Eagles Are NFL's Most Pleasant Surprise

by Marc Narducci; Photo Marc Narducci | Oct 1, 2016
Eagles Are NFL's Most Pleasant Surprise It is often dangerous to change one's opinion of an NFL team three games into the season, but what else can be done in the case of the Eagles?

This reporter predicted the Eagles would finish in last place in the NFC East. After a 3-0 start that included a 34-3 pounding of perceived Super Bowl contender the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Eagles are showing that this quick start is no fluke.

And while Carson Wentz is deservedly receiving much of the praise, the Eagles defense has been dominating. As for Wentz, he has completed 64; seven percent of his passes for 769 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating is an impressive 103.8.

Even more impressive is the poise that he is showing. It's common for rookies to be flustered by the array of defenses they have to face. Yet Wentz seems so much in control, that when he feels comfortable making changes at the line of scrimmage.

His intelligence is off the charts and his arm strength isn't so bad either.

What will happen when his receivers start catching the ball regularly?

Plus the Eagles have won the last two games without chief offensive weapon Zach Ertz, who has been sidelined with a rib injury.

Coach Doug Pederson said he expects Ertz back after this week's bye.

The Eagles have been equally impressive on defense, where they have allowed a total of 27 points in three games.

Under new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, the Eagles have 10 sacks in three games and have rarely blitzed. That means the defensive line is doing its job getting to opposing quarterbacks. Linemen Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham each have three sacks.

Cox could be in the running for NFL Defensive Player of the Year, he is that dominant.

Safety Malcolm Jenkins, who earned a Pro Bowl berth last season in his first year with the Eagles, is playing even better to start this season.

Linebacker Nigel Bradham, who signed as a free agent from Buffalo, and safety Rodney McLeod, a free agent from the Los Angeles Rams, have been excellent additions to the defense.

One key for the Eagles is how well they withstand the expected 10-game suspension Oct. 9 at Detroit.

In the first three games, it could be argued that Johnson has been the Eagles best offensive lineman.

Still, there is depth on the line and it will be tested in Johnson's expected absence.

What is encouraging is that besides Wentz, two other rookies, running back Warren Smallwood and cornerback Jalen Mills, have shown great potential.

Mills was often paired against Antonio Brown in the win over Pittsburgh and held his own. It must be said that Mills often received held in coverage against Brown, who had 12 receptions for 140 yards, but many of his catches were underneath throws that the Eagles did a good job of limiting his yards after the catch.

After the Detroit game, the Eagles face a tough stretch of playing at Washington, home against Minnesota and then at Dallas and the New York Giants.

That will be the midway point of the season and we should know exactly if the Eagles are true contenders. The guess is that we will, as even though it is only three weeks, the Eagles are the most pleasant surprise in this unpredictable NFL season.

Photo by Marc Narducci: Eagles’ Carson Wentz scrambling vs. Pittsburgh

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Author: Marc Narducci; Photo by Marc Narducci


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