EAGLES FANS: THERE IS SOME LIGHT STARTING TO SHINE ON THIS SEASON (A LITTLE)
The Birds may be getting a little relief from the schedule and key players returning to the field
Eagles fans or observers surely can look at the Eagles schedule over the next four weeks and see that there is a chance to make up serious ground.
The Birds are 2-4-1 at press time with a Sunday night game against a Cowboys team spinning out of control from a poor defense, injuries and a locker room that is filled with descent rooted in a lack of confidence in its coaching staff.
Then the Eagles have a bye week to try to get back some of their players who were out from injury including some key players who could help right away. The Eagles recently activated four players to the 21-day practice windows who have been on Injured Reserve.
• Linebacker T.J. Edwards – The second-year linebacker suffered a hamstring injury in the win over the 49ers. The starter in the middle in base packages, Edwards played a season-high 51 snaps in the Week 3 Bengals game. Alex Singleton has stepped up in Edwards place and performed well, but the Birds want Edwards back.
• Safety Rudy Ford – A key member of special teams. Ford suffered a hamstring injury against the 49ers. His speed is a weapon in punt and kick coverage. Ford's return will help a special teams unit that has not been an elite unit to say the least
• Tackle Jason Peters –This always sounds like a broken record. Peters makes a comeback, plays well then gets hurt. But the Birds need him Sua Opeta and Jamon Brown and Brett Toth are not great options right now. Peters went on IR with a foot injury just before the 49ers game. Jordan Mailata has started at left tackle in each of the past four contests and has had moments good and bad. Where will Pederson put Peters in the line up when he returns? Smart money says he leaves Mailata at left tackle and goes with Nate Herbig and Peters as his guards.
• WR Jalen Reagor – Reagor suffered a thumb injury in the Week 2 Rams game. With DeSean Jackson likely gone for the year , the Birds need him ASAP. Reagor could be coming back at a perfect time. Reagor has five catches for 96 yards, including a 55-yard reception in Week 1. Travis Fulgham emerged in Reagor's absence. Those two plus slot receiver Greg Ward could make the passing game formidable.
• Eagles veteran tight end Richard Rogers has played well recently. Against the Giants, he led the team with six catched for 85 yards. Also John Hightower had a clutch 59-yard catch against Big Blue, his second 50-yard catch of the season.
After the Bye Week, the Eagles travel to New York to take on the Giants again. There is no reason not to believe the Birds complete another sweep of the G-Men..
That would have the Eagles at 4-4-1 as they head to Cleveland. The Browns are beatable. The Eagles have been playing better, in particular quarterback Carson Wentz. He has not been consistent, but the offense has improved its scoring.
THE EAGLES ARE THE COMEBACK KIDS – ONLY THEY DON'T WIN ENOUGH OF THOSE EFFORTS The Eagles staged dramatic comebacks against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens but lost. Against the Giants, the Birds erased a 21-10 deficit in the fourth quarter to win at the very end 22-21. They missed two two-point conversions.
All these comebacks are entertaining but not the way you want to build momentum going into the second half of the season. Wentz talked recently about the consistency of the offense:
“Obviously that’s something that I’m going to look hard at,” Wentz said via video conference recently. “I think we’re all going to look hard at, because it’s something that’s frustrating. To be down the way we were at halftime, to put that performance out there out there in the first half, we have to be better. Plain and simple, we have to be better. Plain and simple, we have to execute better.”
To execute better, Wentz needs better protection. The Eagles are tied with Cincinnati for last place for teams allowing the most sacks per game. The Birds O-line allows 4.0 sacks per game.
"You don't want your quarterback to be hit the amount of times he has here in the last couple of weeks," Pederson said recently. "But again we are playing some good fronts, and we have to figure out how to do a better job of protecting him. And then he has to do a better job, too, either throwing the ball away or trying to escape with his legs. We know there's going to be a hit a time or two and that's part of playing quarterback and he's a tough guy and he's hanging in there.”
After the win against the Giants, Wentz was asked what a come-back victory like that does for the team's confidence.
“To answer the latter part of that question, it does a lot for us,” the fifth-year quarterback said. “It does a lot for our confidence the way we’ve really fought to come back in the last couple ball games. To actually do it and pull out a win is huge for our confidence and we know it’s a divisional game. So it’s huge for the NFC East, as well. As far as the other question, we’d love to not be in those situations where our backs are against the wall. We left a lot of plays out there. We were in the red zone a lot and didn’t score many points.
“Those are the things we have to clean up and be better. But when our backs are against the wall and we have to make plays, I’m going to give guys all the opportunity in the world to make them. [Head Coach Doug Pederson] does a great job of calling the game in those situations where we’re playing fast and putting a lot of pressure on the defense. We’re obviously doing some good things in those situations. We have to keep building on it. But again, ideally we don’t put ourselves in those situations. But when we need it, we’ve been successful for the most part so far.”
BRANDON GRAHAM SPEAKS – PEOPLE LISTEN, HOPEFULLY THE YOUNGER PLAYERS The 11-year veteran linebacker was asked last week about the quality this team has of not giving up and staying in the game.
“We just keep on fighting. We don’t worry about the past,” said Graham, who has 11.5 sacks in his last 10 home games. “We try to stay futuristic as far as ‘it is what it is, now what are we going to do?’ So I think people are taking on that approach and I’m loving it because we fight to the end. And I’m telling you some of this stuff that’s happening to us right now, it’s going to start changing because I really do feel like our team is getting stronger every week and every week that confidence is growing. We finally pulled one out at the end. You know how tough it is in this league to win games and so for us to rally back, six minutes to go, luckily with the drop that (Giants TE Evan) Engram gave us, we took advantage of the opportunity so I’m thankful for that.”
Graham was asked how much the younger players are learning from games like the Giants comeback win, and how much are he and the veterans enjoying getting the message across to them about staying together and seeing the results from this:
“It’s really good for them because they are going through a lot of adversity their first year with COVID, the stuff that we have to do for COVID and then what’s been happening on that field,” Graham said. “It’s only making us stronger each and every week. I feel like what coach says, we’re battle tested, all the things that tend to go wrong in these games we always find a way to rally back, sometimes we come up short in the end. But things are going to start clicking for us. I think it started with the Giants tonight. It was an ugly win but at the end of the day, a win is a win and we can continue to build off of it.” *