Jim Schwartz: 'The fans in the stands are going to mean an awful lot' | Early Birds

Good morning, Eagles fans. The Eagles are back at practice on Tuesday at 12:45 p.m. Doug Pederson has a news conference before practice at 10:30 a.m., and Nick Foles will also hold his weekly news conference on Tuesday.

  • The merits of the Eagles’ home-field advantage could be up for debate (Mike Sielski debated it last week), but Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said to stack the team’s home and road statistics next to each other. “We’re significantly better at home,” Schwartz said. “That’s why it was important for us to get home-field advantage.” The Eagles have allowed 13.4 points per game at home this season — 10 points fewer than on the road. Schwartz said it helps that the players don’t have to travel. But he also said the home crowd is a big part of the advantage for the defense, and he thinks that crowd will be important on Saturday because of the noise they generate for the opposing offense. “It’s not just the players on the field,” Schwartz said. “The fans in the stands are going to mean an awful lot to coming out with a victory on Saturday.”
  • In Monday’s newsletter, I wrote about Jay Ajayi’s success against Atlanta while playing for the Miami Dolphins earlier this season. He had 26 carries in that game. He hasn’t had more than 15 in a game with the Eagles. When offensive coordinator Frank Reich was asked Monday why Ajayi hasn’t been a 25-carry running back for the Eagles, Reich said it’s because of the Eagles’ running back rotation, but acknowledged that “it’s always a fluid thing.” Reich thinks Ajayi is fresh for the playoffs, which is a good sign for Saturday.  “I really do feel like he’s fresh, and that is one of the advantages of what we’ve done and really managing that situation for him in whatever things he has going on physically,” Reich said.
  • The Chicago Bears hired Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy as head coach. They chose Nagy over a field that included Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, who interviewed with the Bears on Saturday. Nagy, who grew up in Manheim, Pa. and played college football at Delaware, started his NFL coaching career with the Eagles. He followed Andy Reid to Kansas City and replaced Doug Pederson as offensive coordinator after Pederson came to the Eagles.

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— Zach Berman

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Eagles fans celebrate a play against the Oakland Raiders at Lincoln Financial Field on Christmas night.

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The Eagles’ best chance of scoring against Atlanta will be with sustained drives. I don’t know that this will be a quick-strike explosive offense. It hasn’t been that way since Nick Foles took over. They’ll need to convert third downs and extend drives. I’ve written it before — be efficient on third down and in the red zone. That will require a good running game on early downs to get into manageable third downs. The Falcons have allowed 19.7 points per game this year, which ranks eighth in the NFL. It’s not exactly the NFL’s most imposing defense. That average is actually behind the Eagles’. So if you ask how will the Eagles score against Atlanta, it’s also valid to wonder how the Falcons will score on the Eagles.