Instant analysis: Eagles dominate Niners in wavering weather and improve to 7-1

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The Philadelphia Eagles are officially 7-1. Say it a few more times out loud, it’s going to take some getting used to. The San Francisco 49ers hung around during the first half and never really gave up on the game with more than just pride at stake, but it wasn’t enough to dethrone one of the league’s toughest defenses and most multidimensional offenses. Here are some quick takeaways after the win.

 

Wentz wasn’t perfect…but so what?
This may be the weakest performance from Carson Wentz we’ve seen all season…but it’s not like he’s had a flurry of bad games to beat. Anything less than exceptional would be his worst performance of the year and while the franchise QB was good today, he wasn’t outstanding. Wentz completed 18/32 passes for 211 yards and scored 2 touchdowns, throwing one interception.

Wentz spread the ball around well but wasn’t really helped by his offensive line who continued to leak pressure. Wentz overthrew receivers and occasionally made questionable decisions…but even though this may have been a slightly lesser showing than what we’re used to seeing, it’s still night & day compared to last season.

 

The Pass rush is incredible:
It felt like everybody got a piece of the action today. Derek Barnett was a force from beginning to end, while Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox joined Vinny Curry in sacking rookie C.J Beathard. The pass rush was astounding from the moment the game kicked off.

Whether it was Chris Long’s recalled sack, or Timmy Jernigan’s bullying of interior linemen, this front four and its depth were just relentless. The Niners had no room to breathe. Beathard was hit 12 times as the pocket continued to cave in again and again. This was the most complete game we’ve seen from the Eagles front four this season with just about every player performing like a starter. A scary sign for the offensive lines that lie ahead.

 

Confidence:
This is a minor takeaway, but Wentz instills so much confidence in his receivers, it’s hard not to notice. If a target drops a pass, Wentz is coincidentally right back to him not he next play for a big gain. We’ve seen it time and time again this season and there may be no better way of keeping morale up among such a talented group. It could be coincidental, but it’s so fun to watch.

 

Cornerback conundrum?
Jalen Mills recorded his first pick six in the NFL this afternoon and Rasul Douglas had a remarkable PBU late in the game. In fact, both corners played excellently today, holding the Niners to just 167 receiving yards. With Ronald Darby’s return just around the corner, do they need to push him back into action this season?

It’s not like Douglas has struggled to find consistency or put in big performances and it’s certainly not as if Jalen Mills has regressed. Development among the young corners can be seen on a game-by-game basis which is extremely encouraging. There is no real need to hurry Ronald Darby back into the fray, but the Eagles corners have come on leaps and bounds this year under the tutelage of Cory Undlin and a new “off coverage” mentality deployed by Jim Schwartz. It’s rare to watch a game without there being a major hole open up or a big mistake…but the corners were brilliant today.

 

Playing it safe:
At the end of the game, the Eagles began to rotate the backups into the mix. Carson Wentz took a seat to allow Nick Foles to take command of an offense that contained Chance Warmack and Corey Clement. Up by 23 points, there was no real need to risk unnecessary hits or injuries, so the Birds played it safe. It’s a safe call and a smart one. At 7-1, playoffs are almost a certainty…keeping players healthy is now of the upmost priorities.

 

Alshon’s statement:
Alshon Jeffery finally hauled in a “number one receiver” play that should see much of the unwarranted criticism die down. A 53-yard TD grab saw the former Chicago Bear lead the team in receiving as he battled for a 50-50 ball and showed off some quick-feet on his way to the end zone. It took a while, but that’s the kind of play many have been waiting to see the highly touted receiver make.

 

Pressure:
This game was decided in the trenches and one narrative that almost fell completely off the radar was the start by Big V. Halapoulivaati Vaitai had a rollercoaster game, but so did Lane Johnson. The O-Line allowed 3 sacks on Carson Wentz but were able to hold their own in the second half and keep a depleted pass rush at bay. It could have been far uglier, but an Eagles O-line missing a Canton-bound left tackle stood stern in the face of a defense that would not roll over, and helped push open the Eagles running game.

On a side note, the Eagles rushing attack has now amassed 100+ yards in SEVEN consecutive games.

 

Special teams:
Derek Barnett blocking Robbie Gould’s 27-yard field goal attempt was magical. He was 91/91 between 20-29 yards until that point where the Eagles swatted away any chance of a Niners comeback. Donnie Jones was sensational pinning the Niners deep inside their own territory on multiple occasions and Mack Hollins came through with a few big plays. Dave Fipp earned his check today.

 

Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

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