Not since Malcolm Jenkins joined the Eagles as a free agent in 2014 had he ever had to call a team meeting.
This week, the veteran safety did just that.
With anonymous sources carping and Orlando Scandrick ripping the team publicly four days after being released, and with a two-game losing streak in games in which they were never really competitive, the Eagles were a classic team in turmoil.
“When I met with the player committee on Wednesday, they approached me about (a player’s only meeting) and wanted to do that,” said head coach Doug Pederson, “so it was in their hands.”
Whatever happened behind closed doors worked, at least for one game, as the Eagles unleashed a punishing ground game to take out the Buffalo Bills 31-13 at New Era Field on Sunday.
It was the third and final game of a three-game road trip that the Eagles navigated at just 1-2, but they head home to meet the Chicago Bears next Sunday with a 4-4 record.
“This win was huge for us,” said quarterback Carson Wentz. “Conditions, going on the road, shoot this is our third straight road game, that’s tough. To do what we did, to stay together throughout everything and come out and get a big win against a really good football team was huge for us and should give us a lot of confidence going forward.”
Maybe things will settle down inside a locker room that outside forces have been trying to divide it, from anonymous sources talking to ESPN’s Josina Anderson behind everyone’s back to Scandrick’s verbal tirade 48 hours before Sunday's game, to hints of lack of accountability with players showing up late to team meetings and practices.
“I said it last weekend after the loss to Dallas that I think this is going to bring us closer together,” said Wentz. “Obviously there’s a lot of other outside noise and everything, but guys were able to stay together and stay focused on the task and keep bringing energy to practice, keep bringing the focus and we were able to come away with a big victory today.”
Asked if his leadership was tested, Wentz said: “Just try to keep everyone together. It’s easy when losses come to want to point fingers, but to just make sure everyone’s on the same page going forward with everything going on and guys did a really good job responding.”
Lane Johnson was asked how he was able to put the outside noise behind him.
The right tackle turned to right guard Brandon Brooks, who was changing inside the visitor’s locker room at New Era Field, and said to him: “Go the house and put on some Netflix, huh?”
Johnson then added, “Obviously a lot of stuff going on, but the only thing we can control is going to work, going to these meetings, going to practice, getting on this plane, flying here, and go playing.”
Maybe the noise will quiet down now. A win, after all, can cure a thousand ills, or something like that.
“This is a step in the right direction,” said Pederson. “You know for those guys to step up and kind of take ownership and things we talked about. They went out and earned it (Sunday) and I think it’s a great step forward for our leaders of or football team. Being a leader is not about being perfect, and everybody makes mistakes, but they owned it and stepped up and really led.”