Eagles Wake-Up Call: Three Things
Good morning. Your 5-7 Eagles are in first place.
Well they’re in virtual three-way tie for first, anyway, with Washington and the Giants in the godforsaken NFC East. In case you didn’t stay up for a sleeper of a game that got fun late, DeSean Jackson went 22 yards in the wrong direction on an ill-fated punt return and eventually fumbled it away, leading to a Dallas score. He briefly found redemption with a game-tying touchdown grab in the corner of the end zone, but Washington left 44 seconds on the clock and that proved enough time to set up a 54-yard Dan Bailey field goal to lift the Cowboys to their fourth win of the season.
Suddenly Dallas is just a game out, the rest of the division is tied at two games under .500, and the Eagles control their own destiny with four to play. God Bless America.
Adam will have more on the NFC East “race” shortly.
— The Eagles knocked Tom Brady around like he hadn’t been knocked around all season. The underdogs landed 13 QB hits in all — three more than the previous high on Brady through the first 11 games. It was enough to bring out the mortal side of a signal-caller that seldom drops below world class.
With two sacks apiece, Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham accounted for all four of the Brady takedowns on Sunday, but they certainly weren’t the only ones getting after it. Chip Kelly threw a lot of credit in the direction of Fletcher Cox at his day-after press conference.
“Saw a lot of disruption from Fletcher Cox,” said Kelly. “Brandon and Connor had the sacks, but a lot of them were, I think, Tom trying to run away from Fletch. He played as good a game as he’s played inside in terms of disrupting not only the running lanes, but the passing lanes.”
Bill Belichick mentioned Cox by name when asked about the performance of the Eagles defense, calling him “one of the best defensive linemen in the league.”
Cox had four QB hits on the night, tying Vinny Curry for the team high.
Curry was able to manage two sacks in just 15 snaps against the Lions. His play time shot up to 55 snaps in New England and he produced once again, though Kelly said that bump in playing time was tied to the opponent and situation more than anything.
“They threw the ball 56 times. Vinny’s a pass-rush guy, we all know that. So when you’re playing teams that are throwing the ball a high amount, Vinny is going to be on the field a lot more. And when do those games occur? When we’re up. When we’re up, they’re throwing the ball more,” Kelly explained.
— We’re starting to see a better version of Sam Bradford.
Over his last four games, he’s completed 84 of his 131 passes (64 percent) for 856 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. Nothing that will knock your socks off, but he’s been keeping the turnovers off him of late after throwing nine picks in his first six games, and appears to be gaining a firmer understanding of the offense.
He completed just 14 balls on 24 attempts against New England but two were for touchdowns and a third was a key 14-yard completion to Riley Cooper late to extend the drive and keep a charging Patriots team off the field.
“[Y]ou can see in the last couple games before he got hurt against Miami, we thought he was playing really well,” said Kelly. “He had a really good game against Dallas and was playing well in the Miami game up until he got hurt. And that was unfortunate for him because then you lose two games and where does he pick up?
“I thought he played well [against New England]. I thought he did a real nice job. A lot of those throws were contested throws. They have a good pass rush and they can really push the pocket and he stood in there and really delivered the football.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
The Eagles released Miles Austin on Monday.
Despite a decrease in snaps, Kelly asserts that DeMarco Murray has a place in his offense.
“Every game he’s fired up with me.” Day-after notes from a fired-up Eagles locker room.
Josh breaks down each component of the renaissance of the Eagles’ special teams unit.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Les Bowen with an update on Ryan Mathews.
The Eagles got a boost from beating the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots Sunday, and they could get another one Tuesday, when running back Ryan Mathews might return to practice for the first time since suffering a concussion Nov. 15 against Miami.
Mathews passed neuropsychological testing Monday, which had been holding up his return, a source close to the situation said. The source said Mathews will see an independent neurologist Tuesday morning, and if that goes well, the Eagles’ most effective back could practice Tuesday and presumably return to action this coming Sunday against Buffalo.
Mathews has 427 yards on 75 carries. The source said he has been able to exercise without symptoms recently, but couldn’t match previously established baseline levels on the test. He cleared that hurdle Monday.
After another unexpected outcome, it’s probably safe to call this one of the most unpredictable Eagles seasons in recent memory, writes CSN Philadelphia’s John Gonzalez.
The Eagles stunned everyone, and probably themselves, by beating New England. They are still alive in a division that refuses to limp off and die somewhere.
What a bizarre season. A week ago people were burying Kelly and Bill Davis and the rest of them. There weren’t enough shovels or dirt to go around. And now the narrative will shift again and people will go on the radio and say they never doubted the Eagles and they’ll do the thing where they shout out the team name in letter form and a lot of people will get all worked up. There will even be good-will pie deliveries. Philadelphia is a great place. Who needs a weather vane when we have the Eagles to tell us which way the wind blows?
LeSean McCoy week. Billy Davis and Pat Shurmur will address the media at 11:45 and noon before practice.