NFL

Eagles sign QB Joe Flacco to back up Hurts after Wentz departure

By Sports Desk March 23, 2021

The Philadelphia Eagles have signed veteran quarterback Joe Flacco on a one-year contract, the NFL team confirmed on Tuesday.

Flacco is in line to back up second-year QB Jalen Hurts, who appears set to start for the Eagles following Carson Wentz's trade to the Indianapolis Colts.

The 36-year-old Flacco moves to Philadelphia for his 14th NFL season after appearing in five games for the lowly New York Jets last campaign.

Flacco went 0-4 as a starter for the Jets, replacing Sam Darnold in October and November after the latter suffered a shoulder injury.

A Super Bowl winner and MVP with the Baltimore Ravens in 2013, Flacco had an 80.6 passer rating and a 55.2 per cent completion rate last season.

Since making his debut for the Ravens in 2008, Flacco has 3,744 completions for 40,931 yards, 224 touchdowns and 144 interceptions in 176 games, with a passer rating of 84.1

Flacco joins a new-look Eagles team, who have turned to rookie Nick Sirianni after Super Bowl-winning head coach Doug Pederson was fired following a 4-11-1 season.

Hurts replaced 2017 Pro Bowler Wentz in Week 13, tallying 77 completions for 1,061 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions in four starts.

The 22-year-old – drafted in the second round in 2020 – also rushed for 354 yards for three TDs on 63 carries.

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  • Luis Enrique refuses to focus on the negatives ahead of Morocco meeting Luis Enrique refuses to focus on the negatives ahead of Morocco meeting

    Spain coach Luis Enrique is refusing to look at the negatives from his side's loss to Japan, instead pointing to how well La Roja played across their World Cup group stage games.

    Japan beat Spain 2-1 on Thursday to secure top spot in Group E, setting up a last-16 tie with Croatia while also condemning Germany to an early exit.

    Spain had 82.3 per cent of the possession and attempted 1,058 passes to Japan's 228, and had 12 shots, with five hitting the target.

    However, Spain's efforts only accumulated to 1.04 expected goals (xG), whereas Japan's six attempts added up to a combined xG of 1.45, with Ritsu Doan and Junya Ito scoring in the space of three second-half minutes.

    If reports in the Spanish media are to be believed, former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique might be replaced as Spain boss after the World Cup, but ahead of Tuesday's last-16 tie with Morocco, he has full conviction in his approach.

    "We are talking about 270 minutes if I'm not wrong, plus added time [in the group stage]," Luis Enrique said in a press conference when he was asked if his team failed to recover from setbacks during matches. 

    "Out of 300 minutes in total, you focus on 10 minutes that you didn't like. As far as we progress, you will see more of these minutes.

    "We are footballers and the opponents also play. There are things to be improved, and I'm sure we will be bitten by Morocco in some moments of the game.

    "We can't take blows? What about them? Did Germany take it well when we scored? We are in a competition where the score dictates the risk you are willing to take.

    "Other teams pull back but we keep attacking and of course we need to improve that."

    Asked if his team lacked the experience required to see out spells of pressure, Luis Enrique replied: "It's such a cliche, we have to try and get rid of this idea.

    "I don't believe they lacked experience. Experience in what? Being builders, carpenters? When you lose, people talk about issues and if you win, they don't.

    "I don't share this analysis. This team will be recognised by the way we play, analyse our matches, our philosophy but not these sorts of issues.

    "Mistakes happen, we are talking about a very complex, unfair sport, 11 players on a huge field, it's impossible to control all the aspects.

    "At the end of the day the ones making the decisions are the players, I want them to implement my idea and I want them to buy the whole package when they lose, it's not fair to only buy it when we win."

    Spain have only made it beyond the round of 16 once at the last four World Cups, when they went on to win the trophy in South Africa in 2010. This record, though, is of no concern to Luis Enrique.

    "This is not our usual trend, to look at everything from a negative perspective," he said.

    "I am not concerned about those results. I want to control the things I can control as a coach. I want my team to play in a certain way, I want my players to forget about the result.

    "Football is not fair but if you have more merit you usually win the game. I am convinced we will have more merit than Morocco. Our objective was to play seven games, so we want to play seven games."

  • Rodgers revels in 'little more special' win over the Bears and record Packers victory Rodgers revels in 'little more special' win over the Bears and record Packers victory

    Aaron Rodgers always felt confident the Green Bay Packers would rally to triumph in a "special rivalry" with the Chicago Bears and revelled in helping the franchise make NFL history.

    Trailing 19-10 through three quarters, the Packers outscored the Bears 18-0 in the fourth to run out 28-19 winners and rack up an eighth straight victory in matches between the two teams.

    Back in October 2021, Rodgers went viral for yelling "I own you" at Bears fans during a typically volatile 24-14 win.

    Sunday was by vintage Rodgers, who has been contending with a broken thumb since October and injured his ribs against the Philadelphia Eagles last week, but he completed 18 of 31 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown en route to improving to 25-5 against the Bears.

    Asked whether this continued his "ownership" of the Bears, Rodgers replied: "Yes.

    "We've got a special rivalry that I've been able to be a part of and there was probably a lot of people that felt good at 19-10, so did I.

    "A win against the Bears is always a little more special, there was other things involved, the all-time win total was cool, another fourth-quarter comeback.

    "I told the guys in the locker room we've played good enough at times to beat anyone in the league, and at times played poor enough to lose to just about anybody."

    With the win, the Packers moved outright top on the list of all-time NFL victories at 787, one clear of the Bears in second.

    It is a statistic Rodgers takes great pride in.

    "It means a lot, part of the legacy is you always want to leave the place you're at better than you found it," he said.

    "Right now, we flipped the all-time series [versus the Bears], all-time wins, we've had a lot of success against them.

    "In a few years you'll look back and feel pretty good about your contributions to the rivalry."

  • He's playing at an MVP level – Taylor hails Burrow as Bengals down Mahomes' Chiefs again He's playing at an MVP level – Taylor hails Burrow as Bengals down Mahomes' Chiefs again

    Joe Burrow got the better of Patrick Mahomes once again and is playing at an "MVP level" according to his Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor.

    The Bengals earned a 27-24 triumph over the Kansas City Chiefs at Paul Brown Stadium and moved to 8-4 for the season.

    Burrow was once again influential as he moved to a perfect 3-0 in games played against quarterback rival Mahomes, whose Chiefs sit at 9-3.

    The 25-year-old completed 25 of his 31 passes, including touchdown passes to Tee Higgins in the second quarter and Chris Evans in the last, with Evans' score putting the Bengals up for good.

    "He's playing at an MVP level – absolutely," Taylor said. "He gives us a lot of confidence."

    Burrow's outing also included running in a four-yard score and converting on a couple of third-down passes to Ja'Marr Chase and Higgins that allowed the Bengals to run down the clock.

    After the game, Burrow said: "We left some points on the field, but we still find a way to win.

    "We've still got five weeks left. Let's keep this train rolling. This team knows what it takes to win these games. We've been there. It's December. It's time to separate ourselves."

    Wide receiver Chase missed the previous four games with a hip injury and last year's Offensive Rookie of the Year caught seven passes for 97 yards on a brilliant return.

    "I was surprised at how quickly he was looking like the same Ja'Marr, even in practice last week. He's a freak," Taylor added.

    Mahomes finished the game with 16 of 27 passes completed for 223 yards and a touchdown, while running in for another score.

    But the Chiefs quarterback rued some costly mistakes.

    "We started off slow, we got back in the game, into the flow of things and [then] we had a turnover late and a missed kick," he said.

    "In the fourth quarter, those are the things that kind of bite you at the end."

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