The Philadelphia Eagles had a big day yesterday, and then also won a football game.
While the city is buzzing with the official news we will be hosting the 2017 NFL Draft, the football talk in town centered more around the Art Museum steps than Lincoln Financial Field. A smattering of fans showed up to watch the Birds back-ups fight for roster spots against a similar group of Jets Thursday night and, at times the football was pretty good. At other times we may have been watching Lionel Messi and Argentina play Uruguay in World Cup qualifying, while also conducting a fantasy football draft. (Carson Wentz got drafted in the 15th round. It’s a keeper league. Still…)
Here are seven things you should talk about today to convince your friends and co-workers you actually watched the Eagles game last night. Copy/paste these into your favorite social channel to look like an Eagles genius. (Note: this may backfire, as people may mock you for watching Week 4 of the pre-season. We’ve been there. We know.)
1. ‘Undefeated Eagles! Start the Super Bowl parade now!’
The Eagles finished the pre-season 4-0! Undefeated! Reminder: That means absolutely nothing.
The last time the Eagles finished the preseason 4-0 was 2012, when the Birds got out to a hot start in the regular season as well, opening 2-0, then 3-1 in their first four games.
The 2012 Eagles finished 4-12, and Andy Reid got fired. If Doug Pederson wants to emulate Reid, that isn’t the season to pick.
Of course, winning games is never a bad thing, so going 4-0 is just fine, even though in the last 10 seasons the only three times they had a winning record in the preseason — 3-1 or 4-0 — the most they won in the regular season was eight games. Every season in the last 10 years the Eagles ended with a winning record, they were .500 or worse in preseason.
Again, this means nothing in terms of prognosticating in-season success. But it is kind of weird.
2. ‘Did everybody stand?’
According to a photo by Matt Lombardo of NJ.com, every Eagles player stood during the national anthem, including rookie free agent Myke Tavarres, who said earlier this week he had planned to sit — in solidary with 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick — before his agent convinced him to reconsider. Tavarres will not make the Eagles team. After recording one quarterback hurry and one special teams tackle on Thursday, he may have been the least notable Eagle on the entire field once the anthem was over.
Kaepernick didn’t sit this week either. He kneeled.
Kaepernick’s teammate Eric Reid also kneeled during the anthem, which was sung by an active serviceman, as the 49ers played in San Diego. This conversation isn’t going away for a long time in the NFL. For Eagles fans, at least, the arguing can go back to being more about the game, and less about the song.
3. ‘Lane Johnson didn’t play. Does that mean he’s not going to get suspended?’
Lane Johnson was supposed to play, but then he didn’t.
Johnson was suspended for 10 games for his second PED violation, but the league has yet to rule on his appeal.
After the game, Doug Pederson told media, “until I get further word from the league office, he goes in as my starting right tackle, so I just decided to keep him out of this game, risking any kind of injury going forward.
“If I haven’t heard now, it may not be in the next couple of days,” Pederson said when asked when the team expects to find out about Johnson’s appeal. “I don’t know that — I’m not going to speculate — but that’s why we did what we did during the training camp with the plans and the different guys so we’d be prepared for this situation.”
The collective bargaining agreement has rules in place for how long this should take, and it sure as heck feels like it’s been longer than the process allows. That said, the league is in control of the pace and Johnson did himself no favors by quibbling in the media with the NFLPA, who seems to be content letting him — and the Eagles — twist in the wind.
“It is tough. It is tough,” Pederson continued. “You would like to know one way or another, whether or not you get the exemption spot, things like that. It can be difficult. It can be a little challenging. But I’m not going to let that bother our football team. I’m not going to let that bother us and we just get ready for Cleveland.”
Regarding that exemptions, if Johnson is suspended, the Eagles will have space to keep another lineman. If he’s not, they may have to cut that last player (likely Barrett Jones). The Eagles need to get their roster to a finalized 53-man squad by Saturday. The NFL is really screwing the team here, perhaps on purpose.
4. ‘If ________ doesn’t make the roster, I’m going to be really mad’
Guys will be cut. Who will you get mad to see go? Fill in your Eagles player of choice.
It might be defensive end Stephen Means.
Maybe it’s Philadelphia Soul standout and local product Jake Metz.
Maybe it’s rookie receiver Paul Turner.
5. ‘At this point I’d put Paul Turner on the field (and the team) before Nelson Agholor.’
I don’t know how smart you will sound if you say that, but I did say it last night during the game. And I think I meant it.
Turner caught 17 balls in the four preseason games for 165 yards. He also returned punts this week, and while he was inconsistent with his fielding at times — letting balls drop and fair catching one punt at the two yard line — he showed what he can do once he does catch the ball.
Get that man a roster spot. Seriously.
Pederson will run a lot of three tight end sets in an attempt to get Trey Burton on the field with Zach Ertz and Brent Celek. Chris Pantale would be the fourth tight end — a necessity to carry if you expect three tight ends to play a lot — and he could make the team over Turner if the Eagles use a spot on, say, an extra offensive lineman or defensive end.
There is no way Turner isn’t signed elsewhere if he’s released, so don’t expect to stash him on the practice squad once cuts are done. The Eagles need to keep Turner around. Last night, he proved that.
6. ‘Chase Daniel makes $7 million a year. Let that soak in.’
The Eagles won 14-6 on Thursday, but not because of the offense. The Birds scored on a punt return and a pick six, managing a whopping zero points when they had the ball. Chase Daniel was 14-for-22 for 131 yards, with two interceptions, himself, in the first half. He was, in a word, bad.
For the preseason, Daniel was 37-for-60 with one touchdown pass and those two picks. He was sacked five times and his yards per attempt was 5.5. His passer rating was a woeful 68.2.
Again, he’s a backup, so it’s not like the Eagles are going into the season with Daniel at a position of need. That said, given Sam Bradford’s penchant for injury and the fact that two NFL starters — Tony Romo and Teddy Bridgewater — are already lost to severe injuries, Daniel’s inconsistent play is a concern.
The hope is that Bradford can be productive and healthy until at least Week 10, but with Carson Wentz missing basically the entire preseason with cracked ribs, he’s nowhere near ready to step in and play if Bradford gets hurt in the next few weeks. Let’s hope, after watching the offense run under Pederson’s protégé, Daniel does little more than hold a clip board this season.