Don’t tell Nick Sirianni that the Philadelphia Eagles should start packing their bags for Las Vegas and a return trip to the Super Bowl in February. Despite holding a perfect 3-0 record, there is plenty of work to be done. The team thumped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 25-11 in a game that looks a lot closer in the box score than it was in real life.
The Eagles held a 25-3 lead with 13:28 showing in the fourth quarter before giving up a garbage-time touchdown and two-point conversion. Sirianni’s crew dominated in all three phases – offense, defense, special teams – and showed why they are once again a force to be reckoned with in the NFC, although the team is far from a finished product.
“It’s a growth process. We’re not a final product yet,” Sirianni told reporters. “Everybody wants us to be a final product, but it is a growth. We want to grow every day. And so, we’re not going to be playing our best football until we get going into the season. We still got things to work on. We still got growth to do.”
Eagles vs. Buccaneers: Top 5 Overreactions
1. Send Jalen Carter, Jordan Davis to Canton
It sure looks like the former Georgia teammates are the best interior defensive tandem in the NFL right now. They consistently drew double teams against Tampa Bay while staying disciplined in their gap assignments and stopping the run.
Carter had two tackles, forced fumble, half a sack: he’s the fourth-rated player at his position (via Pro Football Focus) with a 90.2 overall grade. Meanwhile, Davis (three tackles) is ranked No. 5 with an 89.8 overall grade. It’s way too early to start fitting either one for a bust in Canton … however, the potential for greatness has been on display. The duo is dominant.
2. Super Bowl Bound
It’s hard to look around the league and not see the Eagles waltzing back to their third Super Bowl in six years. They are one of three undefeated teams, next to the San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins. They own the seventh-best point differential in football at +8.3 through three games. And their rushing attack, fueled by D’Andre Swift, is unstoppable: 200+ yards in consecutive weeks, including 305 from Swift alone.
It’s hard not to look ahead and see a No. 1 overall seed in their future. San Francisco is the biggest hurdle in the NFC after Dallas got waxed 28-16 by the lowly Cardinals on Sunday. “One day at a time, one game at a time,” said Sirianni.
3. Chemistry Issues
If you want to poke holes in the Eagles’ armor then look no further than Jalen Hurts. The runner-up for MVP had quite a few forgettable moments on Monday night, none bigger than his miscommunication with D’Andre Swift right before halftime. Hurts thought Swift was going to turn inside but he split outside. Their chemistry was noticeably off in the passing game and Devin White capitalized with an easy interception. The Eagles quarterback also threw a pick late in the third quarter on a deep ball. Neither miscue led to Buccaneers points. In fact, the Eagles turned the second one into a safety.
4. Tush Push Getting Banned
It’s easy to see why rival franchises have lobbied so hard to ban the so-called “tush push” play. It cannot be defended. The Eagles line up and execute it to perfection on every short down and distance. They used it to cap a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive early in the third quarter, then tried to fake it and run a passing play from the two-yard line in the fourth quarter. The latter was stymied because Jalen Hurts tripped but he had guys open. Look for them to run it again.
Joe Buck and Troy Aikman called it the “Push Sneak” on the TV broadcast and laughed heartily every time the Eagles attempted it. No one can stop it. The NFL competition committee is planning to re-evaluate the 20-year-old rule allowing offensive players to push the ball forward. Don’t be surprised if it gets banned in 2024.
5. Nick Sirianni vs. Brian Johnson
There was talk of Nick Sirianni stripping the play-calling duties from Brian Johnson if the offense continued to look stagnant. Which it did early in this one. The TV cameras showed Sirianni holding the play-chart in front of his face on the sideline on multiple occasions. Did the head coach make a change?
Eagles legend Ron Jaworski mentioned that Sirianni had taken over the play-calling duties from Johnson on the post-game show. But I saw Johnson carrying the chart and calling in plays on the headset throughout the game. This could simply be a case of Sirianni and Johnson doubling down on their communication.
AP Photo/Chris O’Meara