Finding five positives from the Eagles season so far

NFL: SEP 27 Bengals at Eagles
PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 27: Philadelphia Eagles Offensive Guard Nate Herbig (67) blocks in the second half during the game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Philadelphia Eagles on September 27, 2020 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

The Eagles are 0-2-1 and clearly falling apart at the seams. It’s all doom and gloom in the City of Brotherly Love right now, but are there any reasons for optimism as we approach the quarter-season mark? I did my best to find five.

Malik Jackson’s balling out

The Eagles were without the highest-paid nose tackle in the NFL to start the season, but you wouldn’t have realized it at first glance. Malik Jackson has been a force to be reckoned with in each game so far, garnering a PFF grade of 75.5 through 3 weeks.

His first year in Philadelphia was cut short after just one game and we’re now all witnessing the revenge tour. He’s currently T-3 in QB hits on the year with 7, only 3 behind T.J Watt, and one behind Aaron Donald.

Having Jackson in the fold has helped alleviate the pressure from the shoulders of Fletcher Cox in a big way. Cox already has 1.5 sacks and 2 TFL on the season, rebounding from what was a disappointing 2019 campaign.

If you’re looking for a bright spot in a dismal season, there’s no light shining brighter than Malik Jackson right now, who is living in the pocket of opposing quarterbacks and helping the pass-rush to feast as a result.

Nate Herbig’s rise

The offensive line is already banged up in a big way. We already knew that Brandon Brooks was going to miss a huge chunk of the season at a minimum, but it was Lane Johnson’s absence in week 1 that pushed the conveyor belt along one more spot, placing Nate Herbig into the starting lineup.

Herbig had just 3 NFL snaps going into week 1 and has looked like a very serviceable backup. In fact, he moved across the line in week 3, filling in for Isaac Seumalo who also picked up an injury, He allowed just a single QB hurry on 60 pass reps.

The offensive line factory continues to produce and Herbig’s rise is easily one of the most exciting talking points on the entire team right now. Whether his ceiling is a long-term option as a backup guard, or a future starter one day, there’s a lot of reason to believe in the 22-year-old.

The NFC East is a dumpster fire

The Philadelphia Eagles are 0-2-1 and have looked like an absolute trainwreck waiting to happen. 3 weeks into the season, they’re 1 win away from tying the top of the NFC East and have only played one divisional game.

Sure, a 6-10 team winning the division isn’t exactly an accomplishment, but so long as the division continues to suck, this team will *somehow* have a chance to clinch it and push their way into the postseason.

We all know miracles can happen over a one-game sample size, especially with this team. So long as there’s a hope of some chaotic energy and a ridiculous upset, that’s enough reason to keep believing.

The Eagles have a shutdown cornerback

He may have let Joe Burrow chalk up 7 completions on 9 targets, but that may have been more down to the scheme than anything else. In weeks one and two, Darius Slay combined to allow for 6 completions on 12 targets for a total of 56 yards and two passer ratings under 65. The WR’s faced? Terry McLaurin and Robert Woods.

Against Woods, Slay was nothing short of exceptional, and he blanketed Terry McLaurin after the Washington wideout gave him hell when they clashed last year, very much returning the favor.

It’s been a long time since the Eagles have had a true shutdown cornerback and although the rest of the secondary is clinging on for dear life, Slay’s presence has arguably been the difference between a string of heartbreakingly narrow results, and absolute blowouts.

The party isn’t over yet for the Eagles

The Eagles might be in a very bad place right now and reasons for optimism are few and far between, but if we’ve come to learn anything in the Doug Pederson era, it’s that the party isn’t over until the nail is hammered into the coffin beyond all doubt.

The improbable run to end the 2019 season is a perfect example, but every year sees that same energy manifested. From ‘Double-doinks‘ to ‘Philly-Philly’, there’s never a shortage of never-say-die moments with the Philadelphia Eagles. Sure, the odds are stacked against them more than we’ve seen in the Doug Pederson era, but if there’s ever a team to pull off the unthinkable, it’s a franchise that somehow does it year after year.

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire