Photo Credit: CSN Philly
The Philadelphia Eagles are sitting pretty at 3-0 with a game today against the Detroit Lions after a bye week. They are coming off of one of the biggest upsets in the NFL this season, as they defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers by a final score of 34-3. They are one of the three teams in the NFL that remain undefeated (Denver Broncos and Minnesota Vikings), and are easily the most surprising of the bunch. As the Eagles sit in first place, a lot of people are still uncertain about who will win the NFC East, and if it will be the Eagles. Here are 10 reasons why the Eagles can win the NFC East.
1. Carson Wentz looks like a franchise quarterback.
Carson Wentz was named the starting quarterback of the Eagles just one week before the season started due to the Sam Bradford trade. Not many people in Philadelphia knew what to expect. He has not disappointed and has lived up to the hype that surrounded him when he was selected with the second overall pick in the draft. Through three games, he has thrown for 769 yards, 5 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. He also has a quarterback rating of 103.8. He has played like a franchise quarterback, and needs to continue to do so, and if he does, this team will find success.
2. Their defense is legit.
The Eagles’ defense last year started off strong and ultimately crumbled in the second half of the season. This year, the Eagles’ defense has been amazing through the first three games. They have only allowed 27 points, they’ve sacked the opposing quarterback 10 times, intercepted three passes, and forced three fumbles. They have yet to allow a passing touchdown this season facing quarterbacks like Robert Griffin III, Jay Cutler, and Ben Roethlisberger, the most surprising one. If the Eagles’ defense keeps playing like it is, it won’t be matched down the stretch.
3. Doug Pederson
After the Eagles fired Chip Kelly in week 17 of the NFL season last year, the search for a new head coach was on. The Eagles hired former quarterback and offensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs, Doug Pederson, and no one knew what to think. Pederson responded by going 4-0 in the preseason and getting off to a 3-0 start. He has been vocal in the locker room before and after every game, and has built strong relationships with most of the players. After the Chip Kelly era, I guess a player-friendly coach was badly needed.
4. Jim Schwartz
Most people would argue that the reason that the Eagles’ defense has been so good to this point is because of their defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. Jim Schwartz was hired this offseason after the firing of defensive coordinator Billy Davis. Schwartz was known as a hard-headed, tough coordinator. He has never had a defense finish outside of the top 10 in all of his years as a coordinator. Many Eagles’ players credit Schwartz as the reason for their success this season. Maybe he’s their lucky charm.
5. Their Defensive Line
The Eagles’ defense has been great as I’ve already mentioned. But the part of their defense that has played the best has easily been the defensive line. The Eagles have sacked the opposing team’s quarterback 10 times this season, with nine of those sacks coming from a defensive lineman, the other being by safety Malcolm Jenkins against the Chicago Bears. Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, Conner Barwin, and Vinny Curry have combined to record nine sacks and 24 quarterback hits. In the words of Steelers’ right tackle Marcus Gilbert to Brandon Graham: “We’ll see you guys in the Super Bowl, cause ain’t nobody gonna be able to block y’all.”
6. Their Running Game
The Eagles’ running backs have been very good through the first three games. After using Ryan Mathews exclusively in game 1, they have basically used a running back by committee style over the past two games. Ryan Matthews, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood, and Kenjon Barner combined have rushed for 357 yards and 5 touchdowns so far this season. Wentz has gotten it done in the passing game and all of the guys mentioned above have gotten it done on the ground.
7. Their Offensive Line
The Eagles offensive line was a big question mark coming into this season. They have turned into one of the better units in the league. Carson Wentz was sacked twice in the first game of the season, but has not been sacked since. The offensive line could take a big hit if they lose left tackle Lane Johnson due to a drug policy suspension, but as of right now, their offensive line is a strength.
8. The Dallas Cowboys’ defense is horrific.
The Dallas Cowboys have a very talented offense, but their defense is anything but talented. If the Cowboys defense remains as bad as they have played, they won’t win the division, which is a big plus for the Eagles as of right now.
9. The New York Giants’ run defense is inconsistent.
The New York Giants made a lot of noise this offseason by signing lots of players that would help their league-worst defense against the run, including defensive end Olivier Vernon and defensive tackle Damon Harrison. But through the first quarter of the season, the Giants are in the bottom three in the league against the run. The Eagles don’t play the Giants until week 9, and then again in week 16; I expect the running game to be a big factor.
10. Leadership qualities
The Eagles have played well on the field to this point in the season, and a lot of that has to do with the change in atmosphere in the locker room. Carson Wentz, Doug Pederson, Malcolm Jenkins, Jordan Hicks, and Jordan Matthews have all assumed leadership roles for this team. The leadership qualities of this team has set them apart from the rest of the NFC East. That, above all things, will be key down the stretch.
The Philadelphia Eagles need to take advantage of all of these things in order to win the NFC East. If they take advantage, they will be the NFC East champions…but that has yet to be seen.