Nick Foles, Eagles have 'heck of a practice'

Nick Foles, Eagles have 'heck of a practice'

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said he expects ailing defensive tackle Tim Jernigan to play in Super Bowl LII Sunday.

Jernigan missed practice back in Philadelphia last Friday and has missed both practices in Minnesota since the Eagles arrived here. The Eagles are scheduled to practice again on Friday.

“Because of the position and he’s one of our veteran guys, I do feel comfortable that he’ll be ready,” Pederson told NFL-designated pool reporter Kimberley A. Martin of the Washington Post.

Jernigan was not present during the hour-long media availability earlier in the day. Cornerback Ronald Darby was also missing and is also sick, but he was a full participant at practice. 

The pool report said the Eagles plan to keep Jernigan “as hydrated as possible.”

Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (calf), running back Jay Ajayi (ankle) and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe were also full participants.

According to the pool report, defensive end Vinny Curry left practice briefly and was examined by trainers after getting several fingers on his left hand caught in a teammate’s facemask.

“He’s fine,” Pederson said. “He shook it off. He’s good.” 

The Eagles practiced indoors Thursday  at the Gibson-Nagurski Complex on the campus of the University of Minnesota, about 12 miles from their hotel in Bloomington.

“Had a heck of a practice today,” Pederson said. “Guys were flying around. Definitely picked it up. We had three days off before we got on the field [Wednesday], so this is what typically we would see in practice.”

The Eagles worked on short yardage, goal line and third down during the one-hour, 45-minute practice, according to the pool report. 

According to the pool report, quarterback Nick Foles “was in a groove, firing off intermediate passes and deep balls downfield with confidence and ease.”

Foles, Carson Wentz’s backup most of the year, will start at quarterback for the Eagles in Super Bowl LII Sunday against the Patriots.

“Nick was really sharp again,” Pederson said. “Real sharp. He was accurate with his passes, smart in the run game. 

“And Nate just seems to sort of always impress. Every day he comes out here, he’s ready to work. I know it’s service team stuff, but he makes our defense work.”

Pederson also singled out cornerbacks Jalen Mills and Darby.

“They really focused in on their assignments,” Pederson said. “They’ve got a tough task with the Patriots, some of these small, quicker receivers. But they both had really good days today.”

Mike Holmgren, Pederson’s coach with the Packers from 1996 through 1998, attended practice. The Packers won Super Bowl XXXI after the 1996 season with Pederson backing up Brett Favre. Favre is scheduled to speak to the Eagles Saturday morning (see story).

“It’s fun to have him out there,” Pederson said.

Eagles are falling apart and Doug Pederson has no answers

Eagles are falling apart and Doug Pederson has no answers

Let’s put in perspective just how catastrophic this was.

The NFL was formed in 1920. The league has crowned 98 champions. The Eagles were the 98th.

None of the first 97 had ever lost a regular-season game this badly.

That’s on Doug.

There are a lot of reasons a team that was unstoppable a year ago — the Eagles won 16 of 18 games that they tried to win — is now 4-6 and has lost five of its last seven games.

There are a lot of reasons the Eagles went into the Superdome Sunday and left with a 48-7 loss.

There are a lot of reasons the Eagles are averaging a touchdown less per game than last year and have just seven takeaways all year.

Doug Pederson got the credit last year when the Eagles had a dream season, and with this season crumbling to pieces in front of our eyes, we need to be honest about where to assess the blame.

It’s on Doug.

We can blame Howie Roseman for not doing a better job replacing some of the guys who left. We can blame Mike Groh for being a pale imitation of Frank Reich. We can blame Carson Wentz for not being able to make big throws at big moments when the Eagles need them the most.

But when a collapse is this complete, when a team is this unprepared, when an offense is this lifeless, when a season turns out this grim, it points directly at the head coach.

The Eagles have been shut out in eight of 10 first quarters this year, and that’s a team that’s just not ready to play football when the ball is kicked off.

It’s way too easy to just chalk this all up to the Super Bowl Hangover. Oh, this happens to every Super Bowl winner.

But that’s not the case. Only six teams in history have ever won a Super Bowl and then had a losing record the next year. Nobody since the Buccaneers in 2003.

Before that? The 1999 Broncos, but John Elway had just retired, which kind of explained that. Before that, the 1988 Redskins.

That was 30 years ago.

Super Bowl champions don’t do what the Eagles are doing. Because there’s a reason they won a Super Bowl a year earlier. Elite players and coaches.

I still think the Eagles have a ton of talent on offense, and they’ve been decimated by injuries on defense but they never really caught up to the Eagles until Sunday at the Superdome.

This is a talented team that’s playing horribly, and that’s on one person.

Doug had all the answers last year. Everything he did, everything he said. I’ve never seen a coach have such a magic touch with playcalling, handling a team, setting the tone for the week.

Whatever crisis came up, Doug and his guys just laughed it off and then went out and won by 24 points.

Now, Doug just has no answers. The same things keep happening, and so far he hasn’t shown any indication he knows what to do. How to stop it. How to fix it.

The same slow starts, the same lack of preparation, the same late-game collapses keep happening over and over and over.

And that magic from last year just isn’t there.

The Eagles made history last year, and nobody can ever take that away.

Now they’re on the brink of making history again, this time as one of the worst Super Bowl teams ever a year later.

And when Doug’s players and coaches and staff look at him for answers, they’re seeing someone who doesn’t have any.

And that’s the scariest thing of all.

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Doug Pederson tells Eagles players to not hang their heads; didn't work

Doug Pederson tells Eagles players to not hang their heads; didn't work

NEW ORLEANS — Doug Pederson walked through the visitors’ locker room at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome after the Eagles’ embarrassing 48-7 loss to the Saints (see observations) and told player after player to not hang their heads. 

They didn’t listen. 

How could they? 

In the wake of that butt-kicking on national television, player after player declined interviews. Player after player sat at their respective lockers with their heads down, shoulders slumped. Player after player wore dead-eyed stares. 

I’ve been to wakes with more energy. 

But that’s what happens when a team loses this bad. That’s what happens when a team with such high expectations has repeatedly failed to live up to them. The Eagles are lost right now. They gave up 48 points. They scored just seven. And it’s hard to figure out what’s the bigger problem. 

“I told them not to hang their head,” said Pederson, whose eyes were watery and bloodshot. “I told them that we’re going to come to work this week. We’ve got a great opportunity in front of us. We’re going to stay committed. I’m going to lead this football team and follow me. To every man in there, they embrace that. They understand that we’re obviously held accountable to the way we played today. But we’re going to look at the tape and we’re going to fix the mistakes and get ready for New York.” 

At least he didn’t say they need to look in the mirror. 

Pederson said they’re going to try to correct their mistakes. What else can he say? The coaching staff has to try to get this ship righted, but it’s Week 11 and the Eagles are now 4-6.

Pederson said despite the lopsided loss, his players “continued to battle, continued to fight.” 

Did they? They looked pretty dead to me. 

When asked point-blank if he ever questioned his team’s effort, he said: “Never. Not once.” 

Obviously, the thing everyone in the organization fears is that the team throws in the towel on the season. That would be incredibly and especially damning for the head coach. But at least if they gave up on Sunday, it would explain the drubbing. If they gave full effort and still lost by 41 points, might that actually be worse? 

Thanks to a Washington loss on Sunday, the Eagles are still just two games out of the NFC East lead with four division games — two against Washington — left to go. But it’s hard to come away from watching the loss to New Orleans and realistically think about the playoffs. 

Could a loss like this send the season into a tailspin? 

“There’s always that fear,” Pederson admitted. “But I didn’t sense that with our group. Not at all. Not in that locker room on the offensive and defensive side. To each and every man, just told them don’t hang their head. We’re obviously in a rough spot right here, but I believe in those players and those coaches and we’ll get it fixed.”

Pederson still believes. But it’s fair to wonder how alone he is. 

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