Eagles

LeGarrette Blount the 'Santa Claus' of Eagles' RB room

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USA Today Images/Dave Zangaro, NBCSP

LeGarrette Blount the 'Santa Claus' of Eagles' RB room

You could understand if LeGarrette Blount was frustrated these days.
 
After getting nearly 19 carries a game for the Patriots last year, leading the NFL in touchdowns and helping the Pats win a Super Bowl, Blount now finds himself sharing the Eagles' backfield with a cast of thousands.
 
His carries are down 34 percent. He rarely gets the ball in the red zone anymore — just four carries in the last five games. He hasn't had more than 16 carries all year. In the Eagles' only loss, he didn't get the ball at all. 

On top of all that, just as he was getting into a groove, the Eagles made a crowded backfield even more crowded when they acquired Pro Bowl running back Jay Ajayi from the Dolphins.
 
Heck, most people would be frustrated.
 
"People on the outside might think LeGarrette is frustrated, but he’s not frustrated one bit," Corey Clement said. "He’s the happiest guy in our room that we have."
 
Despite the lack of carries, Blount has been terrific in his first year in Philly. He's rushed for 658 yards in 11 games and needs to average 68 yards the rest of the year to become the first back to rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons for different teams since Thomas Jones with the Jets and Bears in 2006 and 2007.
 
Most impressive is that 4.8 average.

That's beefy for anybody. But for a back in his 30s? It's a rarity.
 
Only eight running backs in NFL history have gained over 900 yards with an average that high after turning 30 — most recently Fred Jackson of the Bills and Willis McGahee of the Broncos in 2011.
 
The only NFC backs to rush for 900 yards and average 4.8 yards per carry in their 30s are Tony Canadeo of the Packers in 1949, Warrick Dunn of the Falcons in 2005 and the Giants’ Tiki Barber in 2005 and 2006.
 
"I've been a little bit surprised at his athleticism and agility," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. "It was more than I thought. 

"I said to him last week in practice, and I wasn't exaggerating, I thought he looked faster in practice last week than he's looked all year. So a credit to him and how he's continuing to work hard during the season and how hard he goes in practice."
 
Blount said he doesn't feel any different than earlier in the season, but the last three games, he's averaged 5.2 yards per carry.
 
He's had five games this year with 12 carries and a 4.8 average. Only eight running backs in their 30s have had more in a season.
 
“I don’t necessarily feel any faster or any slower," Blount said. "We’ve been working our tails off, all of us have, so maybe I’m seeing things a little bit quicker."
 
Blount says he's no different. Lane Johnson disagrees.
 
"He's trimmed down," Johnson said. "I mean, you see him walking around. He's got abs now. I don't think that's something he had in training camp. But yeah, he's really trimmed down. Lean. He's a lot leaner than he has been. If that makes you quicker around the ball, I'm fine with that. He looks good."
 
Is he leaner? Stronger? Faster?
 
Who knows? All we know is the LeGarrette Blount we saw in training camp is definitely not the guy we're seeing now.
 
"I don’t know what it is," Blount said. "But I’m definitely really comfortable at this point."
 
It can be tough feeling comfortable in an offense where you have no idea how many carries you're going to get week to week.
 
But Blount hasn't complained once. Even when he inexplicably got no carries against the Chiefs.
 
"Some games you can get no carries, some games you can get 10 carries, some games you can get 15 carries," he said. "It just goes based on how the game’s going, based on how the flow of the game is going, based on the score, what we need, position on the field. There’s a lot of things that play a factor into how many carries you get.
 
"You can’t go into the game and expect 15 or 20 carries and you go out there and get six. You just set yourself up for disappointment. I just go out there every game and whenever the opportunity presents itself I try to take advantage."
 
That selfless attitude has had a ripple effect on this team.
 
"You just know in his heart that he's in it for the team," Reich said. "And that's really the way it feels."
 
Other than Blount, this is a young group of running backs. Kenjon Barner is 27, but Ajayi is 24, Clement and Wendell Smallwood are 23, injured Donnel Pumphrey is 22.
 
Blount knows that the room goes as he goes.
 
If he showed any signs of being selfish or me-first, the whole delicate balance of a four-man rotation could easily collapse, and that could have a negative impact on the entire locker room.
 
Instead, he's emerged as a true team leader.
 
“I look at my role as, you know, obviously a guy that’s been in this league a long time," he said. "I know a lot of the younger guys look up to me and they look at what I do and how I prepare and how I perform and they take notice of it.
 
"But for the most part, these guys grew up fast, they’re young and they had to grow up fast because they’re being thrown into the fire early, so they look up to me as far as how long I’ve been in the league and how productive I've been and things like that, but I think for the most part, they’ve got it pretty under control."
 
Even with Darren Sproles out for the year, the Eagles are No. 2 in the NFL running the ball, behind only the Jaguars.
 
And Blount is the glue that holds it all together.
 
"You would have thought LeGarrette was just Santa Claus out there," Clement said. "He’s very giving. He wants everyone else to do great as well, and as a teammate that’s what we want.
 
"He just comes in with that energy and that swag. He knows how to win games, he knows how to win championships. So why not follow a guy like him, go in his footsteps, and just keep learning."

Where Doug Pederson's aggressiveness as a play caller comes from

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Where Doug Pederson's aggressiveness as a play caller comes from

We’ve always known Doug Pederson is a naturally aggressive play caller.

Pederson is a laid-back guy off the field but as aggressive as any coach in NFL history on the field.

But where does that come from? How did such a chill dude become such a fearless play caller?

Pederson spoke Tuesday morning about how the way he was raised as a kid in Bellingham, Washington, defined his personality as a coach.

“Growing up with my parents, my dad has some military background, he was in the Air Force, and the way he led our household and raised us as kids … I don’t want to say it was strict but it was a rigid household growing up, so I think I got a little bit of that from my dad,” he said during an appearance with Angelo Cataldi and the 94 WIP Morning Show.

“His aggressive nature in the way he coached us and the way we raised us to stand on our own two feet.

“And listen, I was never really touted as a top athlete, quarterback, whatever, whether I was going into college or coming out of college, so for me there was a little bit of built-up underdog mentality. So for me, that’s where a little bit of this stems from.

“I made up my mind two years ago that really going into this opportunity being a head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles or wherever it might be that you only get one chance and one opportunity to do this so I want to make sure I do it right.”

The Eagles led the NFL with 17 fourth-down conversions last season, and in his two years coaching the Eagles they’ve attempted eight more fourth downs than any other team (53 to the Packers’ 45).

And that doesn’t even include the postseason, where the Eagles were 3-for-3 last year on fourth down, including two of the most celebrated conversions in Super Bowl history.

Including the regular season and postseason, the Eagles’ 20 total fourth-down conversions last year are second-most since the NFL began tracking fourth downs in 1991 (the Jaguars had 22 in 2007).

“It’s calculated,” Pederson said. “It’s not on a whim. It’s not just gut feel. For me, it was trusting my players, trusting my coaches. Out here on this grass, out here on this practice field, putting our players in those situations so when I make the decision during a game there’s no hesitation.

“So when you see Nick Foles come to the sideline and suggest 'Philly Philly,' there’s no hesitation. That’s the play. That’s the one we need. That’s the spark that’s going to help us win this football game, and that’s the collaboration process that we talk about a lot.”

And when a fourth-down attempt fails?

You don’t second-guess yourself. You just put it in the hands of the defense and move on.

“You can’t,” he said. “You don’t. You can’t second guess. You can’t go, ‘Oh man, did I make the right decision?' If you do that, yeah, you’re probably going to be a 50-50 type of team.

“Listen, these decisions are not just fly by the seat of my pants. These are calculated. I listen to some of the analytics, some of the numbers we talk about during the week, the different situation and scenarios that pop up in games.

“These are things that we study and these are things that I study during the week so I can prepare not only myself for the call but I can prepare the team for that situation.”

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Doug Pederson believes 2018 Eagles are deeper than Super Bowl team

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Doug Pederson believes 2018 Eagles are deeper than Super Bowl team

The Eagles won a Super Bowl last season. And then they got better.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said Tuesday morning he believes this year’s roster is actually deeper than the one that roared to the franchise's first championship in 57 years.

The Eagles suffered some key losses — Patrick Robinson, LeGarrette Blount, Torrey Smith, Trey Burton, Brent Celek and Mychal Kendricks — but they added guys like Michael Bennett, Mike Wallace and Dallas Goedert along with a huge cast of players who were hurt last year and are expected back healthy.

“I think on paper, if you look at the depth at each position, the depth that we have, it’s definitely the deepest roster in my three years here,” Pederson said Tuesday morning during an appearance with Angelo Cataldi and the 94 WIP Morning Show.

“That’s exciting. It’s real exciting. Because in this league, we’ve got to cut our roster down to 53 in a couple weeks, and the hardest thing is you’re going to have to cut good players and you’re probably going to have cut players that are going to end up on rosters somewhere else.

“But on paper? We’re still missing (injured) Timmy Jernigan, we’re still missing Brandon Graham, we’re still missing those guys, but on paper, it looks like a pretty good solid roster.”

Some other notes from Pederson’s 20-minute interview:

He continues to be vague about the return of wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who hasn’t practiced this summer. He said no decision has been made on whether Jeffery will start the season on PUP or the 53-man roster

“He’s doing extremely well with his rehab, No. 1, and he’s doing everything he can to get himself ready and to get himself healthy. Can’t wait for the day we get him back.”

He said the final decision on whether Carson Wentz will start the opener against the Falcons in 23 days is up to his doctors

“This guy’s a competitor. He attacked it on the football field when he played and he’s also attacked his rehab. This is something you don’t see every single day, a guy this determined to make it back to the football field. He’s done extremely well. … He’s so determined to get himself back on the football field that I think a lot of the other injured guys are following suit.”

On moving on from the Super Bowl

“It’s one of those things where it’s great in the offseason, it was great to be patted on the back for what we accomplished for this city, for these fans, but right now, this world championship is for the fans. Let them enjoy it. We’ve got to focus on our 2018 season, get ready to go. Nothings going to be handed to us, we’re going to have to go get everything each and every week and that’s why these guys are out here busting their tail throughout this training camp.”

On his biggest concern three weeks before the season opener against the Falcons

“For me, just the health of the injured guys. Where are they Week 1? That to me is the biggest question going into the start of the season. I’m not concerned about the quarterbacks, we have two great quarterbacks, we’re comfortable there. And receiver, with the addition of Mike Wallace, that brings some depth to what we’re doing. But just the health of the injured guys. That to me is the biggest question going into the start of the season.”

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