Eagles Insider

The challenge facing Sirianni as Eagles wait to play Washington

Eagles Insider

We all saw the comments from Eagles players after the NFL postponed the Washington game from Sunday afternoon to Tuesday evening.

They were upset. They were frustrated. They were angry.

Understandable. 

The challenge now is to get un-upset. To get un-frustrated. To get un-angry. I don't know if those are even words, but that's exactly what they have to do.

Because every bit of frustration or anger at this point means one less bit of preparation for a critical football game, one less bit of focus on what's really important.

Every football team -- every team in any sport -- faces adversity, and the ones that are successful are the ones that don't let it distract them, don't let it bother them, don't let it affect them.

Nick Sirianni's message when he brought the team back together for an unexpected meeting on Saturday was that they had to refocus and turn their energy from feeling like they were screwed over by the NFL to getting ready to play Washington.

Any energy or emotion spent on the postponement is wasted energy, and they had to move on and get past the anger and frustration.

Or they would have lost this game before it began.

Pro football is a tough, violent, physical game, but it's also an enormously emotional game, and teams that aren't 100 percent mentally ready to play don't have much of a chance to win.

That's why you see things like the 1-11-1 Lions beating the 10-3 Cards or the 11-point underdog Saints shutting out Tom Brady and the Bucs in Tampa. If you're not completely committed mentally to those three hours on Sunday afternoon -- or Tuesday evening -- you will lose.

 

You just will.

That's why Sirianni's message on Saturday was to forget it. Move on. 

Because if you're thinking, "This was unfair," or, "They never should have moved this game," or, "We really got screwed here," you're not doing your job. You're not getting ready for a Washington Football Team that's won four of its last five games.

I can't help but think about the Joe Webb Game.

The circumstances were completely different -- that was a blizzard, this is a pandemic -- but the net result was the same. An important Sunday game in December moved to Tuesday evening.

And for whatever reason, Andy Reid did not have that team ready to play.

Remember, the Eagles in 2010 were off to a 10-4 start and in position for a first-round bye. The Vikings were 5-9 and playing out the string. The game was at the Linc and the Eagles were 14½-point favorites.    

Both the Vikings' quarterbacks -- Brett Favre and Tarvaris Jackson -- were hurt and on Injured Reserve. Coach Brad Childress started a rookie 6th-round wide receiver named Joe Webb as an emergency quarterback, and Webb threw for 195 yards and made enough plays to lead the Vikings to an infuriating, frustrating, impossible-to-comprehend 24-14 win.

That's one of only four NFL games since 1978 in which a team was favored by 14½ points and lost by double digits.

There was no explanation. Other than the Eagles simply weren't ready. Moving the game from Sunday to Tuesday had sapped the Eagles of their focus or their mojo or whatever you want to call it, and that team never recovered. Didn't win another game. That loss cost them a 1st-round bye, and they lost at home to the Packers in the wild-card round, even though they were favored again.

That should serve as a cautionary tale to this team.

If you're not 100 percent there mentally, if your mind is elsewhere, it will cost you.

One of Sirianni's real strengths as a head coach is his ability to not only articulate a clear message to his players but to get them to believe it. To buy in. You don't win four of six games after the beatings this team took in September and October without a coach who really knows how to get through to his players.

He'll need every ounce of that ability right now for the Eagles to approach Washington the right way.

There's no time to feel sorry for yourself. The focus has to be on football and nothing else. If the Eagles can't do that, they're going to lose, and they can only blame that on themselves.

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