After finishing last in the NFL in time of possession each of the past three seasons, the Eagles lead the league by controlling the ball an average time of 37:43. That’s almost 12 minutes more per game than they held the ball last season.
The reason for the dramatic turnaround is Doug Pederson’s offensive philosophy is the opposite of Chip Kelly’s up-tempo, no-huddle style. Pederson runs a more traditional offense that allows Philadelphia’s defense time to rest.
It’s reflected in the Eagles’ performance: ranked No. 4 in total yards allowed. Under Kelly, the Eagles finished in the bottom five in yards yielded three straight seasons. Players often were worn down by the fourth quarter and the defense was tired late in the season.
Kelly insisted time of possession was a meaningless stat. He used to say teams who held the ball longer were just better at wasting time in the huddle.
But Philadelphia is 2-0 heading into Sunday’s game against unbeaten Pittsburgh.
LOVIN’ IT: Burgers, fries and football. That was the menu for Todd Bowles during his playing days with the Washington Redskins.
With such an emphasis on nutrition and players’ health these days, the New York Jets coach was asked how prevalent diet restrictions were in the NFL back in the late-1980s and early ’90s.
“We had McDonald’s every day for lunch,” Bowles said, stunning reporters. “A quarter-pounder with cheese, apple pie, and french fries. Yes, we did. Every single day. Friday was Italian day, and we had pizza and Italian food. Monday through Thursday, we had McDonald’s.”
Wait a second. An NFL team allowed its players to feast on fast food?
“It was brought in, yes,” Bowles insisted. “Our lunch time was McDonald’s back then. Every day, no lie.”
Bowles acknowledged that teams don’t go for that these days, with most NFL clubs having chefs prepare healthy choices for the players in cafeterias in their facilities.
“But it was good back then,” Bowles said with a smile.
The 52-year-old coach says he probably had McDonald’s during the summer with his kids, and added that eating it always brings back good memories.
And, why not? Those Redskins teams were regular playoff contenders and even won the Super Bowl in January 1988 — fueled by the Golden Arches.
“That’ll tell you something,” Bowles said, laughing.
STEEP PRICE: Paul Allen is considered the richest owner in the NFL, and his franchise, the Seahawks, cost the most to watch in their home stadium.
According to Vividseats.com, which surveys ticket prices for the 32 teams, Seattle’s median ticket price is $372. That’s $17 ahead of New England, which is second.
CenturyLink Field seats 68,000.
Rounding out the top five are Denver ($350), Green Bay ($319) and Minnesota ($273 in its new stadium).
The Cowboys, ranked as the most valuable sports franchise in the world by Forbes, are 14th with a $191 median ticket price.
Lowest median ticket prices are Kansas City ($88), Cleveland ($94) and Jacksonville ($95). The only other team under $100 is Buffalo ($98).
FAVRE ON WENTZ: Brett Favre likes what he sees so far from Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz.
The recent Hall of Fame inductee said on his SiriusXM NFL Radio show this week that he likes Wentz’s poise. Considering that Wentz played FCS ball in college — albeit at five-time champion North Dakota State, as close to an FBS program as you can get — that’s high praise.
“He looked like the 10-year veteran,” Favre said. “I think Philly is still without committing a turnover. And going into Chicago, whether Chicago is playing great or not so great, is a tough place to play, especially for a young kid. But I thought he handled himself extremely well. I’m impressed with him.
“And I think Doug (Pederson) and that staff — and I’m a little biased to Doug because he and I are really good friends and we go way back, and he was a teammate and a great friend of mine for a long time and still is — the play calling and design … I thought was really good and it also fit what Carson does well.”
PB&J OVER PAIN: Emmanuel Sanders, who signed a three-year, $33 million extension with the Broncos on the eve of this season’s opener, has gained a reputation as a fearless receiver who can take a licking and keep on ticking.
He sustained one of his wickedest hits ever when he collided with Colts cornerback Antonio Cromartie last weekend. The collision quieted the crowd and sent both men retreating to the sideline to catch their breath.
Sanders popped up and trotted to the sideline. Cromartie was slower to get to his feet.
“Sometimes I get hit and I’ve got to get up,” Sanders said. “I remember, my uncle always used to tell me, ‘If you’re not dead, you run off that field. I don’t care if you’ve got a broken leg.’ I guess it stuck with me because, man, I took that hit the other day and I wanted to lay on the ground and wanted someone to bring me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
“I went to the sideline, I looked at ‘Greek’ (athletic trainer Steve Antonopulos), I said, ‘Do I really want to play football?’ I had that conversation with myself. I couldn’t catch my breath,” Sanders said. “But then next play, I’m back in there. I’m loving what I do and I love my teammates and I love winning the most. So that’s what it’s about.”
NO DANCIN’: Bengals right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi checked out the first episode of “Dancing With the Stars” last season to see a former teammate’s moves.
He and Denver linebacker Von Miller attended Texas A&M together for one year.
Steelers receiver Antonio Brown was on the show, too. Brown lasted longer in the competition than Miller, who got voted off after doing a salsa dressed as Elvis Presley. By that time, Ogbuehi had stopped watching.
“I saw the first episode, but that’s a boring show,” Ogbuehi said. “I couldn’t do that. From what I saw, (Miller) was good. It was funny, too. That’s him. He’s a goofy guy, really goofy. A fun guy. What you see is really who he is.”
Ogbuehi gets to block Miller when the Broncos (2-0) visit Cincinnati (1-1) on Sunday.
AP Pro Football Writers Barry Wilner, Arnie Stapleton and Rob Maaddi, and Sports Writers Joe Kay and Dennis Waszak Jr. contributed.