The Philadelphia Eagles are still undefeated. It wasn’t always pretty, but their win over the Arizona Cardinals was an important one. Here are five things we learned:
Multiple ways to win
We know that the Eagles offense is highly explosive through the air and that Jalen Hurts can lead an all-out assault on the ground. What we needed to see, yesterday in particular, was that this team could fight back from adversity by straying from the beaten path.
Early injuries, some sloppy defensive tackling, and simplistic play calls haunted the Eagles and undid a lot of the progress the players made early on. What was impressive was that in the dying embers of the game, they could drive down the field and put up a score. What was impressive was that Jalen Hurts had the confidence to QB sneak on 3rd and 1 over, and over again. What was impressive was the offenses ability to move the chains and kill the clock with a 7 minute drive in the fourth quarter to give Arizona very little to work with.
This wasn’t the smoothest game from a Philadelphia standpoint, but it was the first one where losing was a realistic possibility in the second half. The fact they were able to walk out of Arizona with a win speaks volumes. If this becomes the floor, the ceiling is tantalizingly high.
The Eagles are still a long ways from perfect
With that said, it’s not like this team is anywhere near that ceiling and that’s not a bad thing. They’re 5-0, the last undefeated team in the NFL, and waltzing towards the playoffs and an NFC East crown. Any negative sentiment around the team comes from wanting them to be better and clean up mistakes that may be punished down the line. But if this is the new ‘bad day at the office’, then the good ones are going to be incredibly fun.
It works until it doesn’t
We saw two repeated strategies on Sunday, one on offense and one on defense. Dallas Goedert caught what felt like 291 screen passes as he picked up YAC with ease. Gannon’s soft-zone caused problems early on, but eventually fizzled out. The problem is that when the opposition adapts and you continue to keep doing the same thing, it’s only going to work for so long. This is exactly what happened on Sunday.
Coaching is very much an ego-based career. You have to back yourself and nobody is blaming Sirianni or Gannon for sticking to what previously worked. Both have shown the ability to adapt over the long-term, but doing it in the heat of the moment has to be a priority moving forward to avoid teams getting the better of them.
Stability in the secondary
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson’s interception felt special. It wasn’t because it was his first as an Eagle, but because it represented a change in the Eagles secondary. James Bradberry has been excellent this season. Darius Slay is performing at a very high level and even without Avonte Maddox, the slot is being captained well. This might be the most stable secondary we’ve seen in Philadelphia for at least a decade, and it makes watching the defense go ball-hunting an enjoyable experience…when they’re not playing 10 yards off the ball and being picked apart underneath, Jonathon.
The floor rises for Jalen Hurts
After one of his best games as a pro last week, it’s fair to say that week 5 was a step back for Jalen Hurts. The NFC Offensive Player of the Month in September struggled a little more with accuracy on Sunday and was very lucky not to come away with at least 3 interceptions.
Having said that, some of the throws he made were eye-popping. Moving to his left and throwing across his body would’ve felt mythical one year ago, but he made it seem somewhat routine. The zip on his shorter passes over the middle has seen a very notable upgrade, and his confidence in the pocket is visible. He rushes when there’s an opportunity to as opposed to a reflex move that occurs after the final step in his dropback.
Like the Eagles, if this is the new floor for Jalen Hurts, he’s well-positioned for a big year.
AP Photo/Matt Slocum