Philadelphia Eagles’ Midseason Outlook | A Lot of Promise

Oct 30, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) in the huddle during the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 30, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) in the huddle during the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /

The Philadelphia Eagles are halfway through an up and down season, but there’s a lot of promise moving forward.

Eight games are in the books, and the Philadelphia Eagles sit at a surprising, but frustrating 4-4. Let’s check out the main storylines for the Eagles over the first half of the season, then discuss what to look for in the next half.

Competitive, if not victorious

My favorite stat for the Eagles this year—and one of the most encouraging—is their point differential. The Eagles’ four wins have come at a combined total of 76 points, while their losses have only been by 19 points combined. That’s a point differential of +57 points, which ranks third in the league. That’s impressive—and irregular—for a .500 team. The 7-1 Patriots and Cowboys boast of the two best differentials, while the 6-3 Broncos and Falcons round out the top five.

What does this mean? When the Eagles win, they win big; when they lose, they lose close. In all four losses this year, the Eagles have had a potentially game-winning or game-tying drive. Of course, they’re 0-4 on those attempts.

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It’s tough for a young team—rookie quarterback, rookie head coach, no veteran wideouts—to string together those clutch drives. It’s tough for the fans to watch, too. But the Eagles remained competitive in each of their losses, and thereby gained invaluable late-game experience. That will pay dividends in the future.

Defense wins championships…

Head coach Doug Pederson and GM Howie Roseman clearly envisioned building an Eagle team to be competitive around 2018. The defense had other plans, however. DC Jim Schwartz’s scheme and Roseman’s savvy free-agent signings have spelt a much more successful campaign for last year’s talented, but beleaguered defensive unit.

Reasonable time-of-possession helps too, in case anyone was curious.

MLB Jordan Hicks is playing absolutely lights-out with 8 PBUs and 2 INTs, while S Malcolm Jenkins’ versatility in the slot cannot be undervalued. DE Brandon Graham is finally cashing in on his potential with 18 QB hurries, third-most in the league. An uninjured Bennie Logan eats up double-teams as a premier NT, which opens up Pro Bowl DT Fletcher Cox to destroy backfields. Free-agent additions OLB Nigel Bradham and S Rodney McLeod are the team leaders in tackles with 53 and 52, respectively—McLeod also leads the Eagles with 3 picks.

Philadelphia Eagles
Oct 30, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles middle linebacker Jordan Hicks (58) intercepts a pass intended for Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Brice Butler (19) in the second quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

The future face of the franchise is QB Carson Wentz, but don’t miss it: the Philadelphia Eagles’ defense could be a perennial top-5 unit. Cornerback—both outside and slot—is a big question mark, and the Eagles aren’t very deep, but they are young: CB Leodis McKelvin and DE Connor Barwin are the only starters over 30. This defense is the foundation upon which the franchise will be built.

…while the offense has some catching up to do.

We’ll start with Wentz—where else could we? The rookie out of North Dakota State has been analyzed every which way, and the point is belabored. Suffice to say, the Eagles unquestionably have the makings of a franchise quarterback on their hands. He has all the throws. He has a fantastically short memory. He’s showing improvement on a weekly basis. He checks the boxes.

The offensive line is having a fine year, considering they’ve lost two starters, while only allowing 17 sacks over 8 weeks. Free-agent acquisition RG Brandon Brooks looks like a franchise player, and while rookie OT Halapoulivaati “Spell-check” Vaitai still receives a lot of help from tight ends and chip blocks, he’s improved steadily since the bungled Washington game.

The real issue on offense is the lack of weapons—specifically, at wide receiver. Check this out:


Now, Jordan Matthews is a fantastic possession receiver who works well in the slot. He is not, however, much of a deep threat, nor a weapon after the catch. If anything, he has slightly underachieved this year, but for now, let’s just call it ‘achieved’.

That ends the good news.

Oh, wait—Bryce Treggs is the next Jerry Rice.

Okay, that ends the good news.

Nelson Agholor hasn’t put it together yet, and neither has Dorial Green-Beckham. Both have the SPARQ intangibles you like to see, but the production isn’t there. They seem to struggle with the playbook and occasionally look lost on routes. Neither threaten a defense, and neither helps support a growing rookie quarterback.

And TE Zach Ertz is still in the process of the very gradual breakout season we’re all positive is going to happen.

On the ground, the Eagles aren’t much better. Young, explosive backs like Wendell Smallwood and Kenjon Barner don’t see playing time, while Darren Sproles far exceeds the reasonable amount of touches a 33-year-old RB should receive. Ryan Mathews sits on the bench with a toothache.

Want to know how much a healthy offensive line, a consistent running game, and reliable receiving targets could help Carson Wentz? Just ask Dak Prescott. The near future of the franchise—and, arguably, the tenure of both Pederson and Roseman—rests on their ability to surround Wentz with the weapons he needs.

Over the next eight games

Man, it’d be really nice if the light could come on for somebody on the Eagles’ offense. Any of these names would suffice: Beckham, Agholor, Treggs, Ertz, Smallwood, Barner. Each is 27 or younger, and has the opportunity to be something special in this offense. An emergence would make Wentz’s life significantly easier, while shortening the laundry list of work for Roseman and Pederson this offseason.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles’ front seven is looking for consistency. They’ve wavered between being a dominant force and a non-factor, and that fluctuation can be directly tied to the Eagles’ wins and losses. If they can produce week-in and week-out, it will do wonders to help a struggling offense, while masking their susceptible corners.

And hey–quick special teams shout-out! Let’s hope Smallwood can emerge to be the returner that recently released Josh Huff was, and pray that special teams coordinator Dave Fipp doesn’t leave for greener pastures at the end of the season.


The Philadelphia Eagles’ schedule pans out as follows:

  • Week 10: vs. ATL
  • Week 11: @ SEA
  • Week 12: vs. GB (Monday Night)
  • Week 13: @ CIN
  • Week 14: vs. WAS
  • Week 15: @ BAL
  • Week 16: vs. NYG (Thursday Night)
  • Week 17: vs. DAL

Next: Philadelphia Eagles Need To Fully Unleash Carson Wentz

If you ask me, these next 2-3 games are crucial. All three are against NFC contenders, and two of the three are at Lincoln Financial, where the Eagles are undefeated this season (3-0). If the Eagles can win one of the two upcoming (vs. ATL, @ SEA) and hold true at .500, I believe they can beat a struggling Green Bay team at home and the reeling Bengals on the road. That would put them at 7-5, bringing momentum into their three home divisional games, and a winnable road game against the Ravens.

10-6 and a wild-card berth is not yet out of sight, but a 9-7 or 8-8 finish is far more likely.