As long as the Eagles have a chance to win the NFC East, head coach Doug Pederson is going to stress the positives. He is fully aware of the way the fan base feels about this 5-6 football team and he understands every bit of it: The Eagles haven’t performed up to expectations.
Everybody is disappointed.
But nobody is throwing in the towel.
“We’re going to fight our way through this. We’re going to keep battling,” Pederson said on Monday as the Eagles turned the page from Sunday’s 17-9 loss to Seattle and started looking ahead to an easy-on-paper schedule that begins with a trip to the 2-9 Miami Dolphins. “I like the effort this team is putting forth. I like that nobody is pointing fingers. They’re all accepting responsibility.”
That includes quarterback Carson Wentz, the embattled fourth-year player who turned the ball over four times in Sunday’s loss. He’s under pressure. He’s feeling it. For the first time in his NFL career, Wentz is struggling to deliver wins and first downs. Big plays in the passing game? They’ve been few and far between since wide receiver DeSean Jackson starred in the season-opening victory against Washington.
“It starts with me,” Wentz said on Sunday. “I have to be better.”
He’s right. Wentz has to be better. But he’s also not alone. Everybody has to be better. But all is not lost, Eagles fans. Amid the doom and gloom is this: Even at 5-6 as December football begins, the Eagles are one game behind Dallas in the NFC East and the schedule includes a game at Miami (2-9), two against the Giants (2-9), a game against Washington (2-9) and one that could decide the NFC East title against Dallas (6-5).
So, there’s a chance. And as long there’s a chance …
“Look, our defense is playing great football and we’re going to get some players back on offense and now let’s see what we do with that,” Pederson said. “We still have five games to go in this regular season. A lot can happen.”
Clearly, though, the Eagles can afford no missteps. The season hasn’t gone according to plan, but it’s still salvageable. The Eagles have a chance, and as long as they have a chance, they have hope.
“We’ve turned it around before and we’re going to turn it around again,” Pederson said. “That’s just the mindset I’ve got and that this football team has.”
The Eagles have played lights-out defense the last four games and they’re going to have – fingers crossed – offensive linemen Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks, along with wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor, back for Miami. A win against the Dolphins is a great place to start. Then it’s home with New York and then a trip to Washington.
Hey, we can dream here, right? The season has been 180 degrees the wrong way from what we thought, so why not go big and think about a clean sweep of December?
“There is still a path that we can take to get to where we want to be,” Pederson said, “and we have to work hard and play better football to get there. I’m going to be optimistic here. That’s what has worked in the past. We still have a lot to play for.” ••