Eagles

Jay Ajayi's ride maybe the wildest of them all

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Jay Ajayi's ride maybe the wildest of them all

Less than three months ago, Jay Ajayi was wearing a Dolphins uniform. Now the starting running back for the Eagles, Ajayi is one game away from the Super Bowl.

Ajayi's road to the NFC Championship Game was unusual but he isn't yet ready to reflect on the midseason trade that brought him to this juncture. And he certainly isn't satisfied just to be here.

"I don't want to look back yet because, in my mind, I'm not done, and we're not done," Ajayi said Thursday. "It's about staying on course with what we want to do, which is take care of business this weekend and put ourselves in that Super Bowl and get ready to bring it back to Philly.

"After that, then I can look back and enjoy all the craziness that went on this year and have something to be proud of."

Even before the surprising trade went through, Ajayi was on a unique path. He was born in England and lived overseas until the age of seven. Widely considered a potential first-round talent, the Boise State product fell to the fifth round of the 2015 NFL draft over reports of a chronic knee ailment. Then the Dolphins apparently had their fill of Ajayi after 2½ seasons, sending the Pro Bowl running back to the Eagles amid rumors he had become a malcontent.

Ajayi has already gone through more than most 24-year-olds, even as far as professional athletes are concerned. Though he acknowledged it feels "weird" to suddenly prepare for a conference championship game, he's probably become somewhat accustomed to the extraordinary, too.

"It hasn't really hit we have two games left," Ajayi said. "It still feels like the regular season. We've just been in the routine of everything.

"Just getting ready to play the biggest game of my career so far. It's exciting. I know we're all ready because we're so close, and it would be a shame not to get it done."

It's a tempered enthusiasm, however, as Ajayi is clearly still stewing over a costly fumble in the Eagles' divisional round playoff win over the Falcons.

Since joining the Eagles, Ajayi has been as advertised — a big, bruising ball carrier with the explosion and vision to hit home runs. In nine games, including postseason, he racked up 597 yards from scrimmage on 98 total touches for a 6.1 average.

Ajayi has also fumbled three times — once every 32.7 touches. If he continues to give the ball away against the Vikings and the league's No. 1 defense with the NFC title on the line, the Eagles will not advance.

"Us as a running back room, we know that for us to win this game, we're going to have to make sure we don't have any giveaways, hold on to the ball and run hard," Ajayi said.

Something about Ajayi's demeanor affirms it won't happen again, not in the biggest game of his career.

"They're just another opponent, and they're in the way of what we want to do," Ajayi said.

"It's going to be a physical game. We know it's going to be a dogfight."

Pederson interviewing 2 for Eagles' OC job

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USA Today Images

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.