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Jay Ajayi is the key to Eagles beating the Falcons

Jay Ajayi is the key to Eagles beating the Falcons

If the Iggles are gonna make it to the NFC Championship game for the first time since the 2008 season, they’re going to have to take the J-Train.

That’s right. Jay Ajayi, a running back ditched by the team that drafted him just a few months ago, holds the keys to the Eagles offensive success this postseason. A lot of fans have been freaking out the past month or so based on the idea that Nick Foles (who has looked objectively atrocious in the past two games) is expected to lead the Eagles through the playoffs. And that’s completely fair; we were all nervous about Foles leading us in the playoffs back in 2013 when he had his infamous 27-2 season. Believing in him now would display a level of faith even Jim Jones would consider extreme.

Which is precisely why head coach Doug Pederson and offensive coordinator Frank Reich should be developing a game-plan that features a heavy dosage of Jay Ajayi.

That’s the easiest way to imagine the Birds winning this game; the play-calling puts the ball in the hands of Ajayi, as well as Legarrette Blount and Corey Clement, and the three of them pound the Falcons defense into submission, eventually opening things up in the air for Foles. Have success on the ground, stay committed to the run, and the Birds will make things easier for their back-up quarterback. That’s the most logical (and lowest-risk) offense game-plan, in its simplest form.

By putting your faith in the running game, you’re not just banking on Ajayi; you’re banking on Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks (Pro-Bowlers), as well as Jason Kelce, the well-rested Steve Wisniewski, and yes, even Halapoulivaati Vaitai (who by the way, becomes much less of a liability when you ask him to run-block as opposed to pass-block). Give your big uglies a chance to hit some dudes, and see where that offense takes you.

Cause it’s hard to imagine Jim Schwartz and company not keeping the Eagles in this game. Julio Jones and Matt Ryan both haven’t practiced yet this week, and the Birds defense… well, the Birds defense has been outstanding all year. They’re 13-3 and the #1 seed in the NFC in part because of this defense, and they’ve only gotten fresher and healthier over the bye. Sure, Ryan was fantastic under pressure against the Rams, but the Birds pass rush is an entirely different beast, and if you’re making a list of things to worry about in advance of Saturday, the defense should be near the bottom, far below “where are we going to park?” and “will Donnie Jones be wearing pants?”

As for Foles; as Kulp pointed out, he’s had notable success against this style of defense. We’ve all seen him throw seven touchdowns in a game before. If he comes out and plays fantastic, it won’t be the biggest shock in Eagles postseason history. Foles, like Koy Detmer and A.J. Feeley before him, is capable of winning the Eagles games. 

But the reality is, he probably shouldn’t have to. Against the Giants and the Raiders, he threw the ball 38 times each. That’s typically too much for nearly any quarterback (guys with the name Brees or Brady notwithstanding); for a guy like Foles, it’s bordering on ridiculous. We’ll chalk it up to Pederson wanting to get his back-up more reps, but if the Eagles are in a close game with Atlanta this Saturday, and Foles has thrown the ball more than 25 times, they’re probably in some trouble.

A major key to playoff success? Just ask Brian Westbrook:

This is why Ajayi was brought here; he’s the kind of guy you can have a functioning offense built around, a reality proven by the fact that he was the best offensive player on a playoff-caliber team just last season. He can be the workhorse, and what’s more, his success should open up the field, making everything easier for the worry-inducing Foles. If Ajayi ends the day Saturday as the best player on the field, there’s no doubt the Eagles are going to win this game.

Can Ajayi have success against this Falcons D, a group that just shut-down MVP candidate Todd Gurley?

So the only question remaining is; will coach Doug Pederson give him the opportunity?

The Roots rocked, peak Pederson, and marvelous Merrill

The Roots rocked, peak Pederson, and marvelous Merrill

The Eagles are going to the Super Bowl.

Again, that's really fun to type. And there was so much fun to be had on Sunday when the Birds beat up on the Vikings to win the NFC Championship.

In the spirit of truly having a blast watching yesterday's game and partying on Broad Street after, here's some of the killer content the Eagles shared on their social media. Their social team was as red hot as Nick Foles. Tough to beat good access. This stuff is just fun to relive.

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Doug Pederson's postgame speech. The look on his face after he says it! Goosebumps.

The Roots! Many fans at home were bummed that the FOX telecast did not show The Roots halftime performance. Thankfully, you can watch it in full below. It ends with a fantastic rendition of the Eagles' fight song.

The Merrill Reese Cam. Needs no description.

Nick Foles just one more thing Chip Kelly got wrong

Nick Foles just one more thing Chip Kelly got wrong

Imagine having ever doubted Nick Foles. Well, OK, that puts you in a group with roughly 99 percent of the general public. But imagine having ever traded Foles away, thinking he wasn’t good enough to get the Eagles to the Super Bowl.

There are a select few talent evaluators on the face of this earth who have gone so far as to actually get rid of Foles, and just one man who swapped him for another quarterback. Take a bow, Chip Kelly. Your brief tenure as coach of the Eagles and even briefer stint as personnel czar only continue to look worse with time.

It’s not news Kelly was a failure as an NFL head coach or that his one year as the Eagles’ general manager was disastrous. Fans had to relive one mistake after another as vice president of football operations Howie Roseman spent the last two years undoing the damage, move by move.

Yet, little else was thought of Kelly’s call to send Foles packing, until now. To the contrary, it was one of the few decisions where the disgraced coach appeared justified. It took Foles less than one season to flame out with the Rams and wind up a journeyman backup. Anybody who thought it might be a bad idea at the time had no room to talk.

Now that Foles has done his part to guide the Eagles to a conference championship, it’s time to revisit that decision. And at the time Kelly traded Foles, he had a 14-4 record in his previous 18 starts. He had set an NFL record with a 27-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio in 2013 (since broken by Tom Brady). He walked off the field with the lead in a wild-card playoff game.

Maybe Foles was a victim of playing behind a patchwork offensive line in 2014 when he turned the ball over 13 times in eight games and suffered a season-ending injury. Maybe he seemed like a flash in the pan with the Rams because there was no talent around him in an offense that finished no better than 21st in the league from 2007 to 2016.

Maybe Foles has been pretty good all along, and Kelly and all the doubters were simply wrong. Actually, that’s a fact.

Not only did Kelly send Foles packing, he dealt him for Sam Bradford, who, ironically, was sitting on the opposite sideline in the NFC Championship Game. Bradford may, in fact, be more talented but was coming off consecutive ACL tears and hadn’t played competitive football in nearly two years. Bradford, who was on the Vikings’ sideline because he got hurt again.

It wasn’t even Foles for Bradford straight-up. Kelly agreed to send second- and fourth-round draft picks in the deal, too, getting only a fifth in return. Like almost all of his moves, this has not aged well.

Kelly traded a potential franchise quarterback, a guy who had won him a lot of games, who looked like he could win in the postseason. A perfectly safe, reliable option, if not exactly oozing greatness — all for a glorified lottery ticket.

Bradford was fine. If he could stay healthy, he would probably prove, like Foles, he never had a shot while playing for those awful Rams teams.

But was Bradford worth the gamble? Opinions were mixed at the time, but that’s because, like Kelly, there were a lot of folks who were ready to give up on Foles. Three years later, it was just one more needless, horrendous decision.

Fortunately, the universe has a way of correcting itself sometimes. Or maybe that’s just Roseman hard at work, the other enormous mistake in Kelly’s NFL tenure that went largely glossed over. Whatever. The Eagles are going to the Super Bowl, with Foles at the helm, and Kelly is back to coaching college football — which is the way it always should’ve been.