A heavy focus of what’s up next for the Eagles is going to be the challenge of facing Aaron Rodgers, but Green Bay is 3-0 thanks largely to its defense, which has allowed just three touchdowns in three games. The Packers defense, which is coordinated by old friend Mike Pettine, sacked Joe Flacco six times on Sunday and forced the Broncos to commit three turnovers.

There was a lot of grumbling in the Eagles’ locker room following Sunday’s loss to the Lions. Despite all of the mistakes, the Birds still had a chance to win at the end. If they have a similar performance Thursday up in Lambeau, they’ll lose by four touchdowns. “It’s like we were playing two teams,” Eagles tackle Lane Johnson said. “We were playing ourselves and the Detroit Lions.”

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— Ed Barkowitz (earlybirds@inquirer.com)

The only sack recorded by an Eagles defensive lineman in the three games this year was by Tim Jernigan in the opener. Here, Brandon Graham can't get a grip on Detroit's Matthew Stafford.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
The only sack recorded by an Eagles defensive lineman in the three games this year was by Tim Jernigan in the opener. Here, Brandon Graham can't get a grip on Detroit's Matthew Stafford.

No time for tears

The way the Eagles locker room is set up at Lincoln Financial Field, the offensive players are on one side of the room, the defensive players are on the other. It’s like that in every room in the NFL.

On the one side, offensive rookies Miles Sanders and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside stood tall explaining their mistakes in Sunday’s loss to the Lions. “I’ve got to be better. I will be better. That’s a play I’ve got to make. I’m really disappointed.” That kind of thing.

On the other, defensive leader Malcolm Jenkins, who was nearly a hero with a blocked field goal late in the fourth quarter, was asked about the first-year players. Sanders had two receptions of better than 30 yards, but also had a costly fumble. Arcega-Whiteside failed to make the touchdown grab that could have won the game. JJAW had one catch for 10 yards.

“You just gotta be tough,” Jenkins said. “In this city, the way the media is, we’re going to hear everything about how bad we are and how big this Thursday’s game is. All of those different things that create pressure and create unnecessary distractions. But at the end of the day, it’s still football.”

(Wait a minute. We may have dropped a dangling participle, but we didn’t drop any passes.)

Jenkins then made the point that this Thursday’s game at Green Bay can’t get here soon enough.

“The faster that we get to move on to something else, the better,” said Jenkins, who made a social justice statement with his postgame wardrobe. “We don’t have to sit around and wallow in our sorrows and feel bad for ourselves. We’ve got a game in a couple of days. On to the next.”

To be clear, Jenkins wasn’t signaling out the rookies or anyone else for the numerous foibles that prevented the Eagles from winning a very winnable game. Anybody seen the D-line? Yo. Dallas Goedert, make a play.

“There are plays out there that I look at that I’ll want back,” said Jenkins, sporting a T-shirt reading a “Protect Kids. Not Guns.” message. “I missed a sack, and had a block in the back [flag] on the blocked field goal.”

Jenkins said he’d have to look at the tape before commenting on that critical penalty.

Consider this

In the 2017 Super Bowl season, kicker Jake Elliott kicked a 61-yard field goal at the buzzer in Week 3 that was the difference between the Eagles being 2-1 as opposed to 1-2. It gave the fellas some hefty momentum and started a nine-game winning streak.

In 2019′s third game, they committed two turnovers, gave up a 100-yard kickoff return and had at least six dropped passes. They are 1-2, not 2-1. Their win was by five points. Their two losses by seven combined.

“It’s a simple formula. We’re a talented team. We’re in every game,” Jenkins explained. “What’s the smallest margin for error? It’s taking care of the football, being sound on special teams and keeping big plays off the defense. If we do any one of those things, we could be 3-0. If we keep [making mistakes], we’ll keep dropping games.”

Movin’ on up

Zach Ertz had a modest day with four catches for 54 yards, but it was enough to move him into second place for most receptions in Eagles history.

Ertz (454) passed Pete Retzlaff (452) and now trails only Harold Carmichael (589). It took Retzlaff 132 games for his career total. Ertz on Sunday played in game No. 94.

At his career pace of about five catches per game, Ertz will pass Carmichael next season.

Zach Ertz leaps over Detroit defensive back Quandre Diggs after catching a pass in the second quarter.
DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Zach Ertz leaps over Detroit defensive back Quandre Diggs after catching a pass in the second quarter.

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