At 6-7, the Philadelphia Eagles are right in the middle of the NFC playoff race.
If they win their next three games (Washington, Giants, Washington), their chances of making the playoffs raise all the way to 88%, according to 538. Their destiny, for the most part, is within their control.
In order to win their next three games, or just plainly win out, the Eagles will need to improve in certain areas on both sides of the football. Here are three keys to an Eagles postseason run.
Consistent play from Jalen Hurts
At the beginning of the season, I stated numerous times that the Eagles will only go as far as Jalen Hurts can take them. I was far from the only one who subscribed to that, and it appears that thought process may come to fruition in the final weeks of the year.
The Eagles don’t need Hurts to carry the entire offense, but he needs to be more consistent as a passer. Seeing the field more effectively, deep ball accuracy, hitting open receivers — all of these areas in Hurts’ game need improvement. And those should be simple asks for any quarterback in the NFL.
But to be fair, Hurts has improved in other areas during the 2021 season. He’s taken better care of the football, he’s been able to put up points in a hurry, and he’s aided the best rushing attack in football with his elite running ability.
As long as Hurts continues to do what he does well while being more steady as a passer, the Eagles offense should do just fine.
The pass rush needs to step up
The Eagles pass rush has been a huge disappointment this year. Not only have they not lived up their high expectations, the defensive line has been one of the worst units in the league at creating sacks. As a team, Philly has recorded just 21 sacks this season, tied for third-fewest in the NFL.
Brandon Graham’s absence has been palpable all season, but this line should still be talented enough to pick up some of the slack. A line consisting of Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Josh Sweat, Derek Barnett, Ryan Kerrigan, Milton Williams, and others, should be able to take over games. But we just haven’t seen that at all this season.
The rest of the defense has vastly improved over the course of the season. Darius Slay is playing at an All-Pro level and the secondary as a whole has been solid. T.J. Edwards and Davion Taylor have helped solidify the linebacking group. You could argue the defensive line has actually held Jonathan Gannon’s defense back with their inability to create pressure.
When/if they get to the postseason, the Eagles defense will face some of the best quarterbacks the NFL has to offer. And if they can’t get those guys on the ground, they will have no shot at winning. It’s as simple as that.
Don’t deviate from what works offensively
Over the past two months, the Eagles have formed a clear offensive identity. Run the ball, continue to run it, then run it some more.
Ever since Nick Sirianni employed this strategy against Detroit back in Week 8, his team has absolutely dominated the ground game. They’re the No. 1 rushing team in football, averaging 160 yards per game on the ground. We shouldn’t expect Sirianni to deviate from this formula at all moving forward.
The offensive line is the strength of the team, they have a loaded backfield when fully healthy, and Hurts is one of the best running quarterbacks in football.
Running the football and controlling the clock can win you meaningful games in December and January. And if the Eagles are going to make some noise down the stretch here, that’s exactly how they’re going to do it.