The eerie similarities between the 2017 and 2022 Eagles

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The eerie similarities between the 2017 and 2022 Eagles originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Does it feel a little bit like 2017 around here? It’s too early to know whether the result will be the same, but the similarities between this year’s Eagles team and the 2017 team at least through the end of the regular season are striking.

Here’s a look at a dozen of them.

Injury to Best Offensive Lineman
2017: Jason Peters
2022: Lane Johnson

Jason Peters was the best offensive tackle in football from about 2007 with the Bills until the middle of 2017, when he tore his ACL in a game against Washington at the Linc. His replacement was a 24-year-old sixth-round pick with the longest name in Eagles history -- Halapoulivaati Vaitai. Lane Johnson has been the best right tackle in football the last few years, but he’s missed the last 2.5 games after suffering a core muscle injury in Dallas on Christmas Eve. His replacement has been 25-year-old fourth-round pick Jack Driscoll. Unlike Peters, Johnson hopes to return for the playoffs.

Key One-Year Contract Guys
2017: Patrick Robinson, LeGarrette Blount, Torrey Smith
2022: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Kyzir White, James Bradberry, Zach Pascal

Howie Roseman filled a lot of holes in 2017 with stop-gap players on one-year contracts. Robinson, Graham, Blount and Smith were among the key members of that 2017 team that only played one year for the Eagles. He’s done the same thing this year on an even greater scale.

Fourth-Down Leaders
2017: Led NFL with 17 conversions, third at 65%
2022: Second in NFL with 23 conversions, fourth at 69%

Doug Pederson and Nick Sirianni are both very aggressive head coaches. Pederson really pioneered the notion of going for it on fourth down out of desperation in 2016 and that became a real weapon for the Eagles in 2017. The Eagles attempted 22 more fourth-down conversions than any other team from 2016 through 2020, and Sirianni has kept that up, especially this year with Jalen Hurts almost unstoppable on fourth-and-1.

Top 3 in Red Zone
2017: No. 1 in NFL at 66%
2022: No. 3 in NFL at 69%

Both teams have been extraordinary in the red zone, a real reflection of their quarterback play. Wentz was the NFL’s best red-zone QB in 2017 with 24 TDs, no interceptions and an NFL-best 111.6 passer rating. Nick Foles added five more TDs and no INTs. That’s 29 passing TDs and no INTs for Eagles QBs in the red zone in 2017. Jalen Hurts has been nearly as effective but in a different way -- 20 total TDs (9 passing, 11 rushing), one interception and an NFL-best 22 red-zone first downs.

Top-5 Defense 
2017: No. 4 at 307 yards
2022: No. 3 at 302 yards

The Eagles have only had two top-five defenses in the last 15 years -- No. 4 in 2017 under Jim Schwartz and No. 2 this year under Jonathan Gannon (and 15 total yards out of first). Before 2017 and 2022, the Eagles’ last top-five defense came in 2008 under Jim Johnson.

Coach in Second Year 
2017: Doug Pederson, 13-3
2022: Nick Sirianni, 14-3

The last seven Eagles head coaches have won at least 10 games in their second season: Buddy Ryan went 10-6 in 1988 (not counting the strike-shortened 1987 season), Rich Kotite was 10-6, Ray Rhodes 10-6, Andy Reid 11-5, Chip Kelly 10-6, Doug Pederson 13-3 with a No. 1 seed and Nick Sirianni 14-3 with a No. 1 seed. The last Eagles coach who didn’t reach double figures in his second season was Marion Campbell, who went 6-9-1 in 1984.

Injury Cost QB MVP
2017: Carson Wentz 11-2, missed rest of season
2022: Jalen Hurts 13-1, missed two games

Late-season injuries most likely cost both Wentz and Hurts MVPs. Wentz tore his ACL on Dec. 10 in Los Angeles, and Hurts sprained his shoulder on Dec. 18 in Chicago. Fortunately, the Eagles got Hurts back, but Wentz had a 101.9 passer rating, an NFL-best 33 touchdowns to just seven INTs, and 3,296 yards in 13 games. When Hurts got hurt, he had a 104.6 passer rating, 33 total TDs (22 passing, 11 rushing) and five INTs in 14 games. But Wentz got passed by Tom Brady in 2017, and Hurts will likely be passed by Patrick Mahomes this year.

Offensive Coordinator Becomes Colts Candidate
2017: Frank Reich
2022: Shane Steichen

A week after the Eagles beat the Patriots in Super Bowl LII, the Colts hired Frank Reich to replace Chuck Pagano as their head coach. The Eagles had the third-highest-scoring offense in the NFL in 2017 in Reich’s second year on the job. With the Colts sitting at 3-5-1 in November, Reich was fired in November and replaced by interim coach Jeff Saturday, who went 1-7. The Colts are now setting up interviews for a permanent head coach, and five years after they pursued the Eagles’ offensive coordinator, they’re doing it again with Shane Steichen. The Eagles had the third-highest-scoring offense in the NFL in 2022 in Steichen’s second year on the job.

Top-5 Rushing Attack
2017: Third, 132 yards per game
2022: Fifth, 148 yards per game

The 2017 and 2022 Eagles both had great success running the football. The 2017 team ranked third in the league with Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount and Corey Clement, and this year’s team was fifth with Miles Sanders, Kenny Gainwell and Boston Scott.

Key Secondary Acquisition in August
2017: Ronald Darby 
2022: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson

The Eagles went into both 2017 and 2022 with serious questions regarding the secondary, and both years they added critical defensive backs who had big years despite significant injuries. In 2017, they traded Jordan Matthews to the Bills for cornerback Ronald Darby on Aug. 11, and Darby went on to pick off three passes in just eight games in 2017 and had six pass knockdowns in the three playoff games. This year, on Aug. 30, they traded a 2023 fifth-round pick and a 2024 sixth-round pick to the Saints for safety and slot Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and a 2025 seventh-round pick. Gardner-Johnson wound up sharing the NFL interception lead despite missing five games.

Double-Digit Loss Late in Season
2017: Seahawks 24, Eagles 10, Dec. 3
2022: Saints 20, Eagles 10, Jan. 1

Neither team went into the postseason playing its best football. The 2017 Eagles lost by 14 to the Seahawks in early December, trailed a 3-13 Giants team in the third quarter before winning 34-29 in Week 15 and then trailed a 6-10 Raiders team in the third quarter at home before winning 19-10. This year, the Eagles lost consecutive games to the Cowboys and Saints with backup QB Gardner Minshew and finished with a clunky six-point win over the Giants' backups to clinch the No. 1 seed.

QB in Second Year as Starter
2017: Carson Wentz
2022: Jalen Hurts

Wentz had gone 7-9 as a rookie in his first year as a starter but did some promising things and finished strong, with wins in his last two starts. Then he was almost unbeatable in Year 2, with an 11-2 record. Hurts went 8-7 in 2021 in his first year as a starter but did some promising things and finished strong, with wins in his last three starts. Then he was almost unbeatable in Year 2, with a 14-1 record.

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