Good morning, Eagles fans. The Birds are back in the building today ready to turn the page ahead of an important game in London. Offensive coordinator Mike Groh and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz will meet with the media today at 2:15 p.m. and we will carry both press conferences live. Here's what you need to know in today's Morning Roundup presented by Microsoft including news regarding the quarterback the Eagles will face Sunday.
1. Silver Lining: There Is Still Plenty Of Football Ahead
Doug Pederson spoke with the media yesterday and offered optimism for the rest of the season following the 21-17 loss to the Panthers. He said that although he didn't pull out the win in the end, Pederson wants the ball in quarterback Carson Wentz's hand when the game is on the line. And with five games left against NFC East opponents, Pederson stressed that the division is still there for the taking:
"I've got so much confidence in this football team you guys don't understand," Pederson said. "It's coming down to like two, three plays, and we're sitting here at 5-2 instead of 3-4. So, we're only talking about a couple of plays and this thing is different.
"I've got so much confidence in this football team and coaching staff that we're going to get this fixed."
2. Doug Pederson's Focus: Getting Eagles Back On Track
Before speaking to the media, Pederson sat down with Eagles' Insider Dave Spadaro for a one-on-one about the crushing loss. He identified several areas where the game was lost on Sunday but said it was hard to put a finger on it exactly. Now, Pederson just wants to continue to grind, practice, and get back on track as soon as possible:
"My focus is on the football team and making sure that our guys stay mentally tuned in and that we don't listen to the outside and start driving wedges in our team somewhere," Pederson said. "We can't fracture the team that way. That's my job this week and making sure we have a solid game plan in all three phases and go play a playoff team that was in the AFC Championship Game a year ago in Jacksonville who has a lot of talent on defense and playmakers on offense. They have their own struggles and we have ours. Two teams that are kind of licking their wounds getting ready to play on Sunday."
3. Eagle Eye: Fran Duffy Analyzes The Defense
The Eagles' defense dominated a dynamic Carolina Panthers offense for three quarters on Sunday, holding them to only punts. Meanwhile, the offense put up three scores. It appeared like it would be a winning formula until three-straight touchdown drives completed a heartbreaking comeback. It left many fans wondering just what happened to the defense in that quarter. Fran Duffy wondered as well, so he broke down the tape of the defense in the fourth quarter for his Eagle Eye column:
Defensively, when you see that the opponent only ran 59 plays, it's usually a positive result for your team. For most of the game ... it was! There was plenty to like over the first three quarters of Sunday's game. Michael Bennett was disruptive. Nigel Bradham was physical. Malcolm Jenkins had one of his best games of the year. The rush was getting to Cam Newton and he was largely ineffective. The run defense gave up some chunk plays but the Panthers started the game with punt after punt after punt after punt.
Then, the fourth quarter happened.
4. Blake Bortles To Start For Jaguars
The Jaguars announced yesterday that quarterback Blake Bortles will start Sunday in London against the Eagles. Bortles was benched at halftime of the Jaguars' last game against the Houston Texans which they dropped 20-7. Head Coach Doug Marrone released a statement yesterday:
"I spoke to both quarterbacks this afternoon and told them that Blake will be our team's starting quarterback," he said in a statement. "I believe this gives us the best opportunity to win."
5. Ben's Big Day
Our very own Eagles Autism Challenge Ambassador Ben Hartranft was on the Ellen DeGeneres Show yesterday with former Eagles long snapper Jon Dorenbos. Ben is a die-hard Eagles fan on the autism spectrum who presented the Vince Lombardi Trophy at the Eagles' Super Bowl ring ceremony and spent a day at Dorney Park with Jason Kelce over the summer.
Ben is fundraising for the Eagles Autism Challenge, which you can support here, and he aims to be the top fundraiser in the event. Yesterday, Ellen surprised Ben by bringing him on the show where he was presented with a few gifts including Eagles tickets with field passes. The final gift was a $10,000 donation to his fundraising efforts for the Eagles Autism Challenge, matching the goal he had set for himself.