While most sports-media pundits didn’t give the Eagles much of a chance throughout out the playoffs, NBC Football Night in America analyst and former coach Tony Dungy has consistently believed in the Birds, correctly predicting the team was “going to be fine” without injured quarterback Carson Wentz.
Dungy, who was in Philadelphia on Wednesday doing some interviews with the Eagles for NBC ahead of the Super Bowl, is well aware the Birds are once again underdogs, this time against the New England Patriots. So, does Dungy, who has some experience coaching Super Bowl teams, still think the Eagles can win?
“Jacksonville played there and had a chance to win the game. I think Nick Foles will play as well or better than Blake Bortles played, and I think they have a great shot,” Dungy told NBC Sports Northwest Rip City Radio hosts Dwight Jaynes and Aaron Fentress. “I just think, and I’m going to wait another week before I say it, but if you asked right now, I think Philly’s a team of destiny this year. They’ve overcome so much and they’ve continued to win. I like Philadelphia in a tight game.”
Since Dungy was speaking on Portland radio, the subject quickly turned to former Oregon and Eagles head coach Chip Kelly, who left his job as an ESPN analyst in December to take over as coach at UCLA.
“What really happened to Chip in the NFL?” Jaynes asked.
“I actually talked to Chip when he was contemplating going [to the NFL], and I said the big thing he has to do is get into an organization where everybody believes in the same thing and everybody buys in,” Dungy said. “He has a different philosophy about football, about offense, about how to move the ball, about nutrition. … He didn’t get in an organization where it was a total buy-in, and that’s hard to survive.”
Dungy mentioned Kelly’s early success with the Eagles and Foles’ spectacular 2013 season, when he famously threw 27 touchdown passes and just two interceptions. What Dungy omitted was the 2015 season, when Kelly went 6-9 and was fired before the final game of the season despite having been given complete control of the 53-man roster by owner Jeffrey Lurie.
He also didn’t bring up changes the Eagles made that seemed to indicate that the team bought into Kelly’s views on sports nutrition, including personalized smoothies for players and the elimination of “Taco Tuesday” and “Fast Food Fridays.”
One of the Chip Kelly changes: Tables with fruit and juices lined up post-practice for players to grab. pic.twitter.com/uWdtG4N5QA
— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) April 17, 2013
Looks like Fletcher Cox has watched the Super Bowl
Eagles defensive lineman Fletcher Cox made a surprising admission this week: Hhe doesn’t have a favorite Super Bowl memory, because he’s never actually watched the big game.
“I really don’t watch football. Y’all know that. I don’t watch sports,” Cox said during a press conference with reporters Wednesday.
As my colleague Les Bowen noted, it was the last question of the news conference, so left unanswered was the question of what Cox does watch.
Turns out it’s at least one Super Bowl.
It took only hours for social media sleuths to uncover tweets Cox sent during the 2015 Super Bowl between the Patriots and Seahawks. The tweets appear to reveal he was watching the game.
Here’s a tweet from ESPN Boston after Malcolm Butler intercepted Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson at the goal line to seal the Patriots’ Super Bowl XLIX victory:
INTERCEPTION! BUTLER AT THE GOAL-LINE! PATRIOTS BALL!
— ESPNBoston (@ESPNBoston) February 2, 2015
And here’s Cox’s tweet:
Wow wow wow
— fletcher cox (@fcoxx_91) February 2, 2015
Anonymous bettor puts millions on the Eagles
Despite the Eagles’ opening the week as the biggest Super Bowl underdog since 2009, one Las Vegas gambler is betting big on them.
Jay Rood, vice president of race and sports at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, confirmed that an anonymous bettor had placed a “multimillion-dollar” bet on the Eagles. According to ESPN’s David Purdum, it’s one of the largest reported bets in recent years in Nevada.
“Obviously, we’re pretty heavy Eagles now,” Rood told ESPN.
Wednesday afternoon, the Super Bowl line at MGM dropped a full point, from New England -.5.5 to -4.5. As of Wednesday evening, MGM had taken twice as many point-spread bets on the Eagles as it had the Patriots, including a couple of six-figure bets, according to ESPN.
“I’ve had inquiries for some big bets,” Rood said. “Last year, on Saturday and Sunday, we took probably a record number of six-figure wagers. I’m thinking the same kind of thing is going to happen this year.”
Including the playoffs, both the Eagles and the Patriots have gone 12-6 against the spread this season, according to odds provided by the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.