How last year's 7-9 Eagles carved a Super Bowl path

How last year's 7-9 Eagles carved a Super Bowl path

The Eagles weren't very good in 2016. They went just 7-9 in Doug Pederson's first year as head coach. After starting the season off with a 3-0 record they dropped nine of their next 11 to plummet to the basement of the NFC East. 

The team wasn't very good, but they learned something about Pederson and about themselves. 

On ESPN's SportsCenter Friday morning, still buzzing from the Eagles' Super Bowl parade, safety and veteran leader Malcolm Jenkins talked about the importance of that 2016 season.  

"Well I think what we learned was in Year 1 what we had done, even though we didn't get the results that we wanted as a team, we felt like we laid down the foundation for something epic," Jenkins said. "So coming into this year we started adding guys in, we were plugging them into a culture that had already been laid out and everybody grasped that. And Doug is the one that set that culture. 

"So here we are Super Bowl champions two years after he's arrived and it's on purpose. We didn't just show up this year and be good. Last year we took the time to do the things right and really go into the culture Doug Pederson wanted to lay and it's been awesome."

Jenkins is a big reason for the culture too. His speech to the team after Carson Wentz went down on Dec. 10 was huge. After Pederson would speak to the team this year following games, it became customary for Jenkins to do the same. 

That December night in LA was his best performance. In a longer and expletive-filled plea, he told his teammates that it was a shame to see Wentz go down, but their season wasn't over yet. 

"We had every excuse to kind of fold it in, but I wanted our guys, especially the young guys, to make sure they understood that obviously we hurting for Carson but our season is right in front of us," Jenkins said on SportsCenter. "Everything we want is right in front of us. We just clinched the division, got an opportunity to still clinch the No. 1 seed, get all these playoff games at home. Like everything is right there, we just gotta continue to believe in it, continue to play and prepare and nothing has changed. That was the biggest thing, nothing's changed. We're still full steam ahead. And I thought it was important at that moment in time to make sure they were clear."

Jenkins joined his teammate Brandon Graham on the set of the world-famous sports show on Friday morning. It was hosted by Philadelphia's own Kevin Negandhi, who has been enjoying the last few days of celebration as much as anyone. 

One of the funniest moments of the entire morning was when Negandhi asked Graham about getting a sack on his fellow Michigan product Tom Brady. 

Graham has an idea. 

"Oh yeah, if I see him at Michigan I might ask him, 'Can you sign my ball?'" Graham said. "I don't know how that's going to play, but I'm gonna have some fun with it."

Why Jeff Lurie's response to national anthem policy was disappointing

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Why Jeff Lurie's response to national anthem policy was disappointing

On the latest edition of Roob Knows, a Philadelphia Eagles podcast, Reuben Frank discusses the NFL's new national anthem policy and why he was disappointed by Jeff Lurie's reaction. A look at the Eagles' linebacker situation and what's the next move after a couple losses. Don't bet against Carson Wentz.

Also, rookie cornerback Avonte Maddox joins the podcast. And a look at some Zach Ertz statistics that may surprise you.

Subscribe and rate Roob Knows: Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Stitcher / Art19

Roob's 10 observations: Anthem policy, Kendricks' career, Wentz

Roob's 10 observations: Anthem policy, Kendricks' career, Wentz

Some thoughts on the NFL’s new anthem policy, Mychal Kendricks’ release, Carson Wentz’s return to practice and – of course – the Joe Callahan Stat of the Day!

It’s all in this week’s OTA edition of Roob’s 10 random Eagles observations!

1. The NFL’s anthem policy banning players from peaceful demonstrations during the anthem bothers me for a few reasons. First of all, it’s a dangerous precedent for the league to unilaterally restrict any such form of personal expression. Legislating opinions never works. Players are going to find other ways to express their opinions, and the policy is only going to breed resentment between the players and the league, which is the last thing the league needs right now. But more than that, I really have problems with the word “disrespect.” When someone arbitrarily decides what is and what isn’t “disrespectful,” you really get yourself in a lot of trouble. Nobody who’s listened to Malcolm Jenkins so eloquently discuss his reasons for raising his fist during the anthem would ever accuse him of being disrespectful. And also, since this is a policy that affects mainly African-American players, it has strong racial implications. These are issues that aren’t going to just go away, whether or not the NFL tries to make them disappear.

2. And I found Eagles owner Jeff Lurie’s statement uncharacteristically tepid and vague. Lurie has been courageously supportive all along of Jenkins, Chris Long and all the players league-wide who’ve used their platform to fight for equal rights and social justice. All that statement did was avoid taking a stand on the new NFL policy. Disappointing.

3. Onto football matters! There’s no question the Eagles are a better football team with Mychal Kendricks on the field. Kendricks was solid last year and very good in the postseason. But the bottom line is Kendricks has felt unwanted and disrespected for a long time. The Eagles have been trying unsuccessfully to unload his contract for a couple years, and Kendricks knew he had no future here. If a team doesn’t want a player and the player doesn’t want to be with the team, it’s not a healthy relationship. And that’s why Kendricks is gone. But Kendricks handled what could have been an ugly situation with class and professionalism, and he’s got a Super Bowl ring to show for it. He never became the Pro Bowl player I expected when I first saw him play in 2012, but he was a decent player here for six years, and he leaves as a champion.

4. Jason Kelce announced the start of the 5K at the Eagles Autism Challenge at the Linc in terrible conditions and parodied his Super Bowl parade speech: “They said it was too cold! They said it was too rainy!” Hilarious.

5. Watching Carson Wentz actually participate in individual drills at practice Tuesday morning was pretty wild. For him to be out there looking comfortable and fluid taking drops and firing passes just 5 1/2 months after hobbling off the field at L.A. Coliseum was awfully encouraging.

6. I’m really starting to think Wentz plays Sept. 6.

7. One note about the Eagles’ linebacker depth. The days where teams ran three linebackers out there on every play are long gone. The Eagles last year played three linebackers on about 12 percent of their defensive snaps. In the Super Bowl, the Eagles played a total of three reps with three LBs. So if Jordan Hicks can stay healthy and Nigel Bradham plays like he did last year, the Eagles will be fine. Big if with Hicks. When the Eagles do play three ‘backers, I expect Corey Nelson to handle that role. Really, it comes down to Hicks staying healthy.

8. Career completion percentages of current Eagles quarterbacks:

82.6 percent … Nate Sudfeld
71.4 percent … Joe Callahan
61.5 percent … Carson Wentz
61.1 percent … Nick Foles

9. Was fun watching Mike Wallace run around at practice on Tuesday. Excited to see what he brings to this offense. He’s 31, an age where many receivers are slowing down, but he was one of just two receivers in their 30s last year who caught 50 passes and averaged 14.0 yards per catch (Ted Ginn was the other). And with Nelson Agholor and Alshon Jeffery here, he doesn’t have to be THE GUY. None of them do. That’s the beauty of this offense.

10. Potentially, this is the best trio of receivers the Eagles have ever had. Would you rather have DeSean, Maclin and Avant or Jeffery, Agholor and Wallace? I think this group is more versatile and slightly more talented. It’s close.