Good morning, Eagles fans! The team is back in the building and working hard ahead of a divisional clash against the New York Giants on Sunday. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and offensive coordinator Mike Groh will meet with the media at noon and we will carry both live. Here's what you need to know in today's Morning Roundup presented by Microsoft leading off with an in-depth assessment of the team.
1. Must-Win Mode
In this season, what's done is done. The Eagles sit with a 4-6 record to due struggles on both sides of the ball and a mountain of injuries but they are fortunate to still have a shot at the postseason. With the Giants, a much better Giants team than the one the Eagles played Week 6, coming to town this week, the Eagles have reached the must-win part of their schedule. Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro sat down with head coach Doug Pederson and broke down issues on all sides of the team and how they can be fixed down the stretch:
"You can't just overhaul everything in the middle of the season, where we're sitting," Pederson said. "But at the same time, we can tweak it, we can make it better, we can put our guys in better position and allow them to play and play faster."
2. Pederson Powers Forward
Pederson met with the media yesterday to answer questions about the loss in New Orleans and provide updates about the players injured in the game. Center Jason Kelce left early with an elbow injury and will be fine. Cornerback Rasul Douglas and rookie safety Avonte Maddox both suffered knee injuries and are day to day.
Long snapper Rick Lovato left the game in the fourth quarter with a head injury and is in the concussion protocol. Linebacker Jordan Hicks exited the game in the fourth quarter with a calf injury and cornerback Sidney Jones went out in the first quarter with a new hamstring injury. Pederson said both are week to week.
Pederson was also asked for a message to send to the fans after a disappointing loss. He said it is the same one he gave to the team in the locker room after the game:
"First of all, you can't hang your head," Pederson said. "And if anybody does and anybody begins to sort of doubt, quite frankly you don't need them. Because we believe, and I believe in those players and I believe in those coaches.
"And it's a group that is hurting, quite frankly. And it's a group that will pick themselves up this week, they're not going to feel sorry for themselves, and we're going to get ready for the Giants."
3. Eagle Eye: What Just Happened
The Eagles had to play a perfect game on the road against the one-loss Saints to come away with a victory. Instead, they made mistakes in all phases of it ended with a lopsided result. Fran Duffy writes that the Eagles have to move on and get ready for a three-game divisional stretch against teams with major weapons. But he also wanted to review the tape of the loss one last time to see what went wrong. He broke down several crucial plays and mistakes beginning with a pivotal second quarter-sack in what was then a somewhat close game:
Later, the Eagles got the ball past midfield in a 10-point game late in the second quarter. It's third-and-3 in what was probably four-down territory. Pederson made an aggressive call with another downfield shot play. If you throw an incompletion, you're going to go for it on fourth down anyway. So, why not take a chance? The call is a three-vertical concept with two deep routes outside the numbers and tight end Zach Ertz working one-on-one against a defender in the middle of the field in wide open space. Ertz is going to break open against man coverage between the hashes for what would likely have been a 20-yard gain. But the ball never came his way. Why? Sheldon Rankins, one of the best players on that Saints defense, gets home for a sack.
4. Happy Anniversary, Miracle
As the Eagles get ready to take on the Giants, Monday marked a special day in team history. Forty years ago, the Eagles pulled one of the most improbable wins in NFL history in a game dubbed the Miracle of the Meadowlands. As the Giants held a five-point lead with less than a minute to go and the closing credits running on the television broadcast, all quarterback Joe Pisarcik had to do is take a knee and close out a victory with playoff significance. Instead, he attempted a handoff to Larry Csonka and the ball was fumbled, picked up by defensive back Herman Edwards, and returned for the game-winning touchdown.
The victory has become legendary over time and even served as a turning point for a team two seasons away from its first Super Bowl appearance. Ray Didinger was behind the end zone to which Edwards ran and recounts that magical game 40 years later:
Most of the writers covering the game were in the elevator coming down from the press box when the play happened. The last thing most of them saw on their way out of the box was the TV monitor with the credits rolling over a shot of the Giants taking a knee. They assumed that's how the game ended. I was on my way to the locker room when the elevator doors opened and the reporters filed out.
"The Eagles won the game," I said.
They thought I was kidding until the Eagles coaches and players started coming through the tunnel whooping and hollering. Then they frantically began asking, "What happened?" Forty years later, I'm still not sure. I've seen a lot of crazy finishes but nothing like the Miracle of the Meadowlands.