Good morning. The Eagles return to the NovaCare Complex today to start preparing for their Week 8 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and offensive coordinator Mike Groh have news conferences beginning at 2:15 p.m.
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— Zach Berman
The Eagles are 3-4, but in Doug Pederson's mind, they are not far off from being 5-2. The conversation in Philadelphia would be different right now if they were 5-2.
"We lost the Tennessee game fourth-and-15. We lost yesterday, you could say the fourth-and-10 play. You could almost say the last couple plays of the game," Pederson said Monday. "It's coming down to two, three plays and we're sitting here at 5-2, instead of 3-4. We're only talking about a couple of plays and this thing is different. We're talking a whole another deal."
Pederson wasn't saying they should be 5-2. He was saying how close they are to 5-2.
The problem with that argument, of course, is that the Eagles are also two plays away from 1-6. Atlanta's Matt Ryan and Indianapolis' Andrew Luck both had chances to win the game at the goal line. The Eagles defense made stops. That's the reality of the NFL. It's rare for the Eagles to have a stretch like they did last season in which they dominate opponents. Most games are close.
Look at Pederson's first season. The Eagles finished 7-9, but they were undone by close games. A few more plays go in their direction, and they win 10 or 11 games and Pederson is a coach of the year candidate. They're judged on their record, and the Eagles aren't doing enough to close out games this year. Unless that changes, their 2018 season will look like their 2016 season.
Let’s start with two newcomers in the starting lineup. Dexter McDougle was unemployed when Week 7 started. By Sunday, he played 81 percent of the defensive snaps as the slot cornerback. And Treyvon Hester, who was on the practice squad at the beginning of the month, started at defensive tackle and played 58 percent of the snaps. That wasn’t part of the Eagles' defensive plan when the season opened.
Brandon Graham took the most snaps among the defensive ends, playing 66 percent. The Eagles barely played base defense. Kamu Grugier-Hill took only 15 percent of the defensive snaps.
On offense, Wendell Smallwood continues to get the most work at running back, playing 52 percent of the offensive snaps. Corey Clement played 37 percent of the snaps and Josh Adams got more work than last week, playing 12 percent of the snaps. The Eagles continued playing a lot of two-tight end sets, with Dallas Goedert taking 55 percent of the offensive snaps. Jordan Matthews, the No. 3 wide receiver, played 43 percent of the offensive snaps.
The Dallas Cowboys traded a first-round pick to the Oakland Raiders for wide receiver Amari Cooper, a blockbuster deal that gives the Cowboys the No. 1 wide receiver they've lacked. It was a steep price – the NFL Network reported that the Eagles offered a second-round pick – and it was especially steep given that Cooper will soon require a new contract. But Cooper is nonetheless an intriguing talent. He was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2015 draft and topped 1,000 receiving yards in his first two seasons before struggling the past season and a half. He's still only 24, so if he stays in Dallas, he's someone the Eagles must contend with for years to come. Cooper had a 63-yard touchdown against the Eagles in Week 16 last season.