It was not a fun bye week for Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, coming off that horrific 37-19 loss to the Titans in which Tennessee's offense scored 20 fourth-quarter points. As McDermott peered under the hood of a defense that has already allowed 13 touchdown passes, he also dealt with speculation that he could lose his job -- speculation the front office strongly discouraged, by the way.
"Comments that are going to be made are not under my control," McDermott said today, after his regular Thursday media session. "What's going to be said is said. That's only going to push me harder. What I'm focused on is our defense. In a lot of ways, I'm proud of what we've done defensively so far. I think a lot of people around the league would love to be where we are and have done what we've done defensively, with the turnovers and with the (ranking of 12th overall) coming out of the Titans game ... I look forward to growing with these guys and working to accomplish our goals."
Earlier, McDermott said he does not fault Ellis Hobbs for trying to play through a hip injury against Tennessee.
"I like tough guys," McDermott said. "He's a tough guy, and I'll take that any day of the week"
McDermott said he did not notice during the game that Hobbs was hobbled.
Next up for the Eagles comes Peyton Manning and the high-powered Indianapolis Colts, who are second in the NFL in total offense.
Manning is "unlike any quarterback I've ever seen" and "leaves a very small margin for error," McDermott said.
Linebacker Ernie Sims intends to appeal the $50,000 fine he received for hitting Titans wide receiver Latrelle Hawkins.
"In their eyes, I was hitting a defenseless receiver. In my eyes, I felt like I was making a play," Sims said.
"I’m going to stay true to what I always say: I'm going to go out there and play football. ... It will be in the back of my mind," Sims said. "I really, really hate the fact that I got fined $50,000. I don’t care how much money you make, that’s a ton of money. Money that I worked hard for my whole life. For anybody to take that away from you for something I do on the field, I think that’s crazy."
McDermott said his advice to his defense in wake of the fine is "stay aggressive." It's a fine line, he said, between that and hurting the team.
He said he felt the hit Sims was fined for "was a bang-bang play."
Special teams coordinator Bobby April said Jorrick Calvin and DeSean Jackson are both practicing on punt return and that Andy Reid will make the final decision.
April seemed to be indicating that Jackson will play, saying that Riley Cooper will play more on special teams "with DeSean back."
April said Dmitri Patterson, who will start at corner for the injured Hobbs, will have his special teams role reduced "a lot."
April was asked to assess where the special teams are at this point:
“Well, the ups and downs are typical because it’s really tough to stay at the summit in everything all the time," he said. "I’ve been fortunate to have that happen a couple of times where we’ve been able to stay at the summit the whole season; just the whole season, in just every phase. That’s rare, you know, that’s rare. I was hoping and projecting that we would be better than we are right now, that we would make more of a contribution to enhancing our ability to play better on offense and defense by field position. I think there is improvement. It’s gradual. It’s in small increments. We have to eliminate the gaffe that comes up kind of on a weekly basis."
Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said it will be a "great challenge, great opportunity" for Jason Peters coming back from knee surgery to face Dwight Freeney.
Mornhinweg noted that DEs Freeney and Robert Mathis are 1-2 in the NFL in sacks that cause fumbles over the last eight years.
He was asked whether the Eagles might emphasize the run game to keep Manning off the field.
“Sure, yeah, against any exceptional offense," he said. "The great Peyton Manning is unusual, so we have to factor that in.”