HomeDa Birds NewsEagles Face Tough Opponent in Week 17

Eagles Face Tough Opponent in Week 17

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The Eagles are heading into another game as double-digit favorites for the second week in a row. This will mark the 11th time this season that they are facing an opponent that they are capable of dominating. However, despite their 11-4 record, the Eagles have not been able to achieve the level of dominance that is expected of a team in their position. Despite scoring more points than their opponents, the Eagles have only outscored them by 26 points.

The upcoming game against the Arizona Cardinals will also feature a familiar face at the Linc. Former Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jonathon Gannon will be returning as part of the Cardinals’ coaching staff. With his intimate knowledge of Eagles’ coach Nick Sirianni and the team’s offense, Gannon’s presence adds an interesting dynamic to the upcoming matchup.

Sirianni acknowledged Gannon’s familiarity with the Eagles as a point of interest leading up to the game.

“Remember, he knows us, too, right? I would say they’re doing a good job as far as their schemes and different things like that,” Sirianni said about the Gannon-led Cardinals. “I’m very early in my studies there. Obviously, you come here, and you work on the kinks that you have to work out from last game, and now we’re early in our studies of Arizona.

“They’re doing some good things scheme-wise. They’ve got some good guys in place there. Budda Baker is a really, really good player. So, there is a, ‘Hey, we know this in this scenario.’ Jonathan knows some of the things we know, and we know some of the things he knows about us. There is going to be a little bit about that. You can’t think too much into that. You’ve got to account for it, but not let it completely dictate what you’re doing offensively.

“But there is familiarity on both sides, and I think it’s almost like — the familiarity of the players is different, but it’s almost like a division game in the sense of there is a lot of familiarity on both sides of what’s happening.”

Last week, the Eagles managed to put an end to their three-game losing streak with a 33-25 victory over the New York Giants. Despite the win, the reaction from the team and the fanbase indicated that there was still dissatisfaction. The Eagles have consistently displayed a hot-and-cold performance throughout the season, leaving the players and coaches expecting more from themselves.

The 2023 Eagles have set their sights on winning the Super Bowl and anything less is considered underachieving. The team is yet to reach the culture standard that they have set for themselves, as demonstrated by the reaction to a victory over a NFC East rival last Sunday.

Sirianni appreciated the approach and mindset of the team after the game.

“When we get back in here, we’ll put the game to bed and then it’s back to business as usual,” he said. “And then also, wanting to play and to play to a standard we know we’re capable of playing. Because of the guys we have on this team, nobody is going to be satisfied when you don’t play to that standard.

“That is quite frankly, what I think makes these guys special. Why is DeVonta [Smith] continuing to get better and better and better? Because he has this inner drive amongst himself that is never satisfied. I said something to him yesterday. I’m like, ‘hey, congrats on 1000 yards. I know I took you out early in that Dallas game in 2021. Looking back at it, I wish I hadn’t.’ He just wants more, and he wants more, and he wants more. That’s just one guy as an example, I’m just using him as one example.

“There is that balance, because you do have to enjoy — the wins in the NFL are hard to come by, and you have to enjoy it and have to have that balance: joy and determination to get better. You can have both. I think that definitely starts with me quite frankly. There were moments in that game yesterday where I felt like I was too tense on the sideline, and I need to be better about that. I have to do a better job. If I’m going to ask the players to do a better job themselves, then I have to do a better job myself, and I definitely felt that yesterday out of myself.”

As the Eagles prepare to face Gannon and the Cardinals, Sirianni expressed his respect for his former colleague and the impact he had on the team in previous seasons.

“I have a great deal of respect for Jonathan and the coach that he is and the person that he is. I’m looking forward to going against him this weekend,” Sirianni said. “I know the players — you’ll have to ask them — but I know the players that I’ve talked to feel the same way. Obviously, we didn’t finish the job last year, which all of us have the taste in our mouth of like, ‘dang, wish we had finished the job,’ but there were still some special moments, a lot of special moments. I think we can all agree there were a lot of special moments last year, and also in 2021, and Jonathan Gannon was a big part of that.

“Any time he thanks me for the opportunity for being here, I always in return thank him because his service to this team and the special things we did while he was the defensive coordinator here was enough payback for me tenfold. I value that relationship that I have with him. I’m always rooting for Coach Gannon, very similar to how I root for Coach [Shane] Steichen. But, this will be the week that I will not be rooting for him, obviously.”

The Cardinals currently hold a 3-12 record this season, but the presence of quarterback Kyler Murray significantly impacts the team’s performance. With two of their three wins coming under Murray’s leadership and Gannon’s knowledge of the Eagles’ offense, the upcoming game against the Cardinals poses unique challenges for the Eagles.

Joseph Santoliquito is a hall of fame, award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written feature stories for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning ESPN.com feature on high school wrestler A.J. Detwiler in February 2006, which appeared on SportsCenter. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

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