Eagles

Eagles thankful Nick Foles reconsidered retiring

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USA Today Images

Eagles thankful Nick Foles reconsidered retiring

His year with the Rams was so difficult, so miserable, so unfulfilling, that when the 2015 season ended, Nick Foles thought about giving it all up.

At the tender age of 26.
 
Foles, just two years removed from his historic Pro Bowl season with the Eagles, said in a recent interview that he seriously considered retiring when his season with the Rams ended.
 
"Yes, I sat there and talked with my wife," Foles said. "You go through a lot of emotions. Changing teams, being traded, going there, going through that year, and once I was a free agent, we just sort of sat there and said, 'Hey what do we want to do?'
 
"It was the first time I had been a free agent in my career and it was the first time I had to make a decision because I was drafted and traded. I was leaning toward not playing and stepping back."
 
Foles, drafted in the third round by the Eagles in 2012, was traded to the Rams in March of 2015 along with second- and fourth-round picks for Sam Bradford and a fifth-round pick by new Eagles general manager Chip Kelly.
 
On a team with very little talent — their leading receivers were Kenny Britt and Tavon Austin — Foles went 4-7 in 11 starts before getting benched twice in favor of Case Keenum, who's now quarterbacking the Vikings.
 
When the Rams selected Jared Goff with the first pick in the draft, Foles asked to be released, and he was.
 
"My wife and I kept talking for months, and when I was free I talked with Coach (Andy) Reid for a while and then I took a break," he said.
 
"I went on a camping trip with my brother. I came back and my wife and I kept talking and just prayed about it. We just made the decision to go back and play for Coach Reid."
 
Foles backed up Alex Smith last year with the Chiefs but played well in two midseason appearances — wins over the Colts and Jaguars. He completed 65 percent of his passes with three TDs and no interceptions in those back-to-back wins.
 
"It was the best decision I made going there in that situation," said Foles, who had played for Reid in Philadelphia in 2012.
 
"It wasn't an easy call for me but I was back with someone familiar and I think Coach Reid is one of the best coaches ever. Love the man.
 
"Had a special year with them last year, and I can't say enough about that organization as well as a whole, much like here, which is really awesome."
 
As Foles prepares for his first start in an Eagles uniform in more than three years, here is the rest of our 1-on-1 with Foles from two weeks ago:
 
Roob: What has it been like working with Carson for the first time? It seems like you have a great relationship.
 
Foles: "Yeah we have a really good quarterback room with Carson, me and Nate (Sudfeld). We all get along great, we are all very similar in our values and in our work ethic. Just going to work every day. We get here early and get in the film room early. And you are around each other a lot so if your personalities clash it isn't a good thing but we all get along. Every day is enjoyable and we keep getting better. Carson is a tremendous player as everyone has seen throughout the course of the year in how much his game has developed from Year 1 to Year 2 and it continues to develop week to week, which is exciting to be a part of. It is a great place to work and it is a great quarterback environment."
 
Roob: What are your fondest memories of your first three years here? Obviously, a magical year in 2013, 27 touchdowns and two interceptions is still the greatest ratio in NFL history. You were the Pro Bowl MVP, you had seven touchdowns against the Raiders. What do you remember about that year?
 
Foles: "There are so many special memories. I think the biggest thing was playing in the Linc. When I wasn't a part of the Eagles the last couple of years, I just missed playing in the Linc, just being in that stadium and just being around our fans in a game-time situation, especially in the night and primetime games which are really fun here. The opportunity to be back here, to walk back in the Linc and to be back at the facility is surreal. There are so many great memories. All of the coaches and teammates I had. Some of the coaches I had are still here, which is really cool, and a lot of the strength staff and the personnel in the building. It was like coming back to a family you hadn't seen for several years. I can't say enough good things about the city of Philadelphia, living here, now my wife and I have a daughter and we are in a different part of life than when we were here before, so it has been a really awesome journey."
 
Roob: You talked about that year in St. Louis. What happened with the Rams?
 
Foles: "It didn't go exactly how I wanted it. Obviously, when you go somewhere you want to have a lot of success like you had in the previous spot. A great group of guys and teammates but it just didn't work out but there were still a lot of good wins and we played some good ball. Some didn't go my way but I think through those tough times you have to grind it out and keep working every day to get better. So with that, I moved on and went to Kansas City and got back together with Coach Reid, which was awesome and had a great year with them, got to play in two games and we had a lot of success. Just being around them at that time was a good thing for me at that time in my career."
 
Roob: I know you are the ultimate team guy and you have always been but at the same token you are a competitor and you want to play. How do you balance being the best backup to Carson you can and having that competitive urge to play football?
 
Foles: "I think that it is something deep down in your heart that you know you have the ability to play but at the same time this is why this is the greatest team sport because everyone in this locker room can play. They have played at one level or another, and sometimes you have to take a backseat and help that person to succeed and find joy in that. It has really been awesome to watch Carson grow and have the success in the same uniform that I had success in. When I was coming here, that does cross your mind like how is that going to work with everything but I feel that everything has been smooth and it has been an enjoyable place to come to work and I have a lot of good memories here. Now my memories are watching one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL that will be one of the greatest to play and it has been really cool to be a part of that my second time around here."
 
Roob: Now you are in Year 6, in your mind and in your heart, will you be a starter at some point in your career?
 
Foles: "That's the question, you don't really know. There are times where my wife and I talk about all of this and that does come up. Obviously, I know I can start. It is just taking it one day at a time. I am enjoying this moment right now and I signed a two-year deal and there was a reason for that. I am just going to do everything I can for this organization. We will see what happens at that point because that's how this business works. I would like to start again and do that and continue to play. We will sit down and make those tough decisions as a family and see where it leads us."

Jeffery's role, Pederson's personality, and more in Roob's observations

Jeffery's role, Pederson's personality, and more in Roob's observations

Danny Amendola and Dion Lewis, record-setting third-down conversions, and Vince and Mike Lombardi highlight Monday's edition of 10 random Super Bowl observations, which will appear every day between today and Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4 in Minneapolis.

That should be 140 total random Super Bowl observations! 

1. You could just sense Nick Foles and Alshon Jeffery building up their chemistry over the past few weeks, and in these two playoff games Jeffery has played like the star the Eagles hoped they were getting when they signed him. Jeffery was 4 for 61 against the Falcons and 5 for 85 with two TDs against the Vikings. Foles targeted him five times and he caught every one, including that 53-yard TD on a scramble drill. Jeffery needs 66 yards in the Super Bowl to break the franchise record for receiving yards in a single postseason (211 in 2008 by none other than Kevin Curtis). Jeffery is just blossoming now. His two TDs Sunday give him 11 this year, and only Harold Carmichael, Tommy McDonald, Terrell Owens and Mike Quick have had more in a season in franchise history. He just looks more and more comfortable each week, especially in the red zone, where he has a real flair for going up and getting the ball. I have a hunch he's going to have a big game in Minneapolis.

2. The Eagles have allowed 15 second-half points in their last five games. 

3. Pretty funny after everything that’s transpired over the past few months that the Super Bowl winner receives the Lombardi Trophy. Definitely not named after Mike! 

4. According to Pro Football Focus, 69 of Jay Ajayi’s 73 rushing yards Sunday night came after first contact. That means 94.5 percent of his yards came after he was hit. That’s remarkable and speaks to just what a tough runner he is. 

5. Corey Graham was such an underrated signing. He’s been very solid as a third safety and like newcomers LeGarrette Blount, Torrey Smith, Chris Long and Dannell Ellerbe, he’s a winner and has a Super Bowl ring. He knows what it takes. Graham’s interception Sunday was his third career postseason INT, and only two active players — Antoine Bethea and Tramon Williams, with four each — have more. Solid guy, solid player.

6. Soon after the media was allowed in the locker room after the game Sunday night, linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill snuck over to this panel on the wall and plugged his iPhone into a jack and instantly music began blasting over speakers throughout the locker room. Grugier-Hill closed his eyes and started dancing. Rodney McLeod cracked up but yelled over, “Come on, Kamu. You can’t be playing Lil Yachty in the locker room while the media is in here,” and everybody cracked up. This team is so loose and having so much fun right now. Doug Pederson deserves so much credit for letting these guys show their personality all the time, whether it’s in an end zone celebration, in the locker room before a game or on the sideline with the German Shepherd masks. If you’re loose, you can just go out and play your game. If you’re tight, it’s tough to be at your best. Pederson understands this as well as any coach I’ve ever been around.

7. Amazing that the Patriots’ top two receivers this postseason are former Eagles: Receiver Danny Amendola (18 for 196) and running back Dion Lewis (16 for 111). Amendola spent the early part of the 2009 season on the Eagles’ practice squad before the Rams signed him. Lewis was the Eagles’ fifth-round pick in 2011 and spent his first two NFL seasons with the Eagles before getting traded to the Browns for linebacker Emmanuel Acho.

8. The Eagles’ 456 yards of offense Sunday are the most they’ve ever had in a playoff game, two more than they had in the 2008 NFC Championship Game. It was the second most the Vikings have allowed in their 49 franchise playoff games. The Giants netted 518 in their 41-0 win over the Vikings at Giants Stadium in 2001. The Eagles' 27 first downs are also a franchise playoff record. 

9. I can’t get past the fact that 24 months ago Pederson had never coached above the high school level and Foles was mulling retirement. Twenty-four months ago! Look at ‘em now! This is why sports rule!

10. Maybe the craziest thing about Sunday’s game was the Eagles’ ability to convert on third down against a defense that came into the game historically among the best in NFL history on third down at 25.4 percent. The Eagles were 10 for 14 on third down, good for 71.4 percent. That’s third best against the Vikings in any game — regular season or postseason — since 1991, which is as far back as available records go. To put that 71.4 percent figure in perspective, the Eagles converted more third downs Sunday (10) than the Vikings’ last four opponents had combined (eight). 

Former Eagles assistant named Giants head coach

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Former Eagles assistant named Giants head coach

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur has been hired as the New York Giants head coach.

The Giants announced the hiring late Monday afternoon, less than 24 hours after Shurmur and the Vikings were beaten by the Eagles in the NFC title game.

The 52-year-old Shurmur replaces Ben McAdoo, who was fired in early December with the team mired with a 2-10 record and owners and fans upset with his handling of the benching of two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning.

Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo took over for the final four games and posted a 1-3 record.

"He has an outstanding track record in developing young players, and it is clear his players respond to his guidance and direction," co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch said in a statement.

"We interviewed six talented and qualified candidates, and we feel like Pat, with his vision and experience, is the right person to lead our team."

The Giants won't officially introduce Shurmur until Friday. A winter storm in the Midwest is preventing him from coming to New Jersey on Tuesday and he will be at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, from Tuesday night through Thursday.

Shurmur returns to the head coaching ranks for the first time since leading the Cleveland Browns in 2011-12. He takes over a troubled team that posted a 3-13 record a year after making the playoffs.

Shurmur was interviewed on Jan. 6 by Mara, new general manager Dave Gettleman and assistant GM Kevin Abrams.

Following that meeting in Minneapolis, Shurmur had an hour-long phone conversation with Tisch.

The Giants interviewed five other candidates, kicking it off with Spagnuolo three days after the season ended.

New York also spoke with New England coordinators Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia, Carolina defensive coordinator Steve Wilks and recently fired Broncos running backs coach Eric Studesville, who has since been hired as a running backs coach by the Dolphins. Wilks was hired as the head coach in Arizona on Monday

Shurmur has earned a reputation as a quarterback whisperer. NFC title game opponents Nick Foles of the Eagles and Case Keenum of the Vikings were tutored by him.

With the Giants, Shurmur will get to work with Manning and possibly the No. 2 pick in the draft, if New York uses the pick to pick an heir apparent.

But the Giants also had problems in the locker room. Three defensive backs -- Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Eli Apple were suspended for a game for conduct detrimental to the team.

Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen said Shurmur constantly put players in position to contribute and he doesn't take anything for granted.

"He's not a stubborn guy. He's going to throw stuff out if it's not working, and he's going to find things that guys are good at," Thielen said Monday as the Vikings cleaned out their lockers.

"So I think as a head coach, he's going to do that on both sides of the ball. Special teams, he's going to find guys who can make plays and let them do what they do. So I think he's going to have a lot of success as a head coach."

Shurmur has been a part of teams that have qualified for the playoffs nine times and won seven division titles. He was Philadelphia's quarterbacks coach when the Eagles played in the Super Bowl against New England in the 2004 season.

Shurmur is finishing his second year with the Vikings. He began last season as the tight ends coach and for the final nine games was also the offensive coordinator, the title he retained this season.

The Vikings finished 10th in the NFL in scoring (23.9 points), 11th in total yardage (356.9), and seventh in rushing yardage (122.3) this season.

Shurmur posted a 9-23 record in his two seasons with the Browns, going there after a two-year stint as the offensive coordinator with the Rams. He spent three seasons as the Eagles offensive coordinator after being fired.

Shurmur's NFL coaching career began with a 10-year run (1999-2008) in Philadelphia. He coached in college at Stanford and Michigan State.