Could Wentz-Pederson emulate Brady-Belichick?

Could Wentz-Pederson emulate Brady-Belichick?

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have been together for 18 years now, reaching eight Super Bowls and winning five (so far).

This is Year 2 for Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz, and if they find a way to match Belichick and Brady's longevity, that would take us to … 2033?

Imagine Pederson and Wentz in Super Bowl 68 in February of 2034?

Pederson would be 66, and Wentz would be 41.

Today? Belichick is 65, and Brady is 40.

Pederson said Thursday he has daydreamed about himself and Wentz being together as long as Belichick and Brady. And being just as successful.

“Gosh, I’d love to, and even in some of the quiet moments, I try to envision that," Pederson said Thursday. 

"In this league, if you have a quarterback and you do things right, and you surround him with talented players and coaches, then you can have a long career in the business and have the [kind of] success that those two gentlemen have had.

"A lot of respect for those two and what they’ve meant to this league, and obviously that’s something that myself and Carson and the guys we have around him could possibly have in Philadelphia.”

Belichick went 36-44 with the Browns from 1991 through 1995 in his first head coaching stint. He replaced Pete Carroll as head coach of the Patriots in 2000, and drafted Brady in the sixth round out of Michigan that spring.

From 2001 through 2017, once Drew Bledsoe was out of the way, the Patriots averaged 12½ wins per year, won 15 of 17 AFC East titles and reached eight Super Bowls, winning five.

Pederson and Wentz both came to the Eagles last year, Pederson replacing Chip Kelly and Wentz in the first round of the draft.

Belichick won his first Super Bowl in his second year, and now Pederson is trying to do the same thing. 

The Eagles face the Patriots in Super Bowl LII Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

"When I first got here [in 2013], the first three years stability at the quarterback position was a revolving door," tight end Zach Ertz said. "There was no stability.

"So when Carson got drafted and Doug got brought in, it really set the table to ultimately strive for that kind of success.

"Obviously Tom and Bill have been doing this for a long time. The consistency they’ve been able to have is unheard of. This league is all about parity. There’s a reason the best teams draft last in every round. Teams are supposed to go in cycles, but every year they win a lot of games and make the playoffs.

"As an organization, you have to strive for that kind of consistency. The way Doug and Carson are, this could be the closest thing to emulating that. I hope they’re together a long time."

Wentz is hurt and not playing in this Super Bowl, but he's only 25 years old and had a record-setting second season before giving way to Nick Foles. 

His 49 touchdowns are eighth most in NFL history by a quarterback in his first 29 games, and his 7,078 passing yards are 10th most. He was 11-2 in 13 starts this year and believes he'll be ready for opening day next fall.

Ertz said he can see comparisons between Brady and Belichick and Wentz and Pederson.

"People doubted Doug when he was brought in as a head coach, kind of similar to how Bill was doubted when he was brought in," he said.

"Tom and Carson had extremely different paths as far as where they were drafted but there’s a lot of similarities. If you just look at the way they talk about football, the way they talk about the craft of football, how dedicated they are to the craft, they’re extremely similar in that regard. Carson is an extremely bright football mind. He watches so much film, he studies so much.

"The Patriots have been to the Super Bowl eight out of 16 years now? That's incredible. But I think the [Eagles'] organization has built stability around Carson, too.

"We have a lot of guys locked up for a long time, a lot of guys playing at an extremely high level locked up for a long time. It’s not going to have to be Carson carrying the Philadelphia Eagles, although at times he definitely does carry us."

Eighteen years is an awful long time for a head coach to stay in the same place and it's an eternity for a quarterback to play at a high level.

Andy Reid is the longest-tenured Eagles head coach with 14 years and Greasy Neale — who coached from 1941 through 1950 and won two NFL Championships — is next with 10 years.

Donovan McNabb, who replaced Pederson as the Eagles' quarterback midway through 1999, was the longest-running Eagles QB but only Ron Jaworski (eight), Norm Snead (seven) and Randall Cunningham (six) also quarterbacked the Eagles longer than four years.

So 18 years is an eternity.

“I have a lot of respect for that tandem, when you talk about Brady and Belichick," receier Nelson Agholor said. "But I also have a lot of love also for my head coach and my quarterback.

"I think they’re two very special people who really love this game and have a lot of passion for what they do."

Can they be the next Belichick and Brady?

"I think the sky’s the limit for both of them," Agholor said. "They can do whatever they put their mind to."

Eagles' Brandon Brooks uses own story to inspire graduates

Miami University

Eagles' Brandon Brooks uses own story to inspire graduates

Eagles right guard Brandon Brooks was back at his alma mater this weekend, delivering the commencement speech at Miami University (Ohio), when he began talking about his battle with anxiety. 

In front of thousands of people. 

“Truth be told, I’m feeing a little anxious today,” Brooks said, inciting laughter in front of the giant crowd staring back at him. “But I’ve learned through therapy, to not worry or care about making a mistake. Why? Because the best thing about life is that it goes on.”

Brooks, 28, talked to the crowd of graduates about love and honor, perseverance and unity, but perhaps it was telling his personal story about how he overcame his anxiety that made the most lasting impression. 

After identifying his issues with anxiety during the 2016 season, when he missed two games, Brooks began to seek help. In 2017, he played in all 16 games, became a Pro Bowler and helped the Eagles win their first Super Bowl championship. 

As the Eagles were getting ready to play in the Super Bowl, Brooks reflected a little bit on his road thus far and chronicled how he was able to have fun playing football again (see story)

On Saturday, he told the graduates that even after becoming a Pro Bowler and winning the Super Bowl, he’s “especially proud” of overcoming his anxiety. 

For those in attendance who didn’t know his story, he gave them an overview: 

“I took being the best very seriously. Too seriously, in fact,” Brooks said. “I demanded excellence of myself. I demanded perfection. No mistakes, no screwups. I wanted to epitomize perfection. I did not want to make mistakes. And when that did happen, the world wasn’t a good place for me. I had a secret; I needed help. I grew up thinking, you had to man up. You had to suck it up, as they say. Boy, did I learn the hard way. 

“I don’t know how many of you know, but I have an anxiety disorder. I demanded perfection of myself and when I fail, when I’m not that superhuman I’m supposed to be, my body and my mind turn on me. I get tremendously ill for hours and can’t play the sport I love. I missed five NFL games over my career because I couldn’t handle being perfect. I came to a crossroads where I had to make a decision. I would either cave under the pressure or get help, persevere and rise to the occasion. I choose the latter because there are no diamonds without pressure. 

“Getting help by seeing a therapist was one of the best things for me. For those out there going through something you can’t handle yourself, never be afraid to ask for help and get the help you need.”

Brooks is one of three Eagles to make graduation speeches this spring after the Eagles won the Super Bowl. Corey Clement was at Rowan University in his hometown of Glassboro, N.J., and Chris Long spoke at the University of Virginia. 

Brooks explained how important the law of averages has been to helping him overcome his anxiety and tried to pass along that knowledge. For a player who is an 8 out of 10, there will be days they’re 10/10, but also days where they’re 6/10. 

For Brooks, it’s all about striving to be perfect without letting life’s inevitable failures take over. 

That’s a lesson worth teaching. 

“We are all allowed to make mistakes, to be imperfect, to be human,” Brooks said. “Learn that now, listen to someone who knows. Learn from your mistakes, keep pushing, trust yourself and trust the process.” 

This offseason, Eagles targeted players with something to prove

USA Today Images

This offseason, Eagles targeted players with something to prove

The Eagles rode the underdog theme to a Super Bowl last season, but it’s hard to be a team full of underdogs when everyone is wearing a gaudy Super Bowl ring. 

So this offseason has been about trying to recreate that mentality. 

Last week, Jason Kelce said on Good Morning Football he thinks the Eagles probably still aren’t getting the respect they deserve. And when Howie Roseman spoke at the Wharton People Analytics Conference earlier this spring, he spoke about the idea of people thinking the Super Bowl win was a “fluke.” 

Roseman was the subject of a half-hour interview that was posted by Penn on May 9. He talked about various topics, including the Super Bowl celebration, the use of analytics and sports science in the NFL and about the trade two years ago to get Carson Wentz.

Perhaps the most interesting thing Roseman said during that conference wasn’t about analytics at all. It was about trying to repeat as champions and avoiding the same fate as many teams before which haven’t been able to duplicate championship success. 

“From our perspective, we know we have to change the chemistry,” Roseman said. “We know we have to create competition, we have to make everyone feel the same kind of urgency we had. So how do you do that? You get more people who have that urge, who have that underdog kind of feeling that we had, who feel like they’ve been kicked to the side, who have this need to win. 

“And what we feel will happen is, you bring in a bunch of competitive people, with inherently competitive people who are maybe just kind of going through the motions a little bit for a while. And all of a sudden, they have a competitive moment and you bring out those competitive juices. Will it work? I have no idea. But we’re going to try.”

A quick look back at the players the Eagles brought in this offseason and it’s not hard to find that “underdog” quality about a lot of them. You can almost hear Kelce yelling about these guys next February. 

Michael Bennett: He’s getting old! He’s too socially active!

Corey Nelson: Nelson’s just a special teamer! 

Haloti Ngata: Ngata’s too old and injured!

Mike Wallace: Remember when Mike Wallace was good?!

Paul Worrilow: Paul Worrilow was undrafted!

Markus Wheaton: Wheaton can’t stay healthy!

Matt Jones: Matt Jones fumbles too much!

You get the idea. 

“We understand that it’s hard to repeat,” Roseman said at the owners' meetings in March. “You have to add some guys with the same chip on their shoulders that we brought in last year.”

Now, adding guys with chips on their shoulders coincided nicely with the Eagles' salary cap situation. The good thing about players with something to prove is that they’re cheap. And the Eagles needed that. 

All of their free agents this offseason signed either one- or two-year deals and it’s similar to the contracts the Eagles handed out last offseason when they brought in Alshon Jeffery, LeGarrette Blount, Chris Long and Patrick Robinson. All those guys were hits and it helped with the championship. But these signings aren’t always hits; there are going to be misses too. 

When talking about moves, Roseman likened it to gambling, which is really what it is. The analytics play a role in making sure the odds are in their favor, but there are plenty of variables like injuries that still make every move a gamble. It’s all about maximizing the odds. 

If the Eagles did that again, they might be able to succeed where many other teams have failed. 

“I think it really goes through all organizations, not just sports,” Roseman said. “When you have success, how do you continue to have success? I think it’s easy when you think about these teams and some of the process because the season goes six weeks longer, and so I know all of us are a little bit more tired and everything comes on us quicker and the same thing for the players. … 

“How do you get that energy? How do you change the dynamic? For me, the resources that I’ve been exposed to not only in sports but outside of sports about people who have built great organizations, who have won championships and then gone back, talking to them about what you have to do.”