Philadelphia Eagles News

Cleaning out Monday's notebook and looking ahead to a big one in Washington

So much happened on a wild, unpredictable, and 180-degree turn of a night at Lincoln Financial Field in the 23-17 win over the New York Giants on Monday that it's worth more notes, along with a look ahead at Sunday's game at Washington. The Eagles are 6-7, tied for first place in the NFC East, and hoping that the victory over New York is the spark that ignites a late-season run to the finish of the regular season …

1. Where does the offense, ravaged by more injuries, go from here? The wide receiver corps consists of two healthy players – J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Greg Ward – along with Nelson Agholor, who missed Monday's game with a knee injury. Alshon Jeffery has an ankle injury that head coach Doug Pederson described as "significant" on Monday. The Eagles have three wide receivers on the practice squad – Robert Davis, a sixth-round draft pick by Washington in 2017 who has appeared in four NFL games, including three this season with Washington (one reception); Marcus Green, a sixth-round draft pick by Atlanta this year who has been on the Eagles' practice squad since September; and Marken Michel, who played for two seasons in the CFL, was signed by the Eagles to a futures contract in January, waived when the roster was cut to 53 players, and added to the practice squad last week.

2. Boston Scott is not a surprise to the Eagles. He's been here since last season and was active for the postseason. The Eagles felt he just needed a chance to show what he could do on the field, and he showed it Monday night playing with rocket fuel in his cleats. Scott, likened to Darren Sproles in so many ways because of his stature, played like Sproles against the Giants. He's quick, he has great cutting ability in the open field, and he will catch passes and run between the tackles and to the edges.

3. Speaking of matchups, as the Eagles head to Washington with Halapoulivaati Vaitai likely at right tackle, Washington could be without standout edge player Ryan Kerrigan for this game. Kerrigan left Sunday's game against Green Bay early in the second half with a leg injury and did not return. To remind you: In 17 games against the Eagles, Kerrigan has 11.5 quarterback sacks, 13 tackles for loss, 22 quarterback hits, and six forced fumbles. He's a beast.

4. That said, Washington's defense played extremely well against Green Bay and will be a tough test on Sunday.

5. The Eagles might have something to work with in the big picture with Marcus Epps, a young safety who has worked his way into the third-man-in role. He logged a career-high 16 snaps on Monday night as the coaching staff gains more confidence in him in the defense.

6. That quarterback Carson Wentz led the Eagles to a comeback in the fourth quarter and a win in the overtime was special – "It was big because it was the first one," head coach Doug Pederson said on Tuesday – but it was huge because he was throwing to Joshua Perkins, Boston Scott, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, and Greg Ward, players he hasn't had a lot of reps with through the season. The Eagles work with their practice squad players before and after practice on Wednesdays and Fridays, and because of all the injuries, the players have had to step in and take live practice reps. "He wants the ball in his hands," Pederson said. "He's had a lot of big games in four years, obviously, but I think none bigger than the one we just came through because he put the team on his shoulders. He trusted the young players. He trusted his offensive line. He trusted me as a playcaller to help put the offense in position to be successful. It was really good to see from Carson."

7. Defensive end Vinny Curry is playing his best football of the season and the Eagles need it. He had four tackles against Seattle, a sack against Miami, and then a pair of quarterback sacks on Monday night. He's playing the run extremely well and setting the edge against the running game and he's got a good burst rushing the quarterback.

8. On the other hand, where is pass rusher Genard Avery, who has played three, 10, five, two, and zero snaps on defense in the five games he's been on the roster since the Eagles acquired him in a trade from Cleveland? Avery had some pressure in his first game, recorded a half-sack in the second game against Chicago, and has been largely on special teams only the rest of the way.

9. Washington is going to try to get the ball deep on the Eagles in the passing game. Rookie Terry McLaurin beat up the Eagles for five receptions and 125 yards with a touchdown in the opener, and the Eagles have given up way too many big plays in the passing game the last two weeks. Let's hope the ironclad defense the Eagles played in the second half against quarterback Eli Manning is what the defense has in store on Sunday. We know the Eagles fans will be at FedEx Field in big numbers. That will make things a little bit more difficult for rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who makes his seventh start of the season.

10. Zach Ertz continues his outstanding season, and while his numbers won't match his record-setting 116 receptions from 2018, he's got 79 catches (first among all NFL tight ends), 827 yards (third), and five touchdowns (tied for sixth). He became the first tight end in NFL history to catch a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter and then in overtime of the same game.

11. The offense recorded five plays of 20-plus yards on Monday night – four passes and one run – a total matched only in games against Detroit and Minnesota this season. Most telling: All five of those plays came on drives that produced points on the scoreboard.

12. Not that this should surprise anyone at this point, but punter Cameron Johnston had a huge game on Monday night, averaging 48.4 gross punting yards and 44.5 yards in the net game. He pinned the Giants with five punts inside the 20-yard line.

13. Props to linebacker Nathan Gerry and the Eagles' ability to take running back Saquon Barkley out of the New York passing game. Gerry had four unassisted tackles and two passes defensed as the Eagles – and it was a total team effort – limited Sanders to three receptions for only 1 yard.

14. The offense is sixth in the NFL in red zone efficiency. That's a super-important number for the final three games of the regular season.

15. Finally, the Eagles had one giveaway on Monday night – the screwy fourth-down failed quarterback sneak from Wentz when he fumbled the football (he didn't appear to have the yard needed to convert the play, anyway) – and in their six victories, the Eagles have turned the ball over only three times. That is the most telling statistic of the season, right there.

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