1) In 2014, the Eagles' special teams were the best in the NFL. They set a league record with seven special teams touchdowns, including three on blocked punts.
The unit has not been playing at that level this season. The kicking game has been inconsistent, and they've allowed two blocked punts. But after a sterling performance against the New England Patriots that included a punt return touchdown and a blocked punt for a touchdown, they're finally being recognized again. Eagles coach Chip Kelly said he's seen the group trending upward in recent weeks.
"I've seen our teams play really well and been surprised that we had not had as much success as we had the other night," Kelly said. "Obviously what we did was outstanding, but I think our teams have played well at times and I think some guys -- I look a [WR Seyi Ajirotutu] playing against the Lions, he played outstanding against the Lions, did a great job. I think our gunners have done a great job. I think our punt group in terms of covering kicks has done a really good job.
"So did I think we were going to block a kick for a touchdown and return a punt for a touchdown against a really good special teams? No, we don't go that far, but I think our group as a whole, we've got a bunch of guys – Najee [Goode] who scored, [Chris] Maragos, [Bryan] Braman, Tutu, [Trey] Burton – that take a lot of pride in what they are doing out there, have trained at a really high level and are playing at a really high level."
Kelly also singled out four players: Riley Cooper, E.J. Biggers, Brent Celek, and Ed Reynolds. They are players with roles on offense and defense who want to contribute on special teams.
"Usually when guys are playing prominent roles on either offense or defense, they want off of special teams," Kelly said. "Those guys want on special teams."
2) Malcolm Jenkins was outspoken one week ago when talking about accountability in the locker room. On Sunday, Jenkins backed it up with a big game – including an interception return for a touchdown. Jenkins said he only spoke for himself, although it lends more credibility when he steps up after speaking out.
"I feel like I play better when I am coached harder, and when you start to play at a high level and you are one of the leaders, a lot of the time you don't get coached as hard as some of the rookies or some of the guys that aren't your main guys because they expect you to know it, they expect you to kind of correct yourself," Jenkins said. "But, I am human, too, and can let some things slip, so I think my coach definitely challenged me all week. You know that I was going to have a huge match up and have to play a big part in this game for us to have success."
3) After Dallas beat Washington on Monday, the Eagles are now tied for first place in the NFC East at 5-7. It's an unlikely position considering their record, but the Eagles have a lot of their control of their postseason prospects because they play both Washington and New York in Week 17. Seven or eight wins could potentially secure a playoff bid.
It reminds quarterback Sam Bradford of his rookie year. The Seahawks won the NFC West at 7-9, and there was a quasi-division championship in Week 17 between the 7-8 Rams and the 6-9 Seahawks.
"And then Seattle beat New Orleans the first round after going 7-9," Bradford said. "But it's a very similar situation to my rookie year."