Eagles Have Reason For Optimism Despite Record
By Rob Maaddi
The Eagles scored 57 points with a depleted offense against two of the best defenses in the NFL and still lost.
Think about that.
Carson Wentz, Jason Kelce, Miles Sanders and Zach Ertz were the only original starters on offense who finished the game at Pittsburgh. Only Wentz and Kelce finished against Baltimore.
Yet, the Eagles still managed to score 29 points against the Steelers and 28 against the Ravens. That should’ve been enough to win both games but the defense continues to let the team down.
Still, there’s reason for optimism even at 1-4-1.
The NFC East is the worst division in football. The Eagles trail Dallas by just a half-game. If they only win their remaining games, it’s very likely the Eagles would capture the division title with a 6-9-1 record.
But there are other positives.
Start with Wentz. He single-handedly carried the offense in the fourth quarter to get within a 2-point conversion of tying the Ravens. He made clutch throws. He took a beating and kept getting up. He was out there blocking Marcus Peters on Jalen Hurts’ 20-yard run. He stayed in bounds, avoided tackles and ran 40 yards on another play. Wentz would’ve led the team to a gigantic comeback win if John Hightower didn’t drop a perfect, deep pass on third-and-23 on the opening drive or Sanders catches a TD pass in the second quarter or Jake Elliott kicks that 52-yard field goal at the end of the first half.
So, Wentz’s performance coupled with Travis Fulgham’s emergence is a big reason for optimism.
“Carson is the type of guy that’s going to put the team on his back, and especially when we are faced with adversity, he wants the ball in his hands all the time and those two guys, second half, really stepped up and made some plays,” coach Doug Pederson said of Wentz and Fulgham. “Carson, playing as tough as he did, really kind of kept us in this game.”
There are no moral victories in sports but Wentz leading the offense to 57 points despite all the injuries, the dropped passes, the missed field goals, inept blocking, assorted mistakes and some poor playcalling is quite impressive.
“Well, that’s the thing that I have to focus on as an offense,” Pederson said. “The last couple of weeks, even going back to San Francisco, a team that was in the Super Bowl and I know they had some injuries on defense, but it’s still a really good defense, and you come away with a win there. And then Pittsburgh, what you did at Pittsburgh, and then of course Baltimore being I believe the No. 1 defense in the National Football League, statistically speaking.
“To have, really in all three of those games, you win one and had chances to win the other two. So for us, that’s the part that we have to stay focused on, right? We have to stay focused on the positive and keep coaching our players. We’ve got some young players that are getting valuable experience. … All that is encouraging moving forward and we know that we have got some of our veteran players that are getting healthy and hopefully we get them back soon and it will kind of solidify everything for us.
We’ve just got to keep it together, keep it tight, keep focusing on one week at a time. But I am encouraged by what we’ve done, even though we haven’t necessarily won.”
Facing the New York Giants on Thursday night is a chance to finally get that second win and start building some momentum. Home victories the next two weeks over the Giants and Cowboys guarantees the Eagles would be alone in first place at the midpoint of the season going into a bye.
It’s not pretty. It’s been downright ugly. But first place gets you a home game in January so it beats playing for draft positioning.