An Eagles season recap, as told through Twitter

After finishing 2016 at 7-9, there weren’t many indicators that pointed to the Eagles being among the best teams in the league and a Super Bowl contender in 2017. Did fans and pundits expect progress? Sure.

Did they expect 13-3? Did they see Carson Wentz having an MVP-caliber season … and it ending after 13 games?

2017 was a season of unexpected highs and lows. Each bump on the roller coaster was excruciatingly chronicled on Twitter, most of which with the hashtag #FlyEaglesFly.

Here’s a look at the Eagles’ season, as told by Twitter.

Preseason Predictions

Many experts had the Eagles seeing modest improvement in 2017. Hovering somewhere around the .500 mark again would have been in line with what most people thought. Maybe the Birds would even flip their record and go 9-7, like Zach Berman predicted.

Poll

Will other teams’ interest in Jim Schwartz and John DeFilippo be a distraction for the Eagles?

READ: Our staff’s game-by-game predictions for the Eagles season

With the benefit of hindsight, 9-7 seems way off the mark, but some people weren’t even that optimistic.

As you can see from this prediction, and this one, and this one, staying around .500 was the trendy pick, but some did decide to go slightly higher.

And then there were those who were right on the money with the record.

 

Jake Elliott’s Kick

The first two weeks of the Eagles season followed most of our preseason W-L predictions; a win over the Redskins to open things up followed by a loss to Andy Reid’s Chiefs.

In Week 3, the attention turned to the New York Giants. As the clock was winding down on regulation, a 24-24 game seemed poised for overtime with the Eagles sending Jake Elliott to the field.

Elliott started the season on the Bengals’ practice squad and came east to fill in for the injured Caleb Sturgis.

61 yards seemed impossible as it would have set an Eagles franchise record. Essentially it meant the Eagles were OK with heading into overtime.

Elliott pleaded with the coaches to give him a chance to win the game. We all expected him to miss, then Elliott kicked the ball.

Aside from winning the game, Wentz was very invested in the outcome of the kick for another reason.

Then there was the most emotional reaction of them all.

And speaking of emotion, how about the kick set to this tune?

The National Anthem and Social Responsibility

A national conversation took place during this NFL season around players using the National Anthem as a platform to demonstrate, drawing attention to police brutality and racial inequality in America.

President Donald Trump didn’t view it as the time or place for players to express their opinions and called for the firing of athletes who did it.

Some NFL players, owners and executives stood together to show unity, despite Trump’s remarks. Eagles captain Malcolm Jenkins had demonstrated since last season and drew the support of several teammates, including Chris Long.

Long addressed social issues throughout the year and on several occasions, voiced support for the cause. As Long gave away all of his game checks to charity, going toward education initiatives in the cities where he played and to Charlottesville, Va., some people took issue with the attention and accolades that Colin Kaepernick received and that Long didn’t.

In a lengthy Twitter thread, Long expressed that he stood with athletes who were speaking out, and was not an alternative to them.

Long’s charitable efforts even caught the attention of the United State’s 44th president, Barack Obama. With the New Year upon us, Obama took to Twitter to highlight stories that highlighted what is best about America, to combat “bad news that seemed to dominate our collective consciousness.”

Obama pointed to Long as an example of what is best about our country and did so by sharing a story written by Paul Domowitch about Long’s charitable efforts.

Celebrations

While the Eagles were rolling during their 9-game winning streak, they had all of Philadelphia dancing along with them, literally.

With celebrations back in the NFL, the Eagles clearly took advantage of that and got very creative.

Some of our favorites …

Week 5: Birds Play Baseball:

Week 8: Hit By Pitch:

Week 11: Make It Rain:

Week 12: The Electric Slide:

Is Carson Wentz the MVP?

For Wentz, the MVP chatter started as the Eagles’ winning streak kept growing and got louder as the season went on. It’s hard to argue that the player who plays the most important position in the game, on the best team in the league, isn’t the most valuable player.

Wentz threw for 3,296 yards and 33 touchdowns (a franchise record) in just 13 games.

The question – is 13 games enough to be MVP?

Winning Streak Ends

Speaking of the celebrations, there weren’t a lot of them when the 10-1 Eagles traveled to take on Russell Wilson and the Seahawks.

A defense that prided itself on pressuring the quarterback had trouble putting any on the elusive Wilson. The offense failed to get going and the frustration of fans manifested itself in a debate over whether a critical Wilson lateral was actually a forward pass.

It got scientific.

Philly.com staff writer Tom Avril weighed in, explaining why science says it was an illegal play.

Regardless of that, the Eagles went on to lose. The general consensus was that it was good for the team to lose at that point. Why not get another one under your belt before the playoffs? It brought them back down to Earth, right?

Carson Wentz’s knee (and those other injuries)

Injuries were a major storyline all season for the Birds.

In Week 1, the Eagles lost cornerback Ronald Darby after an ankle dislocation. The Birds picked up Darby from Buffalo to strengthen at least one side of the field for a secondary that was seen as the defense’s weakness.

Darby endeared himself to Philly fans after returning after two months to pick off Dak Prescott in his first game back.

Week 1 wasn’t kind to Caleb Sturgis as well. The Eagles kicker suffered a hip injury that landed him on the injured reserve list. That injury also led to one of the most exciting plays of the season (refer to The Kick up above).

In Week 3, it was the offense’s turn to be dealt a blow as Darren Sproles suffered a fractured wrist and a torn ACL – on the same play, calling the 34-year-olds career into question.

But of course, Sproles doesn’t plan on going out like that.

In Week 6, Chris Maragos, perhaps the team’s most important special teams player, suffered a torn PCL, sending him to the injured reserve list.

The following week saw two major injuries for the Birds. The team’s starting middle linebacker, Jordan Hicks, was lost for the season due to a ruptured achilles.

If Hicks wasn’t enough leadership gone, on the other side of the ball, future Hall of Famer Jason Peters’ season ended as he was carted off the field with a torn ACL.

It wasn’t an easy week.

And then, there was Wentz.

In Week 14, the Eagles still had hope despite the injuries because of the MVP-caliber season that their quarterback was having. The mantra for Eagles nation: In Wentz We Trust. As long as Wentz is upright, the team stands a chance.

Winning the game, meant winning the division, but it came with a heavy loss.

The Eagles announced that their leader was done for the year, seeming all too real when Wentz sent a heartfelt message to fans.

Teammates expressed their sadness for Wentz as did a number of competitors.

Wentz underwent surgery on December 13 and served as a captain for the Eagles Christmas Day game against the Raiders.

READ: Carson Wentz injury: What ACL-tear recovery is like

Nick Foles’ Second Chance

With the injury to Wentz, it was time to hand over the team to a familiar face. Nick Foles was going to get another shot at leading the Eagles in the playoffs.

The last time Foles led the Eagles to the playoffs, he left the field with a lead against the New Orleans Saints only to come away with a loss.

Instantly following the panic after Wentz’s injury was a level of confidence in Foles. Philly fans were ready to embrace Foles’ return.

That positivity was strengthened by a four-touchdown performance against the Giants.

Some of that optimism faded in Week 16 as the Eagles narrowly defeated the Raiders with home field advantage throughout the playoffs on the line, but Foles’ lackluster 19 for 38, 163-yard, one-touchdown, one-interception effort wasn’t exactly inspiring.

Foles himself admitted that he “didn’t play good enough.”

Coming out of the Raiders game, many wondered whether or not Foles was ready for the postseason and if he had enough chemistry with the team’s top wide receiver, Alshon Jeffrey. Should he play in the final game against Dallas for one more tune up?

The Eagles decided to play Foles in the last game, but just for the 1st quarter along with most of the starters. During that stretch, Foles went 4/11 passing for 39 yards and an interception.

Not the most encouraging showing heading into the playoffs.

The rest of the game belonged to Nate Sudfeld, who saw his first NFL action against the Cowboys. His most memorable moment was his Carson Wentz impression.

The game was scoreless going into the 4th quarter and Dallas was able to come away with a 6-0 win in the meaningless game.

The best highlight of the game might have been Donnie Jones forgetting to remove his sweatpants when going in for a punt. It’s understandable …

It was pretty frigid.