Pederson thinks Eagles fans will have 'huge influence'

Pederson thinks Eagles fans will have 'huge influence'

There's life after Carson Wentz. 

As hard as it has been for the Eagles to move on after their starting quarterback and unquestioned leader tore his ACL under the rosy sky just before dusk about a month ago, they have. They have moved on. 

When asked about his team getting over the shock of losing Wentz, head coach Doug Pederson admitted that he hated to say it, but "the game keeps going." 

"Listen, the train's still kind of moving," Pederson explained this week. "Even though we're sick to our stomachs that these guys are not with us out there on the field, the train is still moving, and the sooner we get over that and get on to the next order of business, the better we're going to become. 

"But that's a process. That doesn't happen overnight, you know what I'm saying? It takes a little time."

When the Eagles lost Wentz, it was a punch straight to the gut. The entire organization felt it. Throughout the next week of practice, no matter how uplifting Pederson tried to be, there were understandably despondent faces slumping through the halls of the NovaCare Complex. There were some gloomy times.  

Wentz has been in the building over the last few weeks and that has undoubtedly helped with morale. He's there in the early morning for QB meetings but is gone by the afternoon when the team begins installing its offense. At that point, it's Nick Foles' team. While Foles shows deference to Wentz as much as he can, it's on him to lead the team into the playoffs as the starting quarterback. 

"We still have to go to work the next day," Pederson said. "Nick [Foles] has to get himself ready to play. I've got to coach the next day. I've got to coach the next quarterback. I've got to coach the coach. Football is not going to stop. The games are not going to stop. We have to get ready for the next week."

Loud and proud
The Eagles haven't won a playoff game at home since the wild-card round of the 2006 season. That was the year before Brent Celek, the longest tenured athlete in the city, arrived in Philadelphia. It's been a long time. 

So you can bet, even with the Eagles' coming in as an unusual top-seeded underdog, that the crowd at Lincoln Financial Field is going to be rocking on Saturday afternoon. The Eagles are banking on it. 

"We want teams to come into our stadium and to feel our fans and to feel the excitement and to feel the noise and to feel everything about Philadelphia," Pederson said. "I've been a visiting player coming into this stadium in a playoff-type atmosphere and it's tough to play because our fans are loud from the opening kickoff to the last whistle of the game.

"So this is what obviously we expect Saturday afternoon, our fans will be a huge influence on the game. You've seen it time and time again whether it be communication, delay-of-games, timeouts being taken, and it's a credit to our fans. So we're excited, number one, to be playing at home in front of those folks."

For those going to the game, the Wells Fargo M, N and P lots will open at 9:30 a.m., K lot opens at 11, and the Citizens Bank Park lots open at 1 p.m. The HeadHouse Plaza opens at 1:30 p.m., while club/suites and the inner gates open at 2:30 p.m. before the 4:35 p.m. kickoff. Have fun!

Playoff connection
It's safe to say Alshon Jeffery is over talking about his game against the Raiders on Christmas Day. Zero catches on two targets. It was arguably the worst statistical game of his six-year NFL career. 

That game has come up a lot over the last couple weeks as folks question whether or not Foles and Jeffery have enough chemistry to work well together in the playoffs. After all, it seemed to take a while for Wentz and Jeffery to get on the same page earlier in the season. 

Whenever the Raiders game comes up, Jeffery is quick to point out the Giants game before it. In that one, he caught four passes for 49 yards and a touchdown from Foles. 

"I can't compare them," Jeffery said of his budding relationship with Foles compared to his rapport with Wentz. "They're two different quarterbacks. But me and Nick had a great game against the Giants. Oakland didn't go as well, but that's part of the game. Sometimes, you'll have a good one, some days it doesn't go your way."

Saturday's game will be the first playoff game of his career. Jeffery is excited about it but said he's also remarkably relaxed. While most would probably be anxious during this long layoff, the laid-back Jeffery is just waiting patiently. 

During the last couple of weeks, Pederson had some of the Eagles with Super Bowl rings get up to talk to the group and offer advice. Jeffery said he appreciated their stories and was happy to hear them, but he doesn't need help getting motivated. 

"Just me, I'm fired up enough," he said. "You didn't have to talk to me about it." 

Quote of the Week I: "We've earned the right to sit and watch games for a week." — Chris Long 

Quote of the Week II: "We have an opportunity to win and put ourselves deep into the playoffs. We win one game, we’re in the NFC Championship at home. I don’t care who we got at quarterback, who we’ve got on offense. We’ll take those odds." — Malcolm Jenkins 

Quote of the Week III: "Basically we're getting ready for war out there. Three-game season, leave it all out on the line. That's our focus." — Jay Ajayi 

Random media guide note: Jason Kelce's three items needed on a deserted island: duct tape, lighter, fishing pole

Eagles aim to master late 1st-round picks

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

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.”