A few weeks ago, while the Eagles were in the midst of their four-game losing streak, the playoffs were an after thought in Philly. Washington and New York were pulling away from the Birds and seemed well on their way to duking it out for the division title.
The playoff chances for the Eagles are still bleak at this moment — Football Outsiders gives Philadelphia a 10% at making it — but it’s certainly not impossible.
Some fans are already thinking ahead to the offseason, debating who the team should take with their top-10 draft pick. I get the excitement around having the chance to grab one of the premier prospects in this year’s draft, but there’s no question that making the postseason is more valuable to this franchise. And the reason why starts and ends with Jalen Hurts.
Giving the rookie second round quarterback just four games to prove himself as a potential franchise quarterback was unfair to begin with. There’s simply no way any of us can say with confidence that Hurts should be the guy after just four performances. Hurts has played well in his first two starts, though, throwing for over 500 yards, four touchdowns to zero interceptions, and posting a QB rating of 92.95.
It would take miraculous play the rest of the way for the Eagles organization to move forward with him as the face of the franchise. But, if this team can run the table and make the postseason behind Hurts, and the OU product plays well in that playoff game or even wins it, this assessment on who should be the starting quarterback of the future becomes a whole lot easier.
It’s not that far fetched to think the Eagles can sneak in. Losing on Sunday to the Cardinals certainly didn’t help, but the two top teams, Washington and New York, both lost their games as well.
So, for the Birds to get in the tournament, they’ll need to win their remaining two games against Dallas and Washington. New York will need to lose one of their next two against Baltimore and Dallas, and Washington will need to lose to Carolina this week. If all that transpires, the Eagles are in.
6-9-1 wins this division, can you believe that?
Obviously, if the Eagles win these next two, it’ll suggest Hurts played pretty well. At least well enough to win. Simply getting this team into the playoffs is a feat in of itself for Hurts, and it’ll start a serious conversation within the building on whether he’s really going to be the guy moving forward.
Now, if Hurts wins that playoff game, which would probably be against Tampa Bay or Los Angeles, I can’t imagine the team going back to Carson Wentz next season. How would you justify it? One playoff win in his rookie year would give Hurts more playoff wins than Wentz has in his five-year career. That’s all that needs to be said, really.
It won’t be easy, but the Eagles have an experienced coaching staff and Doug Pederson has always done his best coaching during the final month of the season. This season isn’t over just yet.