Brian Dawkins and Eagles fans just connect.
As a player, Dawkins couldn't deliver a Lombardi Trophy. But he's making sure he savors Philadelphia's first Super Bowl, and thanking every fan who helped the team reach the promised land.
Speaking with NBC Sports Philadelphia's Derrick Gunn, Dawkins was asked what he'll remember most about this moment.
“The fans. It’s the fans," he said. "Going down Broad Street and being able to make eye contact with as many as I can, so that I can just say, ‘thank you. Thank you.’ This is you, you, you.’
Knowing that they’re enjoying it the way they are and to be able to continue to enjoy it movivng forward. And that stigma, that angst, that block is gone. Since 1960, it’s been there. You can exhale Philadelphia. Enjoy this, you’re champions."
And Dawkins is confident this won't be the last green-filled parade down Broad Street.
“They can doubt all they want going forward, but it doesn’t make a difference, because Philadedlphia, you are champions. Fooball champions. And Hall of Famers. So whatever they doubt, it doesn’t matter any more. I think we have a formula in place to continue to build upon. This won’t be our last.”
In this week's "Gunn-on-One," which you can watch Sunday on NBC Sports Philadelphia's Eagles Pregame Live, Derrick Gunn talks with veteran safety Malcolm Jenkins.
There's no doubt Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins is a leader on the defense. He is an articulate and passionate veteran. I recently sat down with Jenkins, who is known for getting his guys fired up (see story).
Gunn: Prior to the Falcons game, you gave a passionate speech to your teammates in the auditorium of the Novacare Complex. And I'm assuming you are a fan of the movie Hoosiers, because in that movie coach Norman Dale took his team to the gym before the big championship game and had his team measure 10 feet from the rim to the floor, and told them it's still the same rim they've been playing on and still the same game. You were telling your guys things like: it's still the same field, the ball is the same, the rules are still the same, everything is still the same. But how do you couple "just another game" with the magnitude of this particular game?
Jenkins: Actually I haven't seen the movie, now I have to go watch it (laughs). I mean for me, you acknowledge the outside influence, you acknowledge the crowd is going to be louder. The stage is obviously bigger. The consequences are larger. Your season is done if you lose, and you advance to the Super Bowl if you win. So the feeling is going to be magnified on either spectrum after the game. But what happens in those four hours on the field is all the same. The field is the same distance, the ball is the same size, the rules are exactly the same, and so what wins and loses is exactly the same. I think that sometimes when people start to look too much around at the things surrounding the game you forget about what wins, and often times you see sloppy performances of small little details. People love to replay the amazing catch, the run that broke through, but really what wins and loses are usually those small mistakes. A missed block, an offsides penalty, a missed field goal. You just need to be locked in on the small things.
When you think about the best wide receivers in the NFL today, names like Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, and DeAndre Hopkins come to mind and rightfully so, but the Minnesota Vikings have a pair of wideouts who have given opposing secondaries fits.
This season, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs have been the perfect complement to each other. Thielen finished the regular season with 91 receptions (eighth-best in the league), 1276 yards (fifth-best) and his 20 catches for 20 or more yards tied for fifth-best overall. As for Diggs, he finished with 64 receptions for 849 yards.
Together, Thielen and Diggs accounted for 54 percent of the Vikings' receiving yards this season. They also combined for 12 touchdowns. In the Vikes' miraculous playoff win over the New Orleans Saints, they accounted for 66 percent of the passing game. They have been the safety valves for Case Keenum all season long.
Minnesota offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur has the rare luxury of lining up either one of them on the inside or outside on any given play. Both are excellent route runners — whether it's doing deep or intermediate routes or crossing routes, and both are excellent blockers.
So how should Jim Schwartz defend against these two? Some believe help over the top on Thielen and playing single coverage on Diggs is the way to go. We may see that concept occasionally in the NFC Championship Game but I have a feeling Schwartz will come up with some variation we have not seen before. The Eagles are not going to completely shut these two down, but their damage can be minimized. Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson and the other DBs will put in a full day’s work shadowing these two.