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Are the Eagles ready for another late-season run under Doug Pederson? | Early Birds

In five years under Pederson, the Eagles are now 13-4 in the final four games of the regular season.

Doug Pederson's Eagles teams have had success in the final four games of the regular season.
Doug Pederson's Eagles teams have had success in the final four games of the regular season.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

Good morning, Eagles fans. Jalen Hurts’ performance in his first game as a starting quarterback helped the Eagles snap a four-game losing streak in Sunday’s 24-21 win over the visiting New Orleans Saints. It probably improved the overall mood in the Delaware Valley by 1,000 percent.

While coach Doug Pederson wouldn’t say in his postgame news conference that Hurts would be the starter next week against Arizona, even the Eagles coach admitted that the rookie provided a major spark.

Hurts will be the talk of the town all week as the Eagles prepare to make one of their patented late-season runs under Pederson.

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Another late-season charge by the Eagles?

This is Pederson’s fifth season. and he can only hope that the Eagles continue their late-season pattern of dominance since he has taken over. In each of the previous two seasons, the Eagles have made late-season runs that earned them a playoff berth.

Here is a look at the Eagles in their final four regular-season games each year under Pederson:

  1. 2016: 2-2

  2. 2017: 3-1

  3. 2018: 3-1

  4. 2019: 4-0

  5. 2020: 1-0

  6. Total: 13-4.

Even this record doesn’t tell the entire story. In 2017, the Eagles’ Super Bowl season, they lost their season finale, 6-0, to the Dallas Cowboys, but the game meant nothing to them. The Eagles had already earned home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. In that season finale, Pederson sat several starters and pulled many others by halftime.

In 2018, the Eagles won their final three games and clinched a playoff berth with a 24-0 road win against Washington in the final game of the season.

Last year, the Eagles were 5-7 before winning their final four games. They clinched the NFC East with a 34-17 win in the regular-season finale against the New York Giants.

Breaking it down further, the Eagles have an eight-game winning streak in the final four games of the regular season. They won the final three in 2018, all four last year, and are 1-0 this season.

Pederson has come under plenty of scrutiny this season for the way Carson Wentz has regressed. More than ever, Pederson’s play-calling also has come into question. Yet there is no denying that these late-season surges show that he doesn’t lose the locker room. Even in the 2016 season, when the Eagles finished 7-9, they won their last two games, fighting down to the end.

A cynic would suggest that if the Eagles were more consistent in the regular season, that they wouldn’t need these late charges.

There is obviously something to that. And this year the Eagles are being helped by playing in the NFC East, the worst division in the NFL. That said, the Eagles’ ability to keep fighting under Pederson is apparent. The Eagles have just three games remaining, and once again they are playing meaningful football in December under their fifth-year head coach.

What you need to know about the Eagles

  1. Les Bowen recapped the Eagles’ 24-21 win over New Orleans, led by the play of Hurts, a rejuvenated running game, and a defense that held the high-scoring Saints in check despite injuries.

  2. Marcus Hayes writes that Hurts’ fine debut showed that the biggest problem with the Eagles was Wentz.

  3. Playoffs? They are still a possibility, writes David Murphy, if the defense keeps playing the way it did against the Saints.

  4. Mike Sielski says that by coaching Jalen Hurts so well, Pederson has boxed himself and the Eagles into a corner.

  5. In Jeff McLane’s Up-Down Drill, he had plenty of thumbs up for the Eagles, beginning with Hurts.

  6. Hurts was very good in the Eagles win, despite Pederson’s muted assessment, writes, McLane

  7. Paul Domowitch gives his grades for the game, and, not surprisingly, the Eagles running attack, which had two 100-yard rushers, led the way.

  8. Miles Sanders had a breakout game, and Domowitch says it is no coincidence that it came with Hurts at quarterback.

  9. Ed Barkowitz begins his NFL Week 14 in Review column by writing about local product Haason Reddick of Temple and Haddon Heights High, who had five sacks and three forced fumbles in Arizona’s 26-7 win over the New York Giants. The Eagles visit Arizona on Sunday. Barkowitz also has playoff updates and the early lines for next week, plus an incredible play of the week.

  10. EJ Smith writes about an Eagles offensive line that didn’t allow a sack against the Saints. That hadn’t happened since the second game of the season.

  11. Pederson praised Hurts in his postgame news conference, but he wasn’t willing to commit to his starting quarterback for Sunday’s game in Arizona.

  12. Sielski provides his observations from the Eagles win. One of his points is that the Eagles have a history of backup quarterbacks who initially play well when called upon.

  13. Here was the Eagles game as it happened, with Smith and Damichael Cole providing all the details with video clips of the biggest plays.

  14. The Twitter reaction to the Eagles and Hurts was downright positive.

  15. In their Eagles notes, Bowen and Smith write about how the Birds shuffled the receiving corps.

From the mailbag

“Why does the team play great for everyone except Wentz?” — @Curtsminkey on Twitter.

Thanks for the question, Curt; I got several with a similar tone. It wasn’t that long ago (last year) that the Eagles played great for Wentz. One reason the Eagles played so well against New Orleans is that Hurts didn’t throw an interception. Wentz has become a turnover machine this season, with 15 interceptions. Many are because he hangs in the pocket too long instead of throwing the ball away or running out of danger. Hurts might have broken out of the pocket early a few times, but at least he was gaining positive yards. He didn’t hold onto the ball too long and was decisive. The threat of him running also opened things up for Miles Sanders and the ground game. New Orleans didn’t seem to have an answer for Hurts’ scrambling, and the Eagles fed off the energy he created with his legs. In past seasons, when Wentz played well, his teammates would follow. That didn’t happen this year and a lot of the blame goes to Wentz for poor decision-making and execution. Players feed off a quarterback, and, for his first NFL start, that is what happened with Hurts.