With no opponent to prepare for this week, Nick Foles and Eagles are scouting themselves | Early Birds

Good morning, Eagles fans. The Eagles practice at 12:45 p.m. this afternoon. (It’s a good thing they have an indoor facility…)

  • Nick Foles said one of the benefits of this bye week is a chance to “self-scout.” Without a team to prepare for this week, Foles can look closely at what he’s done this season — and in the past — and try to figure out how to improve. He wouldn’t reveal what he can take away from past seasons because he didn’t want to tip his hand to opponents, but Foles know the way he played the past two weeks won’t cut it. “Obviously on Sunday and the week before, that’s not how I want to play,” Foles said. “But if anyone’s ever played a sport, you can’t sit here and say, ‘OK, that’s what it is.’ I’ve had games like that and I’ve come back and played at a higher level.’ So you keep looking at it, keep grinding, keep working.” And in case you’re wondering: He even went back and watched the January 2014 playoff game, just like Doug Pederson did.
  • Third downs have been a problem for the Eagles during the past two games. They’re 3 of 24 in those situations. The emphasis inside the NovaCare Complex has been to improve on the early downs to create more manageable third downs. Fifteen of those 24 third downs have been from five yards or more. They only converted one of them, and it was a running play. “First and second down, you want to have positive plays,” Foles said. “Third and long, we still have to execute and make plays happen. … Put the ball in play and give guys an opportunity to make the first down. If not, get some yards and flip the field. But obviously, first and second down are huge.”
  • Eagles assistants Jim Schwartz and John DeFilippo are drawing head coaching interest and will interview for jobs. Those interviews will be in Philadelphia. Pederson said it helps that the Eagles have a bye week. When Pederson interviewed for the Eagles job, it was after a playoff game. It’s harder for the team and the coach when the interviews come while game-planning. The coaches are working this week, but it’s not like a true game week. “The challenge is having themselves prepared for a potential interview,” Pederson said. “At the same time, they have to balance the job they have here and making sure that we’re ready for practice. … That’s first and foremost. Listen, they put the Eagles first anyway and will continue to do that while they’re here. It’s a little bit of a fine line, but having an off week helps.”

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— Zach Berman

Eagles’ quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, center, works with Nick Foles, right, as the Philadelphia Eagles practice during the bye week in Philadelphia, PA on January 3, 2018. The Eagles will host a playoff game on Saturday, January 13. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer

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The Eagles still like what Torrey Smith offers as a deep threat. Smith’s drops have been a problem this year, but he gets open downfield. That stretches the defense. He also draws pass interferences at a high rate. If those were completions, Smith’s numbers (36 catches, 430 yards, two touchdowns) would look better. The Eagles will take their chances with a veteran wide receiver who can get open compared to a rookie who’s still adjusting to the NFL. Mack Hollins is developing, but he hasn’t pushed for more playing time. Before last week, he went three games without a catch. (Then again, he had only three targets.) I’m intrigued by Hollins, but his playing time dipped a bit late in the year after I thought it would continue to ascend. Hollins could be a starting wide receiver next season. Smith is still the starter this season.