The Eagles suffered a heartbreaking 24-10 defeat at the hands of Seattle on Sunday night. The Seahawks punished Philadelphia for complacent errors and a lack of consistency from the top-down. Now sitting at 10-2, the Eagles very much control their own destiny. Being aware of that is one thing, taking the necessary action to secure a #1 seed is very different one.
The Eagles may have been riding some intimidating streaks. From their 10-game run of consecutive 100+ rushing yard outings, to their staggering five-game streak of 30+ points scored, the stat sheet showed dominance. The tape simply shows a team making errors going unpunished. Something Seattle wasn’t going to let slide.
The Eagles had 11 penalties in their win over Chicago along with four fumbles. One week later, the team has another 7 flags (some questionable) thrown their way and a momentum shifting fumble at the goal-line that turned a potential touchdown into seven points for the Seahawks. The Eagles have been getting sloppier as the season has progressed…and that isn’t a trend that’s solely down to what we see on gameday.
“Well, we obviously pride ourselves in our work and getting our work done during the week.” Doug Pederson explained to reporters on Monday afternoon. “I feel strongly about — you win games during the week, and sometimes things come up and as a coach, you’re always maybe a little more nervous than you should be, the way we practice.” What the Eagles Head Coach went on to say, painted a picture that said 1,000 words.
“I just think that the way — probably in the last couple of weeks — what you saw probably previously to the last two weeks, you didn’t see the penalties. You didn’t see the turnovers. You didn’t see some of the negative things that have been going on. And to me, that’s a direct correlation to how we practice during the week. So that’s what I mean by that. And we’ve got to get that erased this week.”
Pederson wasn’t the only person to point out the practice setbacks.
Jason Kelce says he did NOT think the Eagles had a good week of practice leading up to Seattle Loss pic.twitter.com/xV6fFoIhAC
— Jeff Skversky (@JeffSkversky) December 4, 2017
It’s not an excuse. But it’s less than ideal for the Eagles to have back-to-back road games on the West Coast and be turning to the Los Angeles Angels for some practice ground hospitality. In the City of Angels, it’s easy for the change of scenery, change of pace, change of timezone and change of schedule to have an impact on not just players, but the teams as a collective.
Doug Pederson had a plan for this, but there’s no plan to completely neutralize the challenge all together.
“As far as the times go, I did that for the Seattle trip obviously because we came out on Saturday, so I wanted to make sure that the times were as close to East Coast times.” The Eagles Head Coach explained. “Now we’re on West Coast for the rest of the week, and the challenge is just we’re trying to eliminate distractions.”
“We’re trying to make sure — it’s hard when you’ve got back-to-back, these West Coast trips like this, to be able to fly back home and practice and then comeback out this way at the end of the week. So we try to keep the week as normal as possible for the guys and for the coaches. We have a great set up here in the hotel. Coaches have offices and work space to get the work done.
Players have got everything they need right here from treatment, rehab, doctors, medical facilities, all of that. When we set this trip, there was an advance team that put all this together for us. They have done a great job and we’re just looking forward to the week.”
The inverse effect of this was that maybe it’s been coming. The Eagles have been placing Nick Foles into the game late on due to such dominant leads that mistakes have been overlooked and the team have gone 8 weeks without a one possession win.
“I think sometimes, I’ve talked about this before, winning can kind of cover up or mask some things, some deficiencies, a little chink in your armor, if there is any. Coaches and players fall into the same boat sometimes.” Honest, to the point. Pederson would then open up on the importance of bouncing back from the loss.
“We need games where we get hit in the mouth, and we have to fight and battle and scratch. Yesterday’s game was one of those games. You just have to understand that the preparation, there’s no substitute for the preparation and the hard work. You can’t substitute that. The guys have to know that, and it’s my job to make sure that they understand that and how we prepare and how we coach and hold everybody accountable.
When I start seeing the same mistakes in ballgames that you kind of see during the week, we’ve just got to get back to the, not necessarily the grind, but we’ve got to get back to just focusing in on all our jobs and owning that.”
The Eagles simply have to get it fixed. The L.A Rams await. It’s their turf and there’s a battle for NFC supremacy to be won. The Rams face an incredibly tough challenge in battling both the Eagles one week and Seattle the next. Their entire bid for the #1 seed may well depend on this matchup…and for the Eagles, losing a game to Seattle one week and potentially to the Rams this week, a win for L.A would provide a two game swing. The rest of the NFC are gaining ground and the Eagles can’t afford to let their dominant 10-2 record slip away.
“I’m not a big believer in just changing things to change. I feel like you’ve got to continue with the same structure.” Pederson said as he exclaimed his intent to keep as much the same as possible.
“But I think the messaging can change; how I address the football team and sort of bring to light the fact that, listen, we’re 10-2, still a good football team. Everything is in our control. And that’s the beauty of this whole thing: is everything is still right in front of us. We just have to embrace that, understand that, and prepare like we have and get ready for the Rams on Sunday.”
Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports