MVP candidate quarterback. Future Hall of Fame left tackle. Starting middle linebacker. The ultimate, all-purpose swiss-army knife. The captain of your special teams. The starting kicker. That's the short but long list of impactful Eagles players that have been lost to injury this season.
Yet, here we stand on the brink of their meaningless season finale. The Eagles won the regular season — there is nothing else they could have accomplished short of going undefeated. Division title, bye week, home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
You don't overcome the depth and scope of those types of losses to achieve what they have without serious leadership from the top. Credit to Howie Roseman, Joe Douglas and the Eagles' front office for having enough depth to survive the subtractions. And props to the players — this is a determined group who play for one another. But the lion's share of the praise goes to the head coach. Doug Pederson has done a masterful job all season scheming and game-planning. The Birds are second in the NFL in scoring and rushing and fourth in total yards per game. That doesn't happen by accident. They've scored 30 points or more nine times.
But beyond the X's and O's is where you see the true brilliance of the job Pederson has done this year. Coaching is more about adapting and overcoming during the course of a long season than it is dialing up the right plays. Watch enough NFL games each week and you see plenty of teams that do not show up. You could make an argument the Eagles have had two ugly games in the 15 they've played. Maybe three if you count Seattle (I don't). Both of those games — Giants and Raiders — they still managed to win. And there is a big difference between an ugly game and not coming to play altogether. The Eagles have not had one of the latter all season. That's all Doug.
From the comeback in a hostile environment in L.A after losing Carson Wentz, to Kamu Grugier-Hill kicking off, to losing your blindside tackle, there was never a "woe is us," feel-sorry-for-yourself mentality. The next-man-up mantra is clichéd in sports but it's apt for this team. So if you're rightfully concerned about Nick Foles and the Eagles' corners in their pursuit of that elusive Super Bowl title, look no further than the club's ability to conquer the high mountains that have been placed in from of them all year, to buoy your spirits.
Heading into this season, the jury was out on Pederson both from a strategical standpoint and as a motivator. He's delivered a knockout blow to both of those doubts. Does this ensure a parade or even a playoff win? No. The Eagles enter the postseason tournament with a lot of questions, and you wonder if Wentz injury wasn't the one that broke the bow. But one thing that is assured: The head coach will have them ready to play regardless of the circumstances.