Eagles

Brandon Graham on Eagles' trip West: 'It's our season right here'

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Brandon Graham on Eagles' trip West: 'It's our season right here'

They've played two winning teams all year, and now they'll play two more in eight days.

It's safe to say that how the Eagles fare on their upcoming two-game West Coast road trip will go a long way toward determining whether they earn home-field advantage or one of two first-round byes in the NFC playoffs.

"It's big," Brandon Graham said. "It's our season right here. This is where we kind of separate ourselves.

"If we're going to get that bye like we want, we've got to go out there and we've got to win."

The Eagles have faced the fewest winning teams of any NFL team. They lost by seven to the Chiefs in Kansas City back in Week 2 and beat the Panthers four weeks later in Charlotte, N.C.

They fly to Seattle Saturday and face the 7-4 Seahawks at 8:30 p.m. Sunday at Century Link Field.

They'll fly to Los Angeles after the game and practice in Anaheim all week before facing the 8-3 Rams Sunday at L.A. Coliseum. The Eagles learned Tuesday that the Rams game won't be flexed and will remain at 4:25 p.m. Sunday.

Then it's back to Philly after the game, arriving at some point early on the morning of Dec. 11. Then up to the Meadowlands that weekend to finish the three-game road swing against the Giants.

"I think this is just going to be a good test to see where we're at as a team," Rodney McLeod said. "Going on the road for two weeks, it's a different type of road trip. So there'll be a lot of adversity around us and a lot of distractions so it's going to be critical for us as leaders on the team to make sure we're focused and to make sure we're preparing just the same, regardless of the circumstance.

"So I think in that aspect, it's going to test us, but I think we're going to be ready to go out there and just try to prove that we are a legit team and are able to win on the road. Last year, we struggled on the road, and we've done well this year on the road, but it's going to be two good tests playing up in Seattle and then going to L.A. to play the Rams."

This is the first time the Eagles will play consecutive games on the West Coast since 1986, when they lost in Seattle on Nov. 23 and beat the Raiders in Oakland — at L.A. Coliseum — a week later. Head coach Buddy Ryan kept the team in Anaheim that week.

In the late 1980s and 1990s, the Eagles often spent entire weeks away from Philly.
 
Ryan took the team to Arizona during the bye week before the Fog Bowl in 1988 and to the Falcons' complex in Suwanee, Ga., before a home playoff game against the Rams in 1989.

In 1995, because of bad weather in Philly, the Eagles practiced at Dodger Town in Vero Beach, Fla., for a week between a playoff win over the Lions and a loss in Dallas.

"We're coming up on two good tests, away games, two good opponents, but I think right now we're just trying to keep our head down, keep improving and find out how good we really are," Jason Kelce said.

"You look forward at this point to playing the best teams, especially the best teams in the NFC because it's getting later in the season and we're trying to find out who we really are and establish where we need to get better and where we need to improve."

The Eagles aren't back at the Linc until they face the Raiders on Christmas evening.

The last time the Eagles beat winning teams on the road in consecutive weeks was in 2009 when they beat the Giants and Falcons back to back.

But with real road trips involving air travel, they have never in franchise history beaten winning teams in consecutive weeks on the road.

"The next couple of weeks, we have our work cut out," Carson Wentz said. "We have a couple of West Coast [games] that we're looking forward to, and those are good football teams ahead of us as well. The next three on the road will be a good challenge for us."

The Eagles are 10-1 with a nine-game winning streak and they're 4-1 on the road, with three straight wins. Their last four-game road winning streak came in 2013, and the last time they won five straight away from Philly was a nine-game road winning streak over the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

"It's a good test to see where we're at as a team, that's for sure," Kelce said.

"Right now we've got one loss on our record, it was an away game, and now we've got two away games against two of the best teams in the NFC. This is going to be a good test to see where we're at, to see how we handle it. I'm just looking forward to seeing how our team does."

Eagles bring back special teams maven Bryan Braman

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Eagles bring back special teams maven Bryan Braman

The Eagles have brought back a former special teams ace for the stretch run. 

Special teamer Bryan Braman on Tuesday signed with the Eagles to rejoin Dave Fipp's special teams group.

Braman, 30, had been with the Eagles from 2014-16, when he was a major contributor for Fipp's top-end special teams unit. He can help fill the void left by the season-ending injury to Chris Maragos earlier in the season. 

During his three seasons with the Eagles, Braman led all Eagles with 1,214 special teams snaps. He played more special teams snaps than any other Eagle in each of the last two seasons. He played in all 48 games over those three seasons, but was mainly a special teams player. 

After officially placing quarterback Carson Wentz (ACL) on Injured Reserve Tuesday, the Eagles had one available roster spot. It looks like it will be filled by Braman. 

Braman was not resigned by the Eagles this past offseason. He spent some time in New Orleans but was placed on their IR and was then released. He hasn't been with a team since early September. 

Eagles' offense 'full steam ahead' with Nick Foles at QB

Eagles' offense 'full steam ahead' with Nick Foles at QB

Carson Wentz is out, Nick Foles is in. 

And the Eagles claim their offense isn't going to change. 

On it's face, that seems somewhat absurd. After all, Wentz is more than an average quarterback. He's the face of the Eagles' franchise and was an MVP candidate through 13 weeks. Foles was once a Pro Bowler, but there's a reason he wasn't a starter entering this season. 

So how will the offense look different? 

"I don't expect it will look different at all," Foles said adamantly.  

Why is that? 

"Because it's our offense," Foles answered. "This is the Eagles' offense. This is the one that is the DNA of this team. And we're going to do what we do. We have so many tremendous players on offense that can do a lot of different things. We just have to go out there and execute and have a great week of work and just keep moving." 

Offensive coordinator Frank Reich finally admitted that there will be "very minor tweaks" to the Eagles' weekly game plans with Foles in at quarterback. But he made the same point as Foles, that the system is built around the QB, but also around the other talent on offense. 

There is, however, one pretty significant difference between Wentz and Foles. 

"Now, Carson has some unique physical traits that he does exceptionally well, but it's nothing that Nick can't handle," Reich said. "We're full steam ahead."

The Eagles run plenty of run-pass option plays, but head coach Doug Pederson pointed out on Monday that the Eagles very rarely use their quarterback to run the ball in those situations. And as far as RPOs go, Foles has used them plenty before. 

Another part of the offense that has been tailored to Wentz is the autonomy the quarterback has at the line of scrimmage. Wentz has been able to make calls and checks pre-snap based on what the defense shows. It seems like Foles will have that same ability, which is something he's excited about. 

"Understand this, he's a veteran player who has played and won a lot of games, not only here, but other places that he's been," Pederson said. "Nick's a highly intelligent football player."

Pederson said he and Foles will talk weekly to make sure his quarterback is comfortable with the plays that go into the game plan. So, theoretically, things could be different. But based on what the offensive leaders of the team have said, don't expect wholesale changes. 

Now, what might change about the offense isn't necessarily by design. Because of Wentz's unique physical gifts and escapability, he's able to make incredible plays. The escape in Washington, the throw to Corey Clement in the end zone, the deep flick down the sideline in Seattle, those are plays only a handful of guys in the world can make. It would be unfair to expect Foles to make them. 

But as far as game-planning goes, the Eagles are going to do what they've done. 

"I feel comfortable in this offense," Foles said. "I love this offense. We're going to run this offense. Nothing's going to change."

Foles dealt with elbow soreness during the summer, but says his elbow now feels "amazing" and is not an issue. That's good news for the Eagles, because at least Foles has plenty of starting experience. His backup, Nate Sudfeld, has never even been active for an NFL game. 

The Eagles' hopes in 2017 rest on the shoulders of Foles. 

"I've always been a gunslinger, just let it rip," Foles said. "That's what I'm going to do. I'm going to play loose, count on the guys, lead this team. There's no other place I'd rather be. That's why I came back here. ... I'm ready to step up and help this team win."