Most teams that fumble the ball four times don’t win by four touchdowns.
But not your Eagles.
They win big, and they have fun doing it. They do the electric slide. They take faux-team photos. They choreograph a bowling routine and all fall down together in the end zone.
You would be doing it, too, if you were slapping around the National Football League on a weekly basis. The Eagles have won four straight games by 20+ points.
“This is a big fucking deal,” Joe Biden once said. He wasn’t talking about the Eagles, but he might as well have been, because they’re 10-1 and sitting in the driver’s seat for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. With the Saints going down in Los Angeles, the Vikings are now the Birds’ biggest seeding threat. But Minnesota has a difficult schedule looming, with road trips to Atlanta and Carolina in consecutive weeks and a matchup at Lambeau still on the docket.
That’s good to know, but it shouldn’t really matter. The Eagles control their own destiny, and if they play like they did on Sunday, nobody is stopping ’em.
This game was over before it started, with Chicago mustering 33 first half yards and 0 first downs.
Makes it hard to win when you’re rolling out a rookie quarterback and putting up these numbers:
1) Just getting started
Alshon Jeffery is beginning to look like the WR1 we thought we were getting this offseason.
No, he didn’t light up the scoreboard on Sunday like Julio Jones or Antonio Brown, but he finished with a healthy 5 catches for 52 yards and a touchdown– his fifth score in four games.
Jeffery looks more comfortable in the offense and he’s doing his best work on the back-end of the schedule. Break the season in half, and it looks something like this:
First eight games = 25 catches on 62 targets, 416 yards, 3 touchdowns
Last three games = 15 catches on 27 targets, 203 yards, 4 touchdowns
He’s had about 33% of his yardage production in the last three games and contributed 57% of his touchdowns during that same time frame. In Weeks 1-8, he only caught 40% of the balls thrown his way. That number is up to 55%. His yards per catch is down from 16.6 to 13.5, probably because four of his grabs were touchdowns in shorter field red zone situations.
2) No fix needed
The Eagles ran for 176 yards total, some of which was added in prolonged garbage time. Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount had runs of 25+ yards, but eacl also fumbled the ball (Blount twice), so it was a bit sloppy overall after last week’s showcase in Dallas.
One thing the Birds did do well on some of those big runs was execute on the blocking schemes that worked in Big D, namely on the Blount breakout, the one where he hurdled some fool:
— NFL (@NFL) November 26, 2017
The hole comes from a nice one-two Brent Celek and Lane Johnson combination. Celek is actually lined up off the line of scrimmage and traps inside to cut off the defensive tackle, Aqiem Hicks. Lane Johnson moves Isaiah Irving about five yards backwards and Nelson Agholor does a nice job of sealing cornerback Kyle Fuller.
Similar to last week, Jason Kelce and Halipoulivaati Vaitai simply ignore the defensive line and go right to the second level, laying blocks on the linebackers:
Again, just great run blocking schemes.
3) Why even try?
The Bears bears came into this game as a top-10 running team.
They finished with 14 carries for 6 yards. Tarik Cohen ran it twice for -11 yards and Jordan Howard rushed for 6 yards on 7 carries.
It’s ridiculous, really, considering that this is what Howard has done in 2017:
They limited a guy with four 100 yard games to just six yards on the ground. Six!
And Cohen is no joke either. He ran 9 times for 44 yards and touchdown last week.
So the pair that went for 169 yards against Detroit combined for -5 yards yesterday. That’s crazy, bro.
4) Situational football
Carson Wentz remains the NFL’s best third down quarterback.
After the win, this is now his third down stat line:
- 826 yards
- 64.8 completion percentage
- 9.08 average
- 11 touchdowns
- 2 interceptions
- 5 sacks
- 124.4 QB rating
- 15 rushes for 114 yards
Even more impressive might be Carson’s numbers inside the red zone:
- 64.3 completion percentage
- 17 touchdowns
- 0 interceptions
- 0 sacks
- 115.3 QB rating
A high IQ and situational understanding, that’s Carson Wentz in a nutshell.
5) Ref, you don’t suck
When is a block in the back not a block in the back?
When the officials get together to talk about it.
Seriously though, nice job by that crew to take away a bad penalty call against the Bears on a play where an Eagles cornerback was barely touched. It’s proof that we can get it right when we take a minute to think about it. Now we just have to apply that type of thinking to Congress.
Here’s the play in question, where #13, Kendall Wright, makes slight contact with Patrick Robinson:
6) Triple digits
Zach Ertz eclipsed 100 yards receiving for the first time this year.
More importantly, he looked like himself while grabbing 10 balls for 103 yards and a touchdown. He was targeted 12 times and ripped Chicago open with that patented seam move for chunky gains.
He only caught 2 balls for 8 yards in his return from injury last week, so it’s good to see him bounce back in this one. He’s neck and neck with Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham in most statistical categories, even with that two-week slide.
7) Horseshoes and hand grenades
This could probably go in the “situational football” entry, but I wanted Carson Wentz to have his own section.
You know it’s going right for you when your punt returner shows the smarts to grab a teammate, pull him away from a live ball, and avert disaster:
GET TO THE CHOPPAH! pic.twitter.com/jmqV5GW9Hx
— Matt Mullin (@matt_mullin) November 26, 2017
8) Doug’s worst call?
Not many, but there was a third down sack where Wentz bootlegged to the left and had to throw across his body. The defensive end didn’t bite on the fake and blew up the play. They ran a similar look in the third quarter with not a lot of success.
They’ve done it before this year, and Wentz really isn’t bad in those situations, but they’re so strong in other areas that it just feels pointless to roll him out to his left.
Other candidates for this entry might be his second quarter challenge, which isn’t even so much about being off-base. The challenge was okay, but it seems redundant when you know that Doug is going to go for it on fourth down anyway.
The 4th and 6 call in the third quarter was also a bit iffy. Wentz was rolling to his stronger right side that time, but I’m generally not a fan of cutting the field in half. The pass attempt to Nelson Agholor was almost picked off and returned for a huge gain.
9) Doug’s best call?
There was the obvious decision to go for it on 4th and 1 during the second drive. Doug cooked up a big power left formation and let Ajayi run it for a tough yard. It paid off with what would eventually be the game-winning touchdown just a few plays later.
They also went for it on 4th and 1 just before the two-minute warning, which was another no-brainer for Pederson. The Eagles are 10 for 10 on 4th and 1 attempts this season, so the data says… yes… let’s go for it.
Overall, good game from Doug and an easy win. I still think he could pull Wentz a little earlier in the fourth quarter, but if that’s my biggest complaint, then we’re really just splitting hairs here.
10) Stick to murder?
This sign was hanging from the back of a truck while fans were tailgating outside of Lincoln Financial Field:
That seems… a little excessive. I know people like to be offended by everything these days, but I’m not sure that joking about murder is the path we want to go down.
As far as the broadcast, I kind of like Kevin Burkhardt and Charles Davis. Davis can be a bit much to handle at times, and sometimes he just needs to let the game breathe, but he offers good insight and does what a color commentator is supposed to do. After a few weeks of narcoleptic broadcasting, I’m fine with the energy and enthusiasm.
They did sneak a couple of Rocky mentions in there, but it is what it is. We’re just gonna have to live with it forever.
And I do agree with Burkhardt when he says, verbatim, “I gotta be honest, I hate the electric slide,” but it looks a whole lot better when these guys are doing it:
Can't even hate on a team that does the electric slide pic.twitter.com/U1fqJPWzDN
— Jasmine (@JasmineLWatkins) November 26, 2017
You can’t. You can’t hate on a team that does the electric slide.