Just as the Eagles were getting back to work early in the week, putting the loss in Miami behind them, they took their first look at Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones, whom they expected to see on Monday night. Only a few hours later, everything changed: Word from New York was Jones had a high ankle sprain and was "very likely" to be replaced by Eli Manning in the starting lineup at Lincoln Financial Field.
"There was really no reaction," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "It was pretty early in the week when they announced it so it didn't change anything. We're more familiar with Eli than with Jones, so we just shifted our study. The only issue is that we had to go back to Week 2 to watch Eli this season. The system is the same. The concepts are the same. They are definitely a different quarterback style."
Monday's mission is to stifle the dangerous Saquon Barkley, the second-year Giants running back who's been hampered by his own high ankle sprain this season, and then get after Manning. The Eagles have a 22-10 lifetime record against Manning (including playoffs) and have won the last five games and nine of the last 10 games Manning has started against Philadelphia. In his career, Manning has completed 686 of 1,155 passes against the Eagles (59.3 percent) for 8,121 yards. He's thrown 54 touchdowns and 37 interceptions against the Eagles.
The Eagles know Manning wants to get the ball out quickly to his first or second read. They know they have to put pressure on him and move him out of his comfort zone.
"We just keep things simple, just do what we do," defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said. "Jim (Schwartz, coordinator) keeps things simple and we just go out and play. We can't let Eli get hot. I've been around when Eli has been hot against us and he's lit us up. I think we've done a great job of getting on him early, making that offense one-dimensional, and just getting after it."
This is an interesting time for an Eagles defense that appeared to be right where it wanted to be since Week 8. The secondary got healthy at the right time with the return of cornerbacks Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, and Avonte Maddox and the Eagles played terrific defense for a four-game stretch against Buffalo, Chicago, New England, and Seattle, leading the NFL in fewest yards allowed in that period of time, as well as third-down defense.
And then came last week.
Even with the healthy secondary and the return of linebacker Nigel Bradham, the defense allowed Miami's offense, not exactly stellar to that point in 2019, six consecutive scoring possessions (minus an end-of-half kneeldown) – five touchdowns and one field goal.
So, it's reboot time for the Eagles' defense.
"We flushed that game," defensive end Brandon Graham said. "We watched the film and we didn't like what we saw and we talked about it, made corrections, and now we move on."
The defense moves on, confident that it's the one that played so well for the four-game stretch from Buffalo through Seattle rather than the clunker it played in Miami.
New York comes to Philadelphia on Monday with Manning at quarterback, a healthier-than-he's-been Barkley in the backfield, Golden Tate returning from a concussion at wide receiver, and a big-play tight end Evan Engram returning from a foot injury.
"I don't think anybody was happy with last week, but the big thing is to not let what happened last week make us waver in confidence," Jenkins said. "We were playing really good for a stretch and it wasn't by accident. For us, we have to stick to our plan, believing in our ability and going out and competing.
"The Giants have playmakers. They're going to be as healthy on Monday night as they've been all season, and that makes them a dangerous group. We are preparing to get back to what we have done well during the season. We're going to play our defense."
Obviously, it's a critical moment for the Eagles, who look to climb to 6-7 and tie Dallas atop the NFC East. The defense isn't thinking about redemption from last week because, well, what happened is what happened and there is no way to change the past. The Eagles are looking forward with confidence. With conviction.
"We've lost three straight games," Graham said. "The only way to get out of this is to win a game. Just go out and find a way and win a game. I know as a defense we can't wait to get out there and get back to playing the ball we know we can play."