The Philadelphia Eagles are on a Bye week which means it’s time to shout at the Sixers and become even more furious with the Flyers. In the meantime, it’s a nice opportunity to sit back and view just how far this team has come in such a short space of time.
Patience is a virtue…
If we rewind to the midpoint of the 2021 campaign, the Eagles were a very different team. They were 3-5 with their only wins coming against sub-par teams and had experienced a wealth of new frustrating teething problems every week. However, they’re now in the thick of the wildcard race and fans have a reason to believe in Nick Sirianni and the long-term potential this team has.
Over time, those glimpses of brilliance have turned into more sustained periods of success. The occasional emphatic catch has now become a breakout game for Dallas Goedert. One big rushing outing has transformed into a rushing juggernaut that sits atop the NFL in the majority of categories. This team is growing and there is visible progress each and every week.
Until we get to Jalen Hurts. The Eagles quarterback finds himself fighting against the tides of time right now. His progress as a rushing quarterback cannot be praised enough as he’s developed into one of the most dynamic players in all of football. As a passer, however, there’s a lot of meat left on the bone week in and week out.
Again, the stance on Hurts hasn’t changed. We all knew that Rome wasn’t built in a day and fans understood that his flaws as a passer would only be fixed through experience. The problem is that this Eagles roster is looking dangerous and if Hurts becomes one of the lone factors stopping them from taking a monumental leap sooner than expected, then the franchise owns a trio of first-round picks to find the guy who ticks the box.
It’s still too soon to quit on Hurts, in my opinion. But if he doesn’t at least show improvement as a passer in the pocket by the end of the season, then it’s going to be hard to make the case to keep him as the starter, at least without an alternative to provide competition.
With a string of divisional games coming up that will ultimately decide the teams’ playoff fate, the Eagles need Hurts to find that clutch gene and become the man he was born to be.
The rookies are shining
Maybe it’s because this team is so young and therefore more opportunities are available to the younger players, but it’s really exciting to see so many members of the 2021 draft class shining. From DeVonta Smith showcasing just how high his ceiling really is, all the way down to flashes from Patrick Johnson, this class is stacked with young players who possess scintillating athletic skill sets. The future looks bright.
Tin foil time
Gardner Minshew looked good against the Jets. I think I would look good against the Jets. He wasn’t asked to do a whole lot and a ridiculously good day from Miles Sanders ensured that things were kept simple. However, we can all agree that Hurts struggles as a passer. If Minshew ends up making one more start this year and can built on a small sample size of precise passing, and the offense thrives, it might give the front office enough of a case to look for a pocket-general.
Not enough is being said about Jordan Mailata
The bodyguard is back. The story of Jordan Mailata is an incredible one and as a person, he’s just as remarkable. A kind heart off the field and a ruthless warrior on it who wears his heart on his sleeve and will decimate opponents on a weekly basis. Mailata has been exceptional this year and is already living up to the price tag of his juicy new contract.
If you want something to do during an Eagles game, watch the ball carrier. The second a running back or QB hits the ground, watch who runs over to pick them up. Spoiler alert: It’s Jordan Mailata nearly every damn time.
Talking of which…
Whatever the Eagles are paying Jeff Stoutland, double it, multiply it by 8, double it again, and then add a Christmas bonus. Seriously, that man could get Angelo Cataldi graded as one of PFF’s strongest linemen in 2023 at this rate.
Stout has helped Jack Driscoll, Nate Herbig, and Landon Dickerson all take huge steps this season, containing to turn water into wine and build a fortress up front.
The party ain’t over yet for Miles Sanders
Not too long ago, I had a strong feeling that Miles Sanders was heading towards the end of his career with the Eagles. There were a few reasons for this but a new focus on pounding the rock has pushed Sanders to the forefront of the picture once again. Sanders destroyed the Jets with ease on Sunday and if he can stay healthy, has a real chance of forcing the front office to give him a new deal as opposed to cutting ties. That kind of game is something we all know he’s capable of, but one he’s rarely able to put together for a myriad of reasons. It’s time to change the narrative.
A silver lining
I know the defense has had more ups and downs than a rollercoaster, but Jonathan Gannon came into this gig as the ‘DB Whisperer’ who helped Xavier Rhodes find new life. Darius Slay is enjoying a huge year, Avonte Maddox has played his way into a secure future, and the idea of drafting someone like Derek Stingley Jr is absolutely salivating. After years of torrid play at corner and instability in the secondary, it’s really nice to see exciting play on a weekly basis.
Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire