Unselfish play key for first-place Eagles
From Jason Avant’s blocks to Brent Celek sliding short of the
end zone to run out the clock, the Philadelphia Eagles have a group
of unselfish players.
That’s part of the reason they’re positioned to go
The Eagles (8-5) were in sole possession of first place in the
NFC East when they took the field for an indoor practice
Chicago’s win over Dallas on Monday night gave Philadelphia a
one-game lead with three to go.
So, the Eagles control their playoff hopes. If they win out,
they’ll secure their first NFC East title since 2010 and at least
the No. 3 seed in the conference.
It’s an impressive turnaround for a team that finished 4-12 last
But rookie coach Chip Kelly instilled a new attitude along with
his innovative offense and players have bought into his philosophy
from the start.
Unselfishness is a priority.
”The people we have here is a great place to work,”
quarterback Nick Foles said. ”It’s an honor to be a Philadelphia
Eagle because of the people here. We hold each other accountable
and we play for each other. That’s why I love it here.”
Players care more about the team’s success than individual
stats. A prime example came at the end of Sunday’s 34-20 victory
when Celek caught a pass from Foles and had a clear path to the end
But he slid into a pile of snow at the 10-yard line so the
Eagles would run out the clock instead of giving the ball back to
Detroit with just under two minutes left.
Point differential is far down the list of tiebreakers, so
Celek’s heads-up move is unlikely to cost the Eagles in a negative
”That’s the kind of player Brent is,” guard Todd Herremans
said. ”He always puts the team first and before his own
Then there’s Avant, a slot receiver who does whatever it takes
to win. Avant doesn’t get the ball thrown his way as often as
DeSean Jackson or Riley Cooper, but he contributes with downfield
blocks to spring LeSean McCoy for big gains.
Avant drove cornerback Bill Bentley to the ground and blocked
him into safety Louis Dumas on McCoy’s 57-yard TD run in the fourth
Jason is on the sideline asking me: `Can we run the ball my
way?”’ Kelly said. ”I don’t know how many wide receivers in this
league are asking to have the ball run their way, but I think
that’s kind of a testament to the team we have right now.”
Avant’s whatever-it-takes attitude is contagious.
”We are just trying to do everything we can to win,” Avant
said. ”As a receiver you want to catch passes, but if you don’t
get that opportunity there are other ways you can help. If that’s
what we need to do in order to win, I’ll do it.”
After winning three straight games at the Linc following a
franchise-worst 10-game losing streak at home, the Eagles hit the
road to play Minnesota (3-9-1).
They return home to face the Bears (7-6) in a prime-time game on
Dec. 22 and finish up at Dallas (7-6) in a game that could decide
The Eagles are 4 1/2-point favorites against the Vikings and it
would be easy to overlook them with two tough opponents looming on
the schedule. But the coaching staff has cautioned players not to
take any team lightly.
”We hit the reset button,” offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur
said. ”Our guys believe in the process that we go through each
week. The veterans that have been around here have helped them.
They’ve been really good about putting the last game to bed and
moving on. We talk about this being the best Tuesday of the year,
and they’ve embraced it.”
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
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