Good morning, fans of the Eagles. The Eagles are not practicing on Tuesday, but will have a working day as they prepare for the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game. Players will speak with journalists at 1:05 p.m. Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz will have a 1:30 p.m. press conference and offensive coordinator Frank Reich will follow at 1:45 p.m.
- When you look at the Vikings, their defense is the first thing that is thrown. They had the NFL's highest ranked defense this season, keeping opponents 275.9 yards per game during the regular season, 15.8 points per game, and 25.2 percent on third attempts. "This group plays with a lot of confidence, playing with a lot of speed," said Eagles coach Doug Pederson . "Not many mistakes, it's a scheme that simply – basically they say:" Hey, stand in line and try to come after us, try to beat us. "That's what you see on the tape, and this week is a a daunting task for us. " The Eagles, who also had a defense in the top 10, played six of the other eight defenses in the top 10 this year: Denver, Arizona, Carolina, Dallas, Atlanta and Chicago. They were 6-1 in those games with the only loss in the Week 17 game against the Cowboys, when the Eagles did not play their headlines for much of the game. They exceeded 30 points in four of those games.
- Fletcher Cox could have been the best player on the field in the Eagles' victory on Saturday, and he's going to need another big game against the Vikings this week. Cox's statistics were impressive (one sack, two quarterback hits, two tackles for one loss), but its effect on the game is better understood by looking at it again. "He was a man on a mission and he took a lot of himself and got the rest of the D line to work a little," Pederson said. "But [he was] is very disturbing around the quarterback, hitting Matt [Ryan] a bit, a couple faces losses there, and only at this time of year, uncle, is it just that the guys understand that it's to win and move forward or not, and your season is over, he's a guy that we've relied heavily on defensively from a leadership role, and he stood out nicely. "Look more on Cox later this week.
- Pederson spoke on why Jay Ajayi was absent for much of the second quarter. He said that, ultimately, he has control over which personnel are in the game, and who calls the plays for runners in particular situations. During the second quarter, he said the Eagles tried to use the tempo and get LeGarrette Blount involved, which was the reason why Ajayi was not in the field. "It's just like that," Pederson said. (However, when looking at the play played per game, the Eagles did not run without stacking during that time, and were using Corey Clement in trapped situations). It would seem that the most important reason was that they only had possession between the score when Ajayi played and the two minutes at the end of the half due to the clearance of the ball. So Saturday's explanation of the shortage of plays makes more sense.
If your friends have not subscribed to Early Birds, you can sign up here to receive the newsletter in your inbox every day of the week. I want to know what you think, what we should add and what you want to read, so send me your comments by email or on Twitter @ZBerm . Thank you for reading.
– Zach Berman
Doug Pederson gestures to an official during the Eagles' victory over the Falcons on Sunday.
What you need to know about the Eagles
From the mail bag
How much of Viking's success is Shurmur? Thoughts about him returning to the city.
– Robert Marley Jr (@PhightenPhil) January 15, 2018
It is necessary to give credit to the offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur especially considering the lost Vikings Sam Bradford and Dalvin Cook. This season they were No. 11 in the NFL on offense, which is hard to do without their starting quarterback and running back. Case Keenum intervened and played at a high level, and they are still getting production of the running game. Shurmur did a good job putting in that scheme and adapting to the staff. But success is about the players more than anything else: they have a formidable talent, including one of the best combinations of wide receivers in the NFL ( Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs ), a good tight end ( Kyle Rudolph ), and an improved offensive line.
By the way, it looks like the Eagles are going to see more of Shurmur in the next few years, because he will be, reportedly, the next Giants coach. Shurmur was in dispute over Eagles' work last year.