Reasons For Hope As Eagles Limp Into Buffalo
Things are looking extremely grim in Philadelphia after two disastrous losses in a row. Mounting injuries, underperforming starters, a 3-4 record, and locker-room drama has fans about ready to wave their white flags. When the schedule came out back in April, Buffalo would’ve been marked by many in the “W” column, but instead here we are with the Eagles trying to pick up the pieces and the Bills rolling at 5-1. Despite all the evidence pointing to the Eagles simply being a bad team and this season headed off the rails, here’s a few reasons for hope that the Eagles can return home 4-4:
1) The Bills 5-1 record could be misleading of how good they are.
The only blemish on Buffalo’s schedule is a close loss at home to the undefeated Patriots. The teams they’ve beaten? The 1-5 Jets, the 2-5 Giants, the 0-7 Bengals, the 3-4 Titans, and the 0-6 and likely soon-to-be 0-16 Dolphins. There’s plenty of times an early season record can be misleading. For example, the 2014 Eagles started 5-1, then eventually 9-3, only to collapse late and miss the playoffs. The 2003 Eagles started 0-2 and looked totally lost, only to finish 12-4 and reach the conference championship. The Bills do have a good defense that the Eagles will have to find a way to score points against, but Josh Allen has still proven to be erratic at QB and maybe, just maybe, the Eagles are better than 3-4 and the Bills are worse than 5-1.
2) Doug Pederson’s track record post-embarrassment.
Following a 32-14 embarrassment at Cincinnati in Pederson/Wentz’s rookie seasons that really wasn’t even that close, things were so bad that many questioned if Pederson could even survive to the end of his first season as coach. Pederson then publicly called out his team’s effort, as it was extremely obvious that the Eagles had quit that miserable day in December 2016. How did they respond? Four inspired performances and a 2-2 record to close the season. Even in the two losses, the Eagles, severely deficient on talent, still had chances to win in the final seconds of those games.
Last year as defending Super Bowl champions, the Eagles were annihilated, embarrassed, and humiliated in New Orleans, 48-7, in the worst loss ever by a defending champion. Pederson again rallied the team to a 5-1 finish and a narrow defeat in the NFC Divisional Playoffs.
We know that even in the most grim of times, this team still fights for its coach, and that’s certainly more than we could say of other disastrous times such as 2015 with Chip Kelly. A team can make up for a lack of talent and still make a run by fighting for each other and their coach. We can only hope the 2019 Eagles can find it within them.
3) Sunday’s weather forecast could favor the Eagles.
As of now, Sunday’s weather forecast calls for rain in Buffalo. The Eagles’ offensive line and running backs are due for a bounce-back game. This should be a game tailor-made for Jordan Howard to get 100+ yards. Miles Sanders, who somehow leads the Eagles in yards per reception, is due for a big rushing performance as well. In 2003, Brian Westbrook began his breakout season with a long, game-clinching TD run in Buffalo. Maybe Sanders can replicate that moment for himself Sunday.
4) Carson Wentz says enough is enough.
Yes, the Eagles are two dropped passes (vs. Atlanta and Detroit) from being 5-2 right now. Wentz put the passes exactly where they needed to be for Nelson Agholor and JJ Arcega-Whiteside, but his receivers couldn’t make the play and win the game. Sunday Night’s disaster in Dallas is, in my opinion, the first time this year where Wentz deserves a larger portion of the blame. He made a few really nice passes, and yes Agholor should’ve hauled a long touchdown from Wentz in the second half, but he was indecisive, unsure, and at times just plain inaccurate vs. the Cowboys.
Carson Wentz is not only a franchise quarterback, but has proven that at his best, his ceiling is the single best player in the game. Perhaps Wentz rallies the troops following the recent drama and anonymous complaining. Perhaps Wentz utilizes his legs more and makes plays outside the pocket and on the run, taking matters more into his own hands rather than depending on the Eagles’ lackluster skill position players.
Sometimes it feels like Wentz is the sole bright spot on this team right now. That the Eagles have and will continue to have a true franchise QB through all the tough times. Maybe it will also be because of the quarterback that the 2019 Eagles can get things back on track.
Time will tell.