There’s no doubting that the Eagles have faced a lot of adversity this season. Some of it has been self-inflicted, a lot of it has been injury-related, and then there’s Orlando Scandrick. But what nobody accounted for, was the youth infusion that would ultimately save the season as a result.
With the offense depleted, players such as Greg Ward Jr., Dallas Goedert, Joshua Perkins, and Miles Sanders have all had to step up. None of those players were around the team during the highs of Super Bowl 52 and the raw underdog energy with a desire to prove a point is what has helped lift this offense out of a slump.
Whether injury-related or not, it’s easy to see the difference in play for instance between Nelson Agholor and Greg Ward Jr, who set a career-high in receiving yards yesterday, just one week after his fourth-quarter heroics. His intent to instantly turn upfield when the ball in his hands has helped carve out extra yards in key situations and nobody can question his effort.
With so many young players surrounding him, Carson Wentz has had to step up and lead in a more direct way, something that’s also probably helped him break free of the character criticism chains that have been gripped so tightly around him since that fateful day almost two years ago.
“I think he just continues to coach on the field.” Doug Pederson told reporters after the game. “You see him during the games talking with these guys, and it’s just helping him. I think you’re seeing the trust factor with some of these young guys. He’s leaning on them a little bit more, and that’s what you have to do.
Listen, these are the guys we’re playing with, so we have to do that. He’s done an outstanding job of leading the team, not just the offense, but the whole team, and had another solid performance today.
We just have to keep it rolling.”
Miles Sanders may be the perfect embodiment of someone carrying that torch. When Jordan Howard went down with injury, there was naturally a lot of skepticism surrounding the run-game and how it would pan out. Was the rookie ready for a heavy workload now that the Eagles are without their prime north-south runner? Would his weaknesses be exploited by defenses?
The answer has been nothing short of outstanding. Sanders looks to get better and better each and every week, flashing star potential and showing clear development in those areas of concern. Bouncing runs to the outside and making plays in open space, Sanders has been seeing roughly 20 carries per game and has been nothing short of exceptional.
“Resilient. Energetic.” Carson Wentz said when ask to describe the offensive change of heart. “I think there’s been a lot of excitement with the unknown. I think with a lot of new faces and a lot of guys that maybe weren’t expected to be making these plays that unknown factor just is exciting. I think just the resiliency that I’ve seen, it’s been the next-man-up mentality from really the moment I got here in Philly. You see it over and over and it’s exciting to see these guys come to work with a sense of belief and the pride they take in their work and to get it done out here on Sundays.”
The Eagles may be heading into a potential playoff run without their starting trio of wide receivers and lead running back, but the players who have stepped up to fill those shoes are bringing such a raw sense of pride and hunger to the table, wanting to make the most of that opportunity, that it’s captivated the entire offensive group and arguably helped lift them out of a very dark place. Every cloud has a silver lining, and this one is shining brightly.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports