Good morning, Eagles fans! I know you’re still out there. Sunday’s stunning defeat was brutal, but it was only Week 1. Here’s a positive way at looking at an 0-1 start: Maybe the Eagles got their annual ugly loss out of the way. The Rams are next on the schedule, and they look legit after beating the Cowboys, 20-17, in their opener.
The Eagles made a bevy of moves Tuesday: They placed defensive end Vinny Curry (hamstring) and cornerback Craig James (thigh) on injured reserve. (They can each return as soon as three weeks.) They promoted guard Sua Opeta off the practice squad and to the 53-man roster. They signed tight end Jordan Franks to the practice squad.
And they poached guard Jamon Brown from the Bears' practice squad and signed him to their roster. The 27-year-old has 47 career NFL starts and could be competition for Nate Herbig at right guard. Injuries have been an issue on the offensive line, but the Eagles are clearly not satisfied with their depth. The unit faces another stiff challenge with Aaron Donald and the Rams D-line coming to town.
— Jeff McLane (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Jack Driscoll said what every backup is programmed to say when asked about the possibility of starting: He prepared as if he was the starter.
“It’s easier to stay ready,” the rookie offensive lineman said, "than to get ready.”
True. But there’s a significant difference between acting like you’re the starter and finding out you’re the starter 90 minutes before your first NFL game. And that’s exactly what happened to Driscoll when Lane Johnson’s ankle wasn’t deemed healthy enough for the right tackle to suit up for Sunday’s opener at Washington.
The Eagles' fourth-round draft pick didn’t even learn that he was the top reserve until late last week. He said he split practice repetitions, and while he didn’t reveal any names, Matt Pryor and Jordan Mailata were also candidates to start. Pryor was also in the mix at right guard, but he lost out to Herbig.
The piecemeal offensive line struggled in the Eagles' 27-17 loss to Washington. There were individual breakdowns, but a lot of issues for the unit stemmed from a lack of practice time together. Washington’s defensive line is a strength, and coordinator Jack Del Rio “brought a lot of exotic stuff,” per Driscoll, to the rush with various stunts, twists and blitzes.
Carson Wentz was sacked eight times and hit a total of 14 times, and the Eagles coughed up a 17-point lead to a division rival that isn’t expected to be very good this season. Despite the O-line’s rough day, Driscoll showed he could perform at this level.
“The first two snaps are always big, settle down, get the nerves out of your system, and get adjusted to the speed. That was good,” Driscoll said Tuesday. That first series “helped me know personally that, hey, I can play with these guys. I belong here.”
Driscoll earned early raves in camp, but it seemed unlikely he would end up ahead of Pryor and Mailata, who have two more years of NFL experience. But the former Auburn player has displayed quick feet, athleticism and a quick understanding of the nuances of the Eagles offense and opposing defenses.
He isn’t yet ready to overpower and move defensive linemen. But at 6-foot-5, 312 pounds, he appears versatile enough to play tackle or guard.
“I did a few things well," Driscoll said when asked how Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland graded his first game, "but I need to continue to improve on a lot of aspects of my game.”
Driscoll left late in the third quarter with an unspecified injury. He eventually ran back onto the sideline, but the Eagles stayed with his replacement, Mailata, for the rest of the game. Driscoll said he felt fine Tuesday. Johnson should be ready to go by Sunday’s follow-up against the Rams at home.
If not, a healthy Driscoll will likely get the nod again. He’s ready because he’s actually experienced starting.
“It definitely helps because knowing what to expect,” Driscoll said. “Games always are different than practice in the sense that how fast things happen.”
Where was JJAW Sunday? Thought he had such a great camp? But couldn’t get on the field in a real game. — G Man, @BigPapiG2702 via Twitter
G Man, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside played. He just didn’t do much in terms of catching the ball. He was on the field for 28 of 68 snaps but wasn’t targeted once by Wentz. The second-year receiver isn’t going to be the No. 1 option on many pass plays, but you’d think he’d see at least one attempt. But it was pretty much the same old, same old in Week 1.
Arcega-Whiteside played a bunch as a rookie, but Wentz often wasn’t looking his way. He appeared more polished in camp. He had lost some weight and said that his development made this year as opposed to last feels like night and day. But I was cautious in my practice notes about how much of an impact he would have. The Eagles have a lot of mouths to feed on offense, and Arcega-Whiteside is low on the pecking order behind Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, DeSean Jackson, Miles Sanders, and probably even rookies Jalen Reagor and John Hightower.
Arcega-Whiteside’s strength is supposed to be on jump balls, but that skill doesn’t exactly play to Wentz’s preferences. He typically likes to go to guys who can get separation. Wentz and the similarly skilled Alshon Jeffery have never developed that kind of chemistry, either.