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Handing out 10 awards from the Eagles’ regular season - PhillyVoice
With Wentz, the Eagles would likely be touchdown favorites at home on Saturday against the Atlanta Falcons. Without him, they are 2.5-point underdogs as the No. 1 seed, to a No. 6 seed. Any logical person who saw Wentz play this season knows how special of a player he is. There’s almost nothing not to like. He’s 6’5, 240, strong arm, accuracy has become a strength, mobility, ability to throw on the run, incredibly smart, tough, mature, willing to make difficult throws, open to coaching, and his teammates love him. Assuming he doesn’t have injuries plague his career, Wentz’s ceiling is, “Best player in the NFL.” That’s what Eagles fans have to look forward to for the next decade-plus.
Eagles have signs posted all around their facility to remind the team they’re underdogs this week - BGN
Embracing the underdog role.
Know Your Enemy – Atlanta - Iggles Blitz
The Falcons are not a team to be feared, but they sure as hell better be respected. They aren’t playing great football this season. Last year was special. They’ve come back down to Earth, but this group is talented, tough and knows how to win. I think the real key is limiting their running game. Matt Ryan is still capable of having a big game and beating you through the air, but I would take my chances with him. Turn him into a drop-back passer. Make the line pass block. Don’t let them get into a good rhythm and sustain drives. Atlanta was the best 3rd down offense in the league this year.
Eagles’ Brandon Graham plans to play despite high-ankle sprain - ESPN
Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham is recovering from a high-ankle sprain but was a full participant in practice for a second straight day Wednesday and plans on playing in Saturday’s divisional-round game against the Atlanta Falcons. ˇGraham told ESPN he went to see a specialist in North Carolina after injuring the right ankle on Christmas night in a game against the Oakland Raiders. The specialist found no ligament damage, Graham said. ”I feel great and I’m ready to go,” he said.
RB Jay Ajayi Is Fresh And Ready To Rumble - PE.com
A span of 20 days will have passed from the last time running back Jay Ajayi carried a football in a game, December 25 against Oakland, to Saturday’s playoff game against Atlanta. Twenty days. Time off to recover, to become refreshed. Enough time for Ajayi to feel like he’s got all the energy in the world for the Falcons. “I feel good. I’ve been working diligently with the training staff doing my usual routine of just making sure I feel fresh for the games,” Ajayi said on Wednesday at the NovaCare Complex. “It’s been a long season, but I’m only hoping it’s longer than this and we just continue to move forward. “I feel really good, like, I feel really good.”
Can the Eagles be an annual Super Bowl contender? With Carson Wentz, it’s possible - Daily News
“It’s no secret that if you have a player like that at that position, the future is going to look bright,’’ former NFL executive Andrew Brandt said. “You look at the way the 49ers are feeling about their future right now with [Jimmy] Garoppolo. Even with what happened to the Packers this season, you’ve got to believe they think they can be a Super Bowl contender every year as long as they have Rodgers.’’ “It’s everything,’’ Banner said. “It’s why I look at them now and feel they are going to be very good for a long time. “I don’t think [Wentz] is just a good quarterback. I think he’s a huge, difference-making quarterback that people are going to look back on his career and what they were able to do with him and he’ll be talked about with the best quarterbacks.’’
Why Nick Foles enjoys facing schemes like Atlanta’s - NBC Sports Philadelphia
Foles is 3-0 vs. Cover-3 teams, completing 61.9 percent of his passes for 8.0 yards per attempt with five touchdowns and one interception. He amassed those numbers in three different seasons while playing for three different teams. And though two of his three wins were against a hapless Jaguars franchise that went 14-48 under former coach Gus Bradley, Foles also knocked off the Seahawks in 2015 while with the Rams. ”Any time there’s success in a game, it’s where you’re comfortable,” Foles said. “You’re in a rhythm, you’re in the zone, and you’re just seeing your progressions. You have protection up front, your guys are running crisp routes. That’s the big reason any time with a Cover-3 defense you have success.”
Eagles wake-up call: The case for a Nick Foles bounceback performance - The Athletic
One of the strengths of the Eagles coaching staff under Pederson has been its ability to scheme and gameplan for specific opponents. Offensively, the Eagles have faced this type of defense twice this year — against the Los Angeles Chargers and against the Seahawks. They should know how to attack it and be able to give Foles opportunities to hit on big plays. The offensive line has to protect. The run game has to be productive. And the receivers can’t afford costly drops. If those things happen, maybe good Nick shows up, and the Eagles advance to the NFC title game.
2017 PFFELO NFL Power Rankings - The Divisional round - PFF
6) We will soon learn if the gnashing of teeth over Nick Foles’ poor play during the last two games of the season is reason enough to dismiss the first 13 games of the Eagles’ season. With Foles being a paltry 12-of-27 on passes traveling more than 10 yards in the air (and 2-of-12 on passes traveling more than 20 yards), the Eagles will need to rely on their backs and tight ends to generate plays in the passing game this week. Unfortunately, the Falcons have one of the best coverage linebackers in the league in Deion Jones (90.5), who helped neutralized Todd Gurley a week ago in Los Angeles. Throw in the strong play of De’Vondre Campbell (78.4) and Keanu Neal (87.8), and we have a hard time being bullish on the likes of Zach Ertz (fourth among tight ends in yards per route run) and company overcoming the lack of Carson Wentz in this one.
7 Philadelphia Eagles who might be most important to beating the Falcons - PennLive
To win a title, the Eagles would need their best players to make hefty impacts on each postseason game. With Wentz out of the fold, Cox is as dominant and as prominent as anyone in a midnight green jersey. And if the second-team all-pro could cause consistent havoc in the Falcons’ backfield to throw Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan out of rhythm Saturday, the Birds would like their chances of earning a win.
Atlanta needs to improve their starting field position Saturday against the Eagles - The Falcoholic
Here’s a not-so-fun fact you might have already known: The Falcons did a really lousy job of setting up their drives for success in 2017. In fact, they had the worst starting position in football during the regular season, and that only got a little better during the first round of the playoffs. The Falcons have fallen short on offense for many reasons, but one that looms large is their notoriously poor starting field position. The tweet below is a stark reminder of just how much starting field position has impacted this offense, which put up elite numbers when it came to moving down the field, but frequently stalled out in the red zone.
Three key matchups: Falcons at Eagles - The AJC
Falcons LB Deion Jones vs. Eagles RBs Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount: Ajayi and Blount have combined to rush for more than 1,174 yards and three touchdowns. Jones added 10 tackles in the playoffs against the Rams, and the Falcons were able to slow the Rams’ outside rushing attack. The Eagles run with more power and attempt to get downhill quicker. Ajayi had some success powering the ball at the Falcons during Miami’s 20-17 regular-season win. Ajayi rushed 26 times for 130 yards against the Falcons. He was the lone player to rush for more than 100 yards against the Falcons in the regular season.
RPOs and the Evolution of the High-Low Concept - Inside The Pylon
Football has seen fads come and go. The Run-and-shoot. The Wildcat (which lingers but is not as prevalent as it was a few years ago). But some evolutions stick. Those that do often harken back to the core principles of offensive football, such as putting a defender into conflict with a high-low structure. That’s what RPOs do. They stress a defender while simplifying the read process for a quarterback. So these are not simply some passing phase of the game, but designs that incorporate basic tenets of the sport in a new manner. Rather than using two routes to put a defender into conflict, you have the run as the “low,” the route as the “high,” and a quarterback simply going through a progression off of that key defender.
Reports of Oakland looking to raid Alabama coaching staff, front office - Silver And Black Pride
Not long after former Packers personnel man Eliot Wolf turned down the Raiders offer to join their front office in favor of joining the Browns, Michael Lombardi — who was in the Raiders personnel department during Gruden’s tenure in Oakland — said the Raiders are looking at Alabama’s AD of recruiting Ed Marynowitz to join their front office.
NFL playoff picks 2018: Experts have full faith in the Patriots and no one else - SB Nation
Despite not having Carson Wentz, the Eagles still have a couple believers around here. They’ll be facing a Falcons team that has been hot and cold all season, although they’re coming off of a good performance against the Rams. But even with Nick Foles instead of Wentz, the Eagles have the third-best run game in the league and a run defense that gives up fewer than 80 yards per game. Vegas is going with the Falcons in this one, which marks the first time a No. 1 seed has been an underdog heading into the postseason. A majority of our experts believe the Falcons will pull this one off on the road. But make no mistake: This isn’t a virtual bye for Atlanta.
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