Eagles

10 observations from Eagles-Giants

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10 observations from Eagles-Giants

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Just your typical 10 observations featuring Miles Austin, Najee Goode and Riley Cooper.

Huge 27-7 win for the Eagles Monday night over the Giants (see Instant Replay), and the most encouraging thing about it was how the Eagles overcame a bunch of injuries to dominate their biggest challenger in the division.

Sam Bradford? Yeah, we’ll get to him. He was dreadful. But when your quarterback can throw three interceptions and you win by 20 points over a team that had won three straight games, hey, that’s not bad.

So here we go with our first 10 observations about a first-place football team:

1. What a tremendous beastly effort from the Eagles’ defense Monday night against an offense that’s been lighting up everybody. The Giants drove 80 yards for a touchdown on their first drive, then nothing. I give Bill Davis a ton of credit. He was down three inside linebackers by the middle of the second quarter, including DeMeco Ryans, who has been playing so well. He was undermanned, facing a top-five offense, down by a touchdown before half the fans were in their seats. But the Eagles got it together, got tremendous pressure on Eli Manning, played very well against the run, did a terrific job in coverage considering who they were facing, and forced three more turnovers, including Nolan Carroll’s pick-six. This is a physical, aggressive, ballhawking defense that Eagles fans should get behind (see story).

2. I really felt like Bradford was going to light up the NFL’s worst pass defense Monday night. After the way he played the second half against the Saints, I thought he was ready to finally put together a full 60-minute game. But, man, I did not like what I saw. He just seemed to regress dramatically, throwing wildly, putting the ball up for grabs, looking skittish in the pocket. We’re six weeks in now, and he has yet to put together a complete game. He came into the season with the fourth-best interception ratio in NFL history, but three more Monday night gives him nine this year (see story). Last time an Eagles quarterback had more interceptions through six games was Jaws in 1977. Jaws! And they were just bad interceptions. Not great plays by the Giants, just terrible throws by Bradford. It’s not early in the season anymore. We’re two games from the halfway mark, and Bradford has to be better. A lot better.

3. I thought Jordan Matthews was going to take a huge leap forward this year, but so far the opposite has been the case. He just hasn’t been able to build on the promise he showed the second half of last year. He’s been plagued all year by drops and had a bad fumble Monday night. We see flashes from Matthews, but the Eagles need more than flashes from him. They need consistently productive play and it’s just not there right now.

4. Staying with wide receivers, I get that some people can’t stand Riley Cooper. If you hate the guy because of the Kenny Chesney incident, that’s your right. But people who rip the guy as a football player are simply off base. Since opening day 2013, only eight wide receivers have more touchdowns of at least 30 yards. Eight. He came up big again Monday night, with a 32-yard touchdown and then a 43-yard gain to set up a field goal. Followed that up with a big tackle for a one-yard gain on a punt return. What more do you want from a fifth-round pick?

5. Was encouraged to see the Eagles run the ball with some authority against the NFL’s No. 2-ranked run defense. Was especially encouraging to see DeMarco Murray show signs of life. He ran 22 times for 109 yards, and on the big third-quarter TD drive that gave the Eagles a 24-7 lead and really turned the game, he ran five times for 42 yards, moving the chains with three first-down runs. Ryan Mathews, questionable for Monday with a groin injury, also got into the act, with 40 yards on nine carries. Great stuff against the NFL’s No. 2-ranked rush defense.

6. Goode deserves a lot of credit for coming in Monday night after Ryans’ injury and giving the Eagles a good solid half of play at inside linebacker. This is a kid who was on the street until about three weeks ago, out of football the first few weeks of the season. But he’s been here before, he was with the team up through final cuts, he knows the defense and he kept himself in good enough shape that he was able to give the Eagles solid play when Ryans got hurt. I’m not sure how many teams have a fifth inside linebacker as talented as Goode.

7. A quick word about Darren Sproles. My God, what a tough dude. He got absolutely obliterated on that fourth-quarter punt return. Got taken inside for a concussion test, and there he was a minute later, fielding a punt. Little dude but what a tough dude.

8. Too many penalties, but another solid all-around game for the Eagles’ offensive line. The last two weeks, the Eagles have 944 yards of offense. They’ve run the ball — 186 rushing yards last week, 155 against a very good run defense Monday. And they’ve thrown it — over 600 net passing yards the last two weeks. And they’ve protected Bradford, who has been sacked only once the last two weeks. This group has taken a lot of heat and most of it is deserved. But sure seems like they’ve turned the corner.

9. Props to Austin, who was forced into extensive action with injuries to Cooper and Josh Huff on top of Nelson Agholor already being out. Austin had three catches for 60 yards, which is pretty good production from a guy who was the Eagles’ fifth receiver before all these injuries.

10. Remember nine days ago when all these people in the national media came out of the woodwork to announce that Chip Kelly had lost the locker room and players weren’t buying into his system and the whole thing was in jeopardy of falling to pieces? Well guess what? The Eagles have won two straight games after that 1-3 start, winning both in commanding fashion without really playing great in either one. They’re back to .500 and atop the NFC East. Guess what? Kelly is a terrific football coach. And don’t listen to anybody who says he’s lost the locker room. Unless the person who says it has actually, you know, been inside the Eagles’ locker room in the past year.

'The Magic of Carson Wentz' gives Eagles a huge win over Washington

'The Magic of Carson Wentz' gives Eagles a huge win over Washington

Carson Wentz had one of the best passing games of his career on Monday night. 

He completed 68 percent of his passes for 268 yards, four touchdowns and had a passer rating of 126.3 in the Eagles' 34-24 win over Washington at the Linc (see breakdown)

Nobody wanted to talk about that though. 

The biggest question his teammates had in the locker room after the game was this: How the heck did he escape on that 17-yard scramble? 

On 3rd-and-8 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Wentz was seemingly sacked well behind the line of scrimmage. At least everyone thought. But that's when the 6-5, 237-pound quarterback somehow emerged from the pile and scrambled ahead for 17 yards. 

"Amazing," Nelson Agholor said. "We didn't know how he did that. Three, four plays later we are still on the sideline figuring out how he did that."

It seemed like everyone in the stadium thought Wentz was cooked on that play. The crowd didn't even start cheering until much later. Everyone in the stadium seemed pretty confused. 

The Eagles' defensive players even started getting ready to head back into the game. Malcolm Jenkins grabbed his helmet, but then looked at the video screen to see that Wentz was still going. 

"That's the magic of Carson Wentz," Jenkins said. 

Former long snapper and magician Jon Dorenbos was in the building on Monday night — and got a big ovation as he recovers from a serious health issue — but it was Wentz who pulled a rabbit out of his hat. 

"I couldn't believe he got out of that little jam," Brandon Graham said. "He just popped out of nowhere. There's something special going on right now and I'm just happy to be a part of it."

After that Wentz scramble, the Eagles went down the rest of the way and he capped the drive with a touchdown pass to Agholor. That score put them up 31-17 and put the game out of reach for Washington. The Eagles improved to 6-1 and have the best record in the NFL. 

His teammates called it magic, ridiculous and awesome. So how did Wentz escape on that play? 

He didn't know either. 

"I'm not really sure," he said. 

When Wentz wasn't scrambling all over the field — he finished the game with a career-high 64 rushing yards — he was making plays with his arm. 

Before the Arizona game, Wentz had never thrown three touchdowns in a game. He has now done that three games in a row. Before the Arizona game, Wentz had just three games with a passer rating over 100. He now has six. 

Through seven games this season, he has 17 touchdown passes, already surpassing his total from his entire rookie season. He has thrown just four interceptions. 

Before Monday, Wentz was already the Vegas favorite to win MVP. 

He showed why against Washington. 

"That's the type of guy he is, he gets out of trouble, he breaks tackles and he throws dimes," Washington safety D.J. Swearinger said. "He's a great quarterback and he'll be one of the greats for a long time."  

While Wentz's 17-yard scramble was the most-talked-about play after the game, there was a close second. 

The other question was this: How the heck did he see Corey Clement in the end zone?

In the third quarter, with two defenders barreling down on him, Wentz found Clement on the right side of the end zone. Clement was about his third read on the play. 

"He's amazing," Alshon Jeffery said. "On that touchdown to Corey, I'm like, I don't know how he saw him. He must have Spiderman vision. He's great. He does a great job just making plays and seeing guys." 

Head coach Doug Pederson called the touchdown pass "one of the best plays I've seen in a long time." 

Over the last month, Wentz's elevated play has thrust the Eagles into Super Bowl discussions. If he continues like this, that's not a far-fetched scenario. 

It seems like Wentz is just in a zone right now (see Roob's observations)

Does he feel it?

"I feel good," Wentz said. "I do feel good." 

Eagles' rookie class puts on a show in Monday Night Football win

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Eagles' rookie class puts on a show in Monday Night Football win

The Eagles' 2017 rookie class was out in force Monday night, and in a huge division showdown on national TV, Derek Barnett, Mack Hollins and Corey Clement helped the best team in football improve to 6-1.

Barnett recorded two sacks and Hollins and Clement both had dramatic touchdown catches in the Eagles' 34-24 win over the Redskins at the Linc (see observations).

Barnett, the first-round pick from Tennessee, became the first Eagle rookie with a two-sack game since Trent Cole in 2005. Hollins' 64-yard TD catch was the longest by an Eagles rookie in 11 years. And Clement's circus TD catch made him the first undrafted Eagles running back in 64 years with two TD catches in a season.

The Eagles have plenty of big-time veteran stars. But this rookie class is looking awfully good right now.

Factor in third-round corner Rasul Douglas, who has played well, and record-setting kicker Jake Elliott, and that's quite a rookie class.

"We just always have a big chip on our shoulder," said Clement, who went undrafted out of Wisconsin. "When we come out here, we are always overlooked by somebody just because we are rookies, but that doesn't mean we can't make a play.

"When we're out there, we try to think and play as veterans. When we walk out there with those guys, like (Brent) Celek and all those other veterans, we want to prove that we belong.

"I don't want anybody second-guessing why we're out there on the field."

Clement was on the receiving end of a miraculous Carson Wentz effort, where he seemed to be swallowed up by the Redskins’ pass rush before floating a TD pass to Clement on a scramble drill. Clement looked like a wide receiver, sticking both feet in the right side of the end zone (see breakdown).

The catch made Clement the first undrafted Eagles rookie running back with two TD catches in a season since Hal Giancanelli in 1953.

Clement had just two touchdown catches in college, but seven games into his NFL career, he's already matched that.

How did he get tagged with the reputation that he can't catch?

"I wish I could tell you," he said. "But everybody's going to say something about somebody. So it's whether you're going to back it up or complain about it, and I chose to back it up."

Hollins and Clement became the first pair of Eagles rookies with TD catches in the same game since Jason Avant and Hank Baskett against the Falcons in 2006. Hollins' 64-yard TD is the longest by an Eagles rookie since Baskett's 89-yarder in that same game.

Hollins, a fourth-round pick out of North Carolina, has been targeted six times this year and has six catches for 134 yards and five first downs.

And then there's Barnett, who had just half a sack in his first six games but broke through with two Monday against a Redskins team that had allowed only eight in its first six games.

Barnett became the first rookie with a two-sack game against the Redskins since Ziggy Ansah of the Lions in 2013.

"Everybody's been telling me just keep grinding and they're going to come," Barnett said. "They all just say keep working and eventually it's going to break. It was a fun night."

Barnett's 2½ sacks are the most by an Eagles rookie defensive end since Brandon Graham had three back in 2010.

"We have a lot of guys who've been playing in the league for a while, and they give me a lot of tips and stuff, and it helps me pick up my game," Barnett said. "I'm very lucky to have those guys in the room to help me."