The Philadelphia Eagles will limp into Green Bay for the Thursday night game against the undefeated Packers.
The Eagles are 1-2, but their season outlook might be much different had Nelson Agholor not dropped a pass late in a Week 2 game against Atlanta and JJ Arcega-Whiteside not dropped a pass in the final moments Sunday against Detroit. Instead of potential game-winning touchdowns, the Eagles lost 24-20 to the Falcons and 27-24 to the Lions.
“We’re maybe two plays or three plays away from possibly being 3-0 or at least 2-1,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “I just have to remind the guys, ‘Listen, one play at a time. Don’t lose your focus, stay on task, do your assignment, stay within yourself, don’t go searching for plays. When they come to you, make them.’
“You just have to keep talking, keep their spirits up. The players know. They’re smart enough. I don’t have to sit there and remind them or beat them over the head with all of that. They understand what could have happened, but look we’re not (3-0). We’re 1-2, and we have some work to do.”
The Eagles have been slammed by injuries. Defensive tackles Malik Jackson and Tim Jernigan and receivers Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson missed last week’s loss to Detroit, and top cornerback Ronald Darby dropped out with a hamstring injury. Jeffery should be back for Thursday, but the others almost certainly will be ruled out.
“The season’s young, we’ll get these guys healthy and hopefully we can get things turned around soon,” Pederson said.
The Packers (3-0) have work to do, as well, even riding high as one of eight undefeated teams in the NFL. Green Bay is tied for No. 23 in scoring and ranked No. 28 in total offense. The acclimation to first-year coach Matt LaFleur’s offense has been slow for the unit as a whole and quarterback Aaron Rodgers in particular.
For Green Bay, the winning formula has been riding a big-play defense. While the Packers have been beaten up against the run the past two games, they start the week ranked second in points allowed (11.7 per game), first in takeaways (eight), tied for third in sacks (12) and fourth in red-zone defense (33.3 percent touchdowns).
The offense, however, has been inconsistent at best and bad at worst. While the Packers scored a season-high 27 points last week against Denver, two of the touchdowns were gift-wrapped by the defense.
“We’ve never wanted to just manage the football game around here. The standards are very high for us,” Rodgers said. “We’ve got to play a lot better on offense. We’ve played some good defenses, no doubt about it, but the standard and expectations are very high here, and we haven’t met them on offense.
“Thankfully, our defense has not only been opportunistic but stout, holding them to field goals in the red zone, taking the ball away, putting us in good field position. It’s time for us to do our part on offense.
“Moving forward, we’re going to play a stretch of really good football teams. At some point, we can’t expect our defense to shut everybody down. They have been, but at some point, the offense is going to have to wake up and start making some plays.”
Green Bay is in good shape from a health perspective, with outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith (knee) and tight end Jimmy Graham (groin/quad) being limited practice participants Tuesday.
—Field Level Media