If you had asked prognosticators about their expectations for the 2017 Eagles before the season began, most would have stated that a 9-7 record would not only be an improvement from last season, but also a sign that the team is on the way up to bigger and better things for the future.
Well, here we are six games in, and it looks like the Eagles construction project is well ahead of schedule.
The Birds dismantled the Carolina Panthers last Thursday night, 28-23, in a hard fought contest that very few (excluding yours truly) predicted that the Eagles would win.
The Eagles had a short week to practice and were going on the road against a quality opponent, which wouldn’t make their task of winning easy by any means. And they faced a quarterback who not only is a physical specimen with his size, but has an uncanny ability to throw the ball downfield with ease.
Add to that the fact that Carolina was also 4-1 going into the game, and perhaps the doubt was understandable.
But Cam Newton, when things don’t go his way, can quickly become “Scram” Newton, hiding underneath a towel draped over his head and face, looking as if he was a child who was told that he could not leave the dinner table until he had finished his vegetables. The television “cam”, and the game stats, showed that he had three interceptions in the game to cap off his night, which clearly didn’t help his team’s cause.
Meanwhile, Carson Wentz, while not having a huge game passing wise (he only threw for 222 yards), still managed to throw for three touchdowns. The 2nd year quarterback from North Dakota now has 13 touchdowns on the year versus only three interceptions.
Somewhere on the shores of Lake Erie, the Cleveland Browns organization must be kicking themselves for trading down instead of drafting the “Ginger Jesus” as the 2nd overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft. Such poor decisions help to explain why the Browns are currently 0-6 and have had only two winning seasons since they returned to Cleveland in 1999. But I digress….
With the Kansas City Chiefs losing on Thursday night to the Oakland Raiders, the Birds now stand as the only team in the league with only one loss. And their early season success has resulted in the hopes of a playoff birth before the season, now having turned to talks of a possible first-round bye or even (gulp) home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. But before we jump ahead of ourselves, let’s consider one thing: A 5-1 start does not a playoff guarantee make.
The last time the Eagles got off to such a good start was 2014 (a mere three years ago). That season, the Birds turned a 5-1 start into a 9-3 record after a Thanksgiving Day thrashing of the Dallas Cowboys, and it looked like the Birds could be serious contenders for the Super Bowl.
Instead, the team went on to lose its next three games, two of which were at home. The third of those crucial losses gave them a 9-6 record and eliminated them from the playoffs before the last game of the season was even played. A season that looked so promising just a few weeks back had quickly smoldered into nothingness.
This is not to suggest that this team will do the same. During that 2014 season, that three game losing streak was the beginning of the end for Chip Kelly, who was fired with one game remaining in the 2015 season when his team was 6-9. And neither of Chip Kelly’s quarterbacks at that time (Nick Foles in 2014 & Sam Bradford in 2015) hold the same pedigree as Carson Wentz does.
But more than half of the season still remains to be played, and there is still time for things to change for the worst, either due to ineffectiveness or to injury. Let’s enjoy what this ride may bring, and keep our fingers crossed.
The Eagles come off of a 11-day hiatus this week, as they face the Washington Redskins on Monday night. The ‘Skins seem to be the Birds most formidable opponent in the division, as they sit at 3-2 and in 2nd place in the division. But as the Birds have already defeated Washington in the opener, a win on Monday night would effectively knock the Redskins out of contention for the division.
This will be another tough, division game for the Eagles, as a lot is on the line for Washington. But with the home crowd in a frenzy and behind them, the Eagles win in a nail biter, 27-24.
The Last Word:
When it comes to our division foes, every one knows we hate the Cowboys. And while we can recall so many tough, close games against the Giants, the same cannot be said about the Redskins. Part of the reason for this is that both Philadelphia and Washington haven’t finished with winning records in the same season since 1996, and interestingly enough, we’ve only faced our division rival from the nation’s capital once in the playoffs, which was a 1990 wildcard playoff game that ended Buddy Ryan’s tenure as coach of the Eagles.
Amit’s Marquee Matchups of the Week:
Saints at Packers 1:00 PM FOX
Falcons at Patriots 8:30 PM NBC
Redskins at EAGLES 8:30 PM ESPN (Mon)