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September 10, 2023

Handing out 10 awards from the Eagles-Patriots game

From Jalen Carter's warranted hype to a stagnant offense and some strange playcalling, 10 awards (good and bad) from the Eagles' Week 1 win.

Eagles NFL
091023JalenCarter Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Carter gives Mac Jones a big hug.

The Philadelphia Eagles won a football game on Sunday. If that's the extent of the information you had about that game, then you would be blissfully unaware that it wasn't exactly an impressive day for the Birds. As always, win, lose, or tie, we hand out 10 awards.

1) The 'Warranted Hype' Award 🎉: Jalen Carter

Carter showed glimpses of greatness throughout training camp and his very limited action in the preseason games. As such, hype began to build for what he might be as a player in his rookie season.

In his first NFL game, Carter was a mainstay in the backfield, often dusting Patriots offensive linemen who tried to block him. Like this:

And this: 

And this: 

But the ball kept coming out quickly, and Carter's immediate wins on his pass rushes did not result in sacks.

With the game on the line late in the fourth quarter, Carter finally got his first sack. 

Mac Jones basically ran into him, so it wasn't as impressive of a pass rush as the others above, but whatever. He was probably better than the hype.

2) The 'Uh Oh He Might Be Good Now Too' Award 📈: Jordan Davis

Davis had a forced fumble, a half sack, and he clogged up running lanes all afternoon against a Pats offense that wanted to be run-heavy. Here's the forced fumble: 

On the day, Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott combined for 19 carries and 54 yards, partly because of Davis' play in the middle of the Eagles' defense.

3) The 'Stagnant' Award 🐢: The Eagles' offense

The Eagles only scored one touchdown on the day, and it came on a 26-yard drive following Davis' aforementioned forced fumble. They punted four times in the second quarter on four straight three-and-outs.

The offensive line had an uncharacteristically shaky day, the receivers weren't consistently getting open down the field, and Jalen Hurts had a fumble late in the fourth quarter that nearly cost the Eagles the game.

They were very fortunate that the Patriots did not make enough plays of their own to win this game.

4) The 'Invisible' Award 👻: Dallas Goedert and D'Andre Swift

Goedert only had one target on the day, and it didn't come until the fourth quarter. It appeared that he was a focus of the Patriots' defensive game plan, though he did get open on a number of occasions and the ball just didn't come his way.

Swift got one carry for 3 yards. He also had 1 catch on 2 targets for 0 yards, and a drop. Swift is, in my opinion, clearly more talented than Kenny Gainwell, who got 14 carries and 4 targets. I don't get it. 🤷‍♂️

5) The 'Weird Decisions' Award 🤯: Nick Sirianni

With 25 seconds left in the first half with the ball at their own 25 yard line, Sirianni chose to call a glorified kneeldown, and send his team to the locker room instead of trying to score more points. If you'll recall in the 2017 NFC Championship Game against the Vikings, the Eagles had the ball at the 20-yard line with 29 seconds left in the half. They ran 3 plays and gained 60 yards, leading to a 38-yard FG going into the half.

With two minutes left in the game, Sirianni went ultra aggressive, going for it on 4th and 2. Get the first down, win the game. Don't get it, and you're giving the Patriots outstanding field position. A punt would have required a weak Patriots offense to drive the entire field for the win. The Eagles didn't get the first down, and it nearly cost them the game. 

The aggressive call was at least defensible, if ill-advised. Forfeiting a possession at the end of the first half was not.

6) The 'Big Play' Award 🧨: Darius Slay

Slay's INT was a gift, but he is also the player on the defense best equipped to turn it into a pick-six.

It looked at this point in the game like it might be a runaway.

7) The 'Clutch Kicks' Award 🧊: Jake Elliott

Elliott missed a PAT and one of his field goals doinked off the upright and went through. BUT... he still hit four field goals, from distances of 32, 56, 48, and 51 yards.

The 56 yarder was a particularly important kick, as it came after a 3-yard run on 3rd and 20. Elliott bailed out the coaching staff after a questionable play call. 

8) The 'Could Be a Big Problem' Award 😨: The linebackers

Patriots tight ends Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki combined for 8 catches for 92 yards and a TD on 9 targets. They got open at will in the middle of the field and extended drives all afternoon.

There's also this:

Yikes. A potential starting LB duo of Zach Cunningham and Christian Elliss does not inspire much confidence.

9) The 'Stiff Competition' Award 😬: The Cowboys and 49ers

The 49ers dominated the Steelers during the early afternoon slate of games, winning 30-7. As of this writing, the Cowboys are wrecking the Giants, 26-0 at the half on Sunday Night Football.

The 49ers and Cowboys are the Eagles' two biggest threats in the NFC. The Eagles are fortunate that they played neither of them today.

10) The 'Quick Turnaround' Award ⌛: The Eagles' Week 2 game

The Eagles will play another game on Thursday night, which is probably the best thing for them. They have the opportunity to put this game in the rearview mirror, even though, you know, they won.

That'll be against the Minnesota Vikings, who lost at home Week 1 to a bad Buccaneers team.

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