Week 5 saw the Eagles cruise to an easy victory over the Cardinals 34-7. This one became ugly early as the Eagles jumped out to a 21-0 lead and never looked back. The Eagles seem to have already rounded into form and are playing terrific football right now.
There really isn’t much to criticize anymore with this team. Previous gripes about the running game have now been lowered to a whisper. The corners that were supposed to be terrible have held their own, plus Ron Darby and Sidney Jones are on their way back. At 4-1, it’s all been very positive so far. It won’t be an easy road throughout the rest of this season but this team looks to have the formula for sustainable success. Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the week 5 win.
Tell me again how Dallas has the best O-Line?
For a couple of years now, pundits have been raving about how great Dallas’ offensive line is and rightfully so. The Eagles have been right behind them but have never really gotten their just due. Through this 3 game win streak the O-line has been down right dominant. The group has given Wentz time to get the ball down field and has also been the catalyst to the revitalized run game. After the week 2 loss, Jason Peters, Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson were all on record saying they’d like to run the ball more. Well they got what the wanted and the team has looked great with this group leading the way.
Remember what the team looked like last year when Lane went out with a 10 game suspension? Yeah, not good. As great as the line has been, there might be trouble on the horizon if Lane misses multiple weeks with his concussion. We can certainly expect him to miss Thursday’s game against the Panthers and potentially a game or 2 after that. After Carolina, division rival Washington looms on Monday Night Football. The Redskins were the first team the Eagles played last year without Lane and that game became a disaster. If Johnson does indeed miss the Redskins game again, the Eagles could be out of first place in the division by the time he gets back.
Big pass plays a welcome sight:
It was great to finally see some success getting the ball vertically down the field. The Eagles had a 72 yard TD pass to Nelson Agholor and a 59 yard TD pass to Torrey Smith. Both receivers made great catches in stride from very accurate Wentz passes. This is an element that has been lacking for some time. Imagine how scary this offense could be if this were a consistent threat.
This is exactly the Nelson Agholor this teams needs. He may not be the star that we all hoped for when he was drafted in the 1st round out of USC, but he has become a very effective player this season. He had that one drop but the telling sign to me was that Wentz came right back to him on the next play for a first down. Later in the game, Aggy had a huge catch and run for a touchdown that was a thing of beauty. Nelson has found a home in the slot and you can see the confidence the kid is playing with now. Nobody has to cringe when the ball goes his way anymore.
Paging Alshon Jeffery:
Alshon is a guy that draws attention every time he’s on the field. I suppose that’s opening up things for everyone else but I would really like to see this guy get going and be the dominant force that he can be. Right now he’s averaging 4 catches per game for a little under 50 yards. Very average numbers and numbers that won’t get him paid the contract that he wants. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say he’s still getting on the same page with Carson. Also to his credit, he has seen Josh Norman, Marcus Peters, Janoris Jenkins and Patrick Peterson in the first 5 games. The next 3 games ease up a little bit with Carolina, Washington (without Norman) and San Francisco lacking any big play cover guys before Denver and the “No Fly Zone” comes to town. would expect a couple of big games on the horizon. Fingers crossed.
Welcome back Kenjon Barner!
What an impact Kenjon Barner had after just being signed one week before. He averaged 4.6 ypc on 5 carries and even without catching a pass, he was a threat out of the backfield and did a good job in pass protection. His biggest contribution was on special teams with his 3 excellent punt returns, including a 76 yarder, helping put the game away early. There is no replacing Darren Sproles but with Barner added to the quartet of running backs, the Eagles can certainly still be effective.
D-Line as advertised but not how you’d think:
The thought was that the defensive line unit was going to be a strength of this team with a deep and talented group of pass rushers. However, it’s the run defense that has been remarkable. Even with run stuffing Bennie Logan leaving in the off-season and Fletcher Cox missing the last 2 games the Eagles are ranked 2nd in the league in run defense giving up only 62.8 yards per game. Outside of Kareem Hunt they haven’t faced many elite rushers so bigger tests are coming up. This week against Carolina will be one of them because of the different looks they can give you out of the backfield with Christian McCaffrey, Jonathan Stweart and Cam Newton. This group will be truly tested on Thursday night.
Robinson needs a Pat on the back:
When he was signed, it was believed that he would bring a veteran presence to the cornerback group. Then the reports from training camp started come out and it was all negative in regards to Robinson. Had he lost it? Was he even going to make the team? Not only did he make the team but he is playing very well to start the year. Spending most of his time holding down the slot, Robinson broke up 3 passes on Sunday and generally seemed to always be around the ball in the right position to make a play. I’d like to see him turn some of those balls into interceptions but the fact remains that Robinson has been very solid this year.
Step it up Derek Barnett:
The total opposite of Patrick Robinson in training camp, Barnett was getting nothing but love. Every day he was getting credit for his strong hands, his natural bend and his burst. Then the pre-season came and Barnett looked the part. We saw all the tools that had been reported in the draft process and throughout training camp. He looked like a gem and a total steal at the 14th pick in the draft. He has yet to make an impact in actual games however. Barnett is yet to register a sack and hasn’t even really been getting pressure at all. Having another productive pass rusher would do wonders for this defense. The Eagles are going to need him to live up to his promise in those pivotal November and December games.
*TAKEAWAY OF THE GAME*
Controlling the clock:
After leading the league in time of possession last year at just over 32 minutes a game the Eagles are back at it again. They have even improved on their design this season by leading the league in TOP at 35:32. They’ve been outstanding at controlling the clock and keeping the defense off the field. Doug has become a better play caller. He’s not perfect but much improved for sure. The efficient run game has eaten up chunks of time. One of the main reasons for this as well is that Carson Wentz has become incredibly efficient on 3rd down. The Eagles lead the league with a 53.4% 3rd down conversion rate. Wentz has been ridiculous even on 3rd and longs. He’s making the right reads and he’s getting the ball out of his hands. Controlling the clock is such a huge part of winning football games. t’s very reassuring that this regime understands that. We all know how Chip Kelly felt about time of possession.
A short week lies ahead as the Eagles travel to 4-1 Carolina for Thursday Night Football. This should be a great game and a great test for this team. Carolina is 2nd to the Eagles in both TOP and 3rd down efficiency. It’s going to be a big battle in the trenches Thursday. Not having guys like Lane Johnson and Fletcher Cox for this game is going to be pivotal. This is one of those measuring stick games for sure and if the Eagles win it will put the entire league on notice.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports