Thursday Night Football. The 4-1 Eagles vs. the 4-1 Panthers. An early season opportunity for someone to lay claim to the title of best team in the NFC. And I don’t know if we really got the answer to that question, because I’m not sure the best team in the NFC was on the field last night. But what I do know is that the time for sleeping on Carson Wentz and the Eagles is over.
Yes, Phily’s 4-1 record going into last night included wins over the Giants and Chargers, but you go on the road, on a short week, without your starting right tackle, and you beat a 4-1 team? You got my attention. Especially when your quarterback goes 16 for 30 for 222 yards and 3 touchdowns, despite facing a ton of pressure. Just ask tight end Zach Ertz: “You want to look at a game and talk about character? That freakin’ showed it right there. I mean, the guy is getting smacked early and often in the beginning of the game. He never wavered, his confidence never wavered, his composure never wavered. I think that just speaks volumes about how we feel about him and how he feels about us.”
Don’t get it twisted. Wentz wasn’t perfect. And nobody’s going to confuse Carson Wentz with the electricity and the excitement of Cam Newton. He’s not 6’5, 250 and juking defensive backs out of their shoes. At the same time, he didn’t make the mistakes that Cam made last night. And as many hits as he took, he kept on getting up, and didn’t cost his team the game.
Reading blitzes, picking up first downs, and converting third downs aren’t sexy. But it is effective. I don’t know if he’ll ever have fans screaming the way my guy Bernard English once screamed for Muhammed Ali, Jiminy Cricket, and DeMarco Murray. But did you see Carson Wentz?!?? This is the game, Doug!
But if Bernie English was that amped about a 2-3 Eagles team with Sam Bradford, how he’s feeling about a 5-1 Eagles team? One that’s battled through a ton of injuries, has the best record in the NFC and pretty much has the NFC East already on lock. Remember all the hype and buzz about the Cowboys, and Dak Prescott, and Ezekiel Elliott coming into the season? They’re already three games behind the Eagles in the win column.
And the Eagles got Fletcher Cox back and it was clear that he makes an impact. A major, major impact by just shoving Trai Turner all over the field. And Turner isn’t some stiff. He’s a two-time Pro Bowler and Cox treated him like a tackling dummy. And there were moments last night where that front seven had me flashing back to Jerome Brown, Clyde Simmons and Reggie White. There’s no Minister of Defense on this team and I’m not ready to declare this group the second coming of the Gang Green crew, but they’re scary. And good.
Now they have a week and a half off and then three straight and four of the next five at home, but the time December rolls around, they really could be 9-2 or 10-1. I’m not ready to declare the Eagles the NFC favorite, because this season, I’m not sure there are any favorites anywhere. But the days of ruling them out or overlooking them are over. They’re legit. Are they Super Bowl legit? Maybe. Possibly. And that’s not something I expected to be saying about the Eagles in mid-October.