Eagles

Up against postseason odds, Eagles realize what's at stake in final 6 games

Up against postseason odds, Eagles realize what's at stake in final 6 games

Malcolm Jenkins never looks at the standings. Doesn’t analyze potential tiebreakers. Doesn’t even try to figure out who to root for or against.
 
Because to him it all boils down to one thing.
 
If the Eagles don’t win a bunch of games here the last month and a half of the season, none of the other stuff matters.
 
“It doesn’t take rocket science to figure it out,” Jenkins said. “There’s two questions. Really one question. Do we have a chance? And if mathematically you still have a chance, then the solution is easy. Just win. That’s how you get in. You win. 
 
“And so right now we’ve still got a chance, so there’s no need to look at what other teams are doing and who needs to do what. We know all we need to do is win, and the rest of it will take care of itself and the only thing we can control is this week, what we prepare for and how we show up for that game on Monday night.”
 
Jenkins is right and wrong.
 
Yes, the Eagles need to win, but they also need some help because even if they go 6-0 the rest of the way, mathematically, they don’t control their own destiny.
 
The Cowboys at 10-1 have the NFC East virtually locked up, and the Giants, at 7-3 with the winless Browns up Sunday, are in great shape for the first wild card. 

That leaves the Redskins, Eagles, Buccaneers and whoever doesn’t win the NFC North — probably the Vikings — fighting for one spot, with four-win teams like the Packers, Cards and Panthers hoping for miracles.
 
The Redskins’ loss Thursday to the Cowboys helped, as did the Vikings’ loss to the Lions, since the Eagles have a win over the Vikings and loss to the Lions, so they would rather be in a tiebreaker with Minnesota.
 
But even if the Redskins just go 2-3 the rest of the way — and they only have one winning team left on their schedule — they get to 8-7-1 and the Eagles need nine wins to get ahead of them. That means 4-2. 
 
If the Redskins finish out 3-2? Then they’re 9-6-1, and the Eagles’ margin of error is down to one loss the next six weeks.
 
For a team that’s 1-5 on the road and has lost five of its last seven games, that’s a lot to ask.
 
The Eagles start this final stretch Monday night at home — where they haven’t lost since Chip Kelly was their coach — against the Packers.
 
“It’s obvious there’s an urgency,” Brent Celek said. “We’ve got to win football games. There’s a lot of good teams in this division, there’s a lot of good teams in the NFC period, so we’ve got to step it up. 
 
“But all we can do is focus on Monday night. In all the games we’ve lost it’s us killing ourselves. It’s just getting back to the basics. We’ve got a good football team. I think guys in this locker room understand that. This is one of the better football teams I’ve been on. But you can’t make the small mistakes that add up to big things. That’s what it is.”
 
Considering Celek played on the 2008 team that was five minutes from reaching the Super Bowl that’s quite a statement.
 
The Eagles are tough to figure out. They’re one of only three teams in the NFL that’s undefeated at home, but they haven’t won on the road since Week 2.
 
“We’re all smart guys,” Carson Wentz said. “We realize what’s at stake. We realize where we’re at in the season. We have six games left, we’re going to put our best foot forward, but at the same time, we don’t change our preparation, we don’t change how we approach things. 
 
“Because one thing about this team, the effort’s always there, so we just have to be sharp with our details, like I always say.”
 
It’s already been a strange season for the Eagles.
 
Nobody’s been within a touchdown of them at the Linc, but they can’t buy a win on the road.
 
Their last seven opponents have a winning record, and only two of their last 13 opponents — the Packers Monday and the Bengals next Sunday in Cincinnati — have losing records.
 
After Cincinnati, the Eagles finish with the Redskins home, at Baltimore, then the Giants and Cowboys at the Linc. 
 
“My head’s been really down and focused on the one-week schedule, but I know we’re still in a position to where we can really create our own destiny making these next six games count,” Jordan Hicks said.
 
“If we handle our business, we’ll be all right. But I think the way you have to approach it is to see the light at the end of tunnel and understand that it’s there, but in no way shape or form should we look ahead. 
 
“We have to look at the task in front of us and we’ve got to handle business each and every week and treat it as an individual opportunity.
 
“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what anyone else does if we don’t handle our business. Nobody else matters except for what’s in this building, and we understand that.”
 
What are the odds the Eagles reach the playoffs? 
 
PlayoffStatus.com says 20 percent. FiveThirtyEight.com says 29 percent. FootballOutsiders says 41 percent. PredictionMachine.com says 21 percent. And the New York Times’ Playoff Simulator says 26 percent.
 
But four of their last six games, including all three division rematches, are at home. Four wins could do it. But most likely, the Eagles will need to win out at home and win one of the two remaining road AFC games.
 
“Obviously, we’re not where we want to be,” Rodney McLeod said. “We want to be at the top of the division at this point, but you play with the cards that you’re dealt, all you can control is the next game and hopefully we’re 1-0 (Monday) and we get this thing rolling. 
 
“Monday night will be a good stage for us back at home. Going to be loud, and hopefully it gets us started making this run.”

Eagles reach decision at offensive coordinator

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AP Images

Eagles reach decision at offensive coordinator

Doug Pederson has made his decision. 

The Eagles are promoting wide receivers coach Mike Groh to offensive coordinator, according to a report from ESPN's Tim McManus. 

On Monday, Pederson interviewed Groh and running backs coach Duce Staley for the vacant offensive coordinator job after Frank Reich became the Colts' head coach earlier this month. 

Groh, 46, just joined the Eagles last offseason, taking over for Greg Lewis. In his first year in Philly, he did a masterful job with the Eagles' receivers and had a bigger role in the offense and game-planning than a typical receivers coach. 

There had been a report that Pederson was thinking about not having an official offensive coordinator for the 2018 season. He already calls the plays. But it looks like he saw the value in filling Reich's old spot. 

It'll be interesting to see how this goes over with Staley, who has been with the Eagles as a coach since 2011 and has been in his current role as running backs coach since 2013. He has previously expressed interest in moving up the ladder. 

When Pederson hired Reich to be his offensive coordinator, he said he was interested in what Reich could bring to the downfield passing game. If that's still important, it would make sense for him to hire a receivers coach with a background as a quarterback over a former running back and running backs coach. 

The 2018 staff is starting to come together. Press Taylor is expected to be named the team's quarterbacks coach (filling in for John DeFilippo), Groh is OC and Staley will stay with the running backs. The last shoe to drop appears to be filling Groh's old post of receivers coach. 

Eagles might lose backup defensive back

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USA Today Images

Eagles might lose backup defensive back

Jaylen Watkins' time in Philadelphia might just be coming to an end. 

The Eagles don't plan to tender Watkins, who is a restricted free agent, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport

Watkins, 26, played a decent role with the Eagles in 2017. He came into the summer as a safety, but when the team needed him at corner, he began to fill in there. He offered them a backup at multiple spots. 

So why won't the Eagles tender him? 

Well, if the Eagles did place a tender on Watkins, it would have been an original-round tender. He was drafted in the fourth round back in 2014. So teams could have negotiated with Watkins as a RFA but if the Eagles didn't match the offer sheet, they'd get back a fourth-round pick. Sounds great, except for one thing. 

The problem with the original-round tender is that it would bring back Watkins on a one-year deal worth just over $1.9 million. That's a projection after last year's number was just under $1.8 million. 

Watkins proved to be a valuable backup for the Eagles in 2017, but $1.9 million is probably just a little too pricey, especially as the Eagles are sitting around $9 million over the cap and have to trim that number down. 

And the Birds should have plenty of younger depth at corner in 2018. 

Not tendering Watkins doesn't necessarily mean he won't be back. What it does mean is he'll be an unrestricted free agent when the new league year starts on March 14. He will be able to negotiate with any team freely, but that will also include the Eagles, who might be willing to bring him back for a lesser price.