Eagles

Third time's the charm for T.O.'s HOF bid

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Third time's the charm for T.O.'s HOF bid

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — The third time was a charm for T.O. 

In his third year of eligibility, former Eagles receiver Terrell Owens has been voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a part of the Class of 2018.

About time. 

Owens clearly had a Hall of Fame career, but his divisive nature kept him out of Canton for the first two years he was eligible, something that definitely seemed to bother him. He called the process flawed, and it's hard to argue against that. 

"Terrell Owens is one of the most talented and exciting wide receivers ever to play the game and he is very deserving of this honor," Eagles owner Jeff Lurie said in a statement released by the team. "We appreciate all his contributions to the league and to one of the finest seasons in the history of our franchise."

In his 15-year career with five teams he made it to six Pro Bowls and is second all-time in receiving yards with 15,934 and third in receiving touchdowns with 153. 

He's one of just two players in NFL history with at least 1,000 receptions, 15,000 receiving yards and 150 receiving touchdowns. The other is Jerry Rice. 

But the numbers didn't keep him out of Canton for this long. His personality did. Just look at his brief time in Philly. His beef with Donovan McNabb and his attempt to strong-arm the franchise into a new contract when he held that shirtless, sit-up press conference in New Jersey were eventually his downfall in Philadelphia. He played just 21 regular season games with the Eagles but was suspended in 2005 and then cut. 

Even McNabb thought Owens deserved the Hall of Fame nod. 

"The thing about Terrell is, on the field, outstanding talent," McNabb said to CBS in 2016. "Probably one of the best receivers that I played with in the pro ranks. He's one of the best to have ever done it, and will he be a Hall of Famer? Absolutely." 

When he was on the field in Philly, though, he was dynamic. In just 14 games in 2004, he caught 77 passes for 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns. A leg injury kept him out of the playoffs until Super Bowl XXXIX, when he returned to catch nine passes for 122 yards in the loss to the Patriots. He certainly showed up in that game. 

Owens averaged 93.5 yards per game during his time with the Eagles, the highest average in franchise history. 

Owens' career started as a third-round pick out of Tennessee-Chattanooga. In his rookie season, he had 35 catches for 520 yards, but by his third NFL season, he eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career. He did it eight more times before his career came to a close in 2010. 

During his long career, Owens first played for the 49ers, where he spent seven seasons and grew into an All-Pro player. Then he headed to Philadelphia. After his eventful two years with the Eagles, Owens played for the Cowboys, Bills and Bengals. While he hinted at a comeback after that, it never happened. 

A meeting with Chip Kelly brought Press Taylor to Eagles

A meeting with Chip Kelly brought Press Taylor to Eagles

This is a story about how Chip Kelly helped the Eagles win the Super Bowl. 

Really. 

So in the summer of 2012, when Kelly was still the head coach at the University of Oregon, he was in Miami visiting some friends on the Dolphins’ coaching staff. He was hanging around the facility waiting for one of those friends to get out of a meeting, when he stopped in the office of the Dolphins’ new quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor. 

On that exact day, Taylor had a visitor of his own. His younger brother Press, then a graduate assistant at Tulsa, happened to be on his summer break and was visiting Miami. 

So the three — Zac, Press and Chip — sat in a room at Miami and talked football for a couple of hours. Then they went their separate ways. 

Until Kelly was hired as the Eagles’ head coach and was looking for a quality control coach. 

That’s when another tie came into play. Greg Austin, who was Kelly’s graduate assistant at Oregon and became the Eagles’ assistant offensive line coach on that original staff, happened to be a college teammate of Zac’s at Nebraska. In fact, Austin was a part of the offensive line that protected Zac, the quarterback. So Austin suggested the name Press Taylor and Kelly remembered that long chat in Miami. 

“So when they got here, they had an idea for what the position looked like and they called me,” Press Taylor said last week. “It didn’t take much longer for me to say yes and show up here.” 

Five years later, Taylor is still just 30 years old, but he’s risen to the level of quarterbacks coach, replacing John DeFilippo, who is now the Vikings’ offensive coordinator. Last year, Taylor was responsible for mining the "Philly Special" from a Bears-Vikings game in 2016. He then watched that play help the Eagles win Super Bowl LII (see story)

And it all wouldn’t have happened without that chance meeting in Miami. 

Taylor never expected that day in Miami to lead to all of this. 

“No, I did not,” Taylor said. “At the time, Coach Kelly is at the University of Oregon, I’m at the University of Tulsa. I was just grateful to sit and talk football with anybody. It was just fun. I didn’t anticipate it being this.” 

Kelly brought Taylor to Philly, but Doug Pederson had just the right amount of missing ego to keep him. Taylor was one of several coaches Pederson kept on his original staff. Not only did Pederson keep Taylor, but he promoted him to assistant quarterbacks coach, a title he held until getting promoted this spring. 

During the 2016 offseason, after Kelly was fired and while the Eagles were looking for a replacement, Taylor was back at home in Oklahoma with his wife, mining information about possible new bosses with the same zeal with which he mined the "Philly Special."

“Trying to find connections I had with that person because, ideally, I wanted to stay,” Taylor remembered. “I really liked my time here in Philadelphia for the first three years, knew what kind of talent we had on our roster and really enjoyed coaching in the NFL. I was hoping to stay and really followed it all throughout that.”

5 more Eagles who were impressive during spring practices

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5 more Eagles who were impressive during spring practices

As the Eagles wrapped up their spring practices last week, head coach Doug Pederson was asked for a list of young players who stood out over the last few weeks. 

It was a pretty good list (see story)

But with a limited amount of time, Pederson probably didn’t mention every young player who had a good spring. I’m gonna give him a hand and list five more players he failed to mention. 

De’Vante Bausby 
This guy was the revelation of the spring. He joined the Eagles’ practice squad last season but seemingly has a great shot to make the active roster this year. During many OTA practices and in minicamp, the 25-year-old took first-team reps at the nickel corner spot. I still have trouble believing that Bausby is going to be on the field ahead of Sidney Jones, but that doesn’t take away from how good he’s looked so far. Aside from just getting first-team reps, he made the most of them. It seemed like he was making a play every day. 

Nate Sudfeld
This was really our first extended look at Sudfeld, but it’s far from our last. In fact, prepare yourselves to see a ton of the third-stringer this summer. Because while Carson Wentz recovers, Sudfeld is Nick Foles’ backup. And the Eagles need to treat Foles like a starter, which means fewer reps. Sudfeld didn’t come to the Eagles until after last cuts a year ago. This spring, it was easy to see why the Eagles like Sudfeld so much. He’s pretty athletic, can move his legs, and spent the few weeks dropping dimes all over the field. Eventually, Foles is going to move on and Sudfeld should be able to take the backup role. 

Bryce Treggs
Remember when Treggs-mania took over Philadelphia in 2016? Fans were clamoring for more of Treggs after he made that one big catch. Since then, that mania has certainly died down, but Treggs is off to a good start in 2018. He’s a much better player than he was a few years ago. To me, he made the best play we saw all spring, when he stretched out to catch one of those dimes from Sudfeld. Treggs doesn't have a great shot of making the Eagles’ roster, but he can put together some more good tape and maybe find another team. 

Nate Gerry 
In his second season out of Nebraska, Gerry has a real chance to win the weakside linebacker job. He’s battling Kamu Grugier-Hill and Corey Nelson for the spot left by Mychal Kendricks’ release. And Gerry is off to a good start. Having a year in the defense under his belt should certainly help him gain an edge on Nelson, but he still needs to make plays. In the spring, he did. He had a couple interceptions and seemed to read everything well. His background as a safety is clearly something the Eagles like for this position; the other two guys have coverage skills too. 

Josh Sweat
It’s a little tough for defensive ends to stand out in non-padded practices, but the rookie from Florida State did. The first thing to notice about Sweat is just how big he is. He’s listed at 6-5, 251. For now, he’s really long and skinny, but is quick and athletic too. It helped him going against someone as raw as Jordan Mailata, but even when he was facing others, Sweat still looked explosive. We’ll know more once the pads go on, but it seems like the Eagles might have a steal and somehow added even more depth on the D-line. 

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