The Eagles may just be one of the best teams in the NFL right now. Leading the NFC through countless categories thanks to the emergence of sophomore quarterback Carson Wentz, a lethal offense and terrifying Defense, the Birds’ have done nothing but prove people wrong this season. Last week saw Pederson’s army march on Carolina on a short week. With injuries and penalties plaguing their every move, the Birds’ somehow defied the odds once again and left the Panthers licking their wounds as they rose to the top of the pecking order. But after battling through the challenges positioned by a short-week, the Eagles now have the inverse to deal with.
The Eagles are in the process of a nine-day preparation window. From the Friday they touched back in Philadelphia, to the Monday Night game against Washington at the Linc, a lot can change. The NFL is a league that thrives on momentum, especially the changing of it. Right now the Birds’ are surging in the right direction…but as the storm begins the calm, how will the Eagles ensure that their momentum does not do the same?
“The guys that are injured and the guys that are nicked up will get their treatment.” Pederson said after the TNF victory. “It’s a mandatory deal with them. They’ve got to get their treatment and rehab before they can get out of town if they elect to. And really just give them the weekend off and let them rest and really think about the first six weeks. Get away from the coaches and just treat it as a mini bye [week] a little bit. Then get back in here on Monday/Tuesday, and get focused again on the task at hand. We’ve got three really good, exciting games coming up before our official bye [week], all at home. So it will be an exciting week. Looking forward to it.”
We’re halfway through that week now and while the likes of Wendell Smallwood and Lane Johnson are returning to practice, there’s still a long way to go until Monday night. Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time that a hot start ultimately burned out. It was only one year ago that the Eagles burst out of the gate to a 4-1 start and stabbed a dagger into the heart of local rivals Pittsburgh. The Eagles would win just three more games that season.
Of course, the big difference here is that franchise right tackle Lane Johnson isn’t serving a 10-game suspension. Partnered with the improvements across the roster both in terms of development and talent acquisitions, the Eagles just seem primed to dominate a league in which nobody is able to find consistency. But it’s a long season. The Eagles have rapidly become one of the hottest team’s in the league and the key to sustaining that starts by changing absolutely nothing.
“I think as we all know, in this business, momentum can change quickly for the good and for the bad. ” Frank Reich told reporters yesterday. “That’s why as coaches and players, all we worry about is this week, and can we get better this week. I mean, there’s nothing else that matters. What we talk about is an obsession — we talk about an obsession to get better today, and we talk about an obsession to give ourselves to our teammates, to play for each other, and because things can go up and down so quickly. I mean, it’s crazy how fast it can go like that. If you aren’t committed to the process and if you aren’t committed to your teammates and you start worrying about that other stuff, I think that gets in a danger zone”
Hosting a divisional opponent at home is a huge opportunity for the Eagles to not only continue their perfect run through divisional opponents with a win in front of the roaring Philadelphia faithful, but also a chance to maximize everything going in their favor. With key cogs on both the offense and defense potentially returning this week, the Eagles are in a favorable spot…which is exactly why extra care is being taken.
To this point, the Eagles have been aggressive in the run, confident in taking deep shots downfield and simply ruthless on Defense. The extra time off gives the Birds’ a chance to patch up any wounds and come in extremely well prepared for what promises to be yet another intense and fiery matchup as the games against Washington always are.
A sudden ascent into the national spotlight has seen the Eagles soar up power rankings and into the heart of talk shows across the nation. This is the time where momentum really pays dividends. For the Eagles to stay grounded, not buy into the hype that’s filling the city with color and instead buy into the confidence and trust in Doug Pederson and Jim Schwartz is going to be absolutely pivotal.
The Eagles received a shot in the arm with a win over Arizona at home, just their second home game of the season. But now the effects are beginning to wear off, and the team could be susceptible to the same viruses that plagued them just one year ago if they begin to stop and admire the view.
If the Birds’ can come out on Monday Night ready to roll and attack in the same way they did last Thursday, then Washington will have a very hard time stunting the progress of one of the most exciting franchises in the league. But if the extra time off has given a slightly heightened sense of falling into the traps that so many team’s have done in the past, it’s going to be a very different affair. This Eagles team has all the makings of a Super Bowl contender, but the “one game at a time mentality” matters now more than ever.
Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports