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Spadaro: The defending champs are starting to take shape

With Carson Wentz back in the fold, the Eagles are looking forward.

By Dave Spadaro

Carson Wentz is back at quarterback … and now what? What direction does this 2018 season take for the Eagles now that The Franchise has control of the offense and appears, based on his first action, to be healthy and fearless and confident playing on his surgically repaired knee?

“Look, it’s a game-by-game thing in the National Football League,” head coach Doug Pederson said the day after the team’s 20–16 victory over Indianapolis. “We’re just trying to figure out a way to beat Tennessee. We’ve got a long way to go in this season.”

The 2017 Eagles won their Week 3 game over the Giants, thanks to a 61-yard field goal from Jake Elliott, which ignited a nine-game winning streak that planted the Eagles firmly among the league’s elite teams. This year’s Eagles team has, as hard as it is to think about for a Super Bowl-champion squad, flown under the radar a bit in a league dominated by Patrick Mahomes and the high-flying Kansas City Chiefs, the undefeated Los Angeles Rams, the offensive struggles of the Dallas Cowboys and the controversial roughing-the-quarterback penalties that are littering NFL fields.

That Eagles? Just another 2–1 team.

“We’ve had a bunch of injuries, and we’re playing through some adversity, but one thing about this team is that we’re finding ways to win,” center Jason Kelce said. “That’s all we can do at this point. It may not be the most stylistically pleasing performance but winning is all that matters. We’re going week-to-week. There’s no sense looking too far down the line.”

With Wentz, though, the Eagles understand that anything is possible. In his first action since suffering the left knee injury in a win over the Los Angeles Rams last Dec. 10, Wentz completed 25 of 37 passes for 255 yards, a touchdown and an interception against a scrappy Colts defense. Wentz turned the football over twice, he held onto the ball a smidge too long at times and he missed a receiver in the open field once or three times, but he was pretty close to the level of play prior to his injury.

The Eagles think there is a lot more growth coming for Wentz, which can only help an offense missing, at times this season, wide receivers Alshon Jeffery, Mike Wallace and Mack Hollins, running backs Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles as well as left tackle Jason Peters.

“We’ve had a lot of players in and out of the lineup and it’s tough to develop continuity when that happens,” Pederson said. “That’s not an excuse. It’s just a fact. We’ve battling through it.”

It helps to have Wentz back, but the Eagles have a long way to go before they truly know where they stand this season. In the meantime, just win, and worry about the style points down the line. As much as we want to find out all the answers now, the truth is that the Eagles’ 2018 big picture won’t be clear until November or December.

That’s when the true Eagles will reveal themselves, and hopefully they will have banked enough wins like the one they had against Indianapolis to put themselves in the thick of a deep postseason run once again, this time with №11 running the offensive show. ••

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