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Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles have learned to close out games

Louie DiBiase

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Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Gino Cammilleri reporting

In just over two short years the Eagles learned one great skill: How to finish

After the firing of coach Chip Kelly, Jeffrey Lurie went into 2016 offseason in search of “his guy.” Many could see the culture Kelly had developed was not met with much love by many of the players. Lurie wanted to be more involved in the coaching search after the failed Kelly experiment.

Rather than selecting a “football genius,” the Eagle owner wanted to find someone who excelled in the soft skill area of coaching. Maybe not the first choice the fans had wanted (myself included), Doug Pederson was hired as the next head coach for the Eagles. Being a first-time head coach, not many knew what to expect of coach Pederson coming into the 2016 season.

In the first three games of the 2016 NFL season, the Eagles stormed out of the gates to a 3-0 record.

With wins over the Browns, Bears, and an upset victory over the Steelers, Pederson’s Eagles looked destined for the playoffs. Going into a bye week at the most inopportune time may have thrown off the team’s mojo.

The Eagles would go on to win only two out of their next eleven games, finishing the season at a middling 7-9.

After missing the playoffs in 2016, Doug and co. knew that making a jump in 2017 was the number one priority. And as we all know the 2017 Eagles were vastly improved. From missing the playoffs to Super Bowl Champions in one year, coach Pederson went from hot-seat to Philadelphia royalty.

But what changed for this Eagles team in just one year?

The coaching staff stayed the same. The roster was overhauled for the better. But there was one underlying element that made this team go from good to great. They learned how to finish.

The 2016 Eagles were known for blowing wins late in games. From the Ryan Mathews fumble against the Lions, to the atrocious play calling against the Cowboys late in Jerry World. Not to mention allowing Kirk Cousins to march down the field against Washington.

Oct 9, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions cornerback Darius Slay (23) forces a turnover against Philadelphia Eagles running back Ryan Mathews (24) during the fourth quarter at Ford Field. Lions win 24-23. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

That 2016 team clearly lacked the clutch-gene.

In one-score games, the Eagles finished with a less than ideal record of 1-6. Fast forward a year later to 2017. The Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles team finished the year with a record of 7-2 in one-score games, two of which came in the playoffs.

The first game of the budding 2018 season, the Eagles started hot with a 1-0 record, which happened to be a one-score game. There are many different factors that had a hand in the way the Eagles closed games. Carson Wentz had an MVP-caliber season. Doug Pederson’s play calling exponentially improved. The defense asserted themselves as one of the best in the league. But the one element that may have created the biggest shift in the organization can be attributed to a new culture.

When Jeffrey Lurie hired Doug to be the head coach, it was clear that there was a paradigm shift in the Eagles organization. Chip Kelly was focused more on “scheme beats talent,” and we all know how well that went.

Coach Pederson came in with the mentality that if his players bought in they could achieve greatness. After the finale of 2016, Doug made it known that being 7-9 “sucks.” Pederson knew the talent he had in that locker room. He knew how special Carson was. He knew how elite the defense was. He knew he had everything he needed to win. All he needed was the team to buy in.

Come 2017, all the chips were in the middle of the table. The team had bought in. By simply looking at the statistics of the team you can see that the 100% bought into Doug’s mentality.

Offense Rushing Passing 3rd  Down Conversion % 4Th Down Conversion % Red Zone Scoring %
2016 11th – 1,813 yds, 16 TDs, 113.31 Y/G 24th – 3,585 yds, 16 TDs, 224.06 Y/G 85/224 – 37.9% 13/27 – 48.1% 27/55 – 49.1%
2017 3rd – 2,115 yds, 9 TD’s, 132.19 Y/G 13th – 3,737 yds, 38 TDs, 233.56 Y/G 96/230 – 41.7% 17/26 – 65.4% 36/55 – 65.5%

 

Defense Rushing Passing 3rd Down Defense % 4th Down Defense % Red Zone Defense
2016 15th – 1,652 yds, 10 TDs, 103.3 Y/G 13th – 3,832 yds, 25 TDs, 239.5 Y/G 82/205 – 40.0% 8/18 – 44.4% 23/51 – 45.1%
2017 1st – 1,267 yds, 7 TDs, 79.2 Y/G 17th – 3,637 yds, 24 TDs, 227.3 Y/G 66/205 – 32.2% 4/18 – 22.2% 21/38 – 55.3%

Statistics from Pro Football Reference

Coach Pederson inherited a cultureless Chip Kelly Eagles team and molded them into the Super Bowl Champions he knew they could be. It is well known that talent does not win championships (i.e. the “Dream Team” 2011 Eagles), but how well that talent meshes together.

These aren’t the same old Eagles. This locker room is different. This coach is different. These players are different. These are the new Eagles. A team that plays with passion. A team that plays for its city. A team who finishes games. A blue-collar team that takes pride in their work

Louie, an Eagles, and NFL enthusiast all his life has finally found his home to share his thousands of takes on the Philadelphia Eagles with Locked on Eagles. Louie also works in Buffalo sports radio as a producer for WGR Sports Radio 550 the official home of the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres, in addition to working as the Sports Director for 91.3 FM WBNY Buffalo. He may be far from the nest, but Louie bleeds green just like the rest of Eagles Nation. Fly Eagles Fly.

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Philadelphia Eagles

Wentz vs Star Quarterbacks

Louie DiBiase

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Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

In just three seasons, Carson Wentz has gone from a young, promising future star to an actual star in the NFL.

Most objective NFL fans (not looking at you Cowboy fans) would go through their top 10 QB list and have Wentz there.

NFL players have the same belief as they voted Wentz the #3 overall player on the 2017 NFL Top 100 list.

As the Eagles head to New Orleans to take on the 8-1 Saints, Wentz is set to take on another star QB, and future hall of famer in Drew Brees.

In three seasons, how has Wentz fared against opposing star quarterbacks?

2016

Week 3 Eagles vs Steelers: Wentz vs Ben Roethlisberger

Result: Eagles win 

Wentz statline: 23/31 301 YDS 2 TD 0 INT

Roethlisberger statline: 24/44 257 YDS 0 TD 1 INT

 

Week 10 Eagles vs Falcons: Wentz vs Matt Ryan 

Result: Eagles win

Wentz statline: 25/36 231 YDS 0 TD 0 INT

Ryan statline: 18/33 267 1 TD 1 INT

 

Week 11 Eagles vs Seahawks: Wentz vs Russell Wilson

Result: Eagles lose

Wentz statline: 23/45 218 YDS 2 TD 2 INT

Wilson statline: 18/31 272 YDS 1 TD 0 INT

 

Week 12 Eagles vs Packers: Wentz vs Aaron Rodgers 

Result: Eagles lose 

Wentz statline: 24/36 254 YDS 0 TD 1 Rushing TD 1 INT

Rodgers statline: 30/39 313 YDS 2 TD 0 INT

 

2017 

Week 4 Eagles vs Chargers: Wentz vs Philip Rivers 

Result: Eagles win 

Wentz statline: 17/31 242 YDS 1 TD 0 INT

Rivers statline: 22/38 347 YDS 2 TD 0 INT

 

Week 6 Eagles vs Panthers: Wentz vs Cam Newton 

Result: Eagles win 

Wentz statline: 16/30 222 YDS 3 TD 0 INT

Newton statline: 28/52 239 YDS 1 TD 3 INT

 

Week 13 Eagles vs Seahawks: Wentz vs Russell Wilson 

Result: Eagles lose

Wentz statline: 29/45 348 YDS 1 TD 1 INT

Wilson statline: 20/31 227 YDS 3 TD 0 INT

 

Week 14 Eagles vs Rams: Wentz vs Jared Goff 

Result: Eagles win 

Wentz statline: 23/41 291 YDS 4 TD 1 INT

Goff statline: 16/26 199 YDS 2 TD 0 INT

 

2018

Week 3 Eagles vs Colts: Wentz vs Andrew Luck

Result: Eagles win 

Wentz statline: 25/37 255 YDS 1 TD 1 INT

Luck statline: 25/40 164 YDS 1 TD 0 INT

 

Week 7 Eagles vs Panthers: Wentz vs Cam Newton 

Result: Eagles lose

Wentz statline: 30/37 310 YDS 2 TD 0 INT

Newton statline: 25/39 269 YDS 2 TD 0 INT

 

Total record: 6-4

Wentz total statline: 2,672 YDS 16 TD 6 INT

Opposing star QB total statline: 2,554 YDS 15 TD 5 INT

Overall not a bad resume for Wentz against other star QBs. A winning record, more yards and touchdowns. The Eagles defense plays a big part in the opposing signal caller’s numbers but even in 2016 when Wentz had virtually no help on offense, he has played up to the level of competition from the star quarterback on the other side of the field.

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Philadelphia Eagles

Turning the season around with snow?

Louie DiBiase

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Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

On this Friday edition of Locked on Eagles, Louie dives into how perhaps a day of practice in the snow can spark the Eagles second half run.

Is not playing loose enough a problem for the Eagles? What match-ups are key against the Saints?

All that, thoughts from Locked on Saints Host Ross Jackson, and more!

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Philadelphia Eagles

An honest evaluation of Rasul Douglas

Louie DiBiase

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Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Step aside Jalen Mills. Rasul Douglas is the new public enemy #1 on Eagles Twitter.

All season long Eagles fans have called for Douglas to get playing time as starting corners Mills and Ronald Darby have played up and down all season.

The #FreeSul campaign got their wish on Sunday Night as Douglas started on the outside against the Cowboys.

The results did not totally destroy the brand….but it certainly didn’t help it.

To the film room we go.

The good:

Douglas didn’t have a good game by any stretch of the imagination. But he also didn’t play bad enough to believe he is the next Bradley Fletcher like some have him set to be.

On this play Douglas does a good job of staying with Cooper in the end zone, keeping him close to the sideline. Good leverage and he put himself in a position to make a play on the ball if it came his way.

Douglas has been strong in the red zone this year.

When Douglas plays up, he has more success when jamming at the line. It allows him to use his length and stop receivers from opening him up. Here, Douglas does a good job of bumping the receiver who stumbles and can’t gain any separation.

Gallup couldn’t create any separation from Douglas who once again does a nice job tying up the receiver.

Douglas didn’t have a great day when it comes to tackling but a lot of that came from hesitation and getting caught in the wrong spots. On this play Douglas reads Prescott going to the out route at the 50 and closes in to make a great open field tackle. When he wants to be, Douglas can be a very forceful tackler for a CB.

More examples of that tackling ability when Douglas takes the right angle and shoots to the ball.

Douglas shows a lot of patience against Amari Cooper on this play. Cooper tries to turn Douglas inside but Douglas doesn’t bite and runs toe to toe down the sideline, keeping Cooper on the outside with little room to work with.

 

The bad: 

Despite showing some positive signs, Douglas didn’t instill confidence in fans that he could replace Darby who most likely won’t be in Philadelphia after this season.

There were too many plays were Cooper manipulated Douglas’s hips to go wherever he wanted them to.

In a previous play shown Douglas did a good job not quickly biting on Coopers first step. This play was a different story as Cooper turned Douglas outside and then cut inside into the end zone. Luckily Dak Prescott isn’t Carson Wentz or this might be a touchdown.

Two more examples of Cooper beating Douglas with a good sell on his first cut. Cooper once again gets Douglas to commit outside with his hips while making another move inside. It is tougher for Douglas to get caught in these situations as he doesn’t have the quick footwork and hip movement to recover as well as someone like Sidney Jones or Avonte Maddox.

This was a brutal play for Douglas. On this screen, Douglas has a responsibility to protect the outside. Instead, he stays inside and has no shot of getting back to his spot with blockers already set up. Truthfully it looked like Douglas had cinder blocks attached to his feet. He didn’t move his feet and was badly out of position. Gotta fly to the ball.

Blame should go to Douglas for his play, but Jim Schwartz shouldn’t get a pass either. A coaches job is to put his players in the best position to succeed. Douglas isn’t the most athletic corner and he needs reps to grow his patience and route recognition.

Schwartz knowing that, should have allowed Douglas to get his hands on receivers at the line so he could better position himself to make plays on the ball and stay with receivers.

The way Douglas was getting turned inside-out with these first steps, Schwartz should have adjusted his gameplan. Instead, Dallas moves the chains on a crucial drive late in the game because Douglas gets put on ice skates.

Once the NCAA leader in interceptions, Douglas has a knack for making plays on the ball when he is in the right position.

The coaches have to do a better job of getting him in positions to make those kinds of plays in man coverage which West Virginia rarley used with Douglas.

Against excellent route runners like Amari Cooper (and Michael Thomas coming up), his weaknesses can be exposed.

When he was able to get his hands on Cooper or play off in man or zone, he was much more effective.  That should have been the game plan all night long.

With Darby out for the season after tearing his ACL, Douglas is going to get 7 crucial games to prove he can be a starter in 2019.

It wasn’t a great first step against Dallas but it wasn’t a catastrophic performance that has sealed Douglas’s fate.

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