Tagged in: Eagles

Chicago Bears continue search, interview former Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson

The Chicago Bears interviewed former Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson and Cleveland Browns executive Glenn Cook for their vacant coach and general manager jobs on Wednesday.

The positions opened Monday when the Bears fired former coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace on the heels of a 6-11 season. Pederson led Philadelphia to the franchise’s lone Super Bowl championship following the 2017 season. He was 42-37-1 with two division championships and three playoff appearances before going 4-11-1 in 2020 and getting fired.

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Pederson and Nagy are friends from their time working under Andy Reid in Philadelphia and Kansas City.

Cook has spent six years in Cleveland’s front office. He was the Browns’ assistant director of pro scouting from 2016 to 2019 and their vice president of player personnel the past two seasons, working with executive vice president of football operations and general manager Andrew Berry.

Cook also served as a scouting assistant with the Indianapolis Colts (2011 and 2012) and a pro scout with the Green Bay Packers (2012 to 2015).

He was a linebacker at the University of Miami from 2004 to 2008. He also was drafted by baseball’s Chicago Cubs in the 46th round in 2009 and played 34 matches for their rookie league team that year.

The Bears landed at the No. 7 spot in the NFL draft after their season, but that pick belongs to the New York Giants from a trade.

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Lions desperately seeking victory against struggling Eagles

Dan Campbell and the Detroit Lions are desperate for a victory, growing tired of being the NFL’s only winless team.

The first-year coach was fired up about the chance to turn around the long-suffering franchise when he was hired 10 months ago, but seven setbacks without success have taken a toll.

Campbell cried in front of cameras and reporters after a comeback fell short earlier this month. And, he didn’t hide his hopes and emotions about the Lions (0-7) possibly beating Philadelphia (2-5) on Sunday at home.

“It would mean everything, look, particularly going into a bye, too,” Campbell said softly. “Any time it would be good, but man, you end on a right note and we get those guys, get their bodies back a little bit and then you come back in. You almost feel like you’re starting over somewhat.”

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Likewise, the Eagles and their first-year coach are shooting for a victory to potentially start the process of salvaging their season after dropping two consecutive games.

“This is what I said to the team: ‘The results aren’t there right now, but what’s going on here is that there’s growth under the soil,'” coach Nick Sirianni recalled. “I put a picture of a flower up, and it’s coming through the ground, and the roots are growing out. The roots are continuing to grow out. Everybody wants to see results. Shoot, nobody wants to see results more than us, right?”

Opposing quarterbacks are completing 74.4% of their passes against the Eagles.

If that holds up, it will break the NFL record of 72.7% set by the Lions in 2016. Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr was 31 of 34 passes for 323 yards and two touchdowns last week versus Philadelphia. Carr’s 91.2% completion rate was the second highest by a quarterback throwing at least 30 passes in NFL history.

“That needs to get corrected because it’s hard to play winning football when the ball doesn’t hit the ground,” Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said.

Second-year running back D’Andre Swift, who is from Philadelphia, has been perhaps the brightest spot during a dim season in Detroit. After being slowed in training camp with a groin injury, the former Georgia star has steadily improved even as defenses have focused on trying to slow him down.

Swift had a season-high 144 yards of offense last week, giving him an average of 93.3 yards per game this season, and matched his career high with eight receptions. He leads NFL running backs with 42 catches and 391 yards receiving. Swift leads the Lions with five touchdowns, three more than any teammate.

Campbell stated he sees similarities to Alvin Kamara, who he coached in New Orleans. “They can both, I think, somewhat take a game over,” Campbell said.

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New York Jets bring back veteran QB Joe Flacco in trade with Philadelphia Eagles

With Zach Wilson sidelined at least two matches with a sprained knee, the New York Jets secured quarterback insurance on Monday.

They re-acquired Joe Flacco in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, a source said. It cost the Jets a 2022 sixth-round conditional pick, which can improve to a fifth-round pick based on playing time for Flacco, who spent the 2020 season as the Jets’ backup under the previous coaching staff.

Mike White, who replaced Wilson in the second quarter of Sunday’s 54-13 loss to the New England Patriots, is poised to start Sunday versus the Cincinnati Bengals. But Flacco, 36, a former Super Bowl MVP with the Baltimore Ravens, gives insurance if White gets hurt or struggles.

White has no starting experience; his NFL debut was Sunday. The former Dallas Cowboys 2018 fifth-round pick completed 20 of 32 passes for 202 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions.

The Jets’ other option was to promote journeyman Josh Johnson from the practice squad, but he hasn’t played in a game since 2018.

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Wilson, who has a grade-2 PCL sprain, is expected to miss two to four weeks. Coach Robert Saleh stated there’s a “possibility” that Wilson could play Nov. 14 versus the Buffalo Bills.

Hours before the trade was finalized, Saleh gushed about his confidence in White.

“He’s a very calm man,” Saleh said. “He’s a great communicator, he’s got great command of the huddle. He’s got great command of the offense. He understands progression reads and how to go through a progression, get the ball where it needs to go. He understands how to slide in the pocket to throw instead of slide in the pocket to run. He doesn’t panic.”

Flacco, who signed a one-year, $3.5 million contract with the Eagles, didn’t see any game action. Jalen Hurts has played every snap in seven starts. They also have former Jacksonville Jaguars starter Gardner Minshew on the bench, so they felt Flacco was expendable.

“Joe is just a great person to be around, a great pro to be around, had a phenomenal preseason and was really good for our (QB) room,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said. “But the opportunity arose for him to go and be able to contribute somewhere else and also for us to get a pick for that. But our time with Joe Flacco was really good.”

Sirianni also was asked if he would consider sitting Hurts to take a look at Minshew as the starter. He said, “No.” And then followed up by saying, “No, obviously I really like Gardner and I think he’s a good backup but I have a ton of faith in Jalen and he will be our starting quarterback.”

The Jets had some interest in re-signing Flacco at the start of free agency, but they opted not to bring in any experienced backups.

Flacco served as Sam Darnold’s primary backup last season, starting four games when Darnold went down with a shoulder injury. The Jets lost all four, as Flacco struggled in three of the four. His best game was a 262-yard, three-touchdown performance in a prime-time defeat against the New England Patriots.

Overall, Flacco completed 74 of 134 passes for 864 yards, with six touchdowns and three interceptions last season.

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Philadelphia Eagles name Jalen Hurts starter

Eagles coach Nick Sirianni named Jalen Hurts the starting quarterback Tuesday after weeks of declining to do so, citing the importance of creating competition at every position.

“Jalen’s our starter. He’s done a great job,” Sirianni stated shortly after the roster was trimmed to 53 players.

“We wanted him to … take the reins and take advantage of the opportunity that he got, and we feel like the preseason he had, he did that. I consistently saw a player that got better every single day. I consistently saw a player getting better with his reads and his accuracy and his ability to run, and when not to run. He did exactly what we wanted him to do.”

This was the expected outcome, as Hurts took all of the first-team reps during training camp.

But multiple reports of the Eagles’ interest in Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson and the recent purchase of Gardner Minshew helped fuel the idea that the organization isn’t sold on the 23-year-old Hurts.

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Addressing the Minshew trade, general manager Howie Roseman stressed the team’s history of prioritizing the quarterback position, noting that depth is especially important amid a pandemic and heading into a 17-game regular season.

Roseman stated he spoke with both Hurts and Joe Flacco about acquiring Minshew, telling them “we thought it was an opportunity to get a good player and a good person at an important position.”

“[Hurts] was great,” Roseman said. “Jalen is all about the team and he’s very confident in his ability and very secure in where he stands with all of us.”

Minshew will start off as the third-string quarterback behind Hurts and Flacco, according to Sirianni.

As for his level of interest in Watson, Roseman said: “I think we’re very confident and comfortable with the quarterbacks we have on our roster. Any player that is on another team is property of that team, and we’re going forward with who we’ve got here.

“We’ll see what happens over the next 24 hours with the rest of our roster, but when we talk about that quarterback room, we think we’ve got a good blend of youth, of experience, of talented guys, and we’re excited to start this season and to see the players we have on this football team.”

Hurts, the team’s second-round pick in 2020, started four matches as a rookie in place of Carson Wentz. He completed 52% of his throws for 1,061 yards with six touchdowns and four interceptions while rushing for 354 yards and three scores.

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Eagles claim former Lions second-round running back Kerryon Johnson off waivers

The Philadelphia Eagles have taken a flyer on Kerryon Johnson, claiming the former second-round pick off waivers from the Detroit Lions.

Philadelphia adds Johnson to a crowded backfield as the Eagles will pick up the remaining salary on his rookie deal, a cap number of $2,069,359 for 2021 (the final year of his rookie contract). 

Johnson electrified the NFL as a rookie in 2018, rushing for 641 yards and three touchdowns in 10 matches. He became just the 10th rookie since the AFL-NFL merger to average 5.4 yards per carry in his rookie campaign (minimum 100 carries).

Johnson had a chance to become the featured back in 2019, but averaged just 3.6 yards per carry while rushing for 403 yards and three touchdowns in eight games. 

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A meniscus tear in his right knee altered his season in 2019, one year after a knee strain caused him to miss the final six games in his rookie season.

Relegated to third on the Lions’ depth chart, Johnson had 52 carries for 181 yards and two touchdowns in 2020 (averaging 3.5 yards per carry). He has 1,225 rushing yards and and 527 receiving yards in three seasons (4.3 yards per carry). 

Where Johnson fits in the Eagles’ plan at running back will be determined.

Philadelphia has Miles Sanders as the No. 1 running back, but there are spots on the depth chart open for competition. 

Boston Scott and 2021 fifth-round pick Kenneth Gainwell will compete for playing time on the depth chart, but the Eagles also signed Jordan Howard this offseason on a non-guaranteed deal. The Eagles also have Jason Huntley, Adrian Killins Jr., and Elijah Holyfield on the 90-man roster. 

Johnson should find a way to make the roster and receive snaps if he’s healthy. How Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni will use him in the rotation will be one of the intriguing storylines of offseason minicamp. 

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Carson Wentz not interested in backup role, will want to leave Philadelphia Eagles if Jalen Hurts remains starting QB

Carson Wentz is not interested in being a backup quarterback and would want to move on from the Eagles if the current situation — with Jalen Hurts starting under center — continues in Philadelphia, sources connected to the team told ESPN.

Although the Eagles’ quarterback situation stays fluid with three games left this season, Wentz is not pleased with the way events have unfolded in the organization, according to sources.

Eagles coach Doug Pederson has not said whether the quarterback switch is permanent — only going so far as to announce Hurts as the starter for Sunday — but player and team sources told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen last weekend that Hurts will remain the starter this season.

Philadelphia’s decision to bench Wentz for Hurts has garnered the attention of other teams around the NFL, with some expected to inquire about Wentz’s availability in a trade, according to sources.

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The Eagles (4-8-1), a long shot to win the NFC East but still in contention, started their final three-game stretch versus the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, when Hurts  made his second straight start in place of Wentz. The rookie led Philadelphia to an upset victory last Sunday over the New Orleans Saints and could make Philadelphia’s franchise quarterback decision even more difficult if he continues to play well.

The Eagles selected Hurts with their second-round pick in this year’s draft and gradually worked him into their offense, initially using him under center in limited special packages before eventually giving him the full-time job — and benching Wentz — in Week 13 against the Green Bay Packers.

Hurts played well in Green Bay but was even better last week versus New Orleans, passing for 167 yards and a touchdown while running 18 times for 106 yards. He took no sacks and turned the ball over once while becoming the fifth Eagles quarterback to rush for 100 yards in a game in the Super Bowl era.

After initially saying he was unsure who would start Sunday, Pederson announced Monday that Hurts would remain the starter versus Arizona.

Team sources told ESPN earlier this month that the Eagles intend to keep Wentz despite his season-long struggles and want him be a major part of their team going forward.

But if the Eagles ultimately decide to move on from Wentz, they must make that decision by the second day of the 2021 league year — sometime in mid-March — because on the third day of the league year, his $22 million base salary for 2022 becomes fully guaranteed and his 2021 roster bonus of $10 million is paid out.

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Philadelphia Eagles’ Dallas Goedert has small ankle fracture

Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert has a small fracture in his ankle, a league source confirmed.

He is out indefinitely, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, stripping quarterback Carson Wentz of yet another weapon.

Goedert limped off the field in the first quarter of Sunday’s 23-23 tie with the Cincinnati Bengals following a short completion and did not return. He entered Week 3 as the team leader in targets, catches, receiving yards and yards after the catch. The offense evidently missed him the rest of the way versus Cincinnati, as Wentz managed just 225 passing yards on 47 attempts (4.8 average).

Drafted in the second round in 2018 out of South Dakota State, the 25-year-old managed to collect 91 catches for 941 yards and nine touchdowns through two seasons in the league, even though he competed with Pro Bowler Zach Ertz for touches from quarterback Carson Wentz.

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“Losing a guy like Dallas that has a huge role in protections [and the] run game, but he’s a playmaker with the ball in his hands and down the field. He’s a big part of our game plan every week, and so losing him, we obviously had to make some adjustments on the fly, [which] makes it tough,” coach Doug Pederson stated.

The Eagles also lost DeSean Jackson to a hamstring injury Sunday. He is considered day-to-day, and the team is positive he’ll be able to play Sunday night at the San Francisco 49ers, according to Pederson.

Rookie receiver Jalen Reagor, meanwhile, remains sidelined with a UCL tear in his thumb. Philadelphia could get some relief in the form of Alshon Jeffery (Lisfranc), who is expected to ramp up his participation in practice this week in hopes of returning sometime in the near future.

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Philadelphia Eagles starting left tackle Andre Dillard tears biceps

Eagles left tackle Andre Dillard will miss the 2020 campaign with a biceps injury, multiple outlets reported Thursday.

Derrick Gunn, formerly of NBC Sports Philadelphia, first reported Dillard suffered a biceps injury Thursday, and he added the team hoped it was not a tear. Later, NFL Media and ESPN confirmed Gunn’s report and added that Dillard will need season-ending surgery.

Dillard’s injury is a heavy blow to an Eagles offensive line that already lost Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks for the season to a torn Achilles in June.

Dillard was present at practice early Thursday but left before team drills began. Dillard, 24, was slated to take over the starting left tackle job in 2020. The team traded up to select him with the No. 22 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, and after sitting behind future Pro Football Hall of Famer Jason Peters for a season, Dillard was poised to take over the starting spot.

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The Eagles have a deep group of offensive linemen, but it’s young and inexperienced after Halapoulivaati Vaitai’s exit in free agency. In Dillard’s absence, the most logical move seems to be moving Peters, who returned to the Eagles to replace Brooks at right guard, to left tackle and moving third-year pro Matt Pryor up in Peters’ place.

The Eagles, however, already signed Peters to play over Pryor during the offseason.

Pryor started camp working as the backup right guard behind Peters, but after right tackle Lane Johnson suffered a lower body injury that caused him to miss a week of practice, Pryor has been working as the top right tackle.

Third-year pro Jordan Mailata took Dillard’s spot at left tackle with the first team Thursday, but he’s had his share of struggles in camp.

Still, the easiest move would be to slide Peters over and promote Pryor, but it depends on the rest of the offensive line staying healthy.

Dillard had an up-and-down camp. He was not “dominant” by any stretch as suggested above by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. He missed practice earlier this week with an upper body injury, and while he mostly held his own, he was involved in a scary moment Wednesday.

Dillard was bull-rushed by defensive end Joe Ostman, lost his balance and fell into quarterback Carson Wentz’s legs. Wentz got up slowly, but he was fine. It was an alarming moment. The Eagles appeared for Dillard in Year 2 despite some physical and mental struggles in his rookie season.

The former Washington State standout stated he added 20 pounds of muscle this offseason and felt much stronger. Unfortunately for Dillard and the Eagles, he’ll have to wait a year to show off his improvement.

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