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December 30, 2019

What they're saying about the Eagles: NFC East Championship edition

No matter what happens during the NFL postseason, Eagles fans can be proud.

The injuries and off-field distractions the Eagles overcame to somehow win their division and advance to the playoffs are remarkable. 

Ahead there will be more injury news, postseason match ups to sweat over and do-or-die football. But just for a moment, in the hours following a party-like atmosphere in the Eagles postgame jubilee, it's appropriate to reflect on what has been accomplished.

We scoured the internet and found some of the most interesting and thought-provoking takes for our latest (and NFC East Champion) version of "What they're saying about the Eagles."

Take a look:

Get in line

Danny Heifetz | The Ringer

Not only did Sunday's win over the Giants contain a ridiculous stretch where so many Eagles' players were injured that there was a literal line for the blue medical tent (Brandon Graham actually went to the locker room to cut the line), but their entire season was pretty much the same — a group of talented players getting hurt left and right.

At The Ringer, Danny Heifetz praises the Birds for what they overcame this season:

It’s the third year in a row a banged-up Eagles squad has made an improbable late-season run. Their 2017-18 Super Bowl team was defined by Nick Foles stepping in for Wentz, as well as injuries to left tackle Jason Peters and Sproles. Last year’s team was also injury riddled, and Foles led the Eagles to three consecutive wins to end the season to capture a wild-card spot, where they beat the Bears in Chicago. But this team’s late-season magic is a different kind of success. Rather than rallying around Foles’s mythical aura, the team has had a bunch of anonymous players step in for the team’s injured stars, and coach Doug Pederson has outcoached everyone in Philly’s way. If any team thinks they can beat Philly this year, they’ll have to get in line.  [The Ringer]

Best job he's ever done?

Marcus Hayes | Philadelphia Inquirer

Who deserves the credit for the Eagles' success this season? Carson Wentz for sure deserves praise, as the QB was able to overcome a lot of adversity. Howie Roseman and the front office, for all their faults, were able to find diamonds in the rough to fill in for a bevy of injured players. But it was Pederson who was able to get his players to shut out all the noise. And he excelled as a play-caller and motivator more than anyone expected him to with what he had to work with. Marcus Hayes has more on the performance of Pederson:

Pederson won a division title without Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, and DeSean Jackson, the aforementioned receivers, as well as Mack Hollins, who got cut, and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, who was an injured mannequin Sunday — so, really, without his top five receivers. He won it without Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz and without right tackle Lane Johnson and right guard Brandon Brooks, his best linemen. He won it without Miles Sanders, the transcendent rookie running back who missed the second half with an ankle injury, and without Jordan Howard, who, like Arcega-Whiteside, wasn’t healthy enough to contribute. Injured running backs Darren Sproles and Corey Clement were long ago irrelevant. 
He won a division title with anonymous running back Boston Scott gaining 138 yards from scrimmage and scoring three touchdowns. With converted college quarterback Greg Ward, one of 10 former practice-squaders currently on the roster, leading the team with six catches, and with fellow squader Deontay Burnett snagging a team-best 41-yard catch. With Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Matt Bleeping Pryor paving the way on the right side and protecting Wentz all day. He was sacked just once.  []

The debate is over

John Stolnis | Bleeding Green Nation

Remember the epic debate between Nick Foles and Carson Wentz? Whose camp were you in? Which QB did you think was the better leader for the Eagles?

Well, honestly, the debate is pretty much over and done. As Foles struggled to the point of being benched in Jacksonville, Wentz led a ragtag group of practice squad players to four straight wins and an improbable playoff berth. John Stolnis says it is no debate at all:

In a perverse way, the injuries to the offense was actually good for Carson, specifically when it comes to rehabilitating his image with the segment of the fanbase that had soured on him. It also likely rehabilitated his status in the locker room among players, if there were any (Orlando Scandrick suggested there were), who were hoping Nick Foles was going to “walk back through that door.” Sure, if Wentz had been able to use his main weapons all season long, perhaps the Eagles would have finished 12-4 or 13-3 and competed for a first-round bye in the postseason, but it’s also almost certain you’d have his critics crying about how he was only succeeding because of the talent around him. 

Now? There is nothing left for the anti-Wentzers to hang their hats on. There is no argument left.  [Bleeding Green Nation]

Heavy underdogs?

Reuben Frank | NBC Sports Philadelphia

As he always does, Reuben Frank made some observations after the Eagles decisive win Sunday. However, Vegas and Roob (and I guess pretty much all Eagles fans) seem to be in disagreement. On paper you'd expect the Eagles to be heavy underdogs against the Seahawks, but most sportsbooks had Philly as a one-point favorite — or at worst a very slight underdog — although that line has shifted as early money has come in heavy on the Seattle.

Sure, the Seahawks are short-handed and are coming off a loss to the Niners. But the Eagles are missing pretty much everyone:

I don’t know what the Eagles will have left when they face the loser of the 49ers-Seahawks game, presumably on Sunday. Maybe they’ll get Lane Johnson back. Maybe they’ll get Zach Ertz and Sanders back. Whoever they can get healthy, they’ll be heavy underdogs in their own stadium. But after what I’ve seen? I sure ain’t picking against them. This has been a magical run, and I don’t see any reason for it to end.  [NBCSP]

The East is not enough

Zach Berman | The Athletic

And finally, from Zach Berman, a little relativity. Sure, the team DID overachieve, considering its injury issues. But as their NFC East championship shirts said — "The East is not enough" — they have a lot of work left to do and only fools are satisfied:

The Eagles don’t get a Lombardi Trophy for a four-game winning streak against three teams that didn’t finish with a winning record and had a combined record of 19-45 (although they did get a T-shirt and hat for doing so). Part of their optimism is that the records now reset. They’re the No. 4 seed. It doesn’t matter that they have two fewer wins than the Seahawks (11-5), their first-round opponent. The Eagles are playing at home, where they’ve won nine of 11 games in December and January under Pederson. For them to believe “The East is Not Enough,” they must also believe that reaching this point is not the achievement.  [The Athletic]

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