Eagles

Roob's 10 observations from Eagles' Super Bowl win

Roob's 10 observations from Eagles' Super Bowl win

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MINNEAPOLIS — Fifty-seven years.

More than half a century of frustration. Generations of misery. Nearly six decades of heartache.

After three stadiums, 13 head coaches and enough gut-wrenching misery to destroy fans from other cities, a 2017 Eagles team made up of late-round draft picks, rejects from around the league, a quarterback that almost retired and a coach that nobody outside Philly ever believed in delivered a championship to the city that deserved one the most (see story).

The Eagles allowed more yards than any team in NFL postseason history. But it didn't matter.

Tom Brady threw for more yards against the Eagles than any quarterback in the franchise's 85-year history. It didn't matter.

They gave up a 10-point lead in the third quarter. It didn't matter.

Doug Pederson, Nick Foles and the Eagles stared down Bill Belichick and Tom Brady Sunday night and emerged with a 41-33 win in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium (see breakdown).

Fifty-seven years. And now it's over (see celebration).

The Eagles are NFL champions.

The Eagles are NFL champions.

The Eagles are NFL champions.

If you can wipe away the tears long enough, here are 10 observations from one of the greatest nights in Eagles history and one of the greatest nights in Philadelphia history.

1. If one play perfectly captured what this team is all about and what this season is all about and what Pederson is all about, it was that 4th-and-Goal touchdown pass from Trey Burton to Foles that gave the Eagles a 10-point lead just before halftime. A direct snap to Corey Clement, a flip to Burton and a TD pass to Foles. Of course in the biggest moment of the biggest game of his life, Pederson called that. A direct snap to an undrafted rookie free agent who flips it to the third-string tight end who passes it to the backup quarterback for a TD against the greatest coach of all-time in the Super Bowl. Was that the gutsiest call in the history of sports? On fourth down! What else would you expect from Pederson? The Eagles got here because Pederson is a creative, inventive, fearless play-caller, and they won Sunday night in part because he made the single most creative, inventive, fearless play call of his life in the most improbable situation imaginable on the biggest stage in sports. Absolutely brilliant (see story).

2. Then there's Foles. For him to put together a performance like this in a Super Bowl two months after throwing scout team passes to Marcus Johnson, Shelton Gibson and Greg Ward is just astonishing (see story). This wasn't the Raiders or the Giants. This wasn't a home playoff game against the Falcons or Vikings. This was the Super Bowl with Belichick on the other sideline and 100 million people watching, and it didn't matter. Foles was the same aw-shucks goofy Texas dude Sunday night on that stage that he's been since he first got here in 2012. The moment had no effect on him. He just played like he's played since he replaced Carson Wentz on Dec. 10.

Foles made throws up and down the field. He used all his receivers. He escaped trouble. He showed tremendous pocket awareness. He was uncanny on third down. Foles was 28 for 43 for 373 yards, three TDs, an INT that wasn't his fault and a 106.1 passer rating. Foles' final postseason numbers: 77 for 106 (73 percent) for 971 yards with six touchdowns and one INT and a passer rating of 115.7. And a Super Bowl MVP. Unbelievable.

3. One of Foles' finest moments (and Pederson's) was that 4th-and-2 conversion from near midfield with the Eagles trailing by a point and about five minutes left. Foles was under tremendous pressure from his right by Trey Flowers and he was unable to set his feet, but he got the ball to Zach Ertz for a conversion. What a throw. And again, what a gutsy call by Pederson. If you don't convert, you're most likely losing the game. That whole drive was just brilliant work by Foles, and it came after the Eagles' 10-point lead had turned into a one-point deficit. He was phenomenal leading a comeback in the final few minutes of a Super Bowl. Historic stuff. Legendary stuff.

4. Foles has played four postseason games. He's had a passer rating over 100 in all four. No other quarterback in NFL history has done that.

5. On a team filled with tremendous stories, there isn't a better story than Clement. An undrafted rookie running back who caught just 29 passes his entire collegiate career at Wisconsin and had just four catches the first 11 weeks of the regular season comes into a Super Bowl and catches four passes for 100 yards, including a 55-yard catch and run and a 22-yard touchdown in double coverage. All of a sudden this kid who never caught the ball in college — he literally had two catches his entire junior year — has the second-most receiving yards by a running back in Super Bowl history. Just remarkable.

6. Pederson once again just called a masterful game. He got Foles in a rhythm early, he kept the Patriots off-balance, he used everybody on the roster, he was typically aggressive. It's been amazing seeing Pederson grow into this role as a brilliant play-caller. It took a few weeks for him to really develop a feel for Foles and what he's most comfortable doing, but once he did, this offense looked a lot like it did before Wentz got hurt. Unstoppable. I really like the way Pederson used his backs Sunday. LeGarrette Blount ran for 90 yards against his former team, Jay Ajayi added 57 yards and Clement had 108 net yards. That's 255 yards of offense from the running backs.

7. Let's put the clinching play, Brandon Graham's sack and forced fumble and Derek Barnett's recovery, in perspective. The Eagles didn't have a sack at that point. Brady's last five drives had resulted in four touchdowns and a field goal. He had already thrown for more yards against the Eagles than any quarterback in franchise history. Statistically, this was one of the worst performances any defense had ever produced. Yet the Eagles remained relentless. They kept attacking. It was really a perfect metaphor for this team. It's not always pretty but they just don't give up and they just keep working until there are all zeros on the scoreboard. In the end, nobody will remember that the Patriots finished with 613 yards, the second most in NFL history — regular season or postseason. All they'll remember is that on a Sunday night in Minneapolis, Graham finally got to Brady and the Eagles won a Super Bowl (see story). That's all that matters.

8. One guy I'm so happy for is Jeff Lurie. He bought this team from Norman Braman in 1994 and has guided it with class, wisdom and grace for nearly a quarter century. He's taken a lot of heat from fans for the wrong reasons. All he ever wanted to do is win a Super Bowl. He got a stadium built. He got a practice facility built. He spent money. He's had setbacks and disappointments himself but he's always done what he felt is best for this franchise, and he deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the Lombardi Trophy that will now grace the inner lobby of the NovaCare Complex (see story).

9. And just elated for Pederson. I was there in 1999 when people threw beer bottles at him. When people cursed at his wife and kids after a lousy game quarterbacking the Eagles. Nobody deserves that. And nobody deserves some of the grief he's gotten since taking over as Eagles coach. He's a good man, and it turns out he's a brilliant coach. You just never know about these things. After Dick Vermeil and Ray Rhodes and Andy Reid and Chip Kelly, it was just a quiet, unassuming guy from Bellingham, Washington, who finally delivered a championship to Philadelphia. He proved a heck of a lot of people wrong. Nobody deserves to enjoy this more than Doug Pederson.

10. And this team isn't going away (see story). Wentz comes back next fall, and the Eagles will have two elite quarterbacks under contract, and this isn't the time to speculate on Foles' future, but they have an MVP and a Super Bowl winner at quarterback and that's a good place to start. They have terrific young talent across the board. They have elite offensive and defensive lines. They have almost all their best players under contract for next year and most of them for years to come. They are by far the best team in the NFC East and have no clear challenger in the NFC. They will be back. They will be back soon. This was too much fun to not do it again.

Eagles Mailbag: Sidney Jones, rookies, ice cream

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AP Images

Eagles Mailbag: Sidney Jones, rookies, ice cream

We answered half of your questions in yesterday’s mailbag (see story), but there were plenty more. 

So in between scarfing down hot dogs and burgers, take some time to check out these answers. 

To give some background on this question, cornerback Sidney Jones has been working in the slot during OTAs. Last year’s second-round pick, who missed most of his rookie season with that Achilles injury, looks good and is ready to be a real player in this league. 

It seems like the Eagles really want to give Jones a chance to learn the nickel corner position and take control of it. It’s a new spot for him, but he should be talented enough to handle it. If he doesn’t look good in the slot, they could always move him outside on those downs and slide Jalen Mills inside. 

As far as Jones simply being a starter … it seems unlikely now, just because Mills and Ronald Darby are still ahead of him. As long as they’re both there, Jones is the third guy in. Either way, he’s going to play a ton this year and I’m on the record predicting a big year for Jones. 

Nah. Gotta trust the doctors and trainers. As I understand it, the stuff Carson Wentz is doing right now is just a part of his rehab. He hasn’t done any work outside of individual drills and has to start throwing and working on footwork at some point. It seems like he’s doing a lot, but he really isn’t yet. Although what we’ve seen is a good sign. 

The Eagles aren’t rushing Wentz. They’re making sure he doesn’t rush himself. If anything, they’re going to end up being too cautious.  

I have seen just one practice, so I don’t have a ton to work off of. I like the look of defensive end Josh Sweat. He’s long and slender and could get on the field in pass rush situations this year. It’s way too early, but if Sweat ever lives up to his potential, we might look back at him as a steal. 

As far as guys under the radar, I don’t think anyone is making a big enough deal about Mike Wallace. Most people know he’s an upgrade, but he should be a significant upgrade over Torrey Smith and it should really help the Eagles’ offense be more dynamic. 

If I had to guess now — and, again, I’ve seen one practice — I’d say, Jones. Doug Pederson talked about Jones like he actually has some plans for him this season. We’ve already seen him have success in the NFL and he’s not that far removed from it. 

Adams had a good college career, but there are some clear flaws in his game, which is why he went undrafted. I know everyone looks at Corey Clement from last year, but that’s rare. Adams might be a better fit on the practice squad this year, if they can sneak him there. 

I’ll revisit this in the summer once the pads go on. 

Well, those smoothies are still around. Pederson kept a lot of that stuff but made it more voluntary. Players still get personalized drinks. 

The easy answer here is ice cream. Doug likes his ice cream. Plain vanilla. Can’t believe Häagen-Dazs hasn’t found a way to get Pederson in some ads. 

Aside from that, I know wings in the cafeteria have been a big hit on Fridays. The cooks — who are great, by the way — make non-fried wings with plenty of different sauces to choose from. A couple years ago, a player from Rochester, New York, introduced Boss Sauce and it became a hit among the players. I think the wings are still around. 

Eagles Mailbag: Lead back, Mack Hollins, the LB position

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USA Today Images

Eagles Mailbag: Lead back, Mack Hollins, the LB position

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday weekend. The Eagles are probably enjoying it too — because Tuesday, they’re back to work. 

That’s when the team’s second round of OTAs begin. The Eagles will have a few more weeks of the voluntary offseason program before the mandatory minicamp June 12-14. 

Let’s take a dip into the mailbag: 

Yeah, I’d consider Jay Ajayi the lead back for this coming season. I really think the Eagles are going to ride him a little more than they did last year now that he’s had plenty of time in the offense. But I still don’t see Doug Pederson or Duce Staley abandoning the running back-by-committee approach. So while I think Ajayi will get the bulk of the carries, Corey Clement and Darren Sproles will still play plenty. 

Ajayi will be the feature back, but Pederson will want to keep him fresh for the playoffs too. Sure, the Eagles want to use him up on the final year of his deal, but they shouldn’t do it before they really need him. 

The Eagles really like Mack Hollins and it’s not hard to figure out why. He’s a nice, humble kid who works extremely hard. As a rookie, Hollins played in all 16 games and had just 16 receptions for 226 yards and one touchdown. He was even less productive in the postseason, when he caught one pass for nine yards. 

To answer your question, yes, I think Hollins will be more involved. It also can’t hurt that the Eagles brought in his college position coach, Gunter Brewer. The problem is that as long as everyone’s healthy, he’s still behind Alshon Jeffery, Mike Wallace and Nelson Agholor. He’ll get snaps, but they’ll be limited. He’ll have to make the most of them. 

Quick Hollins story: Late in the season, I asked him about his lack of offensive production and he looked me dead in the eyes and said his job isn’t to catch passes. I probably looked confused. “My job is to help us win,” he said. “And I’ve been doing that.” 

Got a few questions about bringing in a linebacker and I understand why. On the first day of OTAs, the Eagles cut Mychal Kendricks and lost Paul Worrilow for the season. Earlier this week, I looked at the depth the Eagles have. I still wouldn’t worry about the position. 

I think it’s very possible the Eagles bring in another veteran linebacker, but I’m not sure there’s a huge rush. What might have been lost this week is that to cut Kendricks, the Eagles must feel really good about Jordan Hicks’ recovery. And remember, the Eagles are in two-linebacker sets most of the time. Corey Nelson will have a chance to be the weakside guy with Kendricks gone. And there's still decent depth. 

Maybe the Eagles add a player this summer, but it’s also possible they wait a bit to see what they have. For what it’s worth, I’d at least take a look at Bowman to see if there’s anything left.  

Corey Graham is still available and Pederson seemed more than open to bringing him back, so that’s very possible. Graham was a really important addition last offseason because, like you said, it allowed Jenkins to move closer to the line.

A lot of Jenkins playing that hybrid LB position was out of necessity with Hicks gone. According to ProFootballFocus, he played 42 percent of his snaps at LB, so it’s hard to imagine him doing it more in 2018. Still, Jenkins' versatility and his importance to the team can’t be overstated.