October 08, 2017
The Philadelphia Eagles are now 4-1 after an emphatic blowout win over the Arizona Cardinals, and they remain in first place in the NFC East. As always, win or lose, we hand out 10 awards.
The Eagles have scored on their first drive of the game in four out of their first five games. Three were touchdowns, one was a field goal. Doug Pederson scripts about 15 or so plays for the start of every game, and his pregame planning has clearly been fruitful. On Sunday, the Eagles didn't stop there. They dominated the first quarter, getting out to a huge 21-0 lead, and it was never close thereafter.
Agholor finished the game with 4 catches for 93 yards and an electric 72-yard TD, in which he tracked and ran down a deep throw, then juked the crap out of a Cardinals defensive back with a spin move and four separate stiff arms (or slaps, or something), culminating with a Nestea plunge into the end zone. In case you missed it:
Nelson Agholor with the ol razzle dazzle! pic.twitter.com/IjLYb1DakB— chris jones¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (@LONG_DRIVE) October 8, 2017
Agholor was like...
During the offseason, I wrote that Nelson Agholor suddenly being good was wholly unrealistic. Oops.
After throwing inaccurately on deep balls for the first three games of the season, Carson Wentz has improved there considerably over the last two games. Against the Cardinals, he connected on two deep-ball touchdowns to Torrey Smith (59 yards) and Agholor (72 yards). On the day, Wentz had a YPA of 10.1. He was 21 of 30 for 303 yards, 4 TDs, and 1 pick for a passer rating of 128.3.
I'm curious if some self-proclaimed quarterback experts will still view Wentz like this...
Heading into the Cardinals game, Wentz was already one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL on third down this season.
NFL's top QBs in 3rd & 4th down conversion percentage this season:— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) October 3, 2017
1. Wentz (54.0 pct)
2. Rodgers (49.1)
3. Brady (47.9)
4. Newton (47.5)
He only solidified that on Sunday, when he went a ridiculous 11 of 12 for 225 yards and 3 TDs on third down.
That included the following conversions:
Wentz also drew two neutral zone infractions on third down, both resulting in first downs, and drew a pass interference call along with Kenjon Barner on a third down.
Last week, clinging to a two-point lead, the Eagles conducted a 6:44 game-ending drive to choke out the Chargers. With a much more sizable lead against Arizona and 11:20 left on the clock, the Eagles put together a 13-play, 9:14 drive to choke out the Cardinals.
As noted above, the Eagles are converting a ton of third downs, and they've been successful running the football over the last three weeks to close out games. As a result, they are leading the NFL in time of possession. Heading into the week, the Eagles offense has had the ball, on average, for 35 minutes and 29 seconds per game.
On Sunday, they possessed the football for 35:47. The Eagles have held onto the ball for more than 12 more minutes per game than their opponents.
Heading into this matchup, the Eagles were second in the NFL in run defense, allowing just 70.8 rushing yards per game. The Cardinals' rushing attack was obliterated by the Eagles' defense, as they were only able to muster 31 rushing yards on the day, 14 of which came on an end around to a wide receiver.
The Eagles are now allowing just 62.8 rushing yards per game.
Pederson explained multiple times this past week that he thinks the Stefen Wisniewski - Chance Warmack platoon is effective.
On the first three drives of the game, Wentz was protected well, and the Eagles put three touchdowns on the board. On all three of those drives, Wisniewski was the starter. So if things are going well, maybe just leave him in, right?
Instead, the Eagles put in Warmack, who proceeded to give up pressure, and they gained just 23 yards on their next two drives.
"It's really worked out well, actually," said Pederson, this past Wednesday. "Both guys, we don't miss a beat when either one of them is in there. Like I said on Monday, Chance's strengths are Wis's weaknesses and Wis's strengths are Chance's weaknesses, so they really feed off of each other and they don't miss a beat. So we'll continue the same plan."
The Wis-Warmack platoon is not working well, Doug, and it's pointless.
...you know, if we're going to nitpick, which is what we do.
Johnson left the game in the second half with a "head injury" and did not return. After the game, Pederson would not confirm that Johnson has a concussion, but there isn't much else it could be. If in fact it is a concussion, it's going to be difficult for him to get through the concussion protocol by the Eagles' next game, which is on a short week on Thursday in Charlotte.
This is where I remind everyone that since the start of the 2016 season, the Eagles are 9-2 when Johnson plays, and 2-11 when he does not.
To be determined what happens in the late afternoon games, but as of 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, the Eagles led the NFC in point differential, at +38. The only two teams ahead of them in the NFL are the Jaguars (!) at +56, and the Chiefs at +45.
*To note, I accidentally wrote 11 awards, so we'll just make this one 9a. Cool? Cool.
The Giants are now 0-5 after losing at home to the previously winless Los Angeles Chargers. I am now skeptical of their chances of making the playoffs.
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