Back in the summer, onlookers in the news conference audience rolled their eyes when Doug Pederson compared the Eagles group he was coaching to the Green Bay Packers' 1996 Super Bowl team for which Pederson served as the backup quarterback.
But if the Eagles win a home game Sunday against Minnesota, they will be headed for the Super Bowl – despite playing without their starting quarterback, their nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle, and their starting middle linebacker, among others. So yeah, Pederson was pretty much on the money about having a pretty good group on hand.
"I don't have a crystal ball, obviously, and it's hard to predict. You'd love to sit here and go, yeah, in the summer, you're going to be 13-3 and win the NFC East. You'd love to be in that situation, or 16-0, or whatever it might be," Pederson said Friday.
"I did have a feeling back then … that we could be, we had the potential to be, a good football team, because of the way we practiced and the talent that we brought to the roster, and the progression of Carson [Wentz] in his second year. And then defensively the front, the way they performed, and the back end. I saw a lot of the same similarities. So you just have that gut feeling.
"But I also followed that up by saying it takes great coaching, teaching, mentoring to also have our guys prepared each week, to be in this position. So all of that has kind of culminated. I think you look back on it and you go, 'Wow, maybe it was true.' "
Pederson said he is "wiser, smarter" than the Andy Reid protégé who took the field for his first game as an NFL head coach 16 months back. But he isn't hogging the credit for what has developed.
"It's definitely right up at the top as far as the teams I've either played for, or coached, and been a part of," Pederson said. "Just from the standpoint of the amount of players we've lost, the amount of starters that we've lost this season. That's what makes it such a special team, for the things we've overcome."
The Eagles listed middle linebacker Dannell Ellerbe as questionable for Sunday with a hamstring injury, Ellerbe once again a limited practice participant. Rookie corner Sidney Jones (hamstring), who was a full practice participant, said he has not been told if he will be active against the Vikings.
The Vikings listed wideout Adam Thielen (back) and safety Andrew Sendejo (concussion) as questionable, though indications are that both will play. Defensive tackle Shamar Stephen, who suffered a knee injury in last Sunday's victory over the Saints, was declared out.
Doug Pederson was asked Friday about how important it was that Howie Roseman brought in players this offseason, not just for the down-the-road contention many observers expected of the Eagles but for them to contend this season. Roseman Thursday was named the NFL's executive of the year by the Pro Football Writers Association.
"It's tremendous. Howie has come a long way through the last couple years, and to be in this position … is a credit to him and his staff," Pederson said.