Gino Cammilleri reporting
In just over two short years the Eagles learned one great skill: How to finish
After the firing of coach Chip Kelly, Jeffrey Lurie went into 2016 offseason in search of “his guy.” Many could see the culture Kelly had developed was not met with much love by many of the players. Lurie wanted to be more involved in the coaching search after the failed Kelly experiment.
Rather than selecting a “football genius,” the Eagle owner wanted to find someone who excelled in the soft skill area of coaching. Maybe not the first choice the fans had wanted (myself included), Doug Pederson was hired as the next head coach for the Eagles. Being a first-time head coach, not many knew what to expect of coach Pederson coming into the 2016 season.
In the first three games of the 2016 NFL season, the Eagles stormed out of the gates to a 3-0 record.
With wins over the Browns, Bears, and an upset victory over the Steelers, Pederson’s Eagles looked destined for the playoffs. Going into a bye week at the most inopportune time may have thrown off the team’s mojo.
The Eagles would go on to win only two out of their next eleven games, finishing the season at a middling 7-9.
After missing the playoffs in 2016, Doug and co. knew that making a jump in 2017 was the number one priority. And as we all know the 2017 Eagles were vastly improved. From missing the playoffs to Super Bowl Champions in one year, coach Pederson went from hot-seat to Philadelphia royalty.
But what changed for this Eagles team in just one year?
The coaching staff stayed the same. The roster was overhauled for the better. But there was one underlying element that made this team go from good to great. They learned how to finish.
The 2016 Eagles were known for blowing wins late in games. From the Ryan Mathews fumble against the Lions, to the atrocious play calling against the Cowboys late in Jerry World. Not to mention allowing Kirk Cousins to march down the field against Washington.
That 2016 team clearly lacked the clutch-gene.
In one-score games, the Eagles finished with a less than ideal record of 1-6. Fast forward a year later to 2017. The Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles team finished the year with a record of 7-2 in one-score games, two of which came in the playoffs.
The first game of the budding 2018 season, the Eagles started hot with a 1-0 record, which happened to be a one-score game. There are many different factors that had a hand in the way the Eagles closed games. Carson Wentz had an MVP-caliber season. Doug Pederson’s play calling exponentially improved. The defense asserted themselves as one of the best in the league. But the one element that may have created the biggest shift in the organization can be attributed to a new culture.
When Jeffrey Lurie hired Doug to be the head coach, it was clear that there was a paradigm shift in the Eagles organization. Chip Kelly was focused more on “scheme beats talent,” and we all know how well that went.
Coach Pederson came in with the mentality that if his players bought in they could achieve greatness. After the finale of 2016, Doug made it known that being 7-9 “sucks.” Pederson knew the talent he had in that locker room. He knew how special Carson was. He knew how elite the defense was. He knew he had everything he needed to win. All he needed was the team to buy in.
Come 2017, all the chips were in the middle of the table. The team had bought in. By simply looking at the statistics of the team you can see that the 100% bought into Doug’s mentality.
|Offense||Rushing||Passing||3rd Down Conversion %||4Th Down Conversion %||Red Zone Scoring %|
|2016||11th – 1,813 yds, 16 TDs, 113.31 Y/G||24th – 3,585 yds, 16 TDs, 224.06 Y/G||85/224 – 37.9%||13/27 – 48.1%||27/55 – 49.1%|
|2017||3rd – 2,115 yds, 9 TD’s, 132.19 Y/G||13th – 3,737 yds, 38 TDs, 233.56 Y/G||96/230 – 41.7%||17/26 – 65.4%||36/55 – 65.5%|
|Defense||Rushing||Passing||3rd Down Defense %||4th Down Defense %||Red Zone Defense|
|2016||15th – 1,652 yds, 10 TDs, 103.3 Y/G||13th – 3,832 yds, 25 TDs, 239.5 Y/G||82/205 – 40.0%||8/18 – 44.4%||23/51 – 45.1%|
|2017||1st – 1,267 yds, 7 TDs, 79.2 Y/G||17th – 3,637 yds, 24 TDs, 227.3 Y/G||66/205 – 32.2%||4/18 – 22.2%||21/38 – 55.3%|
Statistics from Pro Football Reference
Coach Pederson inherited a cultureless Chip Kelly Eagles team and molded them into the Super Bowl Champions he knew they could be. It is well known that talent does not win championships (i.e. the “Dream Team” 2011 Eagles), but how well that talent meshes together.
These aren’t the same old Eagles. This locker room is different. This coach is different. These players are different. These are the new Eagles. A team that plays with passion. A team that plays for its city. A team who finishes games. A blue-collar team that takes pride in their work
Is Jordan Matthews back?
After 3 seasons as the Eagles primary wide receiver, Jordan Matthews was traded to the Buffalo Bills for Ronald Darby.
One year later the Eagles are razor thin at wide receiver and may just be bringing the former second round pick back.
It may not be the reunion story people were expecting but after Matthews had a workout with the Eagles Tuesday, it looks like he may be in midnight green this Sunday.
Louie and Gino break down EVERY aspect of this potential move. Why are fans so upset? How will it impact Nelson Agholor? What will they do when Alshon Jeffery comes back? Will Wentz and Matthews start up right where they left off in 2016?
Check it out:
Double debut on Sunday?
Wentz is back! Wentz is back! Tell the people! Wentz is back! According to Doug Pederson Carson Wentz has been cleared for contact and will start against the Colts this Sunday.
With Alshon Jeffery still week to week and Mike Wallace now out indefinitely, do the Eagles need to get more help for Wentz?
Perhaps an old friend like Jeremy Maclin or Jordan Matthews? What about trading for Josh Gordon by the 4 pm deadline?
DeSean Jackson and the Eagles: A redemption story that never was
When DeSean Jackson runs out of the tunnel Sunday taking on his former team, you can’t help but wonder if Jackson will think about what could have been.
Just a year ago Jackson was a free agent after spending three seasons in Washington. Even before the 2016 season ended, speculation arose that the former Eagle might be coming back to the city where he spent six seasons becoming one of the most dangerous deep threats in NFL history.
During the Eagles-Redskins week 16 match-up, an employee at Lincoln Financial Field asked Jackson “You coming home?” Jackson’s reply got Eagles fans everywhere excited about a possible reunion.
The moment I thought DeSean was coming back pic.twitter.com/dyhb9VpNbs
— Louie DiBiase (@DiBiaseLOE) September 15, 2018
Not only did Jackson comment on a potential comeback with the security guards, but he also told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that he wanted to play for a great quarterback (praising Carson Wentz) and that coming back to the Eagles would be a “great story or ending I guess you could say.”
The pairing made perfect sense. In the three years that Jackson wasn’t with the Eagles, the team was unable to replace him at wide receiver, rolling through the likes of Dorial Green-Beckham, Josh Huff, Jordan Matthews, and Miles Austin.
They also couldn’t find anybody to cover Jackson who suddenly was playing the Eagles twice a year.
He went from being the most dangerous deep threat in Eagles history, to the most dangerous threat to go deep against the Eagles.
Jackson gave the Eagles fits as he exposed the mediocre groups of Carry Williams and Bradley Fletcher, Byron Maxwell and Nolan Carroll, followed by Carroll and Leodis McKelvin.
He was the kryptonite of the Eagles. They could not stop the once Giant, Cowboy, and Redskin killer that was now the biggest Eagle killer in the NFL.
Since 1983, DeSean Jackson has the most 50-yard catches for the Eagles and the most 50-yard catches against the Eagles.
— Reuben Frank (@RoobNBCS) September 12, 2018
The Eagles finally had the opportunity to do right by Jackson who was cut unexpectedly by Chip Kelly after (or before) a story came out that Jackson had gang ties back in California. It was speculated that the Eagles leaked the story as a way to justify cutting a receiver who had a career year in 2013. Jackson who has never got in trouble off the field spoke on the matter often, saying he grew up with friends that did get involved with gangs but he had never been a part of it.
Now that Chip Kelly was out of the picture and the Eagles desperately needed weapons to surround Carson Wentz with, it seemed like DeSean Jackson could be coming home.
Jackson seemed to like the idea, the Eagles reportedly had interest, and even former teammates like Brandon Graham and LeSean McCoy were talking about the potential reunion.
“It’s an exciting feeling to get an Eagle back. I’m excited because he should have never left. Everybody knows that DeSean, yes, things were happening while he was here, but he’s a good guy. I used to be with him all the time.”
“I’m just happy because I kinda knew already. I’ve talked to him. I talked to him when Doug (Pederson) got hired. We have fun during the season. He’s like, ‘B.G. you know I’ll be back, man.’ But now that it’s official, as far as the season about to be over, I think you’ll be hearing a lot of noise about DeSean … I’m saying official as far as the end of season, now we’re gonna really see.”
Instagram live w/ Shady McCoy tonight was interesting. Called Kiko a bumb and said Desean told him he was going back. Whatever that means.
— Dan Hellie (@DanHellie) December 25, 2016
The comeback of a fan favorite never came to fruition. Jackson, in a free agent market where a lot of teams were willing to pay big money for weapons like him, cashed in with Tampa Bay.
The Eagles took the route of bringing in Alshon Jeffery on a one-year prove it deal, while bringing in Torrey Smith to be their new DeSean Jackson.
Smith struggled to make the deep plays down the field but signing Jeffery over Jackson seemed to pay off as the Eagles finally had a complete WR1 who scored 12 touchdowns on the year including three in the playoffs. Jeffery was one of the biggest reasons the offense opened up and the team never looked back winning their first Super Bowl in franchise history.
Jackson has to think that potentially could have been him had he and the Eagles worked something out in free agency.
With DeSean instead of Jeffery, Wentz would still have plenty of weapons on offense to take the MVP-caliber step he took in year two.
He commented on the Eagles winning the Super Bowl in an appearance on “Undisputed”, and how he and players like McCoy or Jeremy Maclin could have been with that Super Bowl team had Chip Kelly kept them around.
But DeSean’s situation is different from that of McCoy and Maclin. The Eagles were interested in bringing Jackson back. Had he asked for less money, perhaps the Eagles bring him home and he is hoisting the Lombardi Trophy with the Eagles.
What a story it could have been.
Instead, Jackson will be looking to once again be a problem for the Eagles secondary this Sunday. This time with a journeyman quarterback and a team that despite being 1-0, has a lot of question marks for this season and the future.
Gotta wonder if Jackson would do it differently if he could go back to 2017 free agency.