PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There is nothing that can erase the amazing feat the Eagles accomplished in 2017. They went 13-3 during the regular season, got home field throughout the NFC playoffs, and beat every team in the postseason that they were underdogs against.
They did all of that despite losing perennial Pro Bowler and future Hall of Fame left tackle Jason Peters, who was experiencing one of his best years, middle linebacker Jordan Hicks, a game-changer with a penchant for creating turnovers, special teams staple Chris Maragos, running back Darren Sproles—and then the heart and soul was cut out when Carson Wentz was lost in the third quarter against the Los Angeles Rams in early December.
But would the Eagles have gotten as far as they did if the Giants had Odell Beckham Jr. for a full season, if the Cowboys weren’t without Ezekiel Elliott the first time when the teams met Nov. 19. The Eagles got the San Francisco 49ers, before the Niners got quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and Luke Kuechly played just 30 snaps in the Eagles’ 28-23 victory at Carolina on Oct. 12—a game that probably made the Eagles believers. If Kuechly plays the entire game, do the Eagles win? Maybe, maybe not. A loss there may have had them finishing at 12-4—and traveling to Minnesota for the NFC championship.
And who’s to say where the Eagles would have played in the postseason, losing home field advantage, if Aaron Rodgers had stayed healthy the entire season?
It does beg the question: Were the 2017 Eagles more lucky than good? Were they a one-game wonder?
Though Peters went down, and was a big loss, for Halapoulivaati Vaitai to come on and spell Peters for most of the season was something out of nowhere. Up until last season, Vaitai proved he could play—and do well—in spot duty. For him to play as well as he did throughout the postseason was somewhat of a shocker—and completely unexpected.
Can anyone really see Nick Foles coming close to doing what he did in Super Bowl LII, which he did not show any real signs of prior to staying with the best quarterback in the history of the game on Feb. 4 in Minnesota?
No one expected Jason Kelce to perform the way he did in 2017. This time last year, Kelce was the subject of more than a few trade speculations. The Eagles were fortunate to get contributions from receiver Alshon Jeffery, who played all season with a torn rotator cuff that required postseason surgery; defensive end Brandon Graham, who needed ankle surgery after the season; fellow DE Derek Barnett, who had surgery to address a sports hernia surgery after the season; and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, who had surgery in April for a herniated disk in his back.
Maybe it’s why many NFL people feel the Eagles got hot at the right time, and with a league down and beat up without some of the game’s top stars, took advantage of a bad situation.
Many, many players on the Eagles overachieved in 2017.
It’s always good to be a little lucky.
Good fortune is certainly something that hasn’t smiled too often on Philadelphia pro teams–except in 2017.