This Philadelphia Eagles season has been relatively drama free, which makes sense given the fact the team is the best in the NFL. Winning heals all wounds.
But there was a little “issue” — if that’s what you want to call it — that popped up after the Eagles’ win over the Bears on Sunday.
After the game, Eagles running back Jay Ajayi didn’t seem very happy (in the opinion of some, at least) while being interviewed by reporters in the locker room. Here’s a clip of his transcript.
On why opposing defenses have difficulty preparing for the Eagles’ offensive attack:
“We’re very balanced. We can do a lot of different things, so it keeps them on their toes.”
On whether he has a more versatile role in the offense compared to previous seasons:
“My role is to run the plays that the coaches call [and] that’s what I’ve been doing.”
On the environment within the Eagles’ locker room:
“[It’s] exciting, we’re on a roll right now. Everyone’s excited with what we’re doing and trying to stay focused on the goals.”
On his current workload:
“I just run the plays that the coaches call. I’m happy we’re winning.”
Ajayi sure didn’t say anything wrong there, but it was his tone that irked some. The Jay Train was called out by Hall of Fame sportswriter Ray Didinger on the NBC Sports Philadelphia postgame show.
MICHAEL BARKANN: Ray, is this going to be an issue? Say ‘no.’
RAY DIDINGER: It better not be. I agree with these guys [Barrett Brooks and Seth Joyner]. I mean, he’s obviously miffed with this. And I don’t know if it’s the questioning about the fact that he’s getting out in the open and getting run down from behind, he probably doesn’t like hearing that. But if he’s got an issue with the touches, hey chief, this team was winning before you got here. And it’s nice to have you here. We’re glad to have you in the clubhouse. You’re a nice addition. But, you know, we were doing pretty good before you got to town. And so I would say, just shut up and tote the ball.
Ajayi did not care for the criticism.
CLOWNS.— Jay Ajayi (@JayTrain) November 27, 2017
In fairness, it’s not like the concern over Ajayi’s attitude is totally coming out of nowhere. Shortly after he was traded to the Eagles last month, reports emerged from Miami indicating Ajayi displayed “selfish” behavior with the Dolphins.
On Monday, however, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson downplayed there was an issue after Sunday’s game.
Q. What did you make of RB Jay Ajayi’s post-game comments? There was obviously some reaction to those and are you sensing any frustration out of him?
COACH PEDERSON: Not with Jay at all. Not at all. Had a chance to speak with him this morning. He's fine. He's so excited to be here obviously. He's on a winning football team, contributes any way he wants to and just -- he was frustrated from the standpoint he had a chance to score and lost the ball and it was great hustle by Nelly [Nelson Agholor] to recover that thing.
Any running back is going to be frustrated. We put the ball on the ground a little bit too much yesterday. He's fine. He's excited to be here and ready to work this week.
Of course, Pederson isn’t going to publicly say that there IS an issue with Ajayi even if there really was. But I actually do buy Pederson’s explanation here, and you should too.
Watch Ajayi’s fumble again and keep an eye on him — not the ball.
The guy is clearly frustrated about his fumble.
It carried over to the sideline as well.
One could criticize Ajayi for not being happy for Agholor, but I think that’s being too tough on him.
It was just a really frustrating play for Ajayi. It was a great run leading up to that point and he just didn’t finish it. By fumbling so close to the goal line, he jeopardized the ball either going out of bounds in the end zone or being recovered by the other team for a touchback. That ultimately didn’t happen, but it’s not unreasonable for Ajayi to feel bad for even allowing the opportunity. It also could make him feel like the new coaching staff he’s trying to impress won’t be able to rely on him, and therefore could further limit his already limited touches.
I have all the respect in the world for Didinger, but I think this idea about Ajayi being super unhappy about touches is overblown. To me, he clearly seems frustrated about the fumble. Also, from what I’ve seen of him so far, it’s not unusual of Ajayi to be short with the media. Not saying that he’s nasty or anything, just doesn’t seem to be the most talkative guy. And that’s fine. Alshon Jeffery is pretty quiet in that regard, too.
If you needed even more evidence that this Ajayi stuff is a non-issue, check out what Eagles sideline reporter Howard Eskin had to say after checking in with some sources.
Ajayi comments totally overblown. Reported stuff was bulls___. Checking inside he had no problem with his carries. Upset with himself. There are times Media make it up. https://t.co/A9msFPggAB— Howard Eskin (@howardeskin) November 28, 2017