Eagles Looking to Build Off Positives
It has not been the season for the Eagles many had hoped for following the team's hot 3-0 start, but there has been a few things to look at as the Eagles get ready to finish out the season this Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.
Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz seemed to be happy with the play of his unit over the past few weeks, especially since the Bengals game, where the effort of the team was questioned by many fans. Following the way the Eagles defense played in Cincinnati, many wondered how the Eagles defense would close out the season, and they responded with a great effort in a win over the Giants last Thursday night.
While the team doesn't have as many wins as they had hoped for, Schwartz says he is proud of the way his defense has responded to the criticism
"I think our guys do have a lot of pride and they want to go out and find a way to win games," Schwartz explained on Tuesday. "We haven't won enough games this year. There is no grading on the curve as far as, ‘We lost, but our effort is good.’ I would do anything to get a win. I think our guys are the same way. They have each other's backs and they work hard to show that."
"I think Thursday night was a good example of that, Schwartz added. "Getting that touchdown, they played with a lot of emotion and a lot of spirit."
They'll look to build on that effort on Sunday against Dallas.
Meanwhile on the offensive side of the ball, rookie Carson Wentz will be making his final start, meaning he will have started all 16 games this season. That was a big question entering the season, having been hurt both in college and during his one preseason game with the Eagles.
"I think it says a lot about several things," Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. "I think it says a lot about his toughness; it says a lot about his preparation in protection areas; it says a lot about how well the offensive line has played; and I think it says a lot about [the fact] that he has a good internal clock. He's not just a big, strong, athletic guy who is going to get back there and make plays with his legs all the time. He knows to be great in this league and to be great and take us where we want to go, you've got to learn how to play quarterback from the pocket and then let your natural athletic ability take over when something breaks down."
While Wentz seems like he has developed plenty over the course of 16 games, Reich wasn't ready to proclaim wide receiver Nelson Agholor is past the struggles that followed him throughout the 2016 season. Many have wondered if Agholor was ready to "breakout" after catching that 40-yard touchdown against the Giants on Thursday night.
"Obviously it was a nice play," admitted Reich. "It shows his speed. He did a good job. I think the only way to get breakthroughs is to do something over and over again consistently. This league is too tough to be a flash here or there. I think we all know that. Nelson knows that. Every player knows that. You have to do it week in and week out, play in and play out."
"But you take every positive step that comes along as a good step, and that was certainly a good one."
Agholor has been limited him to just 35 catches for 365 and two touchdowns this season. His role with the team moving forward will be something to watch as the Eagles will surely look to upgrade the wide receiver position for 2017, but that doesn't mean the Eagles have given up on Agholor, a former first-round pick, just yet.
"I think going into the year -- each one of us -- you have high expectations," Reich stated. "You have high expectations. I'm sure for all of us, and I’m sure for Nelson included, we would have liked to have won more games and we would have liked to have done better as an offense in a lot of areas. I'm sure each individual player has goals that they want to meet. I would guess that Nelson was saying, ‘Hey, in these areas I've done well, [but I] would have liked to have had a few more big plays, [and] a lot more catches.’ Some of that he has some say over and some of that he doesn't. The ball just didn't go his way at ton."
"Those are the things where you just control what you can control and you play hard. One thing I can say about Nelson, is he practices hard, he plays hard and I still maintain that good things are going to come his way."