Eagles’ Wentz, Sanders, Graham, Mills react to tie against Bengals

They say in the NFL that a tie is like kissing your sister, and on Sunday, both the Cincinnati Bengals(0-2-1) and the Philadelphia Eagles(0-2-1) kissed their sisters. For the second time in their all-time series, the Bengals and Eagles ended a game in a tie. The last time these two teams ended a game in a tie was in 2008 when the Bengals and Eagles finished the game tied at 13. This time around, al Lincoln Financial Field, the two teams ended the game tied at 23.

Both teams came into the game winless, and both teams left the game winless. After the tie, Philly’s Carson Wentz, Miles Sanders, Jalen Mills, and Brandon Graham reacted.

Miles Sanders:

“Man, right off the bat, okay. I don’t see it as bad or good. Both teams have to look at the film and just see what we could have done better to get a W.”

Brandon Graham:

“For me, I am not happy about it. But I am more proud of how we fought in the end because the goal line stance to keep them to three, that was big. We could have easily folded right there. We could have been talking about a loss right now. I look at it that we have a lot of work to do, but at the end of the day, we are going to stay together. I am not really worried about it. I know the Bengals were going to come in, and they were going to fight. Every team we match up against, they are going to fight. There are no easy wins and no easy games. I just love that we stuck together through all the stuff that happened. We just messed up in the end. We can’t do that.”

Jalen Mills: 

“At that point, say we do try to kick a field goal, and we miss. Now that team has the opportunity to get field position back, and there’s still time on the clock, and maybe they get in a position to kick a field goal, and we do take the loss. There’s a lot of different ways the scenario could have went. At the end of the day, I mean we tied, and we just have to live with that. Come in on Tuesday, watch the film, look at the mistakes. Because at this point, you don’t care about any good that we did. The result wasn’t what we wanted. Look at the mistakes – offense, defense, special teams – and get them corrected.”

Carson Wentz:

“I don’t think I’ve ever been in a tie, so it’s just kind of an awkward way to end the game. [It’s] frustrating when you have a chance there to kick the [game-winning] field goal. Even with our drive offensively, a couple times, we felt we were in field goal range, and we had plays [then] we had penalties and things just kept backing us up. The fight was there; the effort was there from guys. We just have to play smarter, play cleaner. I have to be better, as well. It was a frustrating way to end the game, for sure.”

Eagles’ Pederson: ‘I’m still going to maintain the aggressiveness’

Eagles QB Carson Wentz started fast against Washington and had Philadelphia up 17-0 in the second quarter. However, near the end of the first half, he threw an interception that set up Washington’s first touchdown. In the third quarter, with the Eagles up 17-7, Wentz threw his second pick, which set up another Washington touchdown. 

Wentz(24-42, 270 yards, 2 TDs, 2 ints) and the Eagles would not score another point and would fall to Washington 27-17  at FedEx Field on Sunday. On Monday, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson talked Wentz’s interception before the half.

“After looking at the tape, it’s kind of how I felt and what I saw, live and in-person yesterday in the game,” Pederson said. “We just missed. We missed on a throw. The throw was — came out of his hand after watching the tape kind of slowing things down. Looked like it came out of his hand, ball could have slipped a little bit coming out of his hand. It was left inside. So it happens. Those are things that are going to happen. Especially when it’s warm, and it just is part of the game. It’s just going to take place.”

Many felt the Eagles were too aggressive against Washington, especially right before halftime when Wentz’s pick helped Washington score their first points of the game, but according to Pederson, Philadelphia will continue to stay aggressive.

“As far as the aggressiveness goes, I’m still going to maintain the aggressiveness,” Pederson said. “Look, as I said this morning, a 17-0 lead or a 27-10 lead, in any football game in this league is not enough, and you have to continue to maintain aggressiveness. You have to — especially when you have momentum, right, and it’s kind of on your side. You’ve got to use that to your advantage, and my thinking at that time, too, was to try to get points before half with the ball to start the third quarter. We’ve done that many times here where we’ve scored and then come out and scored touchdowns to start the third quarter. That’s a lot of my mindset in these games.”

Another issue in Philadelphia’s 27-17 loss to Washington was the offensive line, which surrendered eight sacks. At times, Wentz did not have a lot of time, and sometimes, Wentz held the ball too long, which Pederson addressed.

“We still have to continue to address him(Wentz) and to address those issues,” he said. “It’s part of the football game. We just have to keep talking that it’s okay to throw the ball away. It’s okay to dirt the ball on a screen pass or something of that nature and look; it’s something that we’ve just got to continue working through. There is a fine line, obviously, as we know, between the aggressiveness, but at the same time, we want to be smart.”

The Eagles’ offensive line has to play better. Hopefully, they can get RT Lane Johnson back next week against the Rams, and Wentz has to get the ball out quicker if he wants to last for the whole season. If those things don’t happen, it could be a long season for the Eagles.

 

 

Eagles’ Pederson is confident Peters can transition to guard

Jason Peters is back with the Eagles. The 38-year-old Peters signed a one-year deal to return for his 17th season(12th with Philly) in the league. However, without Pro Bowl guard Brandon Brooks(Achilles), and with LT Andre Dillard in place, Philadelphia needs Peters to slide over to the guard spot. The nine-time Pro Bowler, who played in 13 games in 2019, made his mark at tackle, but now, he must learn a new position.

According to Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, Peters should be able to make the transition to guard with minimal issues. 

“We had many conversations with Jason,” Pederson said during a video call on Monday. “We took a look at our roster obviously and felt that where Jason is and the type of player he is, obviously his leadership on the football team, that the transition would be relatively easy. I’m not going to say it’s going to be easy, but relatively easy, for him being a veteran guy moving into that guard spot, and quite frankly, we love where Andre is at. He’s had a tremendous off-season.”

Former Eagles OT Tra Thomas recently gave his thoughts on Peters to guard. According to Thomas, it won’t be easy.

“The skill isn’t the problem, it’s the wear and tear on the body,” Thomas told 97.3 ESPN Radio “If you are getting beat up out there playing defensive ends, you’re definitely going to get beat up playing offensive guard when you’re dealing with defensive tackles.”

“Everyone just thinks you can mix-and-match and just move around – it’s not that easy, to just move to different positions like that,” Thomas stressed. “Especially when you have been in a left-handed stance for so long, its takes a long-time to get that muscle memory to change.”

It’s going to be challenging to replace Brooks, but the Eagles are banking on Peters to get the job done. Time will tell if that is the right move.

Eagles’ Brandon Brooks tears Achilles tendon

Philadelphia Eagles Pro Bowl G Brandon Brooks will have to battle back from injury one more time. According to Brooks, he tore his left Achilles tendon. He is expected to miss the 2020 season.

Brooks tore his Achilles while working out at the NovaCare Complex(team’s practice facility) on Monday, according to CSN Philly’s Derrick Gunn.

The nine-year veteran tore his right Achilles tendon back in the 2018 season against the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs.

The 30-year-old Brooks has struggled with injuries over the past two seasons, including injuring his shoulder last season in Week 17, which caused him to miss the playoffs. 

Obviously, this a big blow for Brooks and the Eagles. But, he did come back from one Achilles injury and made the Pro Bowl, so maybe he can do it again. However, it won’t be easy.

Pederson: ‘I have a ton of confidence in Nate(Sudfeld) to become the backup quarterback’

As we learned over the past three seasons, the backup quarterback position is a big deal for the Philadelphia Eagles. Carson Wentz has missed time in the past three seasons, and while he played all 16 games for the Eagles in 2019, Wentz suffered an injury against the Seahawks in the playoffs, and without him, Philadelphia would lose to Seattle in the wild card round.

Barring anything dramatic, and despite Philadelphia selecting QB Jalen Hurts in the second round of this year’s draft, it appears that Nate Sudfeld will be the backup quarterback for the Eagles in 2020. And with some changes to the offseason due to COVID-19, Sudfeld, who has been with Philadelphia for the past three seasons, knows the Eagles’ offense,  which, according to Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, will benefit Sudfeld in 2020.

“I think early on in this season, this becomes a veteran-laden football season,” Pederson said during a video conference call on Tuesday. “Football teams are going to have to rely on their veteran players, and Nate is one of those guys for us. He’s been on our roster the last couple of seasons, and he knows exactly what we are doing. I have a ton of confidence in Nate to become the backup quarterback. Nothing is ever handed to anybody, and we always try to create, I always try to create competition at every position, and quarterback, as you guys know, is not exempt from that. But I fully expect Nate to come in and be aggressive and do the things that he’s capable of doing, and become the backup to [QB] Carson [Wentz].”

Regarding Hurts, Pederson had this to say.

“And then with Jalen(Hurts), Jalen is about, right now, just learning and picking up our system, and he’s another one, another young player that we drafted who, there’s a lot to learn from the quarterback position,” he said. “So, are we going to take it a little bit slower maybe with him until he grasps the offense? You might have to. What I like about it is always the unknown, and the unknown is how well a guy, I think, can progress. And then once we get him on the grass, put him through drills, put him through practices, then we see exactly what these guys are all about.

“Right now, Jalen is doing an outstanding job of picking up the offense, spitting it back to [Eagles Passing Game Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach] Press [Taylor], and understanding what we are trying to get done, and we go that route with him right now at this time.”

This is an excellent opportunity for the 26-year-old Sudfeld. However, if things go the way Philadelphia wants things to go with Wentz, Sudfeld will never see the field in 2020. 

Eagles’ Watkins: ‘DeSean(Jackson) has really been one of my role models as a receiver’

Speed kills, and the lack of speed at wide receiver killed the Philadelphia Eagles last season, especially when DeSean Jackson went down with injury in Week 2, but after the NFL draft, that may have changed, especially with the addition of WR Quez Watkins.

The Eagles selected Southern Mississippi’s Watkins in the sixth round on Saturday. The 22-year-old Watkins is fast and ran a 4.35 40 at the combine. Watkins was a two-time All-Conference USA first-team wide receiver, and in 2019, he caught 64 passes for 1178 yards and six touchdowns.

Now, Watkins gets to play with another speed guy in Jackson, who Watkins feels he could learn a lot from this season. 

Oh, man. DeSean(Jackson) has really been one of my role models as a receiver as a speed guy, kind of a similar body style,” Watkins said. “Really just ready to start learning and getting a lot of stuff, getting a lot of knowledge from him.

In addition to Watkins, the Eagles grabbed two other wide receivers in the draft with speed in Jalen Reagor and John Hightower, and they added another speed guy in WR Marquise Goodwin from the 49ers in a trade. According to Watkins, all that speed is going to make for some interesting practices.

“The practices are going to be, I feel like, up-tempo, and you’re going to see a lot of guys just flying around,” Watkins said. “A lot of 4.3 guys really flying around. A lot speed, a lot of playmakers,” 

Due to injury, wide receiver was a sore spot for the Eagles last season, and if these young players can contribute right away, and DeSean Jackson can stay healthy, the wide receiver position could become a strength for Philadelphia in 2020. 

 

Wentz’s charity softball game, home run derby canceled due to COVID-19

Sadly, just like a lot of things in the world of sports, the 3rd annual Carson Wentz AO1 Foundation Charity Softball Game and Home Run Derby has been canceled because of the COVID-19 health situation.

The foundation announced in late 2019 that the event would be held on May 8, 2020, at Citizens Bank Park.

“We take the health and safety of our supporters seriously, and while it’s disappointing that we can’t have the game this year, we think it is the best decision considering the health and safety of our supporters,” said Zach Wentz, executive director, Carson Wentz AO1 Foundation. “We hope that fans will be excited to know they can plan on a 2021 Charity Softball Game!”

All ticket purchases will automatically be fully refunded in 5-7 days. For questions about a ticket purchase or refund, please contact the Phillies at tickets@phillies.com.

Pederson on Graham: ‘He’s a Philadelphia Eagle first, and he’s the player second’

Eagles DE Brandon Graham has been around Philadelphia for a long time. He is the longest-tenured Eagles player on defense. But, things did not start out that great for Graham, who was the 13th pick by the Eagles in the 2010 NFL Draft. Graham struggled earlier in his career, and many criticized the Eagles for passing on S Earl Thomas and selecting Graham in that draft.

However, over time, Graham got better, and ultimately, made one of the biggest plays in franchise history when he stripped Tom Brady in Super Bowl 52, which led to the Eagles defeating New England 41-33.

Now in his 10th season, Graham, 31, who led the team with 8.5 sacks this season, has become one of the leaders, and on Sunday, Philadelphia will need his leadership as they battle the Seahawks in the Wild-Card game at Lincoln Financial Field.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has been impressed with the way Graham has been encouraging his teammates before games, and because of that, Graham will be one of the team captains on Sunday.

“He’s a great leader,” Pederson said about Graham on Friday. “In fact, he’s going to be one of my captains this weekend just because of that. It just says a lot about who he is. He’s a Philadelphia Eagle first, and he’s the player second. He leads more by example than anything else.

“And on top of that, he plays through injury, he plays hurt, and we get a lot of production out of him. To be able to play at a high level that he has throughout his — the last — since I’ve been here anyway — the last four seasons, he’s another one that’s pretty special to have on the team.”

 Philadelphia ended the 2019 season on a roll, as they won four straight to end the season. Although injuries have decimated this team, they seem to have a lot of confidence entering the playoffs, and maybe with Graham’s leadership, Philadelphia can get past the Seahawks and keep their season alive on Sunday. 

Eagles’ Groh on Boston Scott: ‘He’s finding that goal line’

On Tuesday, Eagles RB Boston Scott was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against the Giants on Sunday. Scott, who played most of the game after Eagles RB Miles Sanders left with an ankle injury, had 54 yards rushing, 84 receiving yards and three rushing touchdowns. Scott finished the game with 138 yards from scrimmage. The receiving yards, the touchdowns, and yards from scrimmage were all career-highs for Scott.

Scott was a Giants’ killer this season. He accumulated 266 yards from scrimmage and four rushing touchdowns against New York. 

It’s safe to say that if the Eagles did not have Scott, they would not have won the NFC East and would not be preparing to play the Seahawks at the Linc on Sunday. 

According to Eagles offensive coordinator Mike Groh, Scott is finding ways to get to the end zone.

“The power of the goal line. It’s a wonderful thing,” Groh said on Tuesday. “The other day, the line did a terrific job. They opened up some really big holes. Boston obviously is hungry. He’s finding that goal line, done a really good job of finding the hole, being patient, picking his way through it, but then when there has been a tackler present himself, he’s taken on that guy and been able to fall into the end zone or finish in the end zone.

“I think it’s a combination of things: good design, some good plays, and the guys have blocked him really well, and then obviously Boston has finished them off. Credit to him and being able to get in there three times.”

Obviously, with Sanders dealing with an ankle injury and Jordan Howard just returning from a shoulder injury, Scott will continue to get his touches on the ground and through the air, which, based on his production, is probably a good thing. No one would have expected him to have this type of impact this season, but we could say that about a lot of guys playing right for the Eagles.

NFL Wild Card, Divisional playoff schedule announced

The NFL announced tonight the schedule of sites, dates and times for the National Football League Wild Card Playoffs on January 4-5 and Divisional Playoffs on January 11-12.

NFL WILD CARD PLAYOFFS

Saturday, January 4

AFC:    4:35 PM (ET)  Buffalo at Houston (ESPN, with simulcast on ABC)

AFC:    8:15 PM (ET)  Tennessee at New England (CBS)

Sunday, January 5

NFC:    1:05 PM (ET)  Minnesota at New Orleans (FOX)

NFC:    4:40 PM (ET)  Seattle at Philadelphia (NBC)

NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS

Saturday, January 11

NFC:    4:35 PM (ET)  Philadelphia/Seattle/Minnesota at San Francisco (NBC)

AFC:    8:15 PM (ET)  Houston/Buffalo/Tennessee at Baltimore (CBS)

Sunday, January 12

AFC:    3:05 PM (ET)  New England/Houston/Buffalo at Kansas City (CBS)

NFC:    6:40 PM (ET)  New Orleans/Philadelphia/Seattle at Green Bay (FOX)

In the Divisional Playoffs, the division champion with the best record in each conference will host the lowest-seeded Wild Card survivor. Once teams are seeded for the playoffs, positions do not change:

American Football Conference

National Football Conference

1.

Baltimore (14-2), AFC North champion

1.

San Francisco (13-3), NFC West champion

2.

Kansas City (12-4), AFC West champion

2.

Green Bay (13-3), NFC North champion

3.

New England (12-4), AFC East champion

3.

New Orleans (13-3), NFC South champion

4.

Houston (10-6), AFC South champion

4.

Philadelphia (9-7), NFC East champion

5.

Buffalo (10-6)

5.

Seattle (11-5)

6.

Tennessee (9-7)

6.

Minnesota (10-6)

The AFC (CBS, 3:05 PM ET) and NFC (FOX, 6:40 PM ET) Championship Games will be played on Sunday, January 19.

The 2020 Pro Bowl (ESPN, with simulcast on ABC, 3:00 PM ET) will be played on Sunday, January 26, at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida, and Super Bowl LIV will take place on Sunday, February 2 (FOX, 6:30 PM ET), at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.