Eagles

A blessing in disguise for Eagles' defense?

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USA Today Images

A blessing in disguise for Eagles' defense?

The Eagles' defense finally developed a sense of urgency Sunday afternoon. 

It came later than it should have. 

It sure seemed like the Eagles didn't really play with that urgency until Eli Manning and the Giants came out and scored on their first three possessions. All three drives were at least 75 yards long and gave them a 20-7 lead in the second quarter. After those first three drives that gave the Giants 20 points, they scored just nine the rest of the way. 

"It shouldn't take that," defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said Tuesday. "It shouldn't take giving up three straight touchdowns to get that urgency. We needed to come out with more fire. If we're disappointed in anything, let's be disappointed in that."

Schwartz told a brief story Tuesday about a coach whose team lost in the Super Bowl after rolling through the season. That coach — who went unnamed by Schwartz — regretted not being in more close games throughout the season because when it finally got in a close game when it really counted, his team wasn't ready. The Eagles have now been in a few close ones. 

The story came from Schwartz after he was asked how to fix the matter of a lack of urgency. He seemed to think these types of games will be able to correct the issue. 

"I think you learn from what's happened with it," he said. "I think when you have success as a team, sometimes you, I don't want to say take it for granted, but you become accustomed to winning. You become accustomed to games not being close."

But the Giants did put up 29 points on the Eagles on Sunday while gaining 504 yards. That was the highest total yards the Eagles have given up since Schwartz took over as defensive coordinator. 

It wasn't pretty. 

But that was Schwartz's other main point Tuesday. He didn't care about how ugly it was. The goal was to win the game; they won the game. 

"The whole point is, find a way to get the win," Schwartz said. "Style points, fantasy football points, and everything else, that's secondary to it. Yeah, we want to play better. We want to give up fewer points. We want to take less defensive penalties. Every step along the way."

Doug Pederson's preseason comparison doesn't look so ridiculous now

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USA Today Images

Doug Pederson's preseason comparison doesn't look so ridiculous now

When Doug Pederson said back in July that the 2017 Eagles "probably have more talent" than the Super Bowl Packers teams of the 1990s that Pederson played on, more than a few eyebrows were raised.

Millions of eyebrows maybe.
 
The Eagles? Who hadn't won a playoff game since 2008 and were coming off a 7-9 record in Pederson's first season?
 
More talented than a team that went to the playoffs virtually every year from the early 1990s through the mid-2000s behind Hall of Famers Brett Favre and Reggie White and reached back-to-back Super Bowls in 1996 and 1997, winning one?
 
"I look back on my time in Green Bay as a player when we were making those playoff runs, those Super Bowl runs there," Pederson said on July 17.
 
"And do we have as much talent on this team than we did then? We probably have more talent, right?"
 
Seriously, Doug?
 
Six months later, Pederson's comments — which seemed so ridiculous at the time — don't seem so ridiculous, do they?
 
Because here are those 2017 Eagles, sitting 13-3 with a playoff win over the Falcons in the books and a berth Sunday in the NFC Championship Game against the Vikings despite a rash of injuries to some of their best players.
 
The Eagles haven't lost a game with postseason implications since Carson Wentz was lost for the season, and they're one home win from reaching their third Super Bowl.
 
Pederson, who had two stints backing up Brett Favre with the Packers — from 1996 through 1998 and 2001 through 2004 — was reminded of his comments Friday before practice.
 
"I don't have a crystal ball, obviously, and it's hard to predict," he said. "You'd love to sit here and go, 'Yeah, in the summer, (I thought we were) going to be 13-3 and win the NFC East.' You'd love to be in that situation, or 16-0, or whatever it might be.
 
"I did have a feeling back then when I made that statement that we could be, we had the potential to be a good football team because of the way we've practiced and the talent that we brought to the roster and the progression of Carson in his second year.
 
"And then defensively, the front, the way they performed, and the back end, I saw a lot of the same similarities. So you just have that gut feeling when I made that statement."
 
Back in July, when Pederson made those comments comparing the Eagles to the Packers, he tempered them by saying talent isn't always enough. It takes much more for a team to have success.
 
"I (said) it takes great coaching, teaching, mentoring to also have our guys prepared each week to be in this position," Pederson said. "So all of that has kind of culminated. I think you look back on it and you go, 'Wow, maybe it was a true type of thing.'
 
"But we just keep doing our jobs, keep doing what we've been coached to do. Players play what they can do and what's in their control, and we're here today."

Only 1 Eagle questionable for Sunday

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

Only 1 Eagle questionable for Sunday

Veteran linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring) is the only Eagles player listed as questionable for this week's game. Everyone else on the 53-man roster is expected to be available. 

Ellerbe, 32, missed practice on Wednesday and was limited on Thursday and Friday. 

The Eagles' starting MIKE linebacker was also listed as questionable last week and was able to play, so expect him to be good to go. After all, this is the NFC Championship Game. There's no resting for anything else. 

In Minnesota, wide receiver Adam Thielen (lower back) and safety Andrew Sendejo (concussion) are both listed as questionable. 

Thielen, the Vikings' top receiver, missed Wednesday's practice and was limited on Thursday and Friday. Just like Ellerbe, there's no saving him for next week. 

Sendejo was limited on Wednesday and Thursday, was a full participant on Friday, but is still technically in the NFL's concussion protocol. He'll need to clear that before he's able to play, but Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said he's optimistic Sendejo will be able to play. 

Meanwhile, third defensive tackle, Shamar Stephen (knee/ankle), missed practice all week and has been ruled out. While Stephen isn't a starter, he played just under 40 percent of the Vikings' snaps this season, so missing him is still a loss.

After practicing indoors on Wednesday and Thursday, the Eagles loaded up on buses and spent their Friday practice outside at Lincoln Financial Field. Head coach Doug Pederson likes to get his guys outside for at least one day per week. 

The Eagles will have a walkthrough on Saturday before they'll be back at the Linc for Sunday's 6:40 p.m. kickoff in the NFC Championship Game.