Eagles

Why Eagles fans should be rooting for Andy Reid to win Super Bowl LIV

Why Eagles fans should be rooting for Andy Reid to win Super Bowl LIV

I sat here for a long time trying to put into words why Eagles fans should root for Andy Reid to win a Super Bowl.

And really it just comes down to this: Why wouldn’t you?

And I can’t think of one reason.

But I’m not blind to the fact that a large portion of Eagles fans — Maybe half? Maybe a third? — can’t stand Big Red, root against him all the time, hope the Chiefs lose Sunday and cackle every time Reid loses a big game.

People can root for anybody they want. There’s no rules governing this stuff. But the anti-Reid sentiment has always surprised me. And baffled me.

Where is it coming from? This isn’t Rich Kotite here. 

This is the guy who took over a team that had won two playoff games in the previous 20 years, a franchise that had really lost its way, and made it relevant again. 

From 2000 through 2010, the Eagles averaged 10 1/2 wins a year - most in the NFC - and won more playoff games than anybody in the league other than the Patriots and Steelers.

Year after year, the Eagles took Philly for a postseason ride. Year after year, there was meaningful football in January.

None of it culminated in a Super Bowl championship, and that’s a pretty big blotch on his resume. One that Reid is now once again two wins away from erasing.

But if we dismissed as failures everybody who came through town and didn’t win a championship, that wouldn’t leave very many people to root for.

Heck, there’s still a rather significant portion of Eagles fans who can’t stand Big Red because he never won a championship but celebrate Buddy Ryan, whose talent-laden teams went all of 0-3 in the postseason and scored one touchdown in those three playoff losses. 

So what is it?

The guy has some personality quirks, no doubt about it. 

“Ahem, injuries,” became a punchline around here. 

Same with, “OK, injuries,” and, “I’ve got to do a better job.”

And who could ever forget, “This is Stacy’s day.”

And as a coach Big Red has his flaws, no doubt. You don’t need me to tell you about his clock management issues. About burning all his timeouts 10 minutes into a half. About not giving Brian Westbrook enough carries.

But so what? Are we really that petty that we’re hoping a guy who delivered a decade of winning football to a city starved for it loses because he wasn’t perfect?

And think about this: Without Big Red, there’s no Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham or Jason Kelce. And of course there’s no Doug Pederson, either.

Do you think the Eagles win the Super Bowl without them?

The Reid haters love to tell me how Jim Johnson was the real brains behind those great Eagles teams. And, yeah, Jim was definitely a brilliant coach and is rightfully revered in this city a decade after his tragic death.

But the reality is the Eagles during that period from 2000 through 2010 were 5th-best in the league both on offense and defense. Andy was just as capable an offense mind as Jim was on defense.

I remember talking to Andy a day or two after opening day weekend in 2013. The Chiefs had beaten the Jaguars on Sunday afternoon in Reid’s first game in Kansas City, and the Eagles beat the Redskins the next night on Monday Night Football in Chip Kelly’s first game as Eagles head coach.

Andy told me he sat in his office during that Eagles-Redskins game, “Rooting like crazy for the Eagles.”

That’s the thing about Andy. He genuinely loves this city, genuinely loves this franchise, was genuinely rooting for the team that had just fired him eight months earlier.

Andy has his flaws, like the rest of us. He’s made mistakes, like the rest of us. He’s only human, like the rest of us. 

And when you get right down to it, that may be the best reason of all to root for him.

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How Combine might have changed Eagles' WR plans

How Combine might have changed Eagles' WR plans

The 2020 wide receiver draft picture got a lot more interesting Thursday night.

Alabama’s Henry Ruggs did his thing and ran 4.28 when the receivers ran their 40's at the Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. He didn't break John Ross's record of 4.22, but he certainly did nothing to hurt his draft status. 

Neither did his college teammate, Jerry Jeudy, or Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb. They remain the consensus top three receivers in the draft, and the Eagles, who have the 21st pick in the first round, would likely have to trade up to draft any of them.

But a few receivers helped themselves with their performances in Indy and a few may have hurt their stock as well, and it all could definitely affect the receiver-starved Eagles’ strategy in April.

HELPED THEMSELVES

JUSTIN JEFFERSON,  LSU: Joe Burrow’s favorite target ran much faster than expected with a 4.43. We already know he’s productive - he caught a ridiculous 111 passes for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns - and he backed that up with a faster 40 time than Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy. How much that helps him remains to be seen, but he definitely helped himself.

CHASE CLAYPOOL, NOTRE DAME: There’s been talk about the 6-4, 240-pound Claypool moving to tight end, but then he went out and ran 4.42, which according to the Next Gen Stats twitter feed makes him the first receiver over 230 pounds to run sub-4.45 since Calvin Johnson in 2007. He also caught the ball well and performed well in the other drills. 

DENZEL MIMS, BAYLOR: Mims opened a lot of eyes with a 4.38 Thursday night to cap an overall excellent performance. Only Ruggs and Southern Mississippi’s Quez Watkins ran faster. Mims was generally considered a second-round talent before the Combine but running 4.38 at 6-3, 210 pounds could push him into the first round. 

HURT THEMSELVES

JALEN REAGOR, TEXAS CHRISTIAN: Reagor, whose father Montae played for the Eagles in 2007, said he planned to run faster than Ruggs: “That’s my plan. He runs after me. I’m going to set the bar for him.”  He also said he expected to run “high 4.2, low 4.3.”  Then he ran 4.47, a full fifth of a second slower than Ruggs. He followed that with a 4.50. How much that hurts him remains to be seen, but it wasn’t what anybody was expecting. 

TEE HIGGINS, CLEMSON: Higgins told reporters at the Combine that he was planning to prove a lot of people wrong with his 40:  “My goal is to hit a 4.4. A lot of guys think I’m gonna run a 4.5 or 4.6, but I’m excited to change people’s minds.” Then without explanation he didn’t run or participate in any drills Thursday night. Not good. 

LAVISKA SHENAULT JR., COLORADO: After a slower-than-expected 4.58 on his first try, Shenault skipped his second 40 and didn’t participate in the other drills, presumably because of the core muscle injury that cost him a couple games during the season. Shenault was considered a late first-round or early second-rounder. He’ll have a chance to bounce back at his pro day, but he didn’t help himself Thursday.

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Temple LBs and roommates in heated competition for combine supremacy

Temple LBs and roommates in heated competition for combine supremacy

Temple linebackers Shaun Bradley and Chapelle Russell know they will have a ton on the line Saturday when their position group gets on the field for drills at the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. 

Their football careers hang in the balance. 

Not to mention bragging rights. 

Throughout the last few months, the two close friends have been in a heated competition and back-and-forth trash talk battle. Bradley was training with EXOS in Phoenix; Russell was training with EXOS in San Diego. The whole time, they kept texting each other performance numbers and egging each other on. 

That competition reached a new level this week when the two found out they were rooming together in Indianapolis. 

“That’s all we do. We sit in the room and talk about who’s going to win the 40, who’s going to have the fastest (time),” Bradley said. “We do it all day. It’s nonstop. We’ll joke, we’ll talk about it. As soon as one thing hits, he’s like, ‘I’m about to run a faster 40 than you.’ ‘No you’re not.’ Back and forth, back and forth.”

At Temple, the pair of starting linebackers lived together in a house on campus, so it’s a familiar feeling to be together this week at the combine. And in such a high-pressure situation, with so much on the line, it’s comforting for both to go through it all with a close friend. 

Bradley and Russell will be rooting for each other on Saturday but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to outperform each other.  

“It’s been cool,” Russell said. “We always talk trash with each other about who’s faster, who’s going to do this, who’s going to do that. The competition between us two has been intense so I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like when we get out there Saturday.” 

There are plenty of similarities between the two. 

- Russell is listed at 6-foot-2, 236 pounds. Bradley is listed at 6-foot-1, 235 pounds. 

- Both feel like they have gotten bigger, stronger and faster over the last couple of months. 

- Both are from New Jersey (Bradley from Mount Holly, Russell from Lakewood). Both became huge parts of Temple’s defense and were awarded single-digit numbers (Bradley got 5, Russell got 3) — an honor for the nine toughest Owls on the roster — in 2018. 

- Both put up big numbers in 2019. Bradley led the Owls with 86 tackles and Russell was second with 72. Bradley had 8 tackles for loss; Russell had 8 1/2. 

- And both feel like they have plenty to prove this week. 

While there are some big-name linebacker prospects in Indianapolis this week, the two Temple linebackers aren’t considered to be in that class. During their interview sessions on Thursday, while the big-name players spoke at podiums, Russell, Bradley and the less highly regarded prospects were crammed in the corner of the room at little round tables. 

“I think we’re going to open a lot of eyes,” Russell said. “…  I feel like when we go out there Saturday, we’re going to prove a lot of people wrong.”

Bradley and Russell both said the Eagles were one of the first teams to meet with them this week and each would love the opportunity to stay in Philly and continue to play home games at Lincoln Financial Field. It’s something the Eagles brought up to them in their respective interviews. 

Continuing their football careers in Philly would mean a lot to both men. For Bradley, it would allow him to stay close to home, where his family — including his four siblings, all 13 or younger — would be able to watch him play. 

Bradley joked the one problem he might have if he became an Eagle is remembering to go to the Birds’ locker room at the Linc and not to the Owls’ locker room farther down the hallway.  

But each guy basically said the same thing about the Eagles. 

“If Philly wanted to draft me, I’d be all for it,” Russell said. 

In recent months, Bradley and Russell have been in contact with several former Temple players who have already been through this pre-draft process. Since 2016, there have been 11 Owls drafted — 1 in the first, 2 in the second, 1 in the fourth, 3 in the fifth, one in the sixth and three in the 7th. 

A good showing from either Bradley or Russell on Saturday would go a long way in adding one of them to that list. 

Oh yeah, and one of them will earn those bragging rights too. 

“I’m pretty sure it’s going to be me,” Russell said. “But that’s the competition between me and him. He’ll say him, and I’ll say me.”

We’ll find out soon enough. 

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