Good morning, Eagles fans. Hopefully your 2020 is off to a great start and your resolutions aren’t already abandoned. The Eagles are one day closer to Sunday’s wild-card playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks. The team had a walk-through yesterday, and will hit the practice field again this afternoon.
The Eagles will no doubt be watching the two teams’ regular-season matchup from earlier this season, but a lot has changed. Just ask Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. More on that later.
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An outsider’s perspective
When addressing his players this week, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he makes sure to remind them of what the Eagles achieved two seasons ago.
“They’re a championship team,” Carroll said during a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. “They’ve shown that makeup and I’m sure it comes right from the top.”
With the Eagles and Seahawks set to face off for the second time this season, both sides are rewatching the previous game trying to gain an edge. The only catch: A lot has changed since the Eagles’ 17-9 loss to Seattle on Nov. 24. Greg Ward was getting his first action of the season, Miles Sanders was still developing into a main running back, and Andre Dillard was playing right tackle for the first (and possibly only) time in his career.
What has caught Carroll’s attention is how the Eagles have played during the team’s four-game winning streak to end the regular season, which featured four victories over four division opponents in order to run the table and win the NFC East.
“They’ve really rallied well,” Carroll said. “They’ve played like a championship team down the stretch, and to put together the four games to win it and to ice it with a big win over Dallas, it just shows that their leadership from the coaches on down is really strong. I mean, I really admirably watched them hang tough and put together a great finish to the year.”
The Eagles may be playing better, but their injury situation hasn’t improved since the team’s last meeting at the Linc. Brandon Brooks missed the first game, but is now headed for shoulder surgery after being placed on injured reserve. Lane Johnson also missed the game, and will likely be questionable with a high ankle sprain this time around.
Sanders is dealing with an ankle sprain of his own, and missed practice on Wednesday.
“Some of the names are different, but the style of play and the way Coach called the offense and the defense and how they do their stuff doesn’t look different,” Carroll said. “I don’t know what Miles Sanders’ deal is, but Boston Scott is so much in the same vein, the same style, type of guys who are really exciting football players, they know how to use their guys, so we’re just going to expect them to do as they do.”
What you need to know about the Eagles
Carson Wentz is in unfamiliar ground as the Eagles head into the playoffs, but he doesn’t have the luxury of acting like it, writes Les Bowen.
Even though the Eagles’ secondary has struggled at times since the team last played the Seahawks, the group has confidence in knowing it fared well against Russell Wilson earlier this year.
Josh McCown is on a playoff team for just the second time in his 16-year career, writes Bowen.
The Eagles brought back Shelton Gibson, a former fifth-round pick of the team, on Wednesday. Domowitch details where the wide receiver has been since being released by the Eagles in August.
From the mailbag
The Eagles selected a defensive end in the fourth round in successive years. Who do you expect to make a greater contribution down the road, Josh Sweat or Shareef Miller? And will either reach the level of Derek Barnett? Or even Brandon Graham? — From Scott B., via email.
Good question, Scott. Thanks for e-mailing in. I think Josh Sweat has shown a good amount of potential in his limited role this season, so I’d go with him. Not to say Shareef Miller won’t be a good pro, but we haven’t seen enough of him to this point to really know, just like we didn’t see much from Sweat last year. This season, Sweat has four sacks. It usually takes mid-to-late round picks a few years to show you what they can be.
Another reason I’m going with Sweat, beyond production, is measurables. Brandon Graham is a guy who has overcome not being the biggest, longest guy at his position and is still productive, but Josh Sweat has those physical tools. He’s 6-foot-5, 250 pounds with a 7-foot wingspan. It’s hard to teach that! From what I can tell, Sweat has put in a lot of work to get stronger, and has been healthy this season after concerns about his knee caused his draft stock to fall. I could see him becoming a bigger part of the team’s defensive end rotation in the next season or two.