Unselfish Eagles put team goals ahead of personal goals
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Alshon Jeffery used to be the top receiver in Chicago. Jay Ajayi was the main running back in Miami. LeGarrette Blount led the NFL in rushing touchdowns last season in New England.
Now the trio are just part of the offense instead of the focal point.
The Philadelphia Eagles (9-1) have the best record in the NFL thanks to a group of players who put team goals ahead of personal goals.
“Winning is contagious and the guys feed off that, and it doesn’t really matter who makes the play,” coach Doug Pederson said Monday. “The bottom line is to win the game. The guys want to win and it doesn’t matter who is hot in the game. They have bought in 100 percent and they prepare that way, and they’re all making plays and all contributing.”
None of Philadelphia’s receivers has a 100-yard game this season, and the only 100-yard rushing performance came from Blount in Week 4.
They don’t care about the numbers.
Four offensive players scored TDs in a 37-9 rout at Dallas on Sunday night, including Kenjon Barner. He’s the fourth running back behind Ajayi, Blount and rookie Corey Clement, who is tied with Jeffery and Zach Ertz for most TDs on the team with six.
“Everybody has their role,” said Clement , an undrafted free agent from Wisconsin. “We’re not selfish out there. To have four guys in the rotation, it means a lot because defenses really can’t keep up with the style of running that we have.”
Ajayi has 168 yards rushing on only 15 carries in two games since the Eagles acquired him from the Dolphins. He averaged 20 rushes per game in Miami but was getting only 3.4 yards per carry. He’s thriving behind Philadelphia’s offensive line.
“It’s definitely not what I’m used to, but at the same time it’s exciting to see all of us make plays,” Ajayi said. “For me whenever the number is called, just make your plays count and take advantage of your opportunities. We all have our certain plays in the game plan. It comes down to making big plays when you can. I’ve been fortunate enough to get good blocking and hit the holes when I see them.”
Jeffery had gaudy stats with the Bears in 2013-14 and got paid to be that guy in Philly. But Carson Wentz has spread the ball to several capable receivers, including Ertz, Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins and Trey Burton.
“Anybody every week can step up and just be that guy, and the way we can just be flexible and spread the ball around is what makes us hard to defend,” Wentz said.
NOTES: Pederson said kicker Jake Elliott is in concussion protocol. Elliott was injured making a tackle on the opening kickoff. He stayed in to kick an extra point and came out after missing a 34-yard field goal. LB Kamu Grugier-Hill handled kickoff duties the rest of the game, and the Eagles went for 2-pointers after scores, converting 3 of 4. Elliott replaced Caleb Sturgis, who was placed on injured reserve after hurting his hip in Week 1. Sturgis is eligible to return and Pederson said he’s close to being ready. It could end up being a late-week decision. The Eagles host the Chicago Bears (3-7) next Sunday.
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