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Eagles keep talking about looking in the mirror after bad losses, but what is it that they’re seeing?

There is a lot of talk of accountability and fixing mistakes, but little evidence of progress.

Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz loses the fumble getting sacked by Dallas Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence during the first quarter.
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz loses the fumble getting sacked by Dallas Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence during the first quarter.Read more Yong Kim / File Photograph

It might have been reassuring to hear Doug Pederson and several Eagles players speak Sunday night about accountability and learning from mistakes and looking in the mirror – except it was pretty much word-for-word what they’d said a week earlier, after getting embarrassed at Minnesota.

How could they have spent the week marinating in the reaction from that 38-20 loss, preparing to visit their biggest rivals – only to go to Dallas and lose, 37-10, after falling behind 14-0 in the first six minutes?

That puzzle took on another dimension Sunday night when right tackle Lane Johnson, doing an interview outside the locker room with NBC 10’s John Clark, was asked about the next team meeting for the 3-4 Eagles, who visit 5-1 Buffalo this week.

“Really it’s gonna probably be a call-out session. Everybody will be held accountable. Little stuff that slides during the week, late to practice, late to meetings. Stuff will be held accountable for,” said Johnson, who played one of the poorer games of his seven-year career Sunday night. “I think that will maybe creep into the games.”

Players are late to practice or meetings, on a team that has been battling to find consistency, at least since those back-to-back September losses to Atlanta and Detroit?

Safety Malcolm Jenkins, in a WIP-94FM appearance Monday, said he wasn’t aware of anything like that, in any of the meetings or practices.

Pederson, asked about tardiness at his Monday news conference, said that players talking about such issues “shows that it means something to them, and it's important to them, and those are the little things that -- you carry it over into the workplace.

“I mean, if an employee shows up late or is not on time for certain things, there are consequences for that, and guys are – I’m not saying that’s happening, but I am just using that as an example from the standpoint of, that’s a little thing, but it can magnify itself in a game. Meaning, you’re not going to pay as much attention to your assignment or to alignments and different things, and that’s kind of what’s creeping in just a little bit. But it starts with me, and that’s where I get to control that message, and drive that point home.”

Why on earth would such laxity be “creeping in” on a team with Super Bowl aspirations that is 3-4, having fallen behind by double digits in six of its seven games? Why would players struggling to save their season be late for anything?

“I didn't say they were. I'm just using that as an example,” Pederson said. “It can be missing an assignment in practice … we might be able to repeat it in practice and get the assignment right, but you don't get that second chance in a game.

“It's not a panic move. It's we just have to make sure that our sense of urgency, and that accountability, is there.”

Later Monday, Pederson seemed to pull the same lever he’d pulled a week earlier, when he released linebacker Zach Brown, at least partly to send a message, shake things up. Sacrificed on the altar of the Dallas loss were 32-year-old corner Orlando Scandrick, who, like a lot of Eagles, had a heckuva game against the Jets and hasn’t played well since, and veteran defensive tackle Akeem Spence, who was really dreadful Sunday night. The Eagles signed defensive tackle Anthony Rush from the Oakland practice squad, and another DT, Albert Huggins, from the Texans’ practice squad.

Pederson gave his players T-shirts that said “Everything Matters” this past summer. He seems to still be fighting that fight.

Pederson channeled his mentor, Andy Reid, on Monday, telling reporters: “It starts with me, and I hold myself accountable. I have to do a better job, quite frankly, and I have to communicate that better to the team and make sure that we're doing the right things every single day, not just some of the time.”

Asked if he thought team leaders were doing enough, Pederson said: “I think everybody is a leader on this football team. I do rely a lot on my player committee. I address certain things with them during the week, early in the week. And can everybody do more? Sure. Including myself, we can all do more. That's what we have to do. We just have to roll up our sleeves, come to work [Tuesday] and get ready for Buffalo.”

Pederson said the problems that have caused the Eagles to be outscored 75-30 the past two weeks “are fixable, and so from that standpoint, the sky is not falling for us. We have the men in the locker room to get the job done.”

Developing storylines

  1. Eagles wide receivers caught four passes Sunday night, two for 38 yards for Alshon Jeffery, two for 24 yards for Nelson Agholor. Mack Hollins played another 30 snaps without catching a pass. He has one catch in 138 snaps over the past four games. This is, of course, ridiculous. “There’s some good and there’s some not so good,” Pederson said Monday, asked about the wideouts. "It’s hard when your quarterback sometimes doesn’t necessarily have all the time to throw. He’s having to scramble and move around and it gets you off rhythm, gets you off schedule. So that’s a part of it. We are getting some guys open and it’s been documented already with drops and different things like that this year.”

  2. Eagles opponents are completing 65.7% of their passes against Jim Schwartz’s defense, for 270.6 yards per game, 14 touchdowns, and eight interceptions.

  3. Lane Johnson gave up a sack to DeMarcus Lawrence, for the first time ever, and compiled his poorest Pro Football Focus grades of the season. In fact, PFF rates Johnson’s games at Dallas this season and last year as his two worst games overall since his rookie year of 2013.

  4. If Nigel Bradham can’t get back from that ankle injury to play against his former team this week in Buffalo, we might find out whether Sunday’s awful run defense was just a fluke or the way things are going to be, without Bradham and released linebacker Zach Brown. The Bills also run the ball well. They came out of the weekend ranked seventh in the NFL (815 yards, 167 carries, 4.9 yards per carry), led by the amazing, 36-year-old Frank Gore (388 yards on 86 carries, 4.5 yards per carry).

  5. Jalen Mills’ tackling was rusty -- he’d missed nearly a calendar year with a foot injury -- but his pass coverage Sunday was pretty good, especially compared to what the Eagles have been getting lately.

Who knew?

That building Sidney Jones’s confidence back, helping him to become the player the Eagles drafted, would entail dressing him at Dallas and leaving him on the bench the entire evening?

Obscure stat

The last time the Eagles played at Buffalo, where they are headed this week, was Oct. 9, 2011. Michael Vick threw four interceptions in a 31-24 Eagles loss. The only Eagle expected to play Sunday who was part of that team is center Jason Kelce, then a rookie. DeSean Jackson played that day, Jason Peters did not.

Extra point

Andre Dillard wasn’t exactly good, but he wasn’t the reason the Eagles lost Sunday, the first-round rookie left tackle making his first NFL start with Jason Peters sidelined by a knee injury.

Dillard gave up a sack to Robert Quinn, but he had his moments. He played all 61 offensive snaps, vs. 46 in Minnesota after Peters went down, and Pro Football Focus had him improving from seven hurries to three and from nine pressures to five, despite playing more snaps.

“For me personally, I think I did some good things in there, and also some not-great things,” Dillard said afterward. “I’m a rookie, it’s my first start. It ain’t gonna be pretty. But I have full confidence in myself that I’m going to clean up the things that need to be cleaned up and just get better.”

Doug Pederson indicated Monday that none of the players who sat out the Dallas game will practice Wednesday. Last week he described Peters, 37, as “week to week,” so there is a good chance Dillard will take the field as a starter again this week at Buffalo.

Pederson said the most serious injury coming out of Sunday’s game was to defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway’s ankle. He said tests are pending.