Eagles

The Eagles’ low point that helped turn things around

Eagles

It’s a long flight from Las Vegas to Philadelphia.

It feels even longer after a demoralizing loss.

That’s what the Eagles’ experienced late on the night of Oct. 24. They had just lost 33-22 to the Raiders in a game that wasn’t that close to fall to a dismal 2-5 record.

“It was terrible,” Fletcher Cox said this week. “Obviously not a good feeling for us. As a team, you want to win, especially on a long flight like that. It kind of sucks the way we lost that game and just losing basically (getting) on a long flight.

“I think that put a bad taste in a lot of players’ mouth in the locker room and it made guys just realize, you know, if you really don’t want that feeling, do something about it.”

It was fitting on Wednesday that Cox crashed Rodney McLeod’s press conference, forcing his longtime teammate to schooch over and share a chair that clearly isn't made for 500 pounds.

Because then there were there Eagles’ two defensive captains, sitting together, talking about the lowest point in the season and how it might have helped turn this thing around.

“I think the main focus was just making sure that we keep this thing tight and we stay together through it all, knowing that we experienced a lot of trials and tribulations,” McLeod said. “We pretty much talked about just being together and getting through a tough time. But most importantly, that was our message. That we’re going to find a way to get through this and the best way we know how is to go back to work, to grind it out, stay together, believe in ourselves and that’s what you’ve seen. You’ve seen us continue to fight, continue to believe, regardless of what’s been said outside this building and it’s paying off for us.”

 

While the loss to the Raiders wasn’t the worst loss veteran Eagles have experienced — there have been some bad ones — it did feel like the low point in this season. It was their fifth loss in six games and it was another loss in a game they didn’t feel like they had a legitimate chance to win.

Cox remembers forcing himself to stay awake on that cross-country flight so he’d be able to sleep when he got home.

So he and McLeod remember the hours on that plane pretty vividly.

“You saw some guys talking and you find out who the real guys are in the locker room,” Cox said. “You find out who wants it more and that’s really the biggest thing. You go around and you talk to guys and you let them know that, hey, it’s not over. We still got a chance. Guys listened and that’s what you want.”

Since that flight back from Vegas, the Eagles are 3-1 with wins over the Lions, Broncos and Saints.

From that 2-5 start, they have won three of their last four and are sitting at 5-6 as they stare ahead at a schedule that ought to be conducive to a late-season run. FiveThirtyEight.com gives the Eagles a 43% chance to make the playoffs and an 18% chance to win the NFC East.

Of course, this isn’t anything new to the Eagles. They had similar seasons in 2018 and 2019, when they got off to slow starts in the season and rallied late to make the playoffs.

“I think it’s important to speak from experience but, at the end of the day, this is a new team. A new group of individuals,” McLeod said. “We’re all facing our challenges, this team’s challenges, for the first time. So I think for us, it’s cool to revert back to the past but we have to just focus on the moment and what works for this team.”

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