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December 04, 2018

Handing out 10 awards from the Eagles-Redskins game

Eagles NFL
120418MarkSanchez Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

Classic Sanchez, always trying to cop a feel.

In what was essentially a survival game, the Philadelphia Eagles took care of business against the absolutely injury-devastated, Mark Sanchez-led Washington Redskins, 28-13.

As always, win or lose, we hand out 10 awards.

1) The 'Ertz So Good' Award: Zach Ertz

Zach Ertz is indeed good. #Analysis. And now he owns the Eagles' single-season record for receptions, besting Brian Westbrook, who previously held the record with 90. Ertz finished with 9 catches for 83 yards on 10 targets. He now has 93 catches, which puts him on pace for 124 on the season. 

The NFL single-season reception record for tight ends, as was pointed out repeatedly on ESPN's awful telecast (or so I heard), is 110, by Jason Witten. If Ertz stays healthy, he's going to blow right past Witten.

2) The 'Not the Same' Award: Carson Wentz

There's ample reason to believe Wentz will be back to his normal self next season, when he has fully recovered from — and fully trusts — his surgically repaired knee. But in 2018, if we're being honest, Wentz has looked shaky. Deep inside the red zone, Wentz was picked off by Josh Norman on a play in which it's hard to decide if the decision or throw was worse.

Later, Wentz missed a wide open Nelson Agholor, who might still be running with a better throw.

Wentz's stats were fine. He was 27 of 39 for 306 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT, for a QB rating of 98.9, but he's obviously not close to the MVP candidate he was a year ago.

3) The 'Better Late Than Never' Award: The Eagles' defense

The Eagles' first half defense the last two weeks has been brutally bad. Against the Giants a week ago, they gave up 346 yards in the first half to the Giants' challenged offense. Against the Redskins, they gave up 199 yards, including a 90-yard TD run to Adrian Peterson.

In the second half, however, it's been a different story. The Eagles have tightened up, giving up 56 yards to the Giants and 36 yards to the Redskins.

I mean, the Eagles stymied Eli Manning and Mark Sanchez, so we'll refrain from showering the defense with gold stars, but their in-game improvements have been encouraging.

4) The 'He Lives!' Award, Part I: Darren Sproles

The little guy contributed!

Also, you might want to take a second look at that TD run and just watch Jason Kelce.

5) The 'He Lives!' Award, Part II: Golden Tate

Tate did something!

Actually, he did more than just that. On the night, Tate had seven catches for 85 yards and a TD in what was by far his best performance since the Eagles traded for him. Also, coming from someone who can break out a mean worm of their own, Tate does a pretty damn good worm.

6) The 'You Jellin'?' Award: The Eagles' offensive line

The last two weeks, the Eagles' offensive line has looked better than they have all season long. While the Eagles' linemen have plenty of experience playing together, sometimes it can take some time for them to begin to jell in each individual season. 

Even last year, when the Eagles' offensive line was objectively the best in the NFL, they raised their game to the next level in the playoffs. During the summer, we showed a film breakdown of the Eagles' OL continuity at work in the Super Bowl. 

"I remember last year, early in camp, we weren’t hitting things correctly," said OL coach Jeff Stoutland back in June. "We were just off a little bit. I kept telling everybody, ‘It takes (time) to get these things perfect.’ As the season went on, I could see all the little things coming together. That last game, it was like synchronized swimming. It was in such sync."

Against the Redskins, the Eagles didn't allow a sack, and they did a great job opening up holes for the Eagles' backs in the run game. If the offensive line can continue to improve, that's perhaps their best chance to make a run and get into the playoffs.

7) The 'Weekly Sacrifice to the Football Gods' Award: Jason Peters

Every week, there's a new significant injury that the Eagles have to deal with. This week, it's Peters, who got "rolled up on," according to Doug Pederson. To be determined how severe Peters' injury is, but it would be an inopportune time to lose him, as Peters has played well of late, and Dallas has finally found a pass rush.

8) The 'Hello, Old Friend' Award: Mark Sanchez

After Colt McCoy was knocked out of the game with a broken fibula, the Sanchise took over, and looked about as you would expect. Obviously, the Eagles have plenty of work to do before they get to a Week 17 rematch against the Redskins. But if down the road that game actually means something, it feels very much like a gimme.

9) The 'Not So Bad After All' After: The Eagles' playoff odds this weekend

The Eagles are still more likely not to make the playoffs, but their odds of getting in improved this week. You might say, "No s***, Sherlock," given that the Eagles won, but after Dallas won on Thursday night, it sure felt like the Birds' playoff odds took a big hit.

Heading into Week 13 (before Thursday night), FiveThirtyEight.com gave the Eagles a 21 percent chance of winning the division, and a 23 percent chance of getting in the playoffs, at all.

With Week 13 in the books, they still have a 21 percent chance of winning the division, but with the Carolina Panthers and Minnesota Vikings both losing, the Eagles' overall playoff odds jumped up to 28 percent.

If the Eagles can win in Dallas next Sunday, FiveThirtyEight.com says that the Eagles will have a 48 percent chance of winning the division, and a 57 percent chance of making the playoffs. If they lose, they'll have a less than 1 percent chance of winning the division, and an 8 percent chance of getting in at all.

10) The 'Get Your Popcorn Ready' Award: You

Next Sunday in Dallas is kind of a big game. Even though this season has been a major disappointment so far, it's December and the Eagles will be playing in a huge game. Maybe it's not the worst thing when 6-6 feels like the team is failing?


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