Philadelphia Eagles News

Welcome To The True 'Must-Win' Part Of 2018

No answers to how the Eagles can turn their season's fortunes around in the next weeks came on Monday, other than the mandate from head coach Doug Pederson to have the players "commit" for the next three weeks as the team faces a make-or-break, in-division schedule. This is the most challenging time in Pederson's tenure, just 10 games after reaching the highest heights last February.

We're looking ahead here. What's done is done. The Eagles have the New York Giants coming to town on Sunday, and this is not the same Giants team the Eagles beat up on in October at MetLife Stadium. This Giants team has won two games in a row, is playing with confidence, and has as dangerous an offensive arsenal as any team in the league.

Carson Wentz: What's Going On With Him?

Right now, though, it's not about the Giants. It's about the Eagles, a 4-6 team that has lost five of its last seven games and is desperately in need of a spark, any spark, that can generate some confidence. Some items on the agenda … Carson Wentz: What's Going On With Him?

Sunday's performance in New Orleans – three interceptions, 19-of-33 passing, 156 yards – was the worst of Wentz's NFL career. He was all over the place with his throws and his decision-making. Clearly, Wentz is trying to do so much with every throw. He's out of sorts.

What will it take to get him back in rhythm? Wentz making progress is the overarching top end-of-season requirement for the football team after his comeback from knee surgery. Sunday, he was in a funk.

"We get him back to the basics. We get him back to the fundamentals, the details, just allowing the offense to work," Pederson said. "He doesn't have to do anything other than that. Be reminded of that and use the weapons that are out on the football field. We've got to do a better job in the run game, the run game can obviously help that and get that going again this week. You can't force any issues. Sometimes, I think as a quarterback, you feel like you've got to make the play and, quite frankly, you don't have to. Just make it if it's there and run the offense. When you get opportunities to take shots, you take shots. That's what we have to get back to."

As for mechanics, Pederson said, "He's fine. Press (Taylor, quarterbacks coach) has done a great job with him, coaching him up, and preparing him each week. Mechanically, he's fine. There's nothing there. I think that's a little blown out of proportion."

How Does The Defense Survive?

This is going to be an extremely challenging assignment for coordinator Jim Schwartz. The Eagles are likely not going to have cornerbacks Sidney Jones (hamstring), who is week to week. At this point, cornerbacks Rasul Douglas (knee) and safety Avonte Maddox (knee) are "day to day," according to Pederson. Cornerback Jalen Mills hasn't practiced since London with a foot injury. Could the Eagles go with a starting lineup that has De'Vante Bausby, Chandon Sullivan, and Cre'Von LeBlanc at the cornerback positions? Yeah, that's possible. And that's super tough with Odell Beckham, Jr. and Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram, and, oh yeah, Saquon Barkley coming to town.

Don't expect to see middle linebacker Jordan Hicks, either. He's week to week with a calf injury.

The Eagles are going to have to be overwhelmingly good at the line of scrimmage to beat New York's offense, which has scored points in bunches lately. Not good, actually. Great. It's a very tough spot for the defense with all of these injuries.

Scoring Offense: The Woes Continue

The Eagles returned much of their offense from 2017, minus wide receiver Torrey Smith and running back LeGarrette Blount. They welcomed back left tackle Jason Peters and, from Week 3 on, Wentz. They had Jay Ajayi penciled in at running back from Day 1. Darren Sproles figured to be a factor. The expectation was that the offense would be versatile and potent and additions like draft pick Dallas Goedert at tight end and Golden Tate at wide receiver offered promise that the second half of the season would be dynamic.

Hasn't happened.

The early scoring problems, they've been well documented. The Eagles have been shut out in eight of their first 10 first quarters. They've played from behind most of the season. That doesn't help anything. Philadelphia scored 34 points to beat the Giants in October, including 14 points in the first quarter. They could really use a big game on Sunday to gain some confidence.

"You can't just overhaul everything in the middle of the season, where we're sitting," Pederson said. "But at the same time, we can tweak it, we can make it better, we can put our guys in better position and allow them to play and play faster."

If the answer was apparent, then the Eagles would be in a better place. It's not easy at all.

Injury Updates

In addition to the ones mentioned above, center Jason Kelce is day to day with an elbow injury and defensive tackle Tim Jernigan has a real chance of playing this week. Long snapper Rick Lovato is in the concussion protocol. There really isn't much more to report. There are no saviors jumping into the lineup for Sunday, although if Jernigan returns that would be a positive for the defense.

Finding The Mojo

"All you need is one game, one win, one play," Pederson said, "to spark your time, to spark the remainder of your season."

Pederson lived it as the offensive coordinator for Kansas City in 2015 when the Chiefs opened the season 1-5 and then won 10 straight games to reach the postseason. Kansas City won one playoff game before losing to New England in the Divisional Round of the postseason. It can happen. It has happened. The Eagles were 5-5-1 in 2008 and won four of their final five games and had a crazy confluence of events happen on the final Sunday of the regular season to reach the postseason and then advanced all the way to the NFC Championship Game.

It can happen.

But it has to happen starting Sunday. A loss to the Giants and the Eagles are pretty much cooked.

"I've challenged the team to commit, commit to each other for these next three (games) and none greater than this one," Pederson said. "It is right there in front of us. Two games back (of Washington in the NFC East) but at the same time we get to control it and that's what you want."

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