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Eagles Film Review: The key to Ajayi’s big run

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AP Images

Eagles Film Review: The key to Ajayi’s big run

Jay Ajayi showed off his home-run ability on a 46-yard touchdown run in his Eagles debut. Yet it was Brandon Brooks who helped spring Ajayi by blocking not one, but two Broncos defenders on the play.

It was one of two touchdowns in which Brooks threw the key block, the other being a 15-yard screen pass to Corey Clement. And both times, the 6-foot-5, 335-pound right guard demonstrated the ability to maul would-be tacklers at the second and third levels.

Brooks has always been a force at the point of attack. The way he was getting down the field and reaching his targets on Sunday, the 28-year-old was making his case for more recognition — perhaps even an invitation to the Pro Bowl.

Let’s go back to Ajayi’s touchdown. It’s a read-option handoff to the left, with center Jason Kelce pulling and acting as the lead blocker on the play. Brooks’ job is to get up to the second level and get a hat on Broncos middle linebacker Brandon Marshall.

This is a well-blocked play across the board. There’s a massive hole between the tackle and guard, and Kelce is demonstrating his unique ability to get out in space — this clip could go into his highlight reel as well. However, it’s Brooks’ block that’s ultimately going to blow this wide open.

First of all, Brooks is about seven yards up the field from where he first engages Marshall, and still has position. The linebacker might not have a chance to flow to the football and eventually make the stop regardless of what happens next.

But there was also some confusion on the part of Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby, who doesn’t seem to know which direction the play is going. That’s going to be a problem with Brooks rumbling down the field.

Marshall and Roby collide, and Brooks winds up putting both defenders on the ground. And while the miscue by Denver’s defense might’ve resulted in a score regardless, it didn’t help the linebacker was driven all the way into the secondary.

Look at where Brooks engages. That block finally ends 10 yards later, with Marshall getting completely erased.

That was an impressive block by Brooks, although there’s a chance Ajayi would’ve scored anyway. He is a Pro Bowl running back.

Earlier, there was no doubt Brooks had set Clement free on a running back screen with another tremendous downfield block.

This is a fairly standard setup, with Brooks the last of the offensive linemen to release in this instance behind Kelce and right tackle Lane Johnson. Those first blocks are going to set up a wall and give Clement a little breathing room after the catch, but there’s a lot of work to do from there.

Johnson gets tripped up and Kelce is engaged, so Brooks is pretty much a one-man convoy. At this point in the play, it doesn’t look like Clement has much chance of scoring.

Of course, it helps that Broncos safety Justin Simmons doesn’t want anything to do with Brooks coming straight at him at full speed with an almost 10-yard head start. A great block, a nifty move by Clement and a poor angle by Roby turns this into an easy six for the Eagles.

By the time Clement crosses the goal line, Brooks is practically standing in the end zone with him, a good 20 yards from where he starts the play. If there was any justice in the world, he would’ve been allowed to spike the ball.

A prize free-agent signing in 2016, Brooks has been quietly efficient for the Eagles, although he hasn’t necessarily been getting a lot of recognition. Make no mistake, he’s very good.

Brooks is currently ranked third among all NFL guards by Pro Football Focus, and given the Eagles’ record at 8-1, the whole team is receiving more attention this season. With all the national attention, and then  tape like this, 2017 just may turn out to be Brooks’ first Pro Bowl campaign.

Rating the Rumor: Eagles OC Frank Reich a 'possibility' for Titans

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

Rating the Rumor: Eagles OC Frank Reich a 'possibility' for Titans

Just when it seemed the Eagles might make it through the 2018 coaching carousel relatively unscathed, a new rumor links offensive coordinator Frank Reich to the Titans’ vacancy.

Then again, due to the timing of the Titans’ head coaching search, they may not even have the opportunity to talk to Reich at all.

Reich was first named “a possibility” for the Titans’ job by longtime beat writer Terry McCormick. However, because the organization did not request an interview during the first week of the NFL playoffs, by rule, a meeting cannot occur until after the Eagles’ season is finished. That could be as many as three weeks from now, depending on the outcome of the conference championship on Sunday.

Ideally, the Titans will have filled the job by then.

Reich himself shot down the story on Tuesday, though that was easy given the circumstances, with the Titans unable to reach out at present.

“Right now, myself, our staff, are interested in one thing only, so, that's all,” Reich said. “I have no time (for that). When I tell you I have no time for anything to consider anything else other than how we're preparing a game plan to beat the Vikings, that's really all we're concerned about.”

If the Titans are a little late to the game, that’s because a somewhat surprising postseason run gave Mike Mularkey two additional weeks of life. Once eliminated from the playoffs over the weekend, the sides parted ways, at a time when most front offices were already finalizing coaching searches. Of the seven clubs with openings, two are filled, and three more are reportedly spoken for.

In other words, the Titans are left with a smaller pool of candidates to choose from. That could help explain why Reich could be gaining some momentum after there was no reported interest in the first round of coaching interviews.

While Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo were among the star candidates this offseason, Reich flew under the radar. However, the reality is he probably warranted more consideration. From that standpoint, the Titans’ supposed interest makes sense.

Some observers may even see a potential Reich departure as beneficial for the Eagles. DeFilippo’s contract is up at the end of the season, and it’s believed if he isn’t hired as the head coach of either the Titans or Cardinals, he’ll leave for an offensive coordinator job regardless. If Reich goes, one of the league’s bright, young assistants could move into his role.

Sounds too good to be true? Well, it probably is.

DeFilippo is reportedly still in the running for the Cardinals job (for which the Eagles can grant permission for a second interview next week even should they advance), and may be ready to move on regardless, to someplace where the title of offensive coordinator comes with play-calling duties. As for Reich, his availability is largely tied to whether or not the Eagles make it to the Super Bowl, unless the Titans were willing to wait until February to have so much as a conversation.

The Titans are already lining up interviews with other candidates, notably Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel. And should the Eagles lose on Sunday, you can certainly understand why any of Reich, Schwartz or DeFilippo would be on the short list. Yet, for the moment, their candidacy for this particular job appears to be in direct proportion to the outcome of the NFC Championship game.

Rating the rumor: Sorry, Titans – you snooze, you lose

Relive the wild Eagles celebration over Falcons one more time in 360 degrees

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

Relive the wild Eagles celebration over Falcons one more time in 360 degrees

As Doug Pederson would say, there's plenty of work left to do.

But let's be honest, most of us are fans. So we can savor Saturday's victory over the Falcons a little longer than the Eagles players who have to get right back to work to prep for the Vikings this coming weekend.

And the Eagles official accounts have been producing some beautiful content ever since Julio Jones slipped, got up, and let the ball sail through his finger tips.

My favorite thus far -- and I'm partial, because you can see me for a split second at the 23-second mark -- is the final play of the Falcons' drive that ended with the huge 4th and goal from the 2 yard line sync'd up with Merrill Reese's call and fan-filmed reactions. It's a work of art.

Next up is a pretty sweet 360 view of the celebration in the locker room. You've seen Jeffrey Lurie dancing like a maniac by now, but this is a unique perspective you can literally see from every angle.

And for some extra chills, enjoy the national anthem. Love the fans joining in the singing.