Good morning, Eagles fans. The parade might be on Thursday, but there will be Eagles news on Wednesday. The players will clean out their lockers at 9:30 a.m. for their final day at the team facility. Doug Pederson also has a noon news conference. After Wednesday's clean-out day and Thursday's parade, attention will start to shift to the offseason. (Believe it or not, the scouting combine is only three weeks away!)
We'll continue with comprehensive post-Super Bowl coverage for the rest of the week in Early Birds. If your friends haven't subscribed to Early Birds, it's free to sign up here to receive the newsletter in your inbox every weekday. I want to know what you think, what we should add, and what you want to read, so send me feedback by email or on Twitter @ZBerm. Thank you for reading.
— Zach Berman
Chris Long and LeGarrette Blount joined exclusive company by winning back-to-back Super Bowls with different teams. They join Deion Sanders and Ken Norton Jr. as the only players to play and win consecutive Super Bowls. (Three other players also were on winning Super Bowl rosters in back-to-back years but didn't play in both games.)
And they were able to win the Super Bowl against their former team, unlike Sanders and Norton. Long and Blount celebrated with the Patriots last season and against the Patriots on Sunday.
"I'm blessed," Long said. "LeGarrette and I just make good decisions. That's all it is. It took a big leap of faith to leave somewhere like that where you know you're going to be in games like that, to live with the fact that maybe we would have to watch them do that. We just became a part of a great team, and the better team won today."
Long and Blount were both optimistic about the Eagles' trajectory when signing during the offseason, but they likely would have admitted in the spring that the Patriots had a better chance of winning the Super Bowl this season than the Eagles. Both players were key for the Birds, and their experience was used during the playoff run, speaking to the team about what's needed to win the Super Bowl.
So how did they feel about their former teammates after the game?
"I'm too busy enjoying our win," Blount said. "I don't have time to feel bad for anyone."
As Super Bowl champions, the Eagles will likely get to host the first game of the 2018 season. That means the Eagles will have a home game on Thursday, Sept. 6 — a desirable date for teams because they won't have the typical short week that precedes a Thursday night game and will have extended rest going into Week 2. (By the way, the Phillies are off that Thursday, so there doesn't appear to be any conflict.)
Who will they play? The Eagles' home games next season are against the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Minnesota Vikings, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, and Washington Redskins.
My guess is the Eagles host the Vikings in a rematch of the NFC championship game.
For one final time this season, we'll look at what stood out in the playing-time distribution of the most recent Eagles game. This one happened to be the Super Bowl.
The playing time of the running backs is always interesting, and I'm surprised Jay Ajayi didn't play more in the Super Bowl. In fact, snaps were split almost evenly among the three running backs. Ajayi played 25 snaps, and Corey Clement and LeGarrette Blount played 24 snaps. That's a true committee. Clement's role is noteworthy. He was the Eagles' leading receiver and their third-down running back, which is a role he's likely to play next season. (The Eagles can always try to bring Darren Sproles back, but it's hard not to be impressed with Clement, and he's signed to an inexpensive contract.)
On defense, the Eagles played a lot of the dime package and a heavy-nickel package. Corey Graham took 64 snaps (84 percent), Patrick Robinson played 53 snaps (70 percent), and Mychal Kendricks played 32 (42 percent). Dannell Ellerbe was active, but he played three snaps, which shows how little base defense the Eagles played. Graham played a bigger role on the Eagles this season than many realize — that third safety role is important, and I'm curious to see who fills it next season.
The Eagles have a remarkably deep team, and almost every starter is returning, so there's no pressing need. They can draft the best players available and also look ahead to the future. I think the Eagles must make it a priority to re-sign Nigel Bradham, and my guess is they lose Trey Burton in free agency, so they'll need to add a tight end. If the Eagles move on from Torrey Smith for salary-cap purposes, they would need to consider whether Mack Hollins is ready or if they want to add another wide receiver.
I would continue drafting young offensive linemen because the team is getting older at that spot. I think they need a young potential starter at middle linebacker to protect against Jordan Hicks' injuries and another defensive end to develop. They could continue seeking defensive tackle depth, and they should be in the market for a third safety.