Great culture? Check. Winning habit? Check? Yannick Ngakoue traded to the Eagles? Hold the phone.
Ngakoue has been begging for a trade out of Jacksonville ever since the Jaguars franchise-tagged him on March 13. It has been almost a month’s worth of cryptic social media posts (including Eagles-specific ones), rumors and speculation about where the 25-year-old pass-rusher might land. No one has questioned Ngakoue’s effort on the field. His 37.5 sacks since 2016 rank among the best marks in the NFL during that span.
While Ngakoue has openly lobbied for a one-way ticket out of town, the Jaguars have repeatedly made it clear they aren’t giving him away. On Tuesday, the Maryland product sat down with ESPN’s Adam Schefter for a long-range interview and revealed what kind of team he wants to play. He didn’t drop any names but the implications were there: Ngakoue wants to win. More importantly, the attributes he laid out for a potential suitor mirror what the Eagles do best.
“I really want to be part of a team that has great culture and winning is a habit,” Ngakoue told ESPN. “I don’t want to be part of a team that losing is a norm or anything of that nature. I want to be part of something special. Also, I just want to go to a place where I can make a great impact on the community, and just reach out to younger people that look up to me.”
Ngakoue: ‘Time to Move On to Next Chapter’
There is no chance of Yannick Ngakoue and the Jaguars repairing their fractured relationship. Let’s just make that clear from the jump.
“Everything happens for a reason, and not everything lasts forever,” Ngakoue told ESPN, via NFL.com. “Things come to an end, and it’s time for me to move on to the next chapter of my career. And I’m forever thankful for what Jacksonville has brought to me and my family, but it’s time to move on.”
Ngakoue wouldn’t get into what teams (if any) have reached out to him since his trade request, but he did send a message about what those teams would be getting in their new pass-rusher. In fact, Ngakoue painted a vivid portrait of the exact player the Eagles tend to gravitate toward. He’s a strong leader who leaves it all out there on the field every single Sunday.
“I bring just a different a presence in the locker room, not just on the field,” he said. “You can reach out to anybody that’s ever played with me in Jacksonville the kind of intensity and aggressiveness I bring is different. In my opinion, I’m a top-five defensive end in this league — top-three — my play hasn’t been able to be seen like that playing in Jacksonville — not having too many prime-time games.”
Eagles Value Culture & Winning Above Everything Else
When Doug Pederson took the reins as head coach, he talked about changing the culture and seemingly did it overnight. The Eagles have long been known for evoking a certain gold standard, especially as it pertains to the character level of the guys they sign. They shy away from divas and pot stirrers.
No one knew that better than Pederson after he accepted the job. One of the most essential qualities for a coach is listening to his players, something Pederson called out at his introductory press conference in 2016.
“Well, I think being a head football coach in the National Football League, you have to be a great listener,” Pederson said in January 2016. “You have to listen to your players, you have to listen to your coaches and you have to listen to the fans.”
By all accounts, Pederson has succeeded in building that culture during his five years at the helm. His players have routinely cited examples of his leadership.
“He really made a concerted effort to really have a relationship with the leaders on the team,” said former Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, via NBC Sports Philadelphia, “and that in turn kind of set a culture pretty quickly. He’ll sit down with the players, with leadership, and we’ll be able to take any concerns that we have as leadership or from the team and bring it to him or vice versa.”
Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox has always appreciated Pederson’s personal touch.
“When you’ve got a head coach that’s standing at the door, greeting every guy that comes in the locker room,” Cox said, via the team’s official website, “you go find me one player in the NFL that wouldn’t want to play for that guy.”
Your move, Yannick Ngakoue. Philly is waiting.
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