As an Eagles fan expectation has never really been that high. I mean 0 Super Bowl wins and two Super Bowl appearances since it started says something. However this year felt different. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Let’s start from the beginning.
Last season we finished 7-9. It was the first season under head coach Doug Pederson and first season for QB Carson Wentz who was our 2nd Overall draft pick. We started the season well winning our first 3 games, but then things started to go down hill. We lost 9 of our remaining 13 games and finished 4th in the NFC East with a record of 2-4.
As soon as the season had finished, plans were already well underway in preparation for the season ahead . First came the NFL draft. We acquired a few new faces but without seeing them in action,and in gaming situations, I wasn’t overly convinced. Preseason started and we finished 2-2. Not too bad I thought.
First up was Redskins away. In my eyes it was a game we had to win. It would set us up for the season ahead and it’s against a divisional rival. It was an outstanding performance by both Offence and Defence. Eagles came out on top winning 30-17. Great start to the season.
The following game was on the road again to the Chiefs. It ended in a defeat but it I felt different. Normally I would of been like ‘here we got again’ but for some reason I didn’t feel like that. I couldn’t explain it. Then it hit me the following week when we played Giants at the Linc. Jake Elliot’s 61-yard field goal in the last second of the game resulted in us winning 27-24. This team is for real. It was an Eagles team I hadn’t seen before with the never give up mentality.
From there we went on to win the next 8 games against Chargers, Cardinals, Panthers, Redskins, 49ers, Broncos, Cowboys and Bears. By week 15 we had already clinched a first-round bye for the first time since 2004. We had also acquired RB Jay Ajayi from the Miami Dolphins for a 4th round 2018 draft pick. Everybody on the team was stepping up. Defensively were immense. Offensively we couldn’t be stopped. We were being lead by the MVP candidate at QB Carson Wentz. Not only was he able to form a fantastic relationship with the offence but he was making unbelievable plays. Plays where he was evading defenders when it looked like he was going to get sacked and also throwing deep throws down the field which defied logic.
A defeat to the Seahawks put the celebrations on hold for us clinching the divisional title, however a win against the Rams ensured we did become divisional champions for the first time since 2013. It sounds crazy but this was not a time to celebrate. During the third quarter of the game, Wentz decided to run and dive for the touchdown line. During the dive for the line his legs appeared to get tangled between two Rams defenders. The Play was called back and due to holding. He then threw a touchdown pass but he didn’t look stable on his leg. He was seen talking to the trainers and then walked of to the locker room for further examination. The news was announced the day after when Wentz had gone for a MRI scan. He was out for the season. Doug Pederson addressed the media and for some reason he gave me hope that the season wasn’t over. Doug used a saying which is embed in the Eagles locker room. That saying is ‘Next Man Up’.
We then started where we left of with two more wins against the Giants and the Raiders. The Raiders win was significant because by beating them we became the number one seed of the NFC and had clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs. A loss to the Cowboys on the final game of the regular season meant we finished the season a record 13-3.
After the first-round bye of the playoffs, we learned we would be facing the Atlanta Falcons in the divisional round. However, for the first time ever a number 1 seeded team had been made the ‘Underdogs’ of the playoffs. I and most people are putting this down to the fact we didn’t have our MVP QB candidate Carson Wentz playing. People however seem to forget that we went 13-3 in the season and the fact we had the attitude and mentality of ‘Next man up’. We beat the Falcons 15-10 in a well fought game. It was our first playoff win since 2008.
Next up for the Eagles will be the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday evening in the NFC Championship game. Win this game and it’s all the way to the Super Bowl. It’s been an unbelievable season with six players making the Pro Bowlers team. The team should be very proud of what they have achieved so far this season and a first Super Bowl win would top it of.
This guest piece was written by Jordan Ridsdale. Jordan is an Eagles fan and can be followed on Twitter @Jordan_Ridsdale.