The landscape changes in this week-to-week world, and what Nick Sirianni and the Eagles have in front of them right now is unique and challenging: As they prepare for a return trip to MetLife Stadium to meet the New York Jets, there are injuries to navigate, an offense to get back on track, and a football game to win against a team that continues to play hard and on Sunday that emerged victorious on the road.
1. First, the injuries:
• Starting right guard Jack Driscoll, who has played so well in his second season with eight starts at right guard and one at right tackle, will head to Injured Reserve with an ankle sprain. Since it's Driscoll's second trip to IR, he will be shelved for the remainder of the season. The offensive line must again adjust to a new starting combination after enjoying eight consecutive weeks with the same starting unit – Jordan Mailata at left tackle, Landon Dickerson at left guard, Jason Kelce at center, Driscoll at right guard, and Lane Johnson at right tackle. Nate Herbig replaced Driscoll in Sunday's game against the Giants and is a candidate to replace Driscoll in the starting lineup. There is no update on the progress made by Brandon Brooks, who suffered a pectoral injury in the second week of the season. Sirianni said the team hopes to have an update on Brooks following the bye week.
• The running back picture also needs some clarity after Jordan Howard (knee) missed Sunday's game against the Giants and Miles Sanders left the contest in the second half with a foot/ankle injury. Sirianni said he would have more information on Wednesday, but it's certainly a good thing the Eagles have depth at running back. They knew heading into this 17-game season that they'd need a stable of backs they could count on, and that's been part of the success of the backfield.
2. There is also the matter of improvement across the board, and Sirianni was asked on Monday about the passing game and his thoughts on the effectiveness against the Giants. Sirianni addressed the offense on Monday as the players reported for a team meeting and position-group meetings and he was frank and to the point with his passing game.
"My message to the pass-group guys today in film was, 'Hey, it wasn't good enough in this group yesterday (Sunday).' That starts with me putting them in positions to succeed, then the guy who touches the ball every time is the quarterback – him executing at a high level. And then to the receivers, tight ends, and running backs. So, not good enough. We're not where we want to be in that part of our game," he said.
"We're working like crazy to get better at it. I think what we're seeing is our play-action game has been successful, but when teams know we're dropping back or when we're dropping back to pass that's where we've struggled in the third-and-long scenarios. That's an emphasis that we know we've got to get better at. We know that to win the games we know we need to win – it really just starts here with the next game against the Jets – when we need to pass the ball we're going to have to succeed doing it. That starts with the dropback passing. That's where we know we need to get better."
3. Second-year wide receiver Jalen Reagor had an opportunity to make a catch at the goal line on the final pass from Hurts but couldn't come down with the football, and Sirianni talked about Reagor's need to be more consistent with his performance.
"I do believe that Jalen is working himself – he does work extremely hard in practice to get himself better. When he had those opportunities yesterday – he's going to want – we all wanted him to make that play. Nobody wants him to make that play more than himself, either," Sirianni said. "He did make a couple nice plays – made a nice catch on a pass that was a little bit behind him, and then he made a nice catch at the end of the first half to put us down there in scoring range, just obviously didn't execute to finish that off.
"But what you want out of every player, not just Jalen, right, you want out of every player: consistency. I think what we saw yesterday is that he wasn't consistent throughout the game. He knows that. We have already talked to him about that. And so, consistency is when you're making those next steps in your development. So, he's shown he has playmaking ability, he shows that he can make some big-time plays, we just want to see that more consistent."
4. The Eagles held joint practices against the Jets in the summer, so there is some familiarity with New York's personnel as the Eagles turn their attention to Sunday and a return trip to North Jersey. The Jets are 3-8 and coming off a win over Houston and rookie Zach Wilson will be at the quarterback position for New York. The Eagles have no more flights this season and they have a bye week following the Jets game, so every bit of rest and recovery they can provide the players is valuable.
"I know they're well coached and I know they play hard because they're well coached," Sirianni said in our weekly one-on-one interview, presented by Wawa. "They've got some playmakers at every level, both offensively and defensively. It always comes down to us and how we prepare to put ourselves in position to win on Sunday and that's where we are right now."