The Eagles continued to turn heads in the NFL following a 34-3 rampage at the Linc over the Pittsburgh Steelers. In every sense of the word, this was a complete team performance..but just how good was each individual unit?
Carson Wentz was simply phenomenal against the Steelers. Leading his Offense like a veteran, staying patient and remaining calm inside the pocket while balancing risk and reward, Wentz played to the strengths of the players around him and was rewarded with 301 yards of passing and 23/31 completions for 2 touchdowns.
It would have been very easy to get lost in the noise or fall victim to a deceiving Steelers Defense, but Wentz didn’t just flash his brilliance..he consistently shone from start to finish. From the zip throws in tight windows to beautiful touch-passes, the rookie quarterback did everything asked of him and more in the impressive win.
Wentz is fully deserving of all the praise coming his way. The skeptics who still had doubt after Wentz had strong games against weaker Defenses were silenced on Sunday. Wentz wasn’t good..he wasn’t great..he was simply incredible.
The ankle injury of Ryan Mathews pointed towards a heavy workload for Darren Sproles early on..and against an established run Defense, it was always going to be tough. -1 rushing yards were all the team could amass after one quarter..but with Pederson’s hand forced, the beast was awoken.
The triple-headed monster from 2015 that never was came to fruition as the Eagles uilized he versatility of their committee backfield to rack up 125 rushing yards, as well as hurting the Steelers with plenty of screen looks that helped Sproles to hit 128 receiving yards and a touchdown.
The backfield accounted for more than 50% of total offensive yardage and a lot of that was down to the consistency through the tackles shown by Wendell Smallwood. The fifth round pick and Kenjon Barner both recorded their first career touchdowns in a game where an ability to wear the Steelers down through consistent pace changes was the difference.
Overall it was a huge game for the Eagles running backs who were finally used in a fashion that not only spreads the carry count, but plays to strengths of each individual back.
Penalties were still a problem but the O-line took a massive step forward against the Steelers. From opening up the run game to providing a level of pass-protection previously unseen this season, the entire line took a huge stride.
Wentz wasn’t sacked for the duration of the game and hit just three times. He was given plenty of time in the pocket to execute efficiently and if not for their efforts in halting what was at times a chaotic Steelers Defense, the result would not be anywhere near as one-sided.
The Eagles Offensive line is a unit often scrutinized, but they will be drawing plenty of praise this week.
Carson Wentz spread the ball around much more evenly this week, giving the Eagles a much more balanced and dynamic Offense as well as 301 receiving yards. There were times where old flaws seemed to show signs of linger and others where the unit seemed to be playing at a completely new level.
The route running was crisp, catches were often consistent and there was a balance of shots down the field with tough catches in short yardage situations that often went for more. DGB saw his highest snap count yet and has really began to make his presence known on the Offense and was controversially denied a touchdown.
Brent Celek flew the flag for the Tight ends but Trey Burton was targeted just as many times as Sproles, the most of any WR/TE. The Eagles have finally established a way to move the chains consistently through the air..and the safe hands of both Tight Ends played a vital role in doing so in the early stages when the run game was near invisible.
The receivers have already come on leaps and bounds this season, but more progress appears to be shown every week. The wideouts are feeling a new sense of confidence, the Offense is beginning to cater to their skill sets and they have a quarterback capable of elevating the entire unit…it was a big day for the Eagles pass catchers and one we can only hope is replicated often.
Fletcher Cox finally began to feast, the Defensive ends ripped their way to Big Ben and the deep rotation allowed for Jim Schwartz to constantly surprise the O-Line and get in the face of the Steelers quarterback.
7/8 QB hits came from the D-Line, as did 3/4 sacks. A rampant Defense sniffed blood early on and never stopped fighting. The ruthlessness of Logan and Cox also played a huge role in shutting down Deangelo Williams, ensuring the holes he needs didn’t open.
Aggressive doesn’t even begin to describe this Defense..but frightening does. This is a monster unit and the line is right at the heart of the action. A car can only go so far without a steering wheel..and the Eagles ripped away the axels and the steering column consistently.
For me, the linebackers were one of the most impressive units on the team. The impact that Jordan Hicks has made on what’s now a very small unit has been incredible. Bradham looked brilliant in coverage while both Kendricks and Tulloch burst into the game at the right times to come up with some nice plays.
The Steelers have found a lot of success through their tight ends recently..only one had a reception against the Eagles and that was Jesse James who caught two passes for ten yards. Largely because the Eagles pressure from the front four is so strong that the linebackers are able to cover the middle of the field without a need to blitz constantly.
The unit has quietly impressed in both opening games and it did so again on Sunday. It may not have the explosiveness that the D-Line does or the flamboyance of the secondary..but the Eagles linebackers were the glue in the Eagles Defense in week 3.
A show of leadership from Safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod who both played dominantly really boosted the cornerbacks. Jalen Mills struggled to find his feet early on contrasting Nolan Carroll who hit the ground running. Ron Brooks found some consistency early on and a sense of security knowing that double coverage was frequent helped lift the pressure from the light corps against a high powered Offense.
There were still some big plays given up, two over 30 yards..but 12 total pass deflections is a much more telling statistic. The Eagles Secondary will be brimming with confidence after this week and rightfully so. Under Jim Schwartz, the physical nature of the Defense has finally been realized..and it’s transformed the secondary.
There isn’t really much to say about the special teams other than #SuperSturgis converted both field-goal attempts and Donnie Jones was as consistent as ever. Chris Maragos hurt the team by running into the Steelers punter in a rare mistake but other than that, it was business as usual for one of the most consistent units in the league.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports