All-Access: These guys make Eagles fly
ALL ACCESS: A lot of networks do TV interviews, but have you ever wanted to know the juicy details that never make air? You can tell a lot about who people really are when the cameras aren’t rolling. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the interview that Pam Oliver had with the "impact players" that help make Philadelphia's Michael Vick so dangerous for this week's segment on the NFL on FOX pregame show.
Youth can be fun. The Eagles have done very well offensively this season in spite of having key members of the league’s top-ranked offense barely over the age of 20.
My interview subjects were quick to laugh and joke, as I found out, during a meeting for my upcoming piece on Michael Vick’s weapons for Fox NFL Sunday.
I sat down with the front-line trio of TE Brent Celek, and WR’s DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Also a part of that impact group, LeSean McCoy, who’s been the absolute man. He leads the Eagles in receptions with 28 more grabs than Jackson, who leads in team in explosive plays and receiving yards.
Celek, 25, was the first of the half-dozen folks (including offensive coordinator Marty Morninweg) I had on the slate for the feature. He came in from a chilly outdoor walk-thru practice with red ears and nose and plenty of answers about the unit’s current proficiency and growing profile.
Celek has had to sacrifice a bunch. His receiving numbers have tailed off from this time last season. The Eagles have needed his help protecting Vick after some early injuries up front, and most notably to Pro-Bowl fullback Leonard Weaver, who could block with the best of them.
“It’s something I needed to work on. I needed to get better at and I feel like I’ve really helped the team out in that way,” he said as he thawed out.
Philly’s 2009 No. 1 draft pick, Jeremy Maclin, is serious for a 22-year old. He cracked few smiles during our sit-down interview. He did delight in a tidbit I brought up about a website I stumbled on called the “MaclinZone.com.” The site is committed to blogging about all things Maclin. He knew nothing about it. Nor did he know how many receptions he had this season (57).
“I don’t really keep up with stats” he said. However, he did know he’s made eight trips to the end zone this season. Maclin lurks under the radar with Jackson’s electric play stealing the spotlight. But Maclin’s a threat. Believe that.
“Maclin is just always in a position to catch the football,“ Michael Vick told me of the second-year pro.
McCoy was supposed be on deck. He happens to lead the team and all running backs in the NFL with 70 catches for 534 yards.
Instead, Jackson bolted in with McCoy and the two informed me they would be doing a joint interview. “OK,” I said with surprise. I looked around at the television crew that spent an hour and a half setting up for single shots. They scrambled quickly, the festivities began and you could see Jackson, 24, and McCoy, 22, were like brothers.
McCoy deferred to Jackson as the elder statesmen during much of the interview. Jackson, who seemed a bit tired yet still engaging, ran with the ball teetering between confident and cocky, but not overly so in the latter. He knows he’s talented.
McCoy had to figure out his skill set having taken over for Brian Westbrook last season after the dethroned veteran missed eight games and eventually was released. McCoy stepped in nicely and is now a true double threat, leading the league in yards from scrimmage and leading the Eagles in catches.
Meantime, Jackson, who tilts toward the flamboyant, got a lot of criticism for the touchdown celebration that had him plunging backward into the end zone, all Nestea-like, against the Cowboys following a 91-yard catch and run in Sunday’s primetime division matchup. He doesn’t regret the controversial antic and does not promise he won’t do it again. “As long as I’m doing it and not being penalized, hurting my team, I’m not gonna change it,” Jackson swore.
The shoot wrapped with Vick. He stopped by in team-issued sweats and the flip flops with socks look. No doubt Vick makes it all go, but all that help doesn’t hurt.
“It’s a young group. They all have the ambition to be great. Great work ethic,” Vick said. “And they all display it every day.''
But, of course, it’s Vick who makes the Eagles offense go. His arsenal is proving that youth is not always a detriment as they push each other along, all the way to the top spot of NFL offenses.
For Pam’s complete interview with Michael Vick's weapons tune in Sunday to NFL on FOX for America’s No. 1 pregame show at noon ET / 9 a.m. PT.