I’ve been an Eagles fan since 1992, when my friends dragged me to a flag football training session for the Northants Storm. I was hooked on American football after the first session and needed a team to support. My friends were all supporting the popular teams; the 49ers, Cowboys and Dolphins. Watching the highlights on Channel 4 I looked on in awe at this rocket-armed, running quarterback, Randall Cunningham, who seemed to do the impossible on a weekly basis. From then on they were my team. I also loved those Kelly green kits.
Fast forward to Friday, October 27th 2018 and I arrive at Hazelwood, the training facility of London Irish Rugby Club in Sunbury on Thames for the Eagles press conference hoping to ask a question to the team I’ve followed some 26 years!
For any Eagles fan that wants regular content not pushed by the team themselves, the writers at The Philadelphia Inquirer are a must follow. Having followed them for years it was a great start to talk to Zac, Jeff and Les Bowen about the Eagles.
After some photography of the team warming up and stretching Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson took the stage. A day that started of sunny but windy morning wasn’t going to be dampened by a brief heavy rain shower.
Coach Pederson started by talking about the tole that the trip and change in time zone would take on the team “It’s tough but obviously we prepare for it. From having an advance team come out to scout the area, the hotels and then NFL does a great job of doing that and help provide a lot of information for us. Myself, I was out here a couple of years ago with the Chiefs. Today is just about keeping the guys loose, and everybody going. As soon as we got to the hotel we got them up, got everybody moving, had our normal Friday meetings and now we’re out here practicing, so a little bit of adjustment but we’ll make it through,’. Pederson also noted that the team would have their “typical Saturday morning” which will include a 2-3 hour walkthrough and practice.
While coach noted that Haloti Ngata is “trending up”, the fact that he made the trip and practiced on Friday was huge. Personally I’d expect him to play. Despite coach saying he’ll be a game time decision.
Discussing the moving pieces in the secondary to injuries to both safeties and corners coach said it affects “continuity, some timing and things. Communication becomes important obviously. Guys have embraced it, done a nice job in practice and they’ve just got to go an play. It’s a next man up mentality and the coaches do a great job of preparation and preparing these guys to play”. Although Corey Graham travelled with the team too, I don’t expect to see him Sunday, even though coach has said “he has a shot”.
The London Effect
Many people are calling this a must win game for the Eagles. Pederson refered to the effects of last week’s fourth quarter meltdown, in which they allowed unanswered 21 points having been up 17-0. He saids “This trip right here is a great time for us, to be away as a football team. It’s obviously something we need, to be together like this for a couple days. … The guys understand kind of where they are, what they’ve done and not done. They’re saying and doing the right things; they way the attack practice, the walkthrough we do on Tuesday to the practices on Wednesday and Thursday. There’s no pointing of the finger, they’ve embraced everything They know that they’ve let some games slip and they’re excited to get back out on the field.
He likened the trip to the Eagles LA visit last year, saying “LA was all together. Here we’re all together, and it’s just us.” Guys get to hang out, if they want to do something today or tomorrow. I think it’s important they bond that way.”
Whilst coach noted that the Jaguars coming to London every year could be an advantage he also said many of the team’s coaches and players had been also. Pederson said that he thought this, combined with the information the team had been given, didn’t give the Jaguars much of an advantage.
Coach said that when the team landed at the airport fans were there doing the Eagles chant. Pederson said that whilst the Jaguars are also well followed “The fans over here in general are NFL fans and you’re going to see all kinds of jerseys from other teams. They just love the sport, love being around the guys and that’s what our league has become; global, international and its been exciting”.
The Eagles fan base has historically travelled well and this match looks to be no exception. Coach noted that “the Eagles fans not only travel well but they’re world wide. And we’re excited to bring our team, our organisation over her for them to see first hand, to see us up close.”
When asked what sort of game he was hoping for Coach said “A victory, obviously”