PHILADELPHIA - It wasn’t the worst loss players such as Jason Kelce and Fletcher Cox ever had, but that blowout defeat in Las Vegas on Oct. 24 was probably in the top five.
“It was one of the worst losses, but definitely not the top one,” said Cox on Wednesday.
The defensive tackle said the worst one he could remember was 2018 when the Eagle held a 17-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter at home against the Carolina Panthers and ended up losing 21-17.
Kelce remembered a few others. He mentioned the 48-7 hammering in New Orleans in 2018 and a 53-20 loss at Green Bay in 2014.
“They had like 40 points at halftime, I think,” said Kelce on Wednesday. “That was really, really bad, but whenever you get beat that bad, all you can do is try to get better, go back to work.
“Usually, there are a lot of reasons why something like that happens. So ultimately, we’re a better team today because of it. It forces you to look at yourselves and what you’re doing when you get your tails kicked that bad. Everybody is to blame. I think it’s really easy to humble everybody across the board, and really focus on everyone individually can get better.”
That’s what happened coming out of Vegas, on that four-hour-plus plane ride home after falling behind 30-7 after three quarters before some late cosmetic work led to a 33-22 setback.
The loss left the Eagles at 2-5 and all the talk was about draft picks and coaches getting fired and Howie Roseman doing a bad job at general managing.
Since that loss in Vegas, the Eagles are 3-1.
Head coach Nick Sirianni and defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon have adjusted.
Roseman is getting credit for having drafted every one of the 11 starters on offense.
And draft picks are suddenly not as relevant.
The Eagles are in the playoff picture, and it’s hard to say anybody outside the Eagles’ locker room and coaches’ offices saw that coming.
“We still had football games to play,” said Kelce. “I think even in Las Vegas, I still felt like offensively, we were starting to figure things out, especially the first drive. Early on, I felt like we were trying to do some things that were working a little more.
“So, I always felt like we were moving in the right direction, even though maybe the record didn’t indicate that. At least offensively. I can’t speak for the defensive side of the ball. But it seems like both sides have really figured things out, and we’ve gotten to some things that are definitely working a lot better.”
Keeping everybody locked down and buying in was another hurdle, but cleared, with Sirianni staying consistent in his messaging and veterans that had been through slow starts before and knowing how to persevere.
“I think the main focus was just making sure we keep this thing tight, and we stay together through it all knowing we experienced a lot of trials and tribulations,” said safety Rodney McLeod. “We just talked about being together and getting through a tough time, but most importantly, that was our message – we’re going to find a way to get through this and the best way we know how is to go back to work, to grind it out, stay together, believe in ourselves and that’s what you’re seeing.
“You’re seeing us continue to fight, continue to believe regardless of what’s been said outside this building and it’s paying off for us.”
In 2019, the Eagles were 5-7 heading into the second week of December, won out, and made the playoffs.
In 2018, they were 5-6 heading into December, won five of six, and made the playoffs.
“It’s important to speak from experience, but, at the end of the day, this is a new team, a new group of individuals, and we’re all facing our challenges, these team challenges for the first time,” said McLeod. “I think for us it’s cool to revert back to the past, but we just have to focus on the moment and see what works for this team.
“Coaches express connecting and being together and focusing on holding people accountable, the details, and we found that when we lock in on the details, when we compete at a high level and when we stay together and come out with a mindset that no team can honestly mess with us and we won’t be denied, then we get the results that we want. We just have to continue on with that.”
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.