Eagles look for positives following rare loss
COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Doug Pederson thinks the Philadelphia Eagles could derive some long-term benefits from the short-term pain of their humbling loss in Seattle.
The head coach is also hoping that a week in sunny Southern California will allow the Eagles to regain their winning edge before they face another playoff contender.
The Eagles (10-2) flew down the West Coast after their nine-game winning streak ended with Sunday night’s 24-10 loss to the Seahawks. They’ll spend the next week away from home before their showdown with the Los Angeles Rams (9-3) in a meeting of NFC division leaders.
“It’s hard when you’ve got back-to-back West Coast trips like this, to be able to fly back home and then practice and come back out this way at the end of the week,” Pederson said Monday. “We’ve never really done this before, obviously. But it’ll definitely pay off for us, hopefully in the near future.”
Philadelphia is setting up camp in Orange County, with the team headquartered at a hotel in Costa Mesa that’s only two miles from the Los Angeles Chargers’ new training complex. The Eagles will practice on a full-size football field set up several miles away at Angel Stadium in Anaheim.
And no, die-hard Eagles fan Mike Trout didn’t make these arrangements.
Instead, the Eagles chose to stay out West to avoid those cross-country round trip flights, but also to keep the players’ focus on the final quarter of the regular season. They’re off to an outstanding start, but the Eagles haven’t finished anything yet.
Philadelphia will clinch the NFC East title with one more victory, but is still competing with Minnesota (10-2), the upstart Rams and New Orleans (9-3) for the top overall seed in the NFC postseason and a first-round bye.
“The challenge is we’re trying to eliminate distractions,” Pederson said at the team hotel. “Try to keep the week as normal as possible for the guys, for the coaches. We’ve got a great setup here in the hotel.
“Coaches have offices and workspace to get the work done. Players have got everything they need right here, from treatment, rehab, doctors, medical facilities, all of that.”
The players and coaches have plenty to do after the loss to the Seahawks (8-4), who are also in the hunt for a high playoff seed.
The Eagles failed to score 20 points for the first time in 16 games, and Seattle repeatedly capitalized on Philadelphia mistakes on both sides of the ball.
While Carson Wentz’s 348-yard passing game was obscured by his critical fumble at the Seattle goal line early in the second half, the Philadelphia defense was left to lament its struggles in slowing down both Russell Wilson and the Seahawks’ running game at key moments.
Pederson sees plenty to correct in the next week, but nothing that can’t be fixed.
“I think sometimes … winning can kind of cover up or mask some things, some deficiencies,” Pederson said. “A little chink in your armor, if there is any. And coaches and players fall into the same boat sometimes. We need games where we get hit in the mouth and we have to fight and battle and scratch. Yesterday’s game was one of those games. You just have to understand that there’s no substitute for the preparation and the hard work.”
NOTES: TE Zach Ertz is in the NFL’s concussion protocol after taking a big hit in the third quarter in Seattle. He will stay in California with the team while doctors guide him through the protocol to determine when he can play again, Pederson said. Ertz is Philadelphia’s leading receiver with 57 catches for 663 yards and seven TDs. … Pederson spent much of Monday’s session explaining his reasoning for a series of play calls and officiating challenge decisions. Notably, Pederson didn’t challenge a pitch by Wilson to Mike Davis during the fourth quarter to pick up a key first down — a pitch that technically appears to be an illegal forward pass on slow-motion replay. The Seahawks eventually scored the game’s final touchdown on the drive. “(In) real time, it looked fine. It looked legit,” Pederson said. “We didn’t get all the necessary looks. They hustled to the line, but at the same time, it looked good, and I trust the guys upstairs making those decisions and didn’t challenge that. I already challenged one in the half and lost that, so I didn’t want to risk another timeout.”