Spadaro: Eagles have peaked at exactly the right time for playoffs

 

We have a few more days of waiting and wondering if the Eagles will reach the postseason, and in the meantime, we’re going to ask two questions, one in the past tense and one in the future …

  • What took so long for the Eagles to turn this 2018 season around? And,
  • Is there a decision to be made at quarterback for the future?

Question one, first. With Sunday’s 32-30 win over Houston that moved the Eagles to 8-7 for the season, they have won four of their last five games. They have peaked at exactly the right time for the playoffs, which the Eagles will make if they beat Washington on Sunday and Chicago upends Minnesota in the same time slot. Needing help is not a good feeling, but it is what it is for the Eagles. For much of this year, the Eagles have been the very definition of inconsistent, starting slowly on offense and blowing leads on defense.

What changed for the Eagles in the last month? No. 1, the offensive line has upped its game and that has allowed the offense to have more balance and, thus, keep drives alive and score more points. The Eagles have put back-to-back weeks of 30-plus points on the board for the first time in 2018 and, for the most part, they’ve had success moving the football up and down the field with an explosive passing game and a solid, not spectacular, running game.

“We’ve had balance and we’ve been able to score in the red zone,” center Jason Kelce said. “Getting those big passing plays helps, too. I think the defense deserves credit, too. They’ve made big stops and they’ve taken the football away and that’s helped the offense.”

The Eagles are a plus-3 in the turnover department in the last five weeks after a season of being deep in the negative. Takeaways help. And the Eagles have been winning every week at the line of scrimmage with a defensive line that is absolutely wrecking offenses. Fletcher Cox, Michael Bennett, Chris Long and Brandon Graham are dominating. Even with all of the injuries the Eagles have had on defense, the iron men up front are winning. And that’s making a difference.

Question two, now. Nick Foles passed for 471 yards and four touchdowns on Sunday against Houston, setting a franchise record for most passing yards in a single game. Remarkable. Foles has ignited the offense, no question about it. And he may very well go beat the Redskins and maybe get the Eagles into the playoffs and then, who knows after that?

But the grand plan for the Eagles is that Carson Wentz takes the reins when he’s healthy. Some people wonder why, and it’s fair to ask given Foles’s success, so here’s the answer from the Eagles’ point of view: Wentz is still the quarterback who, in his second season in 2017, threw 33 touchdown passes before suffering a serious knee injury. He’s got a long, productive career in front of him. He has all the talent in the world. The 2018 Comeback Season is only a partial view of what Wentz will be. All of the investment the Eagles made in Wentz to acquire him will pay off for the next 10 years. You’ll see.

Wentz is the quarterback of the future.

That’s non-negotiable as far as the Eagles see it.

“Carson is going to be a great quarterback in this league for a long time,” coach Doug Pederson said. “He’s going to grow from this experience and benefit from it.”

All of the quarterback talk is on hold until the offseason. With one more week of angst ahead, and with the St. Nick Magic still being spread, maybe the offseason won’t be here quite so soon. ••