Eagles

Do Eagles have NFL's best O-line? Just ask Vikings

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Do Eagles have NFL's best O-line? Just ask Vikings

They were billed as the best defense in the NFL. With the best defensive line in the NFL. With the best pass rusher in the NFL.

So much for that.

The Eagles' offensive line made sure that for one day at the Linc, they were none of the above.

Thanks in great part to a dominating performance by their offensive line, the Eagles made a mockery of the vaunted Vikings defense, piling up franchise playoff records with 456 yards and 27 first downs in a 38-7 dismantling of the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game at the Linc Sunday.

Nick Foles threw 33 times, was sacked just once, and passed for 352 yards and three touchdowns. The Eagles also ran for 110 yards and 4.2 yards per pop before a couple late kneel-downs by Nate Sudfeld.

“The offensive line did a great job," Foles said. "That’s a really good defensive front and they give you a lot of different looks, so there were different blitzes that we had to pick up. There’s a little bit more movement in the pocket just because of the different blitz angles. I just felt comfortable because I trusted the guys up front and I always know they do an amazing job.

"The key to an offense is the offensive line. We have the most athletic and best offensive line in the league. Those guys are unbelievable. Each one of them can probably beat me in a race — that’s how athletic they are. 

"To have them in front of me to block and do everything they do, they did a great job all night. I just had to move around in the pocket a little bit. They picked it all up.”

The Vikings came in as the top-ranked defense in the NFL with a defensive line considered the league's best.

The Eagles' offensive line obliterated them.

"I think this is the best they've played as a unit," coach Doug Pederson said. "All the way across the board, from Lane (Johnson) to Big V (Halapoulivaati Vaitai), I mean, these guys, we haven't talked a whole lot about them this year, but this is a group that (offensive line) coach Jeff Stoutland does a tremendous job preparing each week.

"(He) has a great run plan together, our protection schemes, and they just go to work. They come to work on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and get the job done. Sometimes it's not always pretty, but it doesn't have to be. At the end of the day, we find a way, and they find a way."

The Eagles scored more points, gained more yards, converted more points and recorded more first downs than any team had against the Vikings all year. 

They ran the ball effectively, they gave Foles enough time to hit a bunch of deep throws and thanks mainly to Big V, they neutralized Griffen, who had 13 regular-season sacks but never got close to Foles Sunday night.

Foles became the first quarterback ever to complete four passes of 35 yards or more in a playoff game against the Vikings.

“That’s crucial," Jason Kelce said. "You have to be able to protect if you’re going to throw downfield. (Foles) knew when it was going to be picked up and it was picked up that he was going to have the time to be able to do that.

"Know who the offensive line has, trust that we are going to be able to get it done, and when we don’t have them because we are not going to pick up everything, and he's ready to get the ball out.”

Pederson interviewing 2 for Eagles' OC job

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Pederson interviewing 2 for Eagles' OC job

While many folks are off for Presidents Day, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson is hard at work trying to figure out how to replace Frank Reich. 

Pederson is spending his Monday interviewing running backs coach Duce Staley and wide receivers coach Mike Groh for the Eagles' vacant offensive coordinator position, a league source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia. ESPN's Tim McManus first reported the news Monday. 

It's possible one or both coaches could take over in some sort of offensive coordinator role. 

Reich left his post as offensive coordinator earlier this month when he accepted the head coaching job in Indianapolis. While it might not seem like an OC who doesn't call the plays has a big role, Reich was a good sounding board for Pederson and seemed to be very-well trusted by the head coach. He also helped put the weekly gameplan together. 

It makes sense that the Eagles don't want to go outside the organization to hire an offensive coordinator. Pederson trusts Staley and Groh and the chemistry inside the NovaCare Complex was tremendous during the Eagles' run to Super Bowl LII. 

Either way, Pederson is going to oversee the offense and call plays. Staley or Groh, if one or both are promoted, will handle some extra responsibility, but it'll still all be on Pederson. 

While Staley has been with the Eagles as a coach since 2011, working his way up from a quality control coach to running backs coach in 2013, Groh is a newcomer. He was added to the staff before the 2017 season to take over for Greg Lewis after the Eagles fired him. Groh did an impressive job last season, particularly with helping transform Nelson Agholor from a bust to one of the team's more explosive weapons. 

LeGarrette Blount makes his desire to stay in Philly clear

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LeGarrette Blount makes his desire to stay in Philly clear

LeGarrette Blount is fresh off of his third Super Bowl title and second in two years with two different teams. 

It sounds like he doesn't really want to go to a third team in three years. 

Blount, 31, played on a one-year deal worth around $1.25 million with the Eagles in 2017, but is set to become an unrestricted free agent when the new league year starts on March 14. He made it pretty clear on Sunday that he wouldn't mind coming back to Philly for another run. 

"It's early so we'll see," Blount said on NFL Network. 

"Obviously I like it a lot there. They like me a lot there. It's a mutual respect and a mutual agreement thing about how we feel about each other. Obviously, you guys know how I feel about the team, the guys; I love those guys. 

"I can't say enough about Duce (Staley), just for the simple fact for how well I was coached there and how good he helped me understand things. I feel like Duce is one of the best running back coaches, one of the best coaches I've ever had in my entire life. I obviously want to be a part of that for a while, so we'll see how it goes."

Blount began the year as the Eagles' top running back, but lost some of his role once the team traded for former Pro Bowler Jay Ajayi. But Blount still played a significant role in the Eagles' run to winning Super Bowl LII. 

During the season, he was the team's top rusher with 173 carries for 766 yards and two touchdowns. But then in Super Bowl LII, he had 14 carries for 90 yards and a touchdown, helping the Eagles to a 41-33 win over his former team, the Patriots. 

The Eagles are going to bring back Ajayi and second-year player Corey Clement. After that, things get murky. Blount and Darren Sproles (coming off injury) are both set to become free agents. 

Blount wasn't shy about his love for the Eagles during his interview on Sunday. He cited trust and how they handled the Ajayi trade with him as big reasons why. 

"They talked to me throughout the process of it happening," Blount said. "They were like, 'we're trading for Jay Ajayi, we just want to let you know.' Like I said, that's obviously another big thing for me, the honesty in that building and how open they are and how they don't keep any kind of secrets for you. They just tell you how it is. It's a big respect thing. Duce was the first person to reach out the me and be like, 'hey, we traded for Jay Ajayi. I just want to let you know.' Again, man, that's why it's a place that I love and I hope to stay there." 

Late in the six-and-a-half minute video, the crew brought out Clement while Blount was answering a question about the rookie. Blount laughed during the middle of his answer, but then got back on track and praised Clement. The two became very close during the 2017 season. 

After Blount's answer, Clement got to chat with his teammate and said getting to work with Blount was a "tremendous opportunity" and would clearly like to keep the core group together in the running back room next season. 

Obviously, it's not up to Clement, but Blount will play a big role and we already know what he thinks of the Eagles.