Eagles news and notes for 10/19
The co-host of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption thinks fans and analysts have overrated Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz after the team's 27-20 loss to Washington on Sunday, and used some choice language to describe them.
“The Eagles have lost two straight, and we’re not hearing about ‘Wentzylvania’ anymore, are we?" co-host Tony Kornheiser asked to open the segment on Monday’s show. “Have we overrated this kid?”
“I didn’t,” Wilbon proudly proclaimed. “Every other dope in the world did because they have to declare stuff now.”
Unfortunately, Wilbon sounded just like the people he’s now mocking after Week 2, when the Eagles soundly defeated the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football.
"I'm really impressed with Wentz,” Wilbon said the following Tuesday. "When you're a freshman in high school, all you can do is ace the pop quizzes, and so far, he has aced the pop quizzes. … Philadelphia could be the hardest place to play quarterback in the NFL, but when you start off like this, there's not much for talk radio to dissect at this point.”
4.4 – The Vikings allow the fewest yards per play in the NFL.
A big angle this week is Sam Bradford’s return to Philadelphia. The former Eagles quarterback is playing the best football of his career. But for as well as Bradford has played, the true strength of Minnesota is their defense.
The Vikings are especially good at defending the pass. They’ve allowed the fewest yards per pass attempt (5.2) in the league. Minnesota leads in interceptions with seven and sacks per game with 3.8. This is bad news for an Eagles offense that struggled to score a touchdown in Week 6.
The way the Vikings get after the quarterback is concerning for the sake of Carson Wentz. The rookie quarterback got sacked five times and took 11 hits against Washington. Now he’s going up against a Vikings defense that hit Brock Osweiler 15 times in Minnesota’s last game. The Vikings are averaging 8.6 hits per game on the season.
Week 1 – 2 sacks, 4 QB hits
Week 2 – 5 sacks, 9 QB hits
Week 3 – 8 sacks, 12 QB hits
Week 4 – 0 sacks, 3 QB hits
Week 5 – 4 sacks, 15 QB hits
It was less than two weeks ago that Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was telling reporters that they "probably owe an apology to Jim Washburn," after making defensive line coach Washburn's Wide 9 the scapegoat for the Eagles' terrible run defense in 2011 and 2012. (Washburn worked for Schwartz in Tennessee before Washburn came here, then again in Detroit after Andy Reid fired Washburn late in the 2012 season.)
"We can play the run," Schwartz said on Oct. 6, coming off the bye week, with the Eagles 3-0 and having held the Bears and Steelers to a combined total of 93 rushing yards in back-to-back wins.
Schwartz said his linemen's techniques "allow them to play the run and also be able to rush the quarterback."
All well and good until you get to an offensive line that is strong and savvy enough to make you pay for leaving giant holes in your alignment. The Redskins doubled up Fletcher Cox, and dared anybody else up front to make a play. As linebacker Nigel Bradham noted afterward, often their running backs would patiently wait for the Eagles to overpursue, then pick out a backside hole, which was nearly always there.
If your defensive linemen are always going to take their first step upfield, a good o-line is going to find ways to use that momentum against them. The Eagles are going to see a bunch of good offensive lines in the coming weeks. I look forward to further education from Schwartz on how he's going to overcome this, especially without starting defensive tackle Bennie Logan (groin) for the next week or two.
Seven weeks have passed, an eye blink in the outside world but nearly half a regular season in the NFL. Funny thing is, the trade has held up and proven to be a winning proposition for both the Eagles and the Vikings.
The Eagles are pleased with the progress made by Wentz, who came out of the gates to win the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Month award in September, and who has since experienced the normal ups and downs of a rookie quarterback. The Vikings come into Lincoln Financial Field as the league’s only unbeaten team at 5-0 and Bradford is 4-0 as a starter with six touchdown passes, zero interceptions and a passer rating of 109.7.
“We knew that, with the way Sam was playing and with the system Minnesota ran and the parts the Vikings could put around him, it would be a good deal for them,” Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said this week. “From our standpoint, we were confident with what we had in that quarterback room and in Carson going forward. Being able to go to Carson now, and knowing we could surround him with pieces to make him have success, was important. Getting draft picks back was a good thing for us.
“It was a rare deal in which both teams, at the end of the day, came out of the deal feeling good about it and, as we’ve seen, it’s played out that way to this point.”
It would be convenient for the Eagles to have a soft schedule so they could pile up some wins, but in a way the tough schedule is the best thing possible. The worst thing that can happen this season is for the Eagles to win a bunch of games and get a false sense of security with this roster. Clearly there are positions that need an upgrade. If the team got on some crazy roll and went 12-4, Howie and Doug might get too comfortable with their own players. This isn’t a 12-win roster.
I still want this team to win and even overachieve, but it needs to be tested. We need to know what this team really is.
The Jets went 10-6 last year, surprising everyone. They decided they were close to being a serious contender so they signed a pair of starters over 30 (LT Ryan Clady and RB Matt Forte). They kept another pair of older stars in Darrelle Revis and Brandon Marshall. The Jets tried to go cheap at QB and waited until August to finally bring back Ryan Fitzpatrick, also 30+.
Things have not gone well this year. The weight of expectations has brought out the worst in the team and they are 1-5. They are also old and now have a lot of serious questions. Todd Bowles looked like a coaching star last year, but now you wonder about his job security, although I think the GM is even more at fault.
I want the Eagles to win the Super Bowl. That means building a Super Bowl roster. You don’t do that by beating up on crappy teams. You want to face tough competition so you can see which of your players are good and which guys are still getting by on the “he’s got potential” label.
The Eagles know Carson Wentz is the real deal ( I need to do a full post on that) and that is the key to this whole puzzle. Get the right QB and everything else can be worked out.