Who could have predicted the first week of October would have brought these things to pass?
The Miami Dolphins are forcing the NFL to rewrite its concussion rules. Good ol’ boys are stuffing fish with leaden balls to cheat at fishing tournaments. Antonio Brown was shown flashing his backside and his frontside at a woman in a pool in Dubai.
And the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles are the best team in football. They’re 4-0 for the first time since 2004. They went to the Super Bowl after that 2004 season.
On Sunday, they proved they can do it again.
“I don’t think anybody can beat us right now,” Miles Sanders, who ran for a career-high 134 yards and two touchdowns, told me after squirming out of his well-used shoulder pads. “Everybody’s beatable, but if we lose, we’ll be beating ourselves.”
They beat a very good Jacksonville team Sunday — and yes, a “very good Jacksonville team” also is a strange development for the first week of October. But there can be no question that the Jaguars are dangerous and well-coached, by Doug Pederson, whom the Eagles fired after the 2020 season.
The Eagles proved it by winning despite apparently losing their kicker, losing two starting offensive linemen, and losing the best cornerback they’ve had in decades. They proved it with a running game that they hadn’t had in the first three games. They proved it by forcing five turnovers.
Jacksonville’s good, suddenly; or, perhaps this underscores how awful a coach Urban Meyer was for Jacksonville in 2021.
And how good a coach Nick Sirianni has become in his second season as Pederson’s replacement.
This is no fluke. The Birds are complete, and they are resilient.
They overcame a pick-6 by quarterback Jalen Hurts on their opening drive. They overcame a 14-0 deficit 11 minutes into the game.
They’re the only team without a loss, and they’ve won every conceivable way. Are they No. 1?
”I don’t know about that,“ said center Jason Kelce. “I know we’re a damn good team.”
”It’s all about growing and continuing to climb,” Hurts said.
They rode his passing game to 3-0 that made Hurts the NFC’s offensive player of the month in September, but in a steady rain with winds gusting to 35 mph, throwing the ball made less sense than running it.
So they ran for 210 yards against the No. 1 rushing defense in the NFL, which had allowed just 55 yards per game before Sunday. Sanders logged the sixth 100-yard rushing day of his career and his first of 2022.
They sacked Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence three times and he lost three fumbles and, with Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay sidelined with a forearm injury, bookend James Bradberry snagged an interception late in the third quarter that kept points off the board.
Three days before, the Eagles shared top billing in the league with the Dolphins, who’d won the previous Sunday despite briefly losing quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to what appeared to be a leg-buckling head injury in the second quarter. Tagovailoa was diagnosed (misdiagnosed?) with back spasms, returned for the second half, and won — but an innocuous hit in the second quarter of the Thursday Night Football game knocked him out of that game and impugned the Sunday diagnosis, which was found to be fraught with error, led the NFL Players Association to fire the independent doctor who cleared him, and has the league and the union poised to put teeth into their concussion rules.
Meanwhile, Brown, the controversial receiver, in an Armani Hotel Dubai pool, was caught on camera May 14 thrusting his naked buttocks into the face of a female swimmer, dunking her into the water, then flashing his genitals at her from across the pool. The video surfaced over the weekend. Brown is with no team this season.
On a lighter note, in Cleveland, accomplished professional fishermen Jacob Runyan and Chase Cominsky were discovered to have inserted lead balls into their catch of walleyes, along with pieces of other walleyes.
Never thought I’d write that sentence, but here we are.
To be honest, I never thought I’d write this sentence, either:
In the first week of October, the Eagles are Super Bowl favorites.
They came back after they lost left tackle Jordan Mailata, then put the game away after they lost right guard Isaac Seumalo. Jack Driscoll on the left and Sua Opeta on the right? No kicker for a point-after or field goal late in the game? Jake Elliott seemed to get injured on a field-goal attempt at the end of the third quarter and appeared unavailable for a PAT and short field goal in the fourth.
Win despite these issues?
Sure, if you’re that deep and that talented.
The Eagles are clearly deeper, and perhaps more talented, than any team in football.
And the best.
”The best?” Slay asked, when asked. He smiled. “You know who the best team is?
“The team that wins the Super Bowl.”