Eagles

How Foles dealt with week of doubters

How Foles dealt with week of doubters

Earlier this week, Nick Foles talked about getting to go home each night to his 7-month-old daughter. Something about having a child seems to put life into perspective. 

Foles isn't stupid. He's not deaf either. 

He can hear the talk. He can read the line that has the Falcons as favorites even though they're the sixth seed on the road this weekend against the No. 1 seed at the Linc. And Foles is smart enough to know that simply wouldn't be the case if Carson Wentz was still the quarterback of the team. 

The Eagles feel slighted. They've had an edge about them all week. 

But No. 9 has been the same old Nick Foles. 

His understudy and good friend Nate Sudfeld thinks Foles has handled the week so well in part because of the balance in his life, because he's been able to spend time with his family at the end of each night. During the day, Foles has been locked in. 

"I found, being around some really good quarterbacks, they do a good job of insulating themselves and focusing on what they can control," Sudfeld told NBC Sports Philadelphia. "No matter how well you do, people are going to critique you or dislike you or whatever. 

"I think Blake Bortles said it the other day and it's so true ... even LeBron James has haters. And he's one of the best ever."

A lot of the negative feelings about Foles stem from his last five quarters. Foles was awful against the Raiders on Christmas Day and didn't get any better against the Cowboys in the first quarter the next week. 

But Foles is an experienced quarterback. He's an NFL veteran and has found success in the league before. His experience is one of the main reasons why offensive coordinator Frank Reich thinks Foles still has his confidence (see story).

"Demeanor has been great. He’s handled it great," head coach Doug Pederson said Thursday. "He's the type of guy, like most quarterbacks, we learn to compartmentalize everything and put things in boxes and just sort of check off each box every day and make sure we’re staying focused on the game plan and the guys. He's done a nice job and handled it well this week."

If anything, Foles is feeling more comfortable this week than others. Pederson said with each week as the starting quarterback, Foles is able to embrace the role more and more. Even little things like his teammates learning his voice in the huddle have been coming along. 

Alshon Jeffery sees it too. The Eagles' top receiver said Foles seemed a lot more relaxed this week. He thinks it has something to do with finally having an opponent to prepare for and a game plan to install. 

So how about that. As confidence in Foles outside the building has been plummeting, his self-confidence might be reaching a new high. 

"He's been great," Sudfeld said. "Same old Nick. He's had a great week of prep. He's been practicing really well. He spent some time with his family and has a good balance. I think he's had a great week. [Foles has] been handling it really well and I think he's going to play really well."

Eagles aim to master late 1st-round picks

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AP Images

Eagles aim to master late 1st-round picks

The Eagles will be at a disadvantage on April 26, when the first round of the 2018 draft begins in Dallas. Thanks to winning the Super Bowl — remember that? It wasn’t a dream — they have the 32nd and last pick of the first round. 

It’s a disadvantage they hope to have every year. 

“Yeah, that’s the goal,” Eagles VP of player personnel Joe Douglas said on Thursday. “Hopefully we’ll be picking in the late 20s and early 30s [every year].” 

There’s an art to hitting in the second half of the first round and it’s obviously harder to find success there than it is in the top half. The good news for the Eagles is that Douglas learned under Baltimore GM Ozzie Newsome, who is one of the best general managers in the NFL. Newsome’s team has often picked late in the first round and he’s often been able to find some great talent in that range. 

Ed Reed was picked at No. 24, Todd Heap at 31, Ben Grubbs at 29. There are more too. 

“Ozzie is patient,” Douglas said. “Ozzie Newsome is a Hall of Famer for the Cleveland Browns and he should be a Hall of Famer for the Baltimore Ravens as a GM. He’s the absolute best. His first two picks (Reed and Terrell Suggs) are first-ballot Hall of Famers. He was able to have great success in the 20s. Those players you specifically named, they were not a move up or move down guys. Those were guys that Ozzie was patient and he let the board come to him. Some of those picks were met with greater fanfare than others.”

They can’t all be hits, of course. In 2013, the Ravens took safety Matt Elam, who played in 41 games for Baltimore in three seasons, but was out of the league by 2017. Many consider him a bust. It happens. But it’s hard to argue with the Ravens’ body of work. 

The Eagles haven’t been nearly as consistent picking in the 20s in recent years. Nelson Agholor was No. 20 in 2015 and finally fulfilled his potential last season. But before then, Marcus Smith was 26 in 2014 and Danny Watkins was 23 in 2011. The last time the Eagles came off a Super Bowl appearance, they picked DT Mike Patterson with the 31st pick in 2005. A decent player, never a star. 

Douglas thought there were a lot of hits late in the first round of last year’s draft, but admitted it “varies year to year.” 

For now, the Eagles own the 32nd pick, but they’re definitely not ruling out a possible trade. On Thursday, de facto GM Howie Roseman said the team is “open for business.” 

There’s also plenty of appeal for other teams who might want a specific position with No. 32 because of a possible fifth-year option in their contracts. A few years ago, the Vikings traded for No. 32 to get Teddy Bridgewater. This week, the groundwork for possible draft day trades will happen, Roseman said. The Eagles will have contact with other teams to gauge their interest in moving up or down around their area of the first round. 

If the Eagles don’t move up or down, they feel comfortable at 32. 

“I guess when you’re picking, any number you’re picking, whether it’s 14 last year or 32, you’ve got to have 32 guys to be excited to take,” Douglas said. “Right now, we have 32 guys we’d be fired up to get. How it plays out, we’ll find out.”

Coming off first Super Bowl win, Eagles aim to crush complacency

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USA Today Images

Coming off first Super Bowl win, Eagles aim to crush complacency

The Eagles on Monday released a short video montage of players returning to the NovaCare Complex for the start of the team’s offseason workout program, the first time the team has been back together since winning Super Bowl LII. 

Playing over the video is a snippet from Doug Pederson’s speech to the team, in which he talks about sacrifice and starting over at ground zero. 

The 30-second video then ends with a shot of the Eagles’ new Super Bowl champion banner hanging in the weight room, while Pederson delivers the message, “The new normal starts today.” 

The Eagles have finally won a Super Bowl, so now what? 

Well, now they have to battle complacency on their quest to make a parade down Broad Street an annual occurrence. 

“For me, when I hear the ‘new norm,’ I’m not thinking about the end result, the championships and the parades and all that,” veteran leader Malcolm Jenkins said on Tuesday. “I’m thinking about the work it took to get to where we were. How we started last year in April and grinded and competed throughout. For me, that’s kind of the new norm and the standard and the base that we’re trying to start from this year as we try to defend that title.” 

Unlike many of his teammates, this isn’t the first time Jenkins is coming off a championship. The year after his Saints won the Super Bowl during his rookie season, they were bounced out of the playoffs in the first round. 

Being that this isn’t the first time Jenkins is in this situation, he said he knows some of the “pitfalls” that come with trying to avoid the Super Bowl hangover. Aside from the obvious month less of recovery time, the Eagles also need to shift their mindset from celebration back to work. Jenkins doesn’t think that will be a problem. He thinks teams get their attitude from leaders. He thinks these Eagles want to “create something special.” He thinks they know how to do it. 

One thing that should help is getting back several key players who weren’t able to play in last year’s Super Bowl because of injuries. Their drive will be there. 

“I know for myself and (Jordan) Hicks and (Chris) Maragos, Jason Peters, it didn’t sit well with them either,” Carson Wentz said. “As much as we love our teammates and we were excited to see it, we wanted to be out there. We know that will kick things into gear. I don’t think complacency would have been an issue regardless, but I think that will definitely help.”

Jenkins this week didn’t want to even talk about repeating yet because there’s so long to go before we even know what the team will look like. 

But repeating remains the ultimate goal.  

“We’re extremely hungry for sustained success in this city,” tight end Zach Ertz said. “We’ve tasted it one time and that’s something you never want to give up. We’re hungry to repeat. … I don’t think we’ll ever have that mindset that we’ve arrived as a football team or as a city.”