Get Ready to Learn a Lot About These Eagles

We'll learn a lot about this Eagles team over the next few weeks and into the playoffs. 

This week we've already learned a little. 

It would be pretty understandable if the Eagles didn't have a very good week at practice. After all, they're down an MVP now. The team has overcome injuries to several key players throughout the season, but this is decidedly different. This time it was Carson Wentz. 

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"It's tough," head coach Doug Pederson said Friday. "It's tough when you lose your starter. But the guys have really responded well offensively around Nick (Foles). And he's jumped in and commanded the huddle." 

There were probably a few downtrodden faces moping about through the NovaCare Complex this week. Really, it would be strange if there weren't. It's a lot, overcoming the loss of a guy like Wentz. But the way the Birds have handled this week should be encouraging for fans who were ready to pack it in and cancel Christmas. 

The overall excitement and cheerful attitude has come from Pederson. He won't let his players be depressed. And then it comes from Foles; as a veteran, he's taken over with confidence, which rubs off. 

Still, it's a pretty natural response for other guys to feel the need to step up when a key contributor like Wentz goes down. That's a good thing. The thing the Eagles have to make sure doesn't happen is guys trying to do too much. Pederson admitted there's a little bit of a fine line. 

"At the end of the day, I don't want guys to go above and beyond what they've been doing to help us win games," Pederson said. "They don't have to do anything more than just their job and their responsibility in whatever their role is in the game plan. That goes for Nick. It's been a while since he's been out there playing and you don't want him to press. You want to let the game unfold in front of you. The guys around him, I think as a team there's going to be that sense of rally. Let's support him, but let's support everybody." 

Several members of the Eagles' defense said this week that they don't feel any extra pressure going forward without Wentz. Again, it would be understandable if they did. Wentz was such a dynamic player this season that he could make up for mistakes. This team probably lost some leash when it comes to playing mistake-free football. 

But the Eagles' defensive players can't try to fill in for Wentz. They have to just play their role. 

"It's about everybody trusting the guy next to him and doing your job, not trying to do anything out of the ordinary," cornerback Jalen Mills said. "Not trying to be a superhero. Just go out there and do your job."

Pederson is happy his team already clinched the NFC East, but a win this weekend would earn a first-round bye. If the Eagles win and the Vikings lose this weekend, they can clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. 

As of Friday, Pederson said he hadn't thought about if he'd rest starters in the season finale if things are already wrapped up. 

"You just have to stay the course, stay consistent," Pederson said of his message to the team. "We know what's ahead of us, we know what's in front of us. We still control a lot."

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