January 10, 2023
The Eagles finally got everything they wanted out of the regular season.
The NFC East, the top seed in the conference, a first-round bye, home-field advantage through the playoffs, it's all theirs.
And now...we wait.
It's going to be a long two weeks here in the Delaware Valley, but more than likely necessary ones for the sake of the Eagles' Super Bowl aspirations.
They'll have time to clean up – because there are parts of their game to clean up – rest up, and for several key starters, heal up, which includes Jalen Hurts, who returned in Sunday's win over the Giants but was still dealing with pain from his sprained throwing shoulder.
"I wanted to be available for my team," the Eagles' quarterback said postgame. "I really feel like if you want something, you gotta do what you gotta do to go get it and today we did just enough to get that goal. Now it's 0-0 and we have a new goal in front of us, but it's a day-by-day process like it's always been and we'll just continue to get better."
The regular season's over. Now it's on to the playoffs, where we see what teams are really made of.
Here's what they're saying about the Eagles after Week 18...
It wasn't a major celebration for the Eagles Sunday night. They got their shirts, got their hats, took some photos, but things were otherwise pretty reserved.
Maybe it was beating a Giants team that had most of their starters resting, or maybe it was just the arrival of a milestone that felt inevitable by October.
Either way, these Eagles are after more.
Wrote Bo Wulf in his day after column:
Maybe it’s hard to celebrate the inevitable.
For three weeks now, the Eagles have had a chance to set a franchise record for wins in a season and secure the NFC’s No. 1 seed along with home-field advantage and a first-round bye. Really, dating back to September, when the conference’s presumed powers had taken a step back and it became clear Jalen Hurts had appended “MVP candidate” to the beginning of his name, this day felt promised. So after limping to a 22-16 win over the New York Giants’ backups in the regular-season finale, the Eagles could be forgiven for their relative lack of excitement.
“We’re obviously very grateful,” said tight end Dallas Goedert in the subdued postgame locker room. “Winning the (NFC) East is a tremendous accomplishment. Getting the No. 1 seed’s a tremendous accomplishment. But we’re starving for more. This isn’t our end goal. This was never our end goal. We got so much more to play for and we put ourselves in a great position to do so.” [The Athletic, $]
Left frustrated that the Eagles didn't run over the Giants' second-stringers like they probably should have? You're not alone, but there's no real reason to hit the panic button yet either (Shamus Clancy covered that HERE).
After all, the Eagles did stumble into the postseason at the end of 2017, and that turned out just fine.
And besides, the position they're in right now? Plenty of teams would trade places in a heartbeat.
The Eagles are trying to figure some things out right now, but it’s easy to forget that every other team is doing the same thing. We’re so close to the Eagles we can lose sight of the fact that every team has bad games, bad weeks, bad plays.
The Vikings are 12-4, but they lost to the Cowboys by 37, the Lions by 11 and the Packers by 27. The Cowboys are 12-4 but they went 2-2 to end the season, finishing with a 20-point loss to the Commanders. The 49ers are 13-4, but they just allowed Jarett Stidham to put up 365 yards and 37 points against them in his first career start.
You play the season and see who the best teams are and style points don’t matter and margin of victory doesn’t matter and all that matters is stacking up those W’s and nobody in football has more of them than the Eagles.
Was the Giants game frustrating and difficult and agonizing? Sure.
But there are 15 teams in the NFC who’d give anything for an ugly win that locks up a 1st-round bye. There are 15 teams in the NFC who’d trade places with the Eagles in a second.
The Eagles are right where they want to be, right where they need to be. Even if the road that got them there was a little bit rocky. [NBCSP]
Jalen Hurts came back from his shoulder sprain and was good enough to get the Eagles that last win they needed, but "good enough" isn't going to cut it, definitely not in the playoffs.
Last year, in Hurts' first taste of the postseason, he and the Eagles put up a dud. But after an MVP-caliber campaign, will he rise to the occasion this time?
Hurts has made himself a lot of money this season. He doesn’t seem to play for monetary reasons, though. At least they’re secondary. Hurts has an unrelenting drive to be great — and not just good enough — according to so many who have come into contact with him since he first started playing football.
His injuries, the way the offense looked without his plus-one capabilities, and all the other reasons teams fear cutting a franchise check to a young quarterback are enough for the Eagles to hold off on an extension.
But they have a Super Bowl to try to win first. And they have a serious-minded quarterback who is as diligent as they come and only three wins from giving the Eagles their second championship in five years.
“I can’t say that I’ll smile,” Hurts said, “until the job is finished.” [The Inquirer, $]
Jimmy Kempski already touched on this in the NFC Hierarchy/Obituary, but I wanted to highlight it again because it's one of the most Dallas Cowboys things I've ever heard.
They can't win on grass.
Via Jon Machota over at The Athletic:
Cowboys on grass:— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) January 9, 2023
Green Bay, L
Playoffs: TB, PHI, SF all on grass.
“I feel like their defensive front, that is so dominant at home on turf, fast surface, I feel like they slow down (on grass).” https://t.co/pzQVCC6xem
Up first is Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in the Wild Card round, in Tampa, which has grass.
Going against Brady, the seven-time Super Bowl champion and widely regarded as the NFL’s greatest player, it’s not an ideal time to have questions at cornerback.
Dallas sacked Howell three times, hitting him four times. Once each by Dorance Armstrong, Micah Parsons, Osa Odighizuwa and Sam Williams. The Cowboys will have no chance against Brady without a productive pass rush.
“I don’t think they’re a great team on the road on grass,” former Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said on NBC’s Football Night in America pregame show. “I feel like their defense, their front, that is so dominant at home on that turf, fast surface. I feel like they slow down (away from home). It will be interesting to see how they play next week at Tampa. I still think they’re a better team. It will be a good challenge.” [The Athletic, $]
Nothing goes hand in hand like the Dallas Cowboys and excuses, and they already got this year's ready to go.
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