The reigning Super Bowl champions, expectations are naturally high heading into the 2018 season. You’ve just won a Super Bowl with your backup quarterback, and now heading into the new year, your starting quarterback is still healing. Any other team would have low expectations heading into a new season with a backup quarterback, not this team. With Foles at the helm to start the year, expectations were still as high as ever, even going against an organization of the Atlanta Falcons caliber.
Week 1: A Playoff Rematch
Philadelphia’s season started eerily similar to their Divisional Round game against this same Atlanta Falcons team. It was close throughout the game with sloppy play on both sides. Atlanta had 15 penalties for 135 yards while Philly had 11 penalties for 101 yards. The Falcons ran 65 plays to the Eagles 64 plays. What made it eerie? The Falcons were going on a 12 play 70-yard drive at the end of the game, on the Eagles 5 yard line with a chance to win. Once again, Matt Ryan’s pass to Julio Jones fell incomplete leaving Falcons fans devastated yet again.
Nick Foles first game of the 2018 regular season did not go well for him statistically. 19/34 for 117 yards and an interception. The Eagles were bailed out by stellar defensive play and Jay Ajayi running with a purpose. Ajayi carried the ball 15 times for 62 yards and the Eagles only two touchdowns. Ajayi was no doubt the offensive MVP of the game. Winning this game was big for Philadelphia to initially prove they were still the team to beat in the NFL. A win is a win, no matter how ugly it appeared to be, the Eagles were 1-0.
Week 2: Battle of the Backups
Heading into this matchup, the Eagles knew they would be facing backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. I don’t believe they took the Buccaneers lightly though, as they had just defeated New Orleans to start the year off strong. This game could be summarized very easily. Fitzpatrick came out hot, and Philly struggled early. Philadelphia had every chance in this game to take control but couldn’t stop Fitzmagic from dominating their secondary. Fitzpatrick gashed Philly’s secondary for 402 yards and four touchdowns. Fitzpatrick only threw six incompletions. Letting Fitzpatrick go 27/33 is not a recipe for success.
Philadelphia came out of the gates with no energy in this game. The Eagles first four drives consisted of punt, punt, fumble, punt. They gained just 40 yards on their first 17 plays. Somehow, they managed to only be down 7-0 when they scored late in the second quarter. It was a promising 13 play 78-yard drive that made it look as if the Eagles had finally woken up. Wrong, the next play was a 75-yard pass from Fitzpatrick to OJ Howard to put the Bucs right back in front 13-7 (missed extra point.) The Eagles put themselves in too big of a hole and never amounted a full comeback. Overall, Foles played well, going 35/48 for 334 yards and a touchdown. He did, however, lose a fumble the first half. The lack of a rushing attack hurt Philadelphia in this game.
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Week 3: Return of the Wentz
Following a disappointing loss, the Eagles in a somewhat surprising decision announced that Wentz was ready to go. Philadelphia was returning home, with their franchise quarterback to go against another young stud quarterback in Andrew Luck. Some rust was expected, seeing as Wentz hadn’t played a snap since his ACL tear against the Rams the prior season. Wentz showed some rust, going 25/37 for 255 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Wentz was heavily pressured in this game, getting sacked five times. That’s not what you want to see in your quarterbacks first game back. Fortunately for the Eagles, their running game had reappeared as they rushed for 152 yards on 35 carries. Using a committee of Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement, and Josh Adams, the Eagles were able to do just enough to keep the defense honest.
This game was somewhat of a surprise with how the secondary played. Holding Andrew Luck to just 164 passing yards is no easy feat. Philly’s front seven also shut down the Colts running game, with Luck being their leading rusher on one carry for 33 yards. Philadelphia won this game by using their two tight end weapons to their advantage. This was the emergence of Dallas Goedert and the reminder of Zach Ertz. Goddert caught seven passes for 73 yards and a touchdown. Ertz added another 73 yards on 56 catches. Philadelphia again won ugly but was sitting at 2-1 heading to Nashville.
Week 4: A Second Half Meltdown
This game is really where the Eagles season took a turn for the worst. The Eagles held a 17-3 lead late in the third quarter only to squander it. The Eagles defense couldn’t make a stop when they needed it. Marcus Mariota took them out to the woodshed, throwing for 344 yards, two touchdowns, also adding a rushing touchdown.
Along with Mariota’s stellar play, Corey Davis really took advantage of the Eagles secondary. Davis caught 9 passes for 161 yards, including the game-winning touchdown in overtime. All around, it was a heartbreaking defeat for the Eagles.
Carson Wentz played well, for the most part, throwing for 348 yards and two touchdowns. He completed 33/50 passes but did have a crippling fumble to start the fourth quarter. The Eagles really handed this game away towards the end, letting the Titans convert 3 fourth downs in overtime, one via penalty, including the game-winning touchdown pass. Going forward, Philly had a lot of things to work on, including ball security and their secondary play late in games. Philadelphia was a measly 2-2 through 4 games, 0-2 on the road, heading back home for another playoff rematch against the Minnesota Vikings.