Having the best record certainly has its perks, something the Philadelphia Eagles are accustomed to of late. The Eagles have the NFL's best record at the midway point in each of the past two seasons, possessing the best record (or tied for the best record) since Week 1 of the 2022 season -- 28 consecutive weeks including this week's bye.
The Eagles have started 8-1 in back-to-back seasons, becoming the first team since the 2005-2006 Indianapolis Colts to accomplish the feat. They are the 11th team since the merger to start 8-1 or better in consecutive seasons, and eight of the previous 10 won the Super Bowl in that two-year span.
Will the Eagles capture the Super Bowl this year after coming up a field goal short last season? They are off to a great start and continue to lead the way in the NFC.
As Philadelphia heads into the bye week -- and the midway point of the year -- the midterm grades are out for each position. How did the Eagles fare in the midseason evaluation?
Jalen Hurts has 11 turnovers in nine games and has battled a knee injury for a month (wearing a protective sleeve). Through all of this, Hurts has managed to rank sixth in the league in completion rate (68.9%), fifth in passing yards (2,347), sixth in touchdown passes (15), fifth in yards per attempt (7.7) and 10th in passer rating (97.7).
Hurts has been playing excellent football since the loss to the New York Jets in Week 6. In the three games since, Hurts is 69 of 92 (75%) for 805 yards with eight touchdowns to one interception and a 125.5 passer rating. Hurts is third in the NFL in completion percentage, first in passing touchdowns and first in passer rating in that span. He only has 63 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns in that span, clearly limited in mobility. And the Eagles are 8-1.
Hurts wins games and plays well. That speaks volumes.
Running back: C+
The Eagles are just not getting enough out of the running back position, even though they are ranked seventh in rushing yards per game (129.7). The overall numbers have been a poor indicator of the team's performance running the football, especially with Hurts' knee injury significantly impacting the run game.
The Eagles have only averaged 3.4 yards per carry since Week 4, which is 30th in the NFL. They're 14th in rushing yards, but also inefficient in running the football. D'Andre Swift is averaging just 3.4 yards per carry since Week 4, 57th among 71 players with 25-plus carries in that span. Kenneth Gainwell is just averaging 3.0 yards per carry, good for 64th.
Rashaad Penny can't get on the field to help Swift out. Swift deserves some credit for being third in the league in rushing (614 yards) and ninth in rushing yards per game (68.2), but isn't getting much help and is losing some tread on his tires. Swift and Gainwell have also combined for five fumbles.
This position needs to be better in the second half.
Wide receiver: A+
A.J. Brown is arguably the best wide receiver in football through nine games, having 67 catches for 1,005 yards and six touchdowns -- ranking in the top four in all of those categories. DeVonta Smith has 42 catches for 533 yards and four touchdowns, on pace for 1,007 yards this year.
Both Brown and Smith are set to eclipse 1,000 yards for the second consecutive season. The Eagles are also getting Julio Jones acclimated to the mix in red zone packages, as he caught the go-ahead touchdown in Week 8 against the Washington Commanders.
The Eagles wide receivers have been excellent this year, as they are in conversation for the strongest position group on the roster.
Tight end: B+
The Eagles finally got Dallas Goedert going in the offense, as he overcame a slow start to have 25 catches for 322 yards and two touchdowns over the last five games. Goedert has 38 catches for 410 yards and two touchdowns, ranking eighth in catches in yards at his position.
Goedert is going to miss at least three weeks with a broken forearm, so the Eagles will roll with Jack Stoll, Grant Calcaterra and Albert Okwuegbunam while he's out. That's a significant drop-off from Goedert, so expect more "11 personnel" in his absence.
Philadelphia will have to manage with Stoll getting most of the snaps until Goedert returns for the stretch run.
Offensive line: A-
Hard to give this position any grade lower, based on the dominance of the "Tush Push" as a prime example. The Eagles have only failed to convert one "Brotherly Shove" for a first down or touchdown this year (when they weren't trying to run the clock out or get closer to the goal line), and that was on a fumble during the quarterback-center exchange.
Lane Johnson allowed a sack for the first time since 2020 and has a pressure rate per dropback allowed of 4.5%. Jason Kelce has also allowed a sack and a pressure rate per dropback allowed of 1.7%. Landon Dickerson has a pressure rate per dropback allowed of 6.1% and Jordan Mailata sits at 6.2%, but Mailata has graded very well this year.
This unit isn't as dominant as last year with the pressure rate allowed of 37.7% (21st in NFL), but the injury to Cam Jurgens at right guard and Hurts' knee injury have played a role in the pass protection. Perhaps Tyler Steen makes the unit stronger going forward if he supplants Jurgens.
This unit is still very good.
Defensive line: A+
This unit isn't going to get 70 sacks like last season, but the pass rush is excellent at closing out games. The Eagles lead the NFL in fourth-quarter sacks (14) and fourth-quarter pressures (53), showcasing how they get to the quarterback when it matters most.
Haason Reddick has 4.5 sacks in the fourth quarter (second in NFL) and his 15 pressures are tied for fourth. Josh Sweat has 23 pressures in the fourth quarter (first in NFL) and 3.5 sacks (tied for fourth). Sweat and Reddick are arguably the best edge rushing duo in football.
Fletcher Cox, Jalen Carter and Jordan Davis have also been excellent at defensive tackle, while Brandon Graham has made an impact in a limited role. Not only are the Eagles fourth in the league in sacks (30) and second in pressures (142), but they are first in the league in rushing yards allowed per game (66.3) and the second in rushing touchdowns allowed (3).
Want to know why the Eagles are 8-1? Look at the defensive line.
Given the circumstances at the position, the Eagles have actually held their own here. Zach Cunningham has 54 tackles and three passes defended, emerging as the best linebacker on the team despite signing in August. He's only allowed a 69.6 passer rating in coverage.
Nakobe Dean has spent more time off the field than on it, but Nicholas Morrow has filled in nicely. Morrow has allowed a 79.2 passer rating in coverage with 31 tackles and three sacks, earning an opportunity to take over the starting spot from Dean.
The linebackers have done better than expected, but the best starting combination going forward is Cunningham and Morrow.
Darius Slay and James Bradberry are a year older, and certainly aren't as dominant as last year. Slay has had a solid season as the team's best cornerback, allowing a 66.7 passer rating in coverage with two interceptions. Bradberry has struggled after an All-Pro season, allowing six passing touchdowns with no interceptions and a 97.9 rating in coverage.
Slot cornerback has gone through Avonte Maddox, Zech McPhearson, Bradley Roby, Eli Ricks and Sydney Brown. The first two are out for the season and Roby missed multiple games due to injury, leaving the slot to a third-rounder and undrafted rookie to hold the fort down.
The Eagles have been banged up at cornerback, throwing youngsters like Ricks, Mario Goodrich and Josh Jobe into the fire. While experience has been gained, Philadelphia will have some serious evaluation at the position this offseason.
The Eagles were looking for a safety to start opposite of Reed Blankenship since the start of training camp, acquiring Kevin Byard a week prior to the trade deadline to fortify the position. Byard is still getting acclimated to the defense, but he is a constant presence at a position that was a patchwork effort prior to his arrival.
Blankenship has a 72.7 passer rating in coverage whiel Byard is at 79.2 through two games. Justin Evans has been out since Week 5 with a knee injury, and will be valuable depth when he returns. Brown played well in his start at safety and will also help out in box-nickel packages (three safeties on the field) when the Eagles use that alignment.
The position is getting deeper -- and better. Safety is trending upward, especially the more Byard plays.
Jake Elliott has been nearly flawless, hitting 18 of 20 of his field goal attempts (90%), including 5 of 6 (83.3%) from 50-plus yards. Elliott's lone miscue this season was a missed 37-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that led to the Eagles' lone loss.
Elliott leads the NFL in points scored (80) and is 8 of 9 (88.9%) from 40-plus yards are more, including a 61-yard field goal and game-winner in Week 4 against the Washington Commanders. He's been nearly perfect.
Braden Mann was brought in to replace Arryn Siposs after two weeks and hasn't relinquished the job. Mann is 14th in gross yards per punt (48.1) and 13th in net yards per punt (42.5), a remarkable improvement over Siposs. Mann has placed 40% of his punts inside the 20-yard line, good for 13th in the NFL.
Mann has been slightly above average, which is a major improvement over Siposs -- who averaged 43.4 yards per punt and 38.4 net yards per punt (both career lows) before his release.
The Eagles improved at punter with the addition of Mann.