Good morning, Eagles fans. The Eagles’ newest one-week season features a road game against Washington, and the team will hit the practice field in earnest for the first time this afternoon. There are a few major differences between the Washington team you saw in Week 1 and the team the Eagles are preparing for now. It has a new coach, new starting quarterback, and several new players playing key roles.
Carson Wentz will meet with reporters tomorrow around 12:30, so be sure to keep an eye out for updates. Some players will be available to talk after practice, and Doug Pederson speaks tomorrow.
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If you have any lingering concerns about the Eagles’ secondary after Monday night’s game against the New York Giants, no one could blame you. The group seemed to find its stride for about a month earlier this season, but the last two weeks against the Miami Dolphins and the Giants have left something to be desired.
Ronald Darby drew the ire of Eagles fans during the Giants game, giving up two touchdowns to rookie wide receiver Darius Slayton. On the first touchdown, Darby failed to make a tackle short of the sticks on third-and-13, resulting in a 35-yard score in the second quarter.
When asked about the play, Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz shouldered the blame, giving an interesting perspective on how he was approaching the third down.
“That first touchdown is 100 percent on me,” Schwartz said. "We had a third-and-13, I’m trying go keep [the Giants] out of field-goal range there. It looks like it’s going to be a low-scoring game, we have some weather situations coming in and maybe points are going to be at a premium. I don’t want to let them get five yards or seven yards to get into field-goal range.
“Generally, I don’t really care too much about field goals. But if we’re in zone defense there and we have more guys at [the receiver], they make a 10-yard gain and kick a field goal, and all of a sudden we lose by three, you’re sitting there saying ‘Man, we should have been more aggressive to try to get them out of field-goal range in that situation.’”
Anticipating a tight ball game, Schwartz dialed up a blitz, and Eli Manning made a great play, leading Slayton away from Darby’s tackle and into an open field since there was no safety help over the top.
It’s not only an interesting glimpse into Schwartz’s in-game decision-making, but it’s also illustrative of how good coaches evaluate the process of choosing plays. Perhaps Schwartz was just protecting Darby from public scrutiny with his comments, but it’s also possible he understands the strengths and weaknesses of his personnel and calls games accordingly, as a good coach would.
Schwartz’s blitz left Darby on an island, trying to make a tackle on slick turf. Yes, Darby should have been able to get Slayton to the ground, but Schwartz didn’t put the cornerback in the best position to succeed, and he acknowledged it. Midway through the second quarter, the Eagles started playing more zone, sometimes with two safeties over the top, which Schwartz said was due to the wet ground making it hard for the defensive backs to cover man-to-man.
Schwartz said on Slayton’s first touchdown: “We blitzed, we played man, the field was slippery and he’s coming in for an interception. ... I view that 100 percent on me.”
What you need to know about the Eagles
The Eagles had Greg Ward and Boston Scott under their noses all season, so what took them so long to add them to the offense? Marcus Hayes ponders what the front office was missing.
Speaking of the two practice squad call-ups turned heroes, the Eagles sure could use a few more of those guys now that Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor are hobbled, Les Bowen writes.
Also from Bowen: Agholor, who missed Monday night’s game with a knee injury, said he’s been hurt since the team’s Week 7 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
From the mailbag
Which WRs will we see on Sunday? — Luna (@LunaTuukka) via Twitter.
Thanks for the question, Luna. Barring an unforeseen practice injury, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Greg Ward will be out there once again. From there, everything is less certain. The Eagles didn’t practice Wednesday, but they issued an injury report based on who they would have expected to miss practice. Nelson Agholor was listed as a nonparticipant on that list. If he can play, the Eagles would need at least one receiver, if not, they would be wise to add two wideouts.
Everyone is well aware they have three receivers currently on the practice squad. This is purely my guess, but I would imagine they add one of the practice squad receivers this week, and see where Agholor is at by Saturday, and make a move if they have to. I won’t guess which player they call up, because they see those guys every day in practice, and I don’t. They could try to get by with three wideouts again, especially since Zach Ertz and Josh Perkins can line up in the slot, but I think the coaching staff and front office learned their lesson against the Giants.