Washington was blown out on Sunday and on Monday announced three offensive starters are gone for the season with injuries. Dallas lost by two touchdowns on Monday Night Football to fall to 3-5 and saw star linebacker Sean Lee leave the game clutching an injured left hamstring.
The Eagles had a great couple of days without even playing a down.
You can feel some momentum building for the Eagles, but it’s only Tuesday and there is a lot of time between now and Sunday night’s kickoff against the visiting Cowboys. Still, it’s hard to imagine a better setup for the second half of the season ...
- Newly acquired wide receiver Golden Tate, wearing No. 19, is digging into the offensive scheme. He admits that the X’s and O’s are “quite a bit different” than what he saw in Seattle and Detroit, so he’s spending a lot of time studying and preparing for Dallas on Sunday night. By the way, Tate had eight receptions for 132 yards and a pair of touchdowns against Dallas on September 30, so he’s got some familiarity with where the Cowboys are vulnerable on defense. In any event, the task for the rest of the week is to get Tate comfortable with the game plan. He doesn’t have to learn the entire playbook, just the scaled-down version for game night.
“We want to try to get him going as quickly as we can, so we can't just spoon-feed him all the way, but we want him to be playing fast when he's in there,” offensive coordinator Mike Groh said. “So, there's a little bit of a balance to that. He'll kind of tell us based on how quickly he's picking things up as to how much more we can keep feeding him.”
- Defensive tackle Tim Jernigan isn’t going to play on Sunday night, but he’s been cleared for practice and the Eagles will gradually build him up for game action. Jernigan was injured in the offseason and hasn’t played a lick of football since the Super Bowl, so understand just how far away he might be from playing. The Eagles have a 21-day window during which to monitor Jernigan and get him ready to play. If he can come back with fresh legs and a healthy body for the final 5-6 games of the season, Jernigan would be a terrific boost for the defense.
- The official injury report doesn’t come out until Wednesday after the players work at the NovaCare Complex (they are off on Tuesday) so only then will we get an idea which other players are on track to play against Dallas. Right tackle Lane Johnson, who suffered a knee injury against Jacksonville, has been rehabbing since the team returned from London so we’ll get a feel for where he’s at, too. Critical week of work for the Eagles, obviously. It’s time to make a run in the NFC East.
- Speaking of the NFC East, the picture has changed quite a bit since Sunday. Washington took its lumps against the Falcons to fall to 5-3 and then announced that starting offensive guards Shawn Lauvao and Brandon Scherff, along with starting wide receiver Paul Richardson, would be placed on Injured Reserve and miss the remainder of the season. These are huge losses for Washington, particularly Scherff – who has had great battles with Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox – and Lauvao. Washington’s running game will suffer and the interior protection will take a big step back. The Redskins are reeling with those injuries. Replacing two starters along the offensive line is just so difficult to do.
- And then there’s Dallas, which figures to come into Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday night a desperate – and that makes the Cowboys even more dangerous – football team. The Cowboys had chances in the first quarter of Monday night’s game against Tennessee to go up huge on the Titans, but a missed field goal and then an end zone interception gave the Titans momentum. Tennessee dominated in the second half to win 28-14 to drop Dallas to 3-5. Big loss. Even bigger, perhaps, was the sight of Lee clutching his hamstring and walking into the locker room during the game. It would be a surprise, from this perspective, if Lee plays on Sunday night. He’s so good in that defense, comparable to Carolina’s Luke Kuechly, with the way he diagnoses plays and finds the football.
It's all on the table for the Eagles, right there in front of them. A team that didn’t distinguish itself in the first half of the season has a chance to start the second half off with an important divisional victory.
“I think this locker room, this building, has a confident vibe to it,” Tate said. “That’s one of the first things you notice, how positive the environment is here. That’s going to help you win games. Everybody is on the same page.”
A week of work is ahead for the Eagles with Dallas on Sunday night. The momentum off the field is definitely flowing. Will that translate to the field on Sunday night?