What an efficient game called by head coach Doug Pederson, aka Master Shifu. The defense predictably dominated against a struggling Broncos’ offense whose only real points came when the game was well in hand. Heading into Sunday, everyone, including myself, thought this was going to be a slugfest between two prolific defenses. Then, the Eagles put up 51 points on the #1 overall ranked defense. I think it’s safe to say the Eagles are officially a top tier defense, and this offense has hit another level.
Doug Pederson continues to put Carson Wentz in positions to succeed in his sophomore campaign. The Birds effortlessly racked up 419 yards: 222 through the air against a gold standard secondary, and 197 yards on the ground. That rushing stat is truly incredible because: 1) it was against Denver, who only gave up 72.9 rushing yards per game coming into Sunday. 2) the offensive line is starting to gel in their zone run scheme and Big V didn’t look half bad.
Right from the get go, Dougie P had his guys ready to get after it. The Broncos totaled 110 yards, one interception (shoutout PRob continuing to impress), and two punts in the 1st half. The Birds totaled 301 yards, no turnovers, and one punt. Both teams ran 35 plays apiece, but the score was 31-9 heading into halftime. That’s Dougie P having his team better prepared, focused, and ready to establish a physical tone early.
BIRDS OF WAR
The offensive ‘Bird of War’ should go to the entire offensive line for creating consistent lanes for the running backs. But it’s going to be a two-way tie between Brandon Brooks and Jason Kelce. FOUR separate running backs totaled more than 20 yards Sunday, led by the Eagles’ newest addition who made an immediate splash. Jay Ajayi‘s TD run can highlight just how dominant those two linemen were on Sunday. Kelce (#62) pulls from his center spot to take out the linebacker, while Brooks (#79) is mauling defenders 8-10 yards down the field.
Oh, and Carson Wentz seemingly had all day to find receivers against that daunting pass rush and ‘No Fly Zone’. Kudos to the entire offensive live. But again, on this Corey Clement touchdown screen, watch Kelce stand up Brandon Marshall as 335 pound Brandon Brooks steamrolls into the safety 10-yards down the field. That’s how you open lanes up for your backs in the run and screen game.
A lot of fans and analysts, including myself, began to question Kelce’s play over the past year or so. He has been nothing short of excellent this season, anchoring the Birds’ offensive line through some tough times. This PFF grade was before this week’s performance, where Kelce received a 90.5 game grade.
Defensively, the line continued to show why it’s the top unit in the NFL. Fletcher Cox set up camp in the backfield, with six pressures, three hits on Brock Osweiler, and one tackle for loss, mostly over Ronald Leary. Leary had not given up more than one pressure in a game throughout the entire season, but Fletch clearly is one of the best interior linemen in football. It’s not only his ability to absolutely shutdown running lanes single-handedly. It’s his ability to fill up gaps, one-on-one or taking on double teams, which frees up edge rushers to hunt the quarterback. The Birds racked up three sacks on Osweiler, and Fletcher Cox was the key component to Brock’s second interception. Fletch blows by Leary, forcing Osweiler to throw an ill-advised duck that was easily picked by Rodney McLeod. Fletcher Cox is worth every part of his $102.6M contract.
No brainer on this one. No one represented the ‘Backyard Legend’ award more than rookie Corey Clement. In this backfield committee, it’s a next man up mentality. Being a rookie playing with grizzly veteran LeGarrette Blount, and now beast-mode lite Jay Ajayi puts a lot of pressure when your number is called. As you can see from the NFL’s graphic above, the Nebraska-product and Glassboro, New Jersey native made the most when #30 was called. He had a nose for the endzone with a hat trick of touchdowns (2 rushing, 1 receiving), and averaged just over 5 yards per touch. Clement’s dual-threat ability will be fun to watch as he develops this season.
The Eagles are on a bye week, but have an ENORMOUS game against the team from Dallas on Sunday Night Football in JerryWorld. Biggest game of the year for the Eagles, they are playing their best football with an extra week to prepare, and who knows if Zeke will be there or not. Even if he is, bring it on.