It’s not every day an NFL team comes to your neighborhood school to put together a playground for the students. That’s why there was so much excitement when the Philadelphia Eagles came out to the Comegys Elementary School at 51st Street and Greenway Avenue.
The Eagles Youth Partnership (EYP) and the Philadelphia Eagles worked with the Southwest Philadelphia school for the 16th annual Eagles Playground Build. The students joined a number of players such as quarterback Michael Vick, wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, running back LeSean McCoy, wide receiver DeSean Jackson and linebacker Demeco Ryans in painting the exterior and interior murals, laying mosaic tiles on benches and tables, constructing a large play structure and planting gardens. A turf field was also installed to give the students an area to play field sports.
Comegys School has more than 450 students from kindergarten through 6th grade. The school was chosen by EYP and the School District of Philadelphia for the playground build. The murals were created by a team of artists, led by David McShane, from the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.
Lisa Wilmer, principal at Comegys School, was very impressed with the efforts of the Eagles, volunteers, students and staff. Wilmer remembers the day when her school was selected for the playground build.
“It was a busy day that day,” Wilmer said. “So, to get the phone call at the end of the day that says ‘Congratulations! You won the Eagles Playground Build’ was just awesome. We had been trying for years to get the playground. We always came in second place, but this is our year.
“You can see the joy in the eyes of the kids. We have volunteers who are community members. They just wanted to come and help. It’s bringing the community together. The staff has been great. Everybody is proud. You’re proud to be a Comegys student and staff member. I’m just happy to be the principal.”
Christina Weiss Lurie, president of EYP, has been involved with this neighborhood effort for a long time.
“This is the 16th playground build or as I call it ‘school transformation,” said Weiss Lurie, wife of Jeffrey Lurie, chairman and CEO of the Eagles. “We’re just so excited to be here and to watch the kids with their big eyes watching their playground gradually take hold whether it’s field or the garden or the mosaic, murals or the playground structure. Now, they have a safe place to be kids and dream their dreams of what they want to do as they grow old.”
The players have been really busy with the OTAs. However, McCoy was happy to spend time with the kids.
“It’s great to come out and hang with the kids and the fans,” McCoy said. “It’s a good thing to give back. This is where it really counts off the field where we can go out and do some good deeds.”
Earlier this spring Vick was playing chess against some of the city’s best players. This week he was helping to paint one of the murals at the school playground.
“I’m really enjoying this,” Vick said. “It’s going to be nice to ride past the school and say hey, ‘I made a contribution to the school.’ This is a school in the community. I think to bring our team out here to paint the school and make a contribution is phenomenal.”
Demetress Bell will be a busy man in a few weeks. Bell, Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle, will be in training camp on July 25 at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa.
But before training camp begins, the Eagles’ 6-foot-5, 311-pound offensive lineman, will host the Philadelphia Kids Fun Day on Tuesday, July 10 at Northeast High School, Cottman and Algon avenues and will have a variety of events for kids and adults, including autograph and photo opportunities with NFL players.
The event will begin at 2 p.m. with a free football and cheer camp for kids in grades 1–8. At 6 p.m. there will be the “Great Amazing Race with NFL players.” Kids will be paired with adults. The cost of the race is $40. Bell will have a chance to make a difference in the community prior to the start of the season.
“This is a great opportunity for the kids,” Bell said. “I always wanted to give back to the community. I wanted to do something in Philadelphia. This is where I play. It should be a fun day for everybody.”
Bell will be playing a big role in the community next week. He will be playing an important role for the Eagles this season, too. The Eagles signed Bell to a five-year deal in April. He is expected to replace left tackle Jason Peters, who suffered a ruptured right Achilles tendon in March.
Bell played left tackle for Buffalo Bills. He was started 30 games for the Bills over the last three seasons. A year ago, he played in seven games where he started six times and Buffalo had a 4-2 record in those matchups. He helped a Bills offense that tallied a season-high in points, rushed for 171 yards and gave up only one sack in a 41-7 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. He was a part of the offensive line that didn’t give up a sack for two straight games that culminated in a 34-31 victory over the New England Patriots.
Bell will be blocking for one of the most talented offenses in the NFL, which features quarterback Michael Vick, running back LeSean McCoy, wide receivers DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant and tight Brent Celek. He’s looking forward to working with the Eagles offense.
“I know the players and coaches that I’m working with,” Bell said. “I don’t think I could be in a better situation. The offense is explosive at every position. We got Pro Bowl players at every position. We have a lot of great players across the board.”
The Eagles had a disappointing season a year ago. They expected to have a great year with a long run in the playoffs. But that didn’t happen. The Eagles finished the season with an 8-8 record, winning their last four games. However, there is a great deal of anticipation following a major let down from last year. The Eagles have all their key players under contract. The team is coming off a good mini-camp where all the players appear to be on the same page.
“I think everybody is excited,” Bell said. “Our practices have been really good. I think it’s going to be a good year for everybody. I know everybody wants to get back to playoffs. They want to have a big year. I understand that.”
Bell will be entering his fifth season in the NFL. He has proven to be a solid offensive lineman over the years. He feels each year he has made significant strides in terms of his skills.
“I think I’ve improved over the years,” he said. “Last year, I got injured (shoulder injury). But I’ve been working hard each year. I still feel I can do better. I feel I can do a lot more. I haven’t been playing football that long.”
Bell grew up in Summerfield, La., where he was an All-State and All-America honorable mention basketball player at Summerfield High School. He went to Northwestern State on a basketball scholarship. Before he joined the football team in 2005 as a defensive end, Bell had never played football at all. Despite the lack of experience, he was named to the Associated Press All-American and first team All-Southland Conference. He was also selected first-team All-Louisiana his senior year in 2007.
In 2008, he was a seventh round draft pick of the Bills. As far as playing football, Bell has come a long way in a very short period of time.
“I played power forward in basketball,” he said. I was a product of a basketball family. I was a basketball guy growing up. I’m working hard every day, but I still feel that I have only scratched the surface. I’m still learning more and more each day.”
It looks as if Bell’s best days are in front of him. His days as an Eagle will begin very soon in training camp.
NOTE: Bell’s event is produced in partnership with Flying Colors Sports, a marketing and community relations firm that works with professional athletes. For more information on the event, go to www.GreatAmazingRace.com.
Failing to live up to enormous expectations was a humbling experience for the Philadelphia Eagles last year.
That's why no one's talking Super Bowl — not publicly, at least.
These Eagles are just as confident as the group that went 8-8 last season after all that "Dream Team" hype. But they're not going around telling people how good they are. They'd rather show it on the field this time.
"With the expectations and us not only not meeting our goals, but not making the playoffs, we learned a lot," star running back LeSean McCoy said. "I think it humbled us. With all the big-time players that we have, we really have to check ourselves and go into the season to prove ourselves. I really think all of the hype is out the window and it's a new year. I think there's a lot of pressure for us as players because we fought hard for our coach and he's back here again. We have to make sure we do the right things."
Andy Reid returns for his 14th season as coach, though owner Jeffery Lurie admitted he thought long and hard about making a change. Reid could be facing a make-or-break year, especially after all the major turnover in the front office.
Longtime president Joe Banner stepped down, saying he wanted to seek other opportunities, though many insiders feel he lost a power struggle with Reid and general manager Howie Roseman. That means Reid could be running out of time to end the franchise's 52-year championship drought.
"Every year, the goal is to win the Super Bowl," Lurie said. "There's no ultimatums, that's our goal and every year that's the plan."
Keeping Michael Vick healthy will be the top priority if the Eagles are going to make a serious run. Vick, the four-time Pro Bowl quarterback, missed three games last season and has started 16 games just once in his nine-year career.
With him, the Eagles have a dynamic offense capable of lighting up the scoreboard against any opponent. Vick has plenty of talent surrounding him, including McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek.
Without him, the Eagles may not have much of a chance. Unproven Mike Kafka and journeyman Trent Edwards will battle for the backup spot in training camp.
"We just feel like we should have accomplished a lot last year," Vick said. "We just want to have fun and be the best that we can be. We want to work hard to get there. We know it's not going to be easy, but we're going to work at it.
"We have an opportunity to do some special things. That's what we're hoping for and that's what we're working towards. We have to keep grinding and understanding that nothing is going to come easy."
Despite their troubles last year, the Eagles weren't eliminated from playoff contention until right before their next-to-last game kicked off and they ended up second behind the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants (9-7).
A four-game winning streak ended a disappointing season on a slightly positive note. It also made it that much tougher to accept falling short because one game was the difference between missing the playoffs and winning the division.
"The momentum we had to end the season is a good start," Jackson said. "I think we can kind of go back to just refreshing that in our memory with the last four games, as far as the people who were here. For the people who weren't here, it'll be hard to gain that momentum. The guys that were here have that hunger and the feeling of having our backs against the wall, especially since we had a terrible start to the season. This year the biggest thing is to start fast and finish strong."
Defense was a major issue for Philadelphia last season. Offensive-line-coach-turned-defensive-coordinator Juan Castillo appeared overmatched early in the season and some of the high-priced newcomers had trouble adjusting to his scheme.
The Eagles addressed their defense throughout the offseason. They acquired two-time Pro Bowl linebacker DeMeco Ryans to fill a major need. They also drafted three defensive players in the first two rounds, taking defensive tackle Fletcher Cox in the first round and linebacker Mychal Kendricks and defensive end Vinny Curry in the second.
Veteran safety O.J. Atogwe was signed to add depth in the secondary, and cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie should benefit from playing their natural positions now that Asante Samuel is gone.
"Once I had the opportunity to maybe join them, I was excited because I just knew what they had on the offensive side of the ball as well as what they had on the defensive side of the ball," said Atogwe, who played for Washington last year. "They played us tough both times we played them, and we weren't very effective against their defense. They had a very good defense as well as offense.
"Everything just didn't come together until the end of the season, which is why they didn't have as successful of a season as they wanted to. It seems we have the potential to do everything we have the desire to do this year. We just have to work on everything coming together at the same time." — (AP)
ATLANTA — Jeremy Maclin said it didn't matter who threw the ball. He should have made the catch.
Maclin dropped a fourth-down pass deep in Atlanta territory with less than 2 minutes remaining, ending Philadelphia's last comeback attempt as the Eagles lost to the Atlanta Falcons 35-31 on Sunday night.
The Eagles lost Michael Vick to a concussion late in the third quarter. With backup Vince Young inactive with a hamstring injury, third-stringer Mike Kafka made his NFL debut.
Kafka completed 7 of 9 passes, but on fourth-and-4 from the Atlanta 22, Maclin dropped a pass over the middle from the second-year quarterback.
Maclin said he "definitely" should have made the catch.
"I'm better than that," Maclin said. "It was a very catchable ball. It was off my body a little bit. I've still got to catch that throw."
Asked about the play, Kafka said: "I know I can help him out, get it to him a little quicker."
Maclin had a huge game with 13 catches for 171 yards, including touchdown receptions of 5 and 36 yards from Vick.
Vick was injured when he was knocked by an Atlanta defender into right tackle Todd Herremans.
Vick, the former Falcons star, was making his first trip to Atlanta as a starter for another team. He returned as a backup with the Eagles in 2009, when he ran and threw for touchdowns in a 34-7 win.
Vick's return as a starter generated a strong turnout of his No. 7 jerseys, both in Eagles green and in red or black from his days with the Falcons.
Vick had mixed results before his injury. He lost two fumbles and threw an interception, but he completed 19 of 28 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns. He had six carries for 25 yards.
"I feel for him," Maclin said. "Obviously, he wanted to come home and make a statement."
Vick was not in the locker room after the game but did not go to a hospital, according to coach Andy Reid, who also said Vick would be able to fly with the team back to Philadelphia.
Matt Ryan threw a career-high four touchdown passes for Atlanta, including two to tight end Tony Gonzalez, who moved past Terrell Owens into the fifth spot on the NFL's career receiving list.
"He's a Hall of Famer," Eagles safety Kurt Coleman said of Gonzalez. "He knows how to use his body. Matt did a good job of getting the ball to him and he made the catch.
"We just didn't make plays, bottom line."
Ryan hooked up with Ovie Mughelli on a 1-yard score that brought Atlanta to 31-28 with just over 6 minutes remaining.
The Falcons (1-1) completed the comeback with Michael Turner breaking off a 61-yard run, then powering over from the 3 with 3:24 remaining. Turner finished with 114 yards on 21 carries.
"It was a wild one, for sure, but we hung in there," Ryan said. "I think everybody hung in there and kept making plays, kept battling. Credit to guys on both sides of the ball — we never gave up."
Maclin returned after taking a third-quarter hit from Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson, whose helmet-to-helmet hit on Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson last season left both players with concussions and left Robinson with a big fine.
Robinson drew another unnecessary roughness penalty after again leading with his helmet against Maclin.
"It's two for two now," Maclin said. "Fortunately, it wasn't as bad as Jackson was last year. I was all right. It almost shocked me."
Reid wouldn't say if he believes Robinson deserved another fine or other punishment from the NFL.
"That's up to the league," Reid said. "I don't deal with that. I deal with my football team getting better."
Falcons coach Mike Smith denied it was an illegal hit, saying "that's the way we teach it," but the NFL could dole out a suspension after it reviews the play.
LeSean McCoy had 18 carries for 95 yards and two third-quarter touchdowns for the Eagles (1-1).
After Maclin's drop, the Falcons ran off all but the last 5 seconds, and Kafka's desperation heave into the end zone was batted down to end the game.
"I thought the guys battled," Reid said. "We just had too many turnovers, too many mistakes."
Kafka said he was ready for his first opportunity.
"I wasn't nervous," Kafka said. "I just wanted to go in and execute the offense. I had a lot of trust in the guys around me. They've got a lot of experience. Obviously they know their jobs. That's what it's all about. As long as I can go in and do my job."
Reid said Vick's status for next week will be decided by team doctors.
The Georgia Dome was packed and loud, many fans wearing Vick's old No. 7 jersey from his Falcons days but plenty more adorned in Ryan's No. 2.
Vick's first fumble, with the Eagles poised for a touchdown that would've given them a 17-7 lead, wasn't really his fault.
Peria Jerry burst through the line and knocked the ball away before Vick could even hand off to McCoy. Defensive end Ray Edwards returned the fumble 64 yards before Jackson made the tackle.
The Falcons offense did the rest, capped by Gonzalez's first TD catch.
On the Eagles' first possession of the second half, Vick threw a pass over the middle that was picked off by Kelvin Hayden. The Falcons turned that into seven more points, as Ryan went to Gonzalez again on a 17-yard TD that gave Atlanta a 21-10 lead. -- (AP)
PHILADELPHIA — Until the Philadelphia Eagles are mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, they won't look toward the future or reflect on the past.
The underachieving Eagles (4-8) head to Miami on Sunday, and playing the Dolphins (4-8) is all they're talking about. They somehow still have a chance to finish first in a mediocre NFC East, though it would take help — a lot of it.
All they can control, though, is their performance.
"It's a desperation last four games and we want to finish strong and we know how important that is," quarterback Michael Vick said Wednesday. "It's unfortunate that we're in the situation that we're in now, but there's nothing we can do about it. The best thing we can do right now is to just win the next game. And we know it's going to be a tough game because they have a very good football team and a very good defense so we're going to have to do the things that are going to put us in a position to win the game.
"But it's very important that we finish strong."
For the Eagles to have any chance at repeating as division champions, they would have to win their last four games against Miami, the New York Jets, Dallas and Washington. They also need the Cowboys (7-5) to lose three of their last four games and the New York Giants (6-6) to lose two of four. The Cowboys play the Giants twice, visit Tampa Bay and host the Eagles. Besides two games against Dallas, New York plays Washington and the Jets.
It's not impossible that the Cowboys finish 1-3 and the Giants split. But considering the way the Eagles have played the last two games in blowout losses to New England and Seattle, the most difficult scenario is them winning four straight.
"We definitely know the circumstances," wide receiver Jason Avant said. "We need a lot of stuff to happen, but the only thing we can do to control us is go out and put a good performance this week, and that's what we're trying to do. No matter what team does what in our division you can only control what you can control and we have to play way better than we did this past week."
At least the Eagles will have Vick back. The veteran missed the last three games because of broken ribs. Though he was injured on a hard hit in the pocket against Arizona on Nov. 13, Vick finally plans to change his scrambling style.
"I'm sliding now, I'm getting down," he said. "I've made my mind up. There's going to be times when I can't get those extra yards, but I have to get down. And I get too caught up in the game sometimes, but that leads to you being sidelined and not being accountable for your team on Sundays and not being out there. So I don't want to continue to put the team through that and I understand how drastic that can be sometimes."
With Philadelphia's playoff hopes at a minuscule level, coach Andy Reid continues to face questions about his future. Reid has led the Eagles to nine playoff appearances, six division titles, five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl since 1999. But he's never faced this much scrutiny from the media and fans are calling for his dismissal.
Reid denied a report that he was told that he could return next year only if he replaces defensive coordinator Juan Castillo. Reid stunned football observers when he switched Castillo from his longtime spot as the offensive-line coach to the defense in February. Castillo's defense has been downright dreadful despite having several talented players.
"Nobody's approached me on it," Reid said. "My mind is to continue to get better as coaches and players. My mind goes no further than that. That's where I'm at. We're right in the middle of this thing and we've got to continue to get better. That's what we have to do."
Notes: Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (hamstring) and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (ankle) had limited participation in practice. Both players have missed the last three games. It's uncertain whether either player will play against Miami. -- (AP)
This is a huge week for wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and the Philadelphia Eagles as they prepare to host the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. Maclin took some time out of his busy schedule to spend a day with a group of students from grades 9-to-12 at Ben Franklin High School.
Maclin and Pennsylvania State Treasurer Rob McCord came to Ben Franklin to teach the students about financial literacy, a state wide effort to improve money management skills of high school and middle school students.
The students received a free educational video game and classroom curriculum called Financial Football, which was developed by Visa Inc. They got a chance to play the game with Maclin and McCord, both served as coaches for two groups of students. Maclin’s team had the Eagles, McCord’s the Falcons. The game asked students questions about money. Correct answers moved the football team closer to scoring a touchdown. Wrong answers resulted in a loss of yardage and a big play for the defense.
In the end the Eagles defeated the Falcons, 8-0. For Maclin and his teammates, hopefully that will be a good omen for Sunday. The questions were tough, but it was a learning experience for everybody.
“It was cool to give these kids a lesson on financial planning,” Maclin said. “I also had fun at the same time. It means a lot any time I can do something like that or give back. It’s kind of how I want to do it. I was impressed. There were a couple of questions that I didn’t even know.”
McCord believes money management should begin at a young age. He was pleased to have Maclin involved with the program.
“The earlier we can get to people with the idea of learning this stuff is not that hard,” McCord said. “It’s really important. It’s knowledge you can use. It’s something we’re trying to engage people with and when they realize how easy it is via something that feels like a Madden football game, they get engaged and see the sense of humor behind it. They’re able to mock some of the choices. They were curious and Jeremy Maclin was just phenomenal.”
Maclin had a phenomenal game in a losing effort to the Detroit Lions right before the bye week. He had six receptions for 130 yards including a 70-yard TD pass from Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. Maclin’s reception gave the Eagles a 23-13 lead with 5:18 left in the game. But the Eagles squandered the 10-point lead and dropped a 26-23 decision to the Lions in overtime.
The Eagles (3-3) will clash with the undefeated Falcons (6-0) in the biggest game of the season. Maclin had a good time helping kids learn about financial planning, but he knows the Eagles will have to be on the money against Atlanta.
“We’re looking forward to it,” said Maclin, who has 20 catches for 295 yards and three touchdowns. “We’re trying to get back on track. We’re sitting 3-3 and fortunately for us a lot of teams are sitting around the same point. So, we got to get back to work and go out there and do our job. Everybody does their job we’ll be in good shape.
“I’ve had some successful games against Atlanta. Two of my best games have come against Atlanta the last couple years. I’m looking forward to it. At the end of the day, it’s the Eagles vs. the Falcons.”
MIAMI — Early in the game, Michael Vick's helmet went rolling into his end zone, an apt symbol for the direction of the Philadelphia Eagles' season.
Time to concede? Not quite. Not against the self-destructive Miami Dolphins.
Vick made a triumphant return from an injury by throwing for 208 yards and a touchdown, and the Eagles totaled nine sacks and beat the Miami Dolphins 26-10 Sunday.
Philadelphia took advantage of three takeaways to score 24 points during a nine-minute span in the second quarter, and later sent Miami quarterback Matt Moore to the sideline with a head injury.
The underachieving Eagles (5-8) won for only the second time in the past six games and still need a sweep of the final three games to have any chance of repeating as NFC East champions.
"We've been through a lot, a lot of games we were supposed to win and didn't finish," Vick said. "I'm proud we won today."
The Dolphins (4-9) had a three-game home winning streak snapped and sank deeper into last place in the AFC East.
"We've been on a roll," receiver Brandon Marshall said. "It stinks that our momentum was stopped."
Jason Babin led the Eagles' pass rush with three sacks to increase his season total to 15, and he forced a fumble. Moore's replacement, J.P. Losman, was sacked by Phillip Hunt for a safety.
Vick, back after missing three games with broken ribs, won for only the fourth time in his past 12 starts. He went 15 for 30, including a 34-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson, and shook off four sacks.
"I'm in a lot of pain, but I just wanted to finish and get through the game," Vick said. "I got hit a lot, and it kind of wore me down. I tried to hang in there."
Vick, who had said he would run less in the wake of the injury, carried only twice but did scramble several times to extend plays. LeSean McCoy rushed for only 38 yards, but scored two touchdowns to hike his season total to 17.
Miami Pro Bowl tackle Jake Long left the game in the first quarter with a back injury, and after that the Dolphins had trouble blocking Philadelphia. The Eagles' short-yardage defense stuffed Miami on four possessions, twice on fourth down and twice to force kicks.
"The Eagles have been inconsistent like we have," Marshall said. "But that's a team with a lot of talent. At any moment they can be an undefeated team, or look like one."
The Dolphins went 3 for 18 on third- and fourth-down conversions. The nine sacks of their QBs equaled a franchise record set in 1999, and the offensive linemen took responsibility for the loss.
"All the blame is squarely on our shoulders," guard Richie Incognito said. "We got Matt hurt. They're a physical group. They just beat us one on one."
Moore threw only his second interception in the past six games, lost a fumble and was sacked four times. He left the game midway through the second half after being hit from behind as he threw an incomplete pass.
Miami's lone touchdown was set up by an early blocked punt. Marshall was held to four catches for 27 yards.
"There comes a time when we as players and coaches have to do a better job of getting guys involved that need to be involved," Marshall said. "It just didn't seem like we had anything on offense in the second half that could attack what they were throwing at us."
The Dolphins' offensive ineptitude negated a lot of good work by their defense. McCoy, who came into the game second in the NFL in rushing, averaged only 1.4 yards on 27 carries. Jason Taylor sacked Vick twice in first eight minutes to increase his career total to 138½, which ranks sixth all time.
Miami's Jimmy Wilson blocked a punt to set up the game's first score, which came when Moore hit Brandon Marshall on third down for a 16-yard score.
A gamble by the Dolphins then backfired when they tried a 55-yard field goal that fell short. Vick took advantage of the field position to drive his team 54 yards for a tying touchdown, which McCoy scored on a 2-yard run.
Turnovers by Miami on consecutive possessions led to 10 points for the Eagles.
Kurt Coleman intercepted Moore's pass when he threw deep into triple coverage, and his return to the 1 set up a touchdown run by McCoy.
On the next series, Asante Samuel forced a fumble by Davone Bess and recovered, and the Eagles kicked a field goal. After Moore lost a fumble when sacked by Babin, the Eagles then moved 73 yards in just four plays, and Vick's strike to a wide-open Jackson made it 24-7.
"We played like men today," Babin said. "Do we have a chance for the playoffs? Maybe. We were kind of out of it, but guys in this locker room decided, 'We're going to play and have fun and show you guys we love the game.' I think that really rang true the whole day."
Notes: Eagles LB Darryl Tapp suffered a rib injury on the safety and left the game. X-rays were negative. Receiver Jeremy Maclin departed when the sore hamstring he has been nursing tightened. ... Honored at halftime was Howard Schnellenberger, who recently retired as coach at Florida Atlantic. He was the Dolphins' offensive coordinator during their 1972 perfect season. ... A Dolphins assistant coach was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct with less than three minutes left. -- (AP)
NEW YORK — The NFL is looking into the hit by Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson on Philadelphia wide receiver Jeremy Maclin that drew a 15-yard penalty in Sunday night's game.
Robinson was fined $50,000 last year for a similar hit on the Eagles' DeSean Jackson that left both players with concussions. The fine later was reduced to $25,000, but Robinson falls into the category of repeat offender.
The league has said flagrant hits by such players could lead to a suspension. The NFL has not yet suspended anyone for such hits.
Normally, any league discipline is handed down in midweek. But the NFL could speed the process given the high profile of Robinson's hit — during a prime-time national TV game — and the cornerback's recent history.
Robinson drew a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness with 6:12 remaining in the third quarter after leading with his helmet and crashing into Maclin. Maclin was slow to leave the field but returned to the game.
Replays clearly showed Robinson leading with his helmet, something the league has been adamant about eliminating. The NFL this year also banned launches into a defenseless opponent.
Falcons coach Mike Smith said Monday he had not heard from the NFL about the hit. Smith said after the game he thought it was a legal hit and "that's the way we teach it."
"My opinion didn't change," he said.
Last October, the NFL sent head coaches memos listing those players on their teams who were called for two or more unnecessary roughness penalties since 2008. Ray Anderson, NFL executive vice president of football operations, told The Associated Press this summer the league uses the last two seasons as criteria to determine repeat offenders.
"Player safety is a priority and we will not relent on it," Anderson said in August. "Let me make it very clear, particularly in regard to repeat offenders, that egregious acts will be subject to suspension. We will not feel the need to hesitate in this regard."
Anderson, assistant Merton Hanks, the former 49ers safety, and their staff go over every play following each weekend. Director of officiating Carl Johnson and his staff also are consulted. When it's determined a fine or suspension is necessary, Anderson says the player and team are notified as quickly as possible.
The player can appeal to former NFL coaches Art Shell and Ted Cottrell, who are paid by the league and the NFL Players Association to handle those cases. Their appeal must be heard by the second Tuesday following notification of the discipline.
Commissioner Roger Goodell can become involved in the process at any time. -- (AP)
PHILADELPHIA — This Dream Team is a nightmare.
A popular pick to reach the Super Bowl after a free-agent spending spree brought several big-name players to Philadelphia, the Eagles (1-3) are last in the NFC East with a quarter of the season already over.
The Eagles' latest loss was their worst one yet. They wasted a 20-point lead in a 24-23 home loss to San Francisco on Sunday, and now have blown fourth-quarter leads in three straight games.
Coach Andy Reid doesn't seem to have an answer, except pointing the blame at himself. He's done that following nearly every loss during his 13 seasons in Philadelphia.
"I'm in the business of finding the problem and solving the problem," Reid said Monday. "I know we have good enough players and coaches to do it. I've seen enough glimpses of what this thing can be when it's operating right and it's important that we get it there."
Playcalling has certainly been questionable. For whatever reason, the Eagles can't score inside the red zone. They are particularly inept inside the 5. They've handed off to the fullback, tried quarterback sneaks and done everything but give the ball to their best runner, LeSean McCoy.
On a third-and-1 from the 49ers 1 in the second quarter, Ronnie Brown fumbled on a run-pass option. Brown, who ran the wildcat offense in Miami, got stuffed at the line of scrimmage. So, he turned around and inexplicably tried to throw the ball. It was recovered by San Francisco.
With Michael Vick and McCoy in the backfield and super wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin on the team, it's unknown why the Eagles would try a gadget play from the 1.
"I didn't do a very good job on that one," Reid said. "Maybe I should've called a different play there."
No matter the calls, players still have to execute and they've clearly been unable to do so. Fundamentals are also a problem. The Eagles were driving for a go-ahead score when Maclin failed to protect the ball and fumbled with just over two minutes left, allowing the 49ers to run out the clock.
"We all had high expectations and we still do," Vick said. "Don't get me wrong. It's still a long season and we just have to dig deep. We've got to dig deep. There's really nothing else to be said. It's self-explanatory. It's right there for everybody to see what is taking place, how it's been done, what hasn't been done and what needs to be done. I think that's just the bottom line."
Still, despite the red-zone struggles and two missed field goals by rookie kicker Alex Henery, the offense did enough to win. Vick threw for a career-best 412 yards and the Eagles racked up 513 total yards.
The major issue again was the defense.
Teams are having their way against the Eagles, especially in the second half. Philadelphia has been outscored 36-0 in the fourth quarter in the last three games.
Defensive coordinator Juan Castillo has come under heavy criticism for his schemes and the perception that he can't make necessary in-game adjustments. Reid's decision to move Castillo from his longtime spot as the offensive line coach to the defense sure looks like a huge blunder.
But Reid stood by Castillo and all of his coaches.
"The coaches will stay intact, but we have to thoroughly evaluate everything," Reid said. "Listen, I think Juan is doing some good things. If you ask the same question about myself and the other coaches and the players, there are some good things that we're doing and a lot of things we need to work on. I'm telling you it's not one person. It's all of us pulling this thing together and doing our jobs together."
The Eagles overhauled their defense in the offseason, starting with the firing of coordinator Sean McDermott. They made four significant acquisitions: cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, defensive end Jason Babin and defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins. Babin and Jenkins are playing well. But Asomugha hardly looks like the two-time All-Pro who received $60 million in free agency. Perhaps he's uncomfortable playing in a system that requires him to play zone at times instead of man-to-man coverage, which he excelled at.
"Our issue right now is we are unable to close out games," Asomugha said. "We have to be able to close out games. You can't come into that last quarter and not be able to pull it out, especially when you're winning."
The Eagles head to Buffalo (3-1) next week to play the surprising Bills. They don't play another home game until Oct. 30 against Dallas.
By then, it could be a lost season.
Notes: DE Trent Cole (right calf strain) and LT Jason Peters (left hamstring strain) both are uncertain to play against the Bills. Reid called both injuries "fairly significant." ... DT Antonio Dixon tore his triceps and needs surgery that will likely end his season. ... DE Juqua Parker (high ankle sprain) and DE Darryl Tapp (pectoral strain) are making progressing, Reid said. -- (AP)