Eagles dominate Cardinals from start to finish for 3rd straight win

Eagles dominate Cardinals from start to finish for 3rd straight win


That was a beatdown.

Carson Wentz was great, the defense was stifling at times and Dave Fipp's special teams' group showed why it was it's considered one of the best in the NFL.

The Eagles simply crushed the Arizona Cardinals in all three phases Sunday at the Linc. The final score was 34-7 (see Roob's 10 observations)

And it wasn't that close.

With the win, the Eagles improved to 4-1 on the season. The Cardinals dropped to 2-3.

If fans weren't expecting the Eagles to make the playoffs before the start of the season, expectations might have changed now. Of the 339 teams to have four wins through five games, 234 have made the playoffs. That's 69 percent.

But nothing is guaranteed.

This is the first 4-1 start for the Eagles since 2014 — they did not make the playoffs that year.

Still, it would be hard for Eagles fans to not be encouraged by the first five weeks of the season (see report card). Their only loss came to the Chiefs, who many consider being the best team in football.

Sunday's game was the biggest win for the Eagles since their 34-3 win over the Steelers early last season.

Turning point
We'll just say the first drive. After a nice punt return from Kenjon Barner, the Eagles went 54 yards on 10 plays in 5:26.

The Eagles have now scored on their first possessions in four of five games this year, including three touchdowns. They never trailed Sunday.

Key stat
The Eagles came into Sunday as the second-best team in NFL on third down conversions. They kept it going against the Cardinals. They finished the game 9 for 14 (64 percent) after going 5 for 7 in the first half.

Offensive stud
Wentz came to play Sunday. He finished the game 21 for 30 for 300 yards, four touchdowns and one interception — a passer rating of 128.3. It was the best passer rating of Wentz's career.  

He became the first Eagles' quarterback to throw four touchdowns in a game since Nick Foles had his seven-touchdown game in 2013. Wentz was absolutely brilliant on third downs.

With touchdown passes of 72 and 59 yards, Wentz threw the second- and third-longest passes of his young career Sunday. 

Offensive dud
Another lackluster performance from Alshon Jeffery. It just didn't matter much.

Defensive stud
Vinny Curry picked up his first sack of the 2017 season and played well in the run game too. Brandon Graham was also a wrecking ball once again. Tim Jernigan had himself a game too. Credit the entire defensive line. They were difference-makers on Sunday.

And on the back end, Patrick Robinson had another good game. He had three pass breakups and probably should have had a couple interceptions.

Defensive dud
No one really had a bad game. Jalen Mills gave up the touchdown but made plenty of plays too.  

Special teams update
Barner filled the role of punt returner, setting up the Eagles with good field position a few times. The coverage units didn't give up anything. And Jake Elliott made two more field goals. He's made eight straight (see rookie report).

The Eagles' special teams unit is still really good. It made a difference Sunday.

Key plays
• The Eagles took 9:14 off the clock late in the game to ice it. They got the ball with over 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter and got the game all the way to the two-minute warning with the 13-play drive to send the capacity crowd home happy.

• On 3rd-and-19 in the third quarter, Wentz delivered a 72-yard touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor. After catching the ball, Agholor juked safety Budda Baker bad before falling backward into the end zone. Ballgame.

• Wentz completed a 17-yard pass to Agholor on 3rd-and-11 in the third quarter on a drive that eventually led to a field goal. Wentz missed on a third-down throw to Zach Ertz a little later.

• Robinson got his hand on a 51-yard field goal attempt to keep the Cardinals from cutting even more into the Eagles' lead. A big blocked field goal.

• The Eagles had a chance to get another score toward the end of the first half but Wentz threw a bad interception in the end zone to Antoine Bethea, who got both feet down to give the Cardinals the ball back.

• Curry picked up his first sack of the season in the second quarter to force a long third-down situation for the Cardinals. They punted away.

• Carson Palmer hit Jaron Brown on a slant for a 13-yard touchdown pass. On the play, safety Rodney McLeod was blitzing but it looked like Mills might not have known. He let Brown past him; it looked like he thought he had help. The Cardinals converted three third downs on the drive.

• Wentz hit Torrey Smith for a 59-yard touchdown pass for a long touchdown. Coming into the week, Smith had really been struggling with four drops in four games. But Wentz kept going back to him. It was the second-longest pass of Wentz's young career.

• Barner had a huge 76-yard punt return that gave the Eagles great field position. Barner rejoined the team after Darren Sproles was lost for the season. Three plays later, Wentz hit Ertz for 11 yards and a touchdown.

• Wentz hit Trey Burton for a 15-yard touchdown on a fade. The Eagles converted on three third downs on this drive, including two 3rd-and-11s.

Lane Johnson didn't come back out for the second half because of a head injury. Halapoulivaati Vaitai filled in. With the short week, it seems likely Big V will get the start Thursday.

Fletcher Cox (calf), Ronald Darby (ankle) and Wendell Smallwood (knee) all missed Sunday's game.

Up next
The Eagles have a few days to prepare for their Thursday Night Football game against the Panthers in Carolina. These turnarounds are always difficult and it won't be an easy game.

Pederson interviewing 2 for Eagles' OC job

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Pederson interviewing 2 for Eagles' OC job

While many folks are off for Presidents Day, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson is hard at work trying to figure out how to replace Frank Reich. 

Pederson is spending his Monday interviewing running backs coach Duce Staley and wide receivers coach Mike Groh for the Eagles' vacant offensive coordinator position, a league source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia. ESPN's Tim McManus first reported the news Monday. 

It's possible one or both coaches could take over in some sort of offensive coordinator role. 

Reich left his post as offensive coordinator earlier this month when he accepted the head coaching job in Indianapolis. While it might not seem like an OC who doesn't call the plays has a big role, Reich was a good sounding board for Pederson and seemed to be very-well trusted by the head coach. He also helped put the weekly gameplan together. 

It makes sense that the Eagles don't want to go outside the organization to hire an offensive coordinator. Pederson trusts Staley and Groh and the chemistry inside the NovaCare Complex was tremendous during the Eagles' run to Super Bowl LII. 

Either way, Pederson is going to oversee the offense and call plays. Staley or Groh, if one or both are promoted, will handle some extra responsibility, but it'll still all be on Pederson. 

While Staley has been with the Eagles as a coach since 2011, working his way up from a quality control coach to running backs coach in 2013, Groh is a newcomer. He was added to the staff before the 2017 season to take over for Greg Lewis after the Eagles fired him. Groh did an impressive job last season, particularly with helping transform Nelson Agholor from a bust to one of the team's more explosive weapons. 

LeGarrette Blount makes his desire to stay in Philly clear

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LeGarrette Blount makes his desire to stay in Philly clear

LeGarrette Blount is fresh off of his third Super Bowl title and second in two years with two different teams. 

It sounds like he doesn't really want to go to a third team in three years. 

Blount, 31, played on a one-year deal worth around $1.25 million with the Eagles in 2017, but is set to become an unrestricted free agent when the new league year starts on March 14. He made it pretty clear on Sunday that he wouldn't mind coming back to Philly for another run. 

"It's early so we'll see," Blount said on NFL Network. 

"Obviously I like it a lot there. They like me a lot there. It's a mutual respect and a mutual agreement thing about how we feel about each other. Obviously, you guys know how I feel about the team, the guys; I love those guys. 

"I can't say enough about Duce (Staley), just for the simple fact for how well I was coached there and how good he helped me understand things. I feel like Duce is one of the best running back coaches, one of the best coaches I've ever had in my entire life. I obviously want to be a part of that for a while, so we'll see how it goes."

Blount began the year as the Eagles' top running back, but lost some of his role once the team traded for former Pro Bowler Jay Ajayi. But Blount still played a significant role in the Eagles' run to winning Super Bowl LII. 

During the season, he was the team's top rusher with 173 carries for 766 yards and two touchdowns. But then in Super Bowl LII, he had 14 carries for 90 yards and a touchdown, helping the Eagles to a 41-33 win over his former team, the Patriots. 

The Eagles are going to bring back Ajayi and second-year player Corey Clement. After that, things get murky. Blount and Darren Sproles (coming off injury) are both set to become free agents. 

Blount wasn't shy about his love for the Eagles during his interview on Sunday. He cited trust and how they handled the Ajayi trade with him as big reasons why. 

"They talked to me throughout the process of it happening," Blount said. "They were like, 'we're trading for Jay Ajayi, we just want to let you know.' Like I said, that's obviously another big thing for me, the honesty in that building and how open they are and how they don't keep any kind of secrets for you. They just tell you how it is. It's a big respect thing. Duce was the first person to reach out the me and be like, 'hey, we traded for Jay Ajayi. I just want to let you know.' Again, man, that's why it's a place that I love and I hope to stay there." 

Late in the six-and-a-half minute video, the crew brought out Clement while Blount was answering a question about the rookie. Blount laughed during the middle of his answer, but then got back on track and praised Clement. The two became very close during the 2017 season. 

After Blount's answer, Clement got to chat with his teammate and said getting to work with Blount was a "tremendous opportunity" and would clearly like to keep the core group together in the running back room next season. 

Obviously, it's not up to Clement, but Blount will play a big role and we already know what he thinks of the Eagles.