WTS: Division Rivals Praise Carson Wentz

Plus: Which Eagle was one of the worst performers this week?

Carson Wentz. (Jeff Fusco)

Carson Wentz. (Jeff Fusco)

After the Eagles defeated the Atlanta Falcons, 24-15, let’s take a look at what the national media is saying about the team this week.

First, a practice squad transaction. The team signed tight end Marcel Jensen to fill the opening spot left by the promotion of Aaron Grymes to the 53-man roster.

Two Washington Redskins defenders think Carson Wentz is part of the next wave of great quarterbacks, according to John Clayton of ESPN In$ider.

“Each week you have to keep wondering what the Browns are thinking about the way Wentz is developing, while they are figuring out what they have at quarterback,” an NFL front office executive said.

What opposing players told me:

  • “I said this before, and I’ll say until they prove me wrong, but I say Dak Prescott and Carson are above and beyond their time at the quarterback position,” [Josh] Norman said. “They don’t make rookie mistakes. You got to think about how many rookies who have come into the NFL and haven’t matched up to what these guys have done in their first year. It’s unbelievable to see this transition. They are going to be playing for a long time. If their rookie seasons are going to be like anything like their 12th season, it’s going to be amazing.”
  • “He’s a young quarterback, but he has all the tools,” [Donte] Whitner said. “He’s more athletic than people give him credit for. He and Dak are going to be the next wave of quarterbacks behind Andrew Luck and all the other young quarterbacks who have come on.”

The Eagles got a perfect A+ grade in CBSSports.com’s John Breech‘s book.

Philadelphia Eagles: A+

We already talked about the big day from the Eagles defense, so let’s talk about something else, like the big day Philly got from Ryan Mathews, who you probably just benched in your fantasy league. After struggling for weeks, Mathews exploded for 109 rushing yards and two touchdowns. That total was more than Mathews had in his past three games combined. The combination of Mathews and Carson Wentz (25 of 36, 231 yards), helped the Eagles control the clock for 38:10.

Running back Ryan Mathews was a winner this week, opines Danny Kelly of The Ringer.

Winner: Ryan Mathews (At Least This Week)

Danny Kelly: Good luck figuring out the Eagles’ backfield rotation. Prior to last week’s game against the Giants, Philly head coach Doug Pederson told reporters that Mathews was “still the guy” — meaning, the team’s starting running back — but then played him on just eight snaps in the Eagles’ 28–23 loss. Mathews ceded most of his playing time in that game to the explosive Darren Sproles, who carried the ball 13 times for 57 yards. Pederson flip-flopped after the game, admitting that “Darren is the no. 1 back right now.”

On Sunday, Pederson went back to Mathews.

The former Charger carried the ball 19 times for 109 yards and two touchdowns in Philly’s 24–15 win over the Falcons. He added a key two-point conversion late in the fourth quarter, and looked every bit the part of the lead back in the Eagles offense. Meanwhile, Sproles carried the ball just two times as Pederson instead went with the hot hand in Mathews, who ran with explosiveness and vision, carrying the ball up the gut and bouncing it outside when nothing opened up in the middle.

What does Mathews’s play means for the future of the starting job in Philadelphia? Who the hell knows, but it’s probably best not to take Pederson’s word for it this week.

Even though Doug Pederson said Darren Sproles was the top running back, the Eagles are back to where they started with the running back situation, writes Brandon Marianne Lee of Pro Football Focus.

Darren Sproles is the lead back in Philadelphia.

This is the truth when you look at the snap count. Yes, even last week Sproles played in 31 offensive snaps as opposed to Mathews’ 26 snaps. But let’s be honest, if you’re going to score two touchdowns in those 26 snaps, then does anyone care about the “starter” label?

This matchup set up beautifully for the Sproles play we’ve all come to know. He’s the pass-catching back who’s had more receiving yards than rushing yards in every season since 2008. But you see, that’s the problem.

The Eagles cannot make Sproles an every-down back. It doesn’t matter how many times Mathews fumbles, or if Wendell Smallwood has a worrisome 54.9 pass-blocking grade, because Sproles is who he is. He’s 33 years old. He’s 5-foot-6 inches and 190 pounds. These facts are non-negotiable.

But let’s be honest, before this week it seemed that head coach Doug Pederson was well on his way to ignoring these facts. Mathews only played in eight snaps in Weeks 8 and 9, while Sproles was playing in 60-of-75 and 62-of-76 snaps. Mathews did score a touchdown in both Weeks 8 and 9, but the 19 carries that he got in Week 10 were a major departure and especially frustrating because earlier this week Pederson came out and said Sproles was the lead back.

In other words, we’re back to the beginning. The Eagles don’t seem to want to lean on Mathews, but they must due to Sproles’ limitations. Sproles will continue to play a large role in this offense, but Mathews has the fantasy upside, snaps be damned.

With the re-emergence of Mathews, along with the increased load from Wendell Smallwood, the Eagles are a running back committee to watch this week in fantasy football, pens John Halpin of FoxSports.com.

Philadelphia Eagles

Darren Sproles: 31 snaps; two carries, 19 yards; 10 targets, eight receptions, 57 yards

Ryan Mathews: 26 snaps; 19 carries, 109 yards, two TD; two targets, two receptions, 30 yards

Wendell Smallwood: 19 snaps, 13 carries, 70 yards; one target

Raise your hand if you got a response from me to your Week 10 lineup question that included some variation of, “Mathews was on the field for eight snaps in each of the last two games — you can’t start him.” Then Mathews got more work, and had a huge fantasy game while appearing on more benches than in starting lineups (85 percent ownership on FOXSports.com, 38.9 percent starting). What happened?

This Philly.com article suggests that a painful toothache contributed more than many thought to Mathews’ limited workload at Dallas in Week 8, and an early deficit kept him from a planned busier day at New York in Week 9. Reading these tea leaves isn’t easy, but let’s guess — and I mean that word literally — at another Sproles/Mathews snap split at Seattle this Sunday. That’s not a great spot for Mathews, but I certainly won’t be calling him a must-bench again. The lesson, as always: Check with your players’ dentists before setting fantasy lineups.

Wide receiver Nelson Agholor was one of the worst players from Week 10, according to Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus.

7. Nelson Agholor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

Agholor was on the field for 71 snaps against the Falcons and was only targeted four times. That would be bad enough, except from those four targets he could manage just two catches for seven yards, and one of them required a pointless challenge to secure as he bobbled a pass going to ground at the sideline. That turned 2nd-and-20 into 2nd-and-16, but cost the Eagles a challenge where a clean catch would have spared it. Agholor also dropped another of the targets and was effectively a drag on the entire Eagles’ offense in Philadelphia’s close win.

The Eagles stay at No. 10 in NFL.com’s Elliot Harrison‘s Power Rankings.

Rank 10: 5-4 Eagles

Every single NFC East team won in Week 10. Loved the way Jim Schwartz‘s defense competed — again — in leading Philly to the win. For all the love given to Carson Wentz, the reality is that he threw no touchdown passes and averaged well under 7 yards per throw. Not disparaging him at all, but right now he is closer to game manager than Norm Van Brocklin.

Malcolm Jenkins will be in Washington D.C. on Wednesday along with other NFL players to meet with members of Congress regarding police brutality and race issues, from Jim Trotter of ESPN.com.

The meetings were conceived by Detroit Lions wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who is known for his off-the-field community work. The group will include four other players — Boldin’s teammate, safety Glover Quin; Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins; and Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown and wide receiver Andrew Hawkins.

Boldin told ESPN’s Jim Trotter he asked those players because they are “all guys who are well-respected in the league and who have the same goal as myself.”

The players are scheduled to meet with Congressmen Patrick Murphy, D-Fla.; Keith Ellison, D-Minn.; and Daniel Webster, R-Fla., as well as members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

The meetings were organized by Andrew Blejwas, an associate director of marketing for The Nature Conservancy who also advises players like Boldin on how they can have more influence off the field. The NFL Players Association also worked to arrange the meetings with [Paul] Ryan, R-Wis., and with some members of the White House staff.

In CBSSports.com’s Rob Rang‘s latest NFL Mock Draft, the Eagles once again select Iowa cornerback Desmond King.

20. Philadelphia Eagles (from Minnesota Vikings)

Desmond King , CB, Iowa Hawkeyes : While rookie quarterback Carson Wentz earned most of the hype, a big reason for Philadelphia’s early success this season has been a vastly improved defense. That was not the case in back-to-back division losses to the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants , when the Eagles’ secondary was torched. While perhaps lacking in straight-line speed, King’s instincts, physicality and ball skills are top notch.