Ajayi Takes the High Road Out of Miami
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — For an immature guy, it turns out that Jay Ajayi handles himself in a pretty seasoned way.
Or maybe it's the accent.
The London native met the Philadelphia media Wednesday for the first time since being acquired from the Miami Dolphins for a 2018 fourth-round pick before the NFL's trade deadline and he was given plenty of opportunities to shoot holes in the narrative coming from South Florida that painted Ajayi as a selfish player who simply didn't work hard enough in Adam Gase's self-described "garbage" offense.
Instead, the 24-year-old Ajayi seemed to be proving a point to the 39-year-old Gase by taking a positive approach and leaving any negativity back in the Sunshine State.
“It is what it is,” Ajayi said when asked about the trade. “It’s a business and at the end of the day, I can just say I respect the Dolphins for giving me the opportunity to chase my dream of being in the NFL. And I can say that I respect all my teammates. I love those guys. I’ve bled, fought and won a lot of games with them and enjoyed my times as a Miami Dolphin.”
When pressed on Gase's criticisms (the selfishness, always going for the home run and the lack of preparation) Ajayi disputed them but did so in a professional manner.
“Those are the criticisms that are out there,” the Boise State product said “I can only speak on how I view myself, and I view myself as a team guy. And I’m excited to be here on the Eagles, excited for this opportunity. And that stuff at the end of the day is in the past. I woke up today as a Philadelphia Eagle and I’m very excited about that.”
He should be because the Eagles are an NFL-best 7-1 heading into Sunday's encounter with Denver at Lincoln Financial Field.
“A the end of the day God had another plan for me and that was to be here, be on the Philadelphia Eagles,” Ajayi said. “We’re 7-1 and I’m excited about that for the opportunity to go get this thing. I’m just here to be a part of that however the coaches and staff want to use me.”
Things could get touchy in the City of Brotherly Love as well, however, especially if Ajayi and the current RB1, LeGarrette Blount, clash.
"I can only control what I can control," Blount said at his locker after practice on Wednesday. "[The trade was] a decision that was made from up top. I can't say that I have any influence. I can't go up there and say 'don't make this trade (or) do make this trade.' I don't control any of that. I just control what I can do out there. Focus on what I have to focus on and make sure that I'm ready for the game on Sunday."
Ajayi said he has a good relationship with Blount and certainly isn't looking to step on any toes as he began a crash course in the Eagles offense with running backs coach Duce Staley leading the way.
"Me and L.B. have actually had a good relationship through passing on playing games when he was on the Patriots to even when we were out here for joint practices," Ajayi said. "So I’ve been able to build a little bit of a respect relationship with him, and we’ve had conversations here and there. Now being a teammate, it’s just a really cool dynamic."
The third-year back was also was quick to ingratiate himself with the face of the franchise, star quarterback Carson Wentz.
“Just being able to be around him today and watching his game throughout the season you can tell he’s a special guy, a special talent,” Ajayi said of the MVP candidate.
It remains to be seen how Howie Roseman's latest trade works out but for the Eagles but Ajayi at least made a concerted effort to leave his baggage on Gase's doorstep.
“I know myself personally I strive to be great every day," Ajayi said. "And I’m excited to come into this talented room and join these running backs in achieving our goal of winning the Super Bowl.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen