Philadelphia Eagles | Ten Things To Be Thankful For This Thanksgiving

Sep 25, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (left) congratulates Philadelphia Eagles running back Wendell Smallwood (right) after a touchdown carry against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the third quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 25, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (left) congratulates Philadelphia Eagles running back Wendell Smallwood (right) after a touchdown carry against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the third quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports /

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, let’s take a moment to appreciate all of the things with the Philadelphia Eagles for which we’re thankful.

1) Carson Wentz

How could the list begin with anyone else? Carson Wentz was an uncertainty coming out of North Dakota State, an FCS school, in the 2016 NFL Draft. Some doubted his performances against much weaker competition. Others doubted his ability to handle the Philadelphia sports market. Others still doubted his performance on the field.

All of them look very foolish.

Despite recent struggles, coaches and players and analysts agree: Carson Wentz has a bright future ahead. The fact that a rookie quarterback is exposing the lack of weapons in the offense around him speaks to the performance Wentz has put on so far. Check it:

Thank you, Carson Wentz, for being the future.

2) …and everyone else

Though the early and middle rounds of this draft were somewhat submarined in the trade to snag the #2 overall pick that eventually became Wentz, this draft class has some promise. Two fellow rookies have stepped on the field as a starter: OL Halapoulavaati Vaitai stepped in at right tackle after Lane Johnson’s suspension, and settled down nicely after a rocky start, while CB Jalen Mills fought his way from the seventh-round into the starting corner conversation, and looks to have a promising future as a nickelback.

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RB Wendell Smallwood has shown burst and chunk-yardage ability all year long, and nothing changed last week against Seattle, when he flashed RB1 qualities filling in for the injured Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles. While LB Joe Walker and DE Alex McAlister both wound up on IR before the season began, OL Isaac Seumalo out of Oregon State has earned a spot as the Eagles’ sixth offensive lineman over OL Matt Tobin.

The Eagles could enter next year with four starters from this class: Wentz, Vaitai, Smallwood, and Mills. All have shown enough talent to compete for those spots, and Seumalo—late to camp—might be flashing that ability as well. But before we get to next year, every 2016 draft pick not on IR has seen time on the field.

Thank you, Eagles’ front office, for a good draft class.

3) Doug Pederson

I won’t sugarcoat it: Doug Pederson has been at least partially responsible for multiple Eagles losses this year. The Andy Reid time-management genes have occasionally reared their ugly head. The balance between aggressive and conservative has yet to be struck.

However, I struggle to think of a rookie head coach that didn’t cost his team a game or two as he got his sea legs under him. Let’s not forget some end-of-the-game gaffes by vaulted rookie Carson Wentz (see: @ Det, @ NYG).

Philadelphia Eagles
Oct 30, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson on the sidelines during the third quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Dallas Cowboys won 29-23. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

Overall, Doug handled the Bradford-Wentz offseason drama with aplomb, has been a dynamic—albeit occasionally inconsistent—play caller, and has really impressed with his handling of the Nelson Agholor situation. The locker room like him, the front office likes him, and the fan base likes him as much as the Philly fan base can like a rookie head coach. He was a big part of the effort to get Wentz, and has earned the right to hang around for a few more years.

Thank you, Coach Pederson, for being Andy Reid.

4) …and everyone else

Man, the Eagles’ coaching staff is something else. Anyone with a pulse would have been an

improvement over old DC Billy Davis, but Jim Schwartz has brought life to the Eagles’ defense. Brandon Graham finally has the freedom to rush the QB, LBs Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham are playing at Pro Bowl levels, and safety duo Rodney McLeod and Malcolm Jenkins have predictably entered the conversation of best back-end tandem in the NFL. There have been inconsistencies, especially on the road, yes—but be thankful for those. They’re keeping Jimmy’s name out of the head coaching conversation.

Shout-out to Dave Fipp as well. The Eagles’ special teams unit has been the best in the league over the three years he’s coordinated them. The players love him—GM Howie Roseman just extended three of the oldest ones. If nothing tells you how much the Eagles value Dave Fipp, that should. He’s the name to be worried about as head coaching considerations start circling.

Oh, and in case you didn’t know, both OC Frank Reich and QB coach John DeFilippo used to be NFL quarterbacks. I’ve heard that helps Wentz, or something.

Thank you, Eagles’ coaching staff, for doing your jobs well.

5) Howie Roseman

Welcome back to the Iron Throne, Howie. Jeez, it’s crazy to look back on the journey Roseman has taken us, since he ousted Chip Kelly and regained control over personnel. Hindsight is 20/20, and cases can be made against some of Roseman’s decisions (see: Curry’s lack of production, Demarco Murray for a swap of fourth-rounders, trade for DGB), but by-the-by, the man has done incredible work with the gutted roster left to him by GM Kelly.

At the end of the day, Roseman’s who we thought he was: an unapologetic, aggressive wheeler and dealer.

Thank you, Howie, for playing the Game of Thrones, winning, and not dying.

6—The Cleveland Browns

I found this stat the other day:

Thank you, Cleveland. Thank you for your inexplicable ineptitude and your groan-worthy statistics. Thank you for believing in Moneyball, Cody Kessler, and RGIII. Thank you, thank you, thank you Cleveland.

7) The 2017 draft class

So the 2016 draft went well, but the Eagles still have some major holes: CB and WR are the two most blatant needs, but depending on the offseason, RB, OL, and DL also need some help.

Philadelphia Eagles
Oct 15, 2016; Akron, OH, USA; Western Michigan Broncos wide receiver Corey Davis (84) tosses the ball after scoring a touchdown during the third quarter against the Akron Zips at InfoCision Stadium. Western Michigan Broncos won 41-0. Mandatory Credit: Jason Mowry-USA TODAY Sports /

Fortunately, when you look forward at the upcoming class, it can fill a lot of those gaps. While we’ve been spoiled by recent classes of WRs, this year boasts of solid Round 1 and 2 talents like Corey Davis of Western Michigan, Isaiah Ford of Virginia Tech, and JuJu Smith-Schuster of USC that should be within the Eagles’ range.

CB and RB are incredibly deep in this year’s class, and the Eagles could easily snag an instant starter at either position with their first-round pick. DL has presented strong the past few years, and this year is no exception. The Eagles have also proved they can find impact offensive lineman in the mid and late rounds—expect them to do so again.

Thank you, 2017 draft class, for being full of players we want. Please be sure to throw the Cowboys another Randy Gregory, too.

8) Joel Embiid

Okay, does he really have that much to do with the Eagles? No. But come on. The kid’s playing great and having a blast while he does it. He’s a complete goofball that perfectly contrasts Wentz’s charming awkwardness and earnestness. Light shines in the darkness for the 76ers.

Thank you, Joel Embiid, for being The Process.

9) The unsung heroes

I just wanted to take a second to thank some players who’ve quietly done some great work. DL Beau Allen, once consider a misfit in Schwartz’s 4-3, did a fine job filling in for DL Bennie Logan. Speaking of filling in, OL Stefen Wisniewski strung together some great games at left guard during OL Allen Barbre’s absence. If you don’t hear an offensive lineman’s name called, that means he played well.

Barbre himself graded out highly as a left guard by Pro Football Focus following the uncertainty of last year’s performance. LB Kamu Grieger-Hill is yet another special teams maven for Dave Fipp’s unit. And you know what, he gets plenty of credit, but in my mind, not enough: MLB Jordan Hicks is playing at a Pro Bowl level. Name another 4-3 MLB around which you’d like to form your defense. I’ll wait.

Thank you, unsung heroes, for not expecting a song about your heroism. Frankly, I don’t think they sing for the sung heroes anymore, but the thought counts.

10) Sam Bradford

Okay, nobody actually wants to thank QB Sam Bradford, I get that. However, Bradford has proven himself to be one heckuva businessman, and that savviness led to his camp hold-out, well-known discontent, and played a part in his eventual trade. I don’t want to imagine how this year would have gone if, after every poor game Bradford played, the cries for Wentz grew louder. Quarterback controversies can get ugly. The offensive discontinuity would be even worse.

Thank you, Sam Bradford, for leaving.

There’s plenty to be thankful for in the Eagles’ agonizing 5-5 season so far. But, as a final, bonus thanks:

Next: Philadelphia Eagles Humbled in Loss at Seattle Seahawks

11) The worst of it is over

The Philadelphia Eagles remain in the wild card hunt and the schedule gets markedly easier going forward. For today, be merry and thankful. But the season continues on, when Green Bay comes to town for Monday Night Football.

Anyone else super pumped to hear Jon Gruden gush about Wentz?