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December 27, 2017

What they're saying: The rest of the league is suddenly licking its chops

Eagles NFL
122617_Jones-Darby Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles cornerbacks Ronald Darby (right) and Sidney Jones (left).

For the first time since he was available to come off Injured Reserve, it actually seems like there's a chance rookie cornerback Sidney Jones (Achilles) is activated.

"Again, that's one of the spots we'll have to take a look at this week and see where he's at physically," head coach Doug Pederson said Monday. "I know he's healthy and all that, but listen, he hasn't taken a hit in a long time, too. It will be day-to-day. I want to see where he's at at the end of the week."

That's a big change from previous weeks when Pederson was quick to shut down the idea of the second-round pick seeing his first action of the season. Of course, the Eagles could decide to keep him on the shelf heading into the playoffs. 

Either way, a decision on Jones is coming soon. Brandon Lee Gowton of Bleeding Green Nation explains: 

This week marks the last stretch of practices that Jones can participate in without being activated to the 53-man roster. Jones is currently still on the non-football injury list. The Eagles started practicing Jones on December 13, which means his 21-day window ends on January 3. The Eagles have until then, at the latest, to either activate him to the 53-man roster or shut him down for the rest of the season.

If the Eagles are satisfied with Jones’ progress, they can activate him prior to this week’s game against Dallas. The Eagles can afford to throw him into the fire, too, since they don’t have to worry about winning the game.  [bleedinggreennation.com]

Could that be on Sunday against the Cowboys? We'll have to wait and see since Pederson wasn't even ready to comment on how long his starters will play in the season finale. Let's take a look at that and much more in today's edition of What They're Saying... 

Rest of NFC must be licking its chops...

Peter King | SI.com

As you'll see, there was a lot of this following Monday's game.

I can imagine all the Eagles in the locker room post-game. A win’s a win. And We clinched home-field in the NFC—there’s 15 other teams that wish they could say that. And We’ve got all the confidence in the world in Nick Foles. They’re deluding themselves. Even with home-field advantage through the playoffs, the Eagles are going to have to make some plays on offense against three very good teams. Can they make enough positive plays on offense to win even one of those games against a team with the defensive talent of New Orleans or Carolina, one of which is the likely divisional-round foe on Jan. 13 or 14; or then in a possible championship match against the Rams or Vikings; or then in the Super Bowl? Hard to imagine...

Foles now has a five-point win over the moribund Giants and an all-time lucky win over the disorganized (that’s putting it nicely) Raiders. The next game he has that means something is nearly three weeks away. The Eagles’ staff has a lot of work to do to find some way that Foles can perform competently to win a playoff game.  [si.com]

... because the Birds look vulnerable 

Mark Cannizzaro | The New York Post

If you’re an Eagles fan and you’re completely comfortable with their position as the start of the playoffs nears, it’s likely you’re not being honest with yourself.

Either that or you’re simply seduced by the numbers.

The Eagles, based on their recent play, including Sunday’s sloppy Christmas-night, 19-10 home win over the Raiders, look like the most vulnerable No. 1 playoff seed in recent memory.  [nypost.com]

... and beatable at the Linc

Mark Maske | The Washington Post

Someone will have to go to Philadelphia at some point during the NFC playoffs and beat the Eagles. But the Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers and Los Angeles Rams seem perfectly capable of doing that. If those teams were watching Monday night, they had to be delighted by what they saw from the Eagles.

The Vikings probably must be regarded as the true NFC favorite at this point as they attempt to become the first team to play a Super Bowl in its home stadium. The Rams, Saints and Panthers aren’t far behind.  [washingtonpost.com]

Foles needs the reps – but will he get them?

Rob Ellis | NBC Sports Philadelphia

Doug Pederson said he'd take a day-to-day approach when it came to deciding playing time against the Cowboys, but after his performance on Monday night, it wouldn't hurt to get Nick Foles a few more reps before he has to face an actual playoff team.

And really that’s what this is all about — what lies ahead. To a healthy degree, it sounds like classic fan nit-picking to be so critical of a team that has accomplished so much. What the Eagles have achieved this season is nothing short of spectacular. Best record in the NFL, division title, bye, home-field advantage throughout. They’ve done this despite significant injuries. It’s been a thrilling season when most optimists thought 10 wins was the ceiling. The front office, the coaches and the players deserve every accolade thrown their way. But that’s in the rearview. It’s not about what could have been had Wentz still been working his magic under center with Jason Peters protecting his blindside. Or if Jordan Hicks was still patrolling the middle on defense. This is about playoff readiness now with what you have.  [nbcsports.com]

Of course, you also don't want to get him hurt – although backup Nate Sudfeld is likely to get his first NFL experience on Sunday – so Pederson will have to be careful with how he balances that in the season finale.

"Well, if that's the approach, then I would have rested him last night, quite honestly," Pederson said Monday when asked about placing a priority on Foles' health. "I can't worry about that. I got to play and get him as many reps as he can, and then be smart about it.

"We have a lot of football left. Our season really is just beginning, quite honestly. But we'll be smart and make good decisions there as a coaching staff. [I’ll] talk to the coordinators about play time and all that. We'll have a good plan later in the week."

'You can put that in the paper'

Jack McCaffery | The Reporter

Lane Johnson didn't seem too pleased following the win, especially with those three penalties he was called for against the Raiders. 

The Eagles’ offense produced only one touchdown. And Johnson was flagged twice for second-quarter penalties, one for holding that negated an 11-yard Nelson Agholor catch. He was also penalized for holding in the third quarter. None of the penaties would push him into apologizing for the effort. Indeed, it thrust him onto the offensive.

“I didn’t think Khalil Mack had a sack, did he?” Johnson said. “He’s supposed to be the best player in the league. Go back, and I am not happy about the holds. I’m sure that ref will be reviewed on his calls. Personally, I don’t think about getting caught. It was ticky-tack bull-bleep, and you can put that in the paper, I don’t really care. Other than that, it is what it is.”  [thereporteronline.com]

'I'm all hopped up on Mt. Dew!'

After sacking Raiders QB Derek Carr, Eagles DE Chris Long suffered what the medical community refers to as a brain fart, one the could've cost the Eagles points and driven fans crazy. Luckily it didn't, because seeing him run off the field while the ball was on the turf right behind him was actually kind of hilarious. 

His explanation? That might be even funnier.


Why I no longer play fantasy

Max Meyer | SI.com

Of course, you have to remember that forever story of heartbreak, there's an equally happy winner out there somewhere... 

The Raiders fumbled their desperation lateral, and the Eagles returned it for a defensive touchdown. After that time-expiring score, instead of kicking the extra point with Jake Elliott, Doug Pederson opted to kneel.

Luckily most bettors avoided the carnage since the Raiders closed as 10-point underdogs, but the same cannot be said for fantasy owners. 

[si.com]


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