It’s been a long journey for the Philadelphia Eagles but is this where you expected them to be? A team that was said to be in a retooling phase after firing their Super Bowl-winning head coach and trading away their franchise QB a year after extending him.
Who would’ve thought that a second-round draft pick out of Oklahoma would slowly become the most important player in Philadelphia during a dark time? How about the rookie head coach that became the laughingstock of the league after his first press conference? Who could have imagined that those two individuals would lead the Eagles to the top of the NFC after being blown out of the playoffs?
After an incredible offseason where the Eagles signed Haason Reddick, Kyzir White, and Zach Pascal when free agency broke open to the incredible NFL Draft weekend where they ended up selecting Jordan Davis, Cam Jurgens, and Nakobe Dean. Let’s not forget the most important moment in the NFL draft. The moment when it was announced that the Eagles not only traded for WR A.J. Brown but they also handed him a 4 year, $100 million extension before he even stepped foot in Philadelphia.
Of course, Howie Roseman wasn’t done yet. With the safety position being a weakness for the defense, the Eagles traded for Saints CB Chauncey Gardner-Johnson with the hope that he could be their guy. It was all there for the Eagles coaching staff. The pieces needed to complete the ultimate NFL puzzle.
Nick Sirianni and his staff took that challenge and ran with it in hopes of accomplishing the highest feat in the NFL, winning a Super Bowl. The road to Arizona started in Detroit where the Eagles battled a scrappy Lions team and defeated them by an eye opening score of 38-35.
Following that win, all eyes were set on their home debut where they would host the early Super Bowl favorites the Minnesota Vikings. The Eagles put a lid on that explosive offense and defeated them 24-7 while staying focused on the task at hand.
After that, Philadelphia would put together the best start in the NFL this season by winning their first eight games. That streak was unfortunately stopped by the Washington Commanders as the Eagles turned the ball over one too many times on Monday Night Football.
That loss wouldn’t stop Philadelphia.
The Eagles were becoming too much for the NFL to handle as they learned from their mistakes and adapted on the fly. All of this stemming from the incredible play of their Quarterback, Jalen Hurts.
Hurts had a career year and he wasn’t alone in it. A.J. Brown went on to break Mike Quick’s season record for yards in a season by a WR. DeVonta Smith would follow by breaking the franchise record for most receptions in a season by a wide receiver. And Miles Sanders would be the first running back to rush for 1,000 yards since 2014.
Then there was the defense. The duo of Darius Slay and James Bradberry as they locked down opponent after opponent with some help from their defensive line who broke the franchise record for sacks in a season with 70. They also finished as the first team in NFL history to have four players with more than 10+ in the same season. Talk about a team of destiny.
But the road wasn’t always easy.
After winning their next five games to bring their record to 13-1, the Eagles received gut-wrenching news as their star QB suffered a shoulder sprain against the Chicago Bears. This injury would sideline Hurts for the next two weeks. It was a pivotal time because the Eagles needed one more win to clinch the first-round bye.
While Gardner Minshew gave it his all against the Cowboys and Saints, the team as a whole started to free-fall as injuries piled on. Avonte Maddox went down. Lane Johnson went down. Josh Sweat went down. The Eagles needed to find a way to win the NFC East and clinch the number one seed. So they called on the one man who could finish the job.
Jalen Hurts found a way to come back and play for the Eagles in their week 18 matchup against the Giants. Fortunately, the Giants rested their starters as they had nothing to play for which gave Hurts the practice reps he needed for the playoffs.
The Eagles found a way to win and clinch a needed first-round bye which is now allowing their players to get healthy, especially a certain QB who is no longer on the injury report. Jalen Hurts is almost back to 100% percent and is preparing to lead his team on the ultimate run after finishing the season 14-3. Will the Eagles be able to finish what they started or will the rust be too much to overcome?
AP Photo/Chris Szagola