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Brandon Graham says Eagles need to buckle down in practice so mistakes don’t carry over to games | Early Birds

After the loss to the Giants, Doug Pederson said he thought the week of preparation had gone well. But Graham and Darius Slay did not share that perception.

Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham says the Birds have to do better at practice to start winning some games.
Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham says the Birds have to do better at practice to start winning some games.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

Greetings, Eagles faithful. The team started practicing Wednesday toward Sunday’s game at the 6-3 Cleveland Browns, the start of a stretch of five games against teams that are a combined 32-13. The Eagles have not beaten a team that currently has a winning record, so you can see how this might be a problem.

One of the Eagles’ most revered leaders, defensive end Brandon Graham, said Wednesday that the Eagles have to practice better, with more attention to detail, in order to play better.

More on that in a minute, but first, if you like what you’re reading, tell your friends it’s free to sign up here​. I want to know what you think, what we should add, and what you want to read, so send me feedback by email or on Twitter @lesbowen.

Les Bowen (earlybirds@inquirer.com)

Practice makes perfect?

Brandon Graham was asked Wednesday what has to happen for the Eagles to break the cycle of mistakes and penalties that doomed them against the Giants.

“I think it starts definitely with practice,” Graham said. “Some of the stuff showing up out there, if we’re being real with ourselves, is happening in practice — people jumping offside, pre-snap penalties, false starts, people dropping balls, us not getting off the rock. So it’s all just stuff we need to hone in on, like, as a team, and I think we’re doing a good job addressing that elephant in the room.”

Graham said that nine games into the season, the 3-5-1 Eagles can’t just keep telling themselves “everything is gonna be all right.”

“We’re at the point where we know that stuff is affecting us, and we got to clean that up,” he said.

Corner Darius Slay agreed that practice last week was “kind of up and down, up and down,” and that the Eagles know they have to tighten up this week.

This is all pretty interesting in light of Doug Pederson’s postgame comments, in which he said he was surprised by the sloppiness, because the team “had a good week of preparation.”

Carson rallies team

Underlining the seriousness with which the Eagles are addressing their situation, Slay said Carson Wentz addressed the team Wednesday, “letting us know … we’re all here together. He’s going to give us his best effort, just like we need to, also.

“We’re just going to keep fighting. I’m always willing to fight.”

Slay said Wentz was “just making sure we know” that the Eagles are better than their record.

What you need to know about the Eagles

  1. Jeff McLane, our answer to Pauline Kael, has looked at the film and wants to know why the Eagles can’t emphasize their running game more.

  2. Paul Domowitch ponders whether the Eagles have any hope of shutting down Cleveland’s exceptional running game.

  3. Carson Wentz coddled? Doug Pederson says this is not the case.

  4. EJ Smith wrote about the NFL’s new coronavirus protocols.

  5. EJ also looked into the comfort zone between Wentz and his receivers.

From the mailbag

“Any tips for reasons to watch a team that is so obviously headed in the wrong direction? I was enjoying Mailata’s development and Fulgham’s emergence, but Jason Peters and Alshon Jeffery just don’t have the same draw.” — TGMP96210311, via Twitter.

Short answer, TG, is no.

But you bring up a topic that is going to take center stage after a few more losses. Looking at a stretch of five successive games against teams with winning records, the Eagles are going to have to win some of these, become real contenders, in order for Doug Pederson to justify playing veterans we all know won’t be here next season over developing younger players. Wednesday, Pederson even mentioned Alshon Jeffery when asked why Travis Fulgham’s production dropped so dramatically against the Giants. (I would never have admitted that. It’s like hanging a big sign on yourself saying “FEEL FREE TO SECOND-GUESS ME, STEP RIGHT UP!”)

If the Eagles get to, say, 3-7-1, I don’t care what’s happening with the rest of the NFC East, it’s time to recalibrate. If Pederson can’t see that, I believe he might hasten his demise.