Win over Cowboys cements Eagles' status as legit Super Bowl contender

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Win over Cowboys cements Eagles' status as legit Super Bowl contender

Philadelphia sports fans have earned the right to lack optimism when it comes to their teams. Years and years of heartache, disappointment, expectations and injuries have brought about a psyche of waiting for the safe to drop on their heads.

That next shoe will be dropping any time now. Some would describe the collective sporting outlook as “Negadelphia” and there is some truth that. There are some fans in this city that can tend to see the mole on the supermodel. But for the most part, they’ve come by their skeptical point of view through good ole fashion practice and repetition.

Randall Cunningham in 1991, the 2011 Phillies, the Tampa NFC title game, Joe Carter, Leon Stickle, Patrick Kane. Those names and events leave scars. And I’m one who generally subscribes to the never-get-ahead of yourself philosophy. But what I’m about to say flies in the face of even my own personal creed.

They are that good. Say it to me, they are that good.

One more time, they are that good.

Speaking of the 9-1 Eagles, of course. The same Eagles team that has scored 320 points through 10 games. The most in the NFL and in franchise history through that span of games. The same Eagles team that is eighth in points allowed and the best in the league against the run. They're tied for the fourth-most sacks. And, oh yeah, their quarterback has 25 touchdowns to five interceptions and is the frontrunner for the MVP.

Did I mention the coach?

Doug Pederson has pushed every right button. Take Sunday vs. the Cowboys for example. The Eagles' offense was listless and struggling in the first half. They managed only seven points, even after being gifted two turnovers.

Pederson didn’t feel the need to flip tables or make some drastic adjustments, he simply instructed his players to stay the course, to believe in what they’ve done all season. The Eagles outscored Dallas, 30-0, in the second half (see story).

The point is, they are a complete team. They've won eight in a row. They're 4-0 in the NFC East, 7-0 in conference and 4-1 on the road. They are not a fluke.

And it's OK to enjoy this.

Don't miss out on the opportunity to smell the roses with this special team. Live in the moment. Revel in it, in fact. This doesn't happen very often. Let's get ahead of ourselves a little.

I know you've been burned in the past. I know the futility of never winning a Super Bowl and going 40-plus years without a Cup or more than 30 years without an NBA championship can beat you down. But savor this.

In the history of the Eagles organization, which dates back to 1933, the club has gotten off to a 9-1 start five times. The previous four seasons, they've won a championship twice and twice they've been to the Super Bowl.

Does that mean this team is guaranteed anything? No.

The playoffs and a division title are a pretty good assumption at this point, beyond that all bets are off. Injuries are always the x-factor, home field, etc., we know all the requisite reasons why things can change quickly especially in that league.

But that same logic applies to every team. The Eagles have overcome losing their future Hall of Fame left tackle, their middle linebacker and do-it-all running back/return man and have yet to lose without them. You’re not jinxing or mushing them by believing in them and puffing your chest out a little.

This team is built for the long haul, they are young and good in most positions, which bodes well for the future. But we’re dealing in the here and now and this team has a legitimate shot at winning the whole thing. And it’s OK to say out loud.

They are that good.

Roob’s 10 observations: Anthem policy, Kendricks’ career, Wentz

Roob’s 10 observations: Anthem policy, Kendricks’ career, Wentz

Some thoughts on the NFL’s new anthem policy, Mychal Kendricks’ release, Carson Wentz’s return to practice and – of course – the Joe Callahan Stat of the Day!

It’s all in this week’s OTA edition of Roob’s 10 Random Eagles Observations!

1. The NFL’s anthem policy banning players from peaceful demonstrations during the anthem bothers me for a few reasons. First of all, it’s a dangerous precedent for the league to unilaterally restrict any such form of personal expression. Legislating opinions never works. Players are going to find other ways to express their opinions, and the policy is only going to breed resentment between the players and the league, which is the last thing the league needs right now. But more than that, I really have problems with the word “disrespect.” When someone arbitrarily decides what is and what isn’t “disrespectful,” you really get yourself in a lot of trouble. Nobody who’s listened to Malcolm Jenkins so eloquently discuss his reasons for raising his fist during the anthem would ever accuse him of being disrespectful. And also, since this is a policy that affects mainly African-American players, it has strong racial implications. These are issues that aren’t going to just go away, whether or not the NFL tries to make them disappear.

2. And I found Eagles owner Jeff Lurie’s statement uncharacteristically tepid and vague. Lurie has been courageously supportive all along of Jenkins, Chris Long and all the players league-wide who’ve used their platform to fight for equal rights and social justice. All that statement did was avoid taking a stand on the new NFL policy. Disappointing.

3. Onto football matters! There’s no question the Eagles are a better football team with Mychal Kendricks on the field. Kendricks was solid last year and very good in the postseason. But the bottom line is Kendricks has felt unwanted and disrespected for a long time. The Eagles have been trying unsuccessfully to unload his contract for a couple years, and Kendricks knew he had no future here. If a team doesn’t want a player and the player doesn’t want to be with the team, it’s not a healthy relationship. And that’s why Kendricks is gone. But Kendricks handled what could have been an ugly situation with class and professionalism, and he’s got a Super Bowl ring to show for it. He never became the Pro Bowl player I expected when I first saw him play in 2012, but he was a decent player here for six years, and he leaves as a champion.

4. Jason Kelce announced the start of the 5K at the Eagles Autism Challenge at the Linc in terrible conditions and parodied his Super Bowl parade speech: “They said it was too cold! They said it was too rainy!” Hilarious.

5. Watching Carson Wentz actually participate in individual drills at practice Tuesday morning was pretty wild. For him to be out there looking comfortable and fluid taking drops and firing passes just 5 1/2 months after hobbling off the field at L.A. Coliseum was awfully encouraging.

6. I’m really starting to think Wentz plays Sept. 6.

7. One note about the Eagles’ linebacker depth. The days where teams ran three linebackers out there on every play are long gone. The Eagles last year played three linebackers on about 12 percent of their defensive snaps. In the Super Bowl, the Eagles played a total of three reps with three LBs. So if Jordan Hicks can stay healthy and Nigel Bradham plays like he did last year, the Eagles will be fine. Big if with Hicks. When the Eagles do play three ‘backers, I expect Corey Nelson to handle that role. Really, it comes down to Hicks staying healthy.

8. Career completion percentages of current Eagles quarterbacks:

82.6 percent … Nate Sudfeld
71.4 percent … Joe Callahan
61.5 percent … Carson Wentz
61.1 percent … Nick Foles

9. Was fun watching Mike Wallace run around at practice on Tuesday. Excited to see what he brings to this offense. He’s 31, an age where many receivers are slowing down, but he was one of just two receivers in their 30s last year who caught 50 passes and averaged 14.0 yards per catch (Ted Ginn was the other). And with Nelson Agholor and Alshon Jeffery here, he doesn’t have to be THE GUY. None of them do. That’s the beauty of this offense.

10. Potentially, this is the best trio of receivers the Eagles have ever had. Would you rather have DeSean, Maclin and Avant or Jeffery, Agholor and Wallace? I think this group is more versatile and slightly more talented. It’s close.  

Eagles sign undrafted linebacker Kyle Wilson

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Eagles sign undrafted linebacker Kyle Wilson

After releasing veteran Mychal Kendricks and losing Paul Worrilow for the season, the Eagles have added linebacker depth in rookie Kyle Wilson.

Wilson, who stands 6-foot, 230 pounds, participated in the Eagles’ rookie camp earlier this month.

"I feel like my game can translate pretty well to the NFL," Wilson told the Wichita Eagle Beacon, his hometown newspaper.

"I can make plays at linebacker and on special teams. I have a good football IQ and called all the plays for my defense at Arkansas State. I just want to keep proving people wrong."

Wilson was unrecruited out of Wichita South High School and began his collegiate career at football powerhouse Hutchinson Community College in Kansas before transferring to Arkansas State, where he played for two years.

"I have never been a huge name," Wilson said. "Didn't have any scholarship offers coming out of high school and was forced to go to junior college. Only had three offers leaving there. I have always played with a chip on my shoulder."

The Eagles now have nine linebackers on the roster, including Wilson, projected starters Nigel Bradham and Jordan Hicks, veterans Corey Nelson, Kamu Grugier-Hill and LaRoy Reynolds, late-round draft picks Nate Gerry and Joe Walker and undrafted rookie Asantay Brown from Western Michigan.