By Sarah Berkowitz
The Eagles are coming off their first loss this season as they face the Washington Redskins this Sunday at FedEx Field.
They’re currently half a game behind the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East, but it’s still unclear just how good they are after five weeks.
Many had expected the Birds to undergo a rebuilding year after trading quarterback Sam Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings late in the preseason, but that hasn’t been the case with rookie quarterback Carson Wentz under center.
The Eagles notched an impressive victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 3, but they defeated two bad teams in the Cleveland Browns and the Chicago Bears as well. Through it all, the Eagles have the second best total defense, as they have allowed 266.8 yards per game and 12.8 points. They’re also still 12th in the league in total offense, averaging 363.8 yards per game.
It’s difficult to deny Wentz at this point.
The second overall draft pick has been impressive through four games. Wentz has thrown seven touchdowns to just one interception with a 103.5 quarterback rating.
The Eagles do rely heavily on their trio of running backs, but Wentz has been effective and, most importantly, avoided turnovers. Darren Sproles will be another offensive player to watch given his versatility as a running back and pass catcher.
The Redskins’ interior offensive line has had solid outings despite two starters missing time because of injuries this season, but it will have its hands full on Sunday.
Fletcher Cox (above with Wentz) is one of the best defensive linemen in the league and has lived up to his six-year, $102.6 million offseason contract extension so far. He was named NFC Defensive player of the Month in September with 11 tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble during his first three games. Cox is the focal point of the Eagles’ defense, and he’s capable of making the pocket collapse on his own with his pass-rushing ability.
Right tackle Lane Johnson’s 10-game suspension was upheld after his appeal was denied on Tuesday. The suspension began immediately, and Johnson won’t be able to return to the active roster until Dec. 19 — the day after the Eagles’ Week 15 matchup against the Ravens. Philly is sliding rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai, a fifth-round selection out of Texas Christian, in at right tackle.