Eagles

Similarities between 2017 Eagles and 2005 Steelers

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AP Images

Similarities between 2017 Eagles and 2005 Steelers

Playoff football is here, baby! 

Six out of my 12 years in the NFL, I was blessed to be a part of the playoffs. My first two years with the Eagles, one year with the Lions, a year with the Giants and two with the Steelers.

During those playoff games I was one and done three times, done in the divisional round once, in the championship game twice, and I won Super Bowl XL.

As I watch the Eagles enter this divisional round, it brought me back to experiences that I will never forget. One impressive game was the Steelers at the Colts in the 2005 season. I remember the game clearly, as I looked across the sideline at Peyton Manning in his prime against our defense. There were so many key matchups in this battle with the Colts. Outside LB Joey Porter against perennial All-Pro left tackle Tarik Glenn. DT Casey Hampton against All-Pro center Jeff Saturday. The list of Pro Bowlers and future Hall of Famers on the field was evident, and it was very apparent at that point that this was a game for the ages.

When not on the field, I made it a point to take in the moment. I realized that I was in a special moment in my career, not because I was in my 11th year, but more so because I understood that there was something special going on. I knew we were going to win the Super Bowl because everything fell into place. This was the game when Jerome Bettis fumbled and Big Ben made the shoestring, saving tackle. 

I was at goal-line TE going into the end zone. Jerome was never a fumbler, and we ran 16 power to the right — our bread and butter play. Alan Faneca, our Pro-Bowl left guard, pulled to the right. All I had to do was cut the DE in the end zone. It was a guaranteed six points, and Bettis fumbled. Wow, what a play by Big Ben. 

This was one of the many plays during the year that led to Super Bowl XL in Detriot, Bettis' hometown. We as a team had to send JB into retirement with a ring. I just knew there was something special about this team going into the playoffs as a 6-seed.

Well ... Philadelphia, I feel like this team has the same mojo going on this year. I'm not saying that my Birds are going to the big game, but the Eagles have taken the next-man-up philosophy to a different level. Losing All-Pro players and future Hall of Famers throughout the season and still entering the playoffs as the No. 1 seed is an unbelievable accomplishment.

So I wrote all this to say, make sure you don't lose sight of the moment. Take in the experience of a top-seeded Eagles team ready to fight the odds and naysayers. It can be done as long as the 53 men and coaches believe, even when no one else does.

Eagle Eye podcast: A closer look at DE after addition of Vinny Curry

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Eagle Eye podcast: A closer look at DE after addition of Vinny Curry

On the latest Eagle Eye podcast, Reuben Frank, Dave Zangaro and Barrett Brooks react to the addition of Vinny Curry and what it means for the entire defensive end position. 

What about guys like Shareef Miller, Genard Avery and Joe Ostman? 

Jatavis Brown abruptly retired this weekend, which leaves the Eagles really light at the linebacker positions. The guys take a closer look. Jason Kelce and Jason Peters are forming a really interesting duo on the Eagles’ line. 

And Nate Gerry and Lane Johnson are off the Reserve/COVID-19 list. 

  • (2:06) — What the return of Vinny Curry means for Shareef Miller.
  • (16:01) — Jatavis Brown abruptly retires.
  • (25:53) — Eagles lack talented players under 25-years-old.
  • (33:16) — Jason Kelce is learning from Jason Peters.

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Robey-Coleman on unique preseason: 'It's not like we forgot how to play football'

Robey-Coleman on unique preseason: 'It's not like we forgot how to play football'

They have a new safety, two new starting cornerbacks, a new slot corner and a rookie safety. And a new coach.

They all just met. Opening day is 33 days away.

Let’s go play football!

This truncated offseason isn’t ideal for anybody, but for the Eagles’ rebuilt secondary the absence of spring practices and preseason games combined with a curtailed training camp is a particularly daunting challenge just because this unit has undergone such a transformation.

Malcolm Jenkins is gone. Jalen Mills has moved from corner to safety. Avonte Maddox moves outside to CB2. Newcomer Nickell Robey-Coleman seems to be the front-runner for the slot. And Marquand Manuel has replaced Cory Undlin as secondary coach.

It’s an incredible amount of change in a position group where chemistry and cohesion are so important.

It’s a challenge, but it’s a process that’s got to be expedited,” Robey-Coleman said Monday. “But that’s why you have seasoned veterans who can come in and adjust to the climate of an organization or a situation that’s going on outside of football, just speaking on this pandemic. Me, Slay, Rod, Mills, guys like that that have been to the playoffs, that have been deep in the playoffs, that have won Super Bowls. We know how to adjust to things like this. We’re not lost in the sauce, like we forgot how to play football.

Can a secondary come together on Zoom calls?

Can a secondary develop chemistry when the players are social distancing in the locker room?

Can a secondary learn to play together without spring workouts?

Can a secondary learn what its new coach is looking for when they just met him a few weeks before opening day?

This is what this group is trying to accomplish.

“Just knowing that, ‘Hey, man we’re all in this thing together, we all gotta do this thing together,’” Robey-Coleman said. “We are stronger together, that’s been our motto the whole offseason, and coach (Doug) Pederson has been harping on that with us. So we just always have the mindset of doing everything together. No man is left behind. Iron sharpens iron. We’re all out here trying to get each other better. We’re all out here just trying to get a full understanding of each other, knowing that there’s new guys, new additions on the team and on the defense. So just being on the same page, talking to each other, communicating. ‘Hey, do you like to press? What do you like to do?’ Just knowing each others’ personalities and knowing how we could formulate the defense and make it easier for everyone to work better and work smarter.”

Robey-Coleman, who signed with the Eagles after four years with the Bills and three with the Rams, said finding ways to accelerate that growth process has been a constant point of emphasis since this shortened training camp began.

“Some guys might have done it like this in the past, but now we do it like this,” NRC said. “So it’s just little small nuances of the defenses that we just have to have down pat in order to be understood all the way across the board from every level of the defense, from the secondary to the linebackers to the d-line. So if we can get all of that to come together in a cool amount of time I feel like we’ll be OK for week one, and from there we’ll just make small adjustments from there going on throughout the season.”

This secondary has a lot of questions to answer and not a lot of time to answer them. 

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Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles