Eagles respect Manning, but not scared
Listening to Jon Gruden talk Monday night, the Eagles shouldn't even make the flight out to Denver. Peyton Manning is carving up defenses like a crazed serial killer.
After tossing three more touchdowns against Oakland, Manning set a new record for the first three weeks of a season. He's up to 12 touchdown tosses now, breaking Tom Brady's mark, and the Broncos are undefeated. However, the schedule is set in stone. It can't be changed, and Chip Kelly's Eagles won't be scared when they touch down in the 'House That Manning Rebuilt.'
"When do we go play?" Kelly said Monday. "We got to play in a parking lot? We'll go play in a parking lot. We don't care."
Of course, the coach was quick to add that Manning will go down in NFL history as one of the best to ever line up under center. The mood in the locker room echoed those thoughts. Yes, Manning is ridiculously, ridiculously talented ... yet the game is played between the lines. They'll trust their preparation and rely on their technique come Sunday — and they won't be afraid to blitz him.
"Why not blitz him? What, you gonna play scared?," cornerback Cary Williams wondered aloud. "He's the man. He's a great player, but you have to do what you've been doing and just get a little better, play with better technique and tackle to be successful in this game."
Williams is no stranger to going head-to-head with "the man." His Ravens took a detour around Denver on their way to the Super Bowl last season. Corey Graham picked Manning off twice in a divisional playoff matchup, Williams deflected one pass and they kept the pressure on all night. Williams is hoping for a similar result in a few days.
"I'm a competitor. If you don't want to play the best, you shouldn't be here," Williams said. "If you want to be the best, you have to play the best and you have to beat them. We were able to do that last year [in Baltimore] and hopefully we can duplicate that here. I know it's going to be a great matchup. We're going to face adverse moments but, as a player, as a competitor, I look forward to it. It's the opportunity of a lifetime."
He said what?
Peyton Manning had a few choice words for the Eagles following Denver's 37-21 dismantling of the Raiders on Monday Night Football. The quarterback isn't one to talk trash, but he did spew a backhanded criticism out to the NFL schedule-makers.
"It's nice of the NFL to give Philly 12 days [of rest] and give us six," Manning told reporters. "So we've got to handle that. We've still got some guys injured. So we've got to get some new guys playing. We're trying to kind of weather that storm with our injuries. We've got to get ready for an unfamiliar opponent who has got a really good team at home next Sunday."
When informed of those comments, Eagles cornerback Cary Williams smiled and laughed.
"That's what Peyton said? That's a mind game. I appreciate it, Peyton," he said.
Technically, Manning was wrong. The Eagles will have had only 10 days to prepare for the Broncos when all is said and done. And it should be a moot point anyway, after the Birds played three games in 11 days to start the season.
"I don't care," Eagles coach Chip Kelly said, when told of Manning's comments. "We only worry about what we can control, and we don't control the schedule."
Clearly, the Eagles will have fresher legs in this one. The team has been on vacation since last Thursday night — nearly four whole days of rest — before returning to the practice field Tuesday. The only player not to practice was safety Patrick Chung (shoulder). Both LeSean McCoy and Mike Vick were 100-percent.
"Hopefully, we can have an edge on them coming off a short week," receiver DeSean Jackson added. "And, us, having some fresh legs, with the time off."