Eagles

Facing another pupil, Andy Reid poses tall task for Doug Pederson, Eagles

Facing another pupil, Andy Reid poses tall task for Doug Pederson, Eagles

Student meets master this weekend in Kansas City, and if Andy Reid's history is any indication, this could be quite a challenge for Doug Pederson.

Reid is 8-3 against his former assistant coaches and 3-0 since becoming head coach of the Chiefs. His 12th career matchup against one of his former assistants takes place Sunday, when the Eagles face the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.

Reid and Pederson have a long history together, going back to 1995, when Pederson was a third-string quarterback with the Packers and Reid was Mike Holmgren's offensive line coach.

Pederson was Reid's opening day quarterback here in 1999, then joined Reid's Eagles coaching staff as a quality control coach in 2009. He moved up to quarterbacks coach in 2011 and followed Reid to Kansas City in 2013, spending three years as offensive coordinator before Jeff Lurie hired him as head coach, replacing Chip Kelly — who had replaced Reid.

“He got in and loved every minute of it," Reid said Monday of Pederson, who took just five years to advance from quality control coach to head coach.

"He gobbled it up, and he earned every position that he got. I don’t think people who had worked with him were surprised he had the opportunity to be a coordinator, and then I don’t think they were surprised when he had the opportunity to be a head coach.

“The guys who worked with him knew what he was capable of doing, and so what seemed like a fast-paced progression for people outside of here seemed kind of natural for the people who were here. I have a lot of respect for him and I think he’s doing a nice job there.” 

The Eagles went 7-9 last year under Pederson and opened this season with a win in Washington. The Chiefs, 2-14 the year before Reid arrived, are 44-21 under Reid, who is 11th in NFL history with 174 wins and ninth with 11 playoff wins.

Reid actually has a much higher winning percentage with the Chiefs (.677) than with the Eagles (.583), who he took to the playoffs nine times from 2000 to 2010.

Counting his years as a player and an assistant, Pederson has been with Reid for 13 years.

"Consistency. Being honest, being open, and being fair with the players," Pederson said Monday when asked what he learned from Reid. "Teaching, coaching, probably the biggest things.

"And just — I think it's the attention to detail that he has with his players and his coaches, and those are some of the biggest things I've learned from him."

The last time the Eagles won a playoff game without Reid was 1995. They've won only five without him since 1961.

Reid coached 224 Eagles games, more than twice as many as anybody else in the team's 85-year history. Greasy Neale, who led the team to the 1948 and 1949 NFL championships, is second with 111 games.

The only other coaches in the last 50 years to last more than four seasons with the Eagles are Dick Vermeil and Buddy Ryan.

“No, you don’t forget it, it’s part of your history, part of your life," Reid said of his 14 years in Philly. 

"I don’t want to forget Philadelphia. The people there were great to me. The organization was great to me. But again, I’m all red now. I’m all in with the Chiefs and I’m loving it here. 

"There’s nothing like Arrowhead, and I welcome them to Arrowhead. I know our fans will be ready to welcome them in, too.”

Reid's first game against a former assistant was in 2007, when the Eagles beat Brad Childress' Vikings, 23-16, in Minneapolis. During the 2008 NFC Championship Game season, the Eagles lost to John Harbaugh's Ravens in Baltimore — that was the game Donovan McNabb got benched — then beat Childress' Vikings in a wild-card game in Minneapolis.

The Eagles lost late in 2010 to Leslie Frazier's Vikings at the Linc in that dismal Tuesday night makeup game that cost the team a first-round bye — the Joe Webb game. 

Reid beat Steve Spagnuolo's Rams in 2011, Pat Shurmur's Browns in the 2012 opener and Harbaugh's Ravens later in 2012 before losing to Ron Rivera's Panthers later in 2012.

With the Chiefs, he has wins over Harbaugh's Ravens in 2015 and Todd Bowles' Jets and Rivera's Panthers last year.

"It will be fun," Pederson said. "It will be fun to see him over there, 'Big Red' on the other side. But at the same time, I know he wants to kick my tail and I want to kick his.

"Listen, Andy Reid teams are well-prepared, as we know, and we've got to do the same thing this week. We've just got to be ultra prepared. That is a tough place to play, now. It is a loud, loud place and we've got to be able to handle that crowd noise. We've got to do it through communication, nonverbal communication. All that has to be on point this week in practice.

"But it will be fun. It will be fun to get out there. But again, once we tee it up and kick it off, it's all about the business and all about the game."

There are only eight Eagles left who played under Reid — Brent Celek, Jason Peters, Brandon Graham, Jason Kelce, Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks, Vinny Curry and Nick Foles, who also played under Reid in Kansas City.

Interesting that the Eagles' strongest position, the defensive line, has the most remaining players from the Reid era — Cox, Graham and Curry.

“Very aggressive on both sides of the ball," Reid said of the Eagles. "They have a really good special teams group. Good coaches, good players.

"If you get in a checking game, they kind of know your checks and signals. So that’s one thing. They know formations. But normally it goes both ways.”

The Chiefs have one of the strongest home-field advantages in the NFL. 

They're 23-9 at home under Reid, the seventh-best home record in the league during that span, but also 19-5 in their last 24 at Arrowhead.

"It's tough," Pederson said. "It's loud. It's a great atmosphere. The fans are right on top of you. Arrowhead Stadium is right on top of you. It's a great place to play."

LeGarrette Blount advises Eagles to 'stay humble' after 5-1 start

LeGarrette Blount advises Eagles to 'stay humble' after 5-1 start

With a 5-1 record, the Eagles sit all alone atop the division and conference standings, and are tied for the best mark in the NFL. Their quarterback was recently given the best odds of winning the league’s Most Valuable Player award. So, yes, right now, a trip to the Super Bowl seems to be very much on the table for this squad.

But take it from LeGarrette Blount, somebody who’s won a couple of world championships — the Eagles can’t afford to get caught up in the hysteria right now.

“We could lose 10 in a row,” Blount said Tuesday. “We could go 6-10, so we don't want to jump the gun, jump to conclusions. We want to make sure we take it week by week, day by day, keep a level head and make sure we're going to be ready for whoever the next opponent is.”

Blount is one of only five Eagles players with a Super Bowl ring, and the only member of the roster who owns multiple. The veteran running back won two of the last three years with the New England Patriots organization, which has been a perennial championship contender for the better part of the last two decades.

In other words, Blount knows better than anybody inside the Eagles’ locker room exactly what it takes to not only reach the big game and come away victorious, but also how to sustain that success.

“You have to stay grounded,” Blount. “You have to stay humble and make sure that all the guys that are in the building are on the same page. The coaches, the staff, everybody is on the same page, ignoring the noise, not worrying about what other teams are doing, what other teams' records are – just worrying about ourselves and locked into us.”

Easier said than done given the week the Eagles just had.

After going to Carolina and upending a tough Panthers squad on Thursday night, the Eagles watched as massive blows were being dealt to some of their stiffest competition over the weekend. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone on Sunday, potentially crippling one of the NFC’s elites for the remainder of the season. And Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is awaiting word on the status of a six-game suspension that could seriously hamper the division rival.

But the noise can also be Eagles fans and their exponentially rising expectations, or a media that’s quick to point out any tiny flaw and raise controversy.

Blount has experienced the latter firsthand. Two weeks into the 2017 campaign, he finished a game without a carry — an Eagles’ loss — and was averaging 3.0 yards per carry going back to the preseason. The constant questions coming from reporters about his role easily could have become a distraction.

In the four weeks since, Blount has 344 yards on 56 carries for a 6.1 average. He never allowed the noise to get to him, instead becoming a big reason behind the ongoing four-game winning streak.

“We know what we've been doing to get to this point,” Blount said. “We know what it takes, so we just have to buy in to continue to do that, and continue to do every that it takes to continue winning games.

“A big part of it is just making sure you ignore the noise, don't listen to the outsiders, everything that is in house stays in house, and that you make sure and know that everybody that you see on TV isn't in your corner. Sometimes that can discourage the younger guys. Every now and then you'll hear them say, 'Oh, did you hear them say this,' or, 'Did you hear them say that? Or, 'Did you see this,' or 'Did you see that?'

“The big part is making sure that everybody ignores that stuff.”

Blount has been through extraordinary highs and lows in his football career and learned to maintain an even keel. But Eagles leadership has also done a tremendous job insulating players from the kinds of rumblings that have a tendency to create discord and cause entire seasons to come off the rails.

For evidence, look no further than rumors that defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was trying to undermine head coach Doug Pederson — and how quickly such talk dissipated.

“The veteran groups have a lot to do with it,” Blount said. “I also think the coaches have a lot to do with it — keeping the guys grounded, keeping the guys to where we have to continue to come here and work if we want to continue the success.

“Most of the young guys, all of them have bought into the program, and everybody's locked in and knows their role and what they want to do.”

While Blount wouldn’t go so far as to draw parallels between the ways the Eagles and the Patriots handle distractions, it’s clear he’s been able to quickly establish a bond with his new teammates and coaches since signing in May.

“Every team is different,” Blount said. “I can't compare this team to the New England teams, or any other team. We have a really close-knit team. We believe in each other. Everybody loves each other and we have each other’s backs.”

As far as Blount’s performance on the field is concerned, the best may be still to come. He’s finished with at least 12 carries in each of the last four games, and looked explosive and elusive while doing it. And with extra rest between a Thursday night game in Carolina and this Monday’s contest at home against Washington, the bruising runner said he’s feeling refreshed.

Most of all, it sounds as though Blount is in a great frame of mind and feeling comfortable with all of his surroundings. And if you’re looking for a great read on the Eagles’ situation through six games, just listen to the guy who’s come to expect confetti and parades in February.

Judge grants Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott reprieve, cleared for 49ers in Week 7

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Judge grants Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott reprieve, cleared for 49ers in Week 7

NEW YORK -- Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott has been granted another legal reprieve in the running back's fight to avoid a six-game suspension over domestic violence allegations.

A federal judge granted a temporary restraining order blocking the league's suspension Tuesday night, clearing Elliott to play Sunday at San Francisco.

U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty's ruling comes five days after a federal appeals court overturned a Texas court's injunction that had kept Elliott on the field this season.

Crotty granted the request for a temporary restraining order pending a hearing before the presiding judge, Katherine Polk Fialla.

Elliott, last year's NFL rushing leader as a rookie, was barred from the team's facility Tuesday as players returned from their off week. The NFL placed him on the suspended list Friday, a day after the ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

The Eagles visit Dallas in Week 11 on Sunday night, Nov. 19. They host the Cowboys in Week 17 on New Year’s Eve.