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October 02, 2017

What they're saying about Eagles: Pederson calls best game of season, but ...

With their 26-24 home win over the Chargers on Sunday, the Eagles improved to 3-1 on the season and now sit atop the NFC East with a quarter of the season in the books. 

Like in their win over the Giants a week earlier, the Birds found themselves hanging on for dear life near the end of the game. The difference this time around? They were able to end it on their terms – in victory formation – and not on the longest field goal in franchise history.

Sure, they still needed rookie Jake Elliott to hit four from 40-plus yards out, but a win is a win, right?

Here's a look at what they're saying about the Eagles the day after Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz improved to 10-10 in the NFL:

Pederson’s best game

Jeff McLane | The Philadelphia Inquirer

Nitpick if you like, but Doug called a hell of a game on Sunday. With a defense depleted by injury, Pederson leaned on the run, dominated time of possession and kept his offense on the field as long as possible, allowing his defenders to get the rest they needed to keep the Chargers in check and ultimately come away with a win.

The Eagles coach was harshly criticized for his decision to gamble on fourth and 8 last week. I wasn’t a fan of Pederson’s decision, but I think the second-guessing was overdone, especially considering that the Eagles won and he had called an otherwise solid game. But he outdid himself Sunday in terms of his offensive play-calling. There were balance (36 runs to 38 passes), variety through the air (vertical plays, screens, play actions, etc.), a mixture on the ground (LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement each had at least 10 carries) and a deftly called final series that stuck a fork in the Chargers.  []

After a falling out of favor with the fans, it seems like we've found our best friend Doug.

Half-full? Or half-empty?

Eliot Shorr-Parks |

Eliot offered up some reasons to worry and reasons to be encouraged. We'll give you one of each, and we'll start with the bad news first...

What was concerning about Jeffery's performance is that he didn't win any of the 50/50 balls that quarterback Carson Wentz threw his way, and for another week, did not look like the No. 1, dominating receiver the Eagles thought they were getting when they signed him to a deal worth $9.5 million.  

Through four games, Jeffery has totaled only 215 yards and two touchdowns, with half of the passes thrown his way falling for incompletions. 

The good news for the Eagles is that they have been able to win without much help from Jeffery.  []

But then there's the good news...

It isn't just Blount that has been stepping up, however, as young running back Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement also added 64 yards on the ground, and 45 yards receiving. 

Between the three, the Eagles look like they have found their running game. It has still yet to be seen if the Eagles will be able to run the ball against strong run defenses, but for another week, the team showed they can win the game with their ground game -- a statement that would have been laughable two weeks ago.  []

Run, Eagles, Run.

Turron Davenport | The Eagles Wire

The Eagles are now a running team. Two weeks ago, they were anything but.

Blount and the Eagles offensive line had no problem putting the game away as they kept wearing down the Chargers defense. When the running game gets rolling, offensive linemen fire off the ball.

Pederson said he saw a different look in the eyes of the offensive line.

“It’s tremendous. It’s not only the runners, it’s the offensive line,” Pederson said. “When I can see them and their look in their eyes when they look to the sidelines and say, ‘Let’s go. Let’s get that thing rolling.’ It makes my job as a play caller a little bit easier. I want to just feed them again.”  []

Blount and honest 

Zach Berman | The Philadelphia Inquirer

Zach didn't waste any time admitting he was wrong doubting how Blount would pan out. Good for him, although it's still early and he could wind up having been right the first time. Let's hope not.

I’m ready to say I was wrong about Blount. I was skeptical of the signing, believing it to be a reaction to the team striking out at the top running backs in the draft. I looked at how he was available on the open market in mid-May, how he required little financial commitment, and how he was an age when running backs usually decline. The preseason didn’t offer much support that Blount was going to be a major contributor, and zero carries in Week 2 seemed to suggest that he wasn’t going to have a big role. The past two weeks have been evidence that Blount’s punishing style is a welcome addition to the offense. When he reaches the second level, good luck finding one defender who can take him down — especially in the fourth quarter. And the way he runs seems to energize his teammates. This isn’t just observation; players have said so.

All this said, be careful not to overreact.  []

And then there's this from the final drive. And although I now realize he was yelling "1-20" instead, I'm not going to let that ruin a funny tweet.

It wasn't all sunny for Philly... 

Nick Fierro | The Allentown Morning Call

Speaking of overreacting, it's worth noting that the Eagles were playing an 0-3 (now 0-4) Chargers team on Sunday. And despite the Birds' home-field advantage out in L.A. (more on that in a minute) they still had a tough time putting the Chargers away for good, in large part because of the big plays allowed by Jim Schwartz's defense... 

The 75-yard touchdown pass from Chargers QB Philip Rivers to Tyrell Williams had more to do with blown coverage by the Eagles that Williams’ speed.

Rookie cornerback Rasul Douglas was playing outside leverage, which means they needed to provide some inside deep help, which never came because safety Rodney McLeod bit on a pump fake and was flatfooted by the time Williams cut up the middle of the field.  []

Lack of Cox hurts Eagles' D

Paul Domowitch | The Philadelphia Daily News

The secondary wasn't helped by the fact that the Eagles were playing without Fletcher Cox for the first time in his career. Despite some early pressure – like the strip-sack by Chris Long on the Chargers' first possession – the Eagles struggled to get to Philip Rivers as the game wore on. And it showed.

As Domo goes on to say, it's a good thing the game ended when it did. A few more Chargers drives and the score could've swung in the opposite direction. 

The Eagles gave up way too many big plays. ... Schwartz tried everything to get pressure on Rivers. Blitzed a little. Slid defensive end Brandon Graham inside. Graham lined up inside Long on Rivers’ 50-yard completion to Allen.

“Big Fletch ain’t here,” Graham said. “So we wanted to go with speed against their guards. They’re bigger and don’t move their feet as good [as tackles]. So we thought the matchup was a little better.” …

“We definitely gave up too many big plays,” defensive tackle Beau Allen said. “We know that. That’s something we’re going to work on. But there’s only one stat that matters in the NFL. And that’s getting the ‘W.’”  []

Fly, Eagles, fly. On a plane to LAX...

Turron Davenport | The Eagles Wire

Eagles fans take a lot of crap for being loud and obnoxious. That's wrong. They're the best fans in the NFL.

The Philadelphia fans were treated to a 26-24 win. Quarterback Carson Wentz was thoroughly pleased with the way Philadelphia fans filled up the StubHub Center.

“I am not surprised by our fans. Honestly, it was unbelievable. They travel so well for every game,” Wentz said after the game. “It is so enjoyable and they make it so fun. It is starting to be the norm almost. Hats off to them. They bring it every game no matter where we are. We are really thankful for those guys.”  []

RELATED: Philip Rivers: Sunday's loss to Eagles 'not a home game' 

Sixteen road games?

Josh Peter | USA Today

As for Chargers fans, I actually feel for them. Sure, Eagles fans used to take over the stadium in San Diego, but never to the extent we saw on Sunday. They didn't ask for this. 

After a 26-24 win over the Chargers, Peters noted that the Eagles never used a silent snap count, often needed by road teams playing in boisterous stadiums but unnecessary Sunday at the StubHub Center.

“That’s crazy,” said Peters, a 14-year NFL veteran. “I mean, it’s almost like the Chargers got 16 away games. It’s going to be tough sledding for those guys.”

The Chargers (0-4) have lost three of their games by a total of seven points and surrendered the proverbial home-crowd advantage since leaving San Diego after the 2016 season.  []

Not that the Eagles (or their fans) are complaining about having an extra home game...

Oh, and they get to play in L.A. again later this season when they return to face the Rams at the Coliseum. So, 10 home games?

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