1. Focusing On The In-House Options At Running Back
Losing Jay Ajayi to a torn ACL will test the Eagles' depth at a vital position. Unfortunately, that depth has already taken a hit this season. Corey Clement has missed time with a quad injury and Darren Sproles has not played since Week 1. It's become clear the Eagles will have to look elsewhere for running back help in addition to their "next man up" mentality.
There has been trade speculation and Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro addresses that as he breaks down the current situation at the running back position:
The twist here is that the "next man up" has to be healthy. And the Eagles don't have a whole lot of healthy options at the moment.
With a short week here, the Eagles turn to Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, and rookie Josh Adams in the backfield. Veteran Darren Sproles has missed the last four games with a hamstring injury, so he is a dicey proposition moving forward. Let's take a look at the backfield as it stands now and project what Howie Roseman could do to fortify the position.
2. Who Will Recover From Injury In A Short Week?
The Eagles placed running back Jay Ajayi on Injured Reserve with a knee injury yesterday. He is the team's seventh player on IR. In addition, the Eagles claimed defensive tackle T.Y. McGill shortly after he was waived by the Los Angeles Chargers.
In other news, the Eagles and Giants released injury reports Monday ahead of Thursday night's matchup.
For the Eagles, who only held a walk-through, defensive end Derek Barnett (shoulder), linebacker Nathan Gerry (ankle, knee), safety Corey Graham (hamstring), defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (calf), and running back Darren Sproles (hamstring) did not participate. Linebacker D.J. Alexander (quad), tackle Lane Johnson (ankle), cornerback Sidney Jones (ankle), and tackle Jason Peters (quad) were limited in practice. Running back Corey Clement (quad) was a full participant.
For the Giants, tight end Rhett Ellison (foot) and kicker Aldrick Rosas (right quad) did not participate. Wide receiver Jawill Davis (shoulder), tight end Evan Engram (knee), defensive end Josh Maruo (groin), wide receiver Russell Shepard (neck), and linebacker Olivier Vernon (ankle) were limited.
3. Eagles Search For Swagger
This Eagles team is different than last year's Super Bowl squad. They aren't doing the little things right to start the season and it's showing in their record. This is a time where most teams would take time for some self-reflection. But there isn't any time for the Eagles to do that just two days from their crucial battle with the New York Giants.
The Eagles need their swagger back. And as Dave Spadaro writes, that starts with learning from the mistakes of the first five games and trying to get a divisional win on the road Thursday:
"We're learning a lot," Pederson said. "One, I think the biggest thing I'm learning with this football team, obviously there's no quit. There's always a drive, there's always a willingness to finish games, and that's really important because that's going to pay off for us eventually down the road. I think the second thing is that this year's team is not last year's team from the standpoint of we're struggling to score on offense and we're giving up the big play on defense and just a few things like that. It's not the same. We knew that going in. We knew that we would probably be a little different offensively, be a little different defensively, new personnel. But that doesn't take away the fact that we can't turn the ball over and we can't create penalties offensively and defensively. We've got to eliminate or reduce those.
"And then there's got to be a little more of a sense of urgency when we step on the field. It can't just be talk. It has to be action as well. We've still got a lot of season left. We're basically 0-0 now in the division."
The Eagles need to win the NFC East to reach the playoffs. That's how it looks now in the jumbled NFC, unless the Eagles reel off a long winning streak and give themselves some options. That's a big-picture view and right now there is no time for the big picture. The Eagles are looking at the Giants and the Giants only.
4. Perfect Timing
It's the perfect time to have a Thursday Night Football game on the road. The loss to the Vikings was difficult and draining. With a quick turnaround, the Eagles have no time to dwell on an important game that got away. Instead, they must stay together, work quickly, and prepare for a crucial game against a divisional rival. The players know this and they're prepared for the well-timed challenge:
"We have a short week. At the end of the day, if we want to get better, there's no magic play or drink we can make to be a better team," Jenkins said. "Every individual just has to find out what they need to get better at, and do it in a hurry, because at the end of the day, I think we can all look at a play or two here or there (or) a mistake or two here or there. If you take those away, then there's really not much else we can do.
"It depends on the individual," he added. "If you want to let it carry over, it will. If you attack the tape, take care of your body, get some rest, and move on, and deliberately correct the mistakes that you made, then it'll make you better. So, we'll see how we handle it."
5. Eagle Eye: Offensive Woes
Arguably the biggest question mark for the Eagles so far is their lack of offensive production. The offense hasn't started fast, finished in the red zone, or taken advantage in key situations. It isn't one clear issue and mistakes, like turnovers and penalties, have been crippling. Fran Duffy broke down what he has seen from the offense and tried his best to give a diagnosis in his Eagle Eye column:
With the second tough loss in as many weeks, everyone is looking for answers when it comes to the Eagles' offense. Just look at the transcripts of Doug Pederson's press conferences to see the questions.
What's going on in protection?
What's with the run-pass ratio?
Is Carson Wentz holding on to the ball too long?
Are receivers getting open?
What's happening on third down?
What's happening on first down?
Is this a Super Bowl hangover?
These are all the things being asked of the head coach after a 2-3 start. Those questions continued Monday morning, and I thought Pederson answered the same question in multiple ways. The reply is simple – there is no black-and-white solution. When you look at the Eagles' issues offensively, there is a litany of problems from drive to drive. They're all small, correctable issues, but there are problems nonetheless.