DeMeco Ryans doesn't make any excuses. Never has and never will. What happened on Sunday in the loss to Tampa Bay is gone and filed away, replaced by full attention for Thursday's game in Detroit, a must-win game in November for the Eagles.
A short week of preparation at the NovaCare Complex is almost complete as they use Wednesday afternoon as the travel day to Detroit where the Eagles have a game to win. Detroit has won two straight games after the Lions rattled the coaching staff and ripped apart the front office. The Lions have some momentum. Playing on Thanksgiving Day is a big deal to the team and to the fans.
The Eagles? Somehow they've got to get back to winning after two home losses knocked this team down to 4-6.
And the defense, Ryans knows, has a large rebound to make after Sunday's troubles.
"I don't think it's personnel, because the guys that we have, we've gotten it done (in previous games)," Ryans said. "To say it's personnel, that's not fair. We had a really horrible outing that's not characteristic of our team. I look at it like it was a horrible day that you would like to forget and move past and let's go back on Thursday to being ourselves and play the way we're capable of playing."
There isn't time in this short week to construct an elaborate game plan and change the X's and O's and throw things at Detroit that the Lions have not seen from the Eagles this season. The Eagles are going to keep it relatively similar to what they've done in past games, so it really comes down to being disciplined in the game plan, playing at a high level and winning individual battles and showing pride, passion and great urgency.
"I think if you come out and play for each other, and as a team, it will be a great game on Thursday," defensive end Fletcher Cox said. "I think the team that wins this game is the team that has the most juice, the team that prepares the most."
Is the season on the line? It sure it, every week the rest of the way. The Eagles have put themselves in chase position in the NFC East after failing to take advantage of two home games against sub-.500 teams. Here they are. Detroit is going to be tough.
"They're good on offense," cornerback Nolan Carroll said. "Calvin Johnson is Calvin Johnson. He's a Hall of Famer. They have a lot of weapons. They're good."
Heading into the Thanksgiving Day matchup between the Eagles and Lions, we look back at the last time the two teams met: Snow Bowl 2013. View the full gallery here...
- This game kicks off a Thanksgiving Day tripleheader of football and with that there are some differences in the format of the schedule. The halftime, for example, is seven minutes longer -- 19 minutes total -- as Detroit rolls out native music star Big Sean to perform. Seven minutes may not seem like a lot, but any change in the routine can affect a player.
- As of Wednesday mid-day, there was still no certainty on the quarterback situation for the Eagles. Mark Sanchez and Sam Bradford have both taken reps during training this week. Both want to play. With Bradford, it comes down to the progress his left shoulder makes between now and Thursday morning. If he's healthy, it sounds like he would play, at least from Bradford's point of view.
- Could the Eagles play in England in 2016? Yeahhhh ... could happen. The NFL announced its 2016 UK International Series and one team remains to be named. St. Louis plays an NFC East team that finishes the season in the same division slot in England on October 23, 2016. So if the Eagles and Rams finish in the same position within their divisions this season, they'll meet across the pond next October.
- How quickly can running back DeMarco Murray bounce back after 17 touches on Sunday? With Ryan Mathews out for this game, the running game responsibilities again largely fall on Murray's shoulders. It takes days for players to get their legs right and the aches out of their bodies, so it's something to watch. Kenjon Barner earned some trusted with 37 rushing yards on seven carries against Tampa Bay. He looked fresh and quick through the hole.
- Detroit wants to get the football in space to rookie running back Ameer Abdullah, and that's going to present quite a challenge for the Eagles' linebackers. Ryans is especially aware of Abdullah, the second-round draft pick from Nebraska. Abdullah has just 15 receptions this season, but watch out for him on Thursday. He hasn't run very well this year, just 3.7 yards per carry as the Lions rank last in the league in rushing yards per game at just over 71, but in terms of quickness, Abdullah is a handful in the passing game.
- Darius Slay is a top-shelf cornerback for Detroit, so it's not going to be easy to throw the ball here. Slay doesn't get a lot of attention, but the third-year corner is on the rise. The Eagles must get this passing game going, and the task is a tough one against a Lions defense that is aggressive up front and stronger than you might think in the secondary. Check out the Lions' defense in wins over Green Bay and Oakland the last two weeks. Detroit stuffed Green Bay's running game and forced quarterback Aaron Rodgers to throw 61 passes two weeks ago in an 18-16 win and then dominated quarterback Derek Carr (13-of-25, 169 yards) in last week's 18-13 victory. Detroit's defense is no joke. This will be a tough encounter.