Eagles news and notes for 10/23
Fletcher Cox had one of the best Septembers for any player, let alone on the Eagles, and was thus chosen as NFC defensive player of the month, but the $100 million defensive tackle was neutralized in Sunday's loss to the Redskins and the only time he showed up on the stat sheet was for a costly roughing-the-passer personal foul.
And Lane Johnson, of course, was suspended 10 games on Oct. 11 for taking a banned substance. The right tackle had performed about as well as Cox through the first four games, but it's unlikely that he will return and block at the same level for the final two games of the season.
Johnson's suspension saved the Eagles some money, and the remaining $25 million that was once guaranteed is no longer, but the team took a risk in extending a player who had already been suspended. His future is tenuous because one more strike will lead to a two-year ban at the minimum.
But Johnson, at least, played at a level worthy of his contract (five years, $56.25 million). And Cox's poor outing in Washington was likely an anomaly for a proven defender, even if it could be argued that the Eagles paid too much (six years, $102.6 million) for an interior lineman.
Dorial Green-Beckham was on the field in Washington for 42 of the Eagles’ 52 offensive snaps on Sunday.
He had one catch for 23 yards.
Green-Beckham, who the Eagles added during training camp via a trade with the Titans, has been brought along slowly since his arrival to Philadelphia. In each week, his playing time has increased.
Now, the Eagles just need his production to catch up.
“[We are] moving him a little bit more around in formations, but still trying to keep it to one position for him,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “Utilizing his strength; I think he's a tremendous slant runner. I think he can run those deeper in-routes, things like that, and utilize his height and strength in the red zone a little bit more. That's him and that's the type of player that he is. Can he be an every-down starter? I think he could eventually probably get there.”
Green-Beckham, who also had a 38-yard reception nullified by a questionable illegal block in the back in Washington, has all the qualities that could make him a special receiver. At 6-5, 237, he has size and strength to go along with his 4.49 speed.
There’s a reason the Titans took him in the second round last year. But there’s also a reason Tennessee was willing to give him up a year later for reserve tackle Dennis Kelly.
The intensity that's helped Mills, a seventh-round pick, secure a key role in the Eagles' secondary can be exhausting to maintain. Not only that, but he's also still adapting to life as an NFL player — which includes greater stress and less structure than the routine he established during his college days at LSU.
So now more than ever, Mills said, it's important that he meditates.
Most afternoons, Mills said he settles in at home or a quiet park, closes his eyes and tries to let his mind drift away from coverage schemes or opposing wide receivers.
"Say we have a practice and there's a lot of guys flying around, there's a lot of energy and when you get home you're adrenaline is still pumping," Mills said. "You need to take that time to calm down."
The time alone allows Mills a respite from the swirling thoughts that dominate his mind and the determination that dictates his actions while he's at the NovaCare Complex.
Maybe Jim Schwartz dials up an added blitz or two. Perhaps Doug Pederson and Frank Reich insert a wrinkle into the offensive game plan. For the most part, though, the Eagles are going to do what they do when they play Minnesota on Sunday, and the Eagles will win if they execute the basics better than the Vikings.
The Eagles, Pederson thinks, didn't help their cause at Detroit and at Washington. The result? Two losses after three consecutive victories to open the season.
It's been my message to the football team is sometimes it doesn't really matter -- there's going to be times when you just get physically whipped and you get beat. But it's when you beat yourself, and I felt like last week we kind of beat ourselves. And it was a collective effort; it was all three phases, and I challenged the leadership of the football team, the veteran guys of the football team. They're the ones that have to take ownership and kind of show the young guys how to play, how to practice, how to execute during the game.
I really felt like coming away these last two weeks, it's still a good football team with opportunities to win both of those games and be in a different situation today.
"It's been my message to the football team is sometimes it doesn't really matter - there's going to be times when you just get physically whipped and you get beat. But it's when you beat yourself, and I felt like last week we kind of beat ourselves," Pederson said. "And it was a collective effort. It was all three phases, and I challenged the leadership of the football team, the veteran guys of the football team. They're the ones that have to take ownership and kind of show the young guys how to play, how to practice, how to execute during the game.
"I really felt like coming away these last two weeks, it's still a good football team with opportunities to win both of those games and be in a different situation today."
The takeaway is that Pederson's message this week has been positive, and it's been challenging. Nobody is happy about losing two straight games, and nobody is going to panic. The level of confidence remains high here.