Donovan McNabb: ‘Bright Future’ For Wentz
As the Eagles travel to Dallas to take on the Cowboys in a big NFC East showdown, here are some of the best Eagles stories around the web from this week.
Former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb talked to ESPN.com’s Tim McManus about Carson Wentz.
What are you seeing out of Carson Wentz?
DM: I’m seeing a guy that is poised. I know from a fan’s standpoint, and from everybody in Philadelphia, they’re riding the wave right now. He’s just a rookie. I’ve said this from the very beginning that I still felt the decision that was made of moving up and drafting a guy after you just paid Sam Bradford that money, it sends a bad message to Sam, it sends a bad message to everyone, because it’s confusing. And when they decided after they said Sam was going to be the starter, in the last preseason game, to trade Sam to Minnesota, it’s kind of like, “I don’t get it.” But now, what he’s been showing is the fact that it was the right move. They have a quarterback for the future if he continues to stay healthy, if he continues to progress. I like what I’m seeing from him in the pocket. He has the ability to use his legs. But you can tell definitely there’s a bright future with this kid.
They just have to continue to build around him, and that’s something that [Eagles personnel exec] Howie Roseman and [coach] Doug Pederson are going to have to be able to come together and be able to aid in that. I think it’s going to be important that they kind of have the mentality of what [former Eagles coach] Andy [Reid] had, to continue to build in the trenches, in the offensive line and defensive line, and then to build out. I think it’s important that they find a possible No. 1 receiver for him, and then from there, try to get a steal in the second or possibly third round to have a consistent running back, to find that gem like a or to find that running back like a LeSean McCoy. If they can find that for a guy like Carson Wentz from what we’ve seen thus far? It’s getting back to the way it was in the 2000s, like we had it.
What is Carson dealing with as a first-year quarterback in the type of market that he is in and the type of town that he is in? Any advice or lessons learned?
DM: Some people have to learn it for themselves. First and foremost for him, don’t ride the wave. Don’t get caught up in all the love and everything that’s going on, the hoopla right now, because when things go south, you’ll find that you’ll go from the darling to the goat. You will be the one that everyone points the finger at and looks at sideways. But that’s the quarterback position. … It’s an opportunity where you learn, you learn on the run, you learn in the workplace … you go from a high to a low quickly and you may not even be prepared for it.
The honeymoon with Wentz is over, opines Dieter Kurtenbach of FoxSports.com.
If the fervor emanating from Wentzylvania would die down, it’d show that the Eagles need their rookie quarterback to evolve to match the level of the now studied defenses Philadelphia is facing.
After a rollicking start to the season, Wentz completed only 54 percent of his passes in the last two Eagles games. Much of this has to do with teams taking away his first option — that’s a film-room adjustment — but it’s also in part a bit of arm hubris. Wentz isn’t moving his feet in the pocket effectively, and is attempting to use his prodigious arm strength to rifle the ball into tight windows.
Those windows will continue to become more and more false as the season progresses — defenses will bait the rookie into tougher and tougher throws.
Gil Brandt of NFL.com thinks the Eagles should get a wide receiver prior to the trade deadline.
2) Philadelphia Eagles
This team could really do something this season, with a defense that ranks fifth overall and third in points allowed after finishing 30th and 28th in those categories in 2015, the Eagles have a great shot to make some noise in the NFC East. They just need to figure out a way to juice their 29th-ranked passing attack. Rookie quarterback Carson Wentz has been solid (eight touchdowns against three picks with a passer rating of 92.7), but the team could stand to give him someone else to throw to. Philly has recorded just 17 pass plays of 20-plus yards (tied for 24th in the NFL), with the bulk of those (seven) going to receiver Jordan Matthews. The Eagles would also benefit from an extra running back and the addition of a right tackle to pick up the slack on an offensive line that lost Lane Johnson (suspended) for 10 games.
Potential target: Torrey Smith, WR, San Francisco 49ers.
Torrey Smith for Mychal Kendricks is a bold deal, according to Joel Corry of CBSSports.com.
Torrey Smith, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Mychal Kendricks, OLB, Philadelphia Eagles
Trade Compensation: Player swap
General manager Howie Roseman has been extremely aggressive in using trades to reshape Philadelphia’s roster ever since returning to power as last season was coming to a close. Smith’s strength as a deep threat is being wasted in Chip Kelly’s offense. He would add a dimension to an offense that lacks firepower in the passing game.
Kendricks has fallen out of favor under new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. He has only been on 32 percent of Philadelphia’s defensive snaps despite playing in every game this year. Preseason addition Stephen Tulloch would likely play a bigger role with Kendricks’ departure.
Kendricks is in the first new year of a four-year, $29 million contract extension he received last August while Chip Kelly was still in charge. Smith is in the second year of a five-year, $40 million deal he signed as an unrestricted free agent in 2014. He makes $8 million in each of the final three years of the deal.
Jordan Hicks could be a key player to watch this week, opines Chris Burke of SI.com.
3. Jordan Hicks, LB, Eagles: Fletcher Cox will challenge Dallas’s impressive O-line up the gut; Brandon Graham, Connor Barwin and others will bring the heat off the edge. But to stuff the Cowboys’ run game requires yeoman’s work from the linebacking corps, too. Hicks, as the Eagles’ man in the middle, has to bring it Sunday.
ESPN.com’s Matthew Berry is not a big fan of Ryan Mathews or the Eagles’ defense this week.
Running backs I hate in Week 8
Ryan Mathews, Eagles: The Cowboys have allowed just two rushing touchdowns this season and Mathews hasn’t had more than 14 carries in a game since Week 1 (and not more than 16 touches, either). And because the Cowboys dominate time of possession so well, they’ve actually faced the fewest rushes per game as well. Even in a week where six teams are on a bye and it seems like almost every running back is in a bad time-share situation, he’s nothing more than a touchdown-dependent flex play. Double bleah.
Defenses I hate in Week 8
Philadelphia Eagles: They are traveling to face the Cowboys, who are coming off the bye and lead the league in time of possession. Between Dak Prescott, a heavy run game and great offensive line, the Cowboys just don’t give a lot of opportunities to opposing defenses. No team allows fewer fantasy points to opposing defenses than the Cowboys.
The Eagles’ offensive line is one o-line to watch for the second consecutive week, opines Shaun O’Hara of NFL.com.
This week’s matchup: at Dallas Cowboys, 8:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.
Yes, I am double-dipping again this week, as both Philadelphia and Dallas have good matchups. The Eagles’ offensive line suffered a major blow when Lane Johnson was suspended a few weeks ago. Rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai stepped in at right tackle and, while he struggled in his first game against Washington, he settled in last week against Minnesota. The O-line has been solid this season, but is a little banged-up heading into Week 8. Right guard Brandon Brooks battled an ankle injury last week, and left tackle Jason Peters left the game vs. the Vikings with a bicep injury.
The Eagles have done a complete turnaround from Chip Kelly‘s fast-paced offense and are doing a much better job controlling time of possession. They need to protect the ball better Sunday night (four turnovers last week) if they want to keep [Ezekiel] Elliott and company on the sidelines.
You might see a lot of flags during Sunday night’s game, writes Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com.
When the country last saw referee Jerome Boger, he was calling 23 penalties — accepted, declined or offsetting — in the Week 6 Monday night slopfest between the New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals. Sunday night, Boger’s crew is scheduled to be at AT&T Stadium for an NFC East showdown between the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys.
Boger’s crew averages 20.3 penalty flags per game, as the first chart shows, and it has called between 18 and 24 in each of its six previous outings in 2016. The NFL average is 16.5 calls per game, and Boger’s total is 72.6 percent higher than referee Walt Coleman, whose crew has averaged 11.7 penalties per game.
Boger’s crew quite clearly errs on the side of calling a penalty. For further context on the way it approaches games, keep in mind that there have been 10 games this season in which the total number of penalties has been less than half of Boger’s average (10 or fewer). About 60.7 percent of all games in the NFL have been called with fewer than 18 penalties, the lowest total Boger has produced in a game.
The Eagles-Cowboys games in Dallas remind the Inquirer’s Frank Fitzpatrick memories of former Eagles broadcaster Charlie Swift.
He was an everyman in the booth, relaxed and informative, affable without being smarmy. At a time when the game’s complexities were starting to be layered into broadcasts and telecasts, Swift kept it simple, able to convey inside-football without ever being condescending.
In some ways, the last place you’d have expected to find Swift was in a sports arena. “He was,” I wrote some time ago, “better-suited to the tiny crow’s next atop the Palestra than to the national spotlight’s glare.”
He didn’t look like an athlete, unless you consider a jockey an athlete. As the Daily News’ Joe Clark noted in his story on the announcer’s death, “Charlie Swift was 5-foot-4. But he worked in a land of giants.”
While the football and basketball players who populated that land favored long shags, mullets, and Afros, Swift stubbornly maintained a crewcut. The plaid sports coats and Sans-a-Belt slacks he favored betrayed his East Stroudsburg, Pa., roots.
A Penn State graduate, Swift didn’t have Howard Cosell‘s vocabulary, Bill Campbell‘s passion, or Harry Kalas‘ vocal cords. And yet, in this cynical city, he was enormously popular, successful, and busy.