Good morning, Eagles fans. As Doug Pederson said, the Eagles are "going to the stinkin' Super Bowl." Their storybook season continued with a 38-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game Sunday. They will play the New England Patriots on Feb. 4, and we'll have all the coverage during these next two weeks in the Inquirer and Daily News, and on philly.com.
— Zach Berman
Zach Berman: That was the No. 1 defense and top third-down defense. How were you able to do what you did offensively?
Doug Pederson: It's just execution. Trusting the players, putting them in great situations. We talked all week about staying ahead on first and second down. We gave ourselves a chance on third down. We stayed in those third-and-manageable situations. Nick [Foles] did a great job, eyes down the field. Protection was good. Guys made plays. Bottom line, guys made plays. That's the only way you can get the job done is to be able to throw and catch and do the things in the run game that we did, and hats off to the offensive staff, obviously, Frank Reich and the game planning and the guys for executing.
Zach Berman: You said all the right things during the past few weeks, but after Carson Wentz's injury, what made you think the team could get to this point?
Doug Pederson: Just believe in the guys. Have faith in the guys. I mean, our season wasn't over. We still were in the driver's seat. We had to win one or two games at the end of the year to at least have home field [through the NFC playoffs] and at least have a home bye that first round. I just felt confident in the players and the coaches that we were still a good football team. I talked to the team all the time. It's not about one guy. One guy can make a difference for you, but it takes a whole team to make it happen. That's what our guys have done.
Zach Berman: In the locker room after the on-field celebration, what was the message to the team?
Doug Pederson: We're going to the Super Bowl. We're going to the stinkin' Super Bowl. And that's all we need to know. I was just so proud of them for the season so far. We still have some unfinished business, obviously. But we're going to pack our bags and head to Minneapolis.
This is Carson Wentz's team. That won't change. Nick Foles can have the finest Super Bowl performance in NFL history. When Wentz is healthy, he's the Eagles' quarterback.
But an interesting question is what happens to Foles. The Eagles value Foles and the backup quarterback spot, and it's too early to know when Wentz will be healthy next season. The Eagles need to be comfortable with their No. 2 quarterback. However, if Foles has a good Super Bowl, I'd expect teams to be interested in having him start next season. The Eagles are already down draft capital. They could shop Foles for a pick. He didn't draw starting-QB interest last offseason, but good games in high-pressure settings can change a player's reputation.
Nigel Bradham needs to be the priority. He's so important to the defense and such a good fit. He likes it in Philadelphia and the Eagles like him, so that will be a question of price.
As for Patrick Robinson and Chris Long, it's hard to say. The Eagles will have a lot of depth at cornerback next season with Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby, Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas. But who plays the slot? Robinson has been so good there. It would make sense to trust the four young cornerbacks, but the slot will be a big question. All four are on rookie contracts, so the Eagles don't have much money tied into the position.
In Long's case, it would make sense to explore bringing him back if he's interested in playing another season. The Eagles have Steven Means as a depth defensive end, but not much else waiting to take Long's spot. He has been a key contributor. How much can the Eagles pay for a fourth defensive end, though?
That's an interesting coincidence. It's funny how it worked out. I'm sure we'll hear a lot about the 2005 Super Bowl during the next two weeks.
I'll obviously dig into the game during the next two weeks and have a better answer about my prediction as the game nears. The Patriots have the best quarterback-coach combination in NFL history and a lot of talent on offense. But as I wrote earlier, the line of scrimmage is the equalizer. The Eagles have the better offensive and defensive lines, which will give them a chance against New England.