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Eagles entering a different phase of the season

Dallas Goedert

Now what?

The Eagles still are tied for the best record in football but their margin of error is almost zero. All the team’s flaws were stripped bare by San Francisco, then the Eagles lost 33-13 on Sunday night to Dallas.

The defense is leaking oil. The offense can’t get out of its own way. The lucky rabbit’s foot the Eagles used to win countless close games has run out of magic.

Super Bowl hopes and dreams are fading like the dying embers of a campfire.

Lighten up people. It’s not supposed to be easy.

This year certainly hasn’t been.

From injuries that decimated the defensive backfield early on, left us without Dallas Goedert for the toughest stretch of the season and severely slowed quarterback Jalen Hurts all season, to a brutal sixth-game stretch (that’s concludes with next Monday’s trip to Seattle) where three straight teams had the Eagles playing on short weeks, the Eagles have somehow both exceeded and not met expectations.

The extended run of success the Eagles have had during Jeffrey Lurie’s tenure as Eagles owner has meant that Eagles fans expect a win every single weekend. And for the most part, the fans have gotten just that.

Despite unrealistic expectations, the Eagles tend to exceed them.

By those standards we’ve seen the Eagles not meet expectations. This fall, the wins have come at a price. Fingernails have been chewed to the bone. Seemingly no win all year has been secure until the very final moments and sometimes not even then.

It could be worse. Imagine being a Jets fan, or a Commanders fan, or, heaven forbid, a Cowboys fan.

As the holidays approach, it’s best to remember that over the final four games of the season, the Eagles can start to gear up for the playoffs. No team is better prepared to strengthen its chances than the Eagles.

The final four games of the year, at Seattle, a two-game homestand with the Giants and Cardinals and, finally, the season finale at the Meadowlands against the Giants represents the easiest closing schedule of any team in the NFL.

The Eagles hold their fate in their own hands. There is every reason in the world to be confident that the team is in good hands.

Nick Sirianni has been able to get the best out of his Eagles players all season long, through struggles and challenges and injuries. Fans around the league may not like his brash ways, but for Iggles fans, there’s no better representative for this team or this fanbase.

Quarterback Jalen Hurts sets the tone for this team and this town. Unflappable and stoic, Hurts provides a baseline for the Eagles successes. He is the standard the Eagles try to play to.

He has spent most of the season injured, though he’d never let on just how much.  Hurts’ leadership qualities are something that Eagles fans may never see again anytime soon.

Finally, there’s the quartet of Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce.

It is no coincidence that the Eagles have had more than a decade of sustained excellence to build on. These four players, each with more than a decade of service for the Eagles, have become the very heartbeat of the Eagles team.

So, now what?

Try not to live-and-die for every play. Don’t despair on every converted 3rd-and-long the defense gives up. Save your outrage after every three-and-out when the offense doesn’t even attempt a run.

The Eagles are still one of the best teams in the NFL. Nothing matters anyway until the playoffs start. Enjoy your holiday season. ••

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