Eagles

Is Eagles locker room still behind Doug Pederson?

Is Eagles locker room still behind Doug Pederson?

The Eagles on Thursday had an uncharacteristically tough practice for December. They were in full pads for the entire hour and 45-minute session. 

Doug Pederson just thought they needed it. 

“It kind of set the tone,” Brandon Brooks said. “This isn’t a cakewalk. This isn’t a walkthrough. This isn’t something where you lose a game and it’s back to regularly scheduled programming.”

In the last couple seasons, this is the time of year where Pederson has really scaled back practices. Thanks to injuries and attrition, some Decembers have seen more walkthroughs than real practices. 

So going in full pads four days after a loss is quite a shakeup and a pretty strong message for the head coach to send to his disappointing 5-7 team.  

“Doug’s always got a great feel for that stuff,” Zach Ertz said. “I think that was needed today.” 

Players said there was no complaining about that unusually tough practice and it led to a spirited afternoon at the NovaCare Complex. Ertz is right; Pederson in the past has always had a knack for pushing the right buttons. Early returns on this button push were good. 

It was also a good sign that Pederson was right about something he said earlier in the day: 

Despite the record and the disappointment, Pederson still thinks the locker room is behind him. 

“I do,” Pederson said. “I really do.”

The head coach said he knows the locker room is behind him because he can “just sense and feel the energy of the group.” 

For this coach, that’s not nothing. Pederson, from the moment he was hired, was said to be a players’ coach. Remember all that emotional intelligence talk? And, as a former player, the idea was that he could relate to the guys in the locker room. Over his first three years as a head coach, that has paid off. 

Now, even on the heels of a three-game losing streak in what has been a wildly disappointing season, it still seems like his players are still supporting him. 

“Oh, 100 percent. We always have Doug’s back,” Brooks said. “As with anything with brothers, you’re going to have arguments here and there, but as far as having Doug’s back, we’ll always have Doug’s back. A lot of guys, including myself, would run through a wall for Doug. Any direction he leads us, we’ll follow.”

Brandon Graham, one of the longest-tenured players on the team, said he can see that players are buying in because of their acceptance of their roles. Players who want more reps still want more reps, but they’re happy to do whatever they can to help the team get better. Those players have not become “cancerous,” as Graham put it. 

There’s still effort. There’s still buy-in. There’s still faith in their process. 

“I’ve seen it go the other way,” Graham said. “The Dream Team year was crazy. That was a crazy year. All the expectation and when things was bad, it was bad. It was just a lot of dysfunction after that.”

While it certainly seems like the locker room is behind Pederson, it’s important to remember that 53 individuals make up the team. We often seem to talk about “the locker room” in general terms but that’s assuming everyone is thinking the same way, which probably isn’t the case. 

That was why Josh McCown, the oldest player on the team, was hesitant to speak for anyone but himself. But, speaking for himself, McCown said he thinks Pederson has done an “excellent job” leading the team this year. 

Actions, of course, speak louder than words. We’ll see if Pederson’s messages are getting through in these last four games. 

“Doug still rules with an iron fist,” Brooks said. “Like I said, wherever he leads us, we’ll go.”

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One company offering Super Bowl ticket loans at 30% interest (P.S. -- dont do this)

One company offering Super Bowl ticket loans at 30% interest (P.S. -- dont do this)

It’s “easier than ever” to attend the Super Bowl, according to a Stub Hub press release.

It may also be easier than ever to go into debt doing it.

StubHub this week announced a program that allows fans to finance ticket purchases — including Super Bowl tickets — and pay for them over a period of 3, 6 or 12 months.

All at the bargain-basement price of up to 30 percent interest.

Stub Hub, in conjunction with financial firm Affirm, introduced a program this week that allows consumers to use Stub Hub to purchase tickets and during the check-out process elect to finance the purchase through Affirm. 

Although ticket buyers can use Affirm for most Stub Hub purchase, the company is rolling out this program as a way to encourage fans who can’t afford Super Bowl tickets to buy them at potentially exorbitant interest rates.

According to financial web site The Balance, the average credit card interest rate as of December was 21.26 percent.

“Just in time for the Super Bowl, consumers can purchase event tickets now and pay over time,” reads a joint press release from Affirm and Stub Hub. 

The StubHub-Affirm joint press release makes it sound like paying 30 percent interest is a financially sound idea: “With U.S. credit card debt at an all-time high and many consumers looking to kick off the new year with better financial habits, they’re demanding more transparent financial products that align with their interests.”

According to a CBS News story that examined the Stub Hub program, two lower-level end-zone tickets selling on Stub Hub for $15,760 on a 12-month, 30-percent loan would cost the buyer an additional $2,676 in interest.

The story also said that unlike credit cards, there’s no financial benefit for consumers to pay this sort of loan off early. 

Ted Rossman of creditcards.com appeared on CBS MoneyWatch and warned consumers against using this sort of financial plan to pay for tickets makes no financial sense.

"It is a huge risk to make any type of discretionary purchase with something that carries a rate of 10 percent to 30 percent,” Rossman said on the show, according to the CBS News story. "It's risky to buy it now and think you are going to pay it later."

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After egregious All-Pro snub, Brandon Brooks named top OL in NFL

After egregious All-Pro snub, Brandon Brooks named top OL in NFL

Earlier this month, Jason Kelce called Brandon Brooks “the best offensive lineman in the NFL.” 

Turns out, ProFootballFocus agrees.

On Thursday, PFF named Brooks the winner of its annual Bruce Matthews Award, given to the best offensive lineman in the NFL. The Eagles were also named the best overall offensive line in the league. 

It’s an honor Brooks deserves after he was egregiously snubbed by voters for the Associated Press All-Pro team earlier this month. It was an absolute joke that Brooks wasn’t even named to the second team. No disrespect to Zack Martin or Marshal Yanda but Brooks was better than both of them this year. 

There’s no doubt that Brooks is the best right guard in the NFL. PFF thinks he’s the best overall OL in the league too. 

Here’s what they said about him:

“Brooks has been a perennially underrated player throughout his NFL career, whether it was playing in Houston or Philadelphia. Aside from a rookie season in which he played just 173 snaps, he has earned overall PFF grades of at least 74.0 every season since. Four of those six seasons before this one saw him top 80.0 overall, but this year he took his game to another level, earning an overall grade of 92.9. For years we have been making the case that he deserves Pro Bowl, and then All-Pro, recognition, and now he deserves to be acknowledged as the best offensive linemen in the game.”

While opinions are split on ProFootballFocus, their evaluations for offensive linemen are incredibly valuable. PFF has been able to give stats to a position that was previously stat-less. No, they don’t necessarily know assignments or the exact designs of plays, but they grade each and every play and that detailed analysis can take some of the human element out of giving these awards. 

When the All-Pro voters made their selections, they picked two guys at right guard in Martin and Yanda who have a longer history of playing at an elite level. PFF doesn’t care about that. They did their game-by-game, play-by-play evaluations and came to the conclusion that no other offensive lineman was better than Brooks this season. 

According to PFF, Brooks gave up just one sack and and 19 pressures on 647 pass snaps. That’s pretty impressive. But it’s even more impressive that Brooks was that dominant eight months after suffering a torn Achilles. 

For the start of next season, Brooks will be coming off a shoulder surgery, but there’s no doubt he should be able to return to his dominant form in 2020. 

The Eagles know what they have in Brooks. They signed the three-time Pro Bowler to a four-year extension during the season that made him the highest-paid guard in the NFL and will keep him in Philadelphia through 2024.

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