Good morning, everyone. Well, we’re just hours away from the 4 p.m. trade deadline. The Eagles made a move late yesterday to beef up their pass rush, acquiring second-year defensive end Genard Avery from the Browns in exchange for a 2021 fourth-round pick. And they might not be done. ESPN insider Chris Mortensen reported yesterday that the Eagles were “taking a shot” at Lions cornerback Darius Slay. But my guess is that what they’re willing to pay for the 28-year-old Slay won’t be enough to pry him away from the Lions. A more affordable option, if they feel they still need cornerback help despite the returns of Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby and the possible return this week of Avonte Maddox, would be the Broncos’ Chris Harris.
What they need more than anything right now, though, is an interior pass rusher to team with Fletcher Cox. Then again, the addition of Avery might mean they plan to slide Brandon Graham inside a lot more. Stay tuned.
— Paul Domowitch (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Asked after the game Sunday what he thought about the fact that the Eagles ran the ball 17 more times than they threw it, Carson Wentz put on his chef’s hat and described the run-heavy game plan as “our recipe.”
“It’s how we want to be,” the Eagles quarterback said. “We want to be able to run the ball. We want to be able to establish the line of scrimmage. And we were able to do that today.”
While the Eagles definitely want to be able to run the ball, the fact of the matter is Sunday’s game plan was largely dictated by the awful weather, which included swirling 25-mph winds that made throwing the football an adventure.
Wentz’s 24 pass attempts were the second fewest of his career. He threw seven screens. Just four of his attempts traveled more than 12 yards in the air. But Wentz was very efficient Sunday. He only threw for 172 yards and one touchdown, but completed 17 of his 24 attempts and didn’t throw an interception for the fifth time in eight games.
On a day when the Eagles rushed for more yards — 218 — than any team Doug Pederson has coached since his days at Calvary Baptist Academy in Shreveport, La., efficient was all they needed from Wentz, just like it was three weeks ago against the Jets. But going forward, if this season has any chance of being special for the Eagles, Wentz is going to need to be a lot more than efficient. He’s going to have to be dynamic. He’s going to have to be the kind of difference-maker he was in 2017 when he was the front-runner for league MVP before tearing up his knee.
Wentz has thrown for more than 200 yards just once in the last five games. He’s thrown just one touchdown pass in three of the last four games. He’s 22nd in the league in yards per attempt (6.9) and 23rd in completion percentage (62.1). And, oh yeah, the Eagles are 4-4. So you might want to rethink that recipe when you play a team better than the Jets or Bills.
He should be getting DeSean Jackson back after the bye, which will help, assuming Jackson can stay healthy for longer than a couple of minutes. Wentz connected on 51- and 53-yard scoring bombs to Jackson in their one and only game together before Jackson got hurt.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that the Eagles shouldn’t run the ball a lot. They should. Especially when they get the lead. But there’s a reason the Eagles signed Wentz to a $128 million contract extension in June, and it wasn’t to hand the ball off. It wasn’t to be efficient.
“We just want to establish the line of scrimmage,” Wentz said after Sunday’s game. “The big guys up front that we have, that’s one of their biggest strengths — establishing the line of scrimmage.
“And I think everything else that we do, from the play-actions, from the bootlegs, the nakeds, all of that stems from those guys controlling the line of scrimmage. So to be able to come in here and control it the way we did was huge for us.”
It was. But there are going to be days like others this season, when the offensive line won’t be able to dominate the line of scrimmage, and the run game will struggle, and Wentz will need to grab the offense by the scruff of the neck and do what he did in 2017.
Has the organization or head coach given any thought to replacing Mack Hollins with Greg Ward on the active game day roster? — @FrancisGDavis via Twitter
I don’t know whether anyone in the organization has given it a lot of thought, Francis, but I definitely have. I understand why they like Hollins. He’s 5 inches taller and 30 pounds heavier than the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Ward. He might be their best blocking wide receiver, which they feel is important in their 11-personnel (three wide receiver) packages.
He’s an exceptional special teams player, though he’s only playing a handful of special teams snaps these days. But wide receivers are paid to catch the football, and Hollins isn’t catching it. In the last four games, he has played 183 offensive snaps and has no receptions. None. Zero, zip, zilch. That’s unacceptable.
Ward had an exceptional preseason, but was cut by the Eagles for the third straight year and signed to their practice squad. The former University of Houston quarterback has played in just one game this season (Week 3 vs. the Lions) and has spent the rest of the year on the practice squad. I’m not suggesting Ward is a future All-Pro. But given the lack of production the Eagles have gotten from the wide receiver position since DeSean Jackson got hurt in Week 2, why wouldn’t you give this kid a shot?