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It's Only Week 5, but It Already Feels Like Must-Win Time for Eagles

Eagles WR Quez Watkins believes team is close to kicking door down to become the team it wants it to be, but a lot of that will depend on the defense

PHILADELPHIA – Even with another game inflating the schedule to 17 of them, this short trip south to Charlotte feels like a must-win for the Eagles.

They have lost three in a row.

There are reports that Nick Sirianni gave defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon an earful during the week about the way the DC has failed to find impactful roles for veterans Fletcher Cox and even Darius Slay.

It feels like the roof could blow off with another loss that would drop them to 1-4, a dismal record that could prove difficult, if not impossible, for a young staff to turn around anytime soon.

That’s why it’s important to find a win against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday (1 p.m./FOX), especially with the way the next two weeks play out – with a visit from the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers just four days later, then a trip to Las Vegas to play a much-improved Raiders team.

“It’ll be huge,” said linebacker Alex Singleton about two games in five days. “Everybody knows how we felt after Week 1 (beating the Falcons, 32-6). Everybody knows how we should have felt after Week 2 (losing the 49ers, 17-11). We know we need to go down there and win. That’s where we are.

“We have this game then a Thursday night back-to-back. It’s almost a mini-bye (the 10 days between playing on Thursday), and you don’t want to go into those 0-2. It’s a grind getting through those. 

"Obviously, we’re focusing on Carolina this week, and we know winning that brings that good energy into a Thursday night game, so we really have to take control, do what we can, and go out there and win this game.”

MORE: Eagles-Carolina: Five on the Panthers

The Eagles’ offense has scored at least 30 points twice in their first four games. It’s a plateau they never reached last year, so garbage time or not, 30-plus points is significant.

“We need to find a way to get in the win column,” said tight end Dallas Goedert. “I wouldn’t necessarily say there’s a chip on the shoulder, something like that. It’s a dawg mentality. We go into every week wanting to win. But, yeah, we need to get in the win column and feel we need to do whatever it takes to get there.”

The Eagles have the NFL’s 8th-ranked offense.

They have a quarterback in Jalen Hurts who played the best game of his young career last week, with a career0high 387 passing yards and 434 yards of total offense when his legs are factored into the equation.

They have two rookies in WR DeVonta Smith and RB Kenny Gainwell who have made big impacts, so far.

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They have the NFL leader in yards per catch in Quez Watkins, who is averaging 21.9 yards per reception and is one of only two players averaging more than 20 yards per catch, with the Raiders’ Henry Ruggs being the other.

“That’s something I want to continue, I’m very blessed to be in that position, and I’m, trying to keep it going forward, “said Watkins on Friday.

MORE: Jalen Hurts Gets Another Shot at a Team Coached by Matt ...

The WR added that the passing attack can be very explosive.

“Any time the ball is in each one of our hands it could be a big play waiting to happen,” Watkins said.

All week, the offense has talked about being close to clicking on all cylinders, from Hurts to receivers, tight end, and running backs.

“We’re so close to kicking the door down and being that team,” said Watkins. “It’s just a matter of time until we do it.”

The defense has been another story, however.

Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon

Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon

It is ranked 14th in the league, dragged down by a running defense that is next to last of all 32 teams. The unit has allowed 35 and 42 points in back-to-back weeks.

Granted, they were explosive offenses, with Dallas and Kansas City.

The Panthers are not in that category, so if the defense falters again, and allow, say 35 points, it could be difficult to stay positive for a young coaching staff and some of the veteran players used to winning.

“Everyone wants to win, everybody is trying to do their best,” said safety Anthony Harris, who has played 100 percent of the snaps in his last 24 games dating back to his years with Minnesota. “We continue to preach just continue to do your job, continue to do it at a high level, execute that and fly to the ball. Be where you’re supposed to be. 

"Once you’ve done that, just go play ball and have fun with that. At the end of the day, we all know we’re going to hold each other accountable. We’re going to continue to push each other and raise the standard.”

It feels like that standard must be raised to a win on Sunday.

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.