NFL Cracks Down on Eagles After Controversial Buccaneers Hit

Leonard Fournette

Getty Leonard Fournette will not play in the Eagles-Buccaneers playoff matchup.

One Philadelphia Eagles player is $4,722 lighter in the wallet after the NFL reviewed a controversial hit from last week’s playoff loss. KeeSean Johnson was guilty of an unnecessary roughness penalty that went uncalled.

NFL Network’s Tom Peliserro was the first to report the assessed fine. Johnson only saw 18 total snaps (16 of them on special teams) against Tampa Bay in his Eagles’ debut. The former sixth-rounder drilled Jaelon Darden squarely in the head on a punt return and no flag was thrown. Darden’s knee was clearly down when the collision occurred as the Buccaneers receiver stumbled backward upon impact.

Johnson isn’t known to be a dirty player so adrenaline probably got the best of him. He has appeared in 19 games since 2019 during stints in Arizona and Philadelphia. He has 36 career receptions for 360 yards and a touchdown, plus one rush for three yards. He spent the majority of the 2021 campaign on the Eagles’ practice squad.

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Nick Sirianni Pleased with WR Group

Nick Sirianni took the Eagles’ head-coaching gig with a reputation as a wide receivers guru. He had coached that position as an assistant with the Chargers and Chiefs, plus he played wide receiver himself in college. Sirianni’s expertise in that area was a selling point to his bosses considering some failed experiments in recent drafts. He coached the group up hard at training camp, then watched certain guys take off. Not all of them.

“Jalen Reagor, we want more production from Jalen Reagor and he has all the talent to do so,” Sirianni said. “So, I like him in that No. 3 spot right now to be able to make plays because he has skill, he has talent. It’s our job as coaches to get that skill and that talent out of him so it produces on the field.”

Sirianni went out of his way to praise J.J. Arcega-Whiteside’s blocking skills. And Greg Ward’s leadership. Overall, he thought the Eagles’ receivers were trending upward despite the statistics not necessarily being there. Other than DeVonta Smith (916 yards), the non-tight ends only accumulated 1,077 yards. Quez Watkins paced them with 647 receiving yards.

“I know that this is a good group,” Sirianni said. “Are we always going to look to add talent to the group and play-makers to the group? Of course. But I like where we sit right now as the wide receiver group, and I think we can continue to grow at that group because of the talent we have and the guys that we have in that room.”

Eagles’ Brass Happy with First-Year Coach

The Eagles first interviewed Sirianni on January 19, 2021, in what turned out to be an eye-opening marathon session. The then-offensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts blew Philly brass away with his knowledge of the game. They hired him on January 21, 2021. And don’t regret doing it.

“He has an incredible passion for his job. He’s an incredible leader,” Eagles GM Howie Roseman said. “His messaging to the team — some of those things that you think you know when you’re interviewing someone, but you don’t really get until you are part of it, were incredible.”

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