Eagles

With Carson Wentz back, you can feel the buzz in Philadelphia

With Carson Wentz back, you can feel the buzz in Philadelphia

The buzz inside the Eagles’ NovaCare Complex is already palpable this week. It’s the kind of buzz that comes with the news that the franchise quarterback is ready to go.

That feeling inside the building in the two days since the announcement is pretty much the same feeling outside it. Forget the other injuries and holes on the roster, there’s just a ton of energy around the return of No. 11.

So much so that the Eagles lost a tough game Sunday … and you couldn’t even tell. It really didn’t even seem like it mattered. 

A few players already told me there was a similar sense inside the locker room. Even though the Eagles were disappointed about losing a game, the optimism was already winning out just the day after the 27-21 loss in Tampa. 

It’s almost the complete opposite of the feeling last Dec. 10 when Wentz went down with the torn ACL and LCL. In that game at the Los Angeles Coliseum, the Eagles actually clinched the NFC East but it didn’t feel like it. Eventually, the Birds snapped out of their misery and regrouped in time for the playoff run, but it was a long plane ride home back to Philly. 

That’s the kind of juice Wentz brings to the city, inside and outside of the locker room. Win, but lose him, and everyone’s down. Lose, but get him back, who cares about the loss? 

And now that we know Wentz will make his 2018 debut, it’s like the entire locker room, the entire city is re-energized. 

“Get that energy back, get that swagger back,” right tackle Lane Johnson said. “We know what kind of a player he is, more of a leader in the locker room for us. When he’s out there doing his job, it just energizes the whole team.”

There are some obvious questions about what kind of player Wentz will be in his return after a 9½-month wait. Even Doug Pederson admitted there will probably be some rust. Johnson disagrees; he expects Wentz to hit the ground running. 

That’s the type of optimism that follows this guy around. 

Toward the end of last season, the Eagles’ identity as a team became centered around the idea of being the underdogs and that didn’t happen until they lost Wentz for the season and folks started counting them out. But before that, the team’s identity was Wentz. He was the reason they got off to such a hot start. His swagger rubbed off on the entire team. 

Jason Kelce was asked if he expected the Linc to have more juice this week because of Wentz’s return. The veteran center said the Linc is always buzzing. 

But it might be just a little different in the stadium Sunday. 

It certainly is everywhere else in the city this week.

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Eagles might lose executive Andrew Berry after all

Eagles might lose executive Andrew Berry after all

Just a few days ago, it seemed like the Eagles weren’t going to lose Vice President of Football Operations Andrew Berry because it looked like the Browns were going to hire someone else.

Well, that someone else has dropped out of the race.

Vikings assistant GM George Paton has taken himself out of the running to be the Browns’ next general manager, which means Berry is now the new favorite, according to Cleveland.com

This is certainly an interesting turn of events.

According to Cleveland.com, “Paton was reluctant to accept the initial interview because he assumed the job would go Berry.”

Now it might.

It would have made plenty of sense for the Browns to hire Paton, who has a long-standing relationship with new head coach Kevin Stefanski from their time together in Minnesota. But according to reports over the past few weeks, it seems like Berry has been a favorite of ownership and the front office.

While Berry and Stefanski have never worked together, they did get to know each other during the coaching search in Cleveland a year ago. After that search, the Browns hired Freddie Kitchens and Berry left for Philly. But now, Berry and Stefanski might actually get a chance to work with one another.

The Harvard-educated Berry, 32, was with the Browns from 2016-18 as their Vice President of Player Personnel before he joined the Eagles last season in a role they created for him. Berry initially came up in the Colts franchise, first as a scouting assistant and finally as a pro scouting coordinator. He’s been a quick-riser in the NFL world.

Earlier this offseason, the Eagles reportedly denied a request from the Panthers to interview Berry for a Vice President job. The reasoning from the Eagles was that it wasn’t a general manager position and he wouldn’t have had final say on personnel matters.

Final say is something Berry will likely never have here in Philadelphia. Despite a few missteps in recent years, Howie Roseman has pretty solid job security and he isn’t going anywhere. If Berry is going to become a GM, it’s going to be in another city. And it seems like that day might be coming soon.

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Lane Johnson says one awful Eagles game made him shave his head for good

Lane Johnson says one awful Eagles game made him shave his head for good

Lane Johnson is officially in offseason mode, and he kicked off Pro Bowl week - which he's now officially part of - by showing up on former teammate Chris Long's podcast and shooting the breeze for an hour.

The duo bantered about plenty, from dealing with failure and ego as football players, to Johnson's time as a grave digger. About halfway through, Johnson offered up a seldom-heard explanation for his hairstyle, or lackthereof.

Johnson, of course, famously keeps his hair short (read: nonexistent) on top, and keeps his beard long. He explained to Long that it took some serious self-reflection, and a couple rough games early in his rookie season, to officially start shaving his head:

I was in college, it was my senior year, and my friend goes, 'Bro, are you f***ing losing your hair?' I said, what are you talking about? Then I went to the mirror, and I'd clearly been in denial for some time. I said, 'Bro, this s*** is terrible.' 

So I played with it my senior year, it was bad. I'd comb it over, wear my hats, feather it out in the back, try to look cool. Then I got to the Eagles, and after getting bull-rushed by Dwight Freeney and giving up three sacks to Justin Houston, I just shaved that s*** off. I've been a different man ever since.

The Eagles, you might remember, lost in Week 2 that year to Freeney's Chargers, and then lost in Week 3 to Houston's Chiefs, to fall to 1-3. They went 9-3 the rest of the way, a startling and fun turnaround. I'm not saying it's all thanks to Johnson shaving his head... but maybe?

That's about as good a reason as I can think of to make a hairstyle change. Johnson has been one of the best right tackles in the NFL since he started shaving his head, so maybe he's on to something. He spends very little time focusing on his hair, and plenty of time focusing on his game.

When you go back and look at Johnson with hair, it's... extremely jarring:

Johnson is basically unrecognizable in that video. He looks like a child! Thank goodness for Freeney and Houston shellacking Johnson as a rookie, or he might still be clinging to that brutal hairdo.

Maybe Johnson should've floated this idea to the Eagles' coaching staff years ago. Who knows what a haircut could've done for Nelson Agholor?

You can listen to, and watch, the full conversation between Johnson and Long below:

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