Play­ers re­ject re­build­ing tag

Ea­gles’ goal, win and have fun

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Bob Grotz bgrotz@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @BobGrotz on Twitter

PHILADEL­PHIA >> If the Ea­gles are in a re­build­ing mode this sea­son, as their slide has sug­gested, it’s news to the play­ers. In fact, it’s break­ing news. Vet­eran safety Mal­colm Jenk­ins echoed how a core group of vet­er­ans felt about those por­tray­als, sug­gest­ing you con­sider the source(s).

“I’m not here to re­build,” Jenk­ins said. “That’s Howie’s job. We’re here to play and to win. Every­body in this build­ing has been paid and com­pen­sated not to just oc­cupy a seat but to win. So our mind­set is that we’re try­ing to win with the guys that we have here, peo­ple that we have in the build­ing right now. We’ll let the peo­ple up­stairs fig­ure out whether we’re build­ing or what we’re doing past this time.”

The ref­er­ence to Ea­gles player per­son­nel boss Howie Rose­man is in­ter­est­ing in that the sep­a­ra­tion be­tween player pro­cure­ment and the coach­ing staff is real. On nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions Ped­er­son, and

“I’m not here to re­build. That’s Howie’s job. We’re here to play and to win. Every­body in this build­ing has been paid and com­pen­sated not to just oc­cupy a seat but to win. So our mind­set is that we’re try­ing to win with the guys that we have here.” – Ea­gles’ Mal­colm Jenk­ins

even one of his as­sis­tants, have spo­ken of Rose­man’s “team.”

While the Ea­gles are play­ing a lot of young play­ers, with rookie quar­ter­back Car­son Wentz chief among them, it’s not like they’re be­ing used over proven vet­er­ans. At this point the mini youth move­ment is more a prod­uct of in­jury re­place­ments rather than Rose­man edicts.

“It’s a win-now league,” de­fen­sive end Bran­don Gra­ham said. “We don’t ever talk about re­build­ing, none of that. We don’t ever take a year off as far as we need to lose these games be­cause we can get a cer­tain pick. No, we go out here and we try to work ev­ery day be­cause we’ve grinded dur­ing the off­sea­son and we want to win. We don’t want to sit at home while the play­offs are go­ing say­ing ‘oh, we wish we could have did this, or if we did that bet­ter.’”

Ped­er­son, just the same, has found it dif­fi­cult com­mu­ni­cat­ing the process and how he fits into it. Af­ter the dis­ap­point­ing loss to the Green Bay Packers drop­ping the Ea­gles un­der

.500, Ped­er­son said he wanted to find out what his team was made of and who wants to be here next year over the last five games. That sure sounded like he was play­ing for next year.

On Wed­nes­day Ped­er­son couldn’t have been clearer dur­ing a talk with his play­ers.

“Well, I think a lot of that was ob­vi­ously af­ter a lot of frus­tra­tion di­rectly af­ter a game,” Jenk­ins said. “To­day was a lot more pos­i­tive note just talk­ing about hav­ing fun, pay­ing at­ten­tion to de­tails. Un­der­stand­ing that the for­mula is sim­ple — let’s win. And then just kind of de­tail through­out the week how we go about doing that. So I think it’s one of those things where every­body had an op­por­tu­nity to take a crit­i­cal look at them­selves on what they bring to the team and what their role is on the team.”

Gra­ham was al­most out­raged over the re­build­ing ques­tions. He said Ped­er­son never has men­tioned it.

What Ped­er­son has sensed in the Ea­gles (5-6), who have lost six of their last eight games, is tight­ness.

“It’s a team thing, and we all need to just go out there and play loose and play free,” Gra­ham said. “The coaches had us pre­pared.

It wasn’t like we didn’t know (Aaron Rodgers) was go­ing to throw the ball quick. We prac­ticed that all week. We just kind of you know, got kind of tight.

“I’m fo­cus­ing on hav­ing fun be­cause last game, it wasn’t fun. You know, as fun as it has been, es­pe­cially be­ing at home. We were so caught up in ‘man, we need to have this game’ we kind of lost sight of, ‘it’s foot­ball, you all, let’s have fun.’ And that’s how we play best, we play loose. That’s the mes­sage this week, just go out there and have fun. The worst has hap­pened to us al­ready. Now let’s go out here and pick it up and get back to where we were in the be­gin­ning.”

In­ter­jected in Gra­ham’s re­sponse was a ques­tion about Fletcher Cox, who re­sides in the locker next to him. The spot­light has been on Cox, who, af­ter de­fen­sive player of the month hon­ors in Septem­ber, hasn’t lived up to the $103 mil­lion con­tract ex­ten­sion he signed this past sum­mer.

“That’s a lot of pres­sure, you know what I’m say­ing?,” Gra­ham said. “In the be­gin­ning Fletch was loose. Fletch was hav­ing fun. All I’m say­ing now is let’s get back to hav­ing fun.

De­spite ev­ery­thing, de­spite the record we’re out here ev­ery day. Why not have fun? Let’s have some good mem­o­ries on these last five games and chal­lenge one an­other to just go out there and have fun. Next play men­tal­ity. Peo­ple have said the worst they could say to us and say about us. Let’s not let it hap­pen these last five games.”

Asked point blank if Cox was press­ing, Gra­ham re­sponded “You’ve got to ask him.”

At any rate, the Ea­gles are fac­ing a mir­ror im­age of them­selves this week in the Cincin­nati Ben­gals (37-1). The Ben­gals have won just one of their last seven games and have had trou­ble scor­ing points.

The Ea­gles have scored 28 points the last two games, the Ben­gals 26.

Jenk­ins says the Ea­gles are throw­ing all of their re­sources into mak­ing a push for the play­offs. Re­al­ity, how­ever, is what it is.

“There’s that harsh re­al­ity also that ev­ery time you step into this build­ing and step on the field and that cam­era gets turned on you’re be­ing eval­u­ated,” Jenk­ins said. “And that’s every­body in the build­ing. So just kind of that friendly re­minder, I think, gets guys mo­ti­vated.”

MICHAEL PEREZ — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Mal­colm Jenk­ins tries to stop Green Bay Packers wide re­ceiver Ran­dall Cobb in the first half Mon­day.

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