More Sports:

September 15, 2023

Handing out 10 awards from the Eagles-Vikings game

After the Eagles' Thursday Night Football win over the Vikings, Jimmy Kempski hands out his 10 awards.

Eagles NFL
091523LaneJohnson Kate Frese/For PhillyVoice

The Eagles beat the Vikings on the ground.

The Philadelphia Eagles improved to 2-0 against the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday Night Football, though it wasn't always pretty. As always, win lose, or tie, we hand out 10 awards.

1) The 'Bad M*****F*****' Award 💁‍♂️: D'Andre Swift

Swift carried 28 times 178 yards (6.3 YPC) and a TD in a breakout performance that should catapult him into the clear lead back role in the Eagles' offense. Here's his TD: 

Swift hit creases through the line with authority when they were there, and he bounced runs to the outside when appropriate. He made guys miss and he physically finished runs, typically falling forward. Also, unlike many Vikings players Thursday night, he held onto the football. Postgame, DeVonta Smith was asked about Swift's performance. NSFW: 

It's crazy that in Week 1 Kenny Gainwell got 18 touches and Swift only got two, when it was crystal clear throughout training camp that Swift was the most talented back on the roster.

2) The 'Ground and Pound' Award 💪: The Eagles' offensive line

In addition to Swift's big night, Boston Scott, Jalen Hurts, and Rashaad Penny chipped in a combined 20 carries for 84 yards. On the whole, the Eagles gained 259 yards on the ground. 

“It feels good running it down a team’s throat," Jordan Mailata said postgame.

The Eagles have done that a lot over the last couple of years. From 2021-2022, the Eagles gained 5224 rushing yards, or an average of 153.6 rushing yards per game, most in the NFL. Through two games in 2023, they're averaging 178.0. The signature "run drive" occurred in the second quarter, and it went like this:

  1. Run
  2. Run
  3. Pass to Swift
  4. Run
  5. Run
  6. Run
  7. Run
  8. Run
  9. Run
  10. Run
  11. Incomplete pass
  12. Pass to A.J. Brown
  13. Run 
  14. Run
  15. Run
  16. Run TD (didn’t count)
  17. Run TD
That was officially a 16-play drive that ate up just under 8 minutes of clock.

The plan wasn't necessarily to be run-heavy against the Vikings. That's just kind of what happened.

"We go out there with a gameplan and we evaluate," said Landon Dickerson. "It's a fluid thing. It's going to change throughout the game. Whatever is going to work to be successful, that's what we're going to do. For us, we happened to see an opportunity to run the ball and be successful and that's what we did."

3) The 'Chunk Play' Award 🏃‍♂️💨: DeVonta Smith

Smith had two huge plays against the Vikings. The first was a 54-yard catch on the opening drive of the game.

The other was his 63-yard touchdown reception.

Smith is thought of as a smooth route runner who can contort his body and make acrobatic catches, whether he's wide open or being contested. The part of his game that is perhaps forgotten at times is that he can run.

4) The 'Brick Wall' Award 🧱: The Eagles' run defense

The Vikings, meanwhile, got nothing going on the ground against the Eagles' defense. They only tried to run it 9 times, and they gained just 28 yards, with a long run of 7 yards. With a banged-up offensive line, the Vikings struggled blocking the Eagles' front.

It's worth noting that in Week 1 the Patriots also struggled running the ball against the Eagles:

 OpponentRushes Yards YPC TD 
Patriots 22 76 3.5 
Vikings 28 3.1 
TOTAL 31 104 3.4 

Through two games, the Eagles have outgained the Patriots and Vikings on the ground 356-104.

5) The 'Unblockable' Award 🔓: Josh Sweat

With the Vikings down a couple of starting offensive linemen in LT Christian Darrisaw and C Garrett Bradbury, there was ample opportunity for the Eagles to take advantage with their pass rush. The star of the night on that front was Sweat, who had a sack, 5 QB hits, and a forced fumble.

He also did this to poor Oli Udoh, who left on a cart after this play.

"I didn't know what happened," Sweat said of his rush that ended Udoh's night. "I knew the move was good, but I didn't know he got hurt off of it. I don't wish anybody to get hurt, but I was hyped. I was like, 'Yo, did y'all see that? YO DID Y'ALL SEE THAT?!?''" Lol.

Sweat's 2023 season is off to a fast start.

6) The 'Buuuuuut, There Was Also Some Serious Badness' Award 🦨: The Eagles' pass defense

The guys upfront got plenty of pressure throughout the night, but Kirk Cousins still completed 31 of 44 passes for 364 yards, 4 TDs, and 0 INTs, for a passer rating of 125.6. Justin Jefferson had 11 catches for 159 yards, Jordan Addison had 3 catches for 72 yards and a 62-yard TD, and T.J. Hockenson had 7 catches for 62 yards and 2 TDs.

The Eagles' back seven has not been good the first two games. In fairness, in this matchup the Eagles were missing CB James Bradberry, S Reed Blankenship, and LB Nakobe Dean, and they also lost Avonte Maddox with a shoulder injury. That's tough to overcome against a team with a trio of pass catchers as good as Jefferson, Addison, and Hockenson. But it remains a glaring concern going forward.

7) The 'Not the Same, Yet' Award 🥱: The Eagles' passing offense

The Eagles passing game has not looked crisp the first two games of the season, and part of the reason why is that they have faced exotic defensive schemes designed to confuse Jalen Hurts and take away big plays down the field.

"Offensively, I'm happy that we did better this week," said Jason Kelce. "We adjusted better in-game, and I think that we're going to continue to grow. Teams are going to keep doing this. They're going to keep throwing out chaotic things and trying to eliminate the big play. We were one of the most explosive offenses in the league last year. We'll have to find ways. This is going to be the name of the game this season. We're not going to see vanilla Cover-1. It's just not going to happen. It's going to be chaos."

8) The 'You Get a Forced Fumble and You Get a Forced Fumble and You Get a Forced Fumble and You Get a Forced Fumble' Award 🎁🎁🎁🎁: The Eagles' opportunistic defense

The Eagles had four forced fumbles on the night, by Justin Evans, Avonte Maddox, Sweat (as shown above), and Terrell Edmunds. They recovered three of them, and the fourth went through the end zone for a touchback (and a turnover). The Eagles also recovered a fumble of their own, when Britain Covey coughed up the football on a punt return, but Kelee Ringo was able to reel it in. It's not common for there to be five fumbles in one game and one of the teams doesn't recover any of them.

The most consequential play of the night was Jefferson's fumble at the goal line. 

That cost the Vikings 7 points.

9) The 'Clutch' Award 🧊: Jake Elliott

On the ensuing possession after the Jefferson fumble, the Eagles had 34 seconds to try to make something happen before the end of the first half. It took them five plays to get from their own 20-yard line to the Vikings' 43-yard line, where they set up for a 61-yard Jake Elliott field goal attempt. Aaaand...

Elliott explained that there was a stiff wind in his face for that kick.

"The range was definitely not that far going that way," he said. "I hit a little bit of a stinger, if you will... I hit it up a little higher on the ball. It's sometimes tough to keep those ones straight but luckily it pierced right thorough (the wind) and got there."

Elliott said the range in that direction was 50 yards. It the other direction it 58 yards. The only reason the Eagles even attempted it was because it was going to be the last play of the half, and it was a better bet than a Hail Mary. When asked what his level of confidence was in making the 61-yarder Thursday night in comparison to the 61-yarder he hit in 2017 to beat the Giants, he said, "Way less confident. It's a tougher kick, given the conditions, and the hard wind going in the opposite direction. I hit it low, got lucky, it went through."

Asked then if this was the hardest kick he'd ever made in a game, Elliott said, "Maybe, I don't know... I've made a bunch of kicks I'm proud of, and that one is right up there."

10) The 'Get Some Rest' Award 🛌: The mini bye

The Eagles will not play another game until 9/25, when they'll face the Buccaneers in Tampa. Perhaps that will give the coaching staff some time to digest what opposing defenses are trying to do to the offense and come up with a plan to fix it. Also, it'll give the Eagles' injured players — and there are plenty of them at the moment — a chance to rest and heal.

Follow Jimmy & PhillyVoice on Twitter: @JimmyKempski | thePhillyVoice

Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports

Add Jimmy's RSS feed to your feed reader