BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — We start out this edition of Roob's 10 Random Eagles Super Bowl Observations with Eagles fans, who never cease to amaze me with the intensity of their support. They could put the Super Bowl on Jupiter, and Eagles fans would find their way there. And they'd find the only open bar on the planet, too.
We also touch on Tim Jernigan's health, Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement in the receiving game, Brett Favre's performance against the Eagles, Jason Kelce's T-shirt and the obligatory Nick Foles Mind-Boggling Stat of the Day.
1. Eagles fans began arriving in Minnesota in earnest Friday, and by mid-day the Mall of America, the center of most Super Bowl activities during the week, was jammed with jubilant packs of Carson Wentz, Brian Dawkins and Brian Westbrook jerseys, soaking in the moment. There were reports mall security threatened to kick some of the more enthusiastic fans out of the mall (see story), which is absurd. If you have a Super Bowl, you can't be surprised if fans show up. But I didn't see any of that. I just saw Eagles fans everywhere, and it was surreal walking around the mall and hearing choruses of "Fly Eagles Fly" and E-A-G-L-E-S chants echoing from near and far in the massive five million square-foot shopping center. Every team has rabid fans. Nobody has this.
2. I was doing a radio interview Friday and the guy asked about the huge disparity between quarterbacks, and I said, "Yeah, I know Nick Foles has a higher career postseason passer rating, a better career postseason completion percentage and a superior postseason TD-to-INT ratio, but that doesn't mean Tom Brady isn't a really good quarterback."
3. The best news out of Friday was the Eagles' injury report, which revealed that defensive tackle Jernigan not only practiced but was a full participant (see story). Jernigan hadn't practiced since the previous Thursday back at the NovaCare Complex, so this is big. The Eagles' defensive line is the heart of the team. If the Eagles are going to win Sunday, they're going to need a monster performance out of the D-line both against the run and pressuring Brady. Without Jernigan, this is still a formidable group. But with him, they go a legit seven deep, and Jim Schwartz has the flexibility to rotate everybody, keep them fresh and attack in waves.
4. I have this hunch Clement and Ajayi are going to have a significant role in the passing game Sunday. I find it curious that the two running backs combined for only 20 catches during the regular season but they have 12 in two playoff games. Of course Ajayi wasn't with the Eagles the first half of the season, but with each passing week you saw the Eagles use the backs as receivers more and more. Several backs had big receiving games against the Pats this year, including Matt Forte (8-59), Kenyan Drake (5-79), Kareem Hunt (5-98), LeSean McCoy (5-76), D'Onta Foreman (2-65) and Le'Veon Bell (5-48). I expect that to continue Sunday.
5. How stupid are the Redskins?
6. Five things you need to know about the Mall of America, the NFL's headquarters during Super Bowl week: 1) There are three Starbucks inside the Mall, 2) There's a store in the mall that sells only cookie dough. Not cookies … just cookie dough, 3) There is an actual amusement park with 28 rides in the middle of the mall, 4) The parking lot has 12,287 spots and 5) The whole place smells like a Cinnabon.
7. I really liked what Doug Pederson said in our chat earlier this week about the challenges he faced as the Eagles' quarterback in 1999 and how that season — which was so hard for him and his family — helped shaped the man he is today. My story is here and I hope you have a chance to read it.
8. Hey, how about Jason Kelce's T-shirt! What a great tribute to his legendary teammate of seven years who's unable to play Sunday.
9. Interesting that Favre will be speaking to the Eagles Saturday morning considering no team gave him more trouble in his career than the Eagles. As a matter of fact, Pederson actually had a higher passer rating playing quarterback in Philly than Favre — 59.3 for Pederson, 53.3 for Favre. Playing at the Vet or the Linc, Favre completed fewer than half his passes (49.6 percent) and had just four touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He tried six times but never won a game in Philadelphia.
10. And the Mind-Boggling Nick Foles Stat of the Day: Foles has thrown 96 career postseason passes, the second most in NFL history in the playoffs without an interception. Only Jeff Hostetler (115) has more postseason attempts without getting picked off.