Good morning, Eagles fans! The last two games have been brutal, but there is hope on the horizon. The 5-6 Eagles have the NFL’s easiest schedule over the last five games, in terms of won-loss records for their opponents, and control their own destiny in the NFC East. They don’t have to win all five games to clinch the division title, however. Considering how they’ve looked for most of the season, it’s possible they won’t win out. But the 6-5 Cowboys have a tougher remaining schedule and haven’t exactly been giant killers (except, of course, for those lowly New York Giants).

First up are the 2-9 Dolphins in Miami Sunday. It’ll be the last time the Eagles have to board a plane for a game this regular season. The Eagles began preparations in earnest Tuesday, a day earlier than normal because of Thanksgiving. Carson Wentz and the offense were shorthanded Sunday against the Seahawks, but help is on the way. Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks are expected to be back on the right side of the line. And receivers Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor are trending toward returning. Running back Jordan Howard seems further out, but rookie Miles Sanders has fared well in his place.

There is still a lot of uncertainty about whether the Eagles can salvage the season, but the woeful Dolphins should help them rebound. If not, it might be time to start looking forward to spring training.

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Jeff McLane (earlybirds@inquirer.com)

The Cardinals' Jordan Hicks (58), a former Eagle, and Budda Baker (32) celebrate a sack of the Giants' Daniel Jones in October.
Adam Hunger / AP
The Cardinals' Jordan Hicks (58), a former Eagle, and Budda Baker (32) celebrate a sack of the Giants' Daniel Jones in October.

What’s up with the players the Eagles decided not to bring back for 2019?

Every offseason, the Eagles have to make decisions about which players to keep and which not to keep. Some are more difficult than others. There have been times when they’ve moved on from a player only to see him thrive elsewhere, but the Eagles have long done a better job than most teams of knowing when to cut the cord.

Here’s a look at some of the more prominent players from 2018 the Eagles decided to not bring back, whether it was before offseason workouts in April, or in September after training camp, and how they’ve fared with other teams, if they’re even playing at all:

  • Josh Adams. The Eagles’ leading rusher from a year ago was released just before the season. The New York Jets signed him to their practice squad and called him up to their 53-man roster three weeks ago. Adams has played some special teams, a little on offense, and has eight carries for 12 yards.
  • Michael Bennett. The former Pro Bowl defensive end recorded nine sacks for the Eagles last season, but he was traded along with a seventh-round draft pick to the Patriots in March for a fifth-rounder. Bennett played sparingly in New England and was eventually suspended for a game after an altercation with an assistant. He was traded to the Cowboys and has three sacks and seven quarterback hits in four games. Overall, he has 5½ sacks on the season.
  • Nick Foles. The Super Bowl LII MVP was released from his contract in February and signed by the Jaguars. Foles broke his collarbone in the season opener and missed the next eight games. He’s been underwhelming since he returned two weeks ago, and Jacksonville has lost both games by a combined score of 75-33.
  • Shelton Gibson. The Eagles’ 2017 fifth-round draft pick, who made little impact in two seasons, was waived/injured before the season. He was signed by the Browns to their practice squad on Sept. 1 and has remained there since.
  • Corey Graham. The veteran safety returned to the Eagles last year rather than retire. Maybe he should have chosen the latter. He apparently did this offseason as he’s no longer on an NFL roster.
  • Chris Long. Under contract for another season, he retired when he said it became clear that he wouldn’t have a significant role on the 2019 team. The Eagles actually reached out to Long after Malik Jackson suffered a season-ending injury in September, and a return appeared imminent. But after a conversation with defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, Long told the team that he would stay retired.
  • Jordan Hicks. The free-agent linebacker signed a four-year, $34 million contract with the Cardinals. Most fans seemed to accept Hicks’ departure, not because he wasn’t a good player, but for all his injuries. But he has managed to stay healthy this season and leads the NFL in tackles with 111 and has notched 1½ sacks, eight tackles for loss, three interceptions, six passes defensed, and two forced fumbles.
  • Haloti Ngata. He retired in March. Some might have thought he had called it quits a year earlier.
  • Wendell Smallwood. The running back was the only cut-down day castoff to be claimed off waivers. Smallwood has played in all 11 games for the Redskins. He’s played some special teams and a little on offense. He has 17 carries for 72 yards and nine catches for 64 yards.
  • Tre Sullivan. He was released in August and failed to catch on with another NFL team. Last month, the safety was selected by the D.C. Defenders in the XFL draft.
  • Golden Tate. The veteran receiver signed a four-year, $37.5 million deal with the Giants in March. He was suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL’s banned-substance policy. Since returning, he’s caught 36 passes for 450 yards and four touchdowns in seven games.
  • Mike Wallace. He ended his brief Eagles career with zero catches in two games. Wallace isn’t on an NFL roster.
  • Chance Warmack. A Jeff Stoutland project, Warmack never quite delivered for the Eagles offensive line coach. He, too, isn’t employed by an NFL team.
  • Stefen Wisniewski. Released before the season, the offensive lineman signed with the Chiefs last month. A reserve, Wisniewski has played only 63 offensive snaps in six games.
  • Paul Worrilow. He couldn’t get healthy enough after anterior cruciate ligament surgery and was released by the Eagles in August. They worked him out a few times during the season, but it was the New York Jets who signed him earlier this month. Worrilow has played special teams in one game.
Doug Pederson (left) and offensive coordinator Mike Groh talk during the fourth quarter against the Bears earlier this month.
DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer / File Photograph
Doug Pederson (left) and offensive coordinator Mike Groh talk during the fourth quarter against the Bears earlier this month.

What you need to know about the Eagles

From the mailbag

Hey, Jeff! Do you think Lincoln Financial Field will one day host a Super Bowl? Happy Thanksgiving! — Nick Peters (@PrinceSnivy24) via Twitter

Hey, Nick! Thanks for the question. I like the change of pace. I don’t foresee the Linc ever hosting a Super Bowl, but never say never. There was a recent Super Bowl played in an open-air stadium, cold weather city — at MetLife Stadium — but that may have been a one-shot deal. While the game was played in North Jersey, New York was basically the host, and let’s face it, Philly isn’t New York in terms of pedigree and for hosting a major event like the Super Bowl.

Rogel Goodell also seemed intent on making the New York thing happen, partly because he got the Giants and Jets to build a new stadium, but also because he’s close with Giants owner John Mara. The NFL lucked out, too, because the weather was great for the entire week.

The Eagles have thrown their hat in the ring a few times, but owner Jeffrey Lurie and Don Smolenski know it’s a long shot. I don’t know Philadelphia’s hotel situation, but you need a ton of rooms for all the media, fans, and NFL personnel that descend on the city. You also need two state-of-the-art practice facilities, although the Eagles have one, and I guess Temple’s new facility could house one team.

My guess is that if the NFL were to hold another Super Bowl in a northern city with an open-air stadium it would be in Chicago. For the record, the next five games are scheduled to be played at Miami (2020), Tampa (2021), Los Angeles (2022), Phoenix (2023), and New Orleans (2024).