Eagles Somewhere Between Amazing and Terrible

Back at the beginning of September, would anybody feel terrible if they knew the Eagles were going to jump out to a 3-2 record? Would many people have been upset they lost by one point in Detroit after a last-minute field goal? Or by a touchdown in Washington against the reigning NFC East champions?

Of course not. But when the Eagles crushed a prohibitive Super Bowl favorite in the Steelers three weeks ago, that may have altered the outlook on the 2016 season. Now instead of there being a sense of satisfaction with 3-2 through five games, that's replaced by disappointment since the team has come crashing back down to earth.

Just in case anybody forgot, expectations were not supposed to be too high heading into this year. Carson Wentz may not be playing like it, but he is only a rookie quarterback, not a miracle worker. The offensive line predictably took a huge hit with the suspension of Lane Johnson. And the defense, while improved, did not suddenly go from a bottom-five unit to top-five overnight.

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Likewise, the Eagles probably aren't as awful as they looked the past two games either. Wentz is still light years ahead of what anybody expected. Eventually the O-line will settle into its new normal. History tells us Jim Schwartz will correct whatever has ailed his defense the past two weeks. A couple of ugly losses on the road haven't changed everything.

The Eagles weren't as great as everybody hoped they might be after three games, suddenly on their way to the Super Bowl. The Eagles aren't as bad as they played in the last two either, suddenly heading for a 4-12 finis.

Whatever this team is, it's probably something in between.

Granted, the fashion in which the Eagles were winning certainly had a lot to do with the excitement. Going 3-0 with a plus-65 point differential, plus-seven turnover differential and averaging over 37 minutes time of possession per game is about as dominant as it gets in the NFL. After taking care of the Browns and Bears, all they needed was a marquee victory to send everybody in a fervor.

They got one — sort of. Everybody was ready to put the Steelers in the AFC Championship game, and they may very well still get there. All the warning signs were there though that the Eagles' shocking 34-3 win wasn't all it was cracked up to be. The injuries. Pittsburgh's porous pass defense. Ben Roethlisberger's record on the road.

Although in much the same way, the Eagles haven't experienced quite as much good fortune the last two weeks. They weren't going to go all season without committing a turnover, and just happened to give the ball away twice with under three minutes to play in Detroit. And the first game after Johnson's suspension was always going to be a transition no matter how Doug Pederson reconfigured the offensive line.

You might say up to this point, the Eagles have both benefited from and been a victim of timing. They took advantage of an easy schedule the first two weeks, then caught the Steelers at exactly the right moment. Now they are playing quality opponents and haven't been catching as many breaks.

That certainly isn't the mark of a great team, nor is it necessarily the characteristic of a bad one. The Eagles are probably a fairly average team right now, heading for a .500 finish, give or take.

There's nothing wrong with that. That's actually pretty much in line with expectations entering the season. Those shouldn't have changed three weeks ago, and they don't need to change now.

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