Did Doug Pederson Risk Carson Wentz’s Future?

Plus: How much would money the Eagles save if they cut Ryan Mathews?

Lane Johnson and Carson Wentz. (Jeff Fusco)

Lane Johnson and Carson Wentz. (Jeff Fusco)

As many people celebrate the holidays this weekend, along with the Eagles resting after defeating the New York Giants on Thursday, 24-19, let’s take a look at some of the best stories around the web from the last few days.

The Eagles are fortunate Doug Pederson’s decision to put Carson Wentz as a lead blocker didn’t backfire, writes Mike Sielski of the Inquirer.

This was madness, sheer madness, and it betrayed a macho side of Pederson’s coaching personality that from now on he should do everything in his power to quell . . . if he can. He has earned laurels this season for his acceptance of calculated risk, of his gambles on fourth downs and two-point conversions, but where exactly was the calculating here? It would be unconscionable enough for Pederson to have called such a play even if Olivier Vernon had not rag-dolled Wentz to the Lincoln Financial Field turf late in the third quarter and left Wentz, by his own admission, “dizzy” and with his “bell rung.” But there’s no defense for calling such a play so soon after doctors had administered the concussion protocol to Wentz. The Eagles and Wentz had been fortunate that the Vernon hit had not been more serious, so why intentionally tempt fate again?

“I mean, he was cleared, came in, came out,” Pederson said. “How many guys run into a concussion deal or a banged-up head injury? He ran in, ran out. We talked on the sideline. We talked before the play. We talked before the series. He was good. He was cleared.”

Sorry, Doug, but My quarterback ran to the tunnel; therefore, he should throw a block doesn’t appear to be recognized by the American Medical Association as an official standard for treating head injuries or exercising good judgment. The scary part for the Eagles is that no one else in their locker room seemed to appreciate the damage that Pederson had needlessly courted. He had demanded Wentz join Jason Peters in a convoy for Nelson Agholor to gain just 5 yards – in a game of minimal short-term and long-term importance to the Eagles.

Nevertheless, to Pederson and Wentz’s teammates, the play was part of a tapestry of toughness that the kid wove during the Eagles’ 24-19 victory. He rushed for 27 yards and spun and ducked his way out of several potential sacks, and in their minds, transforming himself into a pulling guard was just another reason to embrace him.

Malcolm Jenkins is upping his game after two interceptions against the Giants, from Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com.

Jenkins has become one of the top touchdown-producing defensive backs in the NFL and a true playmaker on an Eagles team that doesn’t have very many.

He had two pick-sixes in five years with the Saints — off Sam Bradford and Carson Palmer — but had one each in his first two years with the Eagles — victimizing Colin Kaepernick and Tom Brady — and now two this year, off Kirk Cousins and Manning.

With six career INT TDs, Jenkins ranks 17th in NFL history,  eighth among safeties and second among active players, behind only Aqib Talib, who has nine.

“Every time I get the ball I’m thinking I’m going to score,” Jenkins said. “The tough part is getting the ball.

Running back Ryan Mathews is a prime candidate to get cut in the offseason, notes OverTheCap.com’s Jason Fitzgerald.

4. Ryan Mathews, Eagles
Cap Saved: $4 million/Cash Saved: $4 million

Mathews is a difficult player to judge. When he is healthy and given opportunities he can be as dangerous as top level backs in the league. But he is often banged up and the more carries he gets in one game probably means he’ll be ineffective the following week or two. The Eagles use a committee system and at one point this year it seemed Mathews was the odd man out before injuries brought him back into the spotlight. Even if he closes the year out well I think the Eagles have better areas to use $4 million.

Offensive guard Brandon Brooks is a candidate to reach a Pro Bowl in the future, according to the experts at Pro Football Focus.

Brooks was one of the league’s best free-agent acquisitions and has been consistently impressive, even as the Eagles’ season has gone off the rails. He has surrendered just one sack this season, despite pass-blocking for a rookie quarterback with less-than-stellar pocket presence and movement. Brooks has surrendered just 16 total pressures across 523 pass-blocking snaps and has been flagged only three times.

The Eagles really missed Lane Johnson while he was suspended, and it showed against the Giants, pens Sean Wagner-McGough of CBSSports.com.

Lane Johnson missed the Eagles’ past 10 games due to his PED suspension. He returned Thursday night.

Man, did the Eagles miss him. On their opening drive, which covered 78 yards on seven plays, they ran directly behind him on multiple occasions. Ryan Mathews picked up 10-plus yards on the first of those carries. On the last play of the drive, Darren Sproles found the end zone.

Johnson cleared the way.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Eagles racked up 47 yards on three running plays to the right side on that first series. So yeah, Johnson is a clear difference maker for the Eagles and they definitely could’ve used him before their postseason hopes faded.

The importance of family is as important as playing football, according to Jeff McLane of the Inquirer.

Trey Burton‘s daughter, Ariella, was born just days before he was to play in the 2013 Sugar Bowl during his junior season at Florida. The tight end and his wife, Yesenia, also have a 2-year-old son, Jaxon, and are expecting another daughter.

“I grew up without a father, so having kids was something that I was really looking forward to, especially at a young age, just knowing that I wanted to have the energy to be able to run around and play with them,” Burton said. “I just knew the void that I was missing in my life without having a dad.”

Nigel Bradham also grew up without a father. Like fellow linebacker Najee Goode, whose daughter was born in June, Bradham said that his son, Nasir, has given him a boost on Sundays.

“You’re always playing for your name, but when you have a child you want to leave even more of a legacy,” Bradham said. “So when he grows up people will be like, ‘Your dad was something at football. He was the guy.’ “

Dan Hanzus of NFL.com has one gift to give to the Eagles.

To the Eagles, I will institute a strict national ordinance banning any more references to the Santa booing incident. I’m not even from Philadelphia, and it’s annoying to hear it come up in every single discussion of Philly sports culture. Anyone who references the 1968 incident will be incarcerated until the Eagles win a Super Bowl. (This is obviously an open-ended and deeply intimidating sentence.)