Eagles staying focused amid Schwartz reports

Eagles staying focused amid Schwartz reports

Jim Schwartz's days with the Eagles might be nearing an end. 

According to ESPN, Schwartz will interview for the Giants' head coaching job next week and Schwartz has been linked to the Giants by several others as well. 

"Everybody gets paid when you're winning," Malcolm Jenkins said. "It's not surprising." 

For two seasons, Schwartz has led the Eagles' defense as the unit's coordinator under head coach Doug Pederson. While Schwartz has worked hard during that time to be deferential toward the head coach, his desire to return to a head coaching gig is there. 

And Schwartz, 51, has one of the major qualifications the Giants want — he has been a head coach before. He took over a Lions team that went 0-16 in 2008 and had them in the playoffs three years later. In his five years in Detroit, he compiled a 29-51 record before getting the boot. 

But with the Eagles taking the top spot in the NFC and with his defense performing well, especially heading into the playoffs, it might be the right time for Schwartz to cash in. 

"Jim Schwartz has done a heck of a job here," safety Rodney McLeod said. "He's a great coach, good leader, is definitely a good mentor as well. I'm not surprised that they are pursuing him. 

"But at the end of the day, we're not focused on that. We're focused on the task at hand, which is figuring out who we play next in these playoff games and that's the complete focus and mentality. And I'm sure it is for him too."

"I'm just worried about right now," Chris Long said. "I'm worried about the playoffs. I'm worried about whoever we play here in two weeks. Anything after the next month or two, that doesn't really concern me." 

That was a common refrain from defensive players inside the Eagles' locker room. Many of them have been around long enough to understand the business of the NFL, but also know they can't allow these things to be distractions. 

Pederson, who was involved in this process a couple years ago himself, said recently that making sure it doesn't become a distraction is the most important thing. 

"I think any time you have success as a team, I think your assistant coaches are going to be looked at for potential jobs," Pederson said Sunday night. "We'll cross that bridge when we get there."

Schwartz does not speak to reporters after games. Since his arrival in Philly, he has elected not to because he doesn't want to step on the toes of Pederson. So Sunday night, he was unavailable to answer questions about his reported interview with the Giants. 

But even if he did field questions, he wouldn't have said much. 

During the practice week in L.A., Schwartz was asked by a national reporter if he still aspired to be a head coach. He declined to answer. 

After Sunday's regular-season finale, players were complimentary of Schwartz, but they let it be known: they're going to stay focused on winning, not the possibility of losing a coach. 

"The biggest thing is, none of that is of my concern," Jenkins said. "We're just trying to get to the next week. I'm not thinking about it unless he's going to be somebody else's coach next week. If he's going to be with us, then all the focus is on here.

"Everybody in this building is worried about winning a Super Bowl." 

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

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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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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.