Eagles news and notes for 10/7
When Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman released a story yesterday about how all 21 of the white NFL players he polled support Donald Trump, many were dubious of the figure. But according to Malcolm Jenkins, that number is probably an accurate reflection of the breakdown in the Eagles’ locker room.
“I would say if it’s not 100, it’s probably 90 percent in this locker room,” Jenkins said.
The story also reported that 20 of the 22 black players polled support Clinton, while the other two plan to vote for Trump. In general, the Pro Bowl safety thought the piece’s detailing of a political divide in NFL locker rooms is true.
“It’s pretty accurate,” Jenkins said. “Donald Trump is a divisive name in a locker room. A lot of guys will talk politics, but usually not about Trump. Those might get a little heated depending on who you’re talking to. … There’s some hardcore Trump fans in this locker room… which is fine.”
Jenkins has been outspoken before about racial injustices he sees in the United States, and he’s engaged Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross in an ongoing conversation for weeks about how professional athletes can help bridge the divide between police and communities. Jenkins has also raised his right fist before the Eagles’ last two games during the national anthem to bring awareness to racial inequality.
“It doesn’t end well for head coaches in the NFL,’’ he said. “No matter how much you want it to. As much success as Andy Reid had here, it didn’t end well for him.
“You could probably roll out any coach who’s ever coached in the league and say the same thing. It didn’t end well for Tony Dungy in Tampa. It didn’t end well for (Bill) Belichick at Cleveland. It didn’t end well for Pete Carroll with the Jets or Patriots.
“When we’re in it, we expect to be that person that’s going to be (in the same place) for 25 years or whatever. But it doesn’t always work out that way.’’
This will be the second time Schwartz has faced the Lions in Detroit since he was fired. He returned there two years ago when he was Buffalo’s defensive coordinator. The Bills won that game, 17-14. Schwartz’s players carried him off the field.
“Been there done that,’’ he said when asked if this game meant any more to him than a game against, say, the Cleveland Browns or Chicago Bears. “Played (them) when I was in Buffalo. Was able to get a win there. We also played a snow game there when I was with Buffalo. We played the Jets there.
“I visit there a lot of times in the offseason. I don’t have very many friends. But my wife has a lot of friends (in Detroit). I enjoyed my time there. It’ll be part of our family’s life, not just a part of my life.’’
Carson Wentz said he wants to be a thrower – not a runner. And Eagles coach Doug Pederson will make that an emphasis of the game plan by avoiding designed quarterback runs early in the season.
“Without giving away the game plan? No, I'm not,” Pederson said of designing runs by the QB. “Now, this week for us, it's our fourth game of the season. As a staff, we've got to be extremely smart on how we handle that aspect of the game.
“Probably the deeper as you go into your regular season, if you are in a position to make the postseason, you might increase that a little bit. One of the things that I think defenses sometimes forget -- I'm not saying they forget it completely -- is the quarterback and the ability to run.”
The Chiefs used designed runs effectively with quarterback Alex Smith while Pederson was offensive coordinator. Smith rushed for a career-high 498 yards last season, and his three highest-rushing outputs during 11 years in the NFL came with the Chiefs.
Some think Jim Schwartz will want revenge for the Lions firing of him following the 2013 season. Honestly, that all feels like ancient history.
I think this Eagles team will be focused on winning. Carson Wentz doesn’t care about last year. Nor does Rodney McLeod. Or DGB. Or Jalen Mills. The 2016 Eagles aren’t really an extension of last year’s team. Different players, coaches and schemes. The Eagles were 4-6 when they took on the Lions last year. This team is 3-0.
I do think Doug Pederson will have the challenge of keeping the Eagles focused. The team has gotten 2 weeks worth of praise. The players were on vacation last week and that meant traveling and doing non-football things. It is good for players and coaches to have some time away, but you hate for that to come when the team is playing at a high level and injuries aren’t a major factor.
The Eagles are rested and relaxed. We’ll have to see if they are ready to roll. Playing a 1-3 team on the road could be a trap game for a team coming off a huge win and a bye. I think a couple of factors work in the Eagles favor. First, Schwartz is an incredibly demanding coach. He will not let his defense sit around reading press clippings of their 3-0 start. Schwartz will talk to them about the mistakes that led to some long plays and extended drives.
The offense will benefit from the fact that there aren’t elite players. That means there will be 4 RBs all wanting touches. There will be 3 TEs all wanting the ball to come their way. There will be 4 WRs hoping Wentz looks for them on pass plays. Wentz is very driven himself so I don’t expect him to come out flat.