The Eagles finally ended a frustrating losing streak last night, ensuring that the Giants won’t be making it past the regular season with a 24-19 win. With some key pieces back on Offense, this was arguably the most complete Eagles performance we have seen in quite some time..so what did we learn?
Lane Johnson’s impact:
The return of Franchise RT Lane Johnson was absolutely critical in the Eagles early success. Whether it was sending edge rushers to the ground or opening massive holes for Darren Sproles to burst through, the return of Johnson not only meant that the Eagles could run the ball early and successfully, but that they could keep their quarterback upright.
Wentz wasn’t sacked at all in the Thursday Night win and hit only three times. One of which may have forced Chase Daniel to briefly enter the game, but for the first time in a long time, the Eagles persisted with the run game and rushed more than they passed..which is huge for a rookie quarterback who has just broken a franchise record for most pass attempts in a single season.
The Offensive line was able to silence the Giants pass rush and the result was an Offense that dictated tempo and was able to consistently build extensive drives. One can only wonder what the Eagles record might be had Johnson not been suspended..but the future is bright.
Wentz shows toughness and progression:
He may have only completed 50% of his throws for 152 yards, 1TD and a pick, but once again Carson Wentz showed signs of becoming the leader many hope he will become. His scrambling is becoming far more electric as a result of a heightened sense of confidence and the rookie once again showed no hesitation in slinging the ball down the field.
Some of his decisions may still be questionable, but for Wentz to be briefly knocked out of the game, only to come in, lead his team down the field for three points and finish the job was brilliant to watch.
It was a sense of validation after coming up short on the last drive for two consecutive weeks..and the Eagles certainly rid themselves of a bad taste. But more importantly, Wentz showed every trait of a Franchise Quarterback for the third game in a row..and that is beyond impressive.
Yes, he may have had a drop as the ball collided with his hands and yes, his second touchdown of the year may have come on blown-coverage, but Nelson Agholor recorded the Eagles longest touchdown reception of the season last night.
For a receiver struggling with confidence but blossoming in effort, a 40-yard TD reception will do him the world of good and hopefully put any remaining demons to bed. Agholor wasn’t perfect, but we’re now seeing a receiver who is hustling each and every week..and the rewards are beginning to reap themselves. Is there time for a turnaround in the chapters of Nelson Agholor? Only time will tell, but the early signs are there.
Cornerbacks get physical:
The Eagles cornerbacks have been inconsistent at best this season..and even last night, Leodis McKelvin failed to improve his level of play by giving up some big yardage. But the physicality across the board was eyebrow raising.
Nolan Carroll, Jalen Mills and the likes of Malcolm Jenkins when in the slot were not afraid to get assertive with an explosive Giants passing attack. The stats may suggest that the receivers got the better of an underwhelming CB corps, but the film tell a different story.
The Eagles new found efficiency in zone coverage enforced a “bend but don’t break” mentality that allowed the front four to really hamper Eli Manning. Hard hits, big plays and a mindset present in every cornerback helped the Eagles Defense keep the Giants chained down..and the effects of their physicality is something we have been pining to see since the arrival of Jim Schwartz.
Pederson continues to grow:
Pederson may have opted to go for it on 4th & 1, only to run into a brick wall..but the Eagles Head Coach ran the ball from the off, balanced his Offense better than he has any game this season and kept his team fighting from start to finish. It wasn’t always pretty..and there were moments where questionable timeouts or playcalls come into the fray, but Pederson proved a point last night.
He used his challenges intelligently, forcing a 4th down on one while bringing his Field Goal unit a few yards closer on another but more importantly, Pederson kept his team motivated in a close divisional matchup that had the Eagles with their backs against the wall.
The title of “winless in the division” has finally revoked itself..and coaching played a big part in that.
Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports