Good morning, Eagles fans. The Eagles returned to the field Thursday for a padded practice. They will practice again at 11:30 a.m. Friday with players speaking after practice.
‘If I make this all about them, we’re in trouble’
The Eagles talk often about a “faceless opponent” — they don’t get caught up in the players or records on the opposing team. It’s an understandable philosophy that’s worked so far, but good luck applying it in the Super Bowl. The Patriots have a mystique about them, playing in their third Super Bowl in four years. So the challenge for the Eagles, in addition to preparing for the Patriots, is putting aside that mystique.
“If I make this all about them, we’re in trouble,” coach Doug Pederson said. “Everything is going to be written about it. Everything has been written about it, talked about it, discussed, debated, and it’s about us. And I’ll keep saying that. It’s what we do and how well we execute. I can’t worry about that.”
Pederson acknowledged it’s a “real question” and a “real issue.” The Patriots have “been there” and “done it.” So Pederson’s approach has been to tell the players to focus on practice each day, and worry about the game when they get there. It’s not that the Eagles aren’t giving the Patriots their due, but rather they’re going to try to approach them as a “faceless opponent.”
“It’s a credit to what the Patriots have done in their careers and their history, and everybody is trying to win championships like that,” Pederson said. “But we’ve just got to focus on today.”
Blount not looking back
LeGarrette Blount won two Super Bowls with the Patriots, but you won’t catch him reminiscing. Blount has rerouted questions all year about the Patriots. Now that he’s playing them in the Super Bowl, he didn’t want to discuss his former team or make comparisons between this year’s Eagles team and last year’s Super Bowl champs.
“I play for the Eagles,” Blount told reporters. “I don’t play for the Patriots anymore, I don’t watch the Patriots, I don’t care about the Patriots. I focus on what we need to do. … I had a great time there last year, but last year was last year.”
Blount, who rushed for two postseason touchdowns for the Eagles, has 10 career postseason scores. Pederson said he might count on Blount to talk to the team about the Super Bowl. Blount said his message to the younger players was about being professional and controlling their emotions, noting that even if they played big games in college, it’s nothing compared to the Super Bowl.
Congratulations hitting close to home
Beau Allen is the only player on the Eagles from Minnesota, so the Super Bowl trip is a homecoming for the reserve defensive tackle.
“It’s pretty wild,” Allen told reporters. “I try to stay as level as possible. … But this is a pretty perfect season finale for me personally. You’ve got to take that second to enjoy it. It hasn’t quite hit me yet, but once we get back to Minnesota and smell that fresh Minnesota air and everything, I’ll be thinking pretty good about myself.”
Needless to say, Allen’s phone has been bombarded with messages with old friends coming out of the woodwork.
“I wanted to change my number, it was pretty bad,” Allen said.
Allen has lived in Philadelphia for four years, but he’s ready for the Minnesota weather. He said it’s not that cold until it’s in single digits. Told it was currently in the 20s, he smiled and said, “that’s nothing.”
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— Zach Berman
What you need to know about the Eagles
- Chris Long is back in the Super Bowl, Paul Domowitch writes.
- The Eagles must take advantage of the bye week before going to Minneapolis, Les Bowen writes.
- Can Dion Lewis‘ success with the Patriots inspire Donnel Pumphrey? Marcus Hayes has more.
- Mike Sielski writes on an Eagles offseason plan that worked.
- Brandon Brooks doesn’t think the Super Bowl will affect his anxiety, Bowen writes.
- Boston fans don’t fear or hate the Eagles fans.
- Eagles fans like the dog masks.
- If you missed Thursday’s newsletter, the Eagles expect to be back in the Super Bowl again.
From the mailbag
It’s realistic to expect quick slants, hurry up offense from Pats similar to what the Giants ran both games against Eagles D. How can Schwartz game plan differently?
— BDB (@_csmc) January 26, 2018
Jim Schwartz has a tough challenge ahead of him game-planning for the Patriots and Tom Brady. They can play any style, like the quick-passing game you mentioned, and Malcolm Jenkins said Thursday that they can adjust mid-drive or mid-quarter based on the defensive look. So I don’t think the Eagles can go in saying the Patriots will play a certain style and they must be prepared for it, because the Patriots are built to play different ways. They have big-play receivers, middle-of-the-field receivers, the best tight end in the NFL, receiving running backs. The key is getting pressure on Brady, and if they rely on a quick-passing game, to be physical at the line of scrimmage to affect the receivers’ timing. But the pass rush can always be the equalizer. My guess is you’ll see aggressive coverages intended to try to get Brady to hold the ball longer and the Eagles rely on the four-man pass rush to pressure him in time. It’s easier said than done, but that’s the Eagles’ best chance against the Patriots.