Reich plays up his boss’ credentials
PHILADELPHIA » There is no shortage of coach-of-the-year candidates in this, another upside down NFL season.
There are 11 teams with six or more victories, the Eagles leading the way with an 8-1 mark. Seven of those teams didn’t make the playoffs last year, the list composed of the Birds, Rams (7-2), Vikings (7-2), Saints (7-2), Panthers (7-3), Jaguars (6-3) and Titans (6-3).
That makes for a lot of worthy candidates.
Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich obviously is biased. But he makes a solid case for head coach Doug Pederson, who he “absolutely” feels has earned his place at the table.
“We’ll see at the end of the year, but certainly at this point, look at the record of our team,” Reich said when asked about the job Pederson’s job performance. “Look at the job that Doug has done in every facet, from being the play-caller, to being the primary leader on our team. You can’t say enough about it. I just think that speaks to the quality of his work and the quality of who he is as a person. He deserves whatever attention he’s getting right now. It is well deserved.”
The good news for Pederson and the Eagles is that under the modern playoff format, at least four teams have made the postseason the year after they missed it.
The more sobering news is that the Eagles are one of two red hot-teams sporting seven-game win streaks. The other is the Saints, who started 0-2. The only other team to win seven in a row after losing the first two games of the season is the 1993 Cowboys, who went on to win the Super Bowl.
Pederson, just the same, hasn’t done anything wrong since failing to run the ball in the loss to the Chiefs in Week 2.
“We as a coaching staff and I believe the players feel this is a guy you want to follow, because you believe in him,” Reich said. “His integrity is impeccable. His work ethic is second to none. He’s just the kind of guy you like working for.”
The Eagles have seen enough of offensive tackle Taylor Hart, the converted defensive end, to cut him in favor of journeyman tackle Will Beatty.
Beatty (6-6, 319) hasn’t seen action since 2016, when he appeared in six games for the Giants. He started in four straight seasons for the Giants, who took him off the board late in the second round of the 2009 draft.
Hart practiced for one week but was deactivated on game day.
Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz wouldn’t commit to playing Ronald Darby this weekend, which was not the way the cornerback represented his return to action after being shelved with a dislocated ankle in the season opener.
Just the same, Schwartz conceded that when Darby returns he would likely perform at left cornerback, where Eagles interceptions co-leader Jalen Mills (three picks) has played remarkably well. Mills would move to the other side.
Darby also has been getting snaps on the right side, per Schwartz.
“Those guys can all play both positions,” Schwartz said. “I think that’s important. Again, this is further on down the line. But if we get in positions where we want to match a receiver, he has the ability to do that.”
Schwartz also confirmed the obvious, that newly signed veteran linebacker Dannell Ellerbe would compete with Joe Walker for snaps in the middle.
The soon-to-be 32-year-old old Ellerbe (61, 236) also could help in sub-packages.
“He hasn’t been on the field for a pretty long time, so there’s a semblance of getting back in football shape,” Schwartz said. “We’ll let that play out and see where it goes. But it’s good to have a veteran player there that has a lot of experience. … I think we’ll start him probably learning all three positions. Then also the nickel and the nickel SAM position, and we’ll see where it goes.”
You now can vote for the 2018 Pro Bowl roster through direct messages (DM) on Twitter. Vote via entry cards tweeted from all 32 team accounts or by directly visiting the @NFL profile page at Twitter.com/NFL.
The entry cards provide a private “Direct Message” option to select a position group or players or teams to begin the voting process.
In the final week of Pro Bowl voting, Dec. 7-14, vote by tweeting the first and last name of the player, or the player’s Twitter handle, along with the hashtag: #ProBowlVote.
NOTES » The Eagles lead the NFL with 32 touchdowns. Zach Ertz tops the squad with six TDs. Nelson Agholor and Alshon Jeffery have five apiece.