Eagles

This year, the Eagles are winning ... and having fun doing it

This year, the Eagles are winning ... and having fun doing it

The Eagles are turning Lincoln Financial Field into a house party.

During pregame warmups before facing the Bears, players appeared to be more loose than normal. With the music vibrating through the stadium speakers, a large contingent of players were working on their individual nightclub moves as much as they were working on their game techniques.

A sign of overconfidence? Were they looking past the lowly Chicago Bears? Not at all. This is an extremely focused and confident group of guys that has earned every accolade it has received.

As we saw, the Eagles went out and crushed a team that wasn’t worthy of being on the same field with them. And why shouldn’t they enjoy the moment of this season?

We all knew with the talent assembled and Carson Wentz in his second year that this team had the capability of being good, but we never imagined it would be this good. The Birds aren’t just winning … they are destroying opponents.

They are 10-1 for just the fourth time in franchise history. The Eagles lead the NFL with 351 points scored. They won three straight games by 28-plus points for the first time in franchise history. Wentz leads the league with 28 touchdown passes. The list of accomplishments this season goes on and on. 

And they continue to dance their way toward the postseason. Following a Zach Ertz touchdown against the Bears, a group of players took a family portrait in the back of the end zone. After the Alshon Jeffery score, it was bowling. Then later in the game, players broke out with the Electric Slide.

According to cornerback Jalen Mills, it’s all a part of their identity, kind of like a reward for the hard work they put in every week leading up to the next game.

“I think it goes back to the process we go through in practice,” Mills said. “We compete at a very high level. Guys hold each other accountable. We have very high standards in practice. So when it comes to Sunday, Coach (Doug Pederson) is not really on our backs, and that kind of lets us do our thing. We get to let our hair down. We go out there and have fun, but at the same time it’s all about football.”

You never want to rub a drubbing in your opponents’ faces because it could come back to haunt you somewhere down the road. That’s just an unwritten code of football ethics. But Pederson isn’t concerned about his players’ creativity, as long as they keep it family friendly.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Pederson said. “Listen, the guys are having fun doing it. They are having fun playing together. Obviously when you’re winning in this position, it is definitely fun and all that. I do have a concern, though, there is a 40-second clock that’s moving after touchdowns and scoring plays, so they have got to hurry up and get off the field. But they are enjoying each other right now. They enjoy coming to work every week, and this game is hard enough and when you score you kind of want them to celebrate together and it’s a great thing. Some of the things we’ve done, the picture taking, the baseball, the bowling, the Electric Slide, I don’t think they affect the team one way or the other. As long as they keep it clean that way, it’s fine.”

This has the makings of a special season. Party on men, party on.

Roob's 10 observations: Wendell Smallwood's chances, Tom Brady-Nick Foles handshake, Bryce Brown's elite company

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AP Images

Roob's 10 observations: Wendell Smallwood's chances, Tom Brady-Nick Foles handshake, Bryce Brown's elite company

Wendell Smallwood working his way back into the running back picture, the bizarre NFL career of Bryce Brown, Michael Bennett and Shakespeare, the handshake that never was and Brian Westbrook’s 2006 postseason.

Only one place you’re getting all this!

It’s all this week’s Roob’s 10 Random Eagles Observations, and it starts here:

1. It’s been interesting watching Wendell Smallwood this preseason. He’s a guy who when training camp began I didn’t give much of a chance to, only because he’s never been able to stay healthy and the Eagles went into camp with a deep, talented stable of backs. But while Matt Jones, Josh Adams and Donnel Pumphrey have been banged up and on and off the field, Smallwood has not only stayed healthy, he’s made the most of his reps. He looks terrific. I’ve always felt Smallwood is a talented kid. I wrote about him last week and how he spent the offseason learning how to take better care of himself, and so far it’s paying off. Much of making an NFL roster is simply handling the workload during camp and proving to your coaches that they can rely on you. And Smallwood hasn’t missed a rep. This preseason. Not one. So far he’s outlasted the other guys in that battle for the fourth running back spot behind Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement and Darren Sproles. Has he done enough? With a couple weeks before final cuts, it’s too early to say. But he’s definitely worked himself from the brink back into the mix.

2. I’ve been disappointed by Mack Hollins’ training camp. He’s one guy I expected to make a big leap in Year 2, and while he still might, he hasn’t flashed yet. Shelton Gibson and Bryce Treggs have both outplayed Hollins in practice. Hollins has that great size and is a valued special teamer and as a second-year fourth-round pick he’s probably got the team made. But I expected to see more. Treggs is another guy who was off the radar when camp began but has that great speed and keeps showing up at practice. And Gibson simply looks like a different guy from last year. The depth the Eagles have at wideout is insane. Guys like Rashard Davis, Greg Ward Jr. and DeAndre Carter probably have no shot to make the team, but once upon a time, they would have been starters around here.

3. Michael Bennett is an interesting dude. Someone in the locker room used the phrase, “All’s well that ends well,” and he said, “Where’s that phrase from?” I said it’s the name of a Shakespeare play, and he said, “A lot of people think Shakespeare wasn’t a real person.” I said, “Yeah, there’s a theory that he was three different people.” His response: “I’m three different people.” 

4. I know a lot of people think the whole “Tom Brady hasn’t shaken Nick Foles’ hand” thing is overblown, but it really bothers me. There are certain customs in sports that are there for a reason. Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback ever, and he should have sought out Nick either on the field immediately after the game or somewhere after the game — the lockers weren’t too far apart. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but sportsmanship means a lot to me. I know one thing: If the Patriots won that game, Nick Foles would have found Tom Brady, told him “Great job,” and shook his hand. 

5. Brian Westbrook’s 2006 postseason was insane. He rushed 20 times for 141 yards against the Giants and 13 times for 116 yards against the Saints. His average of 7.8 yards per carry is second-highest in NFL history in a single postseason (minimum 30 carries) behind Hall of Famer Marcus Allen’s 8.03 in 1983. He’s the only back in NFL history with back-to-back playoff games with 100 rushing yards, a 7.0 average and a touchdown. His 257 rushing yards are third-most in NFL history by a back in a two-game postseason (behind Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson in 1985 and Arian Foster in 2011). 

6. I love listening to Doug Pederson talk about why he’s so aggressive as a play caller. Because generally, he admits he really has no idea. I think it almost evolved by accident. He started going for it on fourth down in 2016 with nothing at stake and it started working, and he just felt comfortable doing it, and he just got in that habit, and the team got used to it and enjoyed it, and by the time the Super Bowl came along it had developed into his personality and the team was completely in step with him, and the success of the Philly Special was the product of that. You can’t run that play if you’re the least bit tight or indecisive, but the team had gotten so used to Pederson doing anything at any time in any situation it was just another play. The man is a genius.

7. Chip Kelly and Pederson have the same number of regular-season wins after two years. 

8. You figured that had to be wrong so you looked it up, didn’t you!

9. I’ve never seen an assistant coach grow as much as Frank Reich did in his two years with the Eagles. When he first started out as Doug’s offensive coordinator, he seemed to be painfully shy around the media, gave one-word or brief answers during press conferences and appeared generally uninterested in providing anything remotely revealing about football or the players he coached. By the time he left, he was one of the most interesting, insightful and quotable assistant coaches I’ve ever been around, and his commentary after the Super Bowl about Nick Foles’ performance was brilliant. I’m convinced this transformation had a lot to do with him getting the Colts head coaching job. Teams don’t want a head coach who can’t handle the media, and Frank in a very short time went from a guy who wasn’t comfortable in those situations to one who embraced them.

10. Bryce Brown had one of the strangest career arcs in Eagles history. He averaged 15 yards in his first 10 NFL games and 19 yards in his last 30 NFL games. In between, with LeSean McCoy injured, he ran for 178 yards on just 19 carries against the Panthers and 169 yards on 24 carries against the Cowboys, with two TDs in each game. Only three players in NFL history have had consecutive games with 165 rushing yards, a 7.0 average and 2 TDs — LaDainian Tomlinson, Barry Sanders and … Bryce Brown. Other than those two historic games in a seven-day span, he averaged 3.5 yards per carry and 18 yards per game. But for a brief bit of an otherwise forgettable 2012 season, he made NFL history. 

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Eagle Eye podcast: Previewing second preseason game

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Eagle Eye podcast: Previewing second preseason game

On this edition of Eagle Eye, Derrick Gunn and Barrett Brooks discuss the likelihood of Carson Wentz not being healthy for the regular-season opener. Is this the best team Doug Pederson has had in Philadelphia? Also, how do players approach the second preseason game?

1:00 - Updating Carson Wentz's status.
4:00 - Guys still confident Wentz will start against the Falcons?
7:00 - Doug Pederson says this is the deepest team he's had.
10:30 - Doug Pederson and Nick Foles speak about preseason snaps.
15:00 - How do players approach the second preseason game?

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