Eagles

Eagles notes, quotes and tidbits: Shelton Gibson, Marcus Smith, Nelson Agholor

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Eagles notes, quotes and tidbits: Shelton Gibson, Marcus Smith, Nelson Agholor

It was a pretty ordinary punt on Sunday against the Bears. The first of the game. Donnie Jones hit it perfectly and Joe Walker downed it inside the Bears' 10-yard line. 

It was a special punt for Shelton Gibson. 

It was the first NFL snap of the young receiver's career. He used a quick twitch inside to beat his man and could have downed the ball if it bounced to him instead of Walker. 

"I had to take advantage of my opportunity," Gibson said. "That's what I had to do. I want to do that every single week."

Gibson, who had been inactive for the first 10 games of the season, played in his first game last Sunday. He found out on Tuesday that he was going to be active, but claims he didn't treat the week of practice any differently. 

When asked why Gibson was active over Marcus Johnson, offensive coordinator Frank Reich said it was about "spreading the love a little bit." But Gibson earned a chance. If he hadn't worked hard in practice over the first few months of the season, he doesn't get that shot. 

The rookie from West Virginia had a rough go during the spring and part of training camp. He dropped way too many passes and probably would not have made the team had he not been drafted in the fifth round. 

Most of the season for Gibson has been spent as a scout team player, responsible for giving the defense the looks it needs for that upcoming week. On top of that, Gibson still needs to be on top of the Eagles' playbook. It is basically like having two jobs. 

Gibson said the biggest thing he tried to take from his time waiting to play was to learn how to be a pro. Learning how to be a pro is somewhat of a cliche, but to Gibson it means consistently having energy in practice. He's learning that from Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffery. 

In his first regular-season NFL game, Gibson played four offensive snaps and seven on special teams. 

"No jitters at all," Gibson said, "just because I've been listening to my coaches and every practice here is like a game. That's how we practice every day. Just do the same thing every day."

Hello, old friend
The Eagles will see a couple familiar faces this weekend in Seattle in Matt Tobin and Marcus Smith. 

Smith, of course, was the Eagles' first-round pick in 2014 and never came close to living up to that draft status. He never even started a game in Philly and was released in July. 

He hasn't suddenly turned into a Pro Bowler in Seattle, but he does have 2 1/2 sacks and a forced fumble in 10 games with the Seahawks. He's already tied his career-high for sacks, which he set last season. 

Smith has played 184 defensive snaps (24.7 percent) for the Seahawks this season, despite a few injuries. Smith played a career-high 218 for the Eagles last season. 

"We thought he had plenty of ball left," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "Sometimes guys go places and the expectations are so high that it's hard to meet up with it. You get a high draft pick like that and your expectations are so high that it just doesn't fit. We saw him as a guy that could help us, jump in and be versatile. He's done all of that. He's been a good addition to our team. We're happy to have him."

Scene of the crime
This weekend the Eagles are back in CenturyLink Field, where things finally toppled over for Nelson Agholor last season. 

Agholor faked Richard Sherman out of his shoes and was wide open. Maybe too wide open. He dropped a perfect pass that hit his hands. 

It wasn't that drop or that game that pushed things over the edge, but that was the final straw. Agholor was given a mental health day the next weekend when the Packers came to town. He was a healthy scratch. 

That decision was a big one for Agholor, but also for Pederson. 

"I think it was definitely big on both our parts because it was the first time I've really had to sort of bench a player for the performance or whatever or just the sort of the slump that he was in," Pederson said. "I really think that it was a great — it was a wakeup call I think for him, but he embraced it the right way. Part of the conversation that he and I had leading up to me sitting him that week — like I said, he embraced it. 

"It's a learning experience for both of us, but he came out of it much better. [He was] a lot more confident when he came out of it, and really from that point on, even the last couple games of the season, began to play like the Nelson Agholor we thought we had."

That decision obviously ended up working out for Agholor and the Eagles. He came to spring practices as a confident player and has been a real threat since. He has 458 receiving yards and six touchdowns this season. And he's become dynamics when he gets in space. 

Quote of the Week I: "He's trimmed down. I mean, you see him walking around. He's got abs now. I don't think that's something he had in training camp." — Lane Johnson on if LeGarrette Blount is looking faster  

Quote of the Week II: "If last year, people were judging me on that, then shame on them. You feel me? Turn the tape on this year and you know what's up." — Vinny Curry 

Quote of the Week III: "It's pretty cool. Ton of respect for a guy like LeBron. I was a kid watching him tear up the league when he was a rookie. I love watching that guy play. He's unbelievable, quite the talent, one of the most impressive athletes in the world. It's pretty humbling to hear that stuff." — Carson Wentz on hearing he's LeBron James' favorite player

Random media guide note: Carson Wentz's favorite TV show is "Friday Night Lights" — wonder if he's a Riggins or Saracen guy? 

When do players know their football days are over?

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USA Today Images

When do players know their football days are over?

In the latest edition of Eagle Eye, Derrick Gunn and Barrett Brooks discuss Father's Day weekend. What kind of basketball parent is Barrett? The guys give their 53-man roster after spring practices. Tom Brady says he can feel his playing days are getting numbered. When do players first start realizing that the end is near and what makes that reality most difficult? Also, how should the Giants handle Odell Beckham Jr's contract situation?

"I think that Saquon [Barkley] is going to be better than [Zeke] Elliott." -- Barrett Brooks.

1:00 - What kind of basketball parent is Barrett?
3:00 - Father's Day weekend recap.
5:00 - Eagles' 53-man roster after spring practices.
15:30 - Tom Brady tells Oprah the end is near... When do players start seeing that reality?
20:00 - The hardest part about having to say goodbye to football.
23:00 - Odell Beckham's contract situation.

Press Taylor was right choice for Eagles' QBs coach

Press Taylor was right choice for Eagles' QBs coach

The Eagles were just a few days away from the Super Bowl and there was a clear indication of just how loose the team really was. 

On Feb. 1, Carson Wentz tweeted out a photo proving it. 

So, what’s the point of this? Why show a photo that Wentz sent out from an escape room well over four months ago?

Well, because it was a little glimpse into the future. Because the five guys in that photo are going to be the five guys in the Eagles’ quarterback room this season. 

Along with Wentz, Nick Foles and Nate Sudfeld, the other two are Press Taylor (sitting) and Spencer Phillips. This offseason, after John DeFilippo left Philadelphia to take the offensive coordinator job in Minnesota, the Eagles promoted Taylor to take his position as quarterbacks coach and then promoted Phillips to take Taylor’s spot as the assistant quarterbacks coach. 

It was probably a no-brainer. 

And it’s crazy to think, but just a year after the Eagles blocked DeFilippo from leaving the organization, DeFilippo has left … and the Eagles are going to be just fine. 

At the time, before the 2017 season, it made sense to block DeFilippo. He was seemingly integral to the development of a young Wentz and he certainly deserves plenty of credit for the big jump in Wentz’s play last season. But now, without him, the Eagles are going to keep a finely-tuned machine running. And they’re going to do it with a very young and very promising coach. 

Taylor is just 30 years old, which seems incredibly young for a coach who is supposed to lead the most important position room for the Eagles and possibly the most important position room in the entire league. He’s just one year older than Foles. 

He might be young, but Taylor is uniquely positioned to handle this responsibility. And aside from his football acumen — which has been touted by his superiors — it’s his relationship with the players in the room that made him such a no-brainer replacement for DeFilippo. 

“I feel really close (to Wentz, Foles and Sudfeld),” Taylor said last week. “I know what makes them tick going into it. And then we all had our own relationships. Obviously, I wasn’t their quarterbacks coach at the time, but I was in the room, sat through those conversations, had my own conversations out on the practice field. I feel like I know the things they like, the things they didn’t like. And then was able to learn from the other guys, the other coaches in the room.”

After the Super Bowl, Taylor is probably best known in the city for bringing the Philly Special to the Eagles. In his position last year, it was his job to mine gadget plays from around the league and found that play being used by the Bears the season before (see story). And that’s great. But all the stuff we don’t know about last year is what’s going to make the most difference for the Eagles this season. 

Taylor has been with the Eagles since 2013, when Chip Kelly brought him to town. And then Doug Pederson was smart enough (and without ego) to keep Taylor in 2016. The brother of Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor, Press has quickly worked his way up the ladder. 

Last week, Wentz was asked if the team wanted his opinion before promoting Taylor. 

“I think it was pretty much known how we felt about Press beforehand,” Wentz said. “We’ve seen Press behind the scenes the last couple years and how hard he works. A lot of guys have a ton of respect for him as a person and as a coach. I know that’s where I sit. So far, it’s been great. He understands the game extremely well. We’re very like-minded, both on and off the field. The relationship I have with him personally and the relationship he has with all the quarterbacks has been tremendous so far.”

The relationship between Taylor and the QBs is so important. Relationships for this entire coaching staff are so important. Really, that’s what has made Pederson so special. He has that “emotional intelligence” and understands how to deal with his players. 

Taylor seems to have that too. And really, that’s why the Eagles’ QB room won’t miss a beat. 

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