It's time for a pause. Again. And a much-needed and very much appreciated one. A mini-bye weekend is here for the Eagles, and the players have been given three days off to breathe and catch up on some rest. The win on Thursday night over the New York Giants set up the Eagles in a grand way, and now head coach Doug Pederson will challenge his team to focus and take a two-game approach against Carolina and in London against Jacksonville before the full bye week arrives.
The 60-minute win over New York was significant in that it opened the NFC East the right way – it established the Eagles in the division, it was a road victory, and all three phases of the operation contributed to the convincing W. The Giants are struggling, yes, but the Eagles didn't give them a chance to mount a comeback or think that they could win. The Eagles went up to MetLife Stadium and handled their business.
With the NovaCare Complex emptying rapidly on a get-out-of-here Friday, it's a chance to clean out the notebook from the win and unpack just a bit six games into the season …
- First, the injuries: Head coach Doug Pederson said there is still more information gathering on left tackle Jason Peters and his biceps injury, but that the early indication was "positive." Couple that with media reports that doctors think Peters can play through the injury and it sounds like Peters has a chance to stay on the field. More updates ahead. Cornerback Sidney Jones is "week to week" with a hamstring injury, and that verbiage usually means it could be tough for Jones to play against Carolina. Right tackle Lane Johnson has an ankle injury that he's playing through. The weekend off will help a lot.
- In place of Jones, the Eagles used Avonte Maddox as the nickel cornerback and brought in cornerback Rasul Douglas at safety. Tre Sullivan saw some late-game reps at safety, a valuable bit of duty that gave him a taste of regular-season game speed. Maddox deserves a lot of credit for having the maturity and versatility to help in multiple spots in the defense. He has a chance to be a pretty darn good football player.
- Sometimes, all of the hard work your scouting department does pays off. In the instance of defensive tackle Treyvon Hester and the Eagles, it certainly has. Hester was cut by the Oakland Raiders on September 3, prior to the start of the regular season, and then he was added to the practice squad here on September 7. Less than a month later Hester was promoted to the 53-man roster. Hester played 11 snaps on defense against Minnesota and got to the football in the running game and then he played 15 snaps against New York and had a tackle for loss and was disruptive. The Eagles might have something here as they work combinations behind Fletcher Cox. Hester is "twitchy," as they say, and he plays hard. Two undrafted players are now part of the picture at defensive tackle for the Eagles. Hester is one and Destiny Vaeao, who had a sack on Thursday night, is the other. Credit goes to the personnel department for adding those players and to line coaches Chris Wilson and Phillip Daniels for working and developing these young players.
- Middle linebacker Jordan Hicks reminds us each week how important he is to the defense and how good a player he is when he's healthy and on the field. Hicks had 10 tackles and a deflected pass to set up Kamu Grugier-Hill for the first-possession defensive takeaway on Thursday night. Hicks is always around the football.
- Pederson on wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and what he means to this offense: "Alshon to me is, for our system and for what we do, he's exactly what you want. He's big, he's powerful, he's physical. He's got a high catch radius in the red zone, meaning he can elevate and catch balls, as we say, above the rim. What he's done that's really impressed me the most is he's embraced a leadership role with the guys. We have a lot of young guys in the wide receiver room and on offense and he's been a little more vocal. He shows up in practice and he works hard every single day. He's constantly making play after play after play. He and Carson (Wentz, quarterback) are on the same page. Carson knows where Alshon is going to be and we get Alshon the football, even if we have to kind of design something on the sideline kind of quickly. It's great to have that kind of confidence in a big target on the perimeter."
- I happened to look up the rules (because I was curious) and saw that in Rule 5, Section 5, Article 3, it states about injury timeouts prior to a two-minute warning of either half that a player can remain in the game, and not leave for one play if C) the period ends or the two-minute warning occurs before the next snap. In other words, Lane Johnson should have been permitted to stay in the game late in the third quarter when he went down with an injury. The third quarter ended and the officials made Johnson sit out the first play of the fourth quarter as Stefen Wisniewski came in to play left guard and Isaac Seumalo moved out to right tackle. Wrong call by the officials.
- That special teams coordinator Dave Fipp has been able to, at this point, seamlessly transition from punter/holder Donnie Jones, long snapper Jon Dorenbos, and placekicker Cody Parkey/Caleb Sturgis (just to use recent names) to punter/holder Cameron Johnston, long snapper Rick Lovato, and placekicker Jake Elliott is remarkable and rare in this NFL.
- Anyone worried that Wentz is holding the ball too long now? He was brilliant with the clock in his head on Thursday and he showed great ability to avoid the rush. It was Wentz's best game, but as Pederson pointed out to me on Friday, the fact that the self-inflicted wounds were minimized helped just as much. "Everybody did his job and we played in front of the chains," Pederson said. "That's a big help for Carson. He played a great game, but the fact that everyone around him was so focused made a big difference in the offense. We played Philadelphia Eagles football."
- Lastly, is there a better fit in this defense than linebacker Nigel Bradham? He was all over the field on Thursday night and he always plays so physically and with such great technique and positioning. Bradham is a big-time player here.