Eagles' Pederson wants return to winning ways in London
SUNBURY-ON-THAMES, England (AP) — Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson said after the 21-17 loss to the Carolina Panthers that his players would galvanize over the rest of the season and grow closer.
What better way to achieve that goal than to have them spend nearly four days together in a foreign country?
"I think this trip right here is a great time for us to be away as a football team," Pederson said Friday as the Eagles prepare to face the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium in London. "That's obviously something that we need — being together like this for a couple days."
Philadelphia (3-4) fell to its third loss in four games after they collapsed late, giving up a 17-0 lead against the Panthers after three quarters before allowing 21 unanswered points.
That fourth-quarter muzzling was troublesome for both the offense and the defense. The Eagles won the Super Bowl last season in part because they had one of the highest-scoring units in the NFL, but they have scored only 22 points per game this season, nearly six points off last season's pace, and their pass defense has allowed 269.7 yards a game, the ninth-worst in the league.
Losing starting safety Rodney McLeod to a season-ending knee injury in Week 3, and his replacement, Corey Graham, to a hamstring injury a week later, certainly hasn't done Philadelphia's secondary any favors.
But after losing all four games this season by a touchdown or less, including three of the last four by a combined nine points, quarterback Carson Wentz believes the trip across the Atlantic can be a springboard for success.
"I mean, as a quarterback and just the leaders in general, it's really on a lot of us to get everyone going again and recognize that record ... doesn't matter," Wentz said. "The goal is to go 1-0 every week, and especially the division we're in, that's kind of wide open. At this point in the year, not where we want to be, but we still have the whole season in front of us."
Philadelphia's opponent, the Jaguars (3-4), will be playing in London for the sixth consecutive season and have won their last three games at Wembley.
Pederson said the familiarity of the international trip may help them, but after making the trip as the Kansas City Chiefs' offensive coordinator in 2015, he doesn't believe it provides much of an advantage.
"I mean, they're familiar with the city and familiar with the travel ... but I think both teams are in the same situation today, feeling the same things," Pederson said.
He also drew parallels between the Eagles' trip to London and their week last year in Los Angeles, where they stayed between road games against the Seattle Seahawks and the Los Angeles Rams.
Wentz, who tore the ACL in his left knee after the win over the Rams, joked that he hoped the outcome on Sunday wouldn't be similar to the one last season.
But he did recognize Pederson's point and hopes the intangible benefits will one day pay off.
"It's a unique week," Wentz said. "Bonding over here is definitely a big plus on trips like this, for sure."
Notes: RB Jay Ajayi, who was born in London and moved to Maryland when he was 7, joined the Eagles for the trip despite tearing the ACL in his left knee in the loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Oct. 7. Ajayi, who played in his hometown last season for the Miami Dolphins, was honored with an exhibit at the Museum of London on Wednesday. ... Pederson said Graham and NT Haloti Ngata (calf) are likely to be game-time decisions on Sunday.
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