As the whole city of Philadelphia, most likely the entire state of Pennsylvania, and probably the entire country already knows, the Birds are 4-1 and at the top of the division, conference, and league. They are one of four teams with one loss in the NFC alongside the Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons, and Carolina Panthers. The AFC has one team with one loss, the Denver Broncos, and an undefeated team, the Kansas City Chiefs. One could say the Eagles are a top six team in the league right now, but it’s still early and anything can happen in the long NFL season. Let’s take a look at how the Eagles fared in the last five seasons they started 4-1.
In Chip Kelly’s second year, the team got off to a 4-1 start, and eventually a 9-3 start, until faltering to a 10-6 record. The team missed out on the playoffs. This marked the beginning of the end of the Chip Kelly era in Philly.
This was the year Donovan McNabb got injured after leading the team to a 5-5 record, starting 4-1. Jeff Garcia filled his shoes and finished the year 5-1 to finish with a final record of 10-6. The team made the playoffs, beat the New York Giants in the Wild Card round and lost to the New Orleans Saints in the Divisional round.
I guess I thought 4-1 starts happened more often in Eagles history. This one predates my birth, but internet research taught me this was the year Jeffrey Lurie bought the team from Norman Braman. Randall Cunningham and Herschel Walker were on the team. They started off 7-2 and lost seven straight to end the year. Yikes.
Reggie White left for Green Bay in the offseason, Clyde Simmons struggled without him, and Randall Cunningham got hurt. That can turn a 4-0 start into six straight losses in a flash. Ken O’Brien and Bubby Brister went a combined 4-8 during the season and the Eagles missed the playoffs. At least the defense had Seth Joyner and Eric Allen.
I guess the Eagles liked 4-1 starts in the early 90’s. Cunningham stayed healthy. Seth Joyner, Clyde Simmons, Reggie White, and Eric Allen led the defense and the team finished with an 11-5 record. They beat the New Orleans Saints in the Wild Card round and lost to Troy Aikman’s Dallas Cowboys in the Divisional round of the playoffs.
Previous history goes to show that starting 4-1 does not automatically guarantee a playoff berth, let alone a Super Bowl. Everyone is excited, including myself, with the team’s play so far. But there is a long road ahead. A win against the 4-1 Carolina Panthers on Thursday Night Football is a start.