Eagles news and notes for 1/13
Philadelphia magazine is ceasing publication of new material on Birds 24/7, effective today. The archives will remain online.
We would like to thank the current editors, Josh Paunil and Brandon Gowton, for their hard work and dedication; we wish them well in their next endeavors. We’d also like to recognize the founding editors, Tim McManus and Sheil Kapadia, and the commenters, who made the channel a real community over the past four and a half years.
Ed. Note: As someone who spent nine months working for Birds 24/7, and someone who loves good journalism, this is a terrible moment for the Eagles beat and for Philadelphia journalism. Josh and Brandon are great people and great writers. Birds 24/7 was a treasured and vital part of this city’s Eagles coverage, and it’ll be missed immeasurably.
The people who don't like Ertz, the people who think his decision to take a rain check on that block on Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict in early December is a more accurate reflection of the type of player he is than his late-season pass-catching numbers the last two years, are going to choose Door No. 1.
There's nothing Ertz can really do about that other than go out there next year, block his ass off and put up the kind of receiving numbers over a full season that will shut his critics up.
"I'm focused on going out there and making plays whether it's September or January," the 26-year-old tight end said. "I love the game of football. If there's an opportunity to go out there and show what I can do, I'm going to do it. Every week's a job interview for us as players."
Now that he has spent the better part of a full year with Wentz, now that he plans on spending almost as much time this offseason with his new quarterback as he will with his fiancée, USA national soccer team standout Julie Johnston, who he will marry this spring, he is hoping to have a career year in 2017 that will establish him as one of the league's top tight ends.
"I don't think people understand the chemistry factor that plays into receiver-quarterback success," Ertz said. "For the quarterback to trust you and know exactly where you're going to be, it just takes time.”
The Eagles certainly had their troubles in the secondary this season, but were they the worst unit in the league?
ProFootballFocus thinks so. PFF, in its rankings of all 32 secondaries in the league, put the Eagles dead last.
Here's what they wrote about the Eagles:
"To the credit of the Eagles’ safeties, both played better than the Philadelphia secondary’s overall ranking might indicate. However, that shows just how bad the Eagles’ cornerbacks were. All three of the team’s top corners ranked in the top eight for total receiving yards allowed among all defenders in the league. It really wasn’t skewed by a seeing a higher volume of passes, either, as Leodis McKelvin and Jalen Mills ranked first and third, respectively, in yards allowed per snap in coverage. Ron Brooks wasn’t much better before he suffered a season-ending injury. Had he played enough snaps to qualify, his overall grade would have also been among the bottom dozen cornerbacks (out of 120 players)."
Malcolm Jenkins got the highest grade in the Eagles' secondary with an 81.4. He was the best against the run, while fellow safety Rodney McLeod got the best grade in coverage.
As for the cornerbacks, McKelvin was ranked 79th out of 120, Nolan Carroll ranked 107th out of 120 and Jalen Mills was 120th.
With more time and perspective, Agholor has better insight on what he believed to be the problem.
“It’s something that I should have just allowed to flow,” Agholor said during the last week of the season. “I think too many times in the season, when I was in those moments, I was trying to be the controller of things. And I’m not… I’m just a player, and this is a reaction game. When I go on the field, my only objective is to react. I know I have talent, but I just react. I can’t control what comes my way. I can’t control everything. Thinking too much almost takes away those natural abilities of reaction and instinct. Now that I’m away from it, I’m like, ‘Man, you know what you can do. Train, and let what you train show itself on a Sunday.’”
Agholor played 78 percent of the offensive snaps – the most of any wide receiver on the roster – but finished fifth on the team in receiving with 36 catches for 365 yards and two touchdowns. Coaches praised his blocking ability on the perimeter, which is essentially the Riley Cooper treatment – a way of justifying a lot of playing time for not enough production.
It was a new offense for Agholor, and he admitted it took him time to fully understand what was expected of him. (Catching is a good place to start.) But he moved around to different spots, which he didn’t do as much of in his rookie season, and he believes a full offseason the system will help him for next year.
The Chargers made it official on Thursday, announcing their move to Los Angeles to become, immediately, the Los Angeles Chargers. There are many levels to discuss here, starting with how it relates to the Eagles both past and in the very near future.
Before that, though, some thoughts on the move: The NFL sees another franchise relocate, which has to be concerning. There are many questions to answer for the Chargers and for the NFL. What impact will the move have on the Chargers' franchise, which for two seasons could play at the StubHub Center, with a capacity of about 30,000 fans? What impact will the move have on the Los Angeles Rams, who have been back in L.A. for all of one season and who are desperately trying to grow roots there after an enormously disappointing 2016 campaign? What happens to all of those Chargers fans who supported the team in San Diego since 1961 (the Chargers started in Los Angeles in 1960)?
It won’t be easy for the Los Angeles Chargers in any capacity, even with their new logo and their reported plans to rebrand the team. The team is in the process now of hiring a head coach and trying to get back into the AFC’s playoff picture while quarterback Philip Rivers still has some life in his arm. This is not an enviable situation for the players, the coaches, the administration or any of the fans and it presents a huge challenge to the Los Angeles NFL market, which now has the task of supporting two franchises.
As far as the impact on the Eagles, well, there certainly is one. Philadelphia has a brutal road schedule in 2017 with games at the Rams and the Chargers and Seahawks, along with Kansas City and Dallas. Do the Eagles play back-to-back games in Los Angeles and, if they do (we’ll find out in the spring), does the team stay on the West Coast for that week of preparation rather than have cross-country trips in consecutive weeks?
It is not an easy situation, if that’s what the Eagles decide. Way back when, with Buddy Ryan as the head coach in 1986, the Eagles stayed on the West Coast when there were back-to-back games far away from Philadelphia. The Eagles stayed in Los Angeles for a week after losing to Seattle before defeating the Raiders 33-27 in overtime.