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October 11, 2015

Instant Observations: Eagles 39, Saints 17

Heading into the halftime break (observations here), two Sam Bradford red zone interceptions loomed large. The Eagles consistently moved the ball up and down the field against the New Orleans Saints defense in the game’s first 30 minutes, but they only had 10 points and a three-point lead to show for it.

For the first time all year, the Eagles managed to play a fairly complete game. Not perfect, but pretty good. They amassed 519 total yards of offense and beat the Saints, 39-17. Here’s what I saw:

The good

•    Fletcher Cox is a monster, and he played like a monster again today with six tackles and three sacks. The play where he forced a Drew Brees fumble and then quickly made the recovery was as good as it gets from a defensive lineman.

•    Good job by the Eagles to capitalize right off the turnover. Bradford hit a wide-open Brent Celek from 15 yards out on a corner route.

•    Speaking of Celek, I’m not sure his once-a-year hurdle over the defender was “good,” but it definitely didn’t backfire.

•    The offensive line has pass blocked pretty well at times this year, but this was their most complete performance. The big uglies got enough push to allow the Eagles to run for 186 yards on 34 carries. The Eagles also had 35 minutes of possession, winning that battle for what seems like the first time in forever.

•    Walter Thurmond almost took a late Brees pass all the way back to the house. Instead, he got tackled inside the five. Not all of Chip Kelly’s offseason moves look great, but “Walter Thurmond, safety” has gone swimmingly.

The bad

•    The Eagles defense is unquestionably a good unit: They came into the day ranked fifth in the NFL according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA. Anecdotally though, you would like Bill Davis’ group to shore things up on 3rd-and-long situations and limit big plays in general. In the third quarter, Brandin Cooks burned Malcolm Jenkins on a 46-yard reception. In the fourth, Nolan Carroll allowed a 59-yard pass play from Brees to Willie Snead.

•    Not an Eagles note, but the Saints needed to take Marques Colston out of the game earlier than they did. That guy was moving at half speed.

•    The Eagles went 3-7 in the red zone, which made what was essentially a blowout look a lot closer. Gotta clean that up.

The ugly

•    Caleb Sturgis missed another extra point in the second half, but he followed it up with a 29-yard field goal. This drew a pretty loud Bronx cheer. He later connected on another chip shot field goal and then added one over 40 yards! I wonder if Sturgis won’t be here next week, but I also said that last Sunday.

•    Let’s check in on Nick Foles in Green Bay:

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann