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The Linc: Could the Eagles play back-to-back games in Los Angeles?

News and notes for 1/17

Hollywood Sign Repainting Project Completed With LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images

How Chargers' move to Los Angeles affects the Eagles - ESPN

The Philadelphia Eagles haven't played in the Los Angeles area since 1990. Now, they'll play there twice in one year.

The NFL has been buzzing over the news that the Chargers are leaving San Diego after 56 years and moving to L.A. They'll join the Rams, who relocated from St. Louis to Los Angeles ahead of the 2016 season.

As it so happens, the Eagles have road games against both teams in 2017.

After a couple seasons of light travel, the Eagles will log plenty of miles this year thanks to three West Coast dates (they play at Seattle as well). With two of those games set for Los Angeles, the conversation has already begun about whether the schedule-makers will put them back-to-back, allowing the Eagles to stay out West for the intervening week if they so choose.

The NFC East teams dropped like flies when it mattered - Philly Voice

However, regular season records didn't translate to squat when the games mattered. One by one, the NFC East teams were eliminated from the playoff contention.

The first was the Philadelphia Eagles, of course, who were "5,000,000-to-one" longshots to make the playoffs heading into their Week 15 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens. They lost on a failed two point conversion attempt, and were gone.

A week passed with no additional carnage, but with their season on the line, the Redskins faced something close to a "win-and-in" scenario when they faced the Giants Week 17. Already locked into the No. 5 seed in the NFC playoffs and having nothing to play for, the Giants were eight point underdogs in Washington. However, rather than rest their starters, the Giants went all out and beat the Redskins 19-10.

Eagles Rookies Made 2016 Count - PhiladelphiaEagles.com

“I think the best way to learn is by getting thrown into the fire to get a feel for the league here,” Vaitai said at the end of the season. “After that first game, I took that to learn from it. After that second game against Minnesota, I felt like I could be here for a little while.”

With the Eagles trading picks to move up in the draft to select Wentz, it was pivotal that the Eagles selected well with the limited number of picks they had left. A prime example is Jalen Mills. Drafted with the 233rd overall pick, Mills played in every single game for the Eagles. He technically started just two games, but he played 661 snaps on defense, 65 percent of the team’s total. Like every rookie, Mills had his ups and downs, but his tenacious play helped endear him to the fans in his first season.

“(I think I proved) that I can play in the NFL,” Mills said. “It’s been a dream of mine ever since I was a little boy, so for sure that was a big thing for me.”

All in all, the Eagles’ youngest players were a huge bright spot in a 7-9 season. The goal is to constantly improve, and that will be the true test for these now-second-year pros. But 2016 was certainly a terrific starting point for this new class of Eagles talent.

“Our rookie class, we did well,” said Mills. “We have a lot to grow on and a lot to get better on, but for sure we improved as a group. I think the more we progress as young guys, the better the team is going to be.”

“I think it’s a great thing,” said fifth-round pick Wendell Smallwood, who rushed for 312 yards in his rookie campaign. “It kind of shows you the future a little bit. We met with all the coaches and they believed this class was a great class. We kind of took our steps toward what we want to be and what this team wants to develop into, so I think young guys coming in and contributing early kind of gives you a little bit of hope.”