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Spadaro: 3 final takeaways as Eagles turn focus to Colts

Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro
Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro

On a short week, the turnaround is especially fast. The Eagles processed the Monday night loss to Washington understanding that they are back on the road, at Indianapolis, and nobody is going to feel sorry for them at 8-1. The Colts received a jolt of adrenaline and confidence with their win over Las Vegas on Sunday under Interim Head Coach Jeff Saturday, so this is going to be a verrrrry interesting return to Indianapolis for Head Coach Nick Sirianni and several members of the Eagles' coaching staff.

Flushing Monday night? What Sirianni said after the game when asked why the team lost remains true after all the study of the game film.

"That's pretty simple," he said late on Monday night. "The three turnovers lost us the game. The time of possession loses you the game. We lost it together: offense, defense, special teams, we lost it together. That's what lost us the game."

So, the Eagles move on. They have some corrections to make and that is the focus because, well, that is the way the league works. You play a game, and then you correct the mistakes and at the same time you put together a game plan to attack your opposition's weaknesses. With that, what are the Eagles addressing in the days to come? Let's take a look ...

The Turnovers

Philadelphia gave away the football only three times in the first eight games – not so coincidentally, all wins – and then had three giveaways (plus a fourth on the final, desperate, throw-the-ball-around-and-hope-for-a-miracle play) in Monday night's loss. A closer look at those three turnovers paints the picture that they should be an anomaly, not the norm. The first one, a perfectly thrown Jalen Hurts pass down the field to A.J. Brown that landed in Brown's hands and popped up ever so slightly and Washington made a great play there. It was a spectacular interception, objectively speaking.

The next one was a Dallas Goedert fumble after his facemask had been grabbed and yanked and that clearly contributed to the turnover (and a reported injury suffered by Goedert on the play that will be addressed by Sirianni on Wednesday). And the third was when Quez Watkins made a terrific catch on another outstanding deep throw from Hurts, then hustled to get up from the ground and had the ball knocked loose from behind. Watkins accepted responsibility and, as they say, it's a teaching point from which to learn.

The point, the turnovers were a bit unusual. To say the least. It is a wake-up call, perhaps, a reminder that ball security wins football games, and a renewed focus – and some better luck – should put the Eagles back on track.

Philadelphia's defense still took the ball away twice, so that drumbeat continues. About the defense ...

Get an exclusive look at Eagles pregame moments, skillfully captured by team photographer Kiel Leggere. You do not want to miss these photos.

Getting Off The Field On Defense

In this copycat league, teams saw Houston have success running the football against the Eagles two games ago and Washington came right out and ran the ball, ran the ball, and on third-and-short situations, converted for first downs. The Eagles can expect to see a lot of that, as defensive end Brandon Graham said after Monday's game.

"They are going to run," he said, "until we stop it. We've got to fix our issues."

With that, the Eagles know they are going to see a lot of running back Jonathan Taylor against the Colts. He's one of the best in the game and is healthy after some weeks during which he struggled. In the Colts' win on Sunday over Las Vegas, Taylor rushed for 147 yards, including a 66-yard touchdown run. Four times this season, he has carried 20 or more times, so the Eagles can expect a heavy dose of Taylor.

Negative plays help. Winning on first and second down makes it much harder for offenses on third downs, of course. Washington had a lot of third-and-short snaps that it converted on Monday night – the Commanders had three plays of third-and-4+ they converted as well – and ultimately possessed the ball for more than 40 minutes. They wore out the Eagles' defense, and as a by-product they kept Hurts and Co. off the field.

"We were out there for a long time," cornerback Darius Slay said. "That is on us. We kept allowing them to get in manageable downs to convert and that is on us. We have to do better than that. We know we are better than that."

Injuries Are A Factor

Every team has to face this fact: Injuries are going to happen in the NFL. And after a darn healthy first couple of months, the Eagles have some players sidelined, so there are other players who need to step up. Defensive tackle Jordan Davis remains on Injured Reserve with an ankle injury and there is no timetable for his return. Same with cornerback Avonte Maddox, who was placed on IR prior to the Washington game with a hamstring injury. Now, reportedly, Goedert, and Sirianni will comment on the extent of that injury when he speaks to the media on Wednesday afternoon.

We are nine games into the season, so every team's depth is being tested. The hope is that those who are sidelined now will return for the final month or so and that the Eagles, should they be positioned, can make a great run to the postseason.

But that's part of the conversation now. How do we account for these injuries? How does the depth chart change? Do we change our personnel packages, or at least the frequency with which we employ them? How can we alter schemes to mitigate the loss of key players?

Welcome to November and the moment. The Eagles are in a playoff race and it's heating up more and more every day. There is a lot going on at the NovaCare Complex as the Eagles look forward and correct what went wrong on Monday and put the Colts into focus because that's all it is about right now: Finding a way to beat Indianapolis and get back on the winning track.

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