On September 25, Darren Sproles exited Lincoln Financial FIeld with a broken arm and a torn ACL. The news put a damper on a thrilling victory over the New York Giants, and many speculated losing the starting running back and best offensive weapon would derail the Eagles’ season when it was just getting started.
What happened next? LeGarrette Blount responded the following week with 136 yards and 8.5 yards per carry in a win over the Chargers.
In the following game, the Eagles’ most valuable defensive player, Fletcher Cox, was ruled out against the Arizona Cardinals. The rest of the defensive line stepped up to hold the Cardinals to just six yards per pass and 2.2 yards per rush, as well as forcing a fumble and two sacks.
Fast-forward to Week 7, when the Eagles lost both Jason Peters and Jordan Hicks for the season. They rallied to overcome what even non-Philadelphia sports media sources called one of the most unfairly officiated games of the year, to defeat a surging Panthers team to improve to 5-1 on national television. Backup left tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai would even hold Von Miller to just one sack a few weeks later when the Eagles decimated the Broncos 51-23 to reach an 8-1 record.
And most recently, without the Eagles’ best receiving target Zach Ertz yesterday, Trey Burton stepped up with two touchdown scores.
Time and time again, this Eagles team has overcome adversity and overcome the loss of critical players. When one player is either injured or struggling, another steps up. Carson Wentz is the latest Eagle to be lost for the season. If the Eagles truly are a championship team they will step up once again.
Make no mistake about it, the gravity of the Eagles’ loss of Wentz is great. The likely 2017 MVP had thrown 33 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. To expect Nick Foles to replicate such production would be too much to expect.
But it is not too much to expect Foles to play well, as he did in Wentz’s absence. It is not too much to expect the running game to play more of a dominant role, particularly the immensely talented Jay Ajayi. It is not too much to expect the receiving corp to continue to make plays regardless of who is throwing them the ball. And it is not too much to expect the defensive line to continue to harass opposing passers and running backs.
It is also not too much to expect the Eagles to win two out of their three remaining games against the Giants, Raiders, and Cowboys, even without Wentz, to clinch a first-round bye and homefield advantage.
In 1999, when St. Louis Rams starter Trent Green tore his ACL in the preseason, the team rallied behind Kurt Warner to win the Super Bowl. When the New England Patriots lost Tom Brady to a torn ACL in 2008, they rallied behind Matt Cassel to reach an 11-5 record. And in 2017, the Vikings lost starter Sam Bradford to a knee injury in Week 1, but are currently a 10-3 team with backup Case Keenum leading them.
The Eagles are a good football team, but great football teams will always find a way. If the Eagles want to prove to the world that they are a great football team, now is their chance.