When Eagles kicker Jake Elliott’s attempt at a 53-yard, third-quarter field goal fell just short Sunday at Washington, it was surprising, given that Elliott has ten 50-yard-plus field goals to his credit in 48 games. It seemed as though maybe fate was punishing the Eagles, given that Carson Wentz had just backed up into a 13-yard sack on third down.
There was more to the story, special teams coordinator Dave Fipp said Tuesday. The sack led to confusion on the sideline over where the ball would be placed, Fipp said, and whether the Eagles should kick or punt.
“At first, I thought they were spotting the ball at the 38-yard line,” Fipp said in a Zoom call with reporters. “So I’m thinking, ‘That’s a 56-yard field goal, that’s right on the edge of his range,' [the] wind had really turned — not that it was really strong, but just a little bit back into us, going that way, at that point in the game.”
Fipp said that in relaying that information to Doug Pederson, “I think I jammed him up, to be honest with you.”
Fipp said Pederson then told him the ball was being spotted on the 35.
“So then, I’m like, ‘Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah — go! go! go!’ So then [the field-goal team] got out there late. ... If you look real close, it probably wasn’t our best snap and hold. And that all has an effect on the thing.”
Fipp said Elliott “is hitting the ball as well as I’ve seen him hit it since I’ve been here.”
Elliott hit a 38-yarder in the first quarter.
Roster moves, and building Sweat equity
The Eagles placed defensive end Vinny Curry (hamstring) and special teams captain Craig James (thigh) on injured reserve, which this year means they must miss at least three weeks. They added Chicago Bears practice squad offensive lineman Jamon Brown to their 53-man roster and promoted practice squad offensive lineman, Sua Opeta to the roster. They also added former Bengals tight end Jordan Franks to their practice squad.
It seems likely that seventh-round rookie defensive end Casey Toohill and/or perennial training camp standout defensive end Joe Ostman will take the fieldSunday against the Rams. Ostman was among the four practice-squad players the team deigned to protect this week, along with wide receiver Deontay Burnett, defensive tackle T.Y. McGill, and cornerback Trevor Williams.
“We have other guys. We’ll see where all those guys get to. It’s only Monday, as far as injuries go,” defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said, meaning Tuesday was the first day of the practice week. Schwartz had been asked about depth at defensive end. “We’ll see where our guys that missed this last game trend. We’ll have a good plan come Sunday.”
With Brandon Graham in the concussion protocol and Derek Barnett (hamstring) not having practiced fully since early in training camp, Josh Sweat suddenly has a more prominent role in the DE rotation.
Sweat, a fourth-round pick in 2018, quietly increased his role last season and followed up with an excellent training camp. Against Washington, Sweat played 70% of the defensive snaps and recorded the highest performance rating on the team, 91.9, from Pro Football Focus. His 2.3-second strip sack of Dwayne Haskins was the fastest sack in the NFL in Week 1.
“He’s one of our most-improved players,” Schwartz said. “I thought Vinny was playing really well in this game. The combination with those guys, keeping a good rotation, trying to keep all those guys fresh, was working out pretty well. Sweat was able to come in on some third downs and be fresh, look speedy and explosive. It was a hot game. There were a couple times we were back on the field after one play. It was important to stay fresh in that game.”