Eagles

Lane Johnson still annoyed by Patriot Way, claims pre-Super Bowl trash talk

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Lane Johnson still annoyed by Patriot Way, claims pre-Super Bowl trash talk

Update: Lane Johnson … still not a big fan of the Patriots or the Patriot Way. 

You’ll probably remember shortly after the Super Bowl in February, when Johnson went on the Pardon My Take podcast and let loose on the Patriots’ culture, calling New England a “fear-based organization.” And then you’ll probably remember when he went back on the same podcast later in that month and doubled down

Now, he’s … tripled down. 

But at least this time, on the Steve Austin (Stone Cold!) Podcast, Johnson went into a little more detail about the origin of his distain for the Patriots. 

“Here’s what pissed me off,” Johnson answered when asked by Austin about the differences between the Eagles and the Pats. “The Patriots, obviously, I respect their coach, I respect Bill (Belichick), I respect Tom Brady, but just because they won Super Bowls the Patriot Way, is that supposed to be how everybody else is supposed to do the same thing? No, it’s not. And that’s what I got mad at, the arrogance of them. 

“There was obviously some stuff behind closed doors. Their owner talking s--- to our owner. Bill talking s--- to our head coach before the game. I’m not going to say it, but a lot of s--- built up to that and I just got tired of hearing about it, man, to be honest. I saw a defense that wasn’t overly talented. It was all really about containing Tom Brady. We had a hard time doing that; he had 505 yards. But that was really it, man. Going into the game, I’m not going to be shell-shocked by it. That was kind of our thing going in. I think we had the upper hand on that.”

This is the first time anyone has mentioned possible trash talk between owners or coaches of the two teams leading into Super Bowl LII, which the Eagles won 41-33 back on Feb. 4 in Minnesota. 

It seems like Johnson, perhaps even before then, had become annoyed by the aura that seemed to surround Belichick, Brady and the mighty Patriots.  

“The way I try to approach the game, I try to approach it fearless,” Johnson said. “We talk about the Patriots, I got in a lot of trouble running my mouth. But my thinking was they give too much respect to these f------ guys. Everybody is half-assed scared of them and they’re beat before they get on the field. I ain’t playing Tom Brady; I don’t give a f--- about him. 

“I know that defensive line ain’t going to do s--- against us and that was kind of my approach. I’m out there talking s--- to them, but our meeting rooms, I’m telling our guys that and I think a lot of times before games, a lot of guys are beat mentally. I can tell you that first-hand from my rookie year. You look at guys on paper, size and speed, that s--- don’t matter.” 

Later in the podcast — the whole thing was pretty entertaining, by the way — Austin asked Johnson if he ever found out why Malcolm Butler didn’t play in the Super Bowl. Johnson said he didn’t know for sure and that no one ever will. 

He said Patriots players say in the media what the team tells them to — “Like I said, they’re robots.” 

But at least Johnson didn’t leave the hour-long interview without giving out some credit to the team in New England. He talked about how difficult it will be to repeat and sustain a level of excellence, something the Patriots have been able to do unlike any other team in recent history. 

“I think we can learn from the Patriots, even though I don’t like them,” Johnson said. “I think you can learn from them. They’ve had that consistency year in and year out for a long time and it’s hard. People want to pat you on the back and tell you how good you are. And that’s the worst thing you can do, to have that relief factor, kind of pause and think everything’s made for you.”

Roob's 10 observations: Wendell Smallwood's chances, Tom Brady-Nick Foles handshake, Bryce Brown's elite company

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Roob's 10 observations: Wendell Smallwood's chances, Tom Brady-Nick Foles handshake, Bryce Brown's elite company

Wendell Smallwood working his way back into the running back picture, the bizarre NFL career of Bryce Brown, Michael Bennett and Shakespeare, the handshake that never was and Brian Westbrook’s 2006 postseason.

Only one place you’re getting all this!

It’s all this week’s Roob’s 10 Random Eagles Observations, and it starts here:

1. It’s been interesting watching Wendell Smallwood this preseason. He’s a guy who when training camp began I didn’t give much of a chance to, only because he’s never been able to stay healthy and the Eagles went into camp with a deep, talented stable of backs. But while Matt Jones, Josh Adams and Donnel Pumphrey have been banged up and on and off the field, Smallwood has not only stayed healthy, he’s made the most of his reps. He looks terrific. I’ve always felt Smallwood is a talented kid. I wrote about him last week and how he spent the offseason learning how to take better care of himself, and so far it’s paying off. Much of making an NFL roster is simply handling the workload during camp and proving to your coaches that they can rely on you. And Smallwood hasn’t missed a rep. This preseason. Not one. So far he’s outlasted the other guys in that battle for the fourth running back spot behind Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement and Darren Sproles. Has he done enough? With a couple weeks before final cuts, it’s too early to say. But he’s definitely worked himself from the brink back into the mix.

2. I’ve been disappointed by Mack Hollins’ training camp. He’s one guy I expected to make a big leap in Year 2, and while he still might, he hasn’t flashed yet. Shelton Gibson and Bryce Treggs have both outplayed Hollins in practice. Hollins has that great size and is a valued special teamer and as a second-year fourth-round pick he’s probably got the team made. But I expected to see more. Treggs is another guy who was off the radar when camp began but has that great speed and keeps showing up at practice. And Gibson simply looks like a different guy from last year. The depth the Eagles have at wideout is insane. Guys like Rashard Davis, Greg Ward Jr. and DeAndre Carter probably have no shot to make the team, but once upon a time, they would have been starters around here.

3. Michael Bennett is an interesting dude. Someone in the locker room used the phrase, “All’s well that ends well,” and he said, “Where’s that phrase from?” I said it’s the name of a Shakespeare play, and he said, “A lot of people think Shakespeare wasn’t a real person.” I said, “Yeah, there’s a theory that he was three different people.” His response: “I’m three different people.” 

4. I know a lot of people think the whole “Tom Brady hasn’t shaken Nick Foles’ hand” thing is overblown, but it really bothers me. There are certain customs in sports that are there for a reason. Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback ever, and he should have sought out Nick either on the field immediately after the game or somewhere after the game — the lockers weren’t too far apart. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but sportsmanship means a lot to me. I know one thing: If the Patriots won that game, Nick Foles would have found Tom Brady, told him “Great job,” and shook his hand. 

5. Brian Westbrook’s 2006 postseason was insane. He rushed 20 times for 141 yards against the Giants and 13 times for 116 yards against the Saints. His average of 7.8 yards per carry is second-highest in NFL history in a single postseason (minimum 30 carries) behind Hall of Famer Marcus Allen’s 8.03 in 1983. He’s the only back in NFL history with back-to-back playoff games with 100 rushing yards, a 7.0 average and a touchdown. His 257 rushing yards are third-most in NFL history by a back in a two-game postseason (behind Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson in 1985 and Arian Foster in 2011). 

6. I love listening to Doug Pederson talk about why he’s so aggressive as a play caller. Because generally, he admits he really has no idea. I think it almost evolved by accident. He started going for it on fourth down in 2016 with nothing at stake and it started working, and he just felt comfortable doing it, and he just got in that habit, and the team got used to it and enjoyed it, and by the time the Super Bowl came along it had developed into his personality and the team was completely in step with him, and the success of the Philly Special was the product of that. You can’t run that play if you’re the least bit tight or indecisive, but the team had gotten so used to Pederson doing anything at any time in any situation it was just another play. The man is a genius.

7. Chip Kelly and Pederson have the same number of regular-season wins after two years. 

8. You figured that had to be wrong so you looked it up, didn’t you!

9. I’ve never seen an assistant coach grow as much as Frank Reich did in his two years with the Eagles. When he first started out as Doug’s offensive coordinator, he seemed to be painfully shy around the media, gave one-word or brief answers during press conferences and appeared generally uninterested in providing anything remotely revealing about football or the players he coached. By the time he left, he was one of the most interesting, insightful and quotable assistant coaches I’ve ever been around, and his commentary after the Super Bowl about Nick Foles’ performance was brilliant. I’m convinced this transformation had a lot to do with him getting the Colts head coaching job. Teams don’t want a head coach who can’t handle the media, and Frank in a very short time went from a guy who wasn’t comfortable in those situations to one who embraced them.

10. Bryce Brown had one of the strangest career arcs in Eagles history. He averaged 15 yards in his first 10 NFL games and 19 yards in his last 30 NFL games. In between, with LeSean McCoy injured, he ran for 178 yards on just 19 carries against the Panthers and 169 yards on 24 carries against the Cowboys, with two TDs in each game. Only three players in NFL history have had consecutive games with 165 rushing yards, a 7.0 average and 2 TDs — LaDainian Tomlinson, Barry Sanders and … Bryce Brown. Other than those two historic games in a seven-day span, he averaged 3.5 yards per carry and 18 yards per game. But for a brief bit of an otherwise forgettable 2012 season, he made NFL history. 

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Eagle Eye podcast: Previewing second preseason game

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Eagle Eye podcast: Previewing second preseason game

On this edition of Eagle Eye, Derrick Gunn and Barrett Brooks discuss the likelihood of Carson Wentz not being healthy for the regular-season opener. Is this the best team Doug Pederson has had in Philadelphia? Also, how do players approach the second preseason game?

1:00 - Updating Carson Wentz's status.
4:00 - Guys still confident Wentz will start against the Falcons?
7:00 - Doug Pederson says this is the deepest team he's had.
10:30 - Doug Pederson and Nick Foles speak about preseason snaps.
15:00 - How do players approach the second preseason game?

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