By: Jarrett Tognucci ’18
The Philadelphia Eagles are playing differently than we’ve seen them play the last couple of years, and that is good. Right now at 9-1 the team is atop the NFC with other contenders like Seattle (not looking good, except star QB Russell Wilson), Green Bay (no Rodgers), and Carolina (already beaten) not looking like they’ll be passing the Birds anytime soon. The Eagles also have the division well in hand with the second place team Dallas at 5-3 and the Washington Redskins (4-4) not close and already swept by the Birds. The Eagles and Carson Wentz are ahead of schedule in some eyes as most did not predict the Eagles to be playing this well. Few had them winning the division and reaching the playoffs, but certainly not the type of success they’re having now. Here are my ten takeaways in what I believe are shaping the Eagles season.
Carson Wentz is dynamic. The second year quarterback is playing like people imagined he could, but did not think this early in his career. Wentz already has thrown 19 TD’s to go along with 5 interceptions. His yards per game are up to 257.9, up from 236.4 last year and has an incredible passer rating of 101.6. He also is being considered for league MVP.
An Eagle who has stepped up this year is wide receiver Nelson Agholor, who played so poor last year he was scratched from a couple games, he has come back this season to be playing his best in his three year career and is in the running for NFL Comeback Player of the Year. Agholor already has more yards than in either of his other seasons (392), touchdowns, (5), as well as a career long reception of 72 yards. Even his burst looks notably returned, was seen on tap with his touchdown against Carolina.
The rest of the Eagles weapons have been playing really well. Even with the injury of Darren Sproles, guys like Alshon Jeffery who has 5 touchdowns, Zach Ertz already has 528 receiving yards, and LaGarrette Blount who has averaged a league high 5 yards after contact, have all played great thus far.
The offensive line has been solid. Onjuries were not a problem early, but now with the best one of them all Jason Peters going down, Halapoulivaati Vaitai has his hands full with protecting Wentz’s blindside. Eagles had the #1 preseason offensive line ranking by PFF to start the season. Replacing him won’t be easy but in the games Vaitai has played, he has only let up one sack. Their backups include Vaitai and Chance Warmack who could start on other teams. He looks improved but to be seen if he will be the starter the rest of the way. Eagles could potentially look for a tackle at the deadline, maybe the 49ers veteran Joe Staley.
Injuries have hit the Eagles, but in key players like Sproles, Peters, and Jordan Hicks. The offense has been able to plug the voids; however replacing your middle linebacker is never easy. I think that’s a key for Eagles moving forward.
Defense started where they left off last year. With Fletcher Cox and the defensive line getting after it. Cox is having probably his best season. Although people said this team’s Achilles heel was the secondary, this unit has been playing well led by Malcolm Jenkins and Jalen Mills. Rookie Rasul Douglas has played well as the opposite starting corner and already has a couple of INT’s to his name. Patrick Robinson has also been a nice surprise. This is without the talented second round draft pick Sidney Jones, who is still on IR and can come back and play this season.
Right now the Eagles are at one of the best points they’ve been in the last century going into the bye week at 8-1 and at the top of the NFC East getting ready to face big time rival Dallas on Sunday Night Football. The Eagles are playing well coached football and are very talented. Many fans are hopefull success is finally coming together this season. Eagles have a tough schedule coming after the bye including games against Seattle and the Los Angeles Rams. If Carson keeps playing like he’s capable and continues the Pro Bowl season he’s having, the Eagles are in business and can control their own destiny. There’s no reason why the Eagles can’t finish strong, go far in the playoffs and have a season fans will not forget anytime soon.