The Eagles are now 4-1 and many fans are highly optimistic heading into Week 6.
What’s the media saying after Sunday’s thrashing of the Cardinals?
The biggest question being asked right now is if this is a “legit” team, as the Eagles have played some “lesser” opponents so far this season. The legendary Ray Didinger is all-in on the Birds:
Is the 4-1 record legit?
"Hell yes." – Ray Didinger pic.twitter.com/LnsIwSMugk
— NBC Sports Philly (@NBCSPhilly) October 8, 2017
Whether you agree with Didinger’s assessment or not, some believe the true test will be Thursday night’s clash against the Carolina Panthers, who are also 4-1. The Panthers are favored in the betting line and may seem like the better team, but others believe the Birds have done more out of the gate:
— Stadium (@WatchStadium) October 9, 2017
Looking specifically at Sunday’s big win, our Kevin Kinkead has his 10 takeaways from the contest, with the team’s running game leading the list:
Pederson didn’t run the ball as much this week because he didn’t have to. The Birds’ passing game was clicking from the start and this iteration of the three-headed monster finished with 26 carries for 114 yards.
Kyle is completely buying in, as he writes in the opening of his weekly Bird Droppings post:
The Eagles are slowly, but surely, like an effective Doug Pederson offense, proving to us that they are among the best teams in the conference. Wins over the Redskins, Giants, Chargers and Cardinals aren’t exactly enough to print those Super Bowl tickets, but it’s encouraging that the Eagles are improving and, yesterday, demolished an opponent as the heavy favorites.
Nationally, the Eagles are opening some eyes as far as possibly being a serious contender this season. Many folks heaped praise on the offense, but Brad Gagnon of Bleacher Report lauded the defense:
Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox is a star, first-round rookie defensive end Derek Barnett should become one, and front-seven regulars Graham, Curry, Tim Jernigan, Mychal Kendricks, Nigel Bradham, Chris Long and Jordan Hicks either have shined or are expected to soon. As a unit, they’ve performed exceptionally well even though several of those guys have yet to live up to their potential and Cox has missed the last two weeks due to a calf injury.
That has the Eagles in the Super Bowl conversation at this admittedly early juncture, which at least gives some promise to a fanbase that has waited more than half a century for a championship.
Sporting News is in the same camp as Gagnon. Writer David Steele lays out how the next two weeks could really give the Eagles the chance to elevate themselves in the league, even though they statistically may already be near the top:
So far this season, only the Rams have scored more points in the NFC than the Eagles have, and only the Patriots and Chiefs are averaging more than the Eagles’ 397.8 yards per game.
This is a team, remember, that was taken to task by many after their Week 2 loss to the Chiefs for abandoning the run — they blended that in from then on and ran for 122 against the Cardinals. That was without the injured Wendell Smallwood. In their three games since the Chiefs loss, LeGarrette Blount has rushed for 277 yards and is averaging 6.6 yards a carry.
Every member of the receiving corps has found a way to contribute from week to week. This week, Torrey Smith had his biggest game, and Nelson Agholor scored on a long Wentz pass off a broken play for the second time this season. Zach Ertz is the leader for all tight ends in catches and yards.
On the flip side, because we certainly know what it feels like to be there, the loss really asked some questions of the Cardinals, including the futures of head coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Carson Palmer.
Greg Moore of azcentral.com did not put it lightly:
The Cardinals were never in Sunday’s game in Philadelphia and were down 21-0 at the end of the first quarter. The reality is that I don’t think this team has a realistic shot at making the playoffs without significant changes.
These guys needed overtime to beat the hapless Colts and 49ers. They haven’t been able to muster more than 18 points on offense in any game. And injuries have stripped the offensive line to little more than a crew of the five largest men they could find.
The offensive-line play is the most glaring problem on a team with more issues than a comic-book shop. No one has blamed the line other than to say it needs to improve.
But I think that’s because what’s understood doesn’t need to be explained.
Let’s give these guys credit for trying. Blocking an NFL pass rush is probably the most difficult thing to do in sports. But I think this unit is suffering from a lack of ability, not a lack of effort. They want to stop the rush and open holes, but they just can’t.
Luckily, those days are behind the Eagles. They’re now trending up in the NFL and are atop the NFC East, but are they the second best team in the entire league?
Peter King thinks they’re close:
I think the best team in football is Kansas City, and there’s a pretty good gap for number two. My candidates: Philadelphia, Carolina, Washington, Denver.
We may get more clarity on who deserves that second spot this Thursday night.