Let’s get to the Philadelphia Eagles links ...
Brandon Aiyuk: Chiefs passing game will expose Eagles’ defense - PFT
“We have a talented football team,” Aiyuk recently told The SFNiners, via NBCSportsBayArea.com. “We have, hands down, the best football team in the league. Hands down. . . . I’m not going even going to argue with anyone who thinks they should argue that.” Aiyuk also believes that the Philadelphia defense is going to be exposed in seven days by a very potent Kansas City offense. “I don’t know fully about that defense,” Aiyuk said, via Grant Cohn of SI.com. “They talk about them being a good defense — I’m not sure. I think this Kansas City pass game will expose what we thought we were going to expose before some unfortunate circumstances. They got extremely lucky.”
Would you rather a heartbreaking loss in the playoffs, or miss the playoffs altogether? - Niners Nation
It’s been five days since the 49ers’ season ended in Philadelphia. Kyle Shanahan’s mood in the final press conference of the season represented how many 49ers fans and players felt. Frustrated, exhausted, and left with more questions than answers. Thirty-one teams miss out on the Lombardi trophy. Every team has the Super Bowl on their mind, but frankly, only a few have a realistic chance to attain it. The 49ers were one of those teams. Losing to Philadelphia isn’t the reason for frustration. It’s the fashion in which they lost. Shanahan and Lynch spoke directly about how proud they were of this season and how much fun it was. Twelve straight victories was a scenario nobody could have envisioned. Brock Purdy leading the charge made it an unlikely scenario. How should fans view this season? Ask other fan bases, and I’m sure they would be elated to have a team compete for the conference championship three years out of four. But this is the 49ers, the team that doesn’t hang any banner that isn’t a Super Bowl banner.
Ranking Super Bowl 57’s top storylines - BGN
Even the Kelce brothers are sick of the brothers storyline and, to be honest, it’s not terribly interesting to me, either. I also didn’t get worked up about the Aaron Nola-Austin Nola brother match-up in the National League Championship Series, so maybe I’m just biased against brothers. I do like the Andy Reid vs. his Old Team narrative, but the storyline with the most juice, to me, is Hurts vs. Mahomes. If Mahomes wins, he catapults up the all-time greatest QB lists, while a Hurts victory establishes him as one of the NFL’s true superstars, a marketing juggernaut, and cements legend status in Philadelphia. Not only that, both quarterbacks are dealing with injuries, have similar playing styles, and are the key factors in which team will win. It’s an incredible match-up between the league’s two best players this year. That’s a storyline.
At the Podium: Fletcher Cox, Lane Johnson, and Jason Kelce on making it to the Super Bowl for the second time - BGN Radio
Eagles veterans Fletcher Cox, Lane Johnson, and Jason Kelce talk with the Philly media about the significance of making it to the Super Bowl for the second time and how special this team is.
Super Bowl Talk - Iggles Blitz
This is a complete team. They can do everything well. Great running game. Outstanding passing attack. Best pass rush in the league. Best pass defense in the league. Solid run defense. There just isn’t a real hole. The run defense was leaky at times, but the addition of Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh has helped that. Even special teams ended up being a good unit. I can’t recall such a complete Eagles team. Normally there is one glaring weakness. Howie Roseman did a masterful job in putting the roster together and the coaches have done a great job at getting the most out of the players. Who’s underachieving? Maybe Quez Watkins, the #3 receiver. Special team.
Roob’s Super Bowl observations: 72 years without an INT - NBCSP
The Eagles haven’t recorded an interception in their three Super Bowls (or in their last NFL Championship Game). Of the 23 teams that have played in at least two Super Bowls, they’re the only one that doesn’t have an INT. In fact, the Chargers and Titans are the only teams that have played in one Super Bowl without picking off a pass. Opposing quarterbacks – Jim Plunkett and Tom Brady – have a 120.3 passer rating against the Eagles in their three Super Bowls and have thrown 103 passes and eight TDs without an INT. In the first 56 Super Bowls, 49 winners have had at least one INT. Among the seven teams that won a Super Bowl without recording an interception? Of course the 2017 Eagles. The Eagles also won the 1960 NFL Championship without an interception of Bart Starr. Including his 34 attempts, the Eagles have faced 137 consecutive passes in championship games since their last interception. When was the last one? It happened 73 years ago, when Frank Reagan picked off Rams QB Bob Waterfield at the Eagles’ 2-yard-line early in the fourth quarter of the Eagles’ 14-0 win at L.A. Coliseum in the 1949 NFL Championship Game. Reagan was a Philly native and Northeast Catholic graduate and played college ball at Penn and then spent several years as Villanova’s athletic director after his NFL career.
What Jalen Hurts has shown for years that sets him apart from his peers - The Athletic
“Nothing is ever about me,” Hurts explained a few months later to a group of high school quarterbacks at the Elite 11 camp. “It’s always about my team. I always try to put my team first.” I realized this all gets to why Hurts remembers to ALWAYS keep the main thing, the main thing, even as he leads the Eagles to Super Bowl LVII in his third NFL season. It’s that coaching cliché that often gets trampled by our own human nature. Hurts said he’d gone to a leadership summit at IMG the year before, and one of the big takeaways from it was for a person to be able to lead, they have to be able to love. “When I heard that, it helped open it up for me,” he said.
How the Eagles’ Lane Johnson draws on his mother’s strength: ‘We’ve been through the road of hard knocks’ - Inquirer
Like anyone with familial relationships or otherwise, Johnson sometimes has outside forces — like the ARP machine — working against him. That he can exist on an island in pass protection and seemingly always remained disciplined — despite whatever may be going on in his life — is a testament to his fortitude.But it’s always a mental grind. “It’s mortal combat every weekend,” he said.Johnson has had a whirlwind last few years, from the breakup of his marriage to his nearly quitting football after he left the Eagles in October 2021. Carpentier offered some tough love at the time, which led to a brief falling out. But they eventually reconnected, and even though she didn’t initially tell her son about her diagnosis, it has since brought them closer together. “And that’s one reason I didn’t want Lane to know,” Carpentier said. “I didn’t want it to be a pity party. ‘Oh, Mom’s diagnosed with cancer’ and blah, blah, blah. But it ended up all working out and kind of got us all in the same frame of mind of how short life can be and don’t take things for granted.”
Spadaro: DeVonta Smith is built for the moment - PE.com
This is the moment, DeVonta Smith says, that he craves. He played in two state championship games in high school, won two National Championships at Alabama, and now he’s ready for the biggest stage of his life, the Super Bowl. He isn’t fazed a bit. “I’ve been playing in these games my whole life,” Smith said, relaxed with every word. “For me, it’s like, I’m built for this. I’ve been here plenty of times. This is what I grew up in.” Well, yes, but, um, no. He hasn’t been in this before. Not the Super Bowl, not until now. “It’s just a natural thing,” he insists. “It’s just another game.” Smith, we would all agree, is a stone-cold killer on the football field. He doesn’t show a lot of emotion, he doesn’t talk trash. Smith has this incredible steely focus that he combines with everything you want in a wide receiver: Toughness, great route-running skills, precision in his craft, and all-out production. But this is the Super Bowl and you wonder if maybe there will be just a teeny-weeny moment during which Smith will feel the magnitude of the stage. “Honestly, there’s nothing in my mind when I’m playing. I’ve got a clear head. I just envision myself making plays,” he said. “That’s really all it is.”
Super Bowl LVII Prop Bet Extravaganza - Football Outsiders
Vince: This game has my head going in circles. On the one hand, the Eagles are the more talented team at about 17 or 18 starting positions, maybe more if you get into sub packages and special teams. But they don’t have the advantage at quarterback, and I am pretty much done picking against Patrick Mahomes. So I’m taking Kansas City, because in a matchup this close, I’d rather take the points. But really this is part of a two-leg strategy, and I’ll explain the second leg in a minute. Bryan: While I generally agree with Vince’s “take the points” strategy, 1.5 isn’t really enough to swing my pick either way. Once we start getting up to a field goal, then game theory starts coming into play, but at this mark? I think you just take who you think is going to win. And, like Vince, I think the Eagles are the more talented team overall, and I could imagine their run game just overwhelming Kansas City’s defense. As much as it sucks picking against Mahomes, I’m taking Philadelphia and laying the points.
Jaylen Watson has 2 words for the Chiefs’ rookies shining in the playoffs - Arrowhead Pride
The youthful defense of the Kansas City Chiefs has been a major talking point throughout the entire season, so it’s no surprise that as the team prepares for the Super Bowl, the “rookies who are no longer rookies” are getting their due recognition. On Friday, seventh-round cornerback Jaylen Watson was asked about the first-year players shining in the most significant spots. He had two words for the media. “What rookies?” Those in the room laughed. “It’s a great feeling playing at the biggest stage our first year,” added Watson. “But…this [is] what we all dreamed of since we were kids. We just take it one play at a time, don’t get too high. Don’t get too low.” Fellow rookie and the Chiefs 2022 first-round cornerback Trent McDuffie says that the tone was set during preseason organized team activities (OTAs) and has led to the “brotherhood” amongst the defensive rookies.
2023 NFL offseason: Key free agents, draft notes, predictions - ESPN+
Will they re-sign running back Tony Pollard? No. The Cowboys have a major running back investment in Ezekiel Elliott, and retaining Pollard wouldn’t be cheap. He’ll have a robust free agent market after finishing with 1,378 scrimmage yards (19th in the NFL). Teams will monitor his recovery from a fractured left fibula suffered in the Cowboys’ divisional-round loss.
What Brian Schottenheimer offers the Cowboys as offensive coordinator - Blogging The Boys
With the news that McCarthy will be calling plays - as well as his well-established preferences as a play-caller - and running something akin to his Packers offenses, Schottenheimer’s promotion to the coordinator position likely means he will serve as a running-game coordinator of sorts. Both Schottenheimer and McCarthy have tendencies in the passing game designed around hitting receivers on the move, as opposed to the endless stop routes that Kellen Moore called, in an attempt to create more opportunities for yards after the catch. This would also explain the hiring of Solari to coach the offensive line. He and Schottenheimer did some great work in Seattle, and the results speak for themselves. If those two can build on the momentum this Cowboys run game started in 2022 - they finished 10th in rush DVOA, their highest ranking since McCarthy arrived in Dallas - while McCarthy injects the pass game with some much needed versatility, the Cowboys could actually be in a good spot to improve an offense that ranked right around the top 10 in most categories this year. Of course, coaching is only part of the equation, and the Cowboys have several big decisions to make as it pertains to the roster. But it’s easy to see why Schottenheimer - specifically in combination with Solari - could make for a valuable offensive coordinator under McCarthy calling the plays.
Mike Kafka (Arizona), Wink Martindale (Indianapolis) still in running for head-coaching jobs - Big Blue View
Kafka has interviewed for four of the five openings that were available in this cycle — Texans, Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals. Ian Rapoport reported Saturday evening that Kafka, the 35-year-old who just completed his first year as the Giants’ offensive coordinator, will get a second interview with the Cardinals. Arizona hired Monti Ossenfort as their general manager in mid-January. The Cardinals have also requested a second interview with Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo for the head-coaching job.
2023 NFL Draft: Five takeaways from National’s 27-10 win over American in Senior Bowl - NFL.com
4) Northwestern RB looked the part. There were some standout performances by running backs this week, including Oklahoma’s Eric Gray and Tulane’s Tyjae Spears. But we can’t forget the work put in by Northwestern’s Evan Hull. After a good first day of practice, the 5-10, 214-pound Hull’s impact leading up to the game leveled off a bit. But he awakened quickly on Saturday, starting the game off with a bang on a sidewinding 24-yard run. Hull finished with a game-high 74 rush yards (no one else had more than 40) on only 10 carries, also catching both of his targets for 11 yards. He carried the ball five times for 41 yards on the opening drive and later shed multiple tackles on an inside run for 18 yards. Defenders appeared to be a bit surprised by his quickness, downhill style and tackle-breaking ability. On a Northwestern offense last season that struggled mightily, Hull was the one sure thing the Wildcats had, amassing 1,459 yards from scrimmage, catching 55 passes and scoring seven of the team’s 21 touchdowns. With more talent around him at the Senior Bowl, Hull was able to build off his 2022 performance and leave Mobile having impressed onlookers.
The NFL Draft’s biggest risers from the 2023 Senior Bowl - SB Nation
Cornerbacks: Julius Brents, Kansas State. Brents was a huge winner in the measurements, coming in at 6’3 and 202 pounds with an 83 inch wingspan. Brents wasn’t extremely grabby at all, however. He was extremely patient and broke up a lot of passes in 1 on 1 and 7 on 7 drills. Brents’ length and athleticism is going to get him in the door for many teams, but the ball production is going to be what people want to see. He had a few interceptions here in Mobile, so if he can answer that question, he could be a steal.
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