The Eagles this week are in one of those places that can rattle the nerves of Philadelphia fans. Having defeated unbeaten Green Bay on the road last Thursday in what was as close to a must win as the early season produces, Philadelphia is now confronted by one of those dangerous in-between games. The Eagles will face the winless New York Jets at home, a week before another significant road game, at Minnesota. If there’s anyone out there who doesn’t expect the Eagles to arrive in Minneapolis with a 3-2 record, raise your hand now. The Eagles themselves, of course, insist they are far from overconfident. “I don’t look at nobody lightly,” said wideout Alshon Jeffery. “Everybody’s in the NFL. They’re a professional team and they have pride.”
— Frank Fitzpatrick (firstname.lastname@example.org)
As Isaac Seumalo slowly traversed an Eagles locker-room path Thursday afternoon, one narrowed by empty chairs and strewn football shoes, that great mass of hair flared out from his head like condor wings.
Entering the fourth game of his third season, the Eagles guard finds himself in a position that brings to mind his untamed coiffure. Somehow, the ability that made him a third-round pick in 2017 has to be untangled from the inconsistency that’s knotted up his young career.
“There’s only one way to get better week to week,” Seumalo said as the Eagles prepared for Sunday’s game with the Jets, a winless team that nonetheless has the fifth-best rush defense in the NFL, “and that’s to work hard every day in practice.”
In Philadelphia’s ugly Week 2 loss to Atlanta, he resurrected some of the doubts that surfaced following his early-season benching as a rookie. Seumalo had the kind of game that can cost a starter his job.
A one-man wrecking crew, he was responsible for two sacks, six QB hits or hurries and was whistled for three penalties — two holds and a false start.
Since then he seems to have regained some balance and confidence and at least began to justify the Eagles’ decision to let Stefan Wisniewski, the man who replaced him two years ago, walk.
That improvement was especially evident in last Thursday’s win at Green Bay when he and the rest of the O-line helped the Eagles rush for 176 yards and didn’t allow quarterback Carson Wentz to be sacked.
“He bounced back,” Doug Pederson said afterward of Seumalo. “He had a really good game.”
Peterson and offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland are hoping that rebound reflects a growing consistency, an attribute born of experience and of recognizing and correcting mistakes.
“In that particular game he could have done some things better,” said Stoutland of the Atlanta loss. “But I love the way he learns from experience … and takes it to next game. That only made him better. Believe me, our players have a lot of respect and a lot of confidence in Isaac and his game.”
If Seumalo is feeling better about himself, so is his offensive linemate Jason Kelce. The Eagles’ Pro Bowl center was back at practice Thursday after skipping out early Wednesday to be present at the birth of his first child.
A daughter, Wyatt Elizabeth Kelce, was born Wednesday evening and weighed 8 pounds, 6 ounces, three pounds more than her 6-foot-3, 282-pound dad did at birth.
“It was a really great delivery. Mom and baby are healthy,” said Kelce, who wore a black T-shirt inscribed with the words, “The Dad Abides.”
The timing and circumstances worked out well for the Eagles. Had the birth come this weekend, Kelce might have missed the Jets game. And had this been baseball, he’d have been entitled to three days of paternity leave.
“I don’t know about any of that,” he said. “But it was an incredible moment. I was reminded by my dad of a story of when my brother was born two years after I was. One of the nurses in the waiting room asked me, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ I said, ‘I want to be a dad.’ So it’s kind of come full circle.”
What’s with DeSean Jackson’s injury? Will he play Sunday against the Jets?
— Mike Tomasso, Spring City