The Eagles travel to Detroit this weekend in a matchup that promises to bring a lot of intensity. At 3-0, the Eagles are yet to lose under Doug Pederson and are facing a Lions team who humiliated them 45-14 in their last meeting back in November last year. Detroit know how Jim Schwartz does things very well and with a 13 game haul lying ahead, momentum is absolutely crucial for the Eagles.
An early Bye-Week can be seen as both a blessing and a curse. For the Eagles, it means that both Leodis McKelvin and Zach Ertz are likely to return to action against the Lions which will likely prove to be a huge boost on both sides of the ball.
Then of course, there’s the movement of the spotlight. With Carson Wentz making history, picking up accolades and shattering records on what seems like a weekly basis, the media pressure began to mount on the team just as rapidly as the success began to build.
The national spotlight has taken a shine to the NDSU quarterback, an underrated Eagles Offense and a Defense that is tied 4th for most NFL sacks since 2014 and has simply dominated every team in its path thus far. A week away from the constant attention and pressure can only do the coaches and players good..but they’ve now got to ensure that their level of play sees no decline.
The Eagles are a completely fresh unit heading into their fourth game of the season and would have had plenty of time to compose themselves and prepare for what’s going to be a very tough matchup. If they lose to the Lions this weekend..the effects of the Bye week will begin to surface.
Having a Bye-week just after a loss gives the team a chance to recompose and hit the reset switch before going out and attempting to dominate in their next game. The Eagles bye fell just four weeks into the regular season..which means the team now face a grueling 13 consecutive game weeks. If the team start the rest of 2016 with a loss, knowing that the road is only going to toughen..the mountain is only going to become tougher to climb.
The Eagles Offense has been on an incredible roll, but it isn’t without flaws. The lead running backs have been less than productive on the ground and in fact both rushed for negative yardage against the Steelers. The team have struggled to convert on third down, moving the chains just 30% of the time.
The good news is, that Doug Pederson actually has a 100% win rate when coming back after the Bye week. As Offensive Coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs, Pederson helped his team defeat the Broncos 29-13 last year and the Chargers in 2014.
A sour taste will still be in the mouth of many players after last year’s shocking defeat..and the team are hungry to prove just how much things have changed in the last eleven months. But all storylines aside, the Eagles have to hit the ground running this weekend due to having such a demanding schedule ahead. If they fail to do so..things may begin to stagnate..and there’s no Bye-week to act as a reset switch.
Errors are going to occur and inefficiencies will surface, but that’s to be expected for such a young team with a focus of development. The Eagles have done nothing but impress so far but there will likely come a time where the Offense is not as productive or the lack of third down conversions begin to haunt the unit. It may not be one of the most exciting storylines to follow, but Pederson’s ability to rally his team and keep the juices flowing after a direct contrast of the week 3 drama to a Bye-week could be the difference on Sunday night..and many of the games that follow.
It may not be regarded as his toughest challenge as a Head Coach, but it’s certainly one that will show his prowess.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports