HOUSTON -- In 2013, the Eagles were known for many things. The breakneck pace of the offense, the dominance of the run game, the efficiency of Nick Foles and the implementation of sports science all made headlines. The impressive health of the team, with no players going on the Injured Reserve once the season began and all five offensive linemen starting all 16 games together, was a calling card.
That, of course, has not been the case in 2014, as the offensive line has been in flux all season because of injury and the defense has seen shuffling at several positions. And yet, the Eagles are 6-2 halfway through the season, and their impressive resolve was on display for all to see Sunday as the losses of quarterback Nick Foles, offensive lineman Todd Herremans and inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans were all overcome on the way to a 31-21 victory.
"The M.O. of this team has been one guy goes down and the next guy goes in and we just keep chugging along," said center Jason Kelce, who returned from a sports hernia injury to start for the first time since Week 3. "I think that's on offense and defense and you saw that today when Todd went down and Nick Foles went down and then obviously DeMeco on the defense. We have great players and we have a great culture where everybody understands their role and understands if they need to go out there, the rest of the team is relying on them."
After Foles left with a shoulder injury at the very end of the first quarter, Sanchez threw for over 200 yards and two touchdowns while shepherding the Eagles' offense to 31 points. After leaving with an ankle injury (and playing through a biceps injury), Herremans was replaced at right guard by Andrew Gardner – and the Eagles proceeded to score on a four-play, 70-yard drive that consisted of all runs. And Casey Matthews and Emmanuel Acho combined to fill the void left by Ryans as the Eagles' defense helped close the door on the Texans as the home team tried to claw back from a 10-point deficit at the end of the game.
The Eagles are in Houston to take on the Texans at NRG Stadium. Philadelphia is looking to bounce back after last week's loss in Arizona ...
"The injury bug hits everybody at some point," said safety Malcolm Jenkins. "What you always get to see from a team that has injuries is, one, how much faith do we have in the guys who are backups and how prepared is the team, how much depth do we have and how is their resolve? I think we've shown some really good resolve in fighting through adversity. Nobody's complaining about it, nobody's making excuses."
"We have guys that work their tail off," said right tackle Lane Johnson. "Backups, they play the game just like starters. People like Gardner, (Matt) Tobin, they're practicing well and their name's called and they can play pretty decent."
As head coach Chip Kelly has mentioned throughout his tenure with the Eagles, the team's training sessions do help prepare the team for the possibility, and the inevitability, of injuries.
"It says that we're resilient," cornerback Cary Williams said. "I think it's come down to the guys that we have in the locker room, guys who understand that injuries are things that happen and it's our job to play through it. You never know when your name's going to be called. In practice, there are a lot of second-team guys who get reps. It's been helping us out."
"I mean, it shows we have character" said left tackle Jason Peters. "Like I said before, one goes down, the other one steps up. We're just going to keep going and playing with the guys we have on the field."