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Eagles News: Philadelphia’s X-factor for the playoffs

Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 1/14/22.

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2021 NFL playoffs: X-factor for each of the 14 teams -
DALLAS GOEDERT: The Eagles’ sticky-fingered tight end is a crafty pass catcher with a knack for finding holes over the middle of the field. Goedert could play a huge role in the playoffs with opponents intent on taking away Philadelphia’s outside weapons (DeVonta Smith and Quez Watkins) to force Jalen Hurts to throw into traffic between the hashes. The 6-5, 256-pounder is a polished route runner with receiver-like skills, and his ability to get open could be a true difference-maker in a playoff game.

The element Goedert wanted to take from Gronk’s game - NBCSP
But there is one part of Gronk’s game that Goedert really admires, it’s his physicality. “That’s probably my favorite thing, when he gets the ball in his hand, what he does with it,” Goedert said. “Defenders don’t want to tackle him. He’s looking to make the defenders punished. That’s something I feel I took out of his book into mine. And that’s kind of what I pride myself when I get the ball in my hand as well.” Yeah, there are some similarities there. Gronkowski is listed at 6-6, 265 pounds and Goedert is listed at 6-5, 256, and they are both pretty tough to bring down. In fact, they are tied for the league in broken tackles among tight ends with nine apiece, one more than George Kittle and Travis Kelce.

Eagles rookie storylines entering the Buccaneers playoff game - BGN
Can DeVonta Smith bring his postseason dominance to the NFL? One of the most amazing things about DeVonta Smith in college was that he shined under the brightest lights. Across nine postseason games in college, DeVonta Smith caught 54 passes that went for 825 yards and 11 touchdowns. In the last three postseason games at Alabama, DeVonta Smith caught 34 passes for 529 yards and eight touchdowns. Needless to say, he is used to performing well in high pressure situations. But the NFL is undoubtedly a different level. The Buccaneers feature a stingy secondary that held DeVonta Smith to two catches in the teams’ first meeting back in October. On one end, DeVonta Smith will need to make the most of his targets in this game, but on the other… the Eagles need to trust in their young receiver to deliver in a big game and Get. Him. The. Ball.

The Eagles vs. Buccaneers Playoff Preview Podcast - BGN Radio
The biggest game of the Eagles’ season is here! Brandon Lee Gowton and Jimmy Kempski talk through key matchups, top reasons for encouragement/concern, confidence levels in Jalen Hurts/Nick Sirianni, potential X-factors, and more. The guys also check in on where Doug Pederson might land, Carson Wentz’s collapse, and how the Eagles could potentially get even more draft picks. Finally, BLG and Jimmy go on the record with their predictions and picks for all the NFC playoff games. It’s a jam-packed episode that you won’t want to miss!

NFL playoff bracket predictions: Picking winners for each game, including the final Super Bowl 2022 score - ESPN
Here’s a list of quarterbacks the Eagles have beaten this season: Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold, Jake Fromm, Garrett Gilbert, Jared Goff, Taylor Heinicke, Matt Ryan, Trevor Siemian and Zach Wilson. We’re looking at four backups, a guy who was benched, two players who were salary dumped this offseason, a struggling top-three pick and Ryan. When Tom Brady faced this secondary in Week 6, he went 34 of 42 with 297 yards in a game the Bucs led 28-7 before two late Philly scores. That game preceded Philadelphia’s midseason awakening to run the ball more with Jalen Hurts at quarterback, a shift it was able to pull off in part because its schedule got much easier. I don’t love the Eagles’ matchup against one of the league’s best run defenses, especially with Hurts possibly slowed by an ankle injury. When the Bucs played the Saints’ quarterback run-heavy offense a few weeks back, they held Taysom Hill & Co. to 61 yards on 21 carries. New Orleans still won, but it needed to shut out the Bucs to do so. I don’t like Philly’s chances of repeating that feat. Prediction: Bucs 34, Eagles 10.

Everybody loves Darius Slay, the key to the Eagles defense who never shuts up - The Athletic
“That guy’s energy is very genuine, very real,” safety Anthony Harris said. “He’s consistently like that. It’s not just on the field, in the locker room. Whenever I’ve had the opportunity to be around him, that’s just been him.” “You would think a guy who talks and runs his mouth as much as he does would have more enemies,” NFL Network analyst Nate Burleson said. “Everybody loves him.” This weekend, against Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl-champion Buccaneers, the Eagles need Slay to be loud. Good thing they’ve embraced his voice.

Tom Brady wasn’t aware Eagles fans remain miffed he didn’t shake hands with Nick Foles - PFT
“No, I’m not,” Brady said. “I’m not.” (Brady’s demeanor was eerily similar to Ryan’s when denying that he left a certain package on Michael Scott’s carpet.) “I’ve shaken Nick’s hand plenty of times, though,” Brady added. “So I have a lot of respect for Nick. I try to be a good sport as best I can. I know it doesn’t always look like that, because sometimes I get a little pissed out there. But for the most part I try to be a good sport.” Brady may have shaken hands with Foles after victories by Brady’s team. However, when Foles and the Bears beat Brady in the notorious “fourth down?” game, Brady once again sidestepped a postgame handshake. Foles won’t be there this time, obviously. If the Eagles stun the Bucs, will Brady shake hands with Jalen Hurts? We’ll see.

Why Steelers are the NFL’s Meme Team - Football Outsiders
Highest-Scoring Team of Wild-Card Weekend. The Chiefs are favorites at +350. But we like the Buccaneers at +400: their top-ranked offensive DVOA is facing the Eagles’ 25th-ranked defensive DVOA. The Bucs’ absences at the skill positions make this a risky play, but that’s balanced here in greater Philly by the consolation value if the Eagles get whupped.

Behind the scenes of Philadelphia Eagles’ new end gun violence campaign - 6ABC
Action News first showed the Philadelphia Eagles’ new ad to combat the growing violence in Philadelphia last week. Now, 6abc is getting a behind-the-scenes look at what went into making the campaign. “We wanted to focus on this idea of enough keeping score, where the players were coming out of their uniforms, talking about the things they’re talking about in the locker rooms and really supporting the community,” said creative director Brian Anderson. Anderson says their message really wanted to address the surging murder rate gripping Philadelphia streets.

Colts’ GM Chris Ballard Noncommittal on Quarterback Carson Wentz for 2022 Season - Stampede Blue
Ballard met with Wentz Wednesday to discuss how the season ended. He told Wentz, “Make the layups. Just make the layups.” When referring to the team in general, Ballard also emphasized the importance of having stable quarterback play. “We’ve got a lot of good players and a lot of good pieces. You’ve got to have stability at the quarterback position, and he has to play up to his potential.” Ballard also noted that Wentz’s cap hit won’t have much bearing on the team’s decision this offseason. For context, Wentz’s cap hit for the 2022 season is $28.3 million. If Indy were to cut him, they could save $13.3 million, and the dead cap hit would be $15 million. One of Ballard’s more telling quotes came after he spoke on not wanting to ‘keep bandaid-ing the quarterback position.’ “I’d like Carson to be a long term answer. But sometimes it doesn’t work out that way,” Ballard said.

Carson Wentz in Indianapolis: Where do the Colts go from here? - TouchdownWire
First, we have seen the limitations of offenses that have to rely heavy on play-action to be successful. When the quarterback is forced to work outside of that structure, to rely more on traditional dropbacks, there can be problems. On throws without play-action this season, Wentz posted an adjusted completion percentage of 72.0. That ranked him 25th in the league among qualified passers, ahead of just Baker Mayfield, Jalen Hurts, Trevor Lawrence, Russell Wilson (!) and Taylor Heinicke. Hurts, Mayfield and Lawrence are quarterbacks on their rookie deals, and Heinicke is a veteran who began the year as a backup. The Wilson question? We will put that to the side for the time being. Wentz, on the other hand, played for a base salary of $22 million this season with another $6.3 million in roster bonuses coming his way. Again, as we have seen with offenses that build the entire plane — or at least the bulk of it out of play-action — there are limitation. Ceilings to what the offense can do, and perhaps developmental ceilings put in place by the schemes themselves. Now, that can be overcome, and teams running these systems can be successful. But there are two more issues with Wentz that remain problematic. QB “non-negotiables” that linger with him as he looks ahead to his seventh NFL season. Decision-making, and ball placement. Wentz, in some ways, is a human roller coaster of a quarterback.

Vikings request to interview Catherine Raiche for GM job - Daily Norseman
According to Schefter, she is believed to be the most senior-ranking female executive in the NFL. If the Vikings were to hire her, she would be the second woman in NFL history to hold a General Manager position, following Susan Tose Spencer, who was the GM for the Eagles from 1983 to 1985.

Giants head coaching job “at the top” of Brian Flores’ list, per report - Big Blue View
Both Ed and I included Flores in our lists of head coaching candidates. And from a purely “Giants” perspective, hiring Flores would mean a chance to keep Patrick Graham for another season. Hiring Flores isn’t a slam dunk, however. One of the challenges of hiring a defensive-minded head coach is that he has to absolutely nail the offensive coordinator position. Frankly, offensive football is more consistent and just plain more important than defensive football in the modern NFL. If the Giants want to be consistently competitive, they need to field an offense that can be functional, and competitive, in the context of the modern NFL. There’s also the questions about intangibles. Flores was reportedly fired over power struggles and personality conflicts. I can’t speak to that, but whoever the new GM hires needs to not only be a great coach, but also someone with whom the GM shares a vision and can work.

Sources: The Cowboys have signed Will McClay to another deal taking him off the GM market - Blogging The Boys
In the past it seemed like the Dallas Cowboys were in danger of losing one of their most important people to another team every offseason. It wasn’t a player or a coach, but Vice President of Player Personnel Will McClay. Owner Jerry Jones also holds the title of General Manager for the Dallas organization, so it was impossible for McClay to become a full-fledged general manager in Dallas. Because of this, almost every offseason in recent history his name would come up in talks when other teams were trying to hire a new general manager. This year, McClay’s name didn’t come up, but that might be because the Jones family was opening the checkbook for McClay to remain in Dallas. Today we learned that McClay has signed another deal to stay with the Cowboys. While Jerry Jones is the GM, much of the work on the draft and free agency goes through McClay, and the Cowboys have had big success over the years in the draft.

Josh Allen’s secret playoff weapon could be Viagra - SB Nation
It’s going to be a hard week for Josh Allen as the Bills host the Patriots in zero degree weather on Sunday night, but Bart Scott has a suggestion to make it even harder. During a conversation about Allen having circulatory issues when it’s cold on Get Up (which I promise is an unintended pun), the former Jets’ linebacker let loose on a little secret.

The Look Ahead #72: Previewing Wild Card Weekend - The SB Nation NFL Show
Rob “Stats” Guerrera and RJ Ochoa take deep dives into all of Saturday and Sunday’s playoff games. Why Raiders Bengals might be the most fun game of the weekend. Patriots Bills is like the early days of the Brady Manning rivalry. Do the Eagles have a puncher’s chance against the Eagles? Mike McCarthy seeks revenge against the 49ers. Why there is Big Loser Energy coming off of Big Ben?


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