Instant analysis: Eagles provide a knockout punch on Boxing Day

Eagles lane johnson
PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 22: Philadelphia Eagles Offensive Tackle Lane Johnson (65) celebrates a touchdown in the first half during the game between the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles on September 22, 2019 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

Many Americans woke up today celebrating the day after Christmas. In other parts of the world, this is an extra holiday known as ‘Boxing Day’. The Eagles must’ve caught wind of this ahead of their clash with the Giants because they delivered a knockout blow to the Giants on Sunday in a demolishing 34-10 win.

A sloppy start

The start of the game wasn’t exactly pretty. The opening kickoff return was fumbled, Jalen Hurts threw an interception, drops were frequent, and a fumble from the QB only further gifted the Giants momentum. For the second week in a row, the offense came out complacent and making a ton of errors. However, also for the second week in a row, they found a way to rectify them.

Believe it or not, running the ball seems to work. After a pass-heavy start to the game, Sirianni handed the reins over to the committee backfield who in turn punched in another 100+ yard outing and helped give the offense a base to build on.

Boston Scott retained his reputation as a ‘Giant Killer’ adding another touchdown to his season tally, and Miles Sanders looked as explosive as he had in each of the past two weeks prior to picking up an injury. Hopefully it’s a minor one.

The sloppy start soon turned into a strong second half. A three point tally in the opening stanza was hugely disappointing, but the Eagles put up 31 points in the second half as they continued to pick apart a weak and fledging defense. Jalen Hurts did begin to find a rhythm and while underthrows were still prevalent, he had the confidence to keep slinging it downfield to guys like DeVonta Smith and Quez Watkins who did the rest.

Even Lane Johnson got in on the action, catching his first NFL touchdown on a trick play down at the goal line, much to the delight of the fans in attendance.

It wasn’t the prettiest win and you can argue that better teams won’t give the Eagles that kind of lifeline, especially with a starting quarterback who attempts 17 passes and is only able to gain 25 total yards. However, the big thing here is that they took care of business on a short week during the holidays and now advance to sole possession of that seventh wildcard spot.

The Jalen Hurts cycle of life

Circling back to Hurts, he did look wobbly in the opening few drives and that has to be acknowledged. Was he still suffering from the injury? It’s plausible. It’s great that he rebounded and the fact that he ended up making some big time throws will only build his confidence and that of the front office and coaching staff, but he can’t start every week needing two or three drives to shake off rust, because there won’t always be an easy defense to take advantage of who allow so much breathing room.

It’s as if we’re looking for a definitive answer on Jalen Hurts every week. The definitive answer is that there isn’t an answer. He’s not consistent but the ceiling his high and the floor is low. The only people who can decide how patient the Eagles will be, are within the NovaCare Complex probably engaging in the same debates you and i will on Twitter.

But for now, Jalen Hurts is who we thought he was. A raw passer with a freakishly athletic skillset.

Give Jonathan Gannon some credit

The Eagles defense was a mess for the opening four games of the season and it wasn’t much better in the games that followed. But during the second half of the year, Gannon’s adjustments have opened the doors for a seismic shift in production.

He placed a heavy coaching emphasis on turnovers and frankly, I can’t remember the last time an Eagles defense generated this many interceptions. It was great to see Alex Singleton picking off a pass late on after Rodney McLeod plucked one from the air earlier in the game.

The defensive line has started to get consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks and the secondary is looking particularly handy at the catch point. Slowly but surely, it’s all coming together.

Also, Saquon who?

Wildcard bound?

The Vikings dropped their game to the Rams earlier today, meaning that the Eagles are now in sole possession of the 7th seed wildcard spot with two games left to play. One should be a guaranteed win and the other should see the Cowboys resting players. There is every chance that this Eagles team sneaks into the playoffs and that has to be something worth getting excited about.

Happy Holidays

There’s a lot to take away from this game. Jalen Reagor finally silenced the boos with a huge punt return, Lane Johnson caught a touchdown, and the team once again were able to get out of their own way to show just how good they can be when it all comes together.

Happy Holidays, Eagles fans. Soak this one in, crack open a beer and have a happy new year!

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire