The Eagles demolished their division rival Giants on Saturday night, claiming a 38-7 divisional round victory and the most lopsided win of the 2023 NFL playoffs, as well as franchise history. Frankly, it was never a contest. Now, the team is one win away from making its second Super Bowl appearance in five seasons. With that in mind, here's a special Philadelphia-themed notebook, compiling fun facts, key figures and the top stories from the Birds' latest run to the NFC championship:
MVEs (Most Valuable Eagles)
For much of the year, the Eagles' quarterback has been in the NFL MVP conversation. He also headlines our ranking of the top 10 best, most important members of the 2022 Eagles:
Jalen Hurts Philadelphia Eagles QB
|Not even his biggest fans anticipated such a magnificent leap. Hurts was already a punishing threat on the ground; he truly is built and moves like a running back. In 2022, however, he gained confidence, touch and accuracy as a downfield passer, enabling him to beat teams in any number of ways. Coupled with a steely resolve, his breakout confirmed him as the new face of the franchise, and the single biggest reason the Eagles can believe in another title run.|
A.J. Brown Philadelphia Eagles WR
|Philly's most imposing bona fide No. 1 wideout since Terrell Owens, Brown's presence did more to unlock Hurts than anything else; his "Always Open" slogan draws from reality, where his size (6-1, 225) and natural power make short- and mid-area strikes so easy. On the rare days he's not a big factor, he still opens up lanes for their other pass targets.|
Jason Kelce Philadelphia Eagles C
|The heart and soul of a perennially sturdy offensive line, Kelce has done a tremendous job staying in shape and somehow elevating his impact as the games ramp up in importance. At 35, his athleticism is still pronounced, making him one of the game's rangiest at his position. And that's saying nothing of his value as a longtime leader for the locker room.|
Haason Reddick Philadelphia Eagles OLB
|Already confirmed as one of Howie Roseman's finest free-agent signings, the Temple product parlayed a late-blooming run with the Cardinals and Panthers into a big deal last offseason, and he's exploded as a stand-up rusher for Jonathan Gannon's defense. With 17.5 sacks and 29 QB hits in 17 games, including playoffs, he is always collapsing the pocket.|
DeVonta Smith Philadelphia Eagles WR
|Whereas A.J. Brown is more physically threatening, Smith is just as, if not more, technically tenacious, giving the Eagles one of the top receiver duos in the NFL. His unusually slender frame houses an alpha mentality; arguably more impressive than his reliable hands and route-running is his steady willingness to put his body on the line, all over the field.|
Lane Johnson Philadelphia Eagles OT
|If Kelce is the glue of the Eagles' front, then Johnson is its top peak performer. Long heralded as one of the game's best right tackles, he consistently plays through pain to give Philly elite protection off the edge, both in pass and run situations. It is noticeable how much harder the ground game, in particular, has to work when he's not on the field.|
James Bradberry Philadelphia Eagles CB
|Another free-agent find for Roseman, the ex-Panthers and Giants Pro Bowler has enjoyed a career renaissance on a prove-it deal, leading the team with 17 pass deflections. The veteran is rarely exposed downfield, and some of his best plays on the ball have come when it matters most, including Saturday's early interception of his old team.|
Jordan Mailata Philadelphia Eagles OT
|The converted rugby prospect isn't quite as consistent as Kelce or Johnson, but there's just no teaching the combo of size (6-8, 365) and athleticism he brings on Hurts' blind side. He's also really embraced his role as the QB's bodyguard, going out of his way to ensure Hurts doesn't take unnecessary extra contract when opposing players get chippy.|
Darius Slay Philadelphia Eagles CB
|Like Brown and Smith at receiver, Slay and Bradberry are basically just 1A and 1B on the other side of the ball. After mixed results in his 2020 Eagles debut, Slay has really settled in as the swaggering difference-maker who long drew praise in Detroit. He's a bit more prone to give up a deep ball, but he's also handsy at the right times in tight coverage.|
Dallas Goedert Philadelphia Eagles TE
|It was a tossup between he and safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson here; both vets missed significant chunks of time this year due to injury, but both have been some of the top play-makers at their positions when healthy. Goedert simply makes his work as a pass catcher look so easy; every time he touches the ball, he finds a way to rumble for extra yards.|
Key Facts and Figures
1: The number of teams who have allowed fewer total yards than the Eagles this year
8: The number of Eagles wins this season that came by multiple scores
21: The number of wins in the Eagles' last 24 home games with Jalen Hurts as their starting QB
38: Jalen Hurts' touchdown total across 16 games, including playoffs
38-7: The score of the Eagles' Jan. 21 playoff win in both the 2017 and 2022 seasons
75: The total number of sacks recorded by the Eagles across 18 games, including playoffs, this year
75.5: Miles Sanders' average weekly rushing-yard total, including playoffs, which marks a career high
The Undying Contender
The Eagles' rout of the Giants on Saturday didn't just confirm the 2022 team as a success story; it also cemented the organization as one of the NFL's most reliable contenders of the last two-plus decades. By advancing, they earned their seventh NFC championship appearance since 2001, the most in the NFL. That means, during that span, the Eagles have made an NFC title bid almost 32% of the time, or roughly once every three years. Only five teams have more NFC championship game appearances all-time. And only the Patriots have more conference championship appearances since 2001 from the AFC.
The Howie Model
It's a testament to owner Jeffrey Lurie's hiring process that the Eagles have remained so consistently competitive over the last 20+ years despite multiple regime changes, with Andy Reid, Doug Pederson and now Nick Sirianni guiding the team to an NFC championship since the turn of the century. (And how fitting that both Reid's Chiefs and Pederson's Jaguars were going head to head for a spot in the AFC championship earlier Saturday.)
But the Eagles' most recent breakouts are also a big credit to general manager Howie Roseman's penchant for quick rebuilds. Roseman infamously botched some big-name gambles at the end of the Reid era, leading to a brief demotion, and struggled to maintain a balanced roster after winning it all in 2017. But two times now in the last six years, he's successfully struck gold on multiple draft-day swings, blockbuster trades and free-agent splurges to assemble arguably the NFL's deepest lineups.
No matter how #Eagles season ends, one thing is clear: GM Howie Roseman knows how to build/rebuild a contender quickly. Lots of similarities between his 2017 and 2022 constructions: young QBs/HCs with veterans to support. pic.twitter.com/DR3quBCcXe— Cody J. Benjamin (@CodyJBenjamin) October 27, 2022
In 2017, he surrounded a second-year coach (Pederson) and second-year QB (Carson Wentz) with upgrades at the skill positions (RBs Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount; WRs Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith) and across the "D" (DE Chris Long, DT Tim Jernigan, CBs Ronald Darby, Patrick Robinson) to find MVP production and, ultimately, a title run led by handpicked backup QB Nick Foles. In 2022, he surrounded a second-year coach (Sirianni) and third-year QB (Hurts) with even better veteran plug-ins across the board: Brown, Reddick, Bradberry and Gardner-Johnson, among others.
Stories of the Season
Relive some of the best on- and off-field moments of the 2022 Eagles with these stories of the club's difference-makers:
Jalen Hurts changing lives as Eagles' QB1: 'This is who I am'
Before Jalen Hurts led the #Eagles to an NFC title bid, he was already a champion in the community — “like gold” in his hometown, a family friend explained.— Cody J. Benjamin (@CodyJBenjamin) January 22, 2023
On and off the field, the star QB is wired to influence, and grounded by faith in God. A snippet from our conversation: pic.twitter.com/zI70DgClbQ
Nick Sirianni's rapid rise to Eagles coach
When Nick Sirianni was a 20-something college assistant, he got flagged for leaving the press box and running onto the field to help his team. The #Eagles coach has matched his players' intensity for a long time. #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/U6mCh5xgOy— Cody J. Benjamin (@CodyJBenjamin) January 22, 2023
Eagles' Zech McPhearson: 'We got the groove'
"All that stuff -- the takeaways, the big plays -- it's all contagious. It's infectious. On the sideline I'm always thinking, who's gonna make the next play? I know it's gonna come; it's bound to happen. It's inevitable, because we got the groove."