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Eagles’ Vinny Curry brought the rush with NFC East on the line. Can he do it again? | Early Birds

The defensive end has strung together a couple nice games against division rivals. He’ll be happy to see Giants offensive tackle Nate Solder, whom he abused earlier this month.

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is sacked by Vinny Curry late in the fourth quarter on Sunday.
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is sacked by Vinny Curry late in the fourth quarter on Sunday.Read moreHEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer

Good morning, Eagles fans. Merry Christmas Eve and happy second day of Hanukkah. Still buzzing from Sunday’s win? No one can blame you. The Eagles will begin preparing for the New York Giants today before taking Wednesday off to spend time around family. We’ll be doing the same, so no need to anxiously check your email between opening presents on Christmas. I’ll be back in your inbox on Thursday, though.

Today we’ll talk about Vinny Curry, who has strung together a couple of nice games against division rivals. He’ll be happy to see Giants offensive tackle Nate Solder, whom he abused earlier this month. More on that later.

If you like what you’re reading, tell your friends it’s free to sign up here​. I want to know what you think, what we should add, and what you want to read, so send me feedback by email or on Twitter @EJSmith94.

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Hot Curry

Just after the two-minute warning of the Eagles-Cowboys showdown on Sunday, Vinny Curry delivered one of the biggest plays of his career.

With the Cowboys at the Birds’ 19-yard line, Curry got to Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott and brought him down, forcing the Cowboys into a third-and-8. Two plays later, Sidney Jones knocked away a fourth-and-8 pass to ice the game and give the Eagles first place in the NFC East with one game to play for a playoff berth.

When a reporter asked him if it was the biggest sack of his career, Curry said he wasn’t sure.

“I’m not sure,” Curry said. “You think so? You got some critical jawns in Philly. … I got one something like this a couple years ago.”

In 2014, Curry sacked Tony Romo, forcing a fumble in the Cowboys’ red zone that led to a LeSean McCoy touchdown, but the Eagles lost the game, 38-27, and eventually missed the playoffs even though they went 10-6. Due to the end result, Curry’s sack on Sunday likely edges the previous one as the best ever.

Curry has put together a solid string of games, with four of his five sacks this season coming in the last four weeks. Perhaps his favorite Christmas present will be what lies ahead, though. When the Eagles face the Giants at MetLife Stadium this Sunday, Curry will be lined up opposite Giants tackle Nate Solder once again. In the teams’ matchup in Week 14, Curry had two sacks against Solder, who signed with the Giants on a four-year, $62 million deal in 2018.

He has played 12 games against the Giants in his career, and has five sacks, including a pair of games in which he had two sacks.

Curry said the hot stretch for him doesn’t yield extra confidence, though.

“I’ve been the same person since forever [ago,]” Curry said. “I never get up, I never get down. Maybe in the beginning. … At the end of the day, we all know what type of player I am. What you see is what you get. I just try to embrace the opportunity and play hard.”

What you need to know about the Eagles

  1. The Eagles are hoping to get Jordan Howard back into the fold this season, so they released Jay Ajayi, who hasn’t played much. Les Bowen writes about what could come next.

  2. It’s still hard to imagine this Eagles team making a run to the Super Bowl, but a playoff run would be beneficial for Carson Wentz’s development, Bowen writes.

  3. Jeff McLane offers his weekly postgame takeaways, which includes a definitive answer on how Carson Wentz’s season should be viewed.

  4. While you’re reading about the Cowboys game, be sure to review Paul Domowitch’s five reasons the Eagles left the Linc with a win.

  5. Zach Ertz finished Sunday’s game with a fractured rib. I round up the injury situation heading into this week of practice.

  6. The Eagles may win the NFC East, but their situation at tackle on the offensive line is tenuous at best, Mike Sielski writes.

  7. If the Eagles win the division, they will play the loser of Sunday night’s 49ers-Seahawks game in the first round of the playoffs.

  8. ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith may be the happiest man alive after the Cowboys loss. He spent the day trolling Dallas fans, as Rob Tornoe details.

  9. Also from Tornoe: ESPN analyst trashes his colleague’s bad takes about the Eagles and Carson Wentz

From the mailbag

Hey EJ. What’s the Eagles receiving corps going to look like next season? While Birds would seemingly like to move on from Alshon his dead cap number is massive. — David Eldreth (@daveeldreth) via Twitter.

Thanks for the question, David. You are correct about Alshon Jeffery’s contract situation. The team would take a $26.106 million salary-cap hit if it were to cut him before June 1. Trading him would be better, but that’s not really an option as he’s recovering from a Lisfranc foot injury that required surgery. Optimistically speaking, he’ll be sidelined for nine months. Given all these details, I am going to wave the white flag on predicting the Jeffery situation with a lot of authority. It’s very likely the team wants to move on from him, and if anyone can maneuver the cap to make it work, it’ll be Howie Roseman, especially considering the cap is expected to go up. Let’s assume they can move on from him for right now, though.

I think the Eagles will be letting Nelson Agholor walk in free agency this offseason. I’d imagine there will be interest in him, but it might be mutually beneficial for the two parties to split up. Agholor was a major contributor to the 2017 Super Bowl run, but the rest of his Eagles tenure has been rocky. The team might try to move on from DeSean Jackson, too, but it’s daunting to think of letting go of three wideouts, especially with two under contract for next season. I think Jackson could be productive, especially if he’s not relied upon to be a main guy like he was this year. The Eagles can’t go into next season with him as the only speed at the position, but if they have depth, I think he can still be a good player.

If Jackson returns and Agholor and Jeffery are gone, the Eagles would have J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Greg Ward under contract alongside the 33-year-old Jackson. They could — arguably they should — draft a receiver in the first round of the next draft, and they shouldn’t stop there. If they could add speed on the perimeter in the first round and a developmental player for depth later in the draft, they’d be in decent shape. There aren’t a ton of great options at receiver in free agency. I would steer clear of guys like A.J. Green or Larry Fitzgerald even if they’re available. Green is old and injured, the team needs to stop going after those guys. Fitzgerald, 36, may not even play another season. If he does, it’s hard to picture the Cardinals letting him sign elsewhere.

If you go into next season with Ward, Jackson, Arcega-Whiteside, a player like Ceedee Lamb or Henry Ruggs, and another rookie wideout providing depth, it’s a decent makeover of the position. Maybe you bring Rob Davis or Marken Michel back to compete for a roster spot, too. A group like this wouldn’t be the most dynamic in the league, but the Eagles’ offense is predicated far more on production from tight ends and running backs, and they’re winning that way. Plus, they’re one late-round hit on a wide receiver from making the group viable. It happens, just look at Washington receiver Terry McLaurin and Giants wideout Darius Slayton this season, both guys drafted in the middle rounds, but both having very good seasons and looking like long-term answers.