Eagles look to continue momentum after their best win of the season

by Marc Narducci | Nov 15, 2021
Eagles look to continue momentum after their best win of the season

For each of the first three Eagles wins, there seemed to be an asterisk attached. They opened with a 32-6 pounding of Atlanta, but the Falcons were considered a weak opponent. (At this stage Atlanta’s record 4-5 is actually better than the 4-6 Eagles).

Then there was a 21-18 win at Carolina. Critics pointed out that Carolina quarterback Sam Darnold handed them the game by throwing three interceptions and compiling a passer rating of just 44.8.

The third win was a 44-6 rout of Detroit, but the Lions were and still are winless, so skeptics dismissed that.

Then came Sunday’s 30-13 dissection of Denver, a team that is now 5-5 and had one of the better defenses in the NFL.

The Broncos entered the game as the sixth best rushing defense in the NFL and the Eagles ran over them for 214 yards (5.4 avg.). 

Conventional wisdom suggested that an Eagles loss would have ended any realistic playoff hopes. 

This year, with so much parity, the Eagles will be entering the third weekend of November still very much in the hunt despite being two games under .500 with seven to play. 

More importantly, the Eagles wanted to play meaningful football late in the season and they are guaranteed that.

Whether they make the playoffs or not, the fact that they are competing for a spot in what was supposed to be a rebuilding season, has to be looked at as a positive development.

There are many people (including this reporter) who wonder if Jalen Hurts is the quarterback of the future, but he continues to improve. 

Three games ago, Eagles coach Nick Sirianni decided not to rely on Hurts as much, or specifically, his passing as much.

The results have been stunning. Hurts has been throwing less with much more success. He attempted 14 passes against Detroit, 17 in a 27-24 loss to the LA Chargers and 23 in the win over Denver.

Before that, he was averaging 34.7 pass attempts per game.

The ability to run the ball and more to the point, Sirianni’s commitment to the run, has made all the difference in the world.

As for the defense, the complaint about defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon is that while not wanting to give up the big plays, he was having his defensive backs play too far off receivers, allowing easy completions. 

That changed against Denver. Teddy Bridgewater completed 22 passes, but needed 36 attempts and threw for just 226 yards.

Cornerback Darius Slay, who has arguably been the Eagles defensive MVP, scored on a spectacular 83-yard return of a fumble. 

If any Eagle deserves Pro Bowl mention, it is certainly Slay, who has now scored touchdowns in two of the past three games. 

At 4-6, the Eagles are right in the playoff hunt, albeit against a flawed field. If the playoffs were to begin today, Carolina, at 5-5, would earn the seventh and final NFC spot. (The Eagles head to head win over the Panthers could prove to be valuable).

Either way, the schedule lightens up now for the Eagles, although they are not the kind of team that can take anybody for granted.

For instance, the Eagles have two games each against the Washington Football Team and New York Giants, two struggling 3-6 franchises. 

Yet Washington just beat defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay, a team the Eagles couldn’t stop when they lost 28-22 to the Buccaneers. 

The Giants have been playing better lately and have a solid defense. 

So those four games won’t be automatic W’s. 

Still, the remaining schedule which starts with Sunday’s home game against a flawed New Orleans team, appears less challenging than the early-season schedule.

Take New Orleans for instance. The Saints are 5-4but have lost two in a row to Atlanta and Tennessee, by a total of four points.

New Orleans has a struggling offense and a solid defense, so it will be interesting how the Eagles move the ball against the Saints.

Still, there isn’t a team left on the schedule that the Eagles would be a big underdog against, with the exception of the season finale against Dallas. And by that time, the Cowboys may be resting players for the playoffs (unless they suffer a Dallas-like collapse).

So while there was so much pessimism when the Eagles fell to 3-6 after the loss to the Chargers, there is now optimism over the win at Denver as meaningful football is guaranteed for the foreseeable future.

 

Photo Courtesy: Philadelphia Eagles 

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Author: Marc Narducci

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