Through the first seven games of the Philadelphia Eagles season, not much is going according to plan. The team is 3-4 and drastically underperforming following a Super Bowl Championship in 2017. The team is losing games in extraordinary fashion, most recently allowing Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers to score 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter after shutting them out for three quarters.
Despite the lack of success, some Eagles are still on their way to career years, some even approaching historical levels. So, there could be a silver lining if the team doesn’t turn things around soon.
Fletcher Cox has received the elite defensive tackle treatment in 2018, often drawing double- and triple-teams. Still, Cox is on his way to another career year and could be a top contender for his latest goal: Defensive Player of the Year. Cox has tallied four quarterback sacks through the first four games while adding 22 tackles and four tackles for loss.
The All-Pro is on pace for the second-most sacks and third-most tackles in his career. It is clear that he is playing out of his mind through the first half of the season, despite the defense falling well short of its goals. Additionally, Cox is doing it all without a running partner like Bennie Logan or Tim Jernigan by his side. In week seven, Bruce Hector and Treyvon Hester combined for 55 snaps at defensive tackle. Who and huh?!
Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery missed the first three games of the season recovering from shoulder surgery after playing 19 games in 2017 with a torn rotator cuff. Fully healthy for the first time in a few seasons, Jeffery is playing at a top-tier wide receiver level. Through four games, number 17 is on pace for his third-most receptions and yards of his career.
He is averaging over six catches per game and is on pace for a career-high 13 touchdowns receptions this season. In a season in which wide receivers are putting up eye-popping numbers, Jeffery should not be overlooked and came into his season on fire, looking to make up for lost time.
Jeffery looked to mimic the play of his quarterback, Carson Wentz who was returning from a devastating injury of his own that looked to end the Eagles 2017 season prematurely. Wentz missed two games before gaining clearance from the team’s medical staff to return to play and he immediately returned to pre-injury form.
Wentz has come under scrutiny in the past week with people questioning the clutch gene in the young quarterback following a botched fourth-quarter comeback attempt against the Carolina Panthers.
Despite the scrutiny, Wentz is taking over games like he did a season ago when he was playing at an MVP level. Wentz is completing a career-high 70.8 percent of his passes, good for the fourth-best mark among quarterbacks with at least 195 pass attempts. With ten touchdowns and just one interception, Wentz also boasts the third-best TD:INT ratio in the league behind only Drew Brees’ 13:0 and Aaron Rodgers 12:1.
If Wentz continues the pace he is on, he could challenge the 27:2 ratio famously held by his backup, Nick Foles during his historical 2013 campaign. He is also on pace to best Donovan McNabb’s franchise record for passing yards in a season (3,916). If he continues his 300.4 yards per game pace, he will finish the season with 4,205 passing yards.
Wentz is playing at a level near his 2017 season, which is more than we could hope for less than 12 months removed from a major knee injury. The franchise quarterback is setting himself up for a colossal contract extension following the season.
Finally, tight end Zach Ertz has cemented himself as the best tight end in the league in 2018 and is on pace to shatter not only franchise records but NFL records by a tight end. Simply put, Ertz is playing at a level never before seen at the tight end position.
Despite only playing seven games so far, Ertz is just 21 receptions and 235 yards from career-highs with nine games to go. Ertz is second in the league in receptions behind only Adam Thielen (who is on pace to break some records, himself) and has 19 more receptions than the next closest tight end.
If Ertz continues the transcendent streak he is on, he will finish the season with 130(!!) receptions which would be the third-most in NFL history, shatter Jason Witten’s record for receptions in a season by a tight end (110) and obliterate the current Eagles franchise record for receptions in a season (90). He could also top Rob Gronkowski’s record for receiving yards by a tight end in a season which currently sits at 1,327 yards. Zachy Boy is on pace for 1,412 yards, which would also narrowly set the new franchise mark for receiving yards in a season, edging out Mike Quick’s 1,409 yards in 1983.
While the Eagles season as a whole may not be going as planned, some individual players are taking their game to the next level after adding a world championship to their resumes. If the Eagles season continues as it began, at least you could see a few records broken and a handful of All-Pros on the 2018 squad.
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Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports