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October 23, 2018

What they're saying: The Eagles can still be fixed, but it might take some trades to do it

The Eagles are dead. Long live the Eagles.

Well, that might be a bit of a stretch given that the Birds are a London win over the Jaguars away from being .500 at the season's midway point. But, given how the reigning Super Bowl champions have gotten to this point — and the uphill climb that lies ahead — it's certainly understandable that some in Philly feel like 2018 is destined to be a lost season.

The Eagles may not be dead, but the hole they've dug (and continue to dig) for themselves certainly feels like it's closing in on six feet deep.

As we turn our collective attention to Week 8 of the NFL season — and the Eagles' final game before their bye week — let's take a look at what some of the national media is saying about the Birds:

An unlikely defender

Mike Lombardi | The Athletic

Oh, great. Doug Pederson is struggling — and not helping himself with his tone during his press conference — which means here comes vanquished enemy of the state Mike Lombardi to kick him while he's down sort of, kind of defend him?

I ... uh ... um ... did not see this one coming.

—The Eagles blew a 17-0 lead in the fourth quarter on Sunday and lost to the Panthers 21-17, prompting Eagles coach Doug Pederson to say:

“These are games that galvanize football teams, and this is going to do that, this is going to bring us even closer together … pressure’s off of us. Nobody in the outside world is giving us a chance to do much of anything.  Pressure’s off, so we can go play, have fun and just relax.” 

I totally understand what Pederson is doing with these comments. Last year the Eagles made the most of their underdog perception and won the title. They relished in the “no one gives us respect role” all the way to their great win vs. the Patriots. Pederson loved using that motivational technique so much that he now wants to use it again, even though his team is the reigning Super Bowl champion until next February. But the Eagles are not the same team as last year in any phase. It’s been especially obvious this season on the four-point plays — the third downs in the red zone. They cannot convert with the same success as they did last season and their inability to convert third downs overall on Sunday, just 1-4 in the fourth quarter and 3-12 overall, cost them the game. Last year the Eagles were a remarkable 51.4 percent on third downs in the red zone, which was the third best in the NFL. This year they are 21.1 percent, ranking 31st in the NFL. Losing those four-point plays is a killer.  []

Not the most emphatic defense of the head coach, but given the source, Doug should take it.

Their biggest problem?

Bill Barnwell |

Over at ESPN, Bill Barnwell took a look at some of the NFL's contenders, of which the Eagles are apparently still one, and decided to take a look at each of their biggest weaknesses. For the Birds, that's their injured and underperforming secondary.

Darby and Mills are a mess. In the fourth quarter on Sunday, Darby gave a 10-yard cushion and was still badly beaten on a sluggo route for a touchdown by Devin Funchess. On the critical fourth-and-10 conversion that extended the game, Mills wasn't able to sustain coverage on Torrey Smith and then failed to tackle him, turning a 12-yard completion into a 35-yard catch-and-run.

These are not isolated examples. Mills was the primary defender in coverage on three completions of 50 yards or more from Weeks 2-5. Darby missed a tackle on what became a 75-yard O.J. Howard touchdown and has been isolated for two touchdowns inside the 5-yard line.

The numbers are not pretty. When opposing teams threw to their wide receivers last season, the Eagles allowed a Total QBR of 54.7 and a passer rating of 71.2, which respectively ranked third and fourth in the NFL. This season, those same wideouts are generating a QBR of 79.8 and a passer rating of 99.4, which rank 15th and 16th. When the Eagles got pressure in 2017, their defensive backs held up and allowed a passer rating of just 35.1, which was second best in the NFL. That number is all the way up to 64.9 this season, which ranks 20th.  []

Of course, if the Eagles wanted to remedy that by looking to the outside, it's been reported that Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson is not only available for trade, but has also requested to be traded out of Arizona.

It's not too late

Mark Maske | The Washington Post

Down in the nation's capital, they still believe that the Birds are the best of a bad NFC East, despite the fact that they sit 1.5 games behind the Redskins. 

Obviously, with a weak division, the Eagles have enough to turn things around and make the playoffs — and given that they are 1-0 already and still have five more division games to go, they still control their own destiny in the East. 

There remains time for the Eagles to pull things together and possibly win the NFC East. No one in the division looks all that formidable. The Eagles, at their best, remain the division’s top team.

But they haven’t been at their best all season. It’s never easy to defend a Super Bowl title. Wentz remains less than a year removed from the knee injury that cut short his superb 2017 season. There are issues at running back following the loss of Jay Ajayi, enough to make some believe that the Eagles might — or should — trade a second-round draft choice to the Pittsburgh Steelers for Le’Veon Bell.

It’s not time to count out the Eagles. But it is time to wonder whether they’ll be able to pull things together.  []

However, just winning a subpar division doesn't make for a successful season, especially when you're defending Super Bowl champs. 

Of course, there's still a week left before the 2018 NFL Trade Deadline, and the rumors continue to swirl. Let's take a look at some of the latest that have to do with the Eagles... 

Howie is 'casting a wide net'

Jason La Canfora | CBS Sports

According to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, the Eagles are keeping their options open when it comes to next week's trade deadline. And they seem motivated to make a move.

"They're calling around, they're casting a wide net," said CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora on CBS Sports HQ Monday. "They reached out to the Denver Broncos about a couple of their corners. Chris Harris Jr. and Bradley Roby, Emmanuel Sanders and DeMaryius Thomas. Denver is trying to get teams to take Thomas off their hands.

"I expect them to rekindle with the Steelers about Le'Veon Bell with a conversation or two this week before the team leaves for London to face the Jacksonville Jaguars this coming weekend.

"The Eagles cleared significant amounts of cap space. They can clear significantly more by peddling Nick Foles elsewhere. That division is still there to be had. The Washington Redskins aren't a juggernaut. I can't imagine the Eagles going meekly knowing we need to add some things here if they want to talk about repeating."  [Transcript via]

RELATED: NFL Trade Rumors: Eagles 'working on ways' to acquire Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson

Rocky Mountain buy

Scotty Payne | The Mile High Report

Adam Schefter confirmed that the Broncos are going to be sellers at the deadline, which means those names mentioned above — Sanders, Thomas, Roby, and Harris — could all be available to the Eagles ahead of the deadline.

Schefter’s thoughts backup reports that came out on Sunday that said the Broncos were open to trading veteran wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. Other reports and rumors also name linebacker Brandon Marshall, cornerback Chris Harris Jr., and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders as other Broncos players reportedly on the block.

This statement by Adam Schefter should be a “no shit” sort of statement but there are Broncos fans out there hoping the team makes a move for a Patrick Peterson.  []

What about DeVante?

Justin Hier | The Phinsider

Over the weekend, it was reported that the Eagles reached out to the Dolphins regarding the availability of DeVante Parker, who was a healthy scratch for Miami on Sunday. 

According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, the Dolphins are indeed willing to trade DeVante Parker but will not move on from the enigmatic pass catcher for anything less than a third-round draft pick. Dolphins head coach Adam Gase has previously told reporters that the team is not actively shopping the former first-round pick, but multiple reports have mentioned that Parker is on the trade block.

The Dolphins exercised Parker’s fifth-year option during the offseason, meaning he is under contract through the 2019 season with a $9,387,000 cap hit next year. However, that option is guaranteed only for injury, meaning the team could choose to cut him next offseason if they choose to do so. ...

According to Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post, Parker has expressed his desire to remain in Miami for the long haul. “Yeah, I would love to be here long-term,” Parker said. “I get along with everybody here. Front office. All of them. Cool people. I wouldn’t mind being here long term.” In regards to being traded, Parker said, “Yeah. I prefer not to be. I want to be here, but it’s a business. So whatever happens, happens. You can’t control some things.”  []

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