Nick Sirianni knew this was coming. He just didn’t know when. And he did everything possible to get his team ready for it.
The Eagles beat the Vikings by 17 and the Commanders by 16. Even the opener in Detroit was a two-possession game until the final minutes, and the Eagles were never really in danger of losing.
In fact, going into Sunday, the Eagles had only trailed once all year – the Lions led 7-0 for about 12 minutes early in the opener.
Things came easily for the Eagles for most of the first three weeks.
So Sirianni talked all the time dealing with adversity. He preached about staying confident and positive when things aren’t going well. He emphasized focusing only on the next play no matter how ugly things get.
But until this team truly faced adversity, he didn’t really know how they’d react.
Now he knows.
Injuries. Terrible conditions. A 14-0 deficit.
The first quarter against the Jaguars Sunday could not have gone any worse.
The Eagles couldn’t do anything right on either side of the ball, and before the quarter was over they had lost Jordan Mailata and Darius Slay, two of their best players.
How did they react?
Just how you’d expect.
“We needed to face adversity,” A.J. Brown said. “You don’t want to be riding high and nothing has challenged you yet.
“Everybody can say that they’re doing it or they’re coming along when stuff is going (well). We want to be tested. We want to see how it is when your back is against the wall.”
There was certainly reason to be concerned.
The Eagles had lost 19 of their last 20 games when they trailed by at least 14 points at the end of the first quarter, with the one win actually coming at the Linc against the Jaguars in 2014. Before that you have to go back to 1993 and a win over the Rich Kotite Jets at the Vet.
League-wide, teams trailing by 14 or more points at the end of the first quarter were 1-21 entering this weekend over the last two years, with the one win – by the Titans over the Colts – coming in overtime.
On top of that, Jack Driscoll was in at left tackle in place of Jordan Mailata, Zech McPhearson was playing corner in place of Darius Slay and Josiah Scott was playing in the slot for Avonte Maddox.
And it was pouring.
“It was a train wreck,” Jason Kelce said of the weather.
But after the Jaguars built that 14-0 lead, the Eagles outgained them 305-81 over the next 40 minutes and scored 29 straight points to put the game away.
And Sirianni got his answer.
“We’ve talked about adversity,” Sirianni said. “Have we faced a lot of adversity? Not really. In three games, we probably haven’t. We had a battle up there in Detroit, but have we faced a lot of adversity? Not really.
“So it was a great opportunity to say, ‘Hey, we’ve talked about this. We’ve discussed this. You players, the reason you are here is because you are built to be able to handle adversity. Not every game is going to be pretty. It’s going to be muddy sometimes.’ And it was muddy right there.
“Our guys buckled down. Being down 14-0, it’s a long game, just like it’s a long season.”
You don’t want to be put in that position, but once you are, you want to see how you respond.
It’s easy to front run. It’s not easy to stare at the scoreboard in your own stadium and see 14-0 and hear the wrath of the fans.
But the Eagles found a way, thanks to some ferocious defense, another huge game from Miles Sanders and outstanding performances from all the backups forced into action.
The Eagles find themselves 4-0 for only the sixth time in franchise history and the first time since they opened the 2004 Super Bowl season 7-0.
And they did it the hard way. Overcoming a bunch of obstacles in their way.
“It just shows who we are,” Reddick said. “They got up on us early. Nobody wavered, though. Nobody flinched. ‘Everybody, let’s go.’ Let’s keep going. We’ve got them,’ and that’s exactly what we did.
“We kept our heads down and continued to work. Played ourselves back into the game, took the lead and got the ‘W’ today.”
Subscribe to the Eagle Eye podcast