Even in an all-around disappointing effort for the Eagles against the Chargers, there were bright spots to take away. The determination of the team to fight back in the second half was a great showing of team character, and the Eagles were able to get significant contributions from young players along the way.
Rookie seventh-round pick Moise Fokou made his second consecutive start at strongside linebacker for the Eagles, and he looked more natural and reactive on the field than in his debut against the Dallas Cowboys, and it showed in his production - Fokou was the team's leading tackler, bringing down the ball-carrier 10 times in San Diego.
"I felt like as the game progressed I felt a lot more comfortable out there, flying around and understanding what the offense was trying to do to us," Fokou said. "It just felt good being out there."
With weakside linebacker Akeem Jordan out with a hyper-extended knee, the linebackers shuffled around a little bit. Chris Gocong, the usual strogside linebacker, moved to the the middle and Will Witherspoon shifted from the middle to the weak side. With Jordan's status still uncertain this week, Fokou could be in line for his third straight start when the Eagles travel to Chicago for a Sunday night matchup with the Bears.
"We're kind of in a little midpoint right now where we can either go up or go down," Fokou said, assessing the team's status. "Coming back towards the end (against the Chargers), there were some positive things, but at the same time we can't put ourselves in those situations."
The Eagles trail the division-leading Dallas Cowboys by a single game, and they are currently locked in a four-way tie with the Atlanta Falcons, the New York Giants and the Green Bay Packers for the two wild card spots in the NFC. The Bears are one of three teams lurking a game behind that pack at 4-5.
Fokou's quickness in pursuit to the ball was apparent against the Chargers, and he has been consistently praised by the coaching staff for his ability to play "downhill." But the one weakness in the rookie's game so far has been his proclivity for committing penalties. He was called for unnecessary roughness against the Chargers when he hit LaDainian Tomlinson out of bounds on San Diego's first drive of the third quarter - a drive that would result in a touchdown.
"It's the little things," Fokou said. "Here, we strive for perfection ... Yesterday, we had a couple mental mistakes, a couple little busts here and there which cost us."
"We just have to go back in and devote ourselves all over again and put more work into it."
Fokou is a promising player to be sure, and he figures to be a fixture at linebacker for the Eagles for years to come. But the time is now for the Eagles, and the defense must focus on bouncing back after giving up 31 points to the Chargers - the second-most points they've allowed all season.
"It's real important, it's the next game," Fokou said of this week's game. "You always look forward to the next game, you look forward to getting a win. So we're putting all efforts into that."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 11:43 a.m., November 17