By Ben Sullivan
The Eagles are licking their wounds, and there’s no better place to do that than sunny southern California.
After they had their nine-game winning streak ended Sunday night in Seattle, the Birds (10-2) will spend the next week away from home before their showdown with the Los Angeles Rams (9-3) in a meeting of NFC division leaders.
“It’s hard when you’ve got back-to-back West Coast trips like this, to be able to fly back home and then practice and come back out this way at the end of the week,” coach Doug Pederson said yestereday. “We’ve never really done this before, obviously. But it’ll definitely pay off for us, hopefully in the near future.”
They’re in Costa Mesa, two miles from the Los Angeles Chargers’ new training complex. The Eagles will practice on a full-size football field set up several miles away at Angel Stadium in Anaheim.
The Eagles chose to stay out West to avoid those cross-country round trip flights, but also to keep the players’ focus on the final quarter of the regular season. They’re off to an outstanding start, but the Eagles haven’t finished anything yet.
The Birds will clinch the NFC East title with one more victory, but is still competing with Minnesota (10-2), the upstart Rams and New Orleans (9-3) for the top overall seed in the NFC postseason and a first-round bye.
“The challenge is we’re trying to eliminate distractions,” Pederson said at the team hotel. “Try to keep the week as normal as possible for the guys, for the coaches. We’ve got a great setup here in the hotel.
“Coaches have offices and workspace to get the work done. Players have got everything they need right here, from treatment, rehab, doctors, medical facilities, all of that.”
The players and coaches have plenty to do after the loss to the Seahawks (8-4), who are also in the hunt for a high playoff seed.
The Eagles failed to score 20 points for the first time in 16 games, and Seattle repeatedly capitalized on mistakes on both sides of the ball.
While Carson Wentz’s 348-yard passing game was obscured by his critical fumble at the Seattle goal line early in the second half, the Eagles’ defense was left to lament its struggles in slowing down both Russell Wilson and the Seahawks’ running game at key moments.
Pederson sees plenty to correct in the next week, but nothing that can’t be fixed.
“I think sometimes … winning can kind of cover up or mask some things, some deficiencies,” Pederson said. “A little chink in your armor, if there is any. And coaches and players fall into the same boat sometimes. We need games where we get hit in the mouth and we have to fight and battle and scratch. Yesterday’s game was one of those games. You just have to understand that there’s no substitute for the preparation and the hard work.”