The Philadelphia Eagles have been off to an extremely hot start to begin the 2016 season. The question is – how good of a start are the birds off to? Well, I compared this team’s first three games to the 2004 Eagles first three games, the season they went on their Super Bowl run.
The Eagles began the 2004 season playing the New York Giants, the Minnesota Vikings, and the Detroit Lions in that order. The Eagles began the 2016 season playing the Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bears, and the Pittsburgh Steelers in that order.
The Eagles passing attack in those first three games was amazing to say at the least. The 2004 season was franchise quarterback, Donovan McNabb, best season to date and his sixth year in the NFL.
McNabb’s first three games on the season included 74 completions for 931 passing yards, eight touchdowns, and zero interceptions. McNabb didn’t turn the ball over at all in that timespan.
Carson Wentz is enjoying a very successful rookie season thus far, three games into the 2016 season. He’s the favorite to win NFL rookie of the year for his play during the team’s current three game stretch. Wentz has completed 66 passes for 769 passing yards, five touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Wentz as well hasn’t turn the ball over once this season.
The Eagles thrived in the passing game to start the 2004 season, while their rushing attack was complimentary at best. The team’s rushing attacked, headlined by Brian Westbrook, carried the ball 63 times in the three game timespan, rushing for 291 yards and two touchdowns.
The Eagles rushing attack in 2016 has been a collective group effort. The team has used running backs, Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, Kenjon Barner and Wendell Smallwood in various roles. The Eagles 2016 rushing numbers through three games have been – 96 carries for 358 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
Clearly the major difference between both offensive units is the 2004 Eagles lived by the passing attack through their first three games, while the 2016 Eagles have been utilizing the ground game more.
The Eagles 2004 defense was off to a very hot start pressuring opposing quarterbacks. The team recorded 13 sacks in the first three contests, but failed to create a turnover. The defense held their opponents to a total of 46 points combined in those three games. The team finished the year with 45 sacks and forcing 33 total turnovers.
The Eagles 2016 defense has been off to a great start in these past three games. The team has recorded ten sacks, forcing 6 turnovers already. The defense has held their opponents to 27 points combined in those three contests. The defense is on pace to finish the year with 50 sacks and forcing 36 turnovers.
Comparing both of these teams isn’t quite fair to the 2016 Eagles. The 2004 squad had veterans all over the team including McNabb, Westbrook, Terrell Owens, and Brian Dawkins, among others. Andy Reid was also a veteran head coach in his sixth season as one. The 2016 Eagles have a brand new coaching staff headlined by rookie head coach, Doug Pederson, while playing with a rookie quarterback in Wentz.
This comparison is just a preview of how good this team is playing currently. It’s amazing the strides they’ve made given the inexperience surrounding the team. This is just the beginning. The days of Philadelphia Eagles dominance are returning.