Re­ich plays up his boss’ cre­den­tials

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - SPORTS - By Bob Grotz bgrotz@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @BobGrotz on Twit­ter

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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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