Eagles ready for their first dome game

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Eagles ready for their first dome game

Experts make their Eagles-Vikings predictions

December 15, 2013, 6:00 am
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The Eagles and Vikings will play the second-to-last NFL game ever at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. (AP)

Seven days ago, the Eagles played in frigid temps and ankle-high snow.

Today, while the mercury is likely to dip even lower than last Sunday’s game against Detroit at the Linc, ice-cold Minneapolis weather won’t be an issue.

But the atmosphere inside the Metrodome could be problematic a for a young Eagles team playing its first game of the season indoors.

“The big thing with domes, if you haven’t played in it before, it’s a sight to see,” said Nick Foles, who hasn’t started in a true dome yet in his NFL career. “I mean, you’re indoors on a football field. Everything is enclosed. It’s usually pretty awesome.

“I think the big thing is really focusing and keying on the football field. In your mind just realize, 'Hey, it’s the same football game, there’s just no wind, no rain, no  snow.' You’ve just gotta go out and play football.”

The Eagles spent the entire week of practice in their bubble, pumping up the music extra loud to simulate the ruckus inside the Metrodome, which might not be so loud and intimidating given the Vikings’ 3-9-1 record. 

The infamous Viking bullhorn that seemingly sounds every 20 seconds was also added in to create the most realistic feel possible for what the Eagles will encounter today. There is no perfect replication of the congested sound of a loud dome, but Chip Kelly’s practices are probably the best preparation possible.

“You can’t duplicate it in practice, but when them speakers are firin’ it up in practice, it gets loud to where you can’t hear anything,” rookie right tackle Lane Johnson said. “So I think it does good simulating that.”

Eight NFL teams, not counting Dallas, play home games in a dome. The Cowboys’ home stadium isn’t fully enclosed. Of those eight, two have either .500 or winning records at home despite overall losing records. 

Minnesota is one. The Vikings are 3-3 at the Metrodome, which means all of their wins this year have come in their own building. Next year, the Vikings are moving into an open-air stadium at the University of Minnesota. They haven't played in an open-air stadium since 1981.

“You just go play. I mean, obviously it's going to be a little bit louder,” Kelly said. “We've worked with sound since the first day of practice. You're going to have to make an adjustment when you get there. But besides that, not many adjustments.”

The fact that Kelly’s practices feature loud music regardless of opponent or venue is another part of his program intended to prepare the team for all scenarios of adversity, not just ones that pop up on a weekly basis.

Also, the Eagles have used a silent snap count on offense in every road game this year, center Jason Kelce noted.

“If the stadium is really quiet, we’ll get to some cadence stuff,” he said, “but for the most part (we use it) every road game, just so that it’s routine.”

Kelce said he’s glad the Eagles didn’t play any dome games earlier this season, with the team still adjusting to a new coaching staff, scheme and new faces on the roster.

“Early on in the season is usually when most miscommunication problems take place,” he said. “By now, we’re used to each other and the communication, the different calls in certain situations. But yeah, anytime you’re in the dome there’s an added emphasis on (communication).”