Could this be Doug Pederson's finest head coaching job in his three seasons with the Eagles? It sounds preposterous to say after Pederson won Super Bowl LII. Consider all of the injuries and the adversity the Eagles have faced this season as well as having a Lombardi Trophy-sized target on their collective back. And here the Eagles are at 8-7 and one win away from nine victories and possibly a return trip to the postseason.
"It's been unique, to say the least," Pederson said. "We began the season with a lot of injuries and as the season progressed more and more began to pile up. You're trying to manage your roster figuring out who the 53 men are going to be that week and then who the 46 are going to be each week for gameday and juggling all the pieces and, of course, the quarterback position …"
Yeah, it's been a lot. And when the Eagles were 4-6 after losing 48-7 in New Orleans, a lot of people thought this team was done. But here the Eagles are, having won four of their last five games and still alive for the postseason. Pederson has gotten the Eagles back on track with his upbeat, positive personality. The players like playing for Doug Pederson. They like playing for each other.
"What you see in these kinds of situations is your leadership and how it steps up," Pederson said. "There's never been a question about the locker room. The guys support each other. They have a great amount of passion for the team. Everybody just kind of dug in after that game in New Orleans. That's given us a chance."
There is still work to do, and then there is the element of getting help from Chicago, who must beat Minnesota for the Eagles to have a chance. And, hey, Washington isn't going to be an easy win. Not by any means. The Redskins have a good defense, led by an excellent front seven. On offense, Washington has gained some stability with quarterback Josh Johnson. A division rival, Washington would love to play the role of spoiler on Sunday.
But Pederson has his locker room, one that has shown resilience, not to mention an admirable depth in talent. Could 2018, with one game to go and on the same page following a Super Bowl victory, represent Pederson's finest coaching job? That's up for debate, but this much is so: 2018 has been, as Pederson says, unique. Challenging. Very difficult. Pederson, who signed a contract extension prior to the season, has done a terrific job righting the ship.
- The Eagles had running back Boston Scott active on Sunday against Houston and he averaged 24 yards on four kickoff returns so now the Eagles have a taste of what Scott can do on the field. He's an interesting prospect to think about for the future at 5-6 and 203 pounds. Because of his size, of course, Scott draws immediate comparisons to Darren Sproles, but he's a long way from Sproles. A sixth-round draft pick by the Saints, Scott was plucked off the New Orleans practice squad and added to the Eagles' 53-man roster when Corey Clement was placed on Injured Reserve. Scott is low to the ground, powerful, and he ran a 4.4 in the 40 at Louisiana Tech's Pro Day prior to last spring's NFL Draft. He caught 32 passes in college and potentially lends some versatility to the backfield in the future. The Eagles will give Scott a long look in the spring and next summer. He's got a chance to be here.
- Wide receiver Nelson Agholor has 59 receptions for 696 yards, numbers similar to last season when Agholor caught 62 passes for 768 yards. The difference is that last year Agholor scored eight touchdowns and this year he's got two. It's not on Agholor here. He's got the speed to get deep and he's precise in his routes. It's just that the Eagles, for a variety of reasons, haven't gotten him the ball in scoring position. We saw on Sunday on that 83-yard catch and run just how explosive Agholor is down the field and he separates with the football in his hands. Agholor hasn't been used enough in the offense this season.
- Lane Johnson comes off a dominating performance against Houston's J.J. Watt and plays his rival, Ryan Kerrigan, on Sunday. Kerrigan has 12 quarterback sacks this season, including four in his last three games. In the December 3 game at Lincoln Financial Field, Kerrigan was limited to only a pair of tackles and barely touched quarterback Carson Wentz. Johnson has to gear it up again for this one, because the Eagles just can't let Kerrigan dominate the line of scrimmage.
- We've got a big couple of days on tap for wide receiver Mike Wallace, added to the 53-man roster after spending much of the season on Injured Reserve with a broken leg. Wallace will do some individual work in practice and the Eagles will see where he's at. It's tough to see Wallace being a factor at Washington, but we'll see. The rotation at wide receiver seems to be working right now. It's tough to see where Wallace would fit in, but if he shows he can be a vertical threat, maybe Pederson will put something into the game plan for Wallace. Or maybe if the Eagles reach the postseason …
- What's remarkable about Darren Sproles in the last four weeks since returning from a hamstring injury is the impact he's had putting the football in the end zone. Sproles has been a huge plus in the running game, averaging 4.4 yards per carry. He's added 13 receptions and 148 yards. He's been thisclose on punt returns. The foot quickness and power with the football – exceptional as always. What the Eagles missed with Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement hurt is a back who could hurt defenses in a variety of ways and Sproles has done that. He's also had three touchdowns in four weeks and the Eagles have needed every one of those scores. Sproles took a long time to come back from the hamstring injury, but he's come all the way back. If Sunday is, indeed, the final game of his NFL career, let's all make sure to take a moment to appreciate what we've seen from Sproles the last five seasons.