The Philadelphia Eagles are off to their hottest start in franchise history as they sit at 8-0 through nine weeks. Despite their hot start, some fans and analysts still need to be convinced they’re true competitors. This idea is primarily due to their “weak” schedule thus far. However, contrary to popular belief, the Eagles have had the 12th hardest schedule this season. Regardless of who they’ve played, they have looked like the most balanced team in football. Here are three reasons why the Philadelphia Eagles are legit.
The Philadelphia Eagles had the best off-season in the entire NFL. The most notable move they made was acquiring AJ Brown from the Titans on draft night. Jalen Hurts was a big part of the recruiting process of Brown as they’ve been good friends since high school. Immediately, fans set high expectations for this duo. Through eight games, they have lived up to the hype.
Brown is sixth in the league in receiving yards with 718 yards and fourth in the association in receiving touchdowns with six. This season has been the best of his career, as he’s on pace for over 1,500 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns.
The trio of Brown, Devonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert is a severe problem for opposing defenses. Adding a true WR1 gave the Eagles a top-receiving core in the league. The other two will likely be open even if one gets shut down. To go even more in-depth with the receiving core, the Eagles also added Zach Pascal from the Colts.
Pascal and Quez Watkins have been splitting snaps as the third-string receiver and have done one hell of a job. The two have combined for 18 receptions, 217 yards, and two touchdowns. While this may not seem like much, it’s impressive, considering the other receivers they’re competing with within the lineup. The Eagles not only have an elite receiving duo, but they have the depth to back them up.
On the defensive side of things, the Eagles made a lot of crucial additions. To add much-needed talent to their linebacker core, they added Kyzir White from the Chargers. They also added one of the top edge rushers in the league Haason Reddick. Reddick, a Camden native, is second in the league in forced fumbles with three, with 5.5 sacks. In the draft, the Eagles drafted Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean, both reigning champions from Georgia. While the defensive front additions are impressive, their improvements to the secondary are on another level.
The Eagles made just two key moves to the secondary, which significantly impacted the defense. The first of these moves is signing James Bradberry to pair alongside Darius Slay. Through eight games, this duo continues to exceed expectations. According to PFF.com, Slay has the lowest passer rating allowed (36.2), and Bradberry has the third (38.4).
With these statistics alone, it’s hard to say they aren’t the best cornerback duo in football. To make this secondary even better, they added Chauncey (CJ) Gardner Johnson from the Saints in exchange for a fifth and a sixth-round pick. While fans thought this was a solid move, nobody would’ve guessed he’d be leading the league in interceptions through nine weeks. Over his last four games, he’s had each league-leading five interceptions. At safety, Gardner Johnson filled an empty hole for the Eagles and rounded off their elite secondary.
These off-season additions, offensively or defensively, have significantly impacted the team this season. They made the Eagles one of the most balanced rosters in football from top to bottom. Their expectations were set high, but their success thus far has been well beyond those expectations.
Jalen Hurts’ Improvement
None of the Eagles’ success would have been possible without elite play from the quarterback position. Last season, Jalen Hurts led the Eagles to the playoffs with a 9-8 record. They would go on to get blown out by the Buccaneers in the Wild Card round, with lackluster play from Hurts. Throughout last year’s season, Hurts showed flashes of being elite, but he was too inconsistent. Going into the offseason, there were several apparent issues that he had to work on to better his level of play. Eight weeks into the season, it appears that he did just that.
The addition of A.J. Brown certainly helped Hurts as he now has a top 10, if not top five, receivers to throw to. As mentioned previously, their connection thus far has been nothing short of spectacular.
Even with the help from his receiving core, you can’t discredit Hurts’ level of play. Hurts currently have the second-highest passer rating in the league, trailing only Tua Tagovaiola. Again to Hurts’ credit, even if it was a subpar Steelers defense, he couldn’t have placed this throw any better.
This throw is not a play that last year’s version of Hurts would’ve made, and it highlights just how far he’s come in one year. He went from being a middle-of-the-pack quarterback to an MVP frontrunner in just one season. The Eagles couldn’t be viewed as a legitimate contender last year due to their quarterback play. Now that Hurts is playing like an MVP; there’s no telling how far they’ll go.
The Eagles have been dominant
Not only are the Eagles winning games, but they’re also doing so convincingly. The Eagles have outscored their opponents by a combined total of 90 points. A number of these games became closer due to the Eagles trying to chew the clock in the second half. On that topic, the Eagles are yet to trail in the second half this season. This success is primarily due to their impressive first-half (second quarter) performance. The Eagles have scored a league-leading 133 points in the second quarter this season, amounting to much of their success.
The Eagles’ dominance isn’t limited to their scoring numbers. They have won the turnover differential in every game they’ve played thus far. As a result, they currently sit with the best turnover differential in all football and sit comfortably with that lead. The Eagles’ turnover differential is +15, and the closest teams are the Cowboys, Vikings, and Ravens, with +6.
The only game that truly gave Eagles fans a scare was their game against the Arizona Cardinals. Besides this game, they have displayed complete dominance over everyone they’ve played, including the Vikings, with the second-best league record. They humiliated them on national television, beating them 24-7, not too shabby for a team that “hasn’t played anyone.”