Philadelphia Eagles: Why have 2018’s injuries been so demoralizing?

(Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images) /

After rallying around the ‘next man up’ philosophy last season, why have the Philadelphia Eagles’ recent string of injuries demoralized the team in 2018?

2017 Philadelphia Eagles were a weird, weird team.

From their almost irrational lucky streak to their uncanny ability to actually get better with their backups in the game, Philly’s first Super Bowl-winning squad may have changed the expectations of an entire generation of fans in the Delaware Valley.

Now granted, even the most optimistic Eagles fan wasn’t expecting their favorite team to win every single Super Bowl for the foreseeable future but did anyone really expect that the afterglow would fade from a world championship roster in a little over 10 months?

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I know what you’re thinking, Doug Pederson‘s squad had a score of injuries last season too, but for whatever reason, this year has been different.

After placing their starting quarterback, starting running back, franchise left tackle, starting middle linebacker, and kicker on season-ending IR last season, the Birds found a way to rally around their ‘next man up’-mantra and collectively punched above their weight class with a fiery underdog’s spirit.

This season? Sure, there have still been injuries, to Rodney McLeod, Derek Barnett, Timmy Jernigan, Mike Wallace, Ronald Darby, and pretty much the entire secondary save Malcolm Jenkins but unlike last season, this team hasn’t rallied around in the same way.

Far, far too often fans at the Linc have been treated to a lackluster effort from both sides of the ball, with players making mental mistakes that have cost the team yards. While most of these little mistakes haven’t been incredibly costly, the Eagles have been getting killed by a thousand cuts.

And it’s not just the players on the field.

The Eagles coaching staff has also had to rely on their own ‘next man up’ philosophy after losing Frank Reich and John DeFilippo to the Indianapolis Colts and Minnesota Vikings respectively and they’ve only just realized that running the ball is essential to winning games after a two-month passing-only sabbatical.

Some fans have even gone so far as to suggest on Twitter that Reich, not Pederson was the genius behind the Eagles’ offensive proficiency, a thought that’s crazy when you consider the Colts just got shut out by the Jacksonville Jaguars in a divisional bout on their home turf.

Neither team looks all that great at the moment.

Sure, the Eagles injuries will be used as an excuse as to why the team has underperformed so far this season, and I’m sure many will diagnose their banged-up secondary and lack of a running game as to why another team is representing the NFC in Atlanta in February, but do you know what’s really injured?

The team’s heart.

Last season, the Eagles rallied behind their backup quarterback in route to a Cinderella Super Bowl victory, but now, the team is playing a particularly uninspiring brand of football behind the arm of superstar franchise quarterback Carson Wentz.

Is Wentz laying at 100 percent? No, but even Wentz at 80 percent can outplay a full strength Nick Foles in a head-to-head shoot out, he just needs the moving parts around him to make it happen.

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Do the Eagles still have the most talented roster in the NFC East? Sure, but talent alone is going to win games. The team has been in (almost) every game they’ve played this season; they just need to execute confidently when it matters most. If they can do that, the Philadelphia Eagles can still win the division, but if they remain demoralized by bad luck, back luck of their own creation, the team will continue to field one of the most underwhelming in the entire NFL this season.