Eagles Address Practice Habits, Confront "Elephant in the Room"

Ed Kracz

PHILADELPHIA - You play how you practice, as any coach at any level will say, and the Eagles are no different.

Defensive end Brandon Graham said he wanted to keep it real when asked about how the team and reverse course in a season that, despite what the standings saying they are in first place in the NFC East, still has just three wins a week before Thanksgiving.

“It starts definitely with practice because some of the stuff that’s showing up out there, just being real with ourselves, is happening in practice,” said the team’s leader in sacks with seven. “Jumping offsides, pre-snap penalties, false starts, people dropping balls, us not getting off the rock, so it’s just all stuff that we need to hone in on as a team.

“I think that we’re doing a good job addressing that elephant in the room because you just want to kind of say everything is going to be all right, but now we’re at a point where that stuff is affecting us, and we have to clean that up.”

The implication is that the Eagles practiced poorly leading up to their 27-17 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday. Perhaps a bye “hangover"?

“Stuff like that was happening during practice the whole week and it happens on Sunday,” said cornerback Darius Slay. “Like me, I practice a certain way. Me dropping a ball in practice, I gotta give myself 10 pushups. That’s my punishment. Something like that, I blow assignments, we have a tab in the room. Last week, we were kind of up and down, up and down.”

The Eagles had their first practice of the week as a team, leading up to Sunday’s game in Cleveland against the 6-3 Browns and unlike previous weeks, the team’s injury report was good news.

Only linebacker Shaun Bradley (illness) and safety Rudy Ford (hamstring) did not practice. Fletcher Cox and Jason Peters were limited but only for rest purposes.

The media watched only about 10 minutes, so it wasn’t clear if habits have changed.

Because Graham spoke prior to practice, he could only give an inkling of what might happen in the way of players being more accountable.

“Mistakes are going to happen at practice, but we’re going to see how people kind of police themselves before anybody has to police them,” he said. “Everybody knows what’s going on. Everybody sees what’s going on as far as the pre-snap. So, I’m sure if somebody has a false start, they’re going to probably get out. You know what I’m saying? Next man, up.

“Even myself, if I jump offsides, I’ve got to get out because I’m hurting my team. And eventually, things will start to, you’ll start to have that in your mind a little bit more.

"Because those little things that kind of slip by, those are the things that have been hurting us and we can’t have that no more.

“I think it’s going to start with us policing ourselves first and then if you need a little help you’ve got guys that are definitely going to make sure they step up and say something.”

Graham believes they will.

“What I love the most is how (head coach) Doug (Pederson) brings his energy and doesn’t let a lot of this stuff get to him too much,” he said. “He has to make a change and it starts with him and it trickles down to us. We have to make sure we’re policing that when we stuff happening in practice.”

Quarterback Carson Wentz delivered a message to the team prior to practice, according to Slay.

The CB said it was about salvaging the season.

"Just saying that make sure that we’re all riding, ready to go, ready to go to work and give your best effort," said Slay. "We got seven games left to determine our season. We know we’re in first place in the (NFC) East but we don’t like the position we’re in with the three wins.

"We know we’re a better team than our record says. He was just making sure we know that. As a quarterback, he is our leader. He’s going to do right by us and we’re going to do right by him. We gotta just get it going."

Graham believes the Eagles will – as long as they practice well.

“We want to win,” he said. “This is what it’s going to take and let’s correct it. Let’s get it right. Let’s stop settling for, just oh, I got it next time. No, we’re going to get it right now. Just start getting people to want to police themselves even more so that we won’t have to seem like we’re the ones hounding you.

“You should be wanting to police yourself because you want to get it right. That’s going to start happening, man. I do think that things happen in the season where a lot of teams at this point will fold. That’s one thing I love is we’re not folding.

“We’re just trying to get it right because we don’t want to look bad and we don’t want to have to answer these questions after an L knowing that we could have got a W if we don’t make mistakes.”

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