Jay Ajayi embracing the changes with Eagles

Jay Ajayi embracing the changes with Eagles

In June, Doug Pederson said that Jay Ajayi would be the lead back in the rotation going into training camp.

Ajayi certainly deserved the promotion as he showed in 2017 he could be effective in this Eagles offense. He averaged 5.8 yards per carry in seven regular-season games after he was traded here from Miami. 

"Basically it's the guy we'll roll with in this offense," Ajayi said Friday about taking the lead role. "The guy who will keep us moving, [keep] the flow of the game going and make big plays for the team."

Maybe Ajayi can get back to his 2016 form in which he ran for 1,272 yards (fourth-best in the league). He wouldn’t reveal how many touches he’d like to get per game, but Ajayi wants to be considered a consistent option in the offense.

“I like to feel a part of the game," he said. "I like to feel like I’m doing something going into the fourth quarter, especially in close games, because I feel like I do a great job of wearing defenses down.”

Ajayi misses LeGarrette Blount, who was his mentor when he arrived. He even calls Blount his brother.

But Ajayi still has Duce Staley to lean on. 

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a running back coach in my career who actually played the position," Ajayi said. "Now I’ve got one that’s actually played in the NFL. Just him telling me the little tidbits of how to attack a defense, and how to stick one way while getting a defense to move another way. His knowledge of the game and defenses allows me to be smarter out there and helps me know what’s coming even before it happens.

"All of those things are going to help me be a better player and teammate. It’s been a great opportunity for me to learn from him."

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How long will Jeffrey Lurie give Doug Pederson to turn Eagles around?

How long will Jeffrey Lurie give Doug Pederson to turn Eagles around?

With the Eagles sputtering along at 5-7 and coming off one of the ugliest losses in a generation, there’s been plenty of speculation about Doug Pederson’s future and just how long owner Jeffrey Lurie will be patient if Pederson is unable to get this team back on track.

Pederson won a Super Bowl two years ago, but the Eagles are 15-15 since, although they did win a road wild-card game last year in Chicago.

Pederson isn’t getting fired after this season, and I think everybody understands that he still has plenty of equity left just 22 months after leading the Eagles to their first and only Lombardi Trophy.

But the Eagles certainly aren’t trending in the right direction. They’ve lost three straight games and the 37-31 loss Sunday in Miami to a 2-9 Dolphins team turned the heat up on Pederson.

His play-calling magic seems to have disappeared, his franchise quarterback has struggled at times, some of his assistant coaches often seem overmatched and way too many young players are failing to develop.

After being picked by many experts and analysts to contend for a Super Bowl, the Eagles need to go 3-1 to avoid just their fifth losing season in the last 20 years. 

So how long should we expect Lurie to stick with Pederson if things don’t get better?

History — Eagles history and NFL history — can help us sort this out.

Lurie has fired four head coaches — Rich Kotite, Ray Rhodes, Andy Reid and Chip Kelly. He let go of each one at the exact same time — after the first time their teams failed to reach the playoffs two straight years.

Does that mean if the Eagles don’t win the NFC East this year and the Eagles don’t rebound and reach the playoffs next year, Pederson is gone? 

Probably not.

It’s hard to imagine Lurie looking at Pederson the same way he looked at Rhodes, Kotite or Kelly. That Super Bowl trophy could very well earn Pederson more than just two down years.

Plus, only one coach in NFL history has ever won a Super Bowl and been fired before he coached at least four more seasons with that team.

Let’s take a look at the curious history of Super Bowl coaches getting fired:

There have been 53 Super Bowls and 32 Super Bowl-winning head coaches.

Out of those 32, six are still with the team they won a Super Bowl with. Of the remaining 26, 17 either voluntarily resigned or retired.

That leaves only nine who have been fired, and that includes Tom Coughlin, who initially resigned, although it was later reported he had been forced out.

Let’s take a look at the nine and how long they lasted between their Super Bowl triumph and their dismissal:

Tom Landry, Cowboys: Won Super Bowls after the 1971 and 1977 seasons and was fired after the 1988 season (after a loss to the Eagles). Coached 10 more years. Four losing seasons.

Mike Shanahan, Broncos: Won Super Bowls after the 1997 and 1998 seasons. Coached nine more years. Four losing seasons.

Mike McCarthy, Packers: Won the Super Bowl in 2010. Coached eight more years. Two losing seasons.

Mike Ditka, Bears: Won Super Bowl in 1985. Coached seven more years. Five losing seasons. 

Jon Gruden, Buccaneers: Won Super Bowl in 2002. Coached six more years. Four losing seasons.

Brian Billick, Ravens: Won Super Bowl in 2000. Coached five more years. Three losing seasons.

Hank Stram, Chiefs: Won the 1969 Super Bowl and was fired after the 1974 season. Coached five more years. Three losing seasons.

Tom Coughlin, Giants: Won Super Bowls after the 2007 and 2011 seasons. Coached four more years. Three losing seasons. 

Don McCafferty, Colts: Won the 1970 Super Bowl and was fired after the 1972 season. Coached two more years. Two losing seasons.

So seven of the nine Super Bowl-winning coaches who have been fired coached at least five more years after their Super Bowl before getting the axe.

The two others?

Coughlin didn’t get fired until the Giants had gone 28-36 without reaching the playoffs in his last four seasons.

McCafferty is an anomaly. He won the Super Bowl in 1970 with the Colts and went 10-4 the next year before getting fired just five games into the 1972 seasons with the Colts 1-4. He coached the Lions to a 6-7-1 record in 1973, was fired again and never coached again.

Which means he’s not only the only head coach in history to win a Super Bowl and get fired within the next three years, he actually got fired twice within the next three years.

If Lurie fires Pederson before the end of the 2021 season, it would equal the second-fastest a Super Bowl-winning coach had been fired in nearly half a century.

It’s just hard to imagine Lurie giving up that quickly on the only coach to deliver a Super Bowl championship to Philadelphia.

And who knows? Maybe the Eagles will actually start winning again.

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Jason Kelce breaks down current state of the Eagles

Jason Kelce breaks down current state of the Eagles

The Eagles are 5-7 and it feels like they’re sort of reaching that proverbial fork in the road. 

Some teams in this situation stay together. Some teams crumble. 

We don’t really know what this team will do just yet. 

Earlier this week, head coach Doug Pederson stressed the important role the Eagles’ leaders will have in challenging the entire team to play out the last four games. That should be a little easier for the Eagles compared to most 5-7 teams because this 5-7 team still has a legitimate shot to make the playoffs. 

We’ve heard a lot about the Eagles’ leadership over the last few years. They supposedly have a lot of them. But few have been here longer than center Jason Kelce. 

I think as a leader, you just take accountability,” Kelce said Wednesday. “I think that’s what leadership is. Leadership is taking accountability yourself and holding others to the same standard, regardless of what’s going on. To be honest, I don’t think that’s any different this week than it was last week. 

I just think that weak leaders stop doing that and they start pointing fingers when times get tough. Strong leaders hold strong, they remain accountable, they try to lift others up, they try to take things off other people’s shoulders, put more on theirs. That’s what a good leader is. That’s what I’m all about, that’s what I think the majority of the guys in here are all about.

Kelce explained that pointing fingers is necessary for accountability but it’s about holding everyone to the same standard. 

Wednesday was the first time reporters got a chance to talk to Kelce since the 37-31 loss in Miami. The veteran center was one of several veterans, some veteran leaders, who declined to be interviewed after the game. Kelce said that immediate impressions after games often aren’t accurate. 

But he was OK with the mood in that post-game locker room. 

“I think people were pissed off,” he said. “I think that’s what you should be when you lose a game like that.”

Kelce and Carson Wentz, Malcolm Jenkins, Fletcher Cox and more are considered to be the leaders of this team. It’ll be up to them to make sure the locker room doesn’t fracture down the stretch. The easiest way to do that is to win. 

On Monday on 94WIP, Pederson commented that the Dolphins played harder than the Eagles, which seemed to be a damning statement. He later sort of walked back those comments, saying he just meant the Dolphins won on individual plays. 

Kelce was asked what he thought about the Eagles’ level of buy-in this season. 

“I think that we got a good group of guys that want to play well, want to do well,” Kelce said. “Just hasn’t gotten done. I don’t feel like there’s cancers or people like, ‘oh, I’m refusing to do this because I don’t believe in it.’ You don’t see that. That’s when it’s pretty bad. Everybody here wants to win, everybody here wants to go out there and play well. We just haven’t done that. I think that we’re just trying to get to a point where we are doing that.” 

There were high expectations for the Eagles heading into the 2019 season and Kelce said he obviously didn’t expect the team to have a 5-7 record, but he also admitted it isn’t hard to figure out how they’ve gotten to this point. 

There’s been no consistency. 

The offense plays well, the defense plays poorly, and vice versa. There’s even been a lack of consistency within their own sides of the ball and position groups. 

But Kelce doesn’t think it’s for lack of effort. And with four games left to play, he has confidence in the Eagles’ leaders to keep things together and possibly turn it around. 

“You just try to be accountable for doing your job a little bit better, making sure that you don’t make those mistakes again,” he said. “And more importantly, you try to lift people up and bring everybody together because, obviously, right now when times are tough, that’s when everybody’s trying to pull you apart.”

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