There is a time and a place for such meetings as the one called by quarterback Michael Vick at the NovaCare Complex, and the one this week seems to have, for however long it lasts, a positive effect on the Eagles' locker room.
Who doesn't appreciate the opportunity to have an off-the-record, from-the-heart conversation with peers? It's a time of self reflection and accountability within the precious team confines, and generally there is a cleansing process that occurs.
How a team ultimately responds after such meetings is, I am sure, very unscientific. What means a lot, in the few days prior to Monday night's game in New Orleans, is that the Eagle feel better about themselves.
They don't want to be 3-4. They don't want to answer questions on a daily basis about why things have gone this way through seven games, and so the collective intent is to get back on the winning track on Monday night.
And the steps being taken in these preceding days are important. Now, the players on Thursday preferred to keep their team-only conversation private, but experience says the conversations weren't different than the many in past years. Accountability is always a key talking point. Team-first emphasis is a constant theme. Attention to detail and the importance of looking individually in the mirror are primary conversations.
At the end of the day, though, wins and losses come down to coaching calls and player's executing those calls. There is a lot of middle muddle but you have seen enough football to know that if the coaches don't have players in the right position, plays won't be made. If the players are in the right spot, then they have to make the plays or they have to be accountable.
I'm glad that Vick called the meeting and I'm glad that a good handful of players stood up and honestly expressed their perspectives. Communication and honesty are good things.
So is a great game plan and strong practices, and that's where we are with respect to Monday's game in New Orleans.
It's a biggie, we all know that. The players know it, too, and it's a reason to think we're going to see the best of what the Eagles have against the Saints.
NEWS, NOTES AND A LITTLE BIT OF THIS AND THAT
- Dennis Kelly is in line to start his second consecutive game on Monday night and he is taking it all pretty much in stride. He is prepared, he is confident and he knows that playing in a hostile environment is a challenge. I say that a strong second game for Kelly will make Howard Mudd think a lot about where the rookie from Purdue can fit in moving forward, whether it's at guard or tackle.
- I wonder how the Eagles plan to cover tight end Jimmy Graham and running back Darren Sproles, who did not practice on Thursday because of a hand injury. Does Mychal Kendricks go against Graham? Do the Eagles bring in an extra defensive back against Sproles? Do you see Brandon Boykin against Sproles? Who has the speed to cover Sproles in the open field?
- Another big challenge for the defense is handling the screen game, and I know that means a lot of Sproles. How do the Eagles tinker with the scheme to slow down the screen?
- I know what the numbers say about the Saints' defense, but understanding that Steve Spagnuolo is a Jim Johnson pupil, you can expect the New Orleans defense to come after Vick and blitz a lot, or at least show the blitz a lot. Pressure is the name of the game for Spags and that defense.
- With Mardy Gilyard out because of a hamstring injury, the Eagles will go with Damaris Johnson as the punt returner. I'm anticipating that Johnson is going to be advanced from where he was a few weeks ago. Sometimes, the best thing for a rookie is to take a step back and see the game from a new perspective. It wouldn't surprise me to see Johnson play himself right back into the return picture, at the very least.
- Defensive tackle Mike Patterson is on track to play on Monday night, which would be a boost for the defense. There are questions that come, naturally. If he plays, how many snaps can you expect, especially against a pass-heavy defense? If Patterson is activated to the 53-man roster, who does he replace? Would the Eagles really carry 12 defensive linemen on this roster?