After their poor start to the season, it's understandable that some fans would be wary of trusting this current Eagles team. Yes, the improvement has looked real, but with the way their performances would vary from half to half early in the season, I think it's fair to worry that it could still happen from game to game.
However, Football Outsiders looked a few numbers and some film and concluded that the Eagles resurgence is no fluke, but their early season struggles may have been. First, they noted that the Eagles have actually played a very tough schedule early in the season, much tougher than was expected.
With respect to strength of opponent, the Eagles have played the ninth-toughest schedule according to our metrics. Not surprisingly, their three wins have come against teams with a combined 7-14 record, whereas their four losses were against teams with a combined record of 20-8. The math here shows that, if Philadelphia had played a schedule of league-average strength so far, it'd have an estimated record of 4-3 -- a win better than its actual record.
They also examined the effect of luck in some of these games. Generally teams win half of their games decided by 7 points or less, but the Eagles lost virtually all of those four straight games by a close score and bad luck had a lot to do with it.
For another example of bad luck, we need only to look at Michael Vick's eight interceptions, six of which have been the result of either tipped balls by a defensive lineman or drops by an intended receiver. Vick's had balls intercepted after bouncing off helmets, hands, shoulders and even feet. In the case of his last interception in Buffalo, it was all of the above.
I've been saying this all year, Vick has been the victim of some awful turnover luck that just has to even out at some point. Over the last couple weeks, we've seen that happening.
They also looked at the impact of the two injuries Michael Vick picked up that forced him out of two games which ended up as losses. But I think the more important point they found and one that I've felt has made for the greatest impact has been the improved play of the secondary, most notably of the new guys.
In pass defense, it was a comedy of errors until recently because the secondary had several new faces -- Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to name two -- whose skill sets were honed in defensive systems that don't resemble that of the Eagles. If you watch the film of late on this unit, you see far fewer gaping holes in Philadelphia's zone coverage, with Asomugha and Rogers-Cromartie looking more comfortable in their assignments.