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October 01, 2023

Handing out 10 awards from the Eagles-Commanders game

After the Eagles' overtime win against the Commanders to improve to 4-0, Jimmy Kempski hands out his 10 awards from the game.

Eagles NFL
100123AJBrown Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Eagles WR A.J. Brown bodied Commanders CB Emmanuel Forbes Week 4.

The Philadelphia Eagles improved to 4-0 on Sunday after beating the Washington Commanders in an overtime barn burner. As always, win, lose, or tie, we hand out 10 awards.

1) The 'Franchise GOAT' Award 🐐: Jake Elliott

When Elliott lined up for his 54-yard field goal in overtime, was there even a doubt that he would bury it?

Elliott simply never misses pressure kicks. He is the best kicker in Eagles history, right?

Asked after the game about Elliott's kick, DeVonta Smith had the following (loosely transcribed) exchange with reporters

DeVonta:  "Chicken Little, nothing he can't do."

Reporter: "Chicken Little?"

DeVonta: "Yeah that's what I call him."

Reporter: "Why?"

DeVonta: "You seen Chicken Little? That's what he looks like."

I can't lie. DeVonta isn't wrong. 

Asked what he thought of this nickname, Elliott said, "Not a fan."

2) The 'Bodied' Award 💪: Emmanuel Forbes, by A.J. Brown

Forbes is a rookie corner for the Commanders who had 14 INTs in his final three seasons in college at Mississippi State, and he returned six (!) of them for touchdowns. The downside is that he is 6'1, 166 pounds, which means that he is outweighed by Brown (226 pounds) by 60 pounds. Forbes is also a risk taker, as he will look to jump routes and make big plays on the football. Of course, if you jump routes and miss, well... 

And another double move...

Brown was lucky that the Eagles got this win or he would have been heavily criticized for taunting Forbes after that last TD shown above. But ultimately, he finished with 9 catches for 175 yards and 2 TDs, so I think the locals will forgive him.

3) The 'Back On Track?' Award 🚆: Jalen Hurts and the passing offense

In their first three games, the Eagles faced some exotic defenses that confused and slowed the Eagles' offense. Against a more familiar opponent, the offense looked a lot more like it did in 2022 when it routinely hit on explosive plays. Hurts finished 25 of 37 for 319 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, and a passer rating of 112.3. He hit Brown on the two big plays above as well the play, well... in the next award.

4) The '50-50 Beast' Award 🦘: DeVonta Smith

DeVonta Smith is pound-for-pound the best 50-50 ball artist in the NFL. He made a phenomenal catch at the end of the first half that resulted in three extremely meaningful points.

The slow motion replay is even more impressive: 

If Smith doesn't make that catch, the Eagles almost certainly go into the half down 10 instead of 7. Huge play.

Some great contested catch receivers win with size. Obviously, Smith doesn't have that, but his body control when high-pointing footballs in traffic is otherworldly. 

5) The 'Overcoming Weirdness' Award 🙃: The Eagles, as a team

A lot of oddball plays went against the Eagles in this game. 

  1. A holding call on "52" (Zach Cunningham) extended a Commanders drive that resulted in a TD, when it otherwise would have been a FG attempt. That penalty was perhaps on someone else on the defense, because "52" sure as hell didn't hold anyone. That was a four-point penalty. 
  2. Terrell Edmunds dropped an INT in the end zone. The Commanders would later score a TD on that drive. That was a 7-point drop.
  3. The Eagles forced a fumble at the goal line, which was recovered by the Commanders in the end zone for a touchdown.
  4. On a 4th and 1, Landon Dickerson was called for offsides, which, well, he was. However, so were like three Commanders players, most notably Daron Payne, who was literally touching the football with his hand, and his head was hovering over the ball. The Eagles converted the "tush push," but were penalized five yards and subsequently punted. That penalty was the equivalent of a turnover. 
  5. Darius Slay was called for an asinine pass interference penalty.
  6. Terrell Edmunds was called for an even more asinine late hit "out of bounds" on Sam Howell, who would have gotten the first down if Edmunds didn't hit him.

That's just a half dozen plays off the top of my head.

Anyway, when it seems like a lot of things are going against a team and they win anyway, that's a pretty good sign.

6) The 'Traction' Award 🚫🍌: Haason Reddick 

In the Super Bowl, Reddick faced off against then Chiefs RT Andrew Wylie, which seemed like a major mismatch in the Eagles' favor heading into that game. And, well, as you all saw, the Eagles had zero sacks, with the atrocious field conditions playing a part.

On Sunday, Wylie did not have the advantage of a slippery field, and Reddick came through with a huge series late in the game. 

On a 2nd and 10, Reddick sacked Sam Howell for a loss of 7. On the next play, Wylie false started, putting the Commanders in a 3rd and 22 situation and on that 3rd and 22, Reddick flushed Howell from the pocket, and he was forced to run out of bounds, leading to a punt.

"It felt amazing," Reddick said of his first sack of the season. "As for the Super Bowl, it's time to let it go. I don't really talk about that and the conditions out there. Happy to be out here today, and be able to help contribute to a win."

This was the first game that Reddick played without a cast after he had surgery on his right thumb near the end of training camp. 

"I was able to go out there today and be myself, be Haason Reddick," Reddick said. "I'm trying to get back to what Haason Reddick is, and what he did last year, and continue to help the team."

After the first three games, the point was made that the Eagles were winning without Jalen Hurts playing at his peak ability. One could probably add Reddick to that sentiment, too.

7) The Patrick Robinson Award For Playing Badly In Training Camp But Balling Out In Actual Games: Nicholas Morrow

Morrow had such an underwhelming camp that the team cut him despite being light on linebacker talent and depth. However, with Nakobe Dean on injured reserve, Morrow assumed the role of the "green dot" helmet guy, AKA the guy who relays the play calls from Sean Desai to the rest of the defense, and he has played well. Morrow had 11 tackles and 3 sacks on Sunday.

8) The 'Thank You' Award 🙏: Ron Rivera

With 1 second left on the clock, the Commanders got to take one last shot into the end zone from the 10 yard line, and "OH NO!" they got it. 

I was certain that Ron Rivera would go for two and the win instead of kicking the extra point, because, I mean, they were playing a superior team with a great kicker on the road, and the Eagles' defense was very clearly gassed. So why didn't they go for two?

They deserved to lose.

9) The 'It Wasn't All Good' Award 😬: Sean Desai, Brian Johnson, and Cam Jurgens

Desai got outcoached by Eric Bieniemy, Johnson had some odd play calls (hello, 3rd and 11 red zone run to Kenny Gainwell), and Jurgens had his right foot in a walking boot after the game.

10) The 'And Then There Were Two' Award 4️⃣➖0️⃣: The Eagles and 49ers

Heading into Week 4, there were only three unbeaten teams — the Eagles, 49ers, and Dolphins. The Dolphins lost to the Bills; the 49ers beat the Cardinals.

A year ago, the Eagles were the last unbeaten team when they started 8-0 before losing at home to... oh hey, the Commanders. The Eagles will play the Rams in L.A. Week 5; the 49ers will host the Cowboys.

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