How last year's 7-9 Eagles carved a Super Bowl path

How last year's 7-9 Eagles carved a Super Bowl path

The Eagles weren't very good in 2016. They went just 7-9 in Doug Pederson's first year as head coach. After starting the season off with a 3-0 record they dropped nine of their next 11 to plummet to the basement of the NFC East. 

The team wasn't very good, but they learned something about Pederson and about themselves. 

On ESPN's SportsCenter Friday morning, still buzzing from the Eagles' Super Bowl parade, safety and veteran leader Malcolm Jenkins talked about the importance of that 2016 season.  

"Well I think what we learned was in Year 1 what we had done, even though we didn't get the results that we wanted as a team, we felt like we laid down the foundation for something epic," Jenkins said. "So coming into this year we started adding guys in, we were plugging them into a culture that had already been laid out and everybody grasped that. And Doug is the one that set that culture. 

"So here we are Super Bowl champions two years after he's arrived and it's on purpose. We didn't just show up this year and be good. Last year we took the time to do the things right and really go into the culture Doug Pederson wanted to lay and it's been awesome."

Jenkins is a big reason for the culture too. His speech to the team after Carson Wentz went down on Dec. 10 was huge. After Pederson would speak to the team this year following games, it became customary for Jenkins to do the same. 

That December night in LA was his best performance. In a longer and expletive-filled plea, he told his teammates that it was a shame to see Wentz go down, but their season wasn't over yet. 

"We had every excuse to kind of fold it in, but I wanted our guys, especially the young guys, to make sure they understood that obviously we hurting for Carson but our season is right in front of us," Jenkins said on SportsCenter. "Everything we want is right in front of us. We just clinched the division, got an opportunity to still clinch the No. 1 seed, get all these playoff games at home. Like everything is right there, we just gotta continue to believe in it, continue to play and prepare and nothing has changed. That was the biggest thing, nothing's changed. We're still full steam ahead. And I thought it was important at that moment in time to make sure they were clear."

Jenkins joined his teammate Brandon Graham on the set of the world-famous sports show on Friday morning. It was hosted by Philadelphia's own Kevin Negandhi, who has been enjoying the last few days of celebration as much as anyone. 

One of the funniest moments of the entire morning was when Negandhi asked Graham about getting a sack on his fellow Michigan product Tom Brady. 

Graham has an idea. 

"Oh yeah, if I see him at Michigan I might ask him, 'Can you sign my ball?'" Graham said. "I don't know how that's going to play, but I'm gonna have some fun with it."

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.