Super Bowl LII: Philadelphia Eagles coach hails ‘awesome’ Jay Ajayi ahead of meeting with New England Patriots
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Hackney-born Ajayi will hope to help Eagles to Super Bowl glory in Minneapolis on Sunday
Philadelphia head coach Doug Pederson insists he has encountered no issues with Jay Ajayi’s attitude having spoken to him about the Eagles’ team culture following his mid-season trade.
Briton Ajayi, who was born in Hackney before moving to America at the age of seven, switched teams surprisingly at the end of October when Miami Dolphins sent him to Philly in exchange for a 2018 fourth-round draft pick.
Such compensation could have been considered inadequate for the league’s fourth-most productive running back on the ground in 2016, yet Miami head coach Adam Gase had called himself and Ajayi “hot heads” after the player publicly expressed his frustration when the Dolphins were trounced at Wembley.
Upon acquiring Ajayi, second-year head coach Pederson discussed their team chemistry with his new arrival and confirmed there has so far been no sign of discontent ahead of Philadelphia’s appearance at Super Bowl LII this Sunday.
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“I didn’t know a ton about Jay having just watched him when he came out of college and as a runner,” Pederson said on Tuesday.
“When he arrived, he and I had a conversation. I just explained to him the environment, the locker room that he was joining.
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“Part of my messaging this year to our team, our players, is about ownership and we’re always looking to better our roster and Jay’s made us better.
“But our guys embraced him. Our guys said, ‘Listen, this is the way we practise, this is the way we do things’. Listen, we haven’t had any problems out of Jay. He’s been awesome to work with.
“He’s part of that running back group that has been real successful for us this year. It’s fun to watch him preform.”
Pederson will spend this week fine-tuning his Super Bowl game-plan as he looks to outfox Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, a man 16 years his senior and someone who has accrued seven Super Bowl rings across his career.
Pederson was victorious against a Belichick-led Patriots team 18 years ago when a quarterback with the Cleveland Browns, but beating him as a coaching peer on the grandest stage of all would be even sweeter.
“It’s obviously a challenge, you’re going up against a very smart, intelligent coach,” Pederson said of Belichick.
“He’s a coach that will have his team well prepared. It’s not just the Xs and Os, it’s the situational aspect of the game, time-outs, fourth downs, red zones, punt situations, all kinds of things that we’ve seen from them and I have to be prepared.
“We have to make sure we’re all focused.”