The State of Pennsylvania issued updated COVID-19 protocols this week that left some under the impression that the Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles and their opponents will be required to wear masks during games going forward, but that is not the case.
New language added to Pennsylvania’s mask mandate earlier this week states that athletes must wear masks during competition, which they were not previously required to do. The Steelers issued a statement on Wednesday saying they were exempt from the regulations, and things got even more confusing when Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s office said Thursday that NFL teams must also follow the guidelines and have not been granted an exemption.
So what is going on? While NFL teams have not been granted their own special exemption, they’re covered. Steelers spokesman Burt Lauten has since clarified that the team is covered under Section 3 of the Secretary of Health’s Universal Face Covering Order. That section provides exemptions for athletes including for “respiratory issues that impede breathing” while playing a sport. NFL teams can argue that players will not be able to breathe properly while playing if they’re required to wear masks. The governor’s office alluded to that in an update on Friday.
Coaches, staff members, medical personnel, media members, stadium workers and fans will all be required to wear face coverings, but that has been the case all season. From the sound of it, no significant changes will come from the updated mask mandate.
The NFL has already handed down some very harsh disciplinary action to teams that have violated COVID-19 protocols. Forcing coaches to wear masks has been difficult enough, and having players do it would likely be almost impossible.
Weather caused problems across the league in Week 10, with passing games severely disrupted, and rain causing trouble for offenses and defenses alike. That has to be factored in when thinking of some of Sunday’s results — the Texans-Browns game, in particular, was just plain ugly. But professional football players don’t make excuses, and we won’t make them for them, because there were some bad weeks across the league.
Here are five big disappointments from Week 10 action.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks
Wilson’s MVP candidacy looked to be back on track, but this stinker undid a lot of the progress. Wilson threw for only 248 yards and turned the ball over three times against the Rams, who did an excellent job on Seattle’s receivers and forced Wilson into mistakes. The mistakes have been uncommon this year, but MVP voters would have wanted to see Wilson do better against a quality defense to prove his credentials. Wilson will be fine, but this game may mark the end of his serious MVP hopes.
Carolina Panthers’ defense
The Panthers had the misfortunate of facing a fired-up Tom Brady coming off a bad game. That was already a bad sign, but they absolutely did not respond. Brady picked the Carolina defense apart for three touchdowns and 341 yards. Worse, the team seemed utterly unprepared to stop the run; Ronald Jones’ 98-yard touchdown was simply a major defensive lapse. The gameplanning could also be blamed here: apparently, their matchups were bad enough that the Buccaneers saw Jones’ touchdown run coming.
Houston Texans’ offense
Blame it on the weather, but this was still an inept performance from Houston’s offense. Deshaun Watson had just 71 yards at halftime, and the only reason he ended up with a fairly respectable statline is because the team had to open things up a bit late to try to get back into the game. The Texans gained 90 yards on the ground, but the run game wasn’t consistent enough to compensate for the inability to pass, either. This was just ugly to watch.
New Orleans Saints’ passing game
Drew Brees didn’t look right even before he left with his rib issue. Jameis Winston only threw 10 passes, completing six of them for 63 yards. This was a reminder that San Francisco’s defense remains nothing to sneeze at, but it’s also an indicator that sometimes the Saints aren’t as explosive as they should be. They won by two touchdowns and look fine going forward, but the Saints won’t want to miss Brees for long.
Philadelphia Eagles’ defense
The Eagles’ linebackers, in particular, leave a lot to be desired these days. They made the Giants look like an elite rushing team, as New York put up 151 yards between Wayne Gallman, Daniel Jones, and Alfred Morris. All three of the Giants’ touchdowns came on the ground as well. The Eagles remain firmly in the NFC East race, but games like this will give them a lot to worry about. The offense is struggling, but the defense has to step up.
Photo: Larry Maurer/Flickr via cc-by-sa 2.0
Carson Wentz has been one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL this season, but the Philadelphia Eagles continue to stand by him. If you ask Brett Favre, they should have parted ways with the former first-round pick roughly two years ago.
In an appearance on ESPN’s “First Take” this week, Favre said he believes the Eagles made the wrong choice sticking with Wentz over Nick Foles. The Hall of Famer said he understands Philadelphia focusing on Wentz’s upside, but he’s surprised they didn’t name Foles their starter after Foles led them to a Super Bowl win.
“I actually thought that they should have kept Nick Foles rather than Carson Wentz just based off of production and where they got to,” Favre said, as transcribed by Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia. “They won a Super Bowl with Foles. And that was a little bit surprising. They’re obviously banking on his upside. How many more years do you let it linger before you stick with (Wentz) or cut bait? That’s a question they only can answer.”
Favre also shared some insight into what he thinks has gone wrong with Wentz.
“I’m gonna heir on the side of lack of consistency — who are you throwing to — more than anything,” Favre said. “They’ve had to mix players in and out. That being said, other quarterbacks have managed to handle that very well. I get the other side of the argument that you gotta make it work.”
It’s important to remember that the Eagles were 11-2 with Wentz as their starter before Foles took over in 2017. The former No. 2 overall pick played at an MVP-caliber level for stretches, so the Wentz we are seeing this season is not the one Philly chose over Foles. Still, it’s fair to wonder if Foles would have been a better fit.
Wentz has thrown 12 interceptions this season, which is the most in the NFL. His passer rating of 73.2 is better than only Sam Darnold’s. Despite that and a 3-4-1 record, the Eagles are in first in the NFC East. We were reminded again recently of how head coach Doug Pederson feels about Wentz. No big changes appear to be on the horizon in Philly — at least for now.
The Philadelphia Eagles got an opportunity to face the worst defense in the NFL on Sunday night, but you would not have known it. Carson Wentz once again struggled and the Eagles’ offense scored just 15 points, which has once again led to many calling for the quarterback to be benched. Head coach Doug Pederson insists that still is not a consideration.
Wentz completed just 15-of-27 passes for 123 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in Philadelphia’s 23-9 win. Pederson was asked on Monday if he thought about benching him at any point. The coach said his “mind wasn’t there.”
Pederson also said Wentz understands he needs to stop turning the ball over. The 27-year-old has thrown 12 interceptions on the season, which is more than any other quarterback in the NFL. Wentz’s passer rating is 73.2. Only Drew Lock and Sam Darnold have been worse in that department.
Wentz signed a huge extension with the Eagles last year, which is probably one of the main reasons they are not thinking about benching him. Assuming the reports we heard about rookie second-round pick Jalen Hurts during training camp are true, Wentz would likely be a lot closer to getting the hook if not for his contract.
Carson Wentz knows his Philadelphia Eagles pulled out an ugly win against the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field on Thursday night.
The Eagles trailed 21-10 with just over six minutes left in the game and hadn’t scored since early in the second quarter. But Philly came back with two straight touchdowns to take the lead and win 22-21.
Wentz threw for two touchdowns to win the game and was happy to come out ahead.
“It was an ugly game,” Wentz said in his postgame interview with FOX’s Erin Andrews. “It was an ugly game, and we left a lot of points out there, lot of plays. But to stay in it, keep believing and keep fighting, and pull it out, I’m proud of these guys.”
The Eagles are 2-4-1, which puts them on top in the pathetic NFC East.
“This was a huge one for us. Obviously not the start to the season that we’re looking for. But the NFC East is wide open, and we’ve got a lot of divisional games coming up, so this was a big one for us,” Wentz said.
This might not be too dissimilar from last season. Philadelphia was 5-7 in a weak NFC East and then rattled off four straight wins to end the season.
In a division this bad, you just need to be slightly better than terrible to make the playoffs. The Eagles may be good enough to do that.
The Philadelphia Eagles had to settle for a tie against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, but they are left wondering what could have been because of a costly penalty in overtime.
The Eagles were set to attempt a 59-yard field goal with the game tied 23-23 and 19 seconds remaining in overtime. However, right guard Matt Pryor committed a false start penalty that pushed Philly back five yards.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson decided that a 64-yard field goal would have been out of kicker Jake Elliott’s range, so he essentially accepted the tie. Philadelphia punted the ball away and the Bengals ran out the clock.
Some will question the decision from Pederson, as Elliott’s career-long field goal is 61 yards. However, the Eagles coach was obviously afraid of missing the kick and giving the ball back to the Bengals inside Philadelphia territory. The probability of Elliott making a 64-yard kick was not good, and the Bengals would have only needed one play to get into field-goal range if they got the ball back at that spot on the field.
You can’t assume Elliott would have converted the 59-yard field goal, but Pryor cost the Eagles a shot at it. As a result, they are off to a 0-2-1 start on the year.
It may look a bit different, and most stadiums may be empty, but the NFL is back. With no preseason to whet the appetite, the 2020 season may be even more anticipated than usual. Most of us haven’t seen anything resembling live NFL football since the Super Bowl.
That feels like a lifetime ago now, so excitement is understandably high.
So who stood out in Week 1 but not in a great way? After a long offseason, nobody wants their season to get off on the wrong foot, but sometimes it happens. Here are five big disappointments from the opening week of the NFL season.
Zach Ertz and the Philadelphia Eagles broke off contract talks recently after they appeared to be working toward a new deal. Ertz is understandably upset about that, and apparently he aired out some of his frustrations in front of the team.
Ertz and Eagles general manager Howie Roseman got into a “very heated discussion” after a practice this week, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports. Several other Philly players witnessed the exchange.
Contract disputes between player and team happen all the time, but usually not like that. The Eagles reportedly reduced their offer to Ertz at some point, which is likely why he is so upset.
Ertz still has two years remaining on the five-year, $42.5 million deal he signed with the Eagles back in 2016. That is almost certainly why the team is not in a rush to extend him. The market for tight ends couldn’t be higher after the deals George Kittle and Travis Kelce got this offseason, so it makes sense that Philly wants to wait.
Ertz has only has one season with 1,000-plus yards receiving, but he has averaged well over 800 yards every year since 2015. He opened up about how frustrating the contract talks have been when speaking with the media this week.
Contract negotiations between Zach Ertz and the Philadelphia Eagles broke down recently, and the star tight end is not hiding the fact that he is irritated with the way things have gone.
Ertz told reporters on Thursday that his contract talks with the Eagles have been “frustrating.” He said he wants to remain in Philly but isn’t sure if the team feels the same way.
It’s understandable that Ertz wants a new deal after seeing how much money George Kittle and Travis Kelce got from their respective teams. However, Ertz still has two years remaining on the five-year, $42.5 million deal he signed with the Eagles back in 2016. Even if they want to keep him, there is no real rush to get an extension done.
Ertz and the Eagles appeared to be headed toward a new deal prior to the start of the season, but talks hit a snag when the team reportedly reduced its offer.
Ertz has only has one season with 1,000-plus yards receiving, but he has averaged well over 800 yards every year since 2015. Unlike the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs, the Eagles have another productive young tight end on their roster in Dallas Goedert. The 25-year-old caught 58 passes for 607 yards and five touchdowns last season. His emergence is likely one of the main reasons Philly wants to slow-play negotiations with Ertz.
The Philadelphia Eagles have not stopped trying to trade wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.
According to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Eagles are still shopping Jeffery around the league. Two major factors make a trade unlikely, however.
Jeffery’s nearly $10 million salary would be enough of an impediment to any trade. The fact that he hasn’t practiced since his December surgery makes it even more unlikely. The Eagles have wanted to move Jeffery all offseason, and it’s not a surprise that they’ve failed to do so.
Jeffery was limited to ten games last season. He caught 43 passes for 490 yards and four touchdowns.