During his first season in the NFL, Carson Wentz was named the starting QB only one week before the official season started and he ended the season with a very mediocre 7-9 record, posting a 62.4 Completion Percentage (379/607), 16TD's/14INT, 3,782 Yards Passing, 79.3 Rating, and only 29% first downs on third down. During the offseason, the Eagles added some offensive weapons to Carson's stable (Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, LeGarrette Blount) to give him a jump start. Well, Carson took that jump start and blasted off into another stratosphere. Before his untimely injury, Wentz was playing at an MVP caliber level. Carson lead the Eagles to a 11-2 record, with a 60.2 Completion Percentage (265/440), 33TD's/7INT, 3,269 Yards Passing, 101.4 Rating, and a 49.9% First Down on third down (#1NFL).
In other words...NO ONE could have expected what Wentz would bring to the table in just his second season. Well, I think the same can be said about the Philadelphia Eagles as a TEAM. If you would have told anyone that the Eagles would go 13-3, win the NFC East and be the #1 NFC Playoff Seed before the season started...you would have been told that you need to check yourself in to the loony bin. No one could have expected the Eagles to be in this position. And yet we sit here today, Sunday January 7th with the Eagles less than a week away from hosting their first playoff game since 2013. Any city would be grateful to be in Philly's shoes right now...just ask the other 22 teams sitting at home now looking to next year once again.
All of this excitement has enveloped the city of Philadelphia and yet you would think that the Eagles are one of those other 22 teams. One would think that someone important has died with all of the negativity around town. Ever since Carson Wentz went down with injury...the Eagles have went from one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl to the "worst team" left in the playoffs. It is a known fact that the NFL is a Quarterback driven league today and that Quarterbacks are a big factor in any playoff game. However; has everyone forgotten what truly dominates the gridiron come January. Yes thats right...DEFENSE wins Championships. Great Defense and Power Running games can make or break a team's chances at this point in the season. Guess what folks...Note to all of the naysayers...The Philadelphia Eagles have both of those Components. The Eagles have the NFL's 4th ranked Defense (#1 Rush Defense) and they have the NFL's 3rd ranked Rushing Offense!
Take away the argument that Nick Foles is the Eagles starting quarterback and that they don't have Carson Wentz. Look, no one is saying that the Eagles are not as good without Wentz as they were with him...that would be sacrilegious. But in the words of ESPN's Randy Moss..."C'MON MAN!" C'mon America...Have we forgotten that the NFL is a TEAM sport. One player cannot make or break a team in the NFL. This has been proven time and time again. And if you really study this Philadelphia team it has become even more apparent that this mantra holds true. Next Man Up. Darren Sproles goes down...enter Kenyon Barner/Corey Clement. Chris Marigos/Caleb Sturgis go down...enter Gruiger-Hill/Jake Elliott. Jordan Hicks goes down...Enter Joe Walker. Jason Peters goes down...enter Haliaputi-Vaiti. Carson Wentz goes down...enter Nick Foles. Oh yeah...thats right...the same Nick Foles that left the field with the lead in the Eagles last post season venture.
True Fact...Nick Foles is NO Carson Wentz. True Fact...Nick Foles looked terrible in his last few quarters navigating the Eagle's offense. True Fact...The Eagles offense struggled down the stretch...including their 3td ranked rushing game. True Fact...The Eagles have the worst quarterback of the remaining teams in the playoffs. Ok...all of these things are true. However; if anyone thinks that Doug Pederson has been playing his true cards these past few weeks then you are the weakest link. Doug Pederson is more intelligent than people give him credit for. He knows that Nick Foles has holes in his game and it is Pederson's job to put Foles in a situation where he can play to the best of his ability. What this means is that the Eagles are going to come out with a different game plan come Saturday afternoon at the Linc.
This is not to say that Nick Foles will not have to play his best football for the Eagles to win the game. However; the Eagles have a fresh Jay Ajayi (whom they acquired exactly for this situation) and they have LeGarrette Blount and Corey Clement. The Eagles may use the run to set up the pass...or they may use the pass to set up the run...but one thing is for sure. The Eagles will run the ball with authority and they will use their athletic offensive line to combat each defense that they will face. The Eagles have just as much of a chance as any other team to advance to the Super Bowl and it will not come down to Nick Foles when it is all said and done. It will come down to all 53 Players on the Eagles roster. Because there is NO "I" IN TEAM. This is a team sport and the outcome will come down to how bad this team wants it. There is no doubt that the Philadelphia Eagles have the talent to get this done. Now it is time to put the NEXT MAN UP philosophy to the ultimate test.
In conclusion, the Eagles are more than capable of making it to the Super Bowl. They are more than capable of winning the Super Bowl. The bottom line is that the Eagles are their worst enemy. If Philly wants this bad enough they can bring it home. It will all come down to flawless execution on the field. Just remember...everything comes through Lincoln Financial Field. Remember the last time the Eagles faced the Falcons in the playoffs...oh yeah that was the NFC Championship in 2004...and we all know how that game ended. That game was played at the Linc as well. No one will ever forget Brian Dawkins holding up that trophy for the entire city to enjoy. The blood sweat and tears of every Eagles fan (past/present/future) was spilled out on that trophy. Unfortunately that magical season ended without the Lombardi Trophy. Maybe this team can expel the ghost of playoff past and get this city the championship that we have all been starving for. Let's just enjoy the ride and be positive knowing that no matter what happens this team has an extremely bright future. Let's all take a page out of Carson's repertoire and be on our hands and knees this entire week praying that God will bless this team and this city! God Bless and #GO BIRDS!