ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — When former Eagles cornerback Orlando Scandrick popped off about the team on Friday morning, it was just the cherry on top of what was already a distraction-filled couple of weeks.
It was like there was one giant circus tent over the NovaCare Complex.
But the Eagles stayed together. Their leaders led. Their playmakers made plays. Their coaches put together solid gameplans.
In every facet on Sunday afternoon, the Eagles responded.
“I think the guys in this room, we respond to adversity,” Malcolm Jenkins said. “I think it brings us together. I think, more so where we are as a team right now, we needed this game at this point in the season. Felt like we had to make a decision. Came together this week and really just worked.”
With their backs against the wall, facing a possible 3-5 start to their season, the Eagles went to Buffalo to face a 5-1 team and came away with a much-needed 31-13 win. They might have just saved their season.
On Friday afternoon, Jenkins was as angry as I’ve ever seen him as he answered questions about Scandrick’s FS1 debut. On Sunday afternoon, Jenkins was asked if he had anything to say to Scandrick and responded, “Nope.” He let his play and the scoreboard do the talking.
Because right now, Scandrick’s NFL career is over and the Eagles improved to 4-4, extending their postseason hopes, without him.
“Nothing outside of this locker room matters,” Jenkins said. “At the end of the day, what we do on that field, how we prepare to go out on that field, that’s all that wins games. You win or lose based on that. The things people say or all the things that are outside of our building, outside of this locker room, have no impact.”
During Scandrick’s diatribe against his former team, he went hardest after Jenkins, whom he called a selfish player.
That didn’t sit well with Jenkins or most of his teammates. For years now, Jenkins has been known as the main leader of the Eagles’ defense and one of the main leaders of the entire team. So to question his leadership was shocking. And the Eagles rightfully called him out for that on their Twitter account Friday afternoon.
But before Scandrick’s comments, the Eagles already had a productive work week without him and Jenkins was his usual self. He was the leader of the defense.
“I saw Malcolm do what he does best and do what he normally does,” fellow safety Rodney McLeod said. “And that’s lead this team, lead the defensive unit, speak up when necessary. Really, he’s a guy who backs it up through his actions. You seen him out there this week, the way he prepped, kind of leading by example. When you have guys like that, man, everyone else follows. We ride behind two-seven. He’s the guy, man, and he made some big plays today.”
It seemed like the Eagles got big plays from their best players on Sunday. Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham got after Josh Allen. The offensive line had a dominant performance. Carson Wentz made smart decisions.
After losing by 18 points in Minnesota and 27 points in Dallas, there probably wasn’t much reason for anyone outside the organization to believe in the Eagles. But the guys inside the locker room did.
And their leaders stepped up all week.
“I think whenever you’re losing, adversity reveals character,” Jason Kelce said. “When times get tough and whatnot, people show who they really are. I think we have some really good leaders on this team that kept guys straight. That’s kind of the way it goes. When you lose games, you’re going to have to deal with this stuff. Losing how bad we did the last couple of weeks, it’s going to be magnified even more. We’ve got enough guys around here who have been through it and understand that.”
At his locker on Friday afternoon, Jenkins was asked if he was interested to see how the Eagles were going to respond to all this adversity. He scoffed and said he wasn’t. He already knew how they were going to respond.
Turns out he was right.
There’s a reason Jenkins is one of the veteran leaders on this team. And there’s a reason Scandrick watched the game from his couch.
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