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October 08, 2023

Eagles future headlines: 'Tush Push' forever and a troubling secondary

What will Eagles fans be arguing about tomorrow?

Eagles NFL
Cooper-Kupp-Catch-Eagles-Rams-NFL-Week-5-2023.jpg Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports

Rams receiver Cooper Kupp cuts across the field after making a catch during the first half Sunday against the Eagles.

The Eagles faced a pretty good Rams team Sunday and showed they are truly in the NFL's elite class, besting L.A., 23-14, in Week 5 improving to a perfect 5-0 for the second straight year.

They'll have a laugher of a game next week against the Jets at MetLife Field, so this is really the best competition Philly will have faced before their home game against the high-powered Dolphins on October 22.

As we've done following each game this season, here's our best guess as to the three topics that will be leading Eagles banter on local sports talk radio and your group Eagles texts with your buddies over the next six days – our future headlines:

Just a little push

It seems like the "tush push" has been dominating headlines for months and months and the debate over the play that the Eagles have perfected these last two years isn't going to end anytime soon.

On the heels of complaints and this tweet from Adam Schefter earlier in the day, the Birds really leaned into it in Week 5.

The Eagles were 4-for-4 with the "Brotherly Shove" against Los Angeles, the second of which came on perhaps the most decisive drive of the game. Trailing 10-14 with seconds to play, a pass interference in the end zone drawn by A.J. Brown gave Philly a first and goal at the one-yard line with two seconds remaining in the half. 

The Jalen Hurts sneak was basically a foregone conclusion as the Birds took the lead and didn't give it back, converting on the QB sneak a third time in the second half. 

Jimmy Kempski lamented that the play is going to be made illegal next season so enjoy it while you can.

Dallas Goedert is back

The Eagles offense is so loaded that Hurts and company have more or less completely ignored D'Andre Swift and Dallas Goedert in the passing game.

That changed Sunday, as Swift was targeted six times for 38 yards while Goedert finally broke through with eight catches for 117 yards. On the opening drive, Goedert caught four passes for 45 yards and a touchdown. Sort of as a corollary, DeVonta Smith wound up as the odd man out in this one with just one catch for six yards. There are a lot of mouths to feed, and as Brown learned earlier this season, it helps to be patient.

Goedert's third-quarter 49-yard catch and run was a rare explosive play and the biggest on offense in the game, and of Goedert's entire career. Philadelphia has so many elite options on offense, so expect to see more Goedert performances like this.

Secondary to none

The Eagles decided to spend a little money and keep their veteran (and aging) duo at cornerback for 2023. Potentially coming at the expense of secondary depth and investments at safety (they let C.J. Gardner-Johnson walk, for example), the Eagles have a lot riding on the continued elite performance of Darius Slay and James Bradberry.

With their safety position extremely inexperienced and really no slot corner — Eli Ricks played there, along with Mario Goodrich and the results were as expected – a healthy returning Cooper Kupp roasted the secondary, no matter who was on him for 118 yards on eight catches. 

The middle of the field defensively has been a weakness all season, and the Eagles took some time to really get it together both on the back end and with their late-developing pass rush. Here's the most frustrating example: 

Kupp beat Slay for 39 yards and then Bradberry really could do nothing to stop Puka Nacua at the end of the first half.

The secondary bent but didn't break in the second half, and will be a big point of conversation this week.

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