By Dave Spadaro
What is the word to describe the midway point of this Eagles season? Unbelievable? Incredible? Wentz-derful?
It’s been that kind of eight weeks for the Eagles, who have an NFL-best 7–1 record and who are tearing teams apart with a formula that has sustainability. They dominate with the front four defensively, and tackle Fletcher Cox has been on a quarterback-eating run unlike any he’s had in the NFL. The team takes the football away, evidenced by two more on Sunday in a 33–10 blowout win at Lincoln Financial Field. Quarterback Carson Wentz has been the Most Valuable Player in the NFL through eight weeks, with 19 touchdowns passes in half a season.
“I think it comes down to this,” center Jason Kelce said. “We believe in each other and we’re fighting for each other, and that’s what works in this league.”
Camaraderie plays a huge part in NFL success, and the Eagles’ wagon is overflowing with it at the moment. Injuries have taken key pieces off the field this season — starters like left tackle Jason Peters, middle linebacker Jordan Hicks, placekicker Caleb Sturgis, running back/return man Darren Sproles and special teams ace Chris Maragos are lost for the year, and cornerback Ronald Darby hasn’t played since Week 1 — but it hasn’t slowed the team.
Not a bit.
“Our goals are so big and we just have to keep at it every day in practice, challenging each other and playing for each other,” said tight end Zach Ertz, who has six touchdown catches, all in the red zone. “We’re not a selfish team. We’re playing for each other, and I think that makes all the difference in the world.”
Wentz has led the charge, and the second-year quarterback has been sensational with 19 touchdown passes, five interceptions and a passer rating of 101.6. He’s been great, a superstar in his second season. With the offense able to beat teams on the ground and in the air with an explosive passing attack, the Eagles are tough to defend.
On defense, the front four has been punishing. The front four has combined for a whopping 19 quarterback sacks. Cox has been a pile-mover inside. Brandon Graham and a deep group of ends are collapsing the pocket from the edge.
The special teams, with placekicker Jake Elliott a threat from 55 yards and in — he has made 16 of his 20 field goal attempts — are winning the field position battle.
“The whole roster is balling,” said cornerback Jalen Mills, the second-year man who has a team-high three interceptions. “We all take a piece of it. We’re pushing each other in practice and so when we get to the game days, we’re ready to play at a higher level. That’s the kind of team we have.”
So just how high can the Eagles soar? Seven wins in eight games to open the season? Did anyone see it coming? What is the end game here?
“Day by day is all I’m going to say about it,” Cox said. “We’re having fun and we’re working hard. Keep it going. That’s all we want to do.”