Why Eagles OC Frank Reich found rough night 'exciting'

Why Eagles OC Frank Reich found rough night 'exciting'

By now, you know all the ugly stats.

The Eagles were 1 for 14 on third down.

They had just 37 yards on nine drives in the second half.

They managed just one first down after halftime.

They rushed for just 25 yards after the first quarter.

They turned the ball over twice.

The Eagles' offense was putrid Monday night against the Raiders. Beyond putrid.

It was so ugly it's easy to forget the Eagles actually won the football game.

And ultimately, all that matters is the W.

Offensive coordinator Frank Reich spoke Wednesday about that lackluster performance and what actually impressed him about the way the Eagles handled it.

"Been there, been through games like that before," Reich said. "The exciting thing is when things aren't clicking, I just know from a lot of years in this business, it always is going to feel like it's the quarterback, but I just always know it's all of us.

"We talk a lot the whole year about (head coach Doug Pederson's) mantra has been ownership. We own the good and the bad. There's been a lot of good to own this year, and we own it together. Sunday wasn't a good offensive performance, and we own that. Coaches, players — we own that.

"But here's the exciting thing to me. I've been on sidelines when things aren't going well, and you think, ‘Oh, geez, here we go again.’ But the positive thing about the culture that has been created, the confidence and the swagger that our players have and that our coaches have, is as bad as things were offensively in that game, there was always a sense we were going to find a way to win.

"I didn't care if the defense had to win it for us or if we had to get a return … I don't know, there's something about this team right now that we just feel like we're going to win, and it's not always pretty."

As bad as the offense was Monday night in that 19-10 win over the Raiders, as bad as Nick Foles was, when they needed to make plays, they did.

Foles completed four straight passes on the Eagles' final drive of the game to get into position for Jake Elliott's game-winning field goal.

"I walked over to Nick [before the last drive], and I said, ‘This is it, this is how it works, just be clutch right here,’ and he was," Reich said. "It wasn't a great performance. But he goes down and makes three or four perfect throws to maximize the yardage on every throw.

"It’s got to be good ball placement on the crossing route, so Nelson (Agholor) doesn't have to slow down for it. Zach (Ertz) is going to the sideline. You need all those five yards on those catches. You don't need three. You don't need the throw to be down or behind him. You need them to be perfect, and he was when we needed him to be. [Then] make a kick.

"That's the fun part about where we're at right now."

Doug Pederson's preseason comparison doesn't look so ridiculous now

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Doug Pederson's preseason comparison doesn't look so ridiculous now

When Doug Pederson said back in July that the 2017 Eagles "probably have more talent" than the Super Bowl Packers teams of the 1990s that Pederson played on, more than a few eyebrows were raised.

Millions of eyebrows maybe.
The Eagles? Who hadn't won a playoff game since 2008 and were coming off a 7-9 record in Pederson's first season?
More talented than a team that went to the playoffs virtually every year from the early 1990s through the mid-2000s behind Hall of Famers Brett Favre and Reggie White and reached back-to-back Super Bowls in 1996 and 1997, winning one?
"I look back on my time in Green Bay as a player when we were making those playoff runs, those Super Bowl runs there," Pederson said on July 17.
"And do we have as much talent on this team than we did then? We probably have more talent, right?"
Seriously, Doug?
Six months later, Pederson's comments — which seemed so ridiculous at the time — don't seem so ridiculous, do they?
Because here are those 2017 Eagles, sitting 13-3 with a playoff win over the Falcons in the books and a berth Sunday in the NFC Championship Game against the Vikings despite a rash of injuries to some of their best players.
The Eagles haven't lost a game with postseason implications since Carson Wentz was lost for the season, and they're one home win from reaching their third Super Bowl.
Pederson, who had two stints backing up Brett Favre with the Packers — from 1996 through 1998 and 2001 through 2004 — was reminded of his comments Friday before practice.
"I don't have a crystal ball, obviously, and it's hard to predict," he said. "You'd love to sit here and go, 'Yeah, in the summer, (I thought we were) going to be 13-3 and win the NFC East.' You'd love to be in that situation, or 16-0, or whatever it might be.
"I did have a feeling back then when I made that statement that we could be, we had the potential to be a good football team because of the way we've practiced and the talent that we brought to the roster and the progression of Carson in his second year.
"And then defensively, the front, the way they performed, and the back end, I saw a lot of the same similarities. So you just have that gut feeling when I made that statement."
Back in July, when Pederson made those comments comparing the Eagles to the Packers, he tempered them by saying talent isn't always enough. It takes much more for a team to have success.
"I (said) it takes great coaching, teaching, mentoring to also have our guys prepared each week to be in this position," Pederson said. "So all of that has kind of culminated. I think you look back on it and you go, 'Wow, maybe it was a true type of thing.'
"But we just keep doing our jobs, keep doing what we've been coached to do. Players play what they can do and what's in their control, and we're here today."

Only 1 Eagle questionable for Sunday

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Only 1 Eagle questionable for Sunday

Veteran linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring) is the only Eagles player listed as questionable for this week's game. Everyone else on the 53-man roster is expected to be available. 

Ellerbe, 32, missed practice on Wednesday and was limited on Thursday and Friday. 

The Eagles' starting MIKE linebacker was also listed as questionable last week and was able to play, so expect him to be good to go. After all, this is the NFC Championship Game. There's no resting for anything else. 

In Minnesota, wide receiver Adam Thielen (lower back) and safety Andrew Sendejo (concussion) are both listed as questionable. 

Thielen, the Vikings' top receiver, missed Wednesday's practice and was limited on Thursday and Friday. Just like Ellerbe, there's no saving him for next week. 

Sendejo was limited on Wednesday and Thursday, was a full participant on Friday, but is still technically in the NFL's concussion protocol. He'll need to clear that before he's able to play, but Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said he's optimistic Sendejo will be able to play. 

Meanwhile, third defensive tackle, Shamar Stephen (knee/ankle), missed practice all week and has been ruled out. While Stephen isn't a starter, he played just under 40 percent of the Vikings' snaps this season, so missing him is still a loss.

After practicing indoors on Wednesday and Thursday, the Eagles loaded up on buses and spent their Friday practice outside at Lincoln Financial Field. Head coach Doug Pederson likes to get his guys outside for at least one day per week. 

The Eagles will have a walkthrough on Saturday before they'll be back at the Linc for Sunday's 6:40 p.m. kickoff in the NFC Championship Game.