It wasn’t pretty and it was far from perfect, but the Eagles caused a huge upset on Sunday, ending the undefeated streak of the Minnesota Vikings in a scrappy 21-10 victory. So what did we learn?
Pass rush prevails:
After an embarrassing game against Washington, a Bennie Logan’less Eagles pass rush ran rampant against a beaten up Vikings Offensive Line. Forcing Sam Bradford into three turnovers, keeping the Vikings out of the redzone and sacking the former Eagle 6 times.
There were those who doubted whether the game against Washington would set the unit back..but all it really seemed to do was spark a fire. 12 quarterback hits and an abundance of blitzes saw the Eagles pass rush look the strongest they have all season long.
Penalties still hurt:
Jason Kelce tallied his seventh penalty of the season and the Eagles lost a total of 53 yards due to penalties against the Vikings. Seven flags stunted the Eagles on both sides of the ball and once again, cost the team in valuable situations. It’s something that simply has to be rectified if this team are to enjoy long-term success, but the number of penalties was nearly halved in comparison to last week..which is a step in the right direction.
It’s easy to forget that Carson Wentz is still a rookie at times..and even easier to forget the circumstance in which he was given the reigns to the Offense. Wentz threw two early interceptions that nearly cost his team dearly before some incredible defensive fronts waived the concern.
The NDSU star ended the day with 16/28 completions for 138 yards and a touchdown. It wasn’t the most glamorous game we’ve seen Wentz play and there were some throws he would like to have back. But there were some very impressive things he did with the ball, including a crucial dive for a two-point conversion, a rush on fourth down and making something happen out a fumbled snap.
Wentz had a rollercoaster against one of the most intimidating Defenses in the NFL..but was able to hold his own and manage the game when it mattered, balancing risk with reward perfectly.
This team is “Special”:
Josh Huff put the Eagles on the board with a sensational 98-yard kick return for a touchdown, the second week in a row where the Eagles have returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Not only that, but Tight End Trey Burton recovered a punt that was fumbled by Marcus Sherels.
The special teams unit has garnered a lot of a respect in recent years under Dave Fipp..and that respect is only rising as 2016 progresses, as the unit continues to give the Eagles a surge of momentum when they need it most.
I mentioned how the pass-rush was able to chew Sam Bradford up consistently earlier on, but Jim Schwartz has been reluctant to blitz in 2016..until today. The Eagles blitzed on an eyebrow raising 14% of their plays which saw a spike in production from Jordan Hicks, who led the team in tackles, hit Bradford once and defended two passes.
Nigel Bradham and Mychal Kendricks both seemed to thrive when getting after the quarterback and we can be sure to see more of the same from Schwartz in the coming weeks.
The Pro-Bowl campaign for Rodney McLeod revealed itself even further today, with the Safety picking off a pass in the endzone, sacking Bradford and amassing seven tackles. Contributing in nearly every aspect of the game, McLeod has been incredible this season..and is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
The Wentz Wagon struggled to kick into gear early in the game..and the Offense began to stagnate. Needing an injection of electricity, Doug Pederson made some gutsy play calls. Going for two points after opening the scoring changed the complexion of the game completely, while going for it on fourth down later in the game and adding up time of possession in a game where it seemed to evade the Eagles was absolutely key to their success.
Pederson’s identity as a Head Coach is unravelling as weeks go by and there’s lots of reasons to be excited..all of which we will detail in an upcoming article.