Eagles

Eagles QB coach expected success from Carson Wentz this early

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USA Today Images

Eagles QB coach expected success from Carson Wentz this early

As Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo approached the off-white plastic table on the green turf in the bubble at the NovaCare Complex for his bye week media availability, the crowd started to gather. 

By the time DeFilippo turned around to take a seat in the folding chair behind the table, there were about a dozen microphones in front of him and about half a dozen TV cameras pointed at his face. 

"Our QB must be playing pretty good," DeFilippo said. 

Yup. Pretty good. 

As the Eagles sit at 8-1 during their bye week, Carson Wentz has been tremendous. He has taken a monumental jump from Year 1 to Year 2 and is now the favorite to win the NFL's MVP award

It's not necessarily Wentz's success that seems so surprising to so many. It's that he's finding it this soon into his career. If Wentz was playing at an MVP level in Year 5, it wouldn't be as much of a shock. But to be here already? 

DeFilippo claims that, for the most part, he expected this so soon because he expects their quarterbacks to play well. 

For the most part. 

"Now, to make some of the plays he's made," DeFilippo said, "there aren't a lot of quarterbacks that can make some of the plays he's made. Like the play to Corey Clement two weeks ago on Monday night on the wheel route in the end zone. I mean, there's not a lot of guys in this world that can make that play. 

"To say that I was expecting that, you never know. But that he's been playing at a high level, sure, that's what we expect."

When asked what led to the difference in Wentz, DeFilippo had a few reasons. First, Wentz has simply played in more games and experience always has a way of helping. Then, there are the new pieces the Eagles added in the offense. Having Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Mack Hollins have helped and Wentz has been building chemistry with all of them. 

And one area where DeFilippo has seen a ton of growth from Wentz is, as a leader. Sure, he was a leader as a rookie because he was the quarterback, but now things seem different. Wentz is showing those leadership characteristics that helped the Eagles fall in love with him before the 2016 draft. 

The Eagles have seven games left in their regular season and all eyes are going to be on Wentz. DeFilippo knows this but doesn't seem concerned about his quarterback losing focus. He said they aim to keep things light in the quarterback room and keep everyone humble. 

"If we feel like if anyone is getting too ahead of themselves, we call each other out on that," he said. 

Maybe that's a part of the reason DeFilippo isn't surprised by any of Wentz's success so far. He sees it being created.  

"Carson is one of those guys that nothing really surprises you with the way he prepares, the way he conducts himself on a day-to-day basis, interacts with his teammates, works, is detail oriented," DeFilippo said. "So really, nothing really surprises me with Carson. He's just that big athletic guy that makes a lot of plays for us."

Greg Ward still learning wide receiver position after great college career at quarterback

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Greg Ward still learning wide receiver position after great college career at quarterback

Greg Ward threw more touchdown passes in college than Carson Wentz and had a higher career passer rating than Nick Foles. 

These days, his job is catching passes, not throwing them. 

It’s quite a transition from big-time NCAA Division 1 quarterback to NFL wide receiver, but at 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, the former Houston Cougar knows where his future is.

Ward spent all of last year on the Eagles’ practice squad, learning the nuances of a new position and figuring out how to think like a receiver instead of a quarterback. 

He looked surprisingly polished at wide out in training camp, caught nine passes for 63 yards in the preseason and then spent the season focusing on getting better.

“I still haven’t 100 percent gotten the position,” Ward said after a recent rookie camp practice. “I always feel like I can get better, always feel like I can learn something new, feel like there’ll always be something to improve on. 

“Last year was a big year for me. Just learning a new position, learning football period, learning from Alshon (Jeffery), Torrey (Smith) and Nelson (Agholor), it was a very important year for me.

“Just gathering every bit of information I could watching those guys practice and watching them in games and then learning how to apply what you’ve learned to your game.”

Ward never did get a chance to play, but he said he felt himself getting better as the year went along.

“Everybody wants to play,” said Ward, who led Houston to a Peach Bowl win over No. 9 Florida State in Atlanta at the end of his junior year. 

“You’re a competitor, that’s why we all do this. But I was humbled and thankful just to be on a Super Bowl team. Just to be in the NFL period. Some guys aren’t able to play football at all. I’m just grateful to be on a football team. 

“But this is not the end of my story. I am going to get out there and I am going to play.”

Ward was with the Eagles during their postseason run and he was there in Minneapolis for the Super Bowl.

He used every moment, every day, as an opportunity to improve. Even if nobody could see it happening.

“The biggest thing I learned was just being patient, just being humble,” he said. “Our team last year, there was nobody that was selfish. Nobody who thought they were bigger than anybody else. I learned patience and the importance of doing extra. Getting extra work, studying more, watching more film. That’s what it takes to win a championship.”

The Eagles have quite a crowd at wide receiver, with Jeffery, Agholor and Mack Hollins back, Wallace and Markus Wheaton in the fold and guys like Bryce Treggs, Shelton Gibson and Rashard Davis all also in the mix.

But Ward doesn’t concern himself with the numbers.

“The next step for me is to separate myself,” he said. "As a competitor, especially coming from being undrafted, you have to separate yourself. You have to be different. 

“You have to catch whoever’s eye it is, head coach, position coach, catch everybody’s eyes. They have to see value in you. That’s where I am right now. Trying to separate myself.”

How long will it take?

“I’m leaving that up to God,” he said. “I know I’m putting in the hard work and I know one day it will pay off. I know that day will come.”

Jay Ajayi's publicist denies Eagles' RB trashed an L.A. mansion

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Jay Ajayi's publicist denies Eagles' RB trashed an L.A. mansion

Eagles running back Jay Ajayi is strongly denying accusations made in a lawsuit that he trashed a Los Angeles house after the Super Bowl (see story)

The lawsuit, as reported by TMZ earlier this week, accuses Ajayi of throwing three parties at the L.A. mansion he was renting even after the owner told him not to. Ajayi is being charged $25,000 by the owner. 

Shortly after the story broke on Monday, a representative for Ajayi claimed the lawsuit was bogus. 

Now, we have an even stronger detail from Ajayi’s camp. 

Ajayi’s publicist Melanie Wadden told the Miami Herald that Ajayi didn’t throw any parties and caused no damage to the property. 

Additionally, Wadden denied the home owner’s claim that Ajayi pushed him in a menacing manner after confronting him.

“Jay was not involved in any physical altercations,” she said. 

Ajayi’s publicist also told the Herald that Ajayi was a guest and not the renter and the owner wanted the group to pay cash instead of through Airbnb. 

"The entire group voluntarily left the property several days early — no security or police were ever involved or on-site," Wadden said. "They filed a complaint against the owner through Airbnb back in February that included screenshots of the owner asking for cash and trying to communicate outside of their platform [against Airbnb policy]."

Ajayi, who came to the Eagles in the middle of last season in a trade, has one year left on his current contract.