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'We're A Really Good 10-2 Team'


COSTA MESA, Calif. – Creatures of habit, Eagles players are not in any kind of familiar environment living in California through Sunday, but they are trying to keep the day-to-day operation the same as every other week. It's a challenge, defensive end Brandon Graham admits. That's why he brought his wife and daughter out to California just to keep things as normal as possible.

"I'm doing what I do every other week, it's just that I'm living in a hotel," said Graham, who visited the Museum of Ice Cream with his family on Monday. "Otherwise, nothing changes. It's kind of nice to change it up. It's refreshing. It's been fun.

"We know we have a job to do this week, because the Rams have a great offense."

We can go through all the X's and the O's and what the Eagles have to do to bounce back from Sunday's loss in Seattle, but the bottom line is that they have to play with maximum focus and intensity for this game. This is another playoff atmosphere against a 9-3 Rams team that is for real. This is no gimmick. This is not a fluke.

The Rams are the real deal.

"The mood has been, actually, a lot better from the first time that we went into the locker room (after losing to Seattle)," Graham said. "Everybody is focused on the Rams. Everybody is not down about it. We're a really good 10-2 team. That's where we are right now. We can't sit around and pout about it because we've got the Rams up next and we know what we've got to do.

"We didn't hit our one goal (beating Seattle) but we've got to at least come out with one of them."

The urgency, then, goes up a notch here.

"Right now, everything counts," Graham said.


Yes, it does. It's December. The Eagles are in the heat of a playoff chase. It's a great scenario, then, for a team that has come a long way in the last six months. A loss last Sunday doesn't diminish what the Eagles have accomplished, but it does add to the uncertainty of the next step.

Did the Eagles get too comfortable in that nine-game winning streak? Did they lose just a little bit of their "edge" in Seattle? Or did they just lose a game to a really good team in front of its rabid fan base?

Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz had an interesting take on it on Tuesday, and following on the criticism that head coach Doug Pederson had about the team's performance in practice the last couple of weeks, it makes you think.

"Every week is a little different," Schwartz said. "I was worried going into the Chicago game with Thanksgiving. There are all kinds of different things that can derail a team. But my worries were sort of unfounded that way. Every team has a little different personality. Some teams play best when they're loose. Some teams, it's more of a grind.

"I think our guys have the ability to play with and have some fun out on the field. But there is also a fine line between doing that and losing focus. Maybe that's something we can improve on."

We'll see how the week moves along, then. The Eagles have their first full-team practice on Wednesday, as they would if they stayed in Philadelphia. The team has its dining room in the hotel, its meeting rooms in the hotel. The bus ride to work out is about 10 minutes. Practice is 20 minutes away.

It's different, yes.

The goal is to keep as much of it as possible, the routine, the same. Players thrive on consistency. Players need it. They crave it.

This week, they're being challenged.

"It's not going to be a problem, because we know what we have to do and what we have to accomplish," Graham said. "We're here to win a game, not have a good time."

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