October 23, 2017
The Eagles have thrived in first quarters this season, but it turns out they don't need a hot start to get a victory. With dominant performances in the second and third quarters, the Eagles wrapped up their season series with the Washington Redskins, earning a clean sweep with a 34-24 victory.
• The Eagles were determined to not get off to another slow start in the second half, and even without the services of Jason Peters, they got the job done. Frankly, this is wizardry from Carson Wentz to get six points.
amazing throw. amazing catch. 24-10 Eagles. pic.twitter.com/npUGqKLjbK— chris jones ¯\_🎃_/¯ (@LONG_DRIVE) October 24, 2017
There has been a lot of Wentz skepticism outside of Philadelphia this year, and for the most part I get it. He does still go through some pretty rough stretches within games, which is customary for any young quarterback.
But when you see him make a play and a throw like that, one word comes to mind: star. It's finding a window where it looks like there isn't one, and dropping a ball into the only place where your receiver can make a play. Who cares if he's rough around the edges if he can make plays like this? Consistency will come. There's too much talent and too much character, from what we can tell, for him not to keep improving.
The same "star" thought comes to mind when he pulls this one out of his bag.
You can't teach that. Wentz looks more and more like he's going to have a special career, and you may want to start appreciating being here for the early stages of the ride. He added another chapter to a possible MVP campaign on Monday night, chalking up another four touchdowns and 268 yards.
Sean McDonough closed the broadcast with a simple proclamation: "There's no room left on the Wentz wagon." It's pretty clear why that's the case.
• The Eagles' defense didn't look like its usual dominant self up front, but it did enough to get the job done. After bleeding yards in the first half and looking lost at times, it clamped down when it mattered.
Maybe that reveals a simple fact about this Eagles squad: they are a good football team, point blank period.
Maybe that seems like stating the obvious because the Eagles have but a single loss and currently possess the best record in the NFL. But they've dealt with all sorts of claims trying to discredit their start for any number of reasons. One week, it's a complaint about them not playing a tough schedule. Another week, it's pointing out that Wentz threw some balls into harm's way that may have been interceptable, and could go the other way with worse luck.
We can put that talk to bed at this point. Seven games in, the Eagles are playing football on a level as good or better than the rest of the league, finding different ways to win no matter who the opponent is. This isn't the BCS, and you don't get any style points for running up the score or playing in the SEC. Wins are wins, and the Eagles have a bunch.
• He has no chance of winning it because it's an award that typically goes to a player coming off serious adversity like an injury or illness, but from a pure football perspective, Nelson Agholor is following the arc of a Comeback Player of the Year.
This guy's career was dead and buried as recently as this past offseason. Some were convinced he wasn't going to make the regular-season roster, and now he's popping up in the end zone and making contested catches in traffic. He has the trust of his coach, he has the trust of his quarterback, and perhaps most importantly he trusts himself and his abilities.
The talent is shining through the way it always should have been. And Agholor being a factor makes this offense that much more dangerous.
• The run game did not exactly shine on the Monday Night Football stage, but Doug Pederson has to feel great about having LeGarrette Blount in the backfield to bulldoze teams at the end of games. His offensive line did him absolutely no justice in the game's final moments, but Blount continued to scratch and claw anyway, earning the Eagles some critical yards when they needed to burn time.
• Philadelphia could use a few (dozen) more of these:
The chemistry between Jeffery and Wentz still not consistent, but they connect here for a 24-yard completion pic.twitter.com/M3gpTNG6Ym— The Bitter Birds (@AdrianFedkiw) October 24, 2017
The connection between Wentz and Jeffery has not been what the Eagles would have expected it to be when they brought the wideout in during the offseason, and there will be doubts about whether the Eagles will double down on the deal they gave him to come in the first place. For now, savor the moments when they're able to link up, and hope they can keep building on the glimmers of hope we see each week.
• Halapoulivaati Vaitai is not Jason Peters. The Eagles evidently don't know this, because they kept trying to run their offense as if he was a like-for-like replacement for their injured tackle.
There were screens on the left side, frequent runs to the left side, really what seemed like just too many plays designed to go in that direction. You're not just going to force feed the ball to one side of the line, but the distribution probably needs to be a little unbalanced to account for the loss of Peters.
• As an add-on to the previous point, it gets harder to run the ball with your starting left tackle on the shelf. But the Eagles didn't exactly impress on that front before Peters went down. They had enough padding in their lead thanks to the passing game that it didn't come back and haunt them, but once they got into the period of the game where they needed to run the clock down, the offense mostly ground to a halt.
This doesn't matter as much now, but it's something to keep an eye on in the weeks to come and especially — assuming they make it — when the playoffs arrive. They need to get a lot better push from the interior of the line and the right side especially to make up for the potential loss of Peters. Stay tuned.
• Another awful start to a half on the team health front. On the second play from scrimmage, Jason Peters went down, and his injury looked to be pretty serious, with a pretty loud F-bomb getting picked up by the ESPN microphones.
If you needed any indication of how deep the respect is for Peters in that locker room, look no further than this image.
Most of the Eagles surrounding Jason Peters on the cart pic.twitter.com/uYFsUQ8cIo— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) October 24, 2017
While the injury itself and the career implications for Peters are awful, there was one silver lining to all this. As Peters left the field in a cart, the crowd at the Linc erupted into a boisterous, "JA-SON PE-TERS" chant that echoed around the stadium. Regardless of what comes next, there aren't many better ways to go out than with the fans chanting your name.
It shouldn't need to be said, but Peters is a Hall of Fame caliber player and a Hall of Fame caliber leader in that locker room. There have been few better Eagles to suit up for the franchise in my lifetime, and here's hoping he gets to go out on his own terms sometime in the near future.