The Philadelphia Eagles and the great ’strength of schedule’ debate

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Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) celebrates his third touchdown reception during the first half of an NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

The Philadelphia Eagles are currently preparing for a Monday Night clash against the Washington Commanders. A win would see them soar to a 9-0 record. The last team to reach this milestone was the 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers, and before that, the 2015 Carolina Panthers. But if you open up Twitter or chat to any Football fan, they’ll be quick to downplay this stunning accomplishment.

Strength of Schedule

Of the 17 opponents on the 2022 schedule, ten offenses ranked in the bottom 12 last season. Only five offenses ranked inside the top 12 of total yards.

The Saints have been massively underwhelming and the Lions and Jaguars have both missed the mark while many expected a leap forward. It’s also fair to point out the Eagles ran through a Cardinals team that was without DeAndre Hopkins, a Cowboys offense that no longer had Amari Cooper (or Dak for that matter) and will soon face a Green Bay offense without Davante Adams.

It’s easy to see why some are skeptical to crown the Eagles the new king of the crop. But if you flip the coin, a very different picture emerges.

Howie, you’ve done it again

The Eagles were 4-11-1 in 2020. They rallied to 9 wins under Nick Sirianni. The trajectory of the team was clear despite some very valid question marks surrounding the growth of Jalen Hurts, some failed draft selections, and the need to completely reset to usher in a new era.

We all know how sneaky Howie Roseman can be. At this point, there may not be a more feared general manager in all of Football when it comes to trades. Sure, he’s had his misses, but if you believe in your philosophies enough and are able to accept constructive criticism to make them better, it’s only a matter of time before lightning strikes twice.

After all, there is a reason why so many Eagles execs end up being poached every year.

So do you really think a GM of Howie Roseman’s prestige looked at the 2022 schedule and failed to see an opportunity to dominate? The blueprint for a great football team was right in front of him, if only there was a way to capitalize on the ease of the 2022 schedule, while setting the team up for future success…

Chauncey Garnder-Johnson – 1-year contract
James Bradberry 1-year contract
Kyzir White 1-year contract

There’s a reason why Howie targeted established players on prove-it deals while also drafting developmental talent who are a year or two away from making a significant impact…

And for the marquee moves?

  • Trade for and extend A.J Brown to give your quarterback a dominant WR tandem for 4 years until more contractual moves need to be made
  • Sign Haason Reddick to a monster contract and add a new cornerstone to your defense
  • Snag the Saints first-round pick for 2023 (currently top-5)

Howie Roseman’s ability to see the bigger picture really helped position the Eagles to propel up the NFC hierarchy, knowing full well that there was a schedule of struggling teams ahead of them.

The product on the field

Of course, Roseman still had to double down on Jalen Hurts, which was a decision that split fans across the City, but one that proved to be worth its weight in gold. Hurts is now an MVP front-runner and has taken some significant leaps as a passer this season, exceeding everyone’s expectations.

Nick Sirianni has not only galvanized the locker room, but enriched talent both new and old. The Head Coach was mature enough to realize that Shane Steichen is better suited to calling offensive plays and the decision to hand over the reins to his offensive coordinator has proven to be an extremely effective one.

Players like Miles Sanders are enjoying breakout years and the coaching staff isn’t afraid of changing up their scheme dependent on matchup. If they can’t run the ball, they trust in the arm of Hurts. If they can’t find success, they’re not afraid to shake things up with bubble screens and RPO’s to open things up. The offense is smart, it’s simple, and most importantly, it’s working.

The Eagles deserve their unbeaten record

We could sit here all day, go through player by player, and explain why this 8-0 record is justified. But when all is said and done, it’s not Philadelphia’s fault for having to beat who’s in front of them. However, it’s absolutely to their credit that the team has been suitably stacked with talent and prepared to make the most of such an advantageous situation.

AP Photo/Derik Hamilton