Strong safety Quntin Mikell may or may not play this Sunday against Dallas, but he provides insight and knowledge as one of the leaders on this football team.
Mikell is about to embark on his sixth playoff run with the Eagles. He's been a part of some monumental wins and suited up for some heartbreaking defeats. Certainly, the Eagles experienced a difficult loss on Tuesday night against Minnesota but at least there's still football ahead for this team. But Mikell knows that "there's no room for error anymore."
"We're at a point right now where if we're not playing well, if we're not ready to go, we're going to be going home and we're going to be watching the playoffs at home and that's a bad feeling," Mikell said. "That's one of the worst feelings in the world is watching a team that you possibly beat or you could beat playing in the playoffs and playing in the Super Bowl. It's a sick feeling. I think everyone understands what's at stake."
The Eagles defense held the Vikings on Tuesday night to just 17 points (seven more were a result of an offensive turnover), but it wasn't enough as the team lost 24-14. In the process, the Eagles lost any chance of a first-round bye as they are now locked into the No. 3 seed for the playoffs. For the year, the Eagles rank 12th in yards, 13th against the run and 16th against the pass.
While the Eagles surrender an average of just over 24 points per game, the defense has forced 33 total turnovers (23 interceptions, 10 fumbles) and 37 sacks while scoring two touchdowns.
"The effort is there. The issue, I think, is guys letting the game come to them, trying to make plays that aren't made for them. Basically, doing your job and taking care of yourself. I think that's important at this time of year," Mikell said. "We're aggressive. At times, I think we've got guys thinking too much out there. They're worried about this or that instead of really dominating the guy in front of them. I think we need to get back to cutting loose and having that shark in the water mentality."
Of course, the Eagles have lost three key players on defense of late in defensive end Brandon Graham, linebacker Stewart Bradley and free safety Nate Allen. While players like safety Kurt Coleman and linebacker Jamar Chaney have played well in extensive roles, the injuries test the depth of the roster. But no matter who is on the field, the message from Mikell is clear.
"There's no room for error anymore," he said. "Guys have to grow up."
Don't tell Mikell that this Sunday's game with Dallas is meaningless. Even if starters are given a rest, Mikell said that the guys who are out on the field have to help provide some positive momentum heading into the postseason.
"We want to win this game. It means something to us in here," Mikell said. "You definitely want to go in on a high note going into the postseason. No matter what happens. No matter who's playing. We want to win the game. That's how we have to look at it."
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 5:30 p.m., December 31