Eagles' newcomers not surprised 'special' team atop NFC

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Eagles' newcomers not surprised 'special' team atop NFC

Tim Jernigan didn't have any choice in the matter. 

While he might be the Eagles' most important offseason acquisition, Jernigan was brought to Philadelphia in early April in a trade with Baltimore. 

Things have worked out pretty well, though. In a contract year, Jernigan has been great playing in a system that's almost completely foreign to him and he's probably earning himself a ton of money. But aside from that, he's been a key to the Eagles' quick 5-1 start. 

The Eagles are sitting pretty at the top of the NFC East and the entire NFC. 

That's not a shock to Jernigan or the rest of the Eagles' newcomers. 

"I'm not surprised at all," Jernigan said. "I knew that we had talent coming into the season. And more than that, I knew the work we had put in on the field in the weight room and away from football. Guys really bought in. The biggest thing now is not getting complacent with 5-1. Things can change fast. You never know. We still have 10 games guaranteed left. We have to focus on that."

This is Jernigan's fourth NFL season and he has been on just one team with a winning record. That came in his rookie season in 2014, when the Ravens went 10-6. 

There seems to be a really good chance this season could be even better for the Eagles. 

"I think we have a pretty good team, man," Jernigan said, echoing Carson Wentz. "I think we're going to be special."

While Jernigan had no choice in coming to Philadelphia, plenty of big-name free agents did. Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, LeGarrette Blount and even Chris Long all chose to come and play for the Eagles, who were coming off a 7-9 season. 

Obviously, one of the big reasons, especially for the receivers, was the chance to play with Wentz. While Wentz didn't have a stellar rookie season, he showed flashes of what might make him a franchise quarterback. 

The Eagles also had some other key positions with talent. Their offensive line featured two Pro Bowl-caliber offensive tackles, a veteran center and a really solid guard. Their safety duo is one of the best in the league. Their middle linebacker is young and good. Their tight end has been productive. There were question marks, sure, but still talent. 

And then the team added those key free agents. 

"There's a reason I signed here," Jeffery said. "A lot of key additions, picking up Torrey, picking up LeGarrette, me and Timmy and some other guys. The front office staff did a great job putting us together. But just seeing how they were last year, just a few pieces here and there, it could be big." 

While Jernigan missed the really good years in Baltimore, Smith didn't. Jernigan's first year with the Ravens was Smith's last, which meant Smith was there for the 2011 season when the Ravens lost in the AFC championship game and the 2012 season when they won the Super Bowl. 

So Smith knows what a special team looks like. And he sees something special in the Eagles' locker room. That's why 5-1 is coming as no surprise. 

"I knew as soon as I came in here, it just looks right," he said. "That's from the top down. It has the right feel. I said that the first day I came here and I still feel that way and obviously, you're able to see that, the way guys have been working." 

On the short list of five guys in the Eagles' locker room who have won Super Bowls, three of them came this offseason: Smith, Long and Blount. 

On Tuesday, Blount preached the importance of not getting caught up in the hype (see story). He preached the importance of focusing on only the game in front of them. They haven't accomplished anything yet. 

While Blount is trying to make sure the team stays grounded, he's not surprised either. It seems like no one is. 

"I feel like we've been a confident team since we started, all the way back from OTAs, training camp, preseason," he said. "I feel like we've always been a confident group. That's one of the things that you need in order for you to be a winning team. You have to have confidence. You have to have confidence in yourself, as well as the guys that you're going to be playing with, the coaches, and it goes on from there. You have to have confidence."

Eagles at Saints live: Score, highlights, analysis from NFL Week 11 game

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Eagles at Saints live: Score, highlights, analysis from NFL Week 11 game

10:53 a.m.: Good morning, everyone. It’s game day! And it’s a big one for the Eagles. I’m getting ready to walk to the Superdome from my hotel and we’ll follow this entire game day together. 

For what it’s worth, I was out about town last night and saw a ton of Eagles fans. Another big showing from Eagles fans in another city. We’ve seen that on every trip this year. I think it was a perfect storm for it. The Eagles are coming off a Super Bowl and have a tremendous road schedule. A lot of good options for fans and they’re making the most of these trips. 

Be sure to watch Eagles Pregame Live at 3 p.m. and tune in after the game for our complete breakdown on Eagles Postgame Live. 

Eagles at Saints 2018: Start time, TV schedule, live stream and storylines for NFL Week 11

USA Today Images

Eagles at Saints 2018: Start time, TV schedule, live stream and storylines for NFL Week 11

The Eagles (4-5) are heading to New Orleans to face the red-hot Saints (8-1) at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday afternoon. 

Here’s everything you need to know: 

3 p.m.  Eagles Pregame Live on NBCSP

4:25 p.m.  Eagles at Saints on FOX 

7:30 p.m.  Eagles Postgame Live on NBCSP

9:30 p.m.  End Game on NBCSP 

You can also watch the game on fuboTV.

The FOX broadcasters for this game are Joe Buck (play-by-play), Troy Aikman (analyst) and Erin Andrews (sideline). 

Merrill Reese, Mike Quick and Howard Eskin will have the call on 94WIP. 

Season spiraling 

Coming off the bye week, Eagles fans were feeling pretty good. The Eagles clawed back to .500 with a win over the Jaguars and still had everything ahead of them. Not to mention, they added Golden Tate at the trade deadline. But what happened last week was an absolute disaster. Not only did the Eagles lose to a reeling Cowboys team at home, 27-20, but Washington also won to extend its lead to two games in the division. 

The season isn’t over for the Eagles even if they lose to the Saints on Sunday. But things are a lot more difficult now and their playoff chances have definitely gone way down. One of the big themes this week was that the leaders on the team needed to bring energy, to keep everyone’s spirits high. If they don’t, there’s no way they climb out of this. 

Stopping the Saints 

It definitely won’t be easy to get a win. The Saints are an absolute offensive juggernaut. They have averaged over 36 points per game this season and have put up 96 in the last two weeks. It all starts with Drew Brees, who is somehow having his best season at age 39. This guy has been incredible. He’s completing 77 percent of his passes and has 21 touchdowns to just one interception.

The Eagles are banged up in their secondary too. Ronald Darby and Rodney McLeod are done for the year and Jalen Mills (foot) isn’t expected in this game. Even if the Eagles get Sidney Jones (hamstring) back, they’re still not in great shape. 

Scoring some points 

If the Saints put up the points we all expect them to, how will the Eagles respond? Because they’ve averaged just 22.0 points per game this season and can’t seem to figure things out offensively. They have scored just 21 points in first quarters this season, so a quick start would really help in this game. They really can’t afford to get down early and try to play catch-up. That’s a recipe for disaster. 

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