Victory Monday’s are always the best kind of Monday’s and with the Eagles now 2-1, there’s plenty of reasons to be excited. Here are ten things we learned from yesterday’s win over Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts.
Wentz is still a wizard:
He wasn’t superman, but nobody expected him to be. That didn’t mean that Carson Wentz didn’t flash the ‘Houdini’ type play we have all come to know and love during his return to the NFL. Wentz made two scrambling efforts that left fans in awe. It’s almost mythical to think that Wentz is just 9 months removed from a horrifying ACL/LCL tear and is moving like it never happened. There’s still some rust to shake off, but the Wentz of old is still performing like gold.
Finger wag swag:
Jalen Mills was on the receiving end of some heavy criticism following last week’s surprise defeat against the Bucs, but the Eagles cornerback rebounded nicely on Sunday. With the exception of two PI calls, Mills was aggressive in coverage and helped hold T.Y Hilton to just 50-receiving yards and keeping him out of the end zone completely. It wasn’t his best game, but a huge spike in confidence came with improved play that was exciting to watch.
Just how good is the Eagles defense?
If not for an extremely rare 33-yard rush by Andrew Luck, the Eagles would’ve given up under 35 rushing yards to the Colts…which in itself is just absolutely staggering. They also held the former first overall pick to his lowest amount of passing yards since 2014 and turned the league’s top third-down offense into a no-show, leaving the Colts completing just 16% of their attempts. Not to mention scoring a touchdown on just 1/4 red zone drives. Make no mistake, this Jim Schwartz defense is phenomenal.
There’s hope for running backs:
A depleted backfield left the Eagles in a spot of bother coming into week 3 and there were plenty of reasons to worry. However, both Wendell Smallwood and Josh Adams performed admirably in silencing those qualms. Smallwood averaged 5.6 yards per carry, doing his best to fall forward and push through contact, while UDFA Josh Adams rushed for 30 yards on his NFL debut and ran noticeably different in comparison to Clement and Smallwood. The Eagles running backs may be staring in the face of adversity, but they showed that even when depth is at a minimum, there’s still hope.
Goedert’s potential is as high as we thought:
The Eagles second-round pick had a single reception for just 4 yards before Sunday’s win, making his 70-yard breakout in which he caught his first ever NFL touchdown pass seem all the more impressive. Goedert finally saw a huge chunk of action and the production followed suit, reminding fans everywhere that although he was off to a slow start, his domineering presence and extensive catch radius should never be overlooked.
Wideouts could need more time…
Other than a pair of receptions from Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor was the only Eagles wideout to catch a pass on Sunday. Shelton Gibson’s exposure on the field was minimal and the Eagles are still struggling to get the ball outside. Alshon Jeffery could return to the offense next week, but if he doesn’t it’s safe to say that there’s still plenty of growing room for a band of wideouts who either lack playing experience or still need time to get re-acquainted with the offense.
…so it’s a good job Pederson has a workaround:
The Eagles finally deployed 13 personnel (1 RB, 3TE) looks again to get around this problem and it worked wonders. Joshua Perkins lined up outside on several occasions (with varying success) and the team even pushed Wendell Smallwood outside where he hoisted a 34-yard catch. The Eagles are getting creative in finding ways to get the ball outside without relying on their wide receivers and after a few weeks of finding out how to do so, it seems as though they may have found the perfect formula.
Flags are still an issue:
Through three weeks, the Eagles are the 2nd most penalized team in football, behind only the Bills. It’s simply not acceptable and in all three phases of the game, they’re being punished by their own mistakes and a lack of discipline. This isn’t new however and we are used to seeing this Eagles team take a few weeks to settle in, but they’re going to have to get out of their own way as not every team will be as undisciplined as the Colts to balance the playing field.
Barnett’s going to be very, very good:
Derek Barnett flashed plenty during his rookie year, ending with that iconic fumble recovery in Super Bowl 52. In his second year however, his improvement in helping run defense is almost too strong to miss. Whether it’s taking on multiple blocks to open up the floodgates for his teammates, bursting into the backfield, or amassing 3 tackles for a loss, Barnet’s value as a run defender is soaring. Oh, did we forget to mention his effectively game-winning sack on Andrew Luck?
Don’t blame the pass-rush
In the first half, the Eagles pass-rush could do no wrong. Andrew Luck was largely inefficient and was forced to take check down after check down. But in the second half, Reich adjusted to allow Luck to fire more aggressively. This isn’t on the Eagles pass rush. On the surface, you can see a banged up Colts O-line struggling to keep the Eagles pass-rush at bay and it all comes down to Luck being aware of this and getting the ball out quicker as Fitzpatrick did one week ago. There’s not much more that the front four could’ve done and they certainly don’t deserve to be criticized for offensive adjustments.
Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports