APPLETON, WI – Head coach Doug Pederson delivered some good news on Wednesday morning, that wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was a "go" for Thursday against Green Bay and that tight end Dallas Goedert would not be limited against the Packers, and so the Eagles traveled to Wisconsin later in the day, landed, and settled in for a long day and a half as they prepared for one of those us-against-the-world 60 minutes of football.
They are ready, they say, their bodies soothed by a half-week of walk-through practices and ice tubs and massages after playing on Sunday. The goal, said tight end Zach Ertz, is team-oriented and achievable, even if it has been out of the team's grasp thus far in 2019: Play a great four quarters of football against the 3-0 Packers and bring home a victory.
"That's what we're striving to do," Ertz said. "We've had our moments but we haven't put it all together yet. We know what we're capable of doing, so now it's a matter of doing it. Everyone knows what kind of team we can be, but you have to do it on the field and not just believe it or talk about it."
These are the times that help define teams and build the legacy of a season. The Eagles are backed into an early-season corner faced with the kind of adversity that nobody saw coming: Two narrow losses to Atlanta and Detroit, and now a game roster for Thursday night that is going to be without defensive tackle Malik Jackson (on Injured Reserve with a foot injury), defensive tackle Tim Jernigan (foot injury), cornerback Ronald Darby (hamstring), and wide receiver DeSean Jackson (abdomen).
It's easy to feel great about your team and talk about all the leadership in the locker room when things are going great. At moments like this, you really learn what you have in the locker room.
"We've all been through this before and the way you come out of it is to keep working together," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "Nobody is going to point fingers. We're 1-2. We have a lot of season in front of us. We would like to be 3-0 but that's not where we are. The best way to get back on the winning track is to go out and play a great football game."
Pederson is 3-0 in Thursday night games in his head coaching career. How that matters this week, well, remains to be seen. But he has stressed moving on from the loss to Detroit, wiping minds and focusing on Green Bay. That has to happen for the Eagles to win.
"I think it's just being able to focus on this week's opponent and whatever happened the week before, we just kind of push that aside and focus on the next week. We don't dwell on the past, and we move forward," Pederson said. "Guys really handled their business well this week. Sometimes, too, your game plans are a little simpler, maybe. You kind of get back to core stuff and maybe that's a wake-up call for us as coaches to keep that in mind as we go. It's a credit to the players though for how they handle this week both physically and mentally."
The Eagles have too many turnovers (they are -2 in that category through three games) and they've dropped too many passes (seven against Detroit) and they've had too many missed opportunities in this 1-2 start. Reaching the quarter pole of the regular season at 2-2 would be huge. Everyone knows Thursday night isn't going to be easy.
"They're undefeated for a reason," Jenkins said. "They're making the plays to win the close games. They've been in close games just like we've been in close games, and the difference is that they've made enough plays to win and we haven't. So, we can expect a close game. And when the time comes, we have to make the plays to get out of there with a win. That's the way it works in this league."
And with that, a night of rest, a day of patience, and then it's a Thursday night kickoff. The Eagles understand the stakes. They know they have to play a full 60 minutes of excellent football. It's time for the Eagles to show up and play their best football of the season to win at Lambeau Field.