Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Eagles Are Making Their Own Luck

Doug Shows The Way
In the day after of one of the more surprising and encour- aging wins in the history of the Philadelphia Eagles franchise, I am struck by how, well, lucky the franchise has been so far this season.

This is where you might start to think about the unsustainable part of how rookie QB Carson Wentz has played three games without an interception, which is almost freakishly fortunate... but that's not what's going on. Having seen all of the snaps, I can tell you that even if Wentz had gotten unlucky, there wouldn't have been more than a pick or two in those games. Part of this -- OK, a lot of this -- is coaching, but the kid just hasn't put the ball in harm's way very often.

Next, you might look at whether the defense had been fortunate. Not overly so. Defenders have been close to the ball on any number of occasions, and haven't converted a freakish number of those plays into takeaways. There have been big and well-timed plays -- the Jordan Hicks INT against Cleveland that prevented a loss of the lead, Bennie Logan's blocked field goal early in the Steeler game -- but nothing that has turned a game around. Some luck, like the PR TD in Chicago, have also gone against them.

What's really been the luck for this franchise is, frankly, Teddy Bridgewater going down in Minnesota, and GM Howie Roseman being able to get his price to send Sam Bradford out of town. There's a very real possibility that, given how well the defense has played, that the team would be 3-0 with Bradford at QB as well, and a Drew Brees v. Philip Rivers narrative might have started in town, even while the ceiling for the team stayed limited. But with Bridgewater going down (and honestly, no other franchise was going to come down the pike and pay that price for him, it's not as if Cleveland is going there, and there really isn't another team that is desperate for Bradford), that's just, well, luck.

But what isn't luck is the single biggest advantage that this team has over recent years, and that goes for the last years of Andy Reid as well, is the remarkably better coaching. Frank Reich was almost a head coach after resurrecting Rivers in San Diego, but his star fell with the Chargers not being able to stay healthy. Jim Schwartz had some rising moments in Detroit, and no one ever said he couldn't coach a defense. Dave Fipp led the Kelly Eagles to extraordinary special teams performance, and Pederson kept him despite what I'm presuming is Roseman's desire to purge the place of all of them. He also kept Duce Staley and convinced him that continuing to coach the running backs was a good career move, and the depth RBs have performed admirably. For the first time in forever, the defense makes sense to the personnel, gets better over the course of a game, and Pederson has, in all three games, coddled the clock and kept his defense protected and fresh.

You don't make the playoffs in September (well, unless you are New England), and the best team in the league int he first few games of the year almost never is the team that wins at the close. This is still a team that beat two terrible clubs before dismantling a good one, and there's every chance that it was just a bad day for that team. If they come out of the bye week flat and lose in Detroit (and yeah, I'm going to be at that game, so count on it), or suffer a major injury or two, this could still turn south in a hurry. There are always surprise teams in the NFL, and there is also always surprise fades. It's September. Deep breaths.

But what your eyes tell you is that this is a smart and well-coached team, with an athletic defense that's opportunistic. Their QB has been dynamic in terms of getting big chunks of yardage, while avoiding turnovers, and no one thinks that he's reached his eventual ceiling yet.

And finally, this.

I've watched this laundry for longer than many of you have been alive.

I've never been more encouraged after the first three games.

No comments:

Ads In This Size Rule