It’s been a roller-coaster year for Eagles fans.

The franchise fired Super Bowl-winning head coach Doug Pederson. Hired a relative no-name in Nick Sirianni to replace him. And traded Carson Wentz — a player who had not so long before been tapped to be the team’s long-term answer at quarterback.

Then the season started and the team limped out to a 2-5 record while Jalen Hurts played erratic football, and Jonathan Gannon struggled to get the best out of the team’s top defensive players.

All hope was lost, the Eagles stunk.

Well, as David Murphy writes, maybe as average Philadelphia sports fans we are a little quick to jump to conclusions and should invoke more patience. The evidence?

  • Sirianni has shown that he might be a decent coach and that he deserved more than four games after all.

  • The Eagles are now 8-7 and on the verge of making the playoffs.

  • Hurts has progressed over the last few weeks and has limited his mistakes.

  • Gannon’s defense is a fringe-top-10 unit in the league.

Here are Murphy’s New Year’s resolutions for a better sports experience from one Eagles fan to another. Hint: Let’s all stop obsessing over Carson Wentz!

— Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport

Tell us: What is your biggest sports wish or resolution for 2022? sports.daily@inquirer.com

Early Birds

“I kind of felt like Michael Jackson,” DeVonta Smith said when asked about his latest highlight reception. The Eagles wide receiver has a star personality to match his star talent, which has impressed teammates and coaches in practice and on game day.

Smith is starting to build a reputation for making tough grabs after back-to-back weeks with toe-touch catches, including a touchdown in the Eagles’ 34-10 blowout win over the New York Giants. Josh Tolentino provides the rest of the details on Smith’s insane ability, from his crazy catches during drills to his ability to perform under pressure.

Next: The Eagles play the Washington Football Team at 1 p.m. Sunday on the road at FedEx Field (Fox29).

Off the Dribble

The 76ers have struggled this season for several reasons, including issues with COVID-19 and injuries. But they’ve also had problems putting away undermanned teams. In the last six games, the Sixers have lost to the Miami Heat, Brooklyn Nets, and Atlanta Hawks with stars Jimmy Butler, James Harden, and Trae Young, respectively, unavailable to their teams.

The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey asked coach Doc Rivers about this tendency and he apparently touched a nerve, as Rivers was quick to refute the assertion and insinuate that anyone who played basketball would understand that a win is a win. But both things can be true, as Pompey writes.

Next: The Sixers play the Brooklyn Nets at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn (NBCSP).

On the Fly

The NHL has decreased the mandatory isolation period for players who test positive for COVID-19 from 10 days to five, granted that a player is asymptomatic and produces a negative test.

That could be big news for the Flyers, who with a little bit of luck now could get key players like Sean Couturier, Carter Hart, Scott Laughton, Derick Brassard, and Ryan Ellis back sooner than expected.

The news wasn’t as good for Flyers prospects Elliot Desnoyers, Emil Andrae, and Brian Zanetti, as the IIHF announced Wednesday that the remainder of the World Junior Championship has been canceled due to a rise in COVID-19 cases.

The Flyers got their West Coast trip off to a good start Wednesday night by beating the Seattle Kraken, 3-2, in overtime.

Next: The Flyers will be in action on back-to-back nights as they play the second of a four-game West Coast swing Thursday in San Jose against the Sharks at 10:30 p.m. (NBCSP).

Worth a look

  • John Madden’s Philly connection: The NFL icon was drafted by the Eagles — and despite never playing a game, got a football education that would lead him into a career in coaching.

  • Bets of 2021: There were plenty of highlights and lowlights from the world of sports betting in 2021, including a near-miss on a $35.6 million payout for one bettor. Ed Barkowitz recaps them all with a Philly twist.

  • Temple’s freshman phenom: Zach Hicks fired off 16 three-pointers — and made a Temple-record 10 from deep — to score 35 points in a win against Delaware State. That flash of talent has coach Aaron McKie hopeful for the future.

Who said it?

“I might sound negligent, but I really don’t read or care about stats.”

A. Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon

B. Former NFL coach and commentator John Madden

C. Sixers center Joel Embiid

D. Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts

Trivia answer

The three former Eagles who have appeared on the cover of one of the John Madden NFL video games: Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, and Vince Young.

We compiled today’s newsletter using reporting from Josh Tolentino, Gina Mizell, Olivia Reiner, Giana Han, and Joe Juliano.