Eagles news and notes for 11/5
"I'll be sitting there with my mom eating dinner, and they'll be doing 'Eagles' chants. Or I'll go to the bathroom, and they'll say, 'Go Eagles.' Down at my shore house, it's like South Jersey, so it's all Philly people. ... No matter where I go when I'm down there, it's always like that."
"I think Philly fans try to live up to that whole, 'Oh, we threw snowballs at Santa Claus.' I think they try to live up to that. Kids, like when I was 18 years old, [used] to be like, 'Oh yeah, we're Philly fans. We're ruthless.' But they're harmless."
"I was that kid. I can say that, because I was that 18-year-old kid that thought he was the big, bad, tough, 'I'll come wherever and wear my Philly jersey.' Now, I don't like that kid that I was. Now, that kid's booing me when I come home."
A few things:
1. Oh my God enough with the Santa Claus references already.
2. You seriously can't handle a few "Eagles" chants at dinner or in the john?
3. "Down at my shore house, it's like South Jersey, so it's all Philly people." People in the Philly area are Philly fans? Shocker!
4. That kid booing you is booing you because you play for, you know, the Giants. Pretty sure little Giants fans do the same for Eagles players.
It was Wednesday and there were clouds in the sky, but a good chance they would still drift away as the Eagles practiced at the NovaCare Complex. On a near field, Josh Huff was working with the kickoff return team; one eye on the ball, the other on the clouds that would eventually lower and encircle him.
When the quarterbacks and receivers began their drills, Carson Wentz lofted long passes easily into that sky, and the receivers dashed along the sideline to meet them. It looks so simple in practice one would assume the deep pitch and catch is a staple of the Eagles offense rather than a trick so difficult it is rarely attempted.
And then Bryce Treggs ran down the sideline.
"He likes to throw the ball downfield," Treggs would say after practice, the Los Angeles kid talking about the North Dakota farm boy, both rookies, both taken by that long arc described when the ball gets very small and then suddenly very big again. "He throws a gorgeous deep ball. I tell him to put it out there, and my job is to go get it."
This was only one practice rep, with air and grass playing defense, but it was Treggs blistering down the field and the ball almost disappearing behind the clouds before descending into his hands, with receiver and ball at full speed - what? - 60 yards from scrimmage, 65 yards. It was many things, but mostly it just looked different from the others.
"There's no pressure. I've been catching balls all my life," Treggs said. "I've been waiting and preparing for this moment."
"It's fun to see him out there. He creates energy for the whole team. I think he creates energy for our fans. He draws attention from defenses. So he's got to be on the field the lion's share (of snaps).
"When he can't handle it anymore, I'm sure he'll retire. But in the meantime, we have to find that blend of how much can we use him without overusing him."
Sproles' 86 rushing yards was the fourth highest total of his career. Keep in mind this guy's spent most of his career as one of the league's top pass-catching backs and return men.
But the running back who is supposed to be the Eagles' primary ballcarrier, Ryan Mathews, has struggled this season.
He's averaging only 3.8 yards per carry and has lost two fumbles, including a costly one late in the fourth quarter of the Eagles' 24-23 loss to the Lions.
Mathews had only 10 yards on four carries against the Cowboys before essentially getting replaced by Sproles.
Sproles had five of the Eagles' six rushing first downs Sunday. He's averaging 5.0 yards per carry this season and has nine double-digit-yard runs in 46 carries.
He's on pace for 105 carries, which would be far and away the most of his career.
Again - and I can't mention this enough - at age 33.
BLG: Eagles 23, Giants 17
The way I see it, the Eagles have multiple factors working in their favor.
First, the Eagles are a better team than the Giants on paper. That doesn’t necessarily mean much when the game starts, but I like the Eagles’ chances in this one. Philadelphia ranks first in DVOA and second in point differential. The Giants rank 17th and 20th, respectively.
The Eagles own the Giants in recent history. The Birds have won 13 out of their last 16 matches against the G-Men. The Eagles are 8-1 in road games during that span, so playing at MetLife hasn’t been a problem for them.
The desperation factor also favors the Eagles. Going down to 4-4 overall and 0-3 in the division isn’t an acceptable outcome for Philadelphia. The players should be up for this game, especially coming off a disappointing game in Dallas they easily could/should have won.
The feeling here is Philadelphia’s defense will be able to effectively limit a Giants offense that’s only averaging 17 points per game (28th in the NFL). Yes, New York has some receiving weapons, such as Odell Beckham Jr., that could test the Eagles’ secondary. But the Giants’ lackluster running game could allow the Eagles’ pass rush to tee off on Eli Manning as they’ve done in recent years. The Giants don’t have great blocking. Everyone saw how Philadelphia’s pass rush dominated a weak Vikings offensive line in Week 7.
Through the forest are the trees and beyond those trees is Sunday, and on Sunday the Eagles tackle the NFC East for a second consecutive week in a game that means oh, so much for this football team. How do the Eagles beat the Giants?
"It's a big game for us, no question about it," defensive end Connor Barwin said. "We have another road game in the division and that means a lot. The Giants are a good football team. They do a lot of things very well."
Let's circle back a month. The Eagles were coming off their bye weekend. They were cruising with a 3-0 record. It was easy, at that time, to point to the leadership in the locker room, the diverse offensive playcalling, the dominating defense and the Doug Pederson Way, which clearly had everyone in the locker room working in the same direction.
Now the Eagles are 4-3, having lost three of their last four games. The team has had a week of true adversity. And we're about to find out about a lot of things with this 2016 football team