The Eagles have all but clinched the NFC East crown after a stunning Sunday Night performance. While the dominant 39 point win showed everything that makes this team special, things didn’t start off smoothly on the return from a bye week. Here are some grades and analysis for each position after a monumental win.
It may have been a slow start for Carson Wentz, but he bounced back in a way only a franchise quarterback can. After opening by completing 5/5 passes, Wentz struggled to find a rhythm. However, he came out of the second half swinging and ended the day with 14/27 pass completions for 168 yards and two touchdowns. Protecting the ball was pivotal here and Wentz did a great job of playing intelligently, knowing when to take off and when to take the safer option. His poise in the pocket was on full display and an excellent second half effort rescued a tough start.
The Eagles put up 251 yards of rushing against the Cowboys, their most in a single game since the teams clashed back in 2014. There seemed to be a complete lack of offensive balance early on, but once again the danger in the red zone was amplified with both Barner and Clement scoring touchdowns from inside the 20. Ajayi led the team in rushing for a second consecutive game and averaged 13 yards per carry. Overall, the Eagles streak of 100+ yards of rushing now extends to nine games…and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. Once the backfield gets rolling, they’re very hard to stop.
Holding the league leader in sacks (DeMarcus Lawrence with 11.5) to a day empty handed is one thing, keeping Wentz clean and sack-free for the entire game is something else. This may have been the most complete performance from the offensive line we have seen yet. The Eagles were creative in their blocking schemes and the athleticism of every single lineman was on show from the very start. Paving the way for a stunning 251 rushing yards, the Eagles O-Line was at its best on the stage where the league’s most renowned are used to performing.
Strangely, Zach Ertz was almost kept completely silent. Ertz was held to single-digit receiving yardage since the 2015 win over New England…and his lowest since the loss to Seattle in 2014. Brent Celek caught a huge 28-yard pass and while blocking assignments were crucial in opening a ruthless running game, the disappearance of the team’s most dangerous receiver this year was a little worrying.
Alshon Jeffery showed more signs of setting himself as a part as the number one receiver, leading the team in receiving yards once again and continuing his hot streak. Torrey Smith struggled early on before making up for it with a touchdown, while Nelson Agholor, like Ertz was kept almost completely silent despite being the second most targeted receiver on the team. The wideouts got the job done, but it wasn’t as seamless as we’re used to seeing.
What more can be said about the defensive line other than they showed their prowess as the most tenacious unit in the league. Derek Barnett stole the spotlight with a 2 sack, 3 tackle, performance on Sunday Night, while Cox and Jernigan both flashed as two of the most feared defensive tackles in the league. Every player in the front four showed up big time on Sunday night, making life scarily difficult for Dak Prescott.
Nigel Bradham’s six tackle game which also featured a fumble recovery for a touchdown very much set the tone on Sunday night. Mychal Kendricks was a force to be reckoned with in the passing rush too, but arguably the biggest positive of the night was the attitude of Kamu Grugier-Hill. KGH stepped in as the team’s emergency kicker and shined brighter than anyone’s wildest expectations. Adding another special teams tackle to his team leading tally, KGH was outstanding. Even without Hicks, this unit continues to emerge as one of the real strong points on the team.
An interception for Ronald Darby on his return sums up what was an incredible outing for a secondary that’s now finally at full strength. Rodney McLeod and Malcolm Jenkins also tallied a pick on a night where both Patrick Robinson and Jalen Mills were at their best. Very few flags and sound coverage throughout, this was a glorious night for a secondary fueled with confidence.
Kamu Grugier-Hill kicking his way to glory? Check. Big special teams tackle and Donnie Longballs finest game as an Eagle this year? Check. Apart from a concussed Jake Elliott whiff, this was another solid outing by one of the league’s best special teams units.
Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports