Eagles

Nick Foles' demeanor before biggest game of his life

Nick Foles' demeanor before biggest game of his life

Nick Foles stood at his locker Friday afternoon, gently crossed his arms and waited for the throng of reporters to assemble in a semicircle around him. 

Music was blaring throughout the room, so there was about a minute of waiting and small talk. A few joked, including Foles, that the rap music playing could give his interview a cooler vibe. 

Eventually, the music was turned down before Foles deadpanned: "I mean, do we have enough cameras?" 

Foles is about to play the biggest game of his life Sunday. There are thousands across the country and even in Philadelphia doubting whether or not he'll be able to play well enough for an Eagles' win. And Foles has been relaxed as ever all week. 

"Right now I just feel good. I feel calm," he said. "When you're in the moment, I just stress staying in the moment, preparing in the moment, doing anything you can right at this moment. The rest takes care of itself. That just keeps me level."

It's not just Foles. It's the entire team that's been loose this week. 

Dancing at practice, shooting hoops in the locker room. Heck, Donnie Jones and Lane Johnson have even serenaded their teammates with country songs as they walked into meetings this week. It's a group that's been loose all season; they haven't changed a thing even before the most important game of the year. 

About six minutes into answering questions about Doug Pederson's play-calling, getting into an offensive rhythm and, of course, Case Keenum, one reporter noted to Foles that he seemed really calm. 

"I feel great, honestly," Foles said. "Just living in the moment, doing everything you can to prepare and then going out on Sunday and giving it everything you have. That's all you can ever do. Sometimes when you press and try to do too much, it becomes difficult. I think we just have a great schedule throughout the week, it's something we've been doing all throughout the year and we feel comfortable with it. You just sort of stick to the schedule, stick to your preparation. 

"I trust the guys next to me. The big reason I love playing football is I trust the guys next to me, I love the guys I play with. That's probably my greatest strength. I know I can depend on them and they can depend on me." 

Can I kick it? 
Without Jake Elliott's three field goals last Saturday, the Eagles aren't able to take down the Atlanta Falcons and they wouldn't be in the NFC Championship Game. 

Elliott, the rookie kicker who the Eagles added this season after Caleb Sturgis went down, will turn 23 on Sunday. The same day he'll very possibly need to make a game-winning field goal to send the Eagles to the Super Bowl. 

Last week, before his first playoff game, Elliott talked about how he handles pressure (see story). There's certainly a lot of it in the playoffs. 

"That's one thing with Jake," Pederson said. "It doesn't get so big for him. He handles all these situations. Inside he might be a ball of nerves, but on the outside, he's cool, calm and collected. Obviously some of the big kicks he's had this season already has really prepared him for it. If it comes down to that, he can make that kick. We all have faith and trust that he'll do it. When you step away from it and go, yeah, he's a rookie, first-year kicker, but he's been exposed to a lot of veteran kicks this year, and he's got a great future ahead of him."

The one slightly concerning thing about Elliott is his propensity to miss short kicks. While he's been incredible from long distances, extra points have been a problem. Including the playoffs, Elliott has missed four extra points. The only kicker to miss more this season? Vikings kicker Kai Forbath. 

So in a game pretty much everyone thinks will be close, this is something to watch. 

Of Elliott's four missed extra points, two have gone wide left, one went wide right and the one last week hit the left upright. 

Including extra points and playoffs, Elliott has actually been more accurate from 40-plus (90 percent) than inside 40 yards (87.7 percent) this season. Go figure. 

Thanks, Howie
Earlier this week, Eagles VP of football operations Howie Roseman was named the NFL Executive of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America. Not much of a surprise. He revamped a team that went 7-9 and helped turn them into the top seed in the NFC, capable of overcoming major injuries to key players. 

While many probably thought the Eagles were going into a season of building with second-year quarterback Carson Wentz, Roseman went out and brought in players that he knew could help this season. 

For the coaching staff, it had to mean a lot that Roseman believed there was an opportunity to win this year. 

"It's tremendous," Pederson said. "Howie has come a long way through the last couple years, and to be in this position, to help this football team win and succeed on the football field is a credit to him and his staff. That's the thing that he and I with the communication, the open communication of being on the same page with the types of players that we want to have in this building and the types of good character people and obviously good football players, number one. 

"But it's just a credit to him and what he's done and being able to find the guys that we've been able to coach and help us get in this position."

Quote of the Week I: "But at the end of the day, it's going to come down to is our D-line better than theirs? I mean, they got a dominant D-line, we have a dominant D-line. And we'll see who shows up on Sunday." -- Fletcher Cox

Quote of the Week II: "He speaks with a lot of passion and intensity. And there's meaning behind his words. You want to be right there and you want to feed off of that intensity. You've already got a lot of emotions and energy in yourself already, but when you've got a guy like that, you feed off of that too." -- Steven Means on Malcolm Jenkins

Quote of the Week III: "I probably eat more than any guy I've seen. My best moment was I once ate 30 slices of pizza in one sitting. You know Cicis Buffet? Yeah, shut that place down." -- Stefen Wisniewski 

Random media guide note: Brandon Graham's first job was working the grill at McDonald's.

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.