The Philadelphia Eagles still control their own destiny, but they are running out of time to clinch the No. 1 seed. Their magic number is stuck on one game following a 20-10 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. It was the ugliest the offense has looked all season, bumbling and stumbling behind backup quarterback Gardner Minshew.
The Eagles committed eight penalties, including six infractions on their vaunted offensive line. Left guard Landon Dickerson was flagged for a controversial holding call that negated a touchdown. (The refs actually blamed Dickerson for a Jordan Mailata miscue). Center Jason Kelce was called for an illegal man down the field penalty. And the O-line racked up three false starts on a single drive late in the third quarter. It was an uncharacteristically miserable day for the guys in the trenches.
Kelce, the heart and soul of everything, blamed himself for communication issues along the offensive line. He apologized to Gardner Minshew after the game, then vowed to watch the game tape and correct the mistakes.
“Angry and disappointed are the two big ones,” Kelce said. “Angry that we had an opportunity today and we didn’t play up to our standard and disappointed in the outcome for sure. It starts with me. It was not good communication on my end. Physically, I’m fine. I’ll be interested to see what the tape looks like.”
When asked about the positives – mainly that the Eagles can still clinch the top seed in the NFC with a win next week – Kelce replied: “I could give two f**** about clinching first place or seeding. We’ve got to get a lot of things fixed.”
The Eagles need a victory next week to secure the NFC East crown and home-field advantage throughout the postseason. Lose to the New York Giants and they could drop all the way down to the No. 5 seed. Worse yet, the Dallas Cowboys could steal both the NFC East title and the NFC’s top seed. The team with the best record in football for the majority of the year has dug themselves a deep hole.
“You never want to get too up or get too down,” head coach Nick Sirianni said. “All our goals are in front of us. Anytime you lose a game, anytime you didn’t perform the way you think you should perform you’re going to be upset. You’re going to be humbled. That’s not a bad thing. You go back to work and you learn from it.”
Sirianni Comments on Jalen Hurts’ Status
All eyes will be on the injured right shoulder of Jalen Hurts this week at practice. The dual-threat quarterback was almost cleared for action against New Orleans, but the team decided to err on the side of caution and let him rest up. Sirianni wouldn’t commit to Hurts being the starter in Week 18 during his post-game press conference, although it seems like a foregone conclusion.
“He was close this week, obviously we’ll take it one day at a time,” Sirianni said. “For me to say right now that, yeah Jalen is playing or no he’s not playing is not fair to anyone. Because so many things can happen in a week and we’re going to have to evaluate everything and see where he is.
“Nothing changes in that aspect of it. His health is the number one priority. And not putting him in a position that is going to risk his health, so we’ll evaluate that as the week goes. And obviously if he’s ready he’s going to play.”
The Eagles need their undisputed leader back just as much for mental support as they do for his physical abilities.
“Jalen’s been playing really good football the entire year,” Sirianni said. “He’s one of our better players, and he’s the leader of our football team. Again, we’ll see what happens and obviously it’ll be good to have him back because of the type of person and the type of leader he is.”
Injury Update on Josh Sweat’s Scary Neck Issue
Josh Sweat left Sunday’s game with 9:31 showing in the first quarter. He crashed down hard as he was trying to tackle Saints fullback Adam Prentice. His teammates rushed over from the sideline to lend their support as the Pro Bowler was loaded into a stretcher and carted off the field. Later, the Eagles announced that Sweat had been transported to a local hospital where he had full movement of his extremities. Sweat is out indefinitely with a neck injury.
Sweat was going to be released from the hospital on Sunday night, according to a team spokesperson. Fletcher Cox told reporters that the fun-loving defensive end flashed everyone a smile underneath his helmet right before he was carted off the field. Hopefully, Sweat is about to return for the playoffs.