A few weeks ago, the Eagles faithful began Googling scouting profiles, Youtube-ing highlight videos, and Binging 2014 mock drafts. A 3-5 Eagles team was staring into the ominous abyss of a high draft pick. Three weeks later, Philadelphia has won its last three contests and broken a historic ten-game home losing streak. The Eagles war-machine is rolling, with cannons pointed directly at the 2013 NFL postseason.
Often times, a champion is crowned weeks before the true test of the postseason begins. The 2007 Giants flew off on a magic carpet ride lifted by wins in three of the final five games(one loss was to the 16-0 New England Patriots). In 2010, the Green Bay Packers won their final regular season games, and roared into the Super Bowl as a sixth seed. Four years later, New York won three of its last four contests, and embarked on a second Super Bowl run in four seasons.
The 2013 Eagles could well be on a similar path. Philadelphia is currently a half-game ahead of the rival Cowboys. With a bye in front of them, the Eagles can rest key players, including LeSean McCoy, who suffered a hamstring injury Sunday, and prepare for a mediocre Arizona team. A potent Detroit offense visits the Linc afterwards, and the Eagles will surely seek a repartee for their heartbreaking loss last year. They then venture to Minneapolis to play the lowly Vikings, a game that could well leave the Eagles with a six-game winning streak. Finally, a home game with Chicago will proceed the annual NFC East Championship Game–the last time the division wasn’t won on the final day was in 2010–in Dallas. With the rigorous portion of the schedule behind them, the Eagles could propel to a blazing stretch run.
Another catalyst for the timely rise has been the play of one Nick Foles. Whether or not Foles can cement his place as the “franchise quarterback”— a role that truthfully doesn’t exist on half the teams in the NFL– is irrelevant. Foles has amassed a quarterback rating of over 100 in all but one of his starts. Furthermore, Foles has thrown 199 passes without throwing an interception this season, compared to 16 touchdown passes. Foles is making sound, quick decisions, and has executed the offense perfectly in both the red zone and between the 20s.
Lastly, the defense has been flying high since their debacle in Denver. Philadelphia hasn’t allowed over 20 points since surrendering 51 to Denver in week four. The Eagles have forced 19 takeaways this season, good for seventh in the NFL. The linebacking corps has breeded memories of the Trotter era, with Mychal Kendricks and Connor Barwin serving as playmakers ahead of vets DaMeco Ryans and Trent Cole. In fact, Cole has had a pair of successful games, and may have found his niche in Billy Davis’ scheme.
This high point may well becomes the ignition for a historic run, or merely a random blip in the radar. However, it is certain that Chip Kelly is building the foundation for something special, something that could well come to fruition on February 2nd, 2014. No matter what happens, fans will surely enjoy the flight.
Photo: Rob Carr