The Eagles Super Bowl fairytale suffered a shattering dagger in the heart today when it was announced that Carson Wentz would be out for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. The MVP candidate who set a single-season franchise record for most touchdowns scored just one day ago, will be unable to compete in the postseason…something that seemed inevitable at this stage. So what happens now? There’s no time to weep for the Eagles. They have a divisional game next week against a team playing for pride…and nothing is handed to you in this league. It’s a case of mending and moving on.
The road ahead is tough. A matchup against Derek Carr, who was in this exact position just one year ago looms along with two divisional games. It won’t be easy…but the Eagles are a team that boasts depth across the board. They may not put up 30 points, they may not decimate defenses with ease, but they have the potential and talent to finish what Wentz started.
Philadelphia’s NFL-leading 404 points are the team’s most through 13 games in franchise history. Their ability to balance the offense and spread the ball around with an unselfish attitude has been a staple to their success. Reminiscent of the Golden State Warriors, just because Steph Curry can’t play, it doesn’t mean that KD or Klay Thompson won’t sting.
The Eagles receiving corps is the most explosive it’s been in years. Torrey Smith broke his dry spell with his first 100-yard game for two years on Sunday, while Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor have amassed 15 touchdowns between them. The Birds are riding a three-game streak now of a receiver surpassing the 100-yard mark…and that talent doesn’t suddenly disappear just because Wentz is unable to sling them the ball. It was Nick Foles who delivered Ertz’s first ever NFL touchdown back in 2013. The familiarity and experience is there…and while it’s only a small sample size, Foles seemed competent enough to throw a strike to Nelson Agholor late in the game with all the weight of the world on his shoulders to secure the win.
Even without Ertz, Trey Burton and Brent Celek are both able to step up as they did on Sunday. Burton recorded a career-high two touchdowns against the Rams, while his veteran tight end teammate also chipped in with his first score since 2015.
On the ground, the Eagles have punished defenses all season along. Their emphatic streak of 10 consecutive games with 100+ rushing yards stands tall and while dishing out the carries to the most effective back seems to be an ongoing problem, the Eagles have the talent to make it count. Jay Ajayi is averaging a mighty 7.0 yards per carry on his 44 attempts this year, while the versatility of Corey Clement shines through on screens, receptions and red zone efficiency.
The men paving the way for the run are in an unenviable position however, losing Stefen Wisniewski early in the game to L.A that forced Isaac Seumalo and Chance Warmack into the fray. Both capable players struggled as they have all season long and that may be an issue moving forward. But if there is any team who can use quick passes and screens to evade danger, it’s this one.
Then of course, there’s the defense. A ruthless unit with one aim in mind, smothering anything that crosses their path. Despite giving the Rams a little too much breathing room, the defense has been mightily tough throughout and again, that won’t change. In fact, Doug Pederson announced today that Sidney Jones is cleared to practice. That’s right, things will only get better on the backend moving forward.
The truth is, it’s always been backs to the wall. That’s the Philadelphia way. No starting linebacker who has captained this defense at such a young age. No dual-threat running back and special teams ace in Darren Sproles. No hall of fame left tackle. No #1 corner for most of the season. Games without Fletcher Cox, games without Zach Ertz. This is an Eagles team that is constantly forced to dig deep and defy the odds and week after week they do it.
This will be no exception. “I think you have a lot of respect for Nick Foles, he’s had a lot of success in this league.” Words from Rams Head Coach, Sean McVay. “Certainly Carson is special for a reason, but I think it’s just he made a handful of plays at the end and they were able to pull it out and hats off to Nick right there.”
|Well that’s what you got to have.” Said Doug Pederson when asked about how efficient Foles was. “You know, when you’re in these type of games and playoff-type atmosphere and your back’s a little bit against the wall, you need guys to step up. You need players to make plays and that’s what happened.”
This is just another drop in the ocean for the Eagles. It’s a mighty big drop. In fact it’s a storm. But smooth seas don’t make good Sailors…and these waters have been ferocious ever since the S.S Philadelphia first set sail. A change of captaincy may see them take a few steps back, but the end destination remains the same.
Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports