In a span of 14 minutes, 30 seconds on Monday afternoon, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson answered 24 questions from the Philadelphia media following the team’s 22-14 win over the Chicago Bears a day earlier, a hard-fought victory that raised Philadelphia’s record to 5-4 heading into a much-welcomed bye week.
Of those 24 questions, nine questions referred to DeSean Jackson’s injury, three questions were directed toward receivers J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Mack Hollins, three were about left tackle Andre Dillard and Jason Peters and the immediate future at that position, three were asked about cornerback Sidney Jones, two asked about Pederson’s end-of-game decision-making (why did he choose to kick a field goal on fourth down?), one was on the play of wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor, one asked if Pederson was considering any changes at wide receiver, one was on the team’s consistency through nine games, and one asked about rookie running back Miles Sanders.
The Thrill of Victory!
And the Agony of Answering to it the Next Day …
I’m not here to criticize any media member’s agenda or line of questioning. It’s just different perspectives, that’s all. On the team side, hey, the Eagles have something going here. With consecutive victories the last two weeks, Philadelphia is now 5-4 and one game behind Dallas (pending Monday night’s game against the Giants) with seven games to play. The race is on. These are, after an up-and-down first seven weeks, exciting times.
Does it have to be so negative out there?
I mean, sure, it’s fair to ask questions about Jackson’s injury – which is still uncertain in terms of when he can fully return to action – and, certainly, the wide receiver production has to be better. Pederson acknowledged all of that on Monday.
“At this point, it’s something we'll take a look at,” Pederson said when asked if he was “anticipating any moves” this week. “We have to take a look at it, obviously. It's real. We're sort of at the halfway point, a little over a game over the halfway point of our season, and we have time this week to make these decisions. We'll take a look at it, but nothing right now.”
That’s what this week is for, to “take a look at it.” To take a look at everything. In the locker room after Sunday’s win, Pederson told his players to get away and come back with their bodies right and their minds free of clutter. Beating Chicago was a wonderful way to reach the bye week – deep into the schedule after nine weeks of games. Only the players who need medical treatment remain at the NovaCare Complex. The rest are away. That’s a good thing. The coaches will work until the end of the week and then they’ll take a couple of days of and, trust me, it will feel like a lot longer than that. Heck, just having a home game on Sunday was a relief after three games away from Lincoln Financial Field.
Pederson knows his team is not perfect. He knows he’s got some work ahead. Jackson’s injury lingers, with no clear answer for the future. The rest of the wide receivers need to be more productive. The offense, in general, needs to convert in the red zone and put teams away, something to examine over the course of the next few days. The defense, getting healthier by the day and hopeful of having linebacker Nigel Bradham and cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc back on the field in short order, is trending in the right direction. The team’s confidence is high. The chemistry is good.
The Eagles earned the right to feel good about themselves this week. Realistic, yes. And good, too.
This is a football team that has overcome a lot of adversity in nine games. There have been injuries across the board that have zapped some of the power from a well-assembled roster. There has been some misfortune in would-love-to-have-back losses at Atlanta and against Detroit. But there are also no excuses, and there is nothing to excuse: The Eagles are in a playoff push. Telling games against New England and Seattle await at home. This is going to be fun and something special to see, great football at Lincoln Financial Field.
So, the Eagles are going to enjoy this week, no matter what the outside world thinks. At 5-4, the Eagles have their playoff future in their hands, and that’s all any NFL team can ask for with seven games to go.