Note: Look for Early Birds for information, insight, and observations from the Eagles' locker room on philly.com every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
1) After going a perfect 4 for 4 in the red zone in Mark Sanchez's first start, the Eagles are 5 of 16 in Sanchez's last three games. That's a concerning number, especially if the Eagles find themselves in close games late in the season and the playoffs. Coach Chip Kelly has made the point often – they cannot settle for three points when seven points are possible. Sanchez put the onus on his shoulders.
"We just had some missed opportunities," Sanchez said. "There's a couple throws that have got to be on the money, we've got to hit our landmarks, and there's a couple plays on first and second down where we could have gotten some positive yards, even if it's a scramble for two yards or lunging forward on a run, or getting an underneath completion instead of throwing the ball away where you're getting to 3rd and short and get into a position where you can get a first down – not necessarily score, but get a first down and get four more chances. So I think we missed on a couple of those. It starts with me and I've got to get better at that."
The Eagles are No. 29 in the NFL in red-zone offense. The Seahawks have the 28th-ranked red zone defense. Points could be precious on Sunday, so that will be a key area to watch.
2) Speaking of precious points, safety Malcolm Jenkins said the Eagles' defense cannot expect the offense to carry them against the Seahawks. The Eagles have scored at least 24 points in every win since Kelly became head coach. They are averaging 34.9 points in wins this season. The Seahawks have not allowed 35 points since December 2010.
"I don't go into it thinking we have to win the game, but there is difference when our offense goes up against any other defense and our offense goes up against Seattle's defense," Jenkins said. "You do realize this is probably going to be a defensive struggle. We don't expect our offense to go in and put up 35 points on this defense."
In the past three weeks, the Seahawks have allowed a combined 26 points. The most points Seattle has allowed this season is 30. The Chargers and Cowboys both reached that total in wins over the Seahawks.
"We'll do our part, our offense will do theirs," Jenkins said, "and we'll see where we stand."
3) Expect Andrew Gardner to remain at right guard this season. Gardner, a five-year veteran, had never started a game before this season. He entered the lineup at right tackle in Week 2 after Allen Barbre's injury. Gardner was inconsistent in that role during two starts.
When Todd Herremans was placed on injured reserve last month, the Eagles preferred Matt Tobin at right guard over Gardner. But Tobin sustained a concussion, opening an opportunity for Gardner. LeSean McCoy has rushed for consecutive 100-yard games with Gardner at that spot.
"We think he's playing well," offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. "He does a good job in the run game. He's got an ability where he can stick on blocks. He doesn't splash off blocks, so when he gets to the second level, he can latch onto blocks pretty well, and then I think he's got pretty decent instincts in terms of pass protection and passing off twists. Again, he's been in there at right guard for a few weeks, and I think he'll only get better as he continues to work there with [T] Lane [Johnson] and [C Jason] Kelce."
Tobin is active each week and is the Eagles' top reserve at guard and tackle. Dennis Kelly, who has also started at guard this season, is usually inactive.