We've got plenty of season to play following this bye weekend, and that means plenty of chances for the Eagles to gain some momentum and win the NFC East. It's right there in front of them starting next Sunday at Dallas.
With the team 3-4 and searching for some consistency, the weekend provides a chance to breathe, recover and re-charge for the final nine games of the regular season. Some thoughts on this team and what's ahead ...
- How much can rookie wide receiver Nelson Agholor provide to this passing game in the second half of the season? He's been quiet, with eight receptions for 105 yards in the five games he's played. The Eagles could use some punch in passing game, so why not Agholor? He's had a high-ankle sprain and there is no word on when he'll be able to play, but it's certainly not too late for him to push for some reps among the wide receiver corps.
- I keep looking at this four-game stretch as a chance to really get something going in the win column: at Dallas, home against Miami and Tampa Bay and at Detroit on Thanksgiving. One game at a time, I know.
- A lot of fans wonder how the rotation at inside linebacker will work when Kiko Alonso, DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks are all healthy now that rookie Jordan Hicks has become such an outstanding contributor to the defense. We'll see. Alonso could step up his training on Tuesday when the team returns to the NovaCare Complex. That doesn't mean he will walk into the starting lineup, but it's encouraging that he's been training and making progress. Hicks' performance has allowed the Eagles to survive a spate of injuries that group again this season. Is there any way that Kendricks could see some reps as a pass rusher off the edge? He's got a great burst and the Eagles are looking for depth there. Just thinking out loud ...
- What will the Eagles do at running back in terms of dividing the workload of DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews? It's a question being discussed at length out there and one that is going to be answered, I think, on a game-by-game basis. Both fit what this offense asks from the position, for starters. And neither player seems to have an issue at all with the numbers. Mathews has been more explosive, but both players have had their moments. I still think the numbers are going to work out in the end and that Murray is going to put up his yards and touchdowns and that Mathews will be used effectively. What's important is that the running game stays productive, regardless of who is carrying the football.
- I'm looking for Sam Bradford to take a large step forward next week. He's taken every snap in seven games and has been training every day at the NovaCare Complex. He's been durable. He has more mobility than I thought. You can see him becoming more comfortable -- he still has a long way to go, so don't misconstrue here -- in the pocket and in the scheme and with the speed of the game. It's a critical period for Bradford and for the Eagles as they evaluate him. As you know, Bradford is in the final year of his contract. What happens after this season? That's anybody's guess.
- Jason Peters had back spasms in Carolina, and while the spasms knocked him out of the game, they don't appear to be a long-term concern. Peters has had a tough time staying on the field this season and you see the impact that has had on the rest of the offensive line and, thus, the offense. Peters is a player, along with center Jason Kelce, the Eagles can least afford to lose on the offense.
- Where is Eric Rowe? He hasn't played a defensive rep since the New Orleans game -- he had 15 against the Jets, 77 against Washington and 14 against New Orleans -- as the Eagles have used E.J. Biggers as the nickel cornerback and Chris Maragos in the dime. Ultimately, is Rowe going to be a safety or a cornerback in this league? And how is that decision impacted by what happens with safety Walter Thurmond, who has played so well on his one-year contract?
- The number just jumps off the page: The Eagles have scored 10 points in the first quarter in the season's seven games. Opponents have scored 33. How can this offense get something going from the very start of the game?
- Finally, this: Given Carolina's success running the football on Sunday night -- the Panthers gained 204 yards on the ground -- is that the blueprint the Eagles are going to see in the weeks ahead? Dallas has the offensive line to try to play the smash-mouth game. Miami really doesn't, but new head coach Dan Campbell wants his team to be the toughest team on the field. Tampa Bay can run it. It's something to keep an eye on.
Have a great bye weekend. Dallas is next!!