on a 4-yard fade route for a score against Tay Glover-Wright. Considering how the Eagles receivers have struggled getting open on the outside, the presence of a big-bodied receiver with the potential to win 50-50 balls could help Sam Bradford (and Carson Wentz or Chase Daniel) find his rhythm in the pocket. GRADE: B+
With a weak wide receiver unit, Jordan Matthews is the player to watch on the Eagles, according to Conor Orr of NFL.com.
Philadelphia Eagles: Jordan Matthews, wide receiver. He has been good about touting the rest of his wide receivers this offseason — despite mounting criticism — but probably understands the reality of the situation. Matthews is going to have to do so much of this on his own, especially with Dorial Green-Beckham adjusting to a new system and a new quarterback. The division is wide open, and the Eagles have the personnel on defense to be able to compete. But if they want to make a legitimate run at the playoffs under first-year head coach Doug Pederson, Matthews is going to have to be downright exceptional. His best season to date was last year under Chip Kelly, when he caught 85 balls for 997 yards and eight touchdowns.
The Eagles won’t win the Super Bowl because of plenty of questions in the secondary, pens Cameron DaSilva of FoxSports.com.
The Eagles traded Byron Maxwell this offseason, which wasn’t necessarily a bad move. But the trade left Philadelphia with a gaping hole at cornerback. That vacancy will be filled by Leodis McKelvin and Ron Brooks, neither of whom is particularly intriguing. The lack of talent at the top of the depth chart is concerning and will doom the Eagles down the stretch.
In a 12-team standard fantasy league, Tyler Loechner of Pro Football Focus would draft two Eagles.
Round 4 — Ryan Mathews, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
I take Ryan Mathews in pretty much every draft, real or fake. The other running backs in Philadelphia are Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood, and while that means Mathews will be coming off the field a fair amount in passing situations, it also means he’s in line for a lot of work on the ground and around the goal line. He looked great last season with the Eagles while finishing first in fantasy points per snap among running backs, and he has looked good so far this preseason. Mathews is a strong RB2 pick in the fourth round this year.
Round 7 — Jordan Matthews, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
It’s easy to forget that at this point last season, Matthews was viewed as a fringe WR1. Now he’s being drafted as a WR3. As usual, the truth is somewhere in the middle. Matthews is a WR2 this season, but his WR1 upside remains intact.
Jason Kelce will make a few appearances on brother Travis’s reality show, Catching Kelce, on E! this fall, pens Les Bowen of the Daily News.
He’s dating a woman from each of the 50 states, something that might be feasible only in the wonderful world of reality TV. “Catching Kelce” debuted with a preview special Sunday night on E! Entertainment. A press release described the special as “introducing some of the 50 lucky girls competing for the heart of Travis,” as he “searches for his dream ‘teammate.’ ”
“Not one bit,” Jason Kelce said Monday when asked if he’d been surprised when his brother told him about this development. “He told me during the season last year that he was thinking about doing it, and asked me if I would be a part of it. I said, ‘Sure, man, I’ll hook ya up.’ He had to get permission from the team and from Andy (Reid, the Chiefs’ coach) first. Once they gave him the ‘go,’ he ironed it out with the network.”
Jason has a role? Does he date the women from U.S. Protectorates and Territories – Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa?
“I’m in the show as his brotherly advice,” Kelce said. “I’m in a few of the shows – I don’t think I have a major role. I think it was all filmed in May. I basically would just sit down with him and talk about which girls I liked, which girls I thought were ‘bad.’ That was about it.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
Wendell Smallwood is still in the concussion protocol, while Isaac Seumalo won’t play in the preseason finale.
“I think from that standpoint, I totally agree with what he wants to do.” Myke Tavarres has the support of “everybody in the locker room,” according to Malcolm Jenkins.
“I think it’s only going to get better from here on out.” Jason Kelce is pleased by the success of the offensive line in the preseason.
An updated 53-man roster projection, which includes four rookie UDFAs making the team.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Once uncertain candidates to make the 53-man roster, Beau Allen and Taylor Hart are faring well in Jim Schwartz‘s 4-3 defense, pens Zach Berman of the Inquirer.
Schwartz said Hart is “very slippery.” Although Hart is not stout at 6-foot-6 and 305 pounds, Schwartz has seen him slip past linemen to win in the pass rush. Allen, who played nose tackle n the previous defense, is 6-foot-3 and 327 pounds. He’s “a load in there,” Schwartz said, and is hard to move. And then when he can move north-south, an opposing linemen will have a hard time containing him. That was evident on Saturday when Allen bull-rushed his way through the Indianapolis Colts line for a sack.
“Don’t sell those guys short,” Schwartz said earlier this summer. “Just because that’s what they were asked to do doesn’t mean [that’s] the only thing” they can do.
Allen, who played in a different style 4-3 defense at Wisconsin, said he was “dusting” the techniques off and “flipping that switch” to change his mentality on defense. Hart played in a 3-4 defense at Oregon and said his physical stance has changed, but it’s nothing beyond his capabilities. He learned what he needed to in the spring, and he had time to apply it this summer.
Both seemed like players who would spend the summer on the roster bubble, but their spots appear more secure this week than any time before. Hart has knee and ankle injuries and won’t play Thursday, but coach Doug Pederson said the tackle will be ready for Week 1 – an indication he’ll survive until then. Allen has been mixing in with the first-team defense all summer and appears to be the top defensive tackle behind the starters.
The Inquirer’s Bob Ford asks whether Lane Johnson should protect Sam Bradford or Carson Wentz.
If that hypothetical team had a dependable offensive tackle, but he was going to serve a 10-game suspension, which quarterback would the team rather he be around to protect? The short-term veteran or the future of the franchise?
Lane Johnson, barring injury, is going to play six games this season. If he appeals the suspension in order to get his version of the facts on the record, the process could last into the regular season, perhaps for a number of weeks. Appeals can be decided quickly, or they can drag on. There isn’t a way to predict how his would go. If he does not appeal the suspension, his ban would most likely begin with the first game, and he would be eligible to return Nov. 28 against the Green Bay Packers and also be in uniform as the Eagles close the season against the Bengals, Redskins, Ravens, Giants and Cowboys.
So, if Lane Johnson, who royally messed up here, felt bad enough to ask the team whether he should appeal, what would the answer be?
We’ll keep you updated on any moves the Birds make.