The Redskins head into Week 17 with a 7-8 record, and their only highlight this week would be eliminating the Eagles chances to sneak into the playoffs. The typical end of season shenanigans are going on at Redskins Park right now, but there is still a football game to play on Sunday.
We asked Brandon Lee Gowton 6 questions about the Eagles and their savior Nick Foles.
1. Who is to blame for the Eagles regression this year?
Regression? What do you mean? Didn’t you hear the Eagles are going to the Super Bowl again? Back-to-back champs, baby!
Half-joking aside, the reality is there are a number of reasons why the Eagles aren’t as good as they were in 2017. Carson Wentz not being fully healthy has clearly prevented him from being the MVP talent he was last season. Losing Frank Reich and John DeFilippo hurt the coaching staff. Losing some players in free agency hurt roster depth. Injuries have taken a toll. The defense totally collapsed at some very inopportune times. Natural regression to the mean in key areas (red zone, third down performance) is another factor.
Add it all up and that explains the drop off by either four or five regular season wins.
2. Who is the biggest surprise/disappointment this year?
Avonte Maddox is the biggest surprise. The 2018 fourth-round pick looked lost during offseason practices, which was only to be expected. Maddox mostly played as a boundary corner at Pitt so learning the slot was new to him. The light seemed to go on for Maddox late in training camp. He made a push to become the starting nickel and, though he ultimately lost out to Sidney Jones, it was just several weeks before he was forced into action at safety. Mind you, Maddox had never played safety in his entire football career prior to Week 4. But he filled in admirably and really stabilized the back end to his best ability. Maddox got hurt in Week 11 but was able to come back for the Rams game in Week 11. The rookie defender had a huge night playing on the outside as he locked down his assignments and even picked off Jared Goff. Maddox also did a pretty commendable job against DeAndre Hopkins in Week 16. It looks like the Eagles found a real nice piece for the secondary moving forward.
The aforementioned Jones could be labeled as the biggest disappointment. Many believed Jones to be a top 10 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft had he not torn his Achilles at his pro day. Though he’s had some quality moments, Jones has never quite looked like a player with THAT kind of potential. He’s also struggled to stay healthy, which is an obvious concern. Jones is only 22 years old so there’s plenty of time for him to improve. In the meantime, Eagles fans are left wanting to see more.
3. Was Carson Wentz rushed backed too soon after a slow Eagles start?
I don’t think that’s the issue. It wasn’t like Wentz wasn’t looking healthy in practice. He was looking pretty good when I had the opportunities to watch him. I think he looked about as ready as he possibly could before putting him into game action. And I don’t think it’s like the 1-1 Eagles were pushing the panic button with Foles looking mediocre after just two games.
With that said, it’s clear that Wentz didn’t look quite like the player he was in 2017 this season. I think that was to be expected to some extent. That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be playing. If Wentz is healthy enough to play, he should be out on the field. He’s the starter.
4. Are you more confident now with Nick Foles going into Week 17 with a playoff appearance on the line?
There’s ample reason to feel confident in the reigning Super Bowl MVP given how he’s played over the past two weeks. Confidence is fairly high.
It’s not ALL about Foles, either. The team has really stepped up around him. Just like they did during last year’s Super Bowl run.
Now, you can never completely rule out Foles laying a stinker. For all the high highs in his career, he’s also had some very low lows.
But with the offensive line playing at a high level and Doug Pederson scheming things up, there’s reason to believe Foles can keep up his hot streak.
5. What is the top priority for the Eagles this offseason?
Get Carson Wentz healthy. That’s the most important thing. If he can return to 2017 form, this team should be in great shape.
Making moves to help Wentz would also be nice. Figure out the left tackle situation depending what happens with Jason Peters. Find a lead running back worth a damn. Get a legitimate deep threat.
I think Washington puts up a fight early but the Eagles win this one, 26 to 16. Foles is playing well and the defensive line should be able to get some pressure on Josh Johnson.
How could I possibly pick against big game quarterback Kirk Cousins this week? I’m definitely not trying to reverse jinx the Vikings into losing.
If the Eagles do make the playoffs, they’re absolutely going back to the Super Bowl and winning it because it makes no sense and Foles has the craziest career ever.