Eagles

Why have the Eagles been watching the Super Bowl?

Why have the Eagles been watching the Super Bowl?

If you’re an Eagles fan and you watch the Super Bowl, you’re going to be emotional. How can you not be?

If you’re Zach Ertz? It’s a little different.

Ertz found himself watching Super Bowl LII this week. Just like every Eagles fan has probably done 1,000 times.

Not to watch his 4th-down catch on the game-winning drive with 5 ½ minutes left or his 11-yard game-winning TD with 2 ½ minutes left.

He watched it to try to better prepare for the Eagles-Patriots game on Sunday.

At least that’s what he claims. With a straight face.

I view it as a game, I don’t view it as the Super Bowl,” Ertz said. “I just view it as more film on them to see what worked for us and see what didn’t. But the awe and mystique of that game isn’t on my mind.

I honestly don’t know how it's possible to take the awe and mystique out of that game. Especially when you were such a huge part of it.

Ertz has the only 4th-down reception on a 4th-quarter game-winning drive in Super Bowl history. And one of only four game-winning catches in the final three minutes of a Super Bowl.

And he doesn’t get emotional?

I just don’t reminisce about things,” Ertz said this week. “The reminiscing will come when I’m done playing. It’s still too early in my career, still have too many good years left, to start thinking about that.

How can you have a pulse and watch that game and not feel SOMETHING?

“Obviously, there’s history there and it was a special year but we’re two years away from that now, much different teams, it’s not something that’s going to be beneficial to us this week,” Jason Kelce said.

The Eagles beat the Patriots 41-33 on Feb. 4, 2018, at U.S. Bank Stadium, and Sunday’s game will be the first rematch since.

The Eagles also beat the Patriots in Foxboro late in the 2015 season with Sam Bradford at quarterback 23 days before Chip Kelly was fired.

The last team to beat the Patriots three times in a row was the Giants -- in the 2011 regular season and in the Super Bowls following the 2007 and 2011 seasons.

There are 28 players still on the Eagles who were with the team in 2017.

It’s the last thing on their mind right now.

“That game is so far in the past,” Ertz said. “I’ve played so many games since then. That game is not even on my register.”

So why watch it? Ertz said he watched a lot of tape of the Eagles-Lions game, since Lions coach Matt Patricia was the Patriots’ defensive coordinator in 2017, but he also watched the Super Bowl just for a refresher on the Patriots’ defensive backs and defensive scheme.

There are plays in the Super Bowl (you can learn from),” he said. “Most of the safeties are the same players that are there now, (Stephon) Gilmore’s still there, so there are things you can take away, but you can’t watch it in light of, ‘This was the Super Bowl.’ It’s more just drawing plays and matchups based off the game. Not, ‘Let’s go watch the Super Bowl and how we won.’ No, let’s go watch how we took advantage of certain things we do and not let’s go back and reminisce.

Twelve of the Eagles’ projected starters Sunday, including seven on defense, started in the Super Bowl.

You have to feel something watching it. No?

“It was two years ago,” Fletcher Cox said. “To me it’s like old war stories. It’s two different locker rooms. This locker room is very different than two years, their locker room is very different. It comes down to good football teams playing each other Sunday.”

If the Eagles really are this focused, it’s a good sign. If they leave the reminiscing to the fans, maybe they’ll have a chance of beating the Patriots again.

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Doug Pederson hoping to mix new face Jay Ajayi into Eagles' running attack

Doug Pederson hoping to mix new face Jay Ajayi into Eagles' running attack

Doug Pederson said he hopes to get recently re-acquired running back Jay Ajayi more involved in the offense as the Eagles head into the stretch run.

Ajayi has eight carries for 25 yards and a 3.1 average in two games since returning to the Eagles following a year layoff. 

A Pro Bowler in 2016 with the Dolphins and a stud down the stretch during the Super Bowl season, Ajayi suffered a torn ACL in Week 5 last year and didn’t play from Oct. 7, 2018, until Nov. 24, 2019, when he made his 2019 debut against the Seahawks.

Ajayi didn't have OTAs or a training camp and didn't even practice until the Wednesday before the Seattle game. 

It's a process with him, but we understand who he is and the injury that he's coming off of, so we're careful with that,” Pederson said. “But at the same time, he's a bigger, powerful guy that we can use in spots.

With Jordan Howard missing the last three games with nerve damage in his shoulder, rookie Miles Sanders has essentially been the entire running attack. But the Eagles are so hesitant to increase his workload significantly that it’s created a situation in which the Eagles just haven’t run the ball very much during their three-game losing streak because they haven’t had a viable second option.

During these last three games, Sanders has 40 carries, Ajayi eight and Boston Scott seven.

This is the first time the Eagles have leaned this heavily on one back in a three-game stretch since 2012. 

During a late-season three-game stretch in which LeSean McCoy was hurt, Bryce Brown got 52 carries and Dion Lewis had four.

The Eagles ran 45 percent of the time in the nine games Howard played and 31 percent since he got hurt. They’re 0-3 without him.

Miles has done a great job,” Pederson said Saturday. “I’d love to get Jay a few more touches and get Boston in the mix so we're not obviously wearing Miles down here this last month of the season.

The current stretch is the first in franchise history that the Eagles have thrown at least 40 times and run the ball 23 or fewer times in three straight games.

Howard hasn’t played since before the bye week and is out for the Eagles’ game Monday night against the Giants. 

Pederson said earlier in the week he doesn’t expect this to be a season-ending injury, but will Howard be able to pick up where he left off after such a long layoff even if he does return?

The Eagles began the season with Howard, Sanders, Corey Clement and Darren Sproles in what looked to be a deep running back rotation. 

Sanders is the only one of that group left. Can Ajayi make a difference after such a long layoff? Sounds like Pederson wants to find out.

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Eagles Injury Update: Latest on Derek Barnett, Nelson Agholor, Jordan Howard

Eagles Injury Update: Latest on Derek Barnett, Nelson Agholor, Jordan Howard

Updated: 3:39 p.m.

Derek Barnett and Nelson Agholor will likely be game-time decisions for Monday Night Football, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said on Saturday morning. 

Barnett (ankle) and Agholor (knee) both missed all three days of practice this week and are listed as questionable.

Meanwhile, linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill is still in the NFL’s concussion protocol. He was just placed in protocol on Thursday and won't play Monday night. 

And Jordan Howard (shoulder) has still not been cleared for contact; he can’t play until he is and that’s not happening before Monday. He's officially questionable. 

Lane Johnson also missed practice on Friday and Saturday for a non-injury reason but is expected to play on Monday. 

If Agholor is unable to play, the Eagles would be left with just three healthy receivers on the roster: Alshon Jeffery, JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Greg Ward. 

“We’re very comfortable, obviously, with the guys we have,” Pederson said. “So if it’s three, it’s three. We brought up [Josh Perkins] a week ago to help us there, so it’s an addition there. We go and we go play. We’ll discuss those over the next couple of days leading up to the game. If we have to make a decision we will. We feel good with the guys we have in that receiver role.” 

If the Eagles do decide to make a roster move, they have three wide receivers on their practice squad: Robert Davis, Marcus Green and Marken Michel. 

While Agholor had his knee injury before last week’s game, Barnett got hurt during the loss in Miami, but was still able to play through the injury and play 50 snaps. Barnett has played the third-most defensive snaps on the team this year, so losing him for this game wouldn’t be insignificant. 

If Barnett can’t play, expect Josh Sweat and Vinny Curry to get more reps. After that, Genard Avery, Daeshon Hall and even Shareef Miller could see a few snaps. 

For the Giants: 

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