Eagles face kicking questions as they start preparing for Bears | Early Birds

Good morning, Eagles fans. This is a Tuesday edition of Early Birds. The Eagles had Monday to rest, and they return to work today to begin preparing for the Chicago Bears. They don’t practice until Wednesday, but they’ll be in the building all day. The coordinators will meet with reporters, as will many players.

  • Doug Pederson held his day-after news conference Monday, and one of the big topics was the kicking situation. Jake Elliott is in the concussion protocol and Caleb Sturgis is eligible to come off injured reserve. The Eagles don’t need to make any decisions now, but it seemed they’re hoping Elliott can get cleared in time for the Bears game. Pederson confirmed the Eagles don’t want to make a change at kicker. They don’t want to cut a player from a different position for a one-week fix at kicker, either. They might need to do that if Elliott isn’t cleared by the end of the week, but the plan now is to take a wait-and-see approach.
  • The diversity on offense continues to stand out. The Eagles had four different offensive players score touchdowns vs. the Cowboys. Eleven different offensive players touched the ball. The Eagles had their best overall rushing performance without a 100-yard rusher. They’re still waiting on a 100-yard receiver. “The guys just want to win, and it doesn’t matter who’s hot in the game,” Pederson said. “Our quarterback is so prepared and well-prepared, knowing exactly where to go with the ball in the passing situations. We ask him to do so much in the run game. And it’s all part of the process, and these guys have bought in 100 percent, and they prepare that way.”
  • The playing time distribution is always revealing. I was surprised Jay Ajayi took only 13 offensive snaps (20 percent). I thought his playing time would be higher in his second game with the Eagles. Also, Ronald Darby took every defensive snap. The Eagles didn’t rotate their cornerbacks, which was a sign Darby can handle a full workload despite the rust. Also, look at Derek Barnett’s playing time — he’s on the field as much as Tim Jernigan and nearly as much as Vinny Curry. Even though Barnett doesn’t start, his playing time shows how big his role is.

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— Zach Berman

Eagles running back Kenjon Barner celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown against Dallas.
Camera icon CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer
Eagles running back Kenjon Barner (No. 38) celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown against Dallas.

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This is an interesting question because the Eagles actually start fast on their opening drives. They’ve scored on their opening drive in six of 10 games this season, including five touchdowns. But you’re right that they’re better in the second half this season than the first. They’ve scored 175 second-half points and have 145 first-half points. I think Doug Pederson has grown as a play-caller, and he’s especially effective at scripting the early plays. Then in the second half, he often has a better sense of the opponent and knows how to attack. The Eagles like to receive the ball in the second half, and their third quarters have been outstanding — they’re outscoring opponents by 87-30 in the third quarter. I’ll look further into what’s happening in the second half of games.