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September 16, 2019

What they're saying: A pair of Eagles trade rumors and the fallout from the loss to Falcons

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Wentz-Sudfeld_091619_usat Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Could Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nate Sudfeld, right, help the Steelers or Saints, both of whom lost their starting quarterbacks in Week 2?

The Philadelphia Eagles nearly pulled off another improbable victory on Sunday night, but fell about a half yard short of knocking off the Falcons in Week 2. And in addition to losing the game, the Eagles might have lost a few valuable players in the process.

We won't get into all that here — you can read the latest injury updates right here if you're interested — but there's still plenty to cover after the Eagles fell to 1-1 on the young season. 

For starters, the Eagles saw their Super Bowl odds drop following their 24-20 loss in Atlanta, according to betonline.ag. Entering the weekend tied with the Rams for the fourth-best odds to win it all at 12-1, the Birds dipped slightly to 16-1, which is currently with the Bears for sixth-best in the NFL. Harder to read for Philly might be the fact that the Cowboys essentially swapped places with the Eagles, going from 16-1 to 12-1 after they improved to 2-0 with a win over Washington.

As for next week's matchup against the Lions, the Eagles opened as a seven-point favorite at home over the undefeated (1-0-1) Lions, per Bovada. However, depending on the status of all those injured Eagles, that line could change a bit as the game approaches. 

But before we can turn our full attention to Detroit, let's take a look at some reaction to Sunday night's loss to the Falcons — as well as some recent trade rumors involving the Eagles — in our latest edition of What They're Saying... 

He was 'legend'

Bo Wulf | The Athletic

Before starting their final drive of the game against Atlanta, Carson Wentz reportedly told his teammates, "Let's go be legendary." Unfortunately, as The Athletic's Bo Wulf so perfectly puts it, Nelson Agholor "let legendary slip through his hands."

Despite the fact that the Eagles came up short of winning the game, there are positives that can be taken away, like how Wentz was able to battle back after one of the worst starts to a game in his career. 

Wentz was clearly hurting after taking a few brutal shots early in the game, and even had to go to the blue medical tent to be tested for a concussion before returning to action, but he was able rally his teammates (or what was left of them by the second half) and nearly stole a win in Atlanta. 

Here's more from Bo on how the Eagles can put a positive spin on the loss...

In total, Wentz’s night was not spectacular. He threw two first-half interceptions and looked unwell at times after a series of big hits, including one to his ribs by linebacker Deion Jones on the first interception. Wentz finished 25 of 43 for 231 yards and was sacked three times. But his force of will was extolled in an otherwise dejected postgame locker room. ...

There is a case to be made that Sunday night was a moral victory of sorts for the Eagles, given the unforeseen constraints that fell upon them starting in pregame warmups. They have shown resilience time and again since the start of the 2017 season, but this particular group has not faced real adversity, and they fought with aplomb in their first such test and nearly stole a victory in a game they had little right to win. That will be little solace for Agholor or Ertz or Wentz or anyone on the defense who had to watch from behind as Julio Jones raced into the end zone. Two months from now, we may look back on Sunday as a feel-good loss that proved the mettle of a team with heart. We might also look back and say the Eagles blew a game they should have won. In a 16-game season for a team with Super Bowl aspirations, any moral victories better quickly lead to actual wins. ...

For now, Wentz, who said he expects to be very sore Monday, will have to settle for what was probably his first career spike.

“He was a legend tonight,” Ertz said, “from start to finish.”  [theathletic.com]

Wentz' toughness shines in loss

Benjamin Solak | Bleeding Green Nation

After after an overall unspectacular performance, one that at times in the first half had us convinced Wentz was injured, it's hard not to appreciate the mental toughness Wentz displayed. That's why Bleeding Green's Benjamin Solak listed Wentz among the winners from Sunday night's Eagles-Falcons game.

Carson Wentz

I want to take a God-awful first half and put it to the side — not forget about it, but make it an ancillary point. Because, after such a terrible display, for Wentz to come out in hostile territory with a depleted receiving corps and a struggling offensive line and just gut out, play after play after play, he deserves commendation.

Wentz was as Philly as Philly gets and as North Dakota as North Dakota gets last night. He was red in the face and frustrated with his struggles. He was a titan against pressure and never said die, not once, no sir. There was a lot packed into that touchdown spike when the Eagles took the lead, and I will remember that as the main takeaway of this weird, deflating loss: Wentz’s resiliency shined.  [bleedinggreennation.com]

What went wrong

Paul Domowitch | Inquirer.com

So what was it that ultimately doomed the Eagles in Atlanta? As Paul Domowitch pointed out, there were a few things, from the injuries to yet another slow start. But the back-breaking play for the Birds was Julio Jones' 54-yard touchdown on 4th and 3 on a play in which Jim Schwartz dialed up a somewhat predictable blitz. 

With injuries along his defensive front, Schwartz likely thought that was his only option on the play, and it was working for the most part — like when he sent Andrew Sendejo and Malcolm Jenkins in on a blitz earlier in the second half and after the running back picked up Jenkins, Sendejo was left unblocked with a clean shot at Matt Ryan.

Unfortunately, when the Eagles needed the blitz to work the most, it failed them in the worst possible way — not only giving the Falcons enough yards to pick up the first, but letting Jones take it all the way to the house for the go-ahead score late in the fourth quarter. Here's more from Dom on what went wrong. 

Jim Schwartz had high hopes for his interior pass rush this season after the Eagles signed Malik Jackson. But Jackson probably is lost for the season after suffering a Lisfranc foot fracture last week. All-Pro Fletcher Cox, who missed all of training camp and the preseason recovering from his own foot injury, still is trying to get back to where he was. And their other defensive tackle, Tim Jernigan, played just 39 snaps Sunday and was wearing a walking boot on his foot after the game.

So Schwartz on Sunday had to go to Plan B, which was blitzing. He didn’t blitz a ton, but picked his spots. It was effective until it wasn’t, which was on a fourth-and-3 with 2:20 left in the game and the Eagles up by three.

Schwartz sent six rushers after Ryan. But the Falcons called a quick step-back screen to Julio Jones. When left tackle Jake Matthews came out and flattened helpless slot corner Avonte Maddox, Jones was able to race down the left side for a 54-yard touchdown that put the Falcons ahead.  [inquirer.com]

Can Howie fix it?

Zack Rosenblatt | NJ.com

Despite the loss (and the injuries) the Eagles aren't in terrible shape. But if they want to improve the roster, there may be an option floating out there on the trade block — and we all know Eagles GM Howie Roseman isn't shy when it comes to dealing with the Dolphins.

4. Trade splash? If the Eagles truly intend to contend for a Super Bowl, Roseman seriously should be looking into a trade for Dolphins defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick. PFF has graded him as one fo the best slot corners in the NFL and he can also play safety. The Eagles’ cornerbacks have mostly struggled through two games, Ronald Darby in particular, and the Eagles need reinforcements.

Fitzpatrck will cost a lot — Miami might be asking for a first-round pick — but it makes sense since he’s a talented second-year player with two years after this remaining on his rookie contract. He’d help both now as part of the cornerback/safety rotation, and in the future as a potential replacement for Rodney McLeod or Malcolm Jenkins.

At minimum, he’d be a significant upgrade over Sendejo.

A first-round pick would be tough to part with, but it’s worth at least entering negotiations with Miami, even that means parting with one of the Eagles’ own young corners (Darby, Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas or Avonte Maddox) as part of a trade package.  [nj.com]

Of course, there could be another defensive back on the market after Jalen Ramsey got into it on the sideline with Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone and has subsequently asked for a trade.

This is definitely worth monitoring, and we'll have more on Ramsey (and his potential fit with the Eagles) on Tuesday.


UPDATE: It appears there's some movement in regards to Fitzpatrick and a deal could reportedly be done as early as Tuesday, according to Jason La Canfora. The Eagles are reportedly among the finalists to land the talented young defensive back.

Here's the latest from Jimmy Kempski on Fitzpatrick and if he'd be worth the price for the Eagles.

Stay tuned... 


Fitzpatrick certainly fits

Pro Football Focus | ESPN+

Even before the Eagles lost on Sunday night — and Ronald Darby, who to be fair is still recovering from a torn ACL, got torched for a pair of touchdowns — Pro Football Focus listed the Eagles as one of the possible landing spots for Fitzpatrick. 

Philadelphia Eagles

Fourth-year veteran Cre'Von LeBlanc, Philadelphia's primary slot cornerback from a year ago, earned a solid 75.2 coverage grade from the slot in 2018. But he's now on injured reserve with a foot injury, forcing second-year Pittsburgh product Avonte Maddox to take over in the slot. Early returns aren't encouraging.

After earning just a 55.6 coverage grade playing mostly outside cornerback as a rookie, Maddox fell flat on his face across his 44 coverage snaps at slot cornerback in Week 1 against the Redskins. He allowed receptions on six of his eight targets for 52 yards and a first down, with zero forced incompletions and only one defensive stop. Maddox finished the game with a 42.7 coverage grade from the slot, ranking 26th among the 28 NFL defenders with 20 or more coverage snaps played at slot cornerback in Week 1.  [espn.com]

In his most recent mailbag (which also came out before the Falcons game), our own Jimmy Kempski was asked about whether or not Fitzpatrick should be an option for the Eagles. Here's what he had to say:

The marriage of team and player really only works if the Eagles feel like Fitzpatrick would embrace a Jenkins-like role. He would be a great fit as a third safety in the Eagles' defense this season (bye Andrew Sendejo, hello comp pick), and as a long-term starter, replacing either free-agent-to-be Rodney McLeod or aging (and possibly still-unhappy-with-his-contract) Jenkins.

If Fitzpatrick is adamant that he wants to focus on one position, that would probably be slot corner in the Eagles' scheme, which they already have in Avonte Maddox. Otherwise, he's either playing the Jenkins role (which he doesn't want) or the McLeod role (which isn't worth parting with significant draft pick resources to fill).

Jimmy also pointed out that the Eagles won't have to do much scouting on Fitzpatrick, as his coordinator last season in Miami was Matt Burke, who is now an assistant under Jim Schwartz. 

Could Eagles also be sellers?

Mike Kaye | NJ.com

A pair of big-name quarterbacks went down on Sunday when both Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger suffered serious injuries. Brees is expected to miss about six weeks while Big Ben has been ruled out for the season. 

Could either of those teams look to the Eagles to fill a backup quarterback spot? 

The Eagles have two strong backup quarterbacks in Josh McCown and Nate Sudfeld. With Sudfeld on the mend from wrist surgery on his non-throwing arm, the Eagles could look to shop him for future value. ...

The Steelers traded third-string quarterback Josh Dobbs to Jacksonville following their Week 1 loss to the New England Patriots. The Steelers received a fifth-round pick from the Jaguars in the trade.

With Roethlisberger out for the year, the team could look to take that same fifth-round pick and deal it to gain a competent backup quarterback behind Rudolph. Sudfeld, who has thrown 25 career passes, actually has more experience than Dobbs does.

The Saints could also look to trade for Sudfeld, as he could serve as solid insurance if Bridgewater, who has a history of injuries, suffers his own ailment.  [nj.com]

Kaye also pointed out that, with so many injured players, the Eagles could possibly use that extra roster spot they'd gain from carrying just two quarterbacks to roster an extra player at one of the positions where they need the depth. 

Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin

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