It's getting closer! The Eagles host the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night. On Tuesday, the assistant coaches offered a State of the Team coming off the bye week, plus the Eagles made an interesting roster move. Head coach Doug Pederson will speak with reporters at 10:30 a.m. and quarterback Carson Wentz will address the media later on. We will bring both of those to you live. Until then, feast on a plethora of news and notes in our Morning Roundup presented by Microsoft.
1. Getting Golden Tate Caught Up
Wide receivers coach Gunter Brewer spoke Tuesday about what Golden Tate adds to the Eagles’ wide receiving corps. The project since last Friday has been getting Tate caught up on the playbook, a difficult task made easier by Tate’s veteran experience and the extra time with the bye week.
“He knows what he's talking about. He's been in different systems under different coordinators so sometimes that does help because you've been around different things and not just one thing so just call something that's an apple an orange and just flip over the language and you're fine,” Brewer said.
Brewer also stressed that while Tate and wide receiver Nelson Agholor have similar skill sets, they can and will be used on the field at the same time. The coaching staff will focus on the receivers’ strengths and how they can be utilized together.
Tate’s chemistry with quarterback Carson Wentz will also be key. Quarterbacks coach Press Taylor spoke Tuesday about what Tate and Wentz can do to make sure they connect.
“I think that's a lot of them spending time together, just communicating, making sure they're seeing things the same way, they're on the same page of how they expect things to be run, adjustments versus coverages, and when we get on the field, the opportunity for them to spend time throwing, communication after every single route," Taylor said. "Just getting them on the same page is going to be big this week and that's something we're looking forward to."
2. Can Tate Help Generate Explosive Plays?
The addition of Tate will hopefully create more explosive plays for an offense that currently ranks 21st in the league in scoring. It's not just something for the offense to be concerned with, but the defense as well. Teams are averaging a league record 24 points per game this season and two of the Eagles' opponents down the stretch -- the Saints and the Rams -- combined for 80 on Sunday.
"It's a point-driven league and obviously it's hard even though we've done a great job at going 95 yards in 18 plays when we needed to do that but you like the chunk plays whether it comes from the running game or the passing game, really don't care," Brewer said. "But obviously, it's more conducive to go when you throw the ball like that and having the guy that we have to throw it, we're just giving him another tool in the toolbox to use. So, we've got a good receiving corps and it just got better."
Safeties coach Tim Hauck, who spent 13 years as a player in the NFL, joked that the numbers generated by offenses are going to make him resign.
"The game is changing so much. It's hard to play good defense anymore," Hauck said. "Just the physical side of it, the big hits, the illegal contacts, and so forth. It's becoming an offensive game. You really have to be sound in your techniques. You really have to be sound in your scheme. It's hard to watch."
3. Will Tim Jernigan Return This Week?
Defensive tackle Tim Jernigan practiced Monday for the first time in the 2018 season. His return to the active roster, which has to happen in the next 19 days or he will remain on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list, would be a crucial boost for the Eagles’ defensive line. Defensive line coach Chris Wilson spoke Tuesday about what Jernigan adds to the team and what the fifth-year player has done to speed up the recovery process.
“You miss a guy in my mind who, he didn't rush much on third downs, but in early downs could win one-on-one. He was a great complement to Fletcher in that," Wilson said. "So, you miss that. You miss those guys who can win a one-on-one for you at times.”
Wilson offered no timetable for Jernigan’s return. He said the next step is seeing how he progresses in practice before he can “actually get him going.” He also said that Jernigan has worked hard with the medical and training staffs to be in shape. The next step is getting him in football shape.
“The biggest thing up front is just being able to push bodies. It's not just conditioning up front. He's not a DB. He's got to push 300, 600 pounds so just him being able to carry that and get used to that violence is going to be the biggest transition,” Wilson said.
4. How Do The Eagles Force More Turnovers?
A pivotal point in the win in London over Jacksonville was in the second quarter when safety Avonte Maddox forced a fumble that was recovered by Malcolm Jenkins. The Eagles capitalized with a Wentz touchdown to rookie tight end Dallas Goedert.
The Eagles have just seven takeaways in 2018. They were fourth in the league with 31 a year ago. What can the Eagles do to generate more?
"I think it's a little bit just the way things go," Undlin said. "I think we have left a bunch out there, so sometimes you get some opportunities to make them, you've got to make them. So, I think we've missed a few of those. And I think the other goes to just not as many opportunities as we had last year. I don't know if there's anything that you can do about it. What you can't do is as a player in any position start like, 'Hey, I want to make a play here,' you can't do that. You've got to do your job and then if the play comes to you, we have to make it. Obviously, we got one last weekend by Avonte on that tackle and with Malcolm scooping up that ball that obviously helped us in the game, so hopefully we can keep trending in that direction but that's about it."
Eagles, Bose Surprise Veterans With New Headphones
The Eagles and Bose teamed up to surprise a group of veterans at the NovaCare Complex with some brand new headphones.
5. What Do The Roster Moves Mean?
A defensive tackle was added to the active roster on Tuesday and it was not Tim Jernigan. T.Y. McGill was signed and wide receiver DeAndre Carter was waived. The Eagles actually claimed McGill off waivers from the Los Angeles Chargers last month, but he failed his physical. McGill entered the league as a rookie free agent of the Seahawks in 2015 and played for the Colts and Browns. He was with the Chargers but did not play in a game for them.
Carter was the team's punt returner. On Tuesday, special teams coordinator Dave Fipp said that when Darren Sproles returns he will resume that role. Sproles has been out with a hamstring since the season opener.
Another injury situation to watch is that of tackle Lane Johnson, who suffered a knee injury and missed most of the win over Jacksonville in London. Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland was asked about preparing Halapoulivaati Vaitai to start in Johnson's place. Stoutland dismissed the idea, praising Johnson's toughness and saying he expects the All-Pro tackle to do everything possible to suit up on Sunday night against the Cowboys.
If you recall, Stoutland declared a few weeks earlier that Jason Peters would not miss any time with a bicep injury.
6. A New-Look Cowboys Offense
No Jason Witten. No Dez Bryant. Two of the key staples that Eagles fans have loathed over the years are no longer playing in Dallas.
"He was a comfort blanket for the quarterback, a go-to guy," linebackers coach Ken Flajole said of Witten. "So sure-handed, such a savvy route runner. That threat isn't the same as in years past, although they are very capable at tight end. They have different go-to guys than a year ago. They spread it out a little bit different than a year or two ago."
The Cowboys did add a wide receiver of their own before the trade deadline in former Raider Amari Cooper, who had five catches for 58 yards and a touchdown in his Dallas debut.
Defensive backs coach Cory Undlin wasn't exactly thrilled with the move.
"I mean, that guy is obviously a dynamic player. He's a great route-runner, he's got great hands, a radius to catch it wherever the ball's thrown at him, he's got the whole route tree, he's explosive, I think I could list everything that there is about a wideout and he's got it," Undlin said. "So, we'll have our hands full there and then we'll see where it goes but he's obviously a good player."