The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.
Back in Week 1, Brandon Lee Gowton from Bleeding Green Nation was kind enough to answers questions about his favorite team for us. Having survived that experience, he’s back for more, armed with the knowledge that his team is in first place in the division, and that nothing that happens in Week 7 will change that.
You can find my answers to Brandon’s questions on the BGN site.
The Monday Night Football matchup provides the Redskins with the opportunity to get the bad taste out of their mouths from the opening week loss to Philly. Let’s see how the Philly fan base is looking at their team and this week’s game right now.
1 - I saw a headline on BGN saying that Carson Wentz belongs in the conversation for league MVP. With 6 games in the books and the Eagles sitting at 5-1, can you summarize the case for the Eagles QB as league MVP?
I’d like to start here by pointing out it’s not just me. Bovada’s odds actually have Wentz as the favorite to win MVP right now.
I think some of this is the fact that the quarterbacks of the teams with the best records are almost always going to be in the MVP discussion, deserved or not.
In this case, though, Wentz has been playing really well. He’s on pace to throw for 4,224 yards, 35 touchdowns, and eight interceptions this season.
Wentz has shown significant improvement from Year 1 to Year 2. As a result, the Eagles are showing a lot of progress from the team that finished 7-9 last year, and a lot of that is because there’s a lot of value in Wentz’s contributions to his team.
When you look at other MVP candidates, you see players who were already on good teams. Wentz is taking the Eagles from below average to great.
Now, it’s obviously still early, and a lot can change in the next 10 games. But if Wentz keeps this pace up, he’s definitely in the conversation at the very least, and that’s an impressive feat for a second-year quarterback.
2 - When Darren Sproles went out for the season with his injury, it looked like it was going to be very bad news for the Eagles. So far, at least, that hasn’t been the case. How has the team adjusted its offensive attack & return game to deal with the loss of the playmaker, Sproles?
Yeah, it’s weird. Sproles was arguably the team’s best running back before going down for the season, but the team hasn’t really missed him a lot.
LeGarrette Blount has really stepped it up since going without a single carry in Week 2. He ranks eighth in total rushing yards (390) and is tied for fourth in yards per carry (5.6).
What’s really impressive about Blount is that he’s averaging 4.9 yards AFTER contact, per Pro Football Focus. The Eagles’ offensive line has done a great job of opening holes for him, yes, but Blount is able to break tackles once he gets past the line of scrimmage. You really need to gang tackle that dude to get him down.
When healthy, Wendell Smallwood is a poor man’s version of Sproles. He’s able to contribute as a rotational runner and he’s the best pass-catching back the Eagles have. Smallwood is injury-prone, which is unfortunate, but it sounds like he might play this week against Washington.
The Eagles signed Kenjon Barner off the street to replace Sproles as a punt returner. He was so effective in Week 5 that he earned the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week award. He had a really bad muffed punt (that the Eagles fortunately recovered) in Week 6, however, so he’s not perfect.
Overall, the Eagles have done a good job of replacing Sproles. It’s been surprising. Everyone would obviously still love to have Darren back healthy.
3 - Who do you think poses the bigger threat to the Eagles inside the division: the Redskins or the Cowboys?
You just loved including this question, didn’t you? Trying to make me say nice things about the other NFC East teams? I’d never!
Just joking. I think Washington is actually the easy answer here.
Sure, Dallas could get hot and regain their 2016 form. But I have my doubts about that. Not to mention that their schedule isn’t easy and they might be losing their best player, Ezekiel Elliott, for six games. The Cowboys are also third in the division right now so they’re obviously further away from threatening the Eagles’ lead.
Meanwhile, Washington is second in the NFC East. They’re certainly not a terrible team. Washington ranked second in DVOA before dropping to sixth this week. It’s a solid squad that, prior to this season, had played well against the Eagles in recent years.
With all that said, there might not be any real threat to the Eagles if Philly wins on Monday Night Football. A victory would virtually seal the deal for the Birds with a 6-1 record and a head-to-head tiebreaker over Washington. A loss would continue to keep things interesting.
4 - If you were a completely impartial and all-powerful third party, which player would you take from the Redskins and add to the Eagles to make the Philly team better? How about the other way – which Eagle would you transplant onto the Washington squad to make the Redskins the best team they could be?
I’d take a healthy Josh Norman, if that option is on the table. Norman would give the Eagles an immediate upgrade at the corner position. Youngsters Jalen Mills and Rasul Douglas deserve credit for they way they’ve battled this season but Norman is an obvious and proven talent upgrade.
I also came close to saying Ryan Kerrigan. The Eagles have a number of talented pass rushers, so he’s not as big of a “need” for Philly, but he’s a damn good player. The “you can never have too many pass rushers” thing is true. Adding Kerrigan to the Eagles would be great because it’d also mean they won’t have to face a guy who’s done a lot of damage to them.
If I had to give Washington a player in this situation, I’d go with Fletcher Cox. Washington is now going to be without Jonathan Allen for the season so they have a need at 3-4 defensive end. Cox has experience in that role and he’s a beast.
Putting Jason Peters at left tackle and moving Trent Williams to right tackle would also make for an insanely good Washington offensive line. That’s another option I considered.
5 - Tell me how the Eagles’ 2017 season ends.
With a Super Bowl parade down Broad Street. Next question.
For real, though, hopes are high after getting to 5-1. The Eagles currently have the fourth best Super Bowl odds per Bovada. Football Outsiders gives them a 15.1% chance at winning the big game, which is second best in the NFL right now.
But there’s just so much that could change within the next 10 games. I’m not about to start counting my chickens before they hatch.
I do think the Eagles are a good team. And even if they go 5-5 the rest of the way, which seems possible given their favorable schedule, I think 10-6 is good enough for the playoffs. So I think they’re bound to make the post-season this year. I could see them winning a playoff game.
I don’t know if they’re ready for more than that. In some ways, it feels like it’s just too soon to expect them to reach that kind of success. Again, Carson Wentz is only in his second year. Same for Doug Pederson.
That might not matter, though. We all know how unpredictable the NFL is. Maybe the Eagles finally win a Lombardi in the year where no one expected it. Or maybe it’s just another year where the season ends in disappointment.
The only thing I know for sure right now is that this team is a lot of fun to watch and it’ll be really interesting to see where they go from here.
I want to thank Brandon for his thoughtful and insightful answers, despite his apparent lack of understanding about elite left tackle play in the NFL. I think we all know that if Jason Peters were on the Redskins offensive line, he’d be playing left guard.
And while there’s a lot not to love about the Philadelphia franchise, its players and its fans, I actually don’t mind their cheerleaders, so here’s a parting shot.
How many combined points will be scored in the Redskins-Eagles game on Monday night?
This poll is closed
Less than 20
66 or more