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

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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."

Where Doug Pederson's aggressiveness as a play caller comes from

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Where Doug Pederson's aggressiveness as a play caller comes from

We’ve always known Doug Pederson is a naturally aggressive play caller.

Pederson is a laid-back guy off the field but as aggressive as any coach in NFL history on the field.

But where does that come from? How did such a chill dude become such a fearless play caller?

Pederson spoke Tuesday morning about how the way he was raised as a kid in Bellingham, Washington, defined his personality as a coach.

“Growing up with my parents, my dad has some military background, he was in the Air Force, and the way he led our household and raised us as kids … I don’t want to say it was strict but it was a rigid household growing up, so I think I got a little bit of that from my dad,” he said during an appearance with Angelo Cataldi and the 94 WIP Morning Show.

“His aggressive nature in the way he coached us and the way we raised us to stand on our own two feet.

“And listen, I was never really touted as a top athlete, quarterback, whatever, whether I was going into college or coming out of college, so for me there was a little bit of built-up underdog mentality. So for me, that’s where a little bit of this stems from.

“I made up my mind two years ago that really going into this opportunity being a head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles or wherever it might be that you only get one chance and one opportunity to do this so I want to make sure I do it right.”

The Eagles led the NFL with 17 fourth-down conversions last season, and in his two years coaching the Eagles they’ve attempted eight more fourth downs than any other team (53 to the Packers’ 45).

And that doesn’t even include the postseason, where the Eagles were 3-for-3 last year on fourth down, including two of the most celebrated conversions in Super Bowl history.

Including the regular season and postseason, the Eagles’ 20 total fourth-down conversions last year are second-most since the NFL began tracking fourth downs in 1991 (the Jaguars had 22 in 2007).

“It’s calculated,” Pederson said. “It’s not on a whim. It’s not just gut feel. For me, it was trusting my players, trusting my coaches. Out here on this grass, out here on this practice field, putting our players in those situations so when I make the decision during a game there’s no hesitation.

“So when you see Nick Foles come to the sideline and suggest 'Philly Philly,' there’s no hesitation. That’s the play. That’s the one we need. That’s the spark that’s going to help us win this football game, and that’s the collaboration process that we talk about a lot.”

And when a fourth-down attempt fails?

You don’t second-guess yourself. You just put it in the hands of the defense and move on.

“You can’t,” he said. “You don’t. You can’t second guess. You can’t go, ‘Oh man, did I make the right decision?' If you do that, yeah, you’re probably going to be a 50-50 type of team.

“Listen, these decisions are not just fly by the seat of my pants. These are calculated. I listen to some of the analytics, some of the numbers we talk about during the week, the different situation and scenarios that pop up in games.

“These are things that we study and these are things that I study during the week so I can prepare not only myself for the call but I can prepare the team for that situation.”

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Doug Pederson believes 2018 Eagles are deeper than Super Bowl team

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Doug Pederson believes 2018 Eagles are deeper than Super Bowl team

The Eagles won a Super Bowl last season. And then they got better.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said Tuesday morning he believes this year’s roster is actually deeper than the one that roared to the franchise's first championship in 57 years.

The Eagles suffered some key losses — Patrick Robinson, LeGarrette Blount, Torrey Smith, Trey Burton, Brent Celek and Mychal Kendricks — but they added guys like Michael Bennett, Mike Wallace and Dallas Goedert along with a huge cast of players who were hurt last year and are expected back healthy.

“I think on paper, if you look at the depth at each position, the depth that we have, it’s definitely the deepest roster in my three years here,” Pederson said Tuesday morning during an appearance with Angelo Cataldi and the 94 WIP Morning Show.

“That’s exciting. It’s real exciting. Because in this league, we’ve got to cut our roster down to 53 in a couple weeks, and the hardest thing is you’re going to have to cut good players and you’re probably going to have cut players that are going to end up on rosters somewhere else.

“But on paper? We’re still missing (injured) Timmy Jernigan, we’re still missing Brandon Graham, we’re still missing those guys, but on paper, it looks like a pretty good solid roster.”

Some other notes from Pederson’s 20-minute interview:

He continues to be vague about the return of wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who hasn’t practiced this summer. He said no decision has been made on whether Jeffery will start the season on PUP or the 53-man roster

“He’s doing extremely well with his rehab, No. 1, and he’s doing everything he can to get himself ready and to get himself healthy. Can’t wait for the day we get him back.”

He said the final decision on whether Carson Wentz will start the opener against the Falcons in 23 days is up to his doctors

“This guy’s a competitor. He attacked it on the football field when he played and he’s also attacked his rehab. This is something you don’t see every single day, a guy this determined to make it back to the football field. He’s done extremely well. … He’s so determined to get himself back on the football field that I think a lot of the other injured guys are following suit.”

On moving on from the Super Bowl

“It’s one of those things where it’s great in the offseason, it was great to be patted on the back for what we accomplished for this city, for these fans, but right now, this world championship is for the fans. Let them enjoy it. We’ve got to focus on our 2018 season, get ready to go. Nothings going to be handed to us, we’re going to have to go get everything each and every week and that’s why these guys are out here busting their tail throughout this training camp.”

On his biggest concern three weeks before the season opener against the Falcons

“For me, just the health of the injured guys. Where are they Week 1? That to me is the biggest question going into the start of the season. I’m not concerned about the quarterbacks, we have two great quarterbacks, we’re comfortable there. And receiver, with the addition of Mike Wallace, that brings some depth to what we’re doing. But just the health of the injured guys. That to me is the biggest question going into the start of the season.”

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