The new offensive system has generated huge numbers for the stars on that side of the ball. The new defensive system meant a humbling change of role for the team’s best-known defensive player.
Cole went to two Pro Bowls and amassed 71 career sacks as a defensive end. In new coordinator Bill Davis' 3-4 defense, he plays outside linebacker. It is a very different position with different responsibilities. Cole had just one sack going into Sunday’s 24-16 victory against Washington. He got to Robert Griffin III for two sacks.
“I know everybody is tracking Trent with his number of sacks,” Davis said, “but it’s not how we track it. We know all season that Trent has had that consistent pressure and put stress on the quarterbacks and tackles he’s going against. It’s nice to see him get rewarded with the sacks, but that’s not how we judge him.”
“Sacks are fun,” Cole said. “They’re going to come. But I just want to make sure we do our job.”
Cole left the game briefly and was evaluated for a concussion. He was cleared to play and said he felt fine afterward.
-- The Eagles were happy to end their home losing streak at 10 games. They were especially happy that they won’t have to answer any more questions about it.
“It’s good that we got that off our back,” linebacker Connor Barwin said. “It’s really good because we have three out of our next four at home.”
“It’s a weight off our shoulders,” wide receiver Riley Cooper said. “Finally get a win at home and give our fans something to cheer about.”
“We wanted to win this one badly in front of our fans,” wide receiver Jason Avant said, “which is why we came out and played the way we did. We kind of scared them [with Washington’s near comeback], but you should appreciate those types of things because it’s worth the price of admission.”
That’s one way to look at it.
-- The television broadcast caught Cooper apparently bickering with LeSean McCoy late in the game. Cooper told reporters he was actually mediating between McCoy and wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Running backs coach Duce Staley stepped in as well.
-- Punter Donnie Jones had a standout game -- a team record with a 50.7 net average -- but his 70-yard punt in the fourth quarter came at a crucial juncture.
The Eagles, who ran out the clock with a nine minute, 32 second drive last week in Green Bay, got the ball with 5:52 left and a 24-16 lead to protect. On third-and-4, quarterback Nick Foles ran to his right and was tripped up by cornerback Josh Wilson.
The officials spotted the ball, measured and award the Eagles a first down. Washington coach Mike Shanahan challenged the spot and won. The Eagles were forced to punt from their own 26. Jones boomed it over the head of return man Nick Williams and the ball rolled out of bounds at the 4.
“It was huge,” Kelly said. “To make them go that far, to get us out of that situation we were in. For our special teams to contribute like that, that’s what it takes. To win a division, you have to play well in all three phases. I thought that punt was huge for us.”