Incredible Eagles fans, Favre's failures vs. Birds, more in Roob's observations

Incredible Eagles fans, Favre's failures vs. Birds, more in Roob's observations

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — We start out this edition of Roob's 10 Random Eagles Super Bowl Observations with Eagles fans, who never cease to amaze me with the intensity of their support. They could put the Super Bowl on Jupiter, and Eagles fans would find their way there. And they'd find the only open bar on the planet, too.

We also touch on Tim Jernigan's health, Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement in the receiving game, Brett Favre's performance against the Eagles, Jason Kelce's T-shirt and the obligatory Nick Foles Mind-Boggling Stat of the Day.

Dive in!

1. Eagles fans began arriving in Minnesota in earnest Friday, and by mid-day the Mall of America, the center of most Super Bowl activities during the week, was jammed with jubilant packs of Carson Wentz, Brian Dawkins and Brian Westbrook jerseys, soaking in the moment. There were reports mall security threatened to kick some of the more enthusiastic fans out of the mall (see story), which is absurd. If you have a Super Bowl, you can't be surprised if fans show up. But I didn't see any of that. I just saw Eagles fans everywhere, and it was surreal walking around the mall and hearing choruses of "Fly Eagles Fly" and E-A-G-L-E-S chants echoing from near and far in the massive five million square-foot shopping center. Every team has rabid fans. Nobody has this.

2. I was doing a radio interview Friday and the guy asked about the huge disparity between quarterbacks, and I said, "Yeah, I know Nick Foles has a higher career postseason passer rating, a better career postseason completion percentage and a superior postseason TD-to-INT ratio, but that doesn't mean Tom Brady isn't a really good quarterback."

3. The best news out of Friday was the Eagles' injury report, which revealed that defensive tackle Jernigan not only practiced but was a full participant (see story). Jernigan hadn't practiced since the previous Thursday back at the NovaCare Complex, so this is big. The Eagles' defensive line is the heart of the team. If the Eagles are going to win Sunday, they're going to need a monster performance out of the D-line both against the run and pressuring Brady. Without Jernigan, this is still a formidable group. But with him, they go a legit seven deep, and Jim Schwartz has the flexibility to rotate everybody, keep them fresh and attack in waves.

4. I have this hunch Clement and Ajayi are going to have a significant role in the passing game Sunday. I find it curious that the two running backs combined for only 20 catches during the regular season but they have 12 in two playoff games. Of course Ajayi wasn't with the Eagles the first half of the season, but with each passing week you saw the Eagles use the backs as receivers more and more. Several backs had big receiving games against the Pats this year, including Matt Forte (8-59), Kenyan Drake (5-79), Kareem Hunt (5-98), LeSean McCoy (5-76), D'Onta Foreman (2-65) and Le'Veon Bell (5-48). I expect that to continue Sunday.

5. How stupid are the Redskins?

6. Five things you need to know about the Mall of America, the NFL's headquarters during Super Bowl week: 1) There are three Starbucks inside the Mall, 2) There's a store in the mall that sells only cookie dough. Not cookies … just cookie dough, 3) There is an actual amusement park with 28 rides in the middle of the mall, 4) The parking lot has 12,287 spots and 5) The whole place smells like a Cinnabon.

7. I really liked what Doug Pederson said in our chat earlier this week about the challenges he faced as the Eagles' quarterback in 1999 and how that season — which was so hard for him and his family — helped shaped the man he is today. My story is here and I hope you have a chance to read it.

8. Hey, how about Jason Kelce's T-shirt! What a great tribute to his legendary teammate of seven years who's unable to play Sunday.

9. Interesting that Favre will be speaking to the Eagles Saturday morning considering no team gave him more trouble in his career than the Eagles. As a matter of fact, Pederson actually had a higher passer rating playing quarterback in Philly than Favre — 59.3 for Pederson, 53.3 for Favre. Playing at the Vet or the Linc, Favre completed fewer than half his passes (49.6 percent) and had just four touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He tried six times but never won a game in Philadelphia. 

10. And the Mind-Boggling Nick Foles Stat of the Day: Foles has thrown 96 career postseason passes, the second most in NFL history in the playoffs without an interception. Only Jeff Hostetler (115) has more postseason attempts without getting picked off.

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

AP Images

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

AP Images

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.