The Philadelphia Eagles were expected to go through a transition this season. They were starting a rookie quarterback and had a rookie head coach in former Andy Reid disciple Doug Pederson. And in the NFC East, many did not see them even being in the running for the NFC East title. But my how they have surprised people to start the season. Philadelphia went 2-0 to start the season, as they defeated the Cleveland Browns and the Chicago Bears. But the win they had Sunday was the one that made those that don't believe in the Eagles think a little bit more about them. The Eagles took on the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Battle Of Pennsylvania. And what was thought to be a rude awakening for the Eagles proved to be a blitzkrieg unleashed by them on the Steelers. The Eagles dominated the Steelers on their way to a 34-3 win. And just like that, the Eagles are one team that many are taking a second look at. But along with the surprise about their record comes the surprise in how they are doing it.
When Carson Wentz was named the starter for the Eagles this season, plenty had to wonder if the Eagles head coach, Pederson, had lost his mind. Wentz had barely played in the preseason because of an injury and the only action he had was practice reps. Essentially, there was no one who knew what to expect from him. Well, to say Eagles fans were pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. The young rookie has shown the poise of a veteran. He has found open receivers in stride so they can gain additional yards. Wentz has also been able to go through all his progressions and make checks at the line of scrimmage. And with Wentz being further along than many even anticipated, the offense of the Eagles has looked very solid, putting up 29,29 and 34 points to start the season. If he continues to look as sharp as he has (along with avoiding the big hits he took in the second game), then the Eagles may have them something special at the quarterback position. His emergence has been the main reason the offense has looked good.
The offensive improvement has been huge for the Eagles. But the biggest thing the Eagles offense has done is sustain drives. By doing so, they have helped the Eagles defense become better. Over the years with former coach Chip Kelly, the Eagles would ran a quick offense that would attack defenses while they were trying to figure out what was going on. But the bad part of that ended up catching the Eagles, as they were having quick three-and-outs and having to rush their defense back on the field quickly. Well, what a difference a year makes, as they have been very solid defensively. The Eagles are bringing pressure to their opponents, led by defensive end Brandon Graham and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, who lead the team with three sacks apiece so far. And along with the pressure they are getting upfront, the Eagles are defending the pass better than they had in a while. On Sunday, you saw defenders laying out to deflect or knock down passes being thrown their way. You also saw players like Malcolm Jenkins in excellent position to defend passes and make plays, which they did. And as a result, that type of attention to detail and ability they have is truly making a difference for them and their defense, forcing discomfort for the opposing offense discomfort in all aspects of the game.
The Eagles are perhaps a little better than anyone thought they would be. They are getting a great performance out of their rookie quarterback this season so far and they are also getting more out of their defense. And because of that, there is hope that the Eagles will not only be better but playoff contenders in the NFC. Not bad for a team no one expected to do much so far.