With Week 9 of the 2017 season upon us, NFL.com’s community of reporters collects the most well liked information and notes from throughout the league, together with:
— Why rookie Kareem Hunt’s coming again to Earth after the transcendent begin to his NFL profession.
— How the Vikings will keep away from a repeat of final season’s second-half collapse.
— The key to New Orleans’ ground-game success WITHOUT Adrian Peterson.
But first, James Palmer takes a more in-depth take a look at the important thing issue behind Philadelphia’s rise …
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“Those that embrace it and challenge themselves individually are going to get better. And those that don’t, fall by the wayside and it sorts itself out.”
— Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson on his competition-based tradition.
In simply his second NFL season, Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is a legit MVP candidate. Tied for the NFL lead in landing pbades, the 24-year-old has loads to do with Philadelphia’s league-best 7-1 document. The Eagles’ dominant defensive entrance 4 has carried out greater than its half, as Philly boasts the NFL’s top-ranked run protection. But it seems the opposite key determine in his sophomore marketing campaign with the Eagles ought to be getting quite a lot of the credit score, too.
In his second season as a head man, Pederson has developed a scheme to maximizes his quarterback’s talent set. But extra importantly, it is the system for achievement he is crafted inside his locker room. Pederson has created a profitable tradition inside the group that differs in each manner from the poisonous atmosphere that hung like a cloud over South Philadelphia throughout the Chip Kelly period.
“Doug’s main thing is keeping us focused,” Eagles star defensive sort out Fletcher Cox instructed me. “He’s letting us be pros until he has to step in. With that being said, he’s letting the players control that locker room, and when he has to step in, he steps in. He makes sure that we all focus on the little things because he doesn’t let those type of things slip away.”
On Sunday, the Eagles’ second-year coach will go in opposition to Denver’s rookie head man, Vance Joseph. Joseph, who’s starting to mould his locker room, is conscious of what Pederson has shortly constructed.
“When you’re a new coach and you’re putting your touch or your culture in place, if you’re winning, it helps to kind of spread the culture out because guys believe in it,” Joseph instructed me. “Watching Doug win games, that helps. Having a good young quarterback who is having success and having a fiery defense helps. Players only buy cultures if it’s working and they’re winning. That’s what helps your culture grow. If you’re losing and not winning games, your culture kind of suffers because it speaks to us not working. I think winning games helps your culture grow.”
Pederson watched Andy Reid win quite a lot of video games. He performed for Reid in Green Bay and Philadelphia, after which coached beneath him in Philly and Kansas City. Reid understood what it took to win in Philadelphia, and what it took to deal with the criticism that comes when you do not. Pederson is aware of, too — he was fired with Reid following the 2012 season.
Today, gamers who’ve performed for each Reid and Pederson say you may see the affect from mentor to pupil. And Pederson even admitted this season that if he by no means crossed paths with Reid, he would not be the place he’s right this moment. It’s these fires they have been in collectively that Pederson usually attracts from when he is efficiently navigating them now on his personal.
“It’s just a culture, man,” Cox instructed me. “Everybody believes in each other, respects each other and you know everybody in that locker room is competitive and nobody wants to lose in anything. No matter what we’re doing, he’s brought that competitiveness to that locker room this year. Where everyone is competitive in what we do. We all take it out on the practice field and look forward to it on Sunday.”
Before the commerce deadline, it was careworn that Eagles choice makers valued the chemistry inside the locker room maybe as a lot as — or much more than — they valued their star quarterback. The thought was, whoever got here in needed to not solely be a particular participant, however a particular particular person. There wasn’t ever a considered conducting a commerce that may put that cohesiveness in jeopardy. So when Howie Roseman and Pederson determined to commerce for Dolphins working again Jay Ajayi on the deadline, questions arose in regards to the reviews out of South Florida concerning Ajayi’s character.
“I trust the guys on this team to handle players,” Pederson stated this week. “Everybody has a past. Everybody has a past and, as hard as it is probably for you all to sit here and believe that, I was in the situation where we brought in a player and there were reports of character issues and all kinds of things. And you know what? The guys rallied around him and there was not one issue with this player. And we went on to win a Super Bowl.”
Immediately after Pederson completed talking, he was requested, “So you’re depending on the culture to take care of everything?”
He confidently replied, “Yes, I am.”
I requested Cox this week how the workforce would deal with Ajayi and if there was an opportunity for him to disrupt what they’ve going.
“They brought him in and we are going to rally behind him and we know he’s a pro,” Cox instructed me. “He’s been around a while, and when he sees the way that we do things and handle things around here, it’s contagious. That makes him want to do those types of things with us. We all keep everybody focused, not just Jay. We’ll keep everybody focused and not let anything bad happen.”
That proper there may be the Eagles’ tradition in motion.
But why add Ajayi to an already-crowed working again room that ranks fifth within the league in dashing? Roseman said this week that LeGarrette Blount continues to be the starter. Pederson stated he isn’t going to take a position on how Ajayi will probably be used till the brand new RB is aware of the system. And with that uncertainty, it may present you ways badured the Eagles are proper now in what they’ve constructed.
It would not damage that Pederson has a pure born chief at quarterback to be his second in command inside the locker room. Wentz is the unquestioned captain of Pederson’s workforce and he is at present essentially the most beloved athlete in what many name the hardest sports activities city in America.
“Just his ability to kind of control everything and stay poised,” Cox stated. “I think Carson also does a great job when it comes to being a leader. Because we look at him as the leader of the team. He’s in his second year, and we have a bunch of leaders, but when you look at the teams that are really good, their quarterback is the leader of their team.”
This workforce has a frontrunner in Wentz. And spearheading Wentz’s military is the top coach, a former quarterback himself.
NOTES FROM AROUND THE REST OF THE LEAGUE
BALTIMORE RAVENS: Ground sport — on offense and protection — key to salvaging season. As the Ravens put together to face Tennessee and its working again tandem of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, they picked time to rediscover their rush protection. Baltimore entered Week Eight ranked final in that clbad — defensive sort out Brandon Williams had described it to me as hitting “rock bottom.” That was earlier than the Ravens’ 40-Zero dismantling of the Dolphins, during which they restricted Miami’s floor sport to 45 yards. Heading into Week 9, Baltimore ranked 30th in opposition to the run.
“We definitely needed this performance to show the doubters we ain’t going nowhere, we’re still here,” Williams instructed me after the sport. “We had a little slump, things happen, but the Baltimore Ravens’ defense, and the Baltimore Ravens, period, are still here. We’re still fighting, pursuing our goals, and that’s the playoffs.”
Getting constant play will probably be key for Baltimore, which exhibited a Jekyll-and-Hyde high quality throughout its Four-Four first half of the season, with the workforce’s performances in wins and loss being vastly completely different. Running again Alex Collins, who was signed simply earlier than the season after being reduce by Seattle, has proven consistency — his yards-per-carry mark of 6.Zero led the league (amongst these with a minimal of 80 carries) heading into Week 9. After dashing for greater than 100 yards for the primary time in his profession final week, Collins is now exhibiting confidence as he turns into extra conversant in this offense.
“Working with the quarterbacks and the other running backs, they do a great job bringing me along, helping me learn a new scheme,” he instructed me in his postgame press convention. “I feel like if you know what you’re doing out there, you can play fast and confident … Sky’s definitely the limit for us.”
Despite a rash of accidents — although injured working again Danny Woodhead is on his method to returning to the sector — the Ravens hope to make up floor within the AFC playoff image. They’ve discovered a blueprint for the remainder of their season, and it revolves round working and defending the run with consistency and confidence.
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KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: Life getting more durable for Hunt? Rookie working again Kareem Hunt is beginning to be taught a tricky actuality in his first NFL marketing campaign. He began this season on fireplace, gaining at the very least 100 dashing yards in 4 of his first 5 video games — however success has been a lot more durable to come back by these days. Hunt has totaled simply 154 yards on the bottom over the past three weeks.
“He has more of a bull’s-eye on him, because every game that you go into the season, you have more and more tape, so you can see some more habits and some tendencies,” Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy stated. “But I don’t think it’s necessarily anything to do with what they’re doing more or trying to take him away. I think they’re playing him the same way. It just so happened that we faced a pretty good rush defense last week [in the Denver Broncos].”
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MINNESOTA VIKINGS: Why this 12 months’s sizzling begin is completely different from final 12 months’s. Minnesota is on a bye this week, however common supervisor Rick Spielman instructed me that this 6-2 workforce is best outfitted to maintain its quick begin than it was final season, when it crashed to an Eight-Eight end after starting on a stunning 5-Zero tear.
Spielman stated the expertise is best, particularly on offense, the place the gamers on the O-line are a great match for what coordinator Pat Shurmur desires, and working backs Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon have stepped in properly for injured rookie Dalvin Cook (who’s out the remainder of the season with a torn ACL).
The psychological wherewithal appears to be in place team-wide, Spielman stated. Defensively, there is no query Minnesota’s unit is among the finest within the NFL. More than something, although, Spielman stated two issues which have factored into the new begin ought to proceed via the season: The Vikings are unselfish and really disciplined, and coach Mike Zimmer has modified among the manner he is dealt with this workforce after final season’s tumultuous experience, which included beginning quarterback Teddy Bridgewater struggling a season-ending knee damage in August and offensive coordinator Norv Turner resigning.
“I’m not going to get into all of the details of that,” Spielman stated of what Zimmer has modified. However, he did supply this:
“He doesn’t just say, ‘Run this play,’ but he’s explained that you run it for a reason and why, and that’s helped,” Spielman stated. “The point of emphasis has been that this is a team. You play within the system, you do your job and do your responsibilities, and things will work.”
Potentially the most important issue as to Minnesota’s quest to win the NFC North: Who will end at quarterback? Case Keenum has stuffed in properly for Sam Bradford, whose banged-up knee continues to be not healed. Bridgewater not too long ago resumed training and will return to the lively roster subsequent week if he’s medically cleared.
With Bradford nonetheless an unknown, the larger choice appears to be whether or not it can proceed to be Keenum beneath heart or if the Vikings really feel Bridgewater, who hasn’t performed in additional than a 12 months, is the anchor-leg QB for the again stretch.
“We won’t ever put a participant on the sector until he’s utterly wholesome,” Spielman stated. “Teddy continues to progress. We’ll keep watching him in practice and make that determination next Wednesday.”
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NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: Ingram, Kamara offering regular backfield manufacturing. The smartest thing in regards to the Saints’ improved working sport is not simply the steadiness it is created for the league’s second-ranked offense. It’s the truth that working backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara supply so many choices for head coach Sean Payton. They’re each adept at working, catching and go blocking. As a consequence, the Saints have averaged 138 dashing yards per sport throughout their present five-game profitable streak.
“They both have their own unique abilities, but we’re not afraid of — regardless of what play is called — using one guy or the other,” Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael stated. “If we’re calling a game, we just say, ‘Let’s call the play and see who’s rolling with it this series.’ “