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The Eagles weren’t panicking after their loss to Washington, and no one else should, either

The atmosphere in the locker room suggested the Eagles considered Monday night's loss a hiccup, nothing more. They can prove it by beating a lesser opponent this Sunday in Indianapolis.

Fans react during the second half of the Philadelphia Eagles game against the Washington Commanders at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa. on Monday, November 14, 2022.
Fans react during the second half of the Philadelphia Eagles game against the Washington Commanders at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa. on Monday, November 14, 2022.Read moreMonica Herndon / Staff Photographer

It was a weird night Monday at Lincoln Financial Field. You get an unbeaten Eagles team in a prime-time game against an NFC East opponent, and you would expect emotional sparks and fire bursts from the start of the evening until its end. Yet compared to the crowd at the average Eagles home game, Monday’s was strangely subdued throughout the team’s 32-21 loss to the Washington Commanders. Was it the 10-day layoff between games? Was it the presumption that the Eagles would roll to another win? Was it the manner in which the Commanders took control in the first half, with a demoralizing and time-consuming rushing attack? Was it the exhausting, traffic-snarled commute to the stadium?

One could ask the same questions of the Eagles themselves. Their postgame locker room was not a wasteland of sullen, brooding athletes. It was not an especially dark place in the aftermath of defeat. Quez Watkins was not distraught over his costly late-game fumble. Brandon Graham welcomed a horde of media members at his locker to talk about his unnecessary-roughness penalty against Taylor Heinicke. T.J. Edwards summed up what seemed to be the players’ collective attitude toward their first loss of the season.

“It’s one game,” he said. “Can’t let it affect the rest of the season.”

A fine sentiment, and it’s on the Eagles now to prove that they can follow through on it, to show that Monday night was a one-off and not the start of a larger trend. They will head to Indianapolis to face the Colts this Sunday, and for the first time this season, there’s a sense that they are teetering a bit. They were sloppy against Washington — “You create your own luck, and we played like crap,” coach Nick Sirianni said — but maybe they were due for such a performance. More concerning is their growing list of injuries to important players.

» READ MORE: Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert expected to miss significant time with shoulder injury

Without rookie defensive tackle Jordan Davis, the Eagles have a defense that right now is as soft as marzipan against the run, and without slot cornerback Avonte Maddox, they are thin in the secondary — a fact that Heinicke and Terry McLaurin exploited frequently Monday. Then came the revelation early Tuesday afternoon that Dallas Goedert will miss several games because his shoulder was damaged when Commanders linebacker Jamin Davis — in a totally clean play that was in no way an obvious penalty to anyone watching Monday’s game, let alone to the officials just a few feet away — yanked him to the ground by the face mask.

Those injuries are indeed worrying. But they should not be crippling to a team that won its first eight games, that still has its starting quarterback and its starting tailback and its two starting wide receivers and its five starting offensive linemen, and that could have and arguably should have won Monday despite its litany of mistakes. And they certainly shouldn’t be crippling against the Eagles’ next opponent.

Sure, the Colts have Jonathan Taylor, who led the NFL in rushing last season. But the Colts also have Jeff Saturday, who has less than two weeks of NFL coaching experience, running the show for them. And they have a past-his-prime Matt Ryan at quarterback. And they don’t have the luxury this week of playing the Las Vegas Raiders, who apparently took a look at the recent tumult surrounding the Commanders and the Colts and said to themselves, Dysfunction? What do you all know about dysfunction? We will show you dysfunction!

Even with all the issues arising out of that Washington loss, the Eagles should win Sunday, and everyone should expect them to win Sunday. And if they don’t win Sunday, then and only then will it be appropriate to reassess the expectations that had been building around this team since the offseason. For now, it’s right to view Monday’s result as what educators and politicians like to call a “teachable moment,” a chance for the Eagles to reevaluate themselves under a harsher glare, to sharpen habits that had grown dull and rote.

“My message this morning before the game ironically was, ‘Hungry dogs run faster,’” Jalen Hurts said. “When you win, they say it’s hard to keep the hunger, and I think this team is in a position to dictate on how we want to respond to this adversity, this obstacle in our way. What is done is done. So there is a ‘What now?’ mentality, and I know my mentality moving forward. I know my attention to detail in terms of my preparation and how that will look moving forward. I know my eagerness to play to the standard moving forward. I know what that is. I know how this team will respond, and I have confidence in this football team.”

» READ MORE: Good news for the Eagles: Their next two foes are the NFL’s latest, biggest embarrassments

There was nothing wrong with Hurts’ words or the atmosphere among his teammates after Monday’s loss. The Eagles are 8-1. It was inevitable that they were going to have a bad game, and they had one. It doesn’t have to be anything more than that, and it won’t be if they do what they’re supposed to do this Sunday, if they beat a lesser team. Save the panic for a later date … next Monday at the earliest.