Eagles

Doug Pederson: Eagles 'probably' more talented than '90s Super Bowl Packers

Doug Pederson: Eagles 'probably' more talented than '90s Super Bowl Packers

It's been so long since the Eagles won a playoff game there are only three players still active in the NFL who've worn an Eagles jersey in a playoff victory: Brent Celek, Trent Cole and DeSean Jackson. And Cole may be finished.

It's been almost a decade since the Eagles beat the Giants in a conference semifinal game after the 2008 season. They haven't won a postseason game since, and second-year head coach Doug Pederson's job is to end that streak.

Now.

Howie Roseman brought him receivers, defensive linemen, offensive linemen, corners and a running back, and with Carson Wentz now in Year 2, everything points that way.

Does Pederson think this team is ready to finally make a run?

"I think you’re capable," he said. "There are a lot of (factors). I look back on my time in Green Bay as a player when we were making those playoff runs, those Super Bowl runs there. And do we have as much talent on this team than we did then? We probably have more talent, right?

"But we also had a lot of talent in 2010, here, and where did that get us?"

Pederson spent 1996 through 1998 and 2001 through 2004 backing up Brett Favre in Green Bay, and the Packers reached the postseason in all seven of those seasons, winning seven playoff games and reaching two Super Bowls, winning one.

If the Eagles have as much talent as those Packers teams, shouldn't 10-6 and a playoff berth be a reasonable goal? Maybe more?

"It’s hard to put a number on that," Pederson said. "There’s a lot of things that factor into a season. You can lose your quarterback on opening day."

OK, what if Wentz stays healthy? Is 10 wins a reasonable goal?

“It still goes back to, 'There’s a lot of those factors,' " he said. "So it’s hard to put a number. I’m not going to put myself in a box that way, obviously. It’s still a game-by-game mentality. We focus on our division. We focus on the NFC East, we start there. We have to win those games, focus on those. We focus on the NFC. There’s layers."

The Eagles have reached the playoffs three times since reaching the 2008 NFC Championship Game — 2009 and 2010 under Andy Reid and 2013 under Chip Kelly — only to lose in the wild-card round each time.

The eight-year gap without a playoff win is the Eagles' longest since they went 11 years from 1981 through 1991. The three years without even reaching the postseason matches the franchise's longest drought since a six-year drought from 1982 through 1987.

The Eagles are one of 12 teams that hasn't won a playoff game the last eight years and also one of 12 that hasn't reached the playoffs the last three years.

After winning 10 playoff games and reaching five NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl from 2000 through 2008, it's been a dismal eight seasons.

"There has to be a combination of blending all of this talent with a coaching staff, with my ideas and philosophy, to bring all that together, with the egos aside — put pride aside — and just go focus on winning this game that we have in front of us," Pederson said. 

"I’m a big believer that if you do that, then you look back at the end of the season, and you’re probably going to be where you want to be, and that’s playing in the postseason."

The last Eagles head coach to not reach the playoffs in his first two years (not counting the 1987 strike season)?

Marion Campbell in 1983 and 1984.

But if this team has as much talent as those Packers powerhouses, they have to get there this year, right?

“I’m not one to make predictions or bold predictions but obviously (we want) to show the incremental improvement from last season and get better as a football team," Pederson said.

"Ultimately, you're judged and critiqued on Super Bowl wins and getting yourself into the postseason."

The Eagles won their first three games last year, then went 2-9 over the next 11, then won their last two, including the finale over the Cowboys' backups.

It marked the franchise's first back-to-back losing seasons since 1998 and 1999.

“By no means are you satisfied with 7-9, and you definitely want to get better," Pederson said.

"I want to get better personally as a head football coach, not only from managing the football team but also with play calling and just the little things, working with Carson Wentz, spending more time on special teams and defense, getting to know those schemes and philosophies as well. … You’re definitely trying to get yourself better."

How does Pederson define a successful season?

This is a franchise that has gone 56 years without a championship. They are one of only 13 current NFL franchises without a title since 1961, although four of the others — the Chiefs (Texans), Bills, Oilers and Chargers — won AFL titles before the merger.

“Oh, man, if you win the Super Bowl," he said. "That’s a successful year. Thirty-one teams failed to win the Super Bowl. I think if you’re not winning or playing in that game, everyone’s trying the next year.

"I think success can be measured in a few different (ways). If we go 8-8 is that a successful year? I don’t coach to be average. I’ll tell you that. These players don’t practice the way they do to be average. We’re all in this together. We’ll just continue to work every single day until we get to that goal.” 

Eagles QB Carson Wentz favorite to win NFL MVP

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Eagles QB Carson Wentz favorite to win NFL MVP

Carson Wentz is in his second NFL season, but he could already be on his way to his first MVP award. 

At least, he's now the favorite. 

The Eagles' starting quarterback is now the favorite to win this year's NFL MVP award, according to Bovada. Wentz is just ahead of Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith. 

Here's the top five: 

1. Carson Wentz: +175
2. Alex Smith: +200
3. Tom Brady: +400
4. DeShaun Watson: +1,000
5. Russell Wilson: +1,200

Basically, this means that a $100 futures bet would win $175. Since Wentz pays out the least, he's the favorite. 

It's no surprise Wentz and Smith are atop this list. They have both led their teams to 5-1 records (tops in the NFL) through six games. 

Wentz has completed 60.9 percent of his passes for 1,584 yards, 13 touchdowns, three interceptions and a passer rating of 99.6. He's well on his way to becoming the first Eagles quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards in a season. 

The last (and only) Eagles player to win an MVP came during the 1960 championship season, when quarterback Norm Van Brocklin took the award. 

The last player to win the MVP award in his second NFL season was Kurt Warner in 1999. But Warner had a long road to get to the NFL and was 28 years old in 1999. Wentz is just 24. 

Vegas isn't alone with the Wentz hype. According to Dick's Sporting Goods, the Eagles' quarterback has the best-selling jersey of all NFL players. In another few months, those people might have the jersey of an MVP winner. 

Rob's Rants: Hey Philly, don't take the bait and feed the trolls

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Rob's Rants: Hey Philly, don't take the bait and feed the trolls

This week’s Rob’s Rants has a sole focus — or should I say a troll focus. It’s more of a public service announcement, if you will. I am imploring all Philadelphia sports fans: Don’t take the bait!

Trolling was around long before the advent of social media. Contrarians have been going against the grain and saying things they don’t even believe to invoke a reaction since the beginning of time. Or as far back as Jaromir Jagr’s rookie season. Same thing. 

Just six weeks into the NFL season, we’ve already heard from some of the usual suspects, who will go nameless in this post. I refuse to give them the attention and ratings they are so desperately begging for. You know who they are, I know who they are, don’t give them the satisfaction. Don’t continue to line their pockets. Don’t let yourself walk into their trap. A reply on Twitter or some other social platform, a tune in, a reaction, is a win for them.

So brace yourself for the inevitable national talking head contrarian with the hot take of, “Carson Wentz looks like a deer in headlights.” Or, “besides the Panthers, who have the Eagles played? Or, “they haven’t even won a playoff game since 2008 and the fans have them in the Super Bowl.”

The trolling won’t be reserved exclusively for Eagles fans either. Prepare yourselves, Sixers fans. As we embark on the start of the NBA season, the anti-process truthers are just lying in wait with pithy Joel Embiid barbs about minute restrictions or injuries or tanking. It’s only a matter of time before we get something like, “see what another year of tanking gets you? Markelle Fultz isn’t even good enough start.” It’s coming.

There’s a fine line between trolling and having a strong, thought-provoking, independent point of view. The goal of any good columnist, radio host, television host or analyst is to make you think or react. Whether you agree or disagree. But there is a cottage industry now of blowhards who don’t have an original, creative or sincere thought of their own. They are either told by a producer or boss or decide on their own to go after a city, player, or team ... one typically with a fan base that will be reactive. You don’t see a lot of shade thrown at the Atlanta Hawks. You know why? No one cares. Not even their fans. Say something about Carson Wentz or snowballs at Santa and loyal Philadelphia fans will go bonkers. Mission accomplished for the troll.

So revel in the Eagles' early season success. Be excited for the infusion of youth for the Flyers. And what could be if Embiid, Ben Simmons, Fultz and Dario Saric can actually stay on the court.

Soak it in. We appear to be exiting out of the dark days. Just be prepared for it and don’t allow yourself to be lured into the troll trap.