We’re halfway through a ridiculous Eagles season. Let’s take a moment to reflect and take stock of the winners and losers of the Eagles season so far. Spoiler alert: everyone is a winner.
We’re going to run out of platitudes at the rate this season is going. At the halfway mark, Wentz is as strong of an MVP candidate as anyone in the league. The 49ers game was his worst of the season and in it he threw two touchdowns and the offense scored 26 points. He’s cleaned up his deep ball issues from the beginning of the season, to go along with improving just about every aspect of his game. He needs to be better against the blitz, but he’s still young and that should improve with experience. Carson Wentz, baby, he’s our baby.
I’m going to wait until the season ends so we have a full body of work to discuss and appreciate but hoo boy do I—and many others—need to find a good crow dish to cook. (Crow l’orange? I’m thinking crow marsala, or parm.) The first few weeks weren’t an aberration: Nelson Agholor is a good player and key cog to this offense. He’s found a great home in the slot.
What was a weakness is now a strength: the Eagles have a good group of WRs. His poor route against the 49ers aside, Mack Hollins deserves more playing time, and he’s getting it. He might take over Torrey Smith’s starting job, which says as much about Hollins as it does Smith. Marcus Johnson has looked good when he’s played, not bad for a 5th stringer. The Eagles now have not just depth but young depth to surround their 25 year old quarterback.
Brandon Graham is on pace for double digit sacks, and Fletcher Cox has an even better sacks per game rate. Derek Barnett is looking every bit like the player he was drafted to be. Ten different players already have a sack. The Eagles pass rush is meeting its lofty expectations, and there’s still room to improve as they’re not even top 10 in sack rate.
Like Nelson Agholor, the early season success of the secondary wasn’t a mirage, these guys can play. Jalen Mills is a legitimate starter. Rasul Douglas has been solid, which is all you can realistically ask for from a rookie. Patrick Robinson has been a free agency steal. Cornerback is still the weakest unit on the Eagles defense, but it hasn’t been the liability we expected.
Owner of the best record in the NFL. Head coach and play caller of a second year MVP candidate quarterback and 4th highest scoring offense. Maybe he’s catching a lot of breaks, or maybe he’s a pretty good coach. The truth is probably, as usual, somewhere in between, but today that doesn’t matter: midway through the season, Doug Pederson is a big winner in every sense.
Howie Roseman/Joe Douglas
Roseman and Douglas have had a stellar season in veteran acquisitions. Every player the Eagles acquired in the spring with the intention of giving playing time to has performed: Alshon Jeffery is altering defenses. Torrey Smith is creating space underneath. LeGarrette Blount is producing. Tim Jernigan has been a big addition. Patrick Robinson has been huge. Chris Long is an effective rotational piece. Corey Graham has been a nice depth player. And we have yet to see what Ronald Darby can do but there’s every reason to think he’ll be good.
And then BOY THEY DONE DID IT. The Ajayi trade is a terrific move. With Wentz arriving ahead of schedule, the team is in a position where it can flip picks for players to fill holes. With the Eagles one of the few top-to-bottom good teams in a strange season, there might never be a better time than now. To get a bonafide starting talent at a position of need for cheap in both trade value and cap space is a hell of a move.
Carson Wentz. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. The Flyers busload of prospects and young players. Whatever the Phillies are doing, I guess (is Rhys Hoskins the real deal?). It’s a new dawn in Philadelphia.
The Eagles have the best record in the league and just added more talent, so there’s no complaints. But they’ve lost three key players for the season to injury in Darren Sproles, Jason Peters and Jordan Hicks, and a fourth, Ronald Darby, has missed all but half a game, a dark cloud on an otherwise sunny day. Every team suffers injuries, but the Eagles have been hit pretty hard in the quality of them. At the halfway point, it feels like injuries are the only thing stopping this team from going far. The injuries that have already happened might be the drag that slows the team down.