In its league’s history, NFL teams that started 0-2 have roughly about a 12% chance to make the postseason. Those odds have to increase with the expanded playoffs to start this season. Since 2000, the Philadelphia Eagles have started 0-2 just three other times outside of their abysmal start to 2020. For the Eagles to get back on track, they have to look back to one of those three teams in order to save their season.
While fans of the team (myself included) have been calling for people’s jobs to be in question – the season is not over yet. The 2003 Eagles are a perfect example of why that is the case.
Reuben Frank, of NBC Sports Philadelphia, spoke of how Wentz’s 2020 start to the season mirrors that of Donovan McNabb’s in 2003. Here are the numbers:
Carson this year: 59% completion, 512 passing yards, 2 TDs, 4 INTs, 64.4 passer rating.
Donovan in 2003: 45% completion, 334 passing yards, 0 TDs, 3 INTs, 41.4 passer rating.
For all intents and purposes, 2003 McNabb played far worse against tougher competition than Wentz has been in 2020. In McNabb’s case, he brought the team to the NFC Championship game that year. Wentz’s mark has yet to be seen.
In 2003, McNabb had to deal with off the field criticism from the media and Eagles fans across the globe to start the year. Just turn on the television if you need to see what the media is talking about when it comes to Carson Wentz:
The similarities between the 2020 Eagles are most certainly there compared to the 2003 team. Let’s take a look at why:
Miles Sanders = Brian Westbrook
The easiest response to why. In 2003, the Eagles were 2-3 and losing to the Giants late in the fourth quarter. Then Brian Westbrook happened:
Miles Sanders has been excellent as an Eagle. In his first game of the year last week, Sanders totaled over 130 yards with close to five yards a carry. Sanders is an absolute beast and can certainly take the next step in his development like Westbrook did in 2003.
McNabb is to Wentz as AJ Feeley is to Jalen Hurts
People really forget, in 2002 with McNabb gone for the last couple of months due to an injury, AJ Feeley won four straight games and gave the Eagles the #1 seed in the NFC Playoffs. When McNabb started 2003 slow, there were calls for Feeley to take over and become “the future” of the team even though McNabb signed a massive extension a year prior.
Thank god that didn’t happen. McNabb ended 2003 strongly and led the Eagles to their third straight NFC Title game appearance.
This starting to ring a bell to anyone?
Wentz should be fine. His performance to end the 2019 season should tell you all you need to know about how good he can be. He does need to play better like McNabb did in order to save the season though.
Similarities on Defense
Fletcher Cox is on the injury report. As are a good boatload of players on the roster.
But if we go back to 2003, the Eagles were in a similar position. Brian Dawkins, the best player on the Eagles defense (like Fletch) was gone for eight weeks that year due to a sprained ankle. In Week One in 2003, the Eagles defense only gave up 17 points but an anemic offense really struggled. You couldn’t blame the defense for Week One’s defeat in 2003 just like many people couldn’t in 2020.
In Week two in 2003, the Eagles defense gave up over 30 points while the offense had a boatload of turnovers. In 2020: the same. exact. thing. happened.
In all honesty, the Eagles could easily be like the 2007 or 2015 season where an 0-2 start derailed their chances of a playoff berth. But the similarities between this 2020 team and the 2003 roster is extremely similar. Only time will tell if the 2020 roster, led by their QB, makes the same push as the 2003 one did.
In the immortal words of Bill Belichick: “We’re on to Cincinnati”
Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire