Good morning, Eagles fans. The Eagles will practice on Friday afternoon at the University of Minnesota for the final time this week. Tim Jernigan missed the last two days with an illness, so his status will be worth monitoring. Look for special editions of Early Birds on Saturday and Sunday leading up to the Super Bowl, with Sunday's newsletter offering key areas to watch in the game.
— Zach Berman
The Nick Foles–Doug Pederson quarterback-coach combination does not have the same ring to it as the Tom Brady–Bill Belichick combination, but in Pederson's "quiet moments," he envisions being part of one of those storied partnerships in NFL history.
Brady-Belichick is the most storied. This is their eighth Super Bowl, and they're going for their sixth ring. Pederson and Carson Wentz haven't made one together yet. But Pederson looks like he could be the Eagles coach for a long time, and Wentz will be the Eagles quarterback for a long time.
The Brady-Belichick pairing might soon be nearing its expiration. So could Wentz-Pederson be next?
"Gosh, I'd love to," Pederson said. "Even in some of the quiet moments, I try to envision that. In this league if you have a quarterback and you do things right and you surround him with talented players and coaches, you can have a long career in this business and have the success those two gentlemen have had. A lot of respect for those two and what they meant for this league. That's something myself and Carson and the guys we have around him could possibly have in Philadelphia."
My take: Pederson has shown a lot of promise, as has Wentz, but they both have much to prove if the conversation is about multiple Super Bowl victories.
The Eagles had their second practice of the week on Thursday. Pederson seemed pleased by the session, according to the pool report. The Eagles wanted to eliminate pre-snap mistakes, and Foles was apparently "real sharp."
This came one day after the Eagles looked sloppy in the second half of the practice after a mock halftime when they stopped for 30 minutes. Pederson explained Thursday morning that after missing a few days — the Eagles had not practiced since Saturday — "it's typical that you're going to have not quite as crisp of a practice." He spoke to the team leadership about the session.
"It wasn't get the team together, get the coaches together, and then start browbeating everybody," Pederson said. "We're so late in the season now that we understand how to practice. Just making sure that we understand the importance. … That's why I did the break, was to put us in that situation. Now we understand it. It was a very teachable moment for our guys, our coaches for how to prepare for the second half of a football game."
The Eagles are not practicing in pads this week. A few readers asked why the Eagles bypassed pads after practicing in them for much of the postseason. Pederson said the Eagles got their padded work in last week at the NovaCare Complex, and this week's focus is staying fresh for the game.
"We had a great week last week back in Philly, had our prep last week, this is about fine-tuning, keeping the guys fresh for Sunday," Pederson said. "I just decided to back off this week and keep them fresh for Sunday."
In Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz's first news conference this season, most of the questions were about the cornerbacks. There was a lot of concern at the time about the group.
It's interesting to look at what the Eagles cornerbacks are now. Ronald Darby wasn't on the team yet, and Patrick Robinson was not in the slot, so the team has made changes since then. Schwartz also noted that Jalen Mills was still a developing player, and Rasul Douglas was learning as a rookie. But that could have been a major weakness for the Eagles. It's not the strength of the defense, although they've outperformed preseason expectations and are now one game from a Super Bowl.
"We developed into our defense, and it was hard work that each of those guys put in that allowed them to be successful," Schwartz said.
He would be the only one to win a Super Bowl with the Eagles. He would also have his record from 2013. I'd still say no. Donovan McNabb, even without a Super Bowl, would remain the best quarterback in Eagles history. McNabb leads the franchise in yards, touchdowns, and completions. He went to five NFC championship games. He doesn't have a ring, but you must appreciate his Eagles career.
Foles would certainly have a special spot in Eagles history. With that said, Carson Wentz might finish as the best quarterback to wear an Eagles uniform.