Are the Philadelphia Eagles headed for a repeat of the disastrous 2012 season?


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The Eagles are 2-0! At first glance, this would imply that the Eagles are playing well and are ready to repeat as NFC East champions.

However, despite the wins, the Eagles haven’t been playing at a championship level. They’ve played poorly for extended stretches, and in both games, there were times when defeat appeared imminent.

Those fans who haven’t been able to block the Eagles’ awful 2012 season from memory will recall that they also started 2-0 that year. Much like this season, the Eagles played sloppily in each of their first two games, but were somehow able to pull out a win.

Two weeks into the 2012 season, the popular narrative was that it was a good sign that the Eagles – considered by many to be the NFC East favorites – were able to win despite not being at their best. That didn’t quite turn out to be the case. Thanks to under-performing talent, debilitating injuries, and the questionable decision-making of Andy Reid, the Eagles ended up with a 4-12 record.

Are the Eagles headed for a similar fate this season?

There are a few warning signs: Much like in 2012, the Eagles have already suffered a fair share of injuries. A multitude of injuries at the offensive line and linebacker positions have left the Eagles paper-thin at those spots – and there were questions about how much quality depth they had there to begin with.

Michael Vick. Image Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The play of their quarterback has also been reminiscent of 2012. Two years ago, the Eagles won their first two games despite Michael Vick not playing especially well. Back then, fans hoped that Vick was merely rusty due to missing most of the preseason, and he’d soon find his footing.

That didn’t happen. Vick suffered from the same problems that have plagued him throughout most of his career: An inability to stay healthy, and questionable decision-making when he was on the field.

Heading into the 2014 season, most of the questions surrounding the Eagles were regarding just how good Nick Foles was. While it might have been foolish to expect him to duplicate last year’s performance, despite decent numbers on paper, Foles hasn’t played especially well thus far.

Despite those similarities, the outlook for the 2014 season looks much brighter than two years ago.

The injuries to the offensive line are troubling, but there is hope that things will improve. Suspended right tackle Lane Johnson will return in week five, and injured guard Evan Mathis can return in week ten. Assuming there are no other setbacks, the Eagles should have their projected starters for the stretch run.

As far as the linebackers go, Travis Long and Najee Goode will both miss the remainder of the season, but at least they are only backups. All of the starting linebackers are still healthy. Obviously, this is still problematic if the starters get hurt (as Mychal Kendricks did on Monday), but this should be far from crippling.

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The bigger question mark remains at the quarterback position. Obviously, Foles wasn’t going to repeat his 27-2 touchdown-interception ratio of 2013, but most people expected him to be a little better than he’s shown. By my estimation, he’s played two decent halves of football, one below-average half, and one half that was awful.

Can Foles regain his touch? It’s only a matter of time before teams start selling out to prevent the screen passes that have been the lifeblood of the Eagles’ offense so far.  Foles is going to have to get in sync with his wide receivers, and he won’t do that unless his accuracy improves.

But even if Foles doesn’t play much better the rest of the way, I can’t imagine this season turns out as poorly as 2012 did. Even with the injuries, the Eagles appear to be much more talented than the other NFC East teams. As long as they don’t completely tank, a 4-2 divisional record should be a given, and eight wins will probably be enough to win the East.

Juan Castillo. Image Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

There are also no obvious major holes on the team. The defense might not be reminiscent of the 1985 Bears, but they’re also not trotting out Kurt Coleman or a disinterested Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie. There’s no ridiculous “wide nines” scheme. And unlike poor Juan Castillo, Bill Davis seems to at least be qualified to serve as a defensive coordinator.

So don’t worry, Eagles fans. Yes, the team hasn’t looked spectacular, and there might have been an aspect of luck in both of their wins. But despite a few warning signs, I can’t imagine that this year’s Eagles squad is headed for a 2-12 finish to the season.