As Distractions Mount, Eagles Hold Unprecedented Player Meeting

They didn't do it when the 2014 team lost three straight games. They didn't do it when the 2015 team lost back-to-back games by 28 and 31 points. They didn't do it during that five-game losing streak in 2016.

This week, it was time.

Malcolm Jenkins has been an Eagle for six years, and this past week, for the first time since he joined the Eagles in 2014, Jenkins thought the time was right for a team meeting. 

Jenkins said early in the week that the Eagles had never had a team meeting while he was here, but in light of the latest anonymous source drama and an ugly two-game losing streak, that changed.

And that was before Orlando Scandrick's nationally televised rip job.

I'm not going to talk about what was said, but I think at the end of the day, the guys in this locker room trust one another, we believe one another," he said. "It's just about everybody detailing their role and doing their role on the team to the best of their ability. We wholeheartedly believe if we do that we're good enough to win. ... It's a family. This team is very, very close. You look around, I think everybody in here can trust one another.

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In the wake of embarrassing, lopsided losses in Minnesota and Dallas, this is a pivotal time for a team that won a Super Bowl just 20 months ago and was expected to contend for another this year.

The Eagles are 3-4 heading into Buffalo on Sunday afternoon with the Bears and undefeated Patriots looming next.

The conversations - and Jenkins said there were more than one - centered around how this team will respond to this latest round of adversity. 

"You got two decisions - you can either implode or you can get better," Jenkins said. "We had a lot of internal conversions, a lot of tough conversations. I think leaders are putting it upon themselves to set the example. … I thought this was probably one of the best weeks of practice we've had all year. Put it into our own hands and make sure we turn this around."

The Eagles are 3-4 but just one game and a tiebreaker behind the Cowboys with a rematch in December at the Linc.

Last year they were 4-6 after 10 games.

According to the Pro Football Reference team record finder, teams that are 3-4 actually have a much better chance of reaching the postseason (17.7 percent) than teams that are 4-6 (8.0 percent).

It sounds like one of the messages Jenkins and the other leaders and captains shared in the team meeting was simply that even though it seems like the sky is falling, the Eagles still have a chance to get to the postseason. 

"You look in the grand scheme of the season, we're far from being out of anything," Jenkins said. "In fact, we were worse off probably last year. It's just with all the expectations that came with this team and obviously all the noise and all the outside things, it's an opportunity for us to just hunker down and really just engage with the guys in this room, get our focus back on the guys in this room and what our roles are, and I think the meetings we've had have been productive, and the conversations players are having one to another have been productive."

Why now? 

Team meetings lose their value when they're over-done. So the fact that Jenkins or none of his teammates have called one in recent memory is significant.

"Everybody's frustrated," Jenkins said. "I'm not happy with the way we've performed as a team, I'm not happy with the way I've performed as a player. There's a lot of doubt, we hear it. There's a lot of shots being taken at individuals on the team. You use that as fuel. I'm mad. I'm upset. But sometimes that's good in this sport."

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