As everyone knows by now, the Eagles lost Carson Wentz for the season to a torn ACL.
Collectively we have been a bit depressed since this became an ugly reality on Monday afternoon.
This was supposed to be THE season, this team and this quarterback were special.
The good news- the Eagles are still 11-2, still NFC East champs, still one win away from a first round bye, and two wins (or a win and Minnesota loss) away from the road to the Super Bowl heading through South Philly.
It sucks that Carson won't be around for the playoff push but he set this team up for postseason success even with Nick Foles as the starting quarterback.
I believe this team can make a legit run.
The reason that I am so confident is because I believe that that this team is truly special.
Coming into the season, it was apparent the Eagles would have a star studded front seven, but the common notion was that the secondary would struggle and be the achillies heel of the defense this season.
The secondary has stepped up in a big way, even after losing Ronald Darby in week one for 11 weeks. They currently rank 4th in opponents QBR and have allowed 19 touchdowns while forcing 16 interceptions. An amazing turnaround for a secondary that was written off.
The front seven has been dominate, even after losing Jordan Hicks to a season ending injury. They have the leagues number 1 rush defense, and their ability to get pressure on the quarterback with four has helped elevate the secondary’s play all year. This defense is SPECIAL and we have seen countless times in the NFL, a special defense can take you to the Super Bowl.
Another aspect of this team that has been solid all season and continues to get better is the run game.
This was another surprise after the loss of Darren Sproles to yet another season ending injury. The run game featuring LeGarrette Blount, Corey Clement and Wendell Smallwood was steady.
Then Howie traded a fourth round pick for Jay Ajayi.
Since joining the team, Ajayi is averaging 7.0 yards a carry and has been a great compliment back to Blount. A little thunder and lightning action in the Eagles backfield with a great passing catching red zone threat in Corey Clement.
The run game will have to step up big time with the loss of Carson Wentz, but with Ajayi becoming more acclimated with the system, this group is poised to take the next step and become a critical part of the offense heading into the playoffs
However, if the Eagles want to make a Super Bowl run it will come down to the play of the offensive line.
Even after the season ending injury to future hall of fame left tackle Jason Peters, the Eagles offensive line has played pretty well all season. Vaitai has been ok filling in for Peters, and Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks and Jason Kelce are having pro bowl type seasons. While they have been solid, now it is crucial for the line to raise their level of play even more and protect a far less mobile Nick Foles.
If protected, Foles will be just fine. He isn’t your typical backup quarterback, he’s been here before, he’s played for Doug before and he’s had success at every spot he’s been at except with the Rams under Jeff Fisher. And honestly, who has had success under Jeff Fisher?
No, Foles is not Carson Wentz but he is good enough to take this team to the Super Bowl.
The next man up mentality has been in full force all season and now its Foles’ time to step up.
Foles may not have the same capabilities as Wentz, but he does have enough to bring us to Minnesota.
The season doesn’t rest on Nick Foles’ shoulders, he just has to be the next man up, take care of the ball and help the rest of the team the same way they will help him.
The Eagles went from the Super Bowl favorites to an afterthought in the playoffs, a team this talented can make a lot of noise in January (and hopefully February) playing with house money.
This TEAM can get to the Super Bowl with great defense, a great run game, and a good enough QB.