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Eagles news: Isaac Seumalo has played well, just don’t take his word for it

News and notes for 12/20

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Cincinnati Bengals David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Despite Doug Pederson's praise, Eagles rookie Isaac Seumalo says play 'wasn't great' - Penn Live

If you believe Pederson, Seumalo played a large role in the Birds' ability to find an offensive rhythm. The Oregon State product is the fifth Eagles to play right tackle this season, and though he hadn't practiced at that spot before this week, he didn't commit any egregious errors against the Ravens.

If you believe Seumalo, though, the running backs and tight ends deserve more credit for the team's positive moments on offense. Seumalo explained he was a bit slow to react on several plays, because his instincts hadn't adjusted to his new position.

"Tackle's different, and you don't become great at it in a week," Seumalo said. "There's a lot of things I gotta get better at."

That seems to sum up Seumalo's attitude. Throughout his rookie season, he's been quick to downplay his progress as a versatile and productive lineman.

Going for two, and the win, becoming more popular among NFL coaches - ESPN

The Eagles' decision, like the Titans', can be justified with analytics even if it wasn't data-based. As ESPN senior analytics specialist Brian Burke wrote in an email exchange Sunday night, "good and bad teams are nearly indistinguishable on any single play." That's another way of saying the Eagles -- who are 5-9 after losing their fifth consecutive game -- had a better chance to top the Ravens on one good two-point play than over the course of overtime.

In addition to analytics, all three coaches have no doubt been swayed in part by the 2015 rule change to make extra points more difficult. Since the start of last season, place-kickers are missing 6 percent of their attempts. That lessens the risk disparity between going for one point and two points.

But there is an interesting psychological connection between all three of the 2016 instances that might help explain what's really going on here.

In each case, the decision has come after big second-half comebacks. The Raiders were down 14 points to the Saints in Week 1. The Titans trailed the Chiefs 17-7 in the fourth quarter on Sunday, and the Eagles had a similar 10-point deficit at 27-17 to the Ravens in the fourth quarter. Jack Del Rio, Mularkey and Pederson are among eight head coaches who had substantial NFL playing careers, making them most likely to be attuned to the emotion of a game and react to ethereal feelings of momentum.

Doug Pederson wins points in Eagles' locker room with aggressive approach - ESPN

What can be said is that there is no noticeable dissension in the ranks -- at least not yet. As opposed to last season, Chip Kelly's final one in Philly, where the cracks in the foundation became more and more visible, this group seemingly heads into Thursday night's game against the New York Giants still largely on board with its current leader. The chatter in the locker room following yet another disappointing loss helped underscore that point.

"I've learned that Doug believes in everybody in this locker room," Matthews said. "He has faith in our team. He knows that we're young and he's not going to let that be an excuse. He's going to put us in position to win games in big moments. So when a guy is trusting you like that, we've got to go out there and execute."

"Doug is doing a great job," said veteran tackle Jason Peters, not one to dole out false praise -- as was clear in the final months of the Kelly era. "Ain't nobody just putting a whupping on us. We're beating ourselves out there ... making bad decisions, bad plays, mental errors and stuff like that. But Doug is getting us ready every week, and we're just playing the cards we're dealt. Week in and week out, we're going to give it our all and try to finish up strong."

The Unfair Catch: How NFL Return Men Became an Endangered Species - Sports Illustrated

In essence, punt and kick returners went from being game-changers to game managers in the span of a decade—and it has been reflected in their compensation and career longevity. Westhoff often fields calls from flustered special teams coaches who are at odds with their general managers; the front office sees little value in re-signing a top-10 punt returner who doesn’t contribute at his regular position, be it wide receiver or running back or cornerback. Assistant coaches are sometimes told in training camp to “make it work” with the second- or third-best returner. Those same GMs are even less inclined to hold on to a linebacker who is adept at kickoff and punt coverage but isn’t making an impact on defense.

“I’m 69 years old and I could run down the field on a damn kickoff in the NFL, because it doesn’t matter,” Westhoff says. “Special teams coaches just know now that the guy they want is not the guy they always keep.”

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