Philadelphia Eagles: How the Eagles became a Super Bowl contender with the franchise’s best start to a season

On Thursday night, the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Houston Texans 29-17 to record their eighth straight win of the season and remain the only undefeated team in the NFL.

That said, the 2022 season was the franchise’s best start with an 8-0 start.

Although they had a decent season last year, no one could have predicted that the Eagles would be a Super Bowl contender behind an inexperienced quarterback and a second-year head coach.

But, contrary to expectations, Philadelphia has moved into the top tier of NFL teams — aside from the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs — as many people’s favorites to play in February’s season finale.

So how did we get here?

Green shoots

Last year was a rebuild for the Eagles. The departure of starting quarterback Carson Wentz and head coach Doug Pederson brought about a complete turnaround for the organization.

And while those years of identity reset can often be tough watches, there were positives for Eagles fans to keep.

The arrival of head coach Nick Sirianni offered a new approach on the sideline and a change of scheme on the field.

With no established quarterback on the roster, former Oklahoma star Jalen Hurts — a 2020 second-round pick — was left to lead the team.

Hurts had limited experience in his rookie year, but his time on the field didn’t go well, as he displayed the naivety often displayed by first-year quarterbacks.

But with Sirianni, rookie wide receiver DeVonta Smith, dynamic running back Miles Sanders and one of the league’s best offensive lines, the Eagles showed signs of a rapid rebuild.

After a slow start to the season, the offense started to hit as the games went on, eventually finishing with an 8-7 record before a first-round playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Despite the disappointing end to the season, there were good signs for the 2017 Super Bowl winners.

And, seeing as the foundations were laid, Philadelphia’s front office did everything possible to improve the team as much as possible throughout the season.

The team already made significant additions to a talent-rich defense — including Haason Reddick, James Bradberry, CJ Gardner-Johnson and, before the trade deadline, Robert Quinn — that has become a deadly group of backs for opposing teams. .

Gardner-Johnson celebrates an interception in the second half against the Texans.

In addition to another season to learn the system, the offense got a big boost when the team traded for Pro Bowl wide receiver AJ Brown.

But even with all these additions, the team’s start has taken everyone by surprise.

The team has won all eight of its regular-season games, with Hurts making the jump to a Pro Bowl quarterback as Brown has had a deadly relationship through nine weeks of the NFL season — Brown has five touchdowns in his last three games. .

The rise in injuries has been astronomical from a promising quarterback to one of the best in the league. After Thursday’s game, Texans coach Lovie Smith praised the 24-year-old, calling him a “great player.”

“I think he’s improved more, maybe more than any player in the NFL,” Smith told reporters.

The most impressive thing was the balance of the team. Although the team has developed a threatening passing attack, Hurts’ dynamism with his legs has allowed the team to remain a strong running team, making him nearly undefendable at points.

After Thursday’s win over the Texans and his best start to the season, Hurts didn’t want to get ahead of himself.

“I know it’s special for the city of Philadelphia,” Hurts, who has scored at least two touchdowns in the past three games, told reporters.

“I mean, I’ve been 8-0 before and lost the national championship. Take it day by day. We haven’t gotten anything done yet. Day-to-day it’s about controlling the things we can, playing up to our standard and trying to grow every day. I think that that’s what it’s really about.”

Hurts shots in the second half against the Texans.

After such a start, many are penciling in the Eagles to make it out of the NFC conference and challenge Arizona in Super Bowl LVII.

And in what has been a down year for many of the NFC’s traditional big teams — the Los Angeles Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers are off to a rough start — Philadelphia has been a perfect fit. a first-round playoff bye shot to come in January.

And in the city of Brotherly Love, Hurts will be showered with adoration upon his return as the Eagles continue their quest for the organization’s second Super Bowl ring.