Heading into the 2021 NFL season, it didn’t feel like that would be the case. Fans knew this would be a transitional year of sorts, but once the team started to struggle and the losses hit five by the end of Week 7, that harsh reality began to sink in.
And then, in a Nick Sirianni-style garden metaphor, things started to come together.
Run the ball? Done, the Eagles are now one of the best rushing offenses in the NFL. Play more man defense? While Philly hasn’t magically become the new New England Patriots, Jonathan Gannon has incorporated more looks into his defensive front, and players like Darius Slay, T.J. Edwards, and Davion Taylor have thrived as a result.
Even Howie Roseman, the Eagles’ often maligned general manager, has secured some really good deals in the calendar year of 2021, including trading back with the Miami Dolphins to secure a future first-round pick in 2022, trading up with the Dallas Cowboys to steal DeVonta Smith away from the New York Giants, and effectively swapping out Joe Flacco for Gardner Minshew via trades with the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets respectively.
Considering how Flacco looked for the Jets in Week 11, that deal already looks like a massive steal.
So, as the team enjoys a well-deserved day off in the lead-up to their Week 12 bout against the New York Giants, let’s take a look at a few more things the Philadelphia Eagles and their fans should be thankful for, namely their very easy remaining schedule.
The Philadelphia Eagles should be thankful there’s still plenty of season left.
As things presently stand, the Philadelphia Eagles have a 5-6 record.
They have the second-best record in the NFC East, the ninth-best record in the NFC as a whole, and hold potentially very valuable head-to-head tie-breaking wins over the Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints.
Could the Eagles actually… do this thing? Could they go from a team who lost five of their first seven games, threw the ball 70-plus percent of the time, and allowed opposing quarterbacks to routinely complete 70 percent of their passes to a squad to the first even third Wild Card team in NFL history?
I don’t want to be too forward, but year, it’s sort of looking like that’s a distinct possibility.
According to Tim McManus, the Eagles have the second-easiest remaining schedule in the NFL, with five of their six final opponents currently sitting with a losing record. They face off against the New York Giants in Week 12, fresh off firing their offensive coordinator, a New York Jets squad with who knows who at quarterback in Week 13, a bye in Week 14, Washington in Week 15, the Giants, again, in Week 16, Washington, again, in Week 17, and a Dallas Cowboys team that may be playing reserves exclusively as they prepare for the playoffs in Week 18.
My goodness, could the Eagles win out? Could they finish out the season 11-6? 10-7? 9-8? While the Eagles don’t completely control their destiny, as theoretically, two of the three teams directly above them could win out as well – the Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers play in Week 12 – their foes collectively have contests against the Seattle Seahawks, the Los Angeles Rams, the Green Bay Packers, the Buffalo Bills, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Dallas Cowboys left on the board, which all feel much harder than a six-week bus ride through the NFC East with a bye sandwiched in the middle.
If the Eagles can continue to play like they did in Week 11, albeit without Jordan Howard and Davion Taylor for the next few weeks, Nick Sirianni may just make it to the playoffs yet.
Are the Philadelphia Eagles a legitimate Super Bowl challenger? No. Even if they make the playoffs, they’ll be facing off against a very good team like the Los Angeles Rams, the Green Bay Packers, or even the Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card Round, which is a whole lot easier said than done. But with a ton of draft assets at their fingertips and an ability to be players in free agency for more than one-year stopgap guys, there’s a lot to be thankful for at the moment.