“Offense may win games, but defense wins championships, and Week 3 matchups” – Bear Bryant after watching the Eagles showdown against Indy, probably.
In MVP candidate Carson Wentz’s return to the starting lineup for the first time since a devastating knee injury, it was actually the No Phly Zone defense that carried the team to victory. After a couple shoddy performances to start the season, the Eagles defense rebounded tremendously against one of the premier quarterbacks in the league in Andrew Luck. The defense gave the calculated signal-caller fits all night with different pass rush and coverage looks- preventing Frank Reich’s offense from ever getting in a groove.
Wentz, of course, performed his weekly Houdini act with a few magical plays in yesterday’s contest. Once again he carried the offensive load and made enough happen with his arm to put points on the board and keep the Birds in the game. 287 days since his last live-game action and #11 looked as if he hadn’t missed a day. Here are the statistical takeaways from the beginning of the end for all Eagles’ competitors Carson Wentz’s Week 3 return against the Colts:
The aforementioned return of Eagles Carson Wentz was a success by just about every metric. Wentz enjoyed a solid evening- completing 25/37 passes (67.6%) for 255 yards and a score. Although it was his lone touchdown of the game, he wasted no time putting points on the board, as the score came on the Eagles’ first series of the game. In nine games where Wentz has completed 67% of his passes or higher the Eagles are 7-2, and the only two losses were each by single digits. The Eagles go as Carson goes, so it’s encouraging to see him perform so admirably despite not having either of his starting receivers at his disposal. Welcome back, #11. We missed ‘ya.
I’m sure Philly Sports Network founder and creator of the legendary #GoedErtz movement was drooling all over himself as the tandem of Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz dissected the Colts defense all afternoon.
The talented tight end duo combined for 146 yards on 12 catches. Goedert also caught his first career NFL touchdown in yesterday’s contest, a moment the rookie won’t soon forget:
Goedert and Ertz recording 73 yards each also marks the first time ever that two Eagles tight ends finished with 70+ yards in the same game in the post-merger (1970) era. Goedert is the first Eagles rookie TE with 70+ receiving yards and 1+ TD in a single game since Keith Jackson in 1988. Additionally, Goedert is the first Eagles rookie TE to produce 70+ receiving yards since L.J. Smith on 11/2/03 at Atlanta (97 yards) as well as the first to catch a TD since Ertz on 12/15/13 at Minnesota.
It’s only Week 3, but #GoedErtz is off to a solid start.
Luck < Skill
Following a disastrous performance against the Buccaneers, various Eagles defensive players vowed to improve in Week 3. Simply ‘improving’ proved to be quite the understatement, as Jim Schwartz’s unit absolutely dominated Andrew Luck’s passing attack. Luck could only muster 168 passing yards in Reich’s quarterback-friendly scheme- his lowest total since 2014 and second-lowest of his career. The former #1 overall also averaged 4.10 Y/A against Philly’s fearsome No Phly Zone- the lowest of his career. Embarassing quarterbacks has become the norm for the Eagles’ defense, as yesterday’s matchup marked the seventh time Philly has held a quarterback to less than 200 yards on 25+ attempts since last season.
Defensive dominance wasn’t limited to just the passing game, as the Eagles completely stifled the Colts rushing attack. Indy rushed for a meager 68 yards and failed to get any kind of momentum going against the Great Wall that is the Eagles defensive line. Excellent bounce back game for the defense after a tough day at the office last week.
Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports