I DON'T THINK any reporters who cover the Eagles know Jason Peters well. It's kind of odd, given that Peters has made the Pro Bowl as an Eagle six times, as much as Donovan McNabb did, but the best left tackle in franchise history makes himself available in the locker room sporadically, and he doesn't make small talk.
Over the years, Peters has been revered as an Eagles cornerstone, first for Andy Reid, then for Chip Kelly. His judgments, when offered, have been taken as gospel. Peters isn't one to try to drown the truth in a torrent of rationalizations or excuses.
So what to make of a source close to the situation confirming Sunday that Peters took himself out of the final throes of the Birds' 38-24 loss to Washington Saturday night, because he "didn't want the risk of getting hurt for a team that is not going to the playoffs"?
The source was confirming a report by Fox 29's Howard Eskin.
Peters has spent this season limping in and out of games, his play in steep decline. He was given an eighth career Pro Bowl berth last week but made no comment about it, perhaps realizing the honor was based more on reputation than his 2015 play. Is he bitter and embarrassed over how he has played - Washington rookie Preston Smith beat him for two sacks Saturday, and he was whistled twice for penalties - or is Peters yet another veteran, soon to be discarded, who doesn't believe in Chip Kelly's methods and strategies?
So much of what Kelly did last offseason was designed to create a team-first atmosphere, a group of players who bought in wholeheartedly. Kelly continued his purge of Reid-era stalwarts, often failing to replace them with comparable talent.
But there is no such thing as a losing team with a healthy, winning culture, as we have learned through all the awkwardness of the DeMarco Murray demotion, the exasperation of true-blue team leader Malcolm Jenkins over the lack of accountability in some areas (Kiko Alonso?), and now, with this.
Peters suffered a hyperextended elbow early, the team source said, but Peters was healthy enough to play down the stretch. Peters did not seek further treatment for his elbow after the game or on Sunday, the source said.
Peters turns 34 next month. Given his $9.3 million cap hit, vs. a $3 million charge to release him in 2016, even before this, it seemed likely he would be cut or at least be asked to take less money as the Eagles look to rebuild their crumbling o-line.
If Peters doesn't want to play for Kelly anymore, that might hasten his release. Or it might force team chairman Jeffrey Lurie to seriously ponder the pattern of Kelly's relationships with talented players.
When we last heard from the chairman, more than three months ago, he was still vigorously endorsing Kelly and waving away the complaints of traded or released Eagles.
"People say things sometimes when they're in a sense, quote-unquote, rejected," Lurie said then. "They get dejected because they're rejected, and then they say things. I know the way Chip is and I'm very proud of the way he is."
In a week or so, we'll see how true that still is.
It kind of got lost in the Saturday night carnage, but Sam Bradford clearing up what he should have made clear when asked about it more than a week earlier was as reassuring as Bradford's career-high 380-yard passing night against Washington.
"I want to be back here," said Bradford, who has completed 145 of 220 passes for 1,639 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions over his last six starts, in which he has a 94.9 passer rating. "Obviously, we are not at the stage where we have been talking about that, but if it does present itself and I do have the opportunity, then this is where I want to be."
Bradford can be a free agent this offseason, if the Eagles don't sign him or apply the franchise tag.
Not sure the loss of corner Byron Maxwell (SC joint sprain) had any impact whatsoever. Most of the Washington passing damage was done between the numbers, against linebackers, safeties or E.J. Biggers in a slot role. Eric Rowe and Jaylen Watkins handled a lot of the outside work and held up very well, especially Rowe . . . Beau Allen notched four solo tackles in his first career start, for injured Bennie Logan (calf) . . . Riley Cooper's almost-42-yard-catch was the only time he was targeted . . . Twenty-two of DeSean Jackson's 40 receiving yards came on one catch, on the drive just before halftime that netted no points because Kirk Cousins took a knee with six seconds left and no timeouts.
DEVELOPING STORYLINES * That was a lovely Sam Bradford throw down the left sideline to Jordan Matthews on third-and-8, 43 yards to the Washington 35, Eagles down 13-7 late in the first quarter. Less lovely was the 6-yard loss on a telegraphed pitch to Darren Sproles two plays later, followed by a third-down sack and hold courtesy of Jason Peters. No points on the drive. * Along the same lines, Fletcher Cox, credited with five solo tackles, two sacks and three hurries, forced a Kirk Cousins third-and-10 throwaway from the Washington end zone, with 4:26 remaining in the second quarter. Down just 13-10, the Eagles were going to get the ball back with good field position so they could . . . fumble it away after a Zach Ertz catch at midfield, the ball returned to the Birds' 35, setting up the Washington field goal that made it 16-10. Yeah. * On third-and-13 after the 42-yard Riley Cooper catch that wasn't - Cooper said his concentration broke because he thought he'd broken his foot being tackled - No. 10 in midnight green sped across the formation, caught a short pass and turned upfield. Could DeSean produce a game-breaking . . . never mind, that's Jonathan Krause now. He gained 7 yards and the Eagles punted. * Washington converted third-and-long three times on that 11-play, 54-yard drive that gave the visitors a 23-10 lead. The first conversion, a 17-yard completion to Pierre Garcon on third-and-10, was helped by an egregious uncalled hold of Vinny Curry by Morgan Moses, which gave Kirk Cousins time to make the throw, but the second and third were just bad coverage by Kiko Alonso, including the TD.
That "Kiko Alonso" was a Spanish phrase meaning "where fans' hopes go to die."
The Eagles have given up a franchise-record 34 touchdown passes this season, which equals their offensive TD total - they have 21 by the pass, 13 by the run.