Sunday's loss in Dallas was tough. The Eagles lost to their biggest rival and put themselves in a major hole in terms of making the playoffs. In a word, ugh.
Even worse, the Eagles didn't play well. This was their biggest game of the year and the team needed a sloppy performance from Dak Prescott to keep the game close. It is easier to deal with a loss when the other team is just clearly better. It sure doesn't feel like Dallas is clearly better, but they swept the series and are in the driver's seat to win the division.
It would be really easy to get down on the Eagles right now. This season has been disappointing and Sunday was a bad showing.
Instead, I choose to focus on the big picture. The Eagles are 6-7 right now and in the middle of an incredibly frustrating campaign, but there is plenty to feel good about.
Ten months ago, the Eagles won their first Super Bowl. The same personnel guys who built that team are in place. Most of the same coaching staff that won that game is in place. Most of the key players from that are still in place.
Normally, a team in the middle of a down season would be trying to figure out what they need to do to build a Super Bowl team. The Eagles have already done that. They know what it takes.
This season hasn't panned out for a variety of reasons. We'll go over them thoroughly once the season is over. I do think there is real value in the fact the Eagles know what it takes to win.
The key to any discussion about long-term success in football is the quarterback position. You either have a good one or you don't. The Eagles have a great quarterback in Carson Wentz.
Wentz is everything you want in a quarterback. He's big, strong, and athletic. He is an accurate passer and has a strong arm. He's tough. Wentz can take hits and battle his way through them. He is a good decision-maker. Wentz is smart and instinctive. He's also a natural leader, a critical trait for a good quarterback.
Off the field, Wentz is just as impressive. He is very driven. Wentz will do everything in his power to succeed. He's going to work as hard or harder than everyone on the team. He's not interested in the fame or the nightlife. Wentz is 100 percent focused on being a great football player.
Wentz is also a great teammate. We've seen some star quarterbacks alienate themselves from the rest of the team by their lifestyle and expecting to be treated specially. Wentz is just one of the guys. He takes the blame when things go wrong and gives credit when things are good. Wentz is ultra-competitive and understands that he needs his teammates if the Eagles are going to be a great team.
Wentz is a foundational piece. This is a guy you build a team around. He's not alone. Lane Johnson is the best right tackle in football. Zach Ertz is the best tight end in the NFC. Fletcher Cox is one of the best defensive players in the league, regardless of position.
Malcolm Jenkins, Michael Bennett, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, and Alshon Jeffery are also outstanding players. They've been to Pro Bowls. They've won big games. They've had special moments. These are the kind of players any team would love to have.
The Eagles have some talented young players who we don't quite have a grasp of yet. Dallas Goedert, Derek Barnett, Corey Clement, Sidney Jones, Avonte Maddox, Jake Elliott, and Cameron Johnston have all shown flashes of real potential. These guys could become solid starters. Maybe even a notch above that.
I'm leaving out guys like Brandon Graham, Darren Sproles, Jordan Hicks, and Golden Tate because we don't know if they'll be back or not. The Eagles are going to have some cap issues to deal with, which is what happens when you build a talented roster. The Eagles won't be able to bring all of those players back. Still, the Eagles are going to be in good shape.
You wouldn't know it by what you saw on Sunday, but there is a lot more right with the Eagles than there is wrong. The big pieces are in place and that's the key.
While most on the outside see this season as over, Pederson and his players are going to keep on battling. They still have a chance as of now. They just need a lot of help, which is a terrible feeling at this time of year.
Maybe now that the pressure is off the Eagles will relax and play better. Or maybe they will continue to be maddeningly inconsistent. This team can look dominant for a quarter or even a half, but also disappear for that same amount of time.
These final three games could be the Eagles making a desperate run at a playoff berth or they could be reduced to taking a look at some young players.
If there was something encouraging about Sunday's game in Dallas, the Eagles never gave up. They struggled for two and a half quarters, but the team kept battling to stay in the game. Once things did finally click, they were able to trade big plays with Dallas.
I would love to have seen what would have happened if the Eagles won the coin toss. I think they had a strong chance to march right down the field and win that game.
Instead, they lost in overtime 29-23 and now face a major uphill battle to still make something of this season.