Eagles

Doug Pederson looks to past to help Nick Foles

Doug Pederson looks to past to help Nick Foles

Doug Pederson actually laughed at the question. Yes, Nick Foles is still his starting quarterback.

The fact that it was a legitimate question during the Eagles' bye week before the divisional round speaks to how poorly Foles has played in the last couple of games. It will be hard for the Eagles to win a Super Bowl if he doesn't play better.

Foles is the guy, so this week is about self-scouting and tailoring the offense to him. The Eagles have to give him the best possible chance to succeed.

Back in early December, when Carson Wentz tore his ACL, Pederson claimed the offense wouldn't need to change much with Foles (see story). But now, as the Eagles are preparing for their first playoff game in less than two weeks, the head coach is going back to see what has worked for Foles before.

"Just taking a look at what his strengths are," Pederson said. "Strengths and weaknesses and making sure we're ... everything at this time of year becomes magnified even more now that you're going into the postseason. We've got to make sure that we're doing our due diligence as a staff to put our guys in successful positions."

The Eagles will start their playoff run on Saturday, Jan. 13 at 4:35 p.m. against the Saints, Panthers or Falcons. They have until then to figure out their offense with Foles at the helm.

During that magical 2013 season, Foles thrived in Chip Kelly's offense, which included a lot of one-read and quick throws. It also included an uptempo pace, which has seemingly given him a kickstart in Pederson's offense this year. Pederson made sure to note that the Eagles used it with Wentz at times this season too.

Pederson has gone back to watch tape of Foles from that wild 2013 season, including the 26-24 playoff loss to New Orleans. He actually watched that game on Tuesday morning before his press conference.

"I saw a guy that stood in there, took some shots in that game, delivered some great throws in that game and led the team back to the go-ahead touchdown late in the game," Pederson said. "That's the type of quarterback that we have."

He also went back and watched Foles from 2012 when Andy Reid was still coach. He even watched tape from when Foles was in St. Louis in 2015.

Pederson watched everything he could of Foles because that's his quarterback for the rest of this playoff run. He wants to make him as comfortable as possible.

"The little play-action pass, the shotgun stuff, those are all things that are in our system and we might just have to dust a few more off and get that ready to go," Pederson said. "That's kind of what this week is for, to get some of those ideas and thoughts down on paper and execute them this week at practice."

Doug Pederson's preseason comparison doesn't look so ridiculous now

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USA Today Images

Doug Pederson's preseason comparison doesn't look so ridiculous now

When Doug Pederson said back in July that the 2017 Eagles "probably have more talent" than the Super Bowl Packers teams of the 1990s that Pederson played on, more than a few eyebrows were raised.

Millions of eyebrows maybe.
 
The Eagles? Who hadn't won a playoff game since 2008 and were coming off a 7-9 record in Pederson's first season?
 
More talented than a team that went to the playoffs virtually every year from the early 1990s through the mid-2000s behind Hall of Famers Brett Favre and Reggie White and reached back-to-back Super Bowls in 1996 and 1997, winning one?
 
"I look back on my time in Green Bay as a player when we were making those playoff runs, those Super Bowl runs there," Pederson said on July 17.
 
"And do we have as much talent on this team than we did then? We probably have more talent, right?"
 
Seriously, Doug?
 
Six months later, Pederson's comments — which seemed so ridiculous at the time — don't seem so ridiculous, do they?
 
Because here are those 2017 Eagles, sitting 13-3 with a playoff win over the Falcons in the books and a berth Sunday in the NFC Championship Game against the Vikings despite a rash of injuries to some of their best players.
 
The Eagles haven't lost a game with postseason implications since Carson Wentz was lost for the season, and they're one home win from reaching their third Super Bowl.
 
Pederson, who had two stints backing up Brett Favre with the Packers — from 1996 through 1998 and 2001 through 2004 — was reminded of his comments Friday before practice.
 
"I don't have a crystal ball, obviously, and it's hard to predict," he said. "You'd love to sit here and go, 'Yeah, in the summer, (I thought we were) going to be 13-3 and win the NFC East.' You'd love to be in that situation, or 16-0, or whatever it might be.
 
"I did have a feeling back then when I made that statement that we could be, we had the potential to be a good football team because of the way we've practiced and the talent that we brought to the roster and the progression of Carson in his second year.
 
"And then defensively, the front, the way they performed, and the back end, I saw a lot of the same similarities. So you just have that gut feeling when I made that statement."
 
Back in July, when Pederson made those comments comparing the Eagles to the Packers, he tempered them by saying talent isn't always enough. It takes much more for a team to have success.
 
"I (said) it takes great coaching, teaching, mentoring to also have our guys prepared each week to be in this position," Pederson said. "So all of that has kind of culminated. I think you look back on it and you go, 'Wow, maybe it was a true type of thing.'
 
"But we just keep doing our jobs, keep doing what we've been coached to do. Players play what they can do and what's in their control, and we're here today."

Only 1 Eagle questionable for Sunday

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

Only 1 Eagle questionable for Sunday

Veteran linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring) is the only Eagles player listed as questionable for this week's game. Everyone else on the 53-man roster is expected to be available. 

Ellerbe, 32, missed practice on Wednesday and was limited on Thursday and Friday. 

The Eagles' starting MIKE linebacker was also listed as questionable last week and was able to play, so expect him to be good to go. After all, this is the NFC Championship Game. There's no resting for anything else. 

In Minnesota, wide receiver Adam Thielen (lower back) and safety Andrew Sendejo (concussion) are both listed as questionable. 

Thielen, the Vikings' top receiver, missed Wednesday's practice and was limited on Thursday and Friday. Just like Ellerbe, there's no saving him for next week. 

Sendejo was limited on Wednesday and Thursday, was a full participant on Friday, but is still technically in the NFL's concussion protocol. He'll need to clear that before he's able to play, but Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said he's optimistic Sendejo will be able to play. 

Meanwhile, third defensive tackle, Shamar Stephen (knee/ankle), missed practice all week and has been ruled out. While Stephen isn't a starter, he played just under 40 percent of the Vikings' snaps this season, so missing him is still a loss.

After practicing indoors on Wednesday and Thursday, the Eagles loaded up on buses and spent their Friday practice outside at Lincoln Financial Field. Head coach Doug Pederson likes to get his guys outside for at least one day per week. 

The Eagles will have a walkthrough on Saturday before they'll be back at the Linc for Sunday's 6:40 p.m. kickoff in the NFC Championship Game.