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October 05, 2017

What they're saying: Eagles' impressive OL, the key vs. Cards, and the legend of Jake Elliott

But first, some thoughts on cheesesteaks – and if Cheez Whiz is a 'tourist attraction'

The Eagles are one quarter of the way through their schedule, and after playing three of their first four games on the road, they'll now get to play four of their next five at home, including Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals. 

Before we get into the actual "football" topics ahead of their Week 5 matchup, let's check in with Cardinals rookie linebacker and former Temple Owl Haason Reddick, who grew up just across the river rom Philly in Camden, N.J. 

With his team heading across the country this weekend, the Cardinals first-round pick was asked about his favorite cheesesteak, which he said includes mayo, ketchup and American cheese – but never onions. Here's more from ESPN's Josh Weinfuss:

"Probably the best cheesesteak I've ever had," Reddick said about Max's Steaks. "Definitely going to try to get the guys to go down there and taste that. I've been telling them. I've been bragging about it. Been telling them what's the right way."

Reddick will be quick to tell you the wrong way to dress up a cheesesteak.

"I don't do Cheez Whiz," Reddick said. "Man, Cheez Whiz is a tourist attraction. Anybody that's really from Philly, I've never seen them put Cheez Whiz on their cheesesteak. I think that's a little bizarre."

Reddick also won't put onions on his cheesesteaks.  []

First, Whiz is not a tourist attraction. I've seen plenty of people put Whiz on a cheesesteak. I've done it myself. It's not my go-to – that would be provolone – but I've definitely ordered a Whiz-wit on several different occasions. That being said, I'm of the mind that you shouldn't tell people how to eat a cheesesteak (or anything, really). Why do you care?

Second, Reddick's credibility gets shot to hell a few short paragraphs later when it's revealed that he started off as an Eagles fan but then became a Steelers fan when Duce Staley went to Pittsburgh. And he's apparently remained a Steelers fan ever since. 

Reddick said he wasn't sure if he'd be booed by Philly fans, the same ones who cheered for him when he was selected 13th overall at the NFL Draft, when he takes the field on Sunday.

"They're crazy, man," Reddick said, just after the story referenced snow balls and Santa Clause – something that happened more than a quarter century before Reddick was even born. 

Anyway, there's actual football to be played and I'm starting to crave a cheesesteak, so let's get on with it. Here's a look at what they're saying about the Eagles as they prepare to host the Cardinals on Sunday.

Some winners and losers so far...

Dave Mangels | Bleeding Green Nation

The obvious answers, like Zach Ertz, Carson Wentz and Doug Pederson, are there. But don't forget about one offensive player who has quietly been having a career year. 

Through four games [Neson] Agholor has turned his career around and looks like a legitimate receiver. He’s found a home in the slot, co-leading the team in touchdown receptions. Like last year his best game was the season opener, but unlike last year he’s followed it up with dependability. He’s validated the Eagles decision to move on from Jordan Matthews.  

Dave also lists three losers, including second-year offensive lineman Isaac Seumalo:

Getting benched after two games is brutal. Seumalo still has a potential future at center, but that the team pulled the plug on him at left guard so quickly is embarrassing for both the player and the team.  []

Offensive line getting some love

Sam Monson | ProFootballFocus

Despite Seumalo’s struggles, ProFootballFocus still ranks the Birds as the second-best pass blocking unit in the NFL.

PFF Elite pass blocking efficiency: 85.4

PFF’s No. 1 O-line on paper heading into the season, the Eagles started slowly but have improved dramatically over the past couple of weeks. They have allowed 31 total pressures, but have been pass blocking for more snaps than all but four other teams.  []

That's been, in large part, due to Pro Bowl level play from a pair of their veteran lineman...

Thunder Leg? 

Tim McManus |

Doug Pederson said Jake Elliott's 61-yard game-winner against the Giants sounded like "a cannon coming off his foot." Turns out, that's not the first time someone said something like about the Eagles kicker. In fact, it's how the former tennis player's football career got started: 

The story goes like this: Elliott attended a homecoming pep rally as a freshman at Lyons Township High School in La Grange, Illinois, and was randomly picked out of the stands to participate in a field goal kicking contest. He was a tennis player with no real kicking background, but when he made contact, it was like a thunderclap. Football coach Kurt Weinberg, interest piqued, told Elliott he should consider trying out for the team.

"I kind of just brushed it off and continued on with my life," Elliott said.

Two years went by before the second knock on the door came...  []

FILM: How Eagles can exploit Cardinals defense

Turron Davenport | The Eagles Wire

The Eagles have piled up over 400 yards of rushing over their last two games, so you can bet the Cardinals, who have a run defense that's ranked in the Top 10 in the NFL (88.0 YPG), will be ready. That, however, could open up some other things for Carson Wentz and the offense.

Their defense features aggressive linebackers in Karlos Dansby, Deone Bucannon and Hasaan Reddick. Pederson can whet their appetite by running right at them in the first series or two. This will get the offensive line firing out of their stance and set a tone early.

That is what the 49ers did against Arizona last week. They worked to establish the run then used play-action earlier.  []

But it’s not like Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is sleeping on Wentz…

Torrey Time?

Les Bowen | The Philadelphia Daily News

Wideout Torrey Smith hasn't gotten off to a great start in an Eagles uniform. Following last week's win over the Chargers, in which he finished with just one catch and for nine yards and dropped another pass that should have resulted in a big gain, Smith tweeted that he was in "the worst stretch of his career."

But if the Eagles hope to take advantage of play-action passes against the Cardinals, a big game from Torrey Smith could go a long way toward a victory on Sunday.

After he’d had a few days to gain perspective, Smith reconsidered the “worst” designation.

“When I looked back and thought about it – I exaggerated a little bit,” he said. “Obviously, there’s some plays I’ve left on the field that I could have made, should have made. It’s more just frustration with that, more than anything, but we’ve been winning, so it’s been able to mask that a little bit. If our offense is able to be productive, and I haven’t even played the way I’m supposed to play … when I get rolling, hopefully this Sunday [against Arizona], it’ll change our offense.”  []

A similar gameplan for the Cards?

Eliot Shorr-Parks |

The Eagles aren't the only team who could take advantage of the deep ball in this one... 

Speed is an issue for the Eagles' cornerbacks, and the Chargers were able to exploit it, as both Keenan Allen and Tyrell Williams topped 100 yards receiving, and both had a catch of at least 50 yards. 

The Cardinals' receivers could also present an issue for the Eagles with their speed, as three of their receivers -- J.J. Nelson, Jaron Brown and John Brown -- were all clocked at running their 40-yard dash at 4.3 seconds or quicker coming out of college.

But it’s not all bad news, as the Cardinals haven’t yet been able to take advantage of that speed.

No receiver on the Cardinals averages more than 15.2 yards per catch this season, and the longest pass completion they have this year is just 45 yards. A big reason for the lack of success down the field is the Cardinals' offensive line has not been able to give quarterback Carson Palmer time to throw.  []

Eagles a unanimous pick?

Ryan Van Bibber | SB Nation

Eight experts and a computer can't be wrong … right?

The only unanimous picks this week, for now, are for the Eagles to beat the Cardinals in Philadelphia. Hard to argue with that one. And for the Steelers to beat the Jaguars in Pittsburgh. It should be hard to argue that one too, unless we get another one of those shockingly competent Jaguars performances, the ones where you barely notice Blake Bortles is there. We probably won’t get one of those performances.  []

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