Eagles need playoff mentality,’ Super Bowl champ Rodney McLeod warnsNovember 14, 2021
Rodney McLeod knows when a postseason begins and how it can finish, how to reach one and when.
For the Eagles, the Super Bowl champion safety has come to believe, playoff time effectively already has begun.
Though 3-6 yet with a favorable schedule left, McLeod has begun to spread the warning around the NovaCare Complex that the ramp-up to satisfaction has ended.
Beginning Sunday in Denver, then, the march to wherever begins.
“The good news for us is we have eight games remaining,” McLeod said before practice Thursday. “And we have one upcoming this week that has our undivided attention. So our attitude is in the right place. As long as we stay there and have the right mindset and keep believing in each other, regardless of what is going on outside this building, we’ll be fine.”
While already needing some outside help, the Eagles have enough time and incentive to win a playoff spot, either as the NFC East champion or as a wild card. That possibility was loudly forwarded early in the week when Nick Sirianni proclaimed they have the right personnel to reach all of their goals.
After visiting the 5-4 Broncos and hosting the 5-3 Saints, the Eagles’ next five games will be against teams with dreadful records, including the 3-6 Giants, 2-6 Washington and the 2-6 Jets. They will finish the season at home against the 6-2 Cowboys.
Not that those teams wouldn’t be looking at the 3-6 Eagles with the same hungry eyes, but, technically, the remaining challenges are manageable, and McLeod, who has a ring as a reminder, knows how quickly a positive trend can develop. That’s what he has been reminding his younger and newer teammates.
“Yeah,” he said. “But at the end of the day, man, we just have to take it one week at a time. We can’t worry about division games later down the stretch. We can’t look past Denver. That’s where it starts.”
The Broncos are coming off a thorough 30-16 victory in Dallas. They are factors in the balanced AFC West, have won their last two and are playing at home, yet opened only as 1.5-point favorites and unlikely to be favored by more than a field goal.
For the Eagles, who have wasted so many this season, that suggests an opportunity not only to win a game but to begin a trend.
“That’s how we get to this run that everybody wants and desires,” McLeod said. “We just have to take it one game at a time but also realize that there is that playoff mentality. Right?”
The Eagles have been predictable on offense and indifferent on defense, thus explaining their record. Yet they are only 3.5 games behind first-place Dallas and have a deep awareness that the Cowboys must visit the Linc in Week 18.
But if, as the Eagles’ starting safety in Super Bowl LII suggests, there is not much room to stumble, then there will be a massive difference between mounting that run at 4-6 than it would be at 3-7.
The Eagles have shown signs of stirring in recent weeks, first by winning, 44-6, in Detroit, then by forcing a fourth-quarter tie against the Chargers before falling on a late field goal.
“We have to play better,” Sirianni said. “We have to coach better to be able to do that. But I think you’ve seen us in a spot where when we’re playing consistent, we can play pretty well. But it’s the consistency is not there right yet, consistently.”
The Eagles have nine weeks and eight games remaining to begin to act like a playoff team. Sometimes, though, unlikely momentum can build and, overnight, literally wearing underdog masks can become a useful binding agent.
So where does it start?
“Get a win, man,” said Lane Johnson, another Super Bowl veteran. “Three and six isn’t where we want to be. Going forward, we are going against a great defense in Denver, which we haven’t done there in a very long time.”
They did, though, win a Super Bowl, not that long ago. They have the time, and the opportunity, to keep that in mind.
But not much.
“There’s no room for error,” McLeod said. “We have to go out there and play our best ball.”
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NOTES >> McLeod, who did not practice Wednesday due to a neck stinger, returned Thursday. “I’ll be fine for Sunday,” he said … With opposing quarterbacks completing passes at an historic rate, the Eagles’ defensive players are trying not to blame each other. “It goes hand-in-hand,” safety Anthony Harris said. “From a secondary standpoint, we have to cover our guys and make the quarterback hold the ball a little bit longer.” … J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (ankle), Avonte Maddox (knee), Darius Slay (hamstring) and Josh Sweat (concussion) were limited in practice Thursday