What Might Have Been with Russell Wilson
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - From a football sense, a lot of things in Philadelphia changed back in 2012 when the Eagles failed to land a player the organization really liked, current Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson.
Doug Pederson was the team’s quarterbacks coach at the time and he recalled being dispatched to the University of Wisconsin's pro day to take a closer look at a 5-foot-11 undersized prospect with an intriguing dual-threat skill set.
"I came away just saying, 'Boy this guy is a special kid,'" Pederson, now Philadelphia’s head coach, said Wednesday at the NovaCare Complex. "He's got it. He's a pro's pro. He knows how to work, he knows how to practice, he knows how to lead. The things that you see on the field are also the things he does off the field. He's a man of his word, with integrity and all that kind of stuff."
The Eagles, of course, will visit Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on Sunday in a game with playoff implications for both teams.
Wilson has been one of the league’s best quarterbacks from Day 1 in the Pacific Northwest, compiling an astonishing 59-23-1 record as the team’s starter when you include the postseason. He’s led the Seahawks to the franchise’s first Super Bowl title, was a yard away from another and has the team on track for its fifth straight playoff appearance.
Multiple sources say Philadelphia was set to take Wilson at No. 76 overall that year when the Seahawks took the plunge a pick earlier, prompting a trade down 12 spots where the Eagles selected Nick Foles.
"I know (then-Eagles coach) Andy (Reid) called (Seahawks GM) John (Schneider) after the pick and gave him a hard time," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said on a conference call with Philadelphia-area reporters. "Those two are really good friends. We were sweating it out a little bit."
If Wilson does land in the City of Brotherly Love, Reid might still be coaching the Eagles.
"I came away feeling like if we didn't have an opportunity to take him, somebody was going to have a special player," Pederson said.
That somebody turned out to be the Seahawks.
THE 12TH MAN
Seattle is considered the toughest road environment in the NFL and that’s obviously a tall task for a team that is 4-0 at Lincoln Financial Field but just 1-4 when the bags are packed.
“Going into this stadium, this 12th man – it's real,” Pederson, a Seattle-area native, said. “The last time that I was up there was with the Eagles a few years back, and it's a loud place. Those things are the things that keep your offense from executing and staying on the field, and this team definitely feeds off that and tries to get you into those second-and-long, third-and-long situations. The point of emphasis this week obviously is to be able to handle that and minimize those penalties.”
Pederson said the Eagles would likely take things inside to the practice bubble on Thursday and Friday to try to get used to the noise they will be facing. Meanwhile, in individual drills, one of the first things the Eagles’ offensive line was working on was the silent count.
Jordan Matthews missed practice on Wednesday with back spasms but Pederson didn’t seem all that concerned and indicated his best receiver will be ready for Sunday.
Allen Barbre, meanwhile, was back at his familiar left guard spot after missing the previous two games with a hamstring issue. Corner Nolan Carroll remains in the concussion protocol while safety Terrence Brooks remains week-to-week with his hamstring issue and continues to sit out practice.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen