Eagles

Eagles are enjoying easy victories, but wouldn't mind facing some adversity

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USA Today Images

Eagles are enjoying easy victories, but wouldn't mind facing some adversity

They've been blowing out teams for so long now it's hard to remember the last time the Eagles actually played a close game.

The Eagles' last five wins have been by double digits, the last four by 23 points or more.

The last time they were in a one-possession game in the fourth quarter was the second Redskins game, back in late October, and that seven-point lead quickly grew to 14 before the Eagles won by 10.

The last time they played a one-possession game was vs. the Panthers back in Week 6.

The last time they trailed in the fourth quarter? It was actually the Giants game back in Week 3. Jake Elliott won that game with two field goals in the final 2 ½ minutes, including a franchise-record 61-yarder as time expired.

They did trail the Cowboys 9-7 at halftime two weeks ago but then scored four TDs in a 16-minute span to quickly turn that deficit into a 28-point lead.

So bottom line: It's been forever since the Eagles have been challenged late in a game.

Which brings us to Seattle.

The Seahawks are 7-4. They're 37-8 at CenturyLink Field since 2012 (although they've lost their last two), and they haven't lost a home game by more than seven points since 2011 — before Russell Wilson was even drafted.

Every other NFL team has lost at least three games since opening day 2012 by more than seven points. The Jaguars have lost 22 in that fashion.

Heck, the Seahawks haven't even lost a home game by more than three points since 2015.

So maybe this will be another Eagles blowout. But probably not.

And that's just fine with head coach Doug Pederson.

"Obviously, yeah, you would love to win it by a couple scores, but you just know that that's not going to happen each week, and especially now down the stretch with some of the opponents we've got coming up," Pederson said.

"I think it would be a great opportunity if our team (was) down a touchdown or a field goal or maybe two scores, whatever it is, and you figure out a way to get it done. I think that’d be a great test for our team.

"You're in that dogfight and it comes down to the last possession, that whoever-has-the-ball-last type game. … It would be a great test for us."

The Eagles, who face the Seahawks at 8:30 p.m. EST Sunday at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, are the only NFL team that hasn't lost a game by more than a touchdown this year. Their only loss was in Kansas City by seven points back in Week 2.

The only time in franchise history the Eagles went an entire regular season without losing by more than seven points was 1990, when their six losses totaled 26 points.

Then they lost by 14 to the Redskins in a home wild-card game.

“You enjoy winning games by a lot, but in all reality, I think when you win by huge margins it can kind of mask some things, also," Jason Kelce said.

"I love winning games by a lot of points, but you kind of want to get a couple games that are somewhat close so you can see how you do with some adversity."

This game and next week's game against the Rams in Los Angeles should be terrific challenges for an Eagles team that hasn't lost in nearly three months and hasn't won a game by fewer than three touchdowns since mid-October.

"I think one of the reasons we’ve been so good this season is that we’ve been good in all three phases," Kelce said.

"On offense we’ve been able to run and throw the ball effectively. On defense we’ve been great against the run, pretty good against the pass. And our special teams have usually out-performed the other team’s special teams.

"And I think when you’re good in all three phases — it’s not like it’s rocket science — it’s going to lead to some pretty successful football.

"But all that can change instantly, so we’ve just got to keep going, keep improving, keep watching the tape, and keep finding out how to get better. That’s the way this thing works this time of the season.

"Every team is improving so we’ve just got to keep up with that."

Eagles rookie CB Sidney Jones cleared to practice

Eagles rookie CB Sidney Jones cleared to practice

On a day that will be remembered most for a player the Eagles lost to an injury (see story), they did learn that they are getting another player back after a long injury rehab.

The Eagles are finally going to get a look this week at rookie second-round pick Sidney Jones at practice. Whether he actually gets into a football game this year is still in doubt.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said that nine months after he blew out his Achilles and eight months after the Eagles drafted him, Jones has finally been medically cleared to practice and will participate to some extent Wednesday when the Eagles get back to work following their win over the Rams Sunday in Los Angeles.

“We're just to the point of just want to see him out there running around, doing football activities outside of the normal workouts that he's been doing,” Pederson said Monday. “Just really changing direction and doing more football work this week.”

Jones tore his left Achilles during his pro day workout on March 11 and has spent the entire season so far on the reserve-non football injury list, which is for players with preexisting conditions dating before the first day of practice.

The Eagles had a window running from Week 7 until this week to activate Jones for practice, and once he practices on Wednesday, they’ll have 21 days to either activate him to the 53-man roster or shut him down for the year.

The Eagles have the luxury of taking their time with Jones, thanks to the play of starting corners Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby, slot corner Patrick Robinson and fourth corner Rasul Douglas.

Before his injury, Jones was projected as a first-round draft pick. The Eagles got him with the 43rd pick, but even if he doesn’t play until opening day next year, he will still be only 22 years old and under contract through 2020.

Jones had nine interceptions, six forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, 8½ tackles for loss and 145 tackles in 40 career games for the University of Washington.

It remains to be seen where Jones will fit in next year, but Robinson, although he has played well, is due to become a free agent this offseason and turns 31 in September.

Douglas and Jones are signed through 2020, Mills through 2019 and Darby through 2018.

Doug Pederson adamant Eagles can overcome the ultimate loss

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Doug Pederson adamant Eagles can overcome the ultimate loss

Remember when the Eagles lost Jason Peters and Jordan Hicks and Darren Sproles and plenty of folks thought the season was over? 

Doug Pederson does. 

Sure, this isn't exactly an apples-to-oranges comparison. Losing a left tackle or a middle linebacker or a running back isn't the same thing as losing an MVP-level quarterback entering his prime. It would be unfair to suggest they're the same. 

But Pederson has seen his team hurdle over every obstacle this year. With the biggest one yet now in front of them, it's his job to convince his team they can do it again. 

On Monday, Pederson tried to convince fans who have prematurely canceled Christmas. 

"To the fans out there, you can't lose faith," Pederson said. "This has been a resilient football team all season long. If there's ever an opportunity for me as a head football coach to rally the troops, now might be the time. 

"We just came off a tremendous victory to win the NFC East. Guys are riding extremely high. It's a little bittersweet. But you know what? We've got the Giants this week and we've got an opportunity to ... if you win Sunday, you get a first-round bye. There's still a lot to play for. That's what's exciting about this season. We're still playing for the opportunity to hopefully be in that game."

Pederson, just after delivering news of a torn ACL, was adamant that his team can overcome the loss of Carson Wentz. 

"It sure can," he said. "Heck yeah." 

It won't be easy. Before leaving Sunday's game, Wentz threw his 33rd touchdown pass of the 2017 season, breaking the Eagles' franchise record that had stood since 1961. But more than touchdown passes, Wentz made special plays seemingly every week, plays that only a handful of quarterbacks in the world can make. 

Nick Foles is a pretty adequate backup, and he did a nice job when called upon against the Rams. But he ain't Carson Wentz. Everyone, including his teammates, knows that. 

It's just that they don't have time to wallow in the loss of their superstar leader. Next weekend might be huge. 

A win against the Giants would earn the Eagles a first-round bye. A win against the Giants, paired with a Vikings loss, would earn them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. After another obstacle was dropped in front of them on Monday morning, the Eagles can still help themselves. 

Pederson's role in all this is vital. He has to be the guy to hold it all together.  

"It's huge," he said. "I think even the guys felt it after the game yesterday. We just rally and we support the next guy. From my standpoint, you don't waver, man. You don't let people see you sweat, you just put your head down and you go to work. You get everybody ready to play. It was evident yesterday when Carson was out of the game, you saw Nick come in and come back and lead us to victory in that game. That right there is a great step in the right direction."