It’s been a few years, but the Philadelphia Eagles are fun again.
Ever since I started getting involved covering college football as much as I do, my interest in the NFL declined. It wasn’t so much because I don’t like the NFL as it was needing a day to unwind. Spending 14 hours a day watching college football on Saturday after staying up late for Thursday and Friday night games led me to not have much interest in watching anymore football on Sunday, and maybe spend some time with my wife and take care of some projects.
So I became more of a casual fan and observer of the NFL game. As it so happened, this also occurred at a time where my local team, the Eagles, started to tail off from their glory days under Andy Reid with Donovan McNabb and their string of division titles and one trip to the Super Bowl, and transitioned to the brief Chip Kelly era. I was still keeping up on the Eagles, but my interest in watching the mediocre product at best was not enough to see me be fully invested in the team.
That’s changing with this Eagles team.
On Thursday night, I feel the fire was officially lit for me. I had been paying closer attention to the Eagles this season than I have the last few years thanks in part to some schedule changes with my work allowing me a chance to flip the Eagles on as some background noise. The Eagles went toe-to-toe with the Carolina Panthers and beat them up in a 28-23 victory that was as hard-fought a victory as I’ve seen from the Eagles in some time. The defense picked off Cam Newton three times and flung their bodies around on defense to push back the Carolina o-line or make a great tackle for a key third-down stop. Six games into the season, the Eagles are 5-1 despite having played four games on the road and now have a 2.5-game cushion in the NFC East prior to Sunday’s action.
I expected the Eagles to be better this season. I didn’t expect them to be in the spot they currently are.
You don’t have to go back very far to find me doubting the Eagles in a couple of areas. For starters, I was miffed with the hiring of Doug Pederson. I had grown tired of the Andy Reid way of football because it had gone as far as it could. To me, hiring Pederson with a recommendation to the front office from Reid himself was the Eagles attempting to go back to the old way of life to erase what happened in the disastrous Chip Kelly era. And Pederson being a first-year head coach certainly had to go through some of his own growing pains on the sideline and I was perhaps quick to dismiss him as a head coach. While he’s still not perfect, I have come around on the guy.
Early in the second half of Thursday night’s game, the Eagles kicked an extra point and Carolina committed a foul. Rather than tack on the yardage to the ensuing kickoff, Pederson showed guts and went for a two-point conversion instead knowing the ball would be placed closer to the end zone.
Pederson has coached a few really good games the past few weeks in what is perhaps his best stretch as a head coach since getting the job in Philly.
And it helps to have a quarterback in Carson Wentz who is performing at a high level and still looking for mistakes he can correct moving forward as he continues to grow. After Wentz tossed three touchdowns and showed his own grit on the field once again, I was more than ready to call myself out for my take on the Eagles draft in 2016. At the time, I wanted the Eagles to stick where they were at No. 8 overall after moving up once and draft running back Ezekiel Elliott.
But, of course, the Eagles moved up once more to grab Wentz out of North Dakota State with the second pick in the draft. I didn’t think that was a draft that would be wise to move up for a quarterback (my eyes were locked on Deshaun Watson of Clemson the following season), but I was able to live with the pick. I had my doubts at the time, but Thursday was the perfect day to admit once again to the public how wrong I was, considering Elliott had a six-game suspension re-activated and Wentz leading the Eagles to a big road win.
I didn’t think Eagles should have moved up to draft Wentz. Thought they should have drafted Ezekiel. Feel I should out myself on that today.
— Kevin McGuire (@KevinOnCFB) October 13, 2017
The Eagles have played themselves into position to be a serious contender in the NFC Playoffs, and why not? Things are clicking with this team on both sides of the football and the special teams unit remains as steady as ever. Maybe they don’t sniff the Super Bowl, but if the Eagles can continue to win games and grow together, the postseason experience regardless of what the result may be is a valuable step forward. The Eagles could be in prime position to lock down the NFC East and get a home playoff game, but the way this season is going right now, the Eagles could be looking to get a first-round bye.
The Eagles will play the next three games at home; against Washington (who the Eagles defeated on the road in Week 1), San Francisco, and Denver. Going 2-1 in the next three games should keep the Eagles in a great spot as they go back on the road in mid-November for a showdown with the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night. This is a key stretch for the Eagles, and Philly is right to be buzzing about it with great excitement. It’s been a while.