Courtesy of pennlive.com
The season the Eagles have had is not a fluke. It is not by accident that a team that was predicted to be the NFC East cellar dweller by season’s end is, after all, leading it by an NFC-high five-game margin. Instead, it is the result of hard work by the front office, coaching staff and player improvement along the way. Through this process, the 2017-2018 Philadelphia Eagles are competing for a Super Bowl, and it has provided Cherry Hill East students with massive excitement, and crucially, a sense of optimism for the future. Now, the midnight green of the classic Eagles jersey is a common sight on Monday mornings after an Eagles victory.
Philadelphia Eagles fans are known across the United States to be craziest and most intense fanbases in professional sports. At East, the status quo stays unbroken. However, many fans now recognize that all this would not be possible without the resurgence of Howie Roseman, the current general manager. His ability had been questioned across the league after giving what Bleacher Report called the worst Defensive Line contract in the NFL to Vinny Curry, an underachieving defensive end. However, his remarkable strategy to creating a successful football team has paid off. It was he who intelligently maneuvered from having the 13th overall pick to drafting Carson Wentz second in the 2016 NFL draft (more on him later).
Although Shane Trainor (‘20) admits that “Howie gave up a lot of draft picks,” he also recognizes that “Roseman landed an MVP caliber quarterback…Because of these moves by Howie Roseman, the Philadelphia Eagles are one of the best teams in the NFL.”
In addition to drafting, Roseman used free agency to make the Eagles competitive this year and for the foreseeable future. He signed Brandon Brooks, who is a Pro-Bowl level right guard who is influential to the success of the NFL’s third-best running game. He also added Alshon Jeffery, a bona fide number one wide receiver, and deep-ball specialist Torrey Smith to help Wentz and increase his success.
Isaac Leibowitz (‘21), an avid Eagles fan, says, “These wide receivers have allowed Carson Wentz to show how good he is. It was tough for him last year, but Roseman did a great job at helping him out.”
The signing of LeGarrette Blount on a low-money deal added a bruising dimension to the otherwise lethargic running game. On the defensive side of the ball, Chris Long is a consummate professional and the perfect mentor to the rookie Derek Barnett. Even the seemingly unimportant signing of cornerback Patrick Robinson has turned into clear benefits to the team, with his play forcing the coaches to start him in the slot this season. As proof, the journeyman was considered the number four cornerback in the league by Pro Football Focus, who had him assigned the rare “Elite” grade.
Roseman has also done his part in making this team stronger not only in the present but in the future, as he has Carson Wentz, Jordan Hicks, Fletcher Cox, Tim Jernigan, Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, and new, traded-for Pro Bowler Jay Ajayi, among others, locked up long term or on team-friendly deals, ensuring the foundation of the team is set for years to come.
However, the capabilities of the front office do not win the game when it is played in the trenches. Gameplans and play calls, courtesy of head coach Doug Pederson, do. His playbook and understanding of the game as a former quarterback has put the team in a position to succeed in nearly every game this season.
It was noted by many students before the season that Doug Pederson did not seem like the best coach for Philadelphia. Suffice to say; he has proven all his doubters, Eagles fans and others, wrong.
Mike Lombardi, a former NFL general manager, had this to say about Pederson before the season started: “[he] isn’t a head coach” and “might be less qualified to coach a team than anyone I’ve ever seen in my 30-plus years in the NFL.”
Now, after the Eagles beat the Falcons as underdogs, Lombardi said, “I admit, I’m wrong. OK, Doug Pederson is way better than I thought he was going to be regarding his ability to lead that team.”
It starts off with the concepts he has introduced to this team. He has brought in run-pass option plays, a college football staple, to ease Wentz’s progression into the tough NFL. This type of play allows the quarterback to decide on whether to run or pass the ball based on the type of defensive package he is seeing. It simplifies the game for the quarterback while making it harder for the defense to predict what is going to occur.
Chris Harris Jr, the Pro-Bowl cornerback of the Denver Broncos, said it was the best offense he had seen all year. The Eagles hung 51 points on his number one ranked defense at the time.
Pederson also deserves credit for being able to adjust on the go. After the Eagles abandoned the run game in a loss to the Chiefs in Week two, he realized that the now- number two ranked offense in the league needed to be two-dimensional to have any chance at winning games. In Week two, Pederson ran the ball 13 times with the running backs. In Week 13, 33 times. His ability to maneuver and tailor the game plan to the current situation also deserves recognition. He knew perfectly well what he had in Nick Foles, so against the Falcons; he took the underdogs to a win through a commitment to the run game and a stout defense. He has proved himself as an excellent NFL this year.
Finally, the main reason why the Eagles are 13-3, the main reason why people came to Lincoln Financial every week: Carson Wentz. It was an unfortunate scenario for everyone that he got injured. However, in the time he played, he was electric. He was a legitimate MVP candidate in only his second season; he led the league in touchdown passes, and produced highlight-reel play after highlight-reel play. He made it all possible; he was the catalyst for the success of the Eagles season. Playing at pro sports most complicated and nuanced position at only 25 years old, he lit the league on fire. His first season he had high peaks and low valleys. After starting out on fire through his first three games, the Eagles momentum slowed and his performances did too. Over the last 13 games of that season, he averaged around one interception per game. However, he worked over the summer to improve his game, training with Adam Dedeaux, who also worked with Tom Brady and Drew Brees. The results showed. Over 13 games, he threw for 33 touchdowns to only seven interceptions and finishing with the prestigious honor of having a passer rating over 100. His name was who you saw on the backs of the jerseys of proud East Eagles fans on those cold, annoying Monday mornings. Because he is the man, more than anyone else, who causes Eagles fans to ooze optimism they haven’t felt in a long, long time.