After a grueling road trip, Eagles are poised to return to dominant ways in front of home crowd

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It’s been a rough few weeks for the Philadelphia Eagles. If you were to look at the scores and the record alone, you’d assume all is well in the City of Brotherly Love. But two games against destructive defenses on the West-Coast have taken their toll on this Eagles team, as was showcased by a struggle against the Giants. The Eagles are driving home for Christmas…and that may be the best gift they could ask for.

Consistency has slipped away. Tackling form is rapidly disappearing and the Eagles allowed Eli Manning and a Giants offense without a pulse to amass over 400 yards through the air and put up a season-high 29 points. There is no excuse for that, but there re certainly factors that play a huge role.

“I do know this: It’s been a rough three games.” Doug Pederson said on Monday. “We’ve been on the road. There was a West Coast trip in there with Seattle and L.A., and then [we were] up in New York. I think back to when we played the Broncos. I believe the Broncos were on the road for three games in a row at the time we played them and you saw what happened there.

I think there’s something to say about that, being on the road, and traveling. All of that can affect coaches and players. I do my part during the week to limit the amount of reps that we’re taking and try to get the guys on and off the practice field and make sure that they are getting rest and all the proper hydration, nutrition, whatever it takes, this time of year, to stay as healthy as possible.”

Even if you take away the loss of the team’s franchise quarterback, the Eagles have struggled elsewhere. Nick Foles was able to step in and score four touchdowns in his first start in 13 months, so the problem is not necessarily with a severe drop in talent at quarterback. But LeGarrette Blount’s form for instance has dipped, the corners are struggling, drops are beginning to surface and uncharacteristic decisions are starting to unravel.


Over the last few weeks, tackling has been a severe problem. What was once a strength for this team is rapidly becoming a weakness. Corners and linebackers alike are struggling to bring down ball carriers…giving room for the likes of Todd Gurley to have a field day. The Eagles have faced three very different challenges in the last three weeks, but as Winter Football sets in, this is a fundamental skill that has to improve.

“Obviously being a football sport and a contact sport, tackling is everything.” The Eagles Head Coach told reporters. “You have to be able to get guys on the ground. We have to continue to address it during the week. This time of the year it falls a little bit more back on the player [in] getting their proper rest, getting the nutrition, hydration, things we talk about during the week and making sure that they are as fresh as they can be.”

Fatigue was bound to set in at some point. As the injuries mount up and the ‘next-man up mentality’ is tested week after week, a torturous journey out west and a wobbly return home has left this Eagles team shaken. But still, they have found a way to win.

They now enter a Christmas Day matchup against the Oakland Raiders. A game in front of the Philadelphia faithful at Lincoln Financial Field. Undefeated at home this season, the Eagles will look to maintain that record against a Raiders team in a must-win situation. Finally, the Eagles have the odds in their favor. A full week to prepare as normal and a chance to regain a sense of familiarity, this is Philadelphia team who thrive under the LFF lights. That home field advantage will be crucial when the Raiders come to town on Monday, looking to capitalize on a wobbling Eagles team.

The Birds have battled attrition all year long, but no challenge has been more intimidating than the one faced over the last few weeks. The Eagles will be thankful to be playing in front of a home crowd in an advantageous matchup. If there is ever an opportunity for this team to relight that dominant fire that saw them rip through every team in their path, regardless of stature or reputation, it’s this one.

 

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Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

 

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