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September 26, 2023

Handing out 10 awards from the Eagles-Buccaneers game

The Eagles' offensive and defensive lines continue to bully opponents with Jalen Carter and Jordan Davis on the rise.

The Philadelphia Eagles are now one of three remaining undefeated teams in the NFL after a decisive 25-11 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As always, win, lose, or tie, we hand out 10 awards.

1) The 'Bully Ball' Award 🐂: The Eagles' trenches

As they often do, the Eagles dominated in the trenches, especially in the run game, as they outgained the Bucs 201-41 on the ground. It's the third straight game that the Eagles have dominated at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.

 Eagles rushing yards Opponent rushing yards 
Week 1 - Patriots 97 76 
Week 2 - Vikings 259 28 
Week 3 - Buccaneers 201 41 
TOTAL 557 145 

"For a long time here this Philadelphia Eagles offensive line, we've been able to lean on them," said Nick Sirianni. "In all my three years and before that it's been a special group of guys headlined by Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson, who have been here for 13 and 11 years. That's unheard of. And then Jeff Stoutland does a great job of getting them ready. Landon Dickerson has played outstanding for three years, Jordan Mailata, Cam Jurgens have done a nice job and have developed into being really good football players ready step in. 

"And I can't say enough about how good of a job Howie Roseman does bringing in depth in there, understanding how important that is to winning football games. No matter what level you're at, it comes down to how you play O-line and D-line. 

"It gives you so much confidence that you can do that when they're coming off the field and just saying, 'Let's go again. Let's go again.' Seeing Lane come off the field and saying that to me, that gives you a lot of confidence." 

After the Bucs scored their first touchdown of the night with 9:22 left in the fourth quarter, the Eagles executed a 15-play drive that bled out the rest of the clock. The Bucs were so defeated that Todd Bowles didn't even bother calling his remaining timeouts. The Eagles' offensive line simply owns defenses' souls in the second halves of games.

On the defensive side, the Eagles' line has gotten to the next level this season with Jalen Carter looking like a superstar rookie and Jordan Davis making a huge leap from Year 1 to Year 2.

"Now we got two big boys in the middle on top of Fletch," said Brandon Graham. I expected us to stop the run this year, and I'm happy that we're doing it."

The Eagles have great playmakers like Jalen Hurts and A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, and as such they are perhaps viewed nationally as a fun, explosive team because of what they were able to do in 2022.

But don't get it twisted. At their core, the Eagles are built around the trenches. They're bullies who physically overmatch and often overwhelm their opponents. That is their true identity.

2) The 'Star in the Making' Award 💫: D'Andre Swift

A week after racking up 175 yards and a TD against the Vikings, Swift piled up 130 rushing yards on just 16 carries (8.1 YPC). The offensive line opens up holes and Swift bursts through them.

As a reminder, all the Eagles had to give up to get Swift was a 2025 fourth-round pick and a swap of picks in the seventh round of the 2023 draft.

3) The 'Peanut Punch' Award 🥜👊: Jalen Carter

"Peanut punch" probably doesn't do this justice.

I almost feel bad for that football. 

Like Joe Montana spotting John Candy at the Super Bowl, Jordan Davis said that he spotted Carter’s family in the stands and pointed them out before Carter’s forced fumble.

4) The 'Right Place, Right Time' Award 📍⌚: Reed Blankenship

Blankenship has become a really good football player in just his second season after going undrafted a year and a half ago. He was in the right spot to intercept Baker Mayfield for the first time this season.

The Eagles' defense has eight takeaways on the season, which is tied for second in the NFL.

5) The 'Up And Down' Award ⬆️⬇️: Jalen Hurts

Hurts made two outstanding plays during one of the Eagles' two touchdown drives.

He also had two bad interceptions. One was a miscommunication, and the other was a YOLO ball deep down the field to DeVonta Smith.

Hurts reportedly dealt with flu-like symptoms heading into this game, and he had the sniffles during his postgame press conference. Despite the mistakes, Hurts was able to beat the Bucs for the first time in his career, which he credited to having more patience in the pocket, which he didn't have in two matchups against the Bucs during the 2021 season.

6) The 'Targets!' Award 🎯: A.J. Brown

A week after Brown's heavily scrutinized argument with Hurts on the sidelines during the Eagles' win over the Vikings, Brown was targeted 14 times, double the next-closest player on the team. He made 9 catches for 131 yards, and broke a bunch of tackles that extended drives.

7) The 'Welcome To the Party' Award 🎉: Olamide Zaccheaus

Starting in the slot in place of Quez Watkins, Zaccheaus had 2 catches for 58 yards and the TD shown above. He hadn't been targeted until this game.

8) The 'Safety!' Award 🙏: Nicholas Morrow

After Hurts' second interception, the Bucs had the ball at their 1 yard line. Nicholas Morrow shot a gap, and made a big play for two points.

"We had a stunt on to get double teams off of those guys," said Morrow. "They had a tendency that we knew, so we used a stunt and I just shot the gap."

9) The 'Why Do People Hate This Guy?' Award 🤷‍♂️: Britain Covey

Covey had 3 punt returns for 81 yards (27.0 YPR), and a long of 52 yards. He's been a very good returner since the second half of last year, and it feels like fans of the team are super eager to replace him. He can play.

10) The 'First Place' Award 🥇: The Eagles, in the NFC East

It's probably worth noting here that the three other NFC East teams all lost this weekend. The Giants lost to the 49ers, the Commanders got wrecked by the Bills, and the Cowboys lost to a Cardinals team that many believe is the worst in the NFL.

The standings now look like this:

NFC East Record GB 
Eagles 3-0 
Commanders 2-1 
Cowboys 2-1 
Giants 1-2 

The Birds will have their first NFC East matchup Week 4 against the Commanders, in (thank God!) a 1:00 p.m. start.

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