Eagles’ Sirianni uses Tiger Woods to motivate team

There’s only one undefeated team in the NFC, and that is the Philadelphia Eagles(3-0). At this point, the Eagles look like one of the best teams in football, but it’s still early. On Sunday, the Eagles host their former coach Doug Pederson and the Jacksonville Jaguars(2-1).

Philadelphia is getting a lot of national headlines because of its great start. However, Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni wants to keep this team grounded and hungry. To do that, Sirianni showed his team clips of Tiger Woods.

“That’s something when you’re concerned about getting better every single day, and your sole focus is ‘How do I get better, how do I get better, how do I get better,’ it is easy to block out noise,” Sirianni said on Wednesday. “Whether that’s people telling you how good you are or how bad you are.

“A clip that we showed today was of Tiger Woods – and this is what we showed in our team meeting today. When he was at the top of his game, playing as good of golf as anybody has ever played, ever, he was still obsessed with getting better. He says that, ‘I’m obsessed with getting better. I’m obsessed with being the best.’

“That’s a guy that was playing the best golf of anybody ever. What a great example for us, right? We can learn so many good things from what not to do and what to do. Last week it was a Kobe Bryant film. This week it was a Tiger Woods film of just how am I going to improve my swing today to make sure that I’m getting better even though I’m playing pretty good right now.

“I want them to know that I’m doing that. There are things that happened in that game that I was not comfortable with. There are things I’m obsessed with getting better as the head coach to make sure that we’re prepared to play and the different things.

“So first we have to live that as coaches. We have to preach that through our word-of-mouth. Then other great people like Tiger Woods’ word-of-mouth, and then we have to accomplish that.”

The Eagles have not accomplished anything yet. Jalen Hurts is off to a great start, and the defense is getting done. However, again, they have to keep grinding.

Giants’ Daboll on Shepard: ‘It kind of looked like a freaky accident there’

The New York Giants(2-1) suffered their first loss of the season on Monday night as they fell to the Dallas Cowboys 23-16 at MetLife Stadium, and unfortunately, they lost a key piece on offense.

On Tuesday, Giants head coach Brian Daboll announced that WR Sterling Shepard would miss the rest of the season with a torn left ACL.

Shepard, who is coming off a torn Achilles last season, injured his ACL late in the game against the Cowboys.

“ACL. Got that news just about 15 minutes ago in the doctors’ meeting,” Daboll said. “And again, to reiterate what I said yesterday, he’s a tremendous person. He worked so diligently to get back, and (I) feel terrible for him that he had that injury. He’s a big part of our team, and we’ll miss him out on the field.

It was a non-contact injury, and it appeared that Shepard was jogging along when it happened. According to Daboll, it was a “freak accident.”

“He’s just slowing down,” Daboll said. “It could have happened; I’m not saying it happened; you see a couple of plays before where he turns when he’s running an in-cut, and he’s extended. He went out there on the next play and did something. Again, it kind of looked like a freaky accident there.”

It was a big blow for Shepard, who put in the work to get back on the field and a big blow for the Giants as they’ve battled injuries at the wide receiver position(Wan’Dale Robinson, Kadarius Toney). 

Neal struggles

Giants rookie RT Evan Neal struggled to block Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence, who had three of Dallas’ five sacks. Despite the struggles, Daboll is not worried about Neal.  

“We just keep on building the technique,” Daboll said. “There’s growing pains. I would say it’s not just Ev (Evan Neal), which he got beat a couple times on the edge by a pretty good player. There was a lot of things we could have done better. And protection-wise, after going through it, whether it’s the chips, the (running) backs, one-one-ones against the blitzers, the inside movement, the games inside. There was quite a bit of things. But Evan’s a diligent guy. We’ll work on improving him and try to be better next week.

New York will have a short week as the Bears(2-1) come to town on Sunday.

Brady on Bucs’ offense: ‘Our job is to go out there and score points, so we haven’t’

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers(2-1) suffered their first loss of the season as they fell to the Packers(2-1) 14-12 in Tampa Bay on Sunday. 

The talk all week was this possibly being the last matchup between Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, but the defenses ruled the day as both teams combined for 26 points.

However, despite their offensive struggles, the Bucs almost sent it into overtime. Late in the game, the Buccaneers had an opportunity to tie the game on a two-point conversion after Brady connected with Russell Gage on a one-yard touchdown pass.

But, on the two-point conversion try, the Buccaneers got pushed back five yards after a delay of the game penalty. After the penalty was marked off, the Buccaneers attempted the play, but Packers LB De’Vondre Campbell deflected Brady’s pass, and the Packers held on.

After the game, Buccaneers head Todd Bowles discussed his reaction to the penalty.

“We got a delay of game, we didn’t get set up fast enough, and it’s something that can’t happen,” he said.

“It wasn’t just that moment; there were a few things that happened that we can’t let happen. We got six crucial penalties at different times that cost us the ball game –shooting ourselves in the foot to give us a chance to win. We know they’re a good football team – hats off to them, but we made some dumb mistakes ourselves.”

Brady, who completed 31-of-42 passes for 271 yards and one touchdown, said it was bad execution on the two-point conversion try.

“There’s a lot to it, so bad execution on offense at a time where we needed good execution, and we didn’t get it,” he said. “There was a lot of other times where we had a lot of other bad execution, and I think the reality is when you do that, you don’t have the opportunity to score points. There were too many plays where we were behind the sticks and not good on third down – penalties, turnovers, missed opportunities. Defense played great, we [have to] play better on offense – we [have to] do [much] better job – we haven’t scored many points all season, so three games, we [have to] get a lot better.”

In the first three games, Tampa Bay’s offense has struggled, and they have not scored over 20 points this season. Yes, not having Chris Godwin(hamstring), Julio Jones(knee), and Mike Evans(suspension) on the field against the Packers doesn’t help, but according to Brady, in the end, the team’s execution has to be better.

“Our job is to go out there and score points, so we haven’t – we’re just not doing it, but you’re not going to score points if we don’t execute well,” Brady said. “They did a better job than us. They have a good defense – a good physical defense. I give them a lot of credit. They forced us to make a lot of good plays, and we just didn’t do a great job on execution.”

Tampa Bay has to be better on offense. The defense got the job done as they held the Packers to 14 points, and on most days, that should be enough. However, because of Tampa Bay’s offense, it wasn’t enough.

Eagles’ Hurts: ‘I think we have yet to play our best ball’

The Philadelphia Eagles move to 3-0 as they defeated Carson Wentz and the Washington Commanders(1-2) 24-8 at FedExField on Sunday.

The Eagles led 24-0 at halftime but didn’t score the rest of the way. Philadelphia is 3-0 for the 10th time in franchise history (first time since 2016). The Eagles have also won each of their first two road games of the season for the first time since 2010.

Here’s the Great, Not so Great, and the Bottom Line of Philly’s big win over Washington.

The Great:

Defense: Philadelphia sacked Wentz eight times on Sunday, including two strip sacks. Brandon Graham led the Eagles with 2.5 sacks

During the first half, Philadelphia’s defense allowed zero points and 50 total yards (66 rushing, -16 passing) on 28 plays, along with six sacks(four sacks in the first quarter), two FFs, and one takeaway. In the last two weeks, Philly’s defense has allowed only two touchdowns, combining for 11.0 sacks and four forced turnovers. 

DeVonta Smith: He had career highs in both catches (eight) and yards (169). Also, Smith finished the game with a touchdown. The second-year receiver had seven of his eight receptions and 156 of his 169 receiving yards in the first half. After no receptions in Week 1, Smith has accumulated 15 receptions for 249 yards and a touchdown in the last two weeks.

Second Quarter: Hurts and the Eagles’ offense got off to a slow start and went scoreless in the first quarter. However, Hurts and the offense picked it up in the second quarter as they scored 24 points. The third-year quarterback threw three touchdowns passes. He finished the first half with 279 yards and three touchdowns and ended the game 22-35 for 340 yards and three touchdowns. 

The Not So Great:

Second Half Offense: For the second week in a row, the Eagles’ offense went scoreless in the second half. Fortunately, the defense was stout and kept the pressure on Wentz. Hurts threw for only 61 yards in the second half. They punted the ball on three of their five second-half possessions and allowed Washington to score their first points on a safety. However, they did get a first down on their final possession and did not allow Washington to get the ball back.

Bottom Line:

The Eagles get another big win and move to 3-0, and for the second week in a row, the defense played a complete game. Now, the offense has to be good for four quarters, not just one or two.

This season, in three games, Philadelphia has scored 72 points(24.0 points average) in the first half. However, in the second half, they scored only 14 points(4.6 points average). This trend has to get fixed. Back to the defense, they have been stellar after a subpar game in Week 1 against the Lions. If the defense continues at this level, Philadelphia will be tough to beat; we’ve seen this defense beat up on average quarterbacks in 2021, and that trend continues in 2022. 

Wentz was under a lot heat on Sunday, and while it’s still early, it appears the Eagles made the right choice in selecting Hurts to replace Wentz. Round 1 went to Hurts and the Eagles, but Round 2 will be in November.

Quotables:

“I think we have yet to play our best ball yet,” Hurts said. “I think we’re close in terms of executing on a consistent basis through all four quarters of the football game. Last year, I remember being asked the question of ‘How close are you? You’re saying this every week?’ Well I think it’s the same situation here. Just got three wins in our column but I could care less about it because we haven’t played to our standard yet. If we can continue to strive and play to our
standard, everything else will handle itself. It’s a day-by-day thing.”

What’s Next:

Philadelphia will battle their former coach Doug Pederson and the Jacksonville Jaguars(2-1) next Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.

Best of the Rest:

-Wentz finished the game, completing 25-of-43 passes for 211 yards. He added three rushes for 22 yards.

-A.J. Brown finished 85 yards on five receptions (17.0 avg.) with a touchdown during today’s game. The score marked the first touchdown of Brown’s career as an Eagle.

-Dallas Goedert totaled three catches for 26 yards and a touchdown. Goedert leads all NFL tight ends in 20-plus yard receptions this season.

Wentz on time with Eagles: ‘I’ll definitely cherish my time there’

This Sunday, Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz will battle the team that drafted him with the second overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the team where he had the most success, the Philadelphia Eagles, in the first of two matchups between the two teams.

The first matchup will take place at FedExField as Wentz, and the Commanders(1-1) will battle the Eagles(2-0) for the time since he was traded to the Colts by the team after the 2020 season.

It’s a divisional game, so winning is important, but what might be bigger for Wentz is the opportunity to show Philadelphia he can still get it done; he did acknowledge on Tuesday that he’s excited about the game.

“Yeah, exciting. It’s an exciting time,” he told the media. “Obviously, a division rivalry, you know, been a part of this one for a while. Things look different this year, but it’ll be fun. It’ll be fun. Obviously, it looks a little bit different over there from when I was there. New faces, new coaches, new everything, but it’ll be a fun one.”

During his time with the Eagles, Wentz received a lot of love from the Philly faithful, especially in 2017, where he had his best season as a pro and helped lead the team to the best record in the NFL before tearing his ACL late in the season. Ultimately, the Eagles would win the Super Bowl with Nick Foles at quarterback,

Wentz battled injuries in 2018, and ultimately, Foles would again lead the Eagles to the playoffs. However, in 2019, Wentz would get paid as he signed a four-year, $128 million extension with the team and would lead Philadelphia to the postseason, but he would leave the team’s playoff loss to the Seahawks with a concussion.

Unfortunately, 2020 was Wentz’s worst year as a pro, where he led the league in interceptions in only 12 games, and he would lose his job late in the season to Jalen Hurts. 

After five seasons, Wentz’s time with the Eagles had to come to an end.

Wentz discussed his time in Philadelphia.

“I mean this league, my career has been a whirlwind,” he said. “I’ll tell you that much. A lot of really good memories from my time there. I’m not going to lie—a lot of great friends. A lot of great relationships that I made, you know. Definitely will have some mixed emotions in terms of those things, but nothing crazy jumps out other than my time there was a whirlwind. It was wild. The NFL is a whirlwind, but I’m grateful to still be playing, and I’m excited for this one…

“It was a lot of fun. It was a lot of fun. Obviously, we had a lot of success there. Winning the Super Bowl up there was pretty special. Being a part of that was pretty cool. It’s quite the city, quite the fan base, quite the experience. I’ll definitely cherish my time there, but obviously, being on the other end now, it’ll look a little different. It was a fun couple years there while I was up there. I definitely cherished my time there.”

Things did not end the way he wanted them to in Philadelphia, but according to the seven-year veteran, he grew as a person.

“I mean, I think anytime in life you get thrown a curve ball like that, things change anytime you think, you know what life’s going to look like,” he said. “You know, sometimes I always think God’s up there saying I’m in control, and for me as a man of faith, I think that’s where my faith kicks in and just saying, okay, God, what do you have next for me? I definitely cherished my time that I had up there. It was definitely a wild ride in many, many ways. I grew a lot as a man, you know, got married, had a child, a lot of things. So, I’m very grateful for my time there, but it definitely does catch you off guard things change, and you gotta learn to grow up and change and adapt. At the end of the day, I’m thankful for it. I’m thankful for the changes that life has brought, and I’ve grown a lot from it.”

Wentz is off to a decent start for the Commanders, and there’s probably nothing more he would want but to defeat Philadelphia on Sunday. It won’t be easy.

Giants’ Gano wins NFC Special Teams Player of the Week

New York Giants kicker Graham Gano was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his four-field goal performance in the 19-16 triumph vs. the Panthers on Sunday, the league announced Wednesday.

The 13-year veteran, scored 13 of New York’s 19 points against Carolina, adding an extra point to his field goals.

Last Wednesday, Saquon Barkley was named the conference’s Offensive Player of the Week. The Giants last received Player of the Week awards after consecutive games in Weeks 14 and 15 of the 2016 season, when punter Brad Wing earned the special teams honor

Gano hit field goals from 36, 33, 51, and 56 yards, and the game-deciding kick(56) is tied for the second-longest field goal in Giants history.

Sunday was the second game in which Gano kicked two 50-plus yard field goals in the fourth quarter or overtime. He is the only kicker in Giants history to accomplish that feat. He first did it in Washington on Sept. 16, 2021, when he kicked 52 and 55-yarders – plus a 35-yarder – in the fourth quarter.

The current Player of the Week award is the fifth of Gano’s career and this third in three seasons with the Giants.

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Eagles’ Slay: ‘I am still at an elite level’

One of the subplots of the Eagles’ 24-7 win over the Vikings on Monday night at Lincoln Financial Field was the matchup between Justin Jefferson and Darius ‘Big Play’ Slay.  

Both had big years in 2021, and both made the Pro Bowl last season. The second-year wideout was coming off a big performance(nine catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns) against the Packers in Week 1, while the 10-year corner and the Eagles’ defense were looking to have a bounce-back performance after struggling against the Lions.

This was the first time these two went head-to-head, and it was evident by the night’s end that Round 1 went to Slay. 

According to Pro Football Focus, when Slay was on Jefferson, he held him to one catch on six targets and had a career-high tying two picks.

In addition, Slay also finished with a career-high five passes defensed.

After the win, Slay said he was looking forward to the matchup against Jefferson.

“I take no matchup lightly, but he is one of the best in the world,” Slay said of Jefferson. “I am one of the best in the world, too. I was looking forward to the matchup.”

Jefferson, who finished the game with six catches for 48 yards, gave props to Slay.

“He’s a competitor for sure,” Jefferson said. “I knew that I was going to get that from him. I mean, he’s a great cornerback. He’s a great player. A great guy, too.”

At age 31, Slay is playing at a high level, and he still believes he’s an elite corner in the NFL.

“I have a lot of respect, but you know how it always goes, the older you get, they think you are falling off, but I am not one of those guys,” Slay said. “I am still at an elite level. I deserve a lot of respect. I think the league respects me enough. It is just the media.”

76ers star James Harden was in attendance on Monday night, and after his first interception, Slay gave the ball to the 10-time All-Star.

“Honestly, I didn’t even know he was at the game until they put him on the [videoboard],” Slay said about Harden. “He is one of my favorite players. I am like, why not? I get a chance to meet James Harden, a Hall of Fame basketball player. If I make a play tonight, definitely a pick, I have to give him the ball because he is well respected in the league and my favorite. I thought it was a good opportunity.”

After allowing 35 points to the Lions last Sunday, the Eagles’ defense got the job done against the Vikings, and ‘Big Play’ Slay was one of the biggest reasons. 

Eagles’ Sirianni on Hurts: ‘Big-time performance on a big-time stage’

After the first two weeks of the NFL season, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts is playing like one of the best quarterbacks in the game. 

After having a combined 333 yards of total offense in the team’s win over the Lions in Week 1, Hurts was even better in Philly’s home-opener against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night.

Hurts completed 26-of-31 (career-high 83.9%) attempts for 333 yards, TD, INT(which wasn’t his fault), and a 108.7 passer rating while adding 57 yards and 2 TDs on 11 carries.

He had a combined 390 total yards on offense with 3 TDs in the game, and more importantly, the Eagles defeated the Vikings(1-1) 24-7. With the win, Philadelphia improved to 2-0 for the first time since 2016.

The 83.9% completion percentage was the highest by an Eagle since Nick Foles produced an 84.8% mark (28-of-33) back in 2018.

“Shoot, I mean, 83% passing. With that many attempts, what was he, 26 of 33(28/33)? Yeah, that’s pretty darn impressive,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said after the win.

Last week against the Lions, he started the game 0/5. This week, Hurts started 11/11 for 151 yards and 1 TD. It marked the longest streak of consecutive completions to start a game in his career.

“It was a big-time performance by him, obviously in the run game and the pass game,” Sirianni said. “Great run. Both of his touchdown runs were outstanding runs. The one, I know it, was only four yards out, but it reminded me of that New Orleans one he made last year.

“Big-time performance on a big-time stage.”

Eagles center Jason Kelce was happy about what he saw from his quarterback.

“Another outstanding performance,” he said. “He threw some unbelievable balls. He made a lot of plays. This was a really great, well-rounded game for him; it seemed like. I have to go back and watch the tape, but when I’m watching the tape, I’m not assessing the quarterback. I just know the offense was moving really well, and it seemed like Jalen was doing phenomenal.”

For Hurts, who completed passes to eight receivers, including four players that finished with 60-plus yards, it’s not about his performance but about the performance of the team.

“I think we just came out and played very efficient, he said. “You know, talked about last week. Last week I talked about the inconsistencies and the urgency and the communication and the operation. And that starts with me. Obviously, we operated at a high level early on in the game. I think that’s something that we have to be able to sustain throughout the whole entire game regardless of the situation. That starts with everybody. I think as a whole, as a team, coming out here and playing on Monday Night Football. I remember what happened last time we played on Monday Night Football. I haven’t forgotten about that. To be able to come out here and perform at a high level as a team, that’s big for us.”

Big win for the Eagles, and if Hurts continues to play at this level, Philadelphia will continue to soar.

Giants’ Barkley: ‘Culture’s different’

Again, it wasn’t pretty, but again, the New York Giants got another victory on Sunday at MetLife Stadium as they defeated the visiting Carolina Panthers 19-16.

With the victory, the Giants have won two games by a combined four points to improve to 2-0 for the first time since 2016.

The Giants trailed 13-6 in the third, and the offense immediately responded. Jones led the team on an eight-play, 75-yard drive, which ended with Jones connecting with rookie tight end Daniel Bellinger on a 16-yard touchdown pass that tied things up at 13. 

In the fourth, it was the Graham Gano show as he connected from 51 yards to put New York up 16-13 and hit from 56 yards to give New the lead for good at 19-16. Gano finished the game with four field goals.

Finally, Jones ended the game on a beautiful 11-yard scramble on third and long to put the game away for the undefeated Giants. 

Giants head coach Brian Daboll knows the team has to play better, but that’s something to worry about for next week when they host the Cowboys on Monday night.

‘There’s certainly a lot of things we need to do better, but I’m happy for the guys,” Daboll said after the win. “(Kicker) Graham (Gano) made all his kicks. (There were) some big kicks there at the end for us, and (Quarterback Daniel Jones) DJ led the team down to get some extra points there, which was a huge difference. (I) thought the defense played well; started out fast. Wish we could’ve gotten more points on the board early on after those two turnovers, but all-in-all a good team win. And (we’ll) get ready for next week.”

Jones was not great, but he was solid(22/34, 176 yards, touchdown) and made the right play time after time, including the game-clinching first down on the team’s final drive, which he discussed postgame.

“Situation (where) we got in the perimeter there,” he said. “Want to keep the clock moving with a completion or a run. Getting out of the pocket on that movement gives you the options to do both. I thought they matched (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley), and I saw a lane to get up and get the first down. I thought it was a good call on the situation and just tried to execute it the best we could.”

Saquon Barkley, who ran for 72 yards on 21 carries, like Daboll, is happy to be 2-0 but knows New York has to be better.

“It feels good to be 2-0,” Barkley said. “It’s not easy to win in this league. This is my first time in five years being 2-0. The team played great all three phases. Offense, we have to execute a little bit better, but at the end of the day, we were able to grind out a win.”

Things are a little livelier in the Giants locker room, unlike the previous two seasons under Joe Judge. Winning games helps, but Barkley thinks the culture is different in New York overall.

Culture’s different,” Barkley said. “Coming here, music playing before the game, playing after the game, you’ve got your Head Coach coming in and rapping Biggie. It’s fun. It’s fun. And it all starts with winning. That’s what really breeds fun. You come out here and win games, and we’ve got to continue to do that, but we can’t get too caught up in the hype. We’ve just got to continue to keep the mindset within this locker room, continue to trust the guys, the men, and women in our facility, and just keep getting better.”

A win is a win; fortunately for the Giants, it does not always have to be pretty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jags’ Boselli to get Hall of Fame ring on October 9

The Jacksonville Jaguars will celebrate Tony Boselli, their first Pro Football Hall of Fame member, on Sunday, Oct. 9 during halftime of the Jaguars game against the Houston Texans.

Boselli was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame along with the rest of 2022 class in August, becoming the 355th individual in the history of the game and the first Jaguars player to receive the honor.  While Boselli has already received his gold jacket and bronze bust, his illustrious career will be capped off when Pro Football Hall of Fame President Jim Porter and Jaguars Owner Shad Khan present him with his official Pro Football Hall of Fame ring during the halftime ceremony.

In addition, the weekend will also mark the world premiere of “71,” a brand-new documentary produced by the Jaguars about the life and career of Boselli.

The Jaguars Production department has captured hours of behind-the-scenes footage in Canton and interviewed more than 20 individuals from throughout Boselli’s life to create the film.  Members of the Jaguars Founders Class, individuals who have held season tickets since the team’s inaugural season in 1995, should check their email for an exclusive email invitation to a free screening of the film.

Jacksonville will also welcome nearly 100 former players back to TIAA Bank Field for Legends Weekend.  The team will host a series of events for former players including a screening of “71.”