Rebuild. Retool. Reset. The vocabulary surrounding Philadelphia football has focused on the need for patience so far in 2021. Writers have written off the Eagles. Pundits have punted positivity into next season. But with seven rounds left to fight, the team is still standing and haven’t thrown in the towel yet. This season is just getting started – and there’s plenty of sporting drama ahead.
The QB factory was more like a QB laboratory in the first seven games this season. Jalen Hurts was squashed under a microscope lens and forced through a series of inhumane trials – none worse than the vomit-inducing live experiment at the AT&T in Week 3. The result was more like Frankenstein’s Monster than Frank Reich’s offense from 2017. Putting Hurts out of his misery seemed the kindest choice.
Fortunately, a more ethical mindset prevailed. The Eagles have unleashed their army of talented running backs and released Hurts from his cage of suffering. In the last three games, the Birds have averaged 68.31 percent rushing plays – up from just 38.95 percent in the eight previous match-ups. That shift has taken the pressure off the Eagles’ young QB. And his growing confidence will be fascinating to watch.
The first ten games this season included both teams who contested Super Bowl LIV, as well as tough matchups against rising contenders like the Chargers and Raiders (both 5-4) and a road trip to Arlington. Based on opponents’ combined win percentage in 2020, however, the Eagles had the easiest schedule of all 32 NFL teams for this season. Why? Because of what’s coming up next.
Washington is winnable. The Giants are nothing to be scared of. And the Jets are… the Jets. The Eagles offense will enjoy more time and space in the remaining seven games – while Jonathan Gannon’s leaky defense has a now-or-never chance to shut up the critics. Home games against New Orleans and Dallas will have the Linc rocking. It’s the perfect moment to let the good times roll.
Wild times ahead?
A likeable and struggling protagonist? Check! A plot full of twists and turns? You bet! A powerful villain who will stop at nothing to achieve world domination? See you in Week 18…
Every great story needs key ingredients to grab the audience and keep them hanging off the edge of their ludicrously overpriced Eagles-branded bar stools. The best way to do it? Keep raising the stakes.
The Carolina Panthers currently have their claws on the final wildcard spot, with a 5-5 record. The Eagles are not far behind, with 4-6. A solid run of results from now until early January will add drama and suspense to a soap opera that’s been running since 1933 – with heartache and high spirits guaranteed.
Last chance saloon
From the locker room to the board room, there are players and staff clinging to this organization by their fingernails. Veteran players like Fletcher Cox, Brandon Brooks and Rodney McLeod are circling the plughole. Contract discussions will decide the future of key figures including Dallas Goedert, Avonte Maddox and Jordan Howard. And fans are sharpening the guillotine blade ready for a “Let them eat cheesesteaks” moment for the General Manager.
Every day for the next eight weeks, a meteor will inch closer towards obliterating some high-profile individuals from this franchise. That will ramp up the off-field intrigue and on-field inspiration as the moment of impact approaches. And the shock waves will transform the organization for a long time.
Reimagining the rebuild
Delayed gratification has shaped the narrative about Philly football this year. With three first-round picks for the 2022 draft, Eagles fans may feel like the NFL 2021 season is a slow and painful death that must be endured before rebirth and regeneration in the years ahead. But don’t believe the lack of hype. The next eight weeks will offer a kaleidoscope of emotions for Eagles fans. There’s fight in these underdogs yet.
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