10 observations

Eagles-Seahawks: Roob's 10 observations

Eagles-Seahawks: Roob's 10 observations

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SEATTLE — It's been a while. About 2½ months since the Eagles experienced this.

The Eagles, who've been pushing teams around for the last couple months, faced an elite opponent for the first time since beating the Panthers in Week 6 and got pushed around Sunday night.

The Seahawks built a 17-3 lead in the third quarter and then coasted to a 24-10 win over the Eagles at CenturyLink Field (see breakdown).

Nine-game winning streak? Over. Undefeated record vs. the NFC? Over. Firm grasp of the No. 1 seed? Over … for now.

After the Eagles' first loss since Sept. 17, let's get right to tonight's 10 Observations.

1. I felt like this game was over early. The Seahawks were really the more physical, more dominating team on both sides of the ball in the first half, and just took the game to the Eagles. This is the sort of opponent the Eagles haven't seen lately — a cocky, confident bunch with a lot of guys who won a Super Bowl four years ago. They've got some swagger and attitude, and they don't play around. They really were the aggressor on both sides of the football in building that 17-3 lead, and it felt like the Eagles took a lot of punches to the midsection before they finally kind of made the game a level playing field and started fighting back. By then it was too late. You don't come back from 14 points down to the Seahawks in the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field. The Eagles have been bullying teams all year. Sunday night, they got bullied. Good lesson. Can't let it happen again.

2. Doug Pederson has been brilliant calling plays this year, finding a rhythm, being aggressive, balancing run and pass. But I just didn’t like the concept of the offense Sunday night. You don’t beat a team like the Seahawks on the road running the ball, and I get that he was trying to protect Carson Wentz from Seattle’s pass rush, but the first-half run-pass ratio was 19 runs and 13 passes, and the Eagles got some yards on the ground but only three points. The Eagles started moving the ball through the air in the second half — Wentz had more passing yards on the first drive than in the entire first half — but then his fumble out of bounds gave the Seahawks the ball. They went down the field and scored, and once it was 17-3 the Eagles pretty much had to pass. I just feel like against a team like Seattle the Eagles needed to be aggressive from the jump, and they weren't.

3. But I'll tell you what. Wentz keeps proving how special he is, and it seems like every week he does it in a different way. Wentz got battered early Sunday night. He took a lot of huge hits. He had a finger on his right (throwing) hand wrapped up on the bench with some sort of apparent injury. He struggled to find time to throw and forced a few balls. He fumbled out of the end zone when he was about to score. He missed open guys. He struggled for much of the game like we haven’t seen him struggle in a long time. You look up, and it’s 17-3 Seahawks in a building where they’re 37-8 over the last six years and the crowd is going nuts and you’re just thinking, “You know what? This just isn’t Carson’s day.” And then he busts out of a sure sack for a 51-yard miracle down the right sideline to Nelson Agholor and then a spectacular 27-yard TD across the field to Agholor and the Eagles are back in the game, and you realize just how special this kid is. With everything conspiring against him, he still threw for 348 yards, completed 64 percent of his passes, threw one TD and one interception - to Eagles castoff Byron Maxwell - and finished with a respectable passer rating of 86.2. Heck, he threw for over 300 yards in the second half alone. The Eagles fell short Sunday, but I like the fight this kid has. He may go down, but he doesn't go down quietly.

4. You can make a case either way, but I didn’t like the punt on 4th-and-2 from just inside midfield with 18 seconds left in the first half. Doug has been aggressive all year, and to beat a good team in their own building you have to be aggressive. The Seahawks are missing half their secondary. You should be able to get two yards and then try to get into Jake Elliott range, which really was only a few yards away. If you don’t get it, the Seahawks still need 22 yards in, what, maybe 13 seconds, to get within range for a 50-yarder — which is the longest field goal Blair Walsh has made the last two years. That punt had a vague sense of playing-not-to-lose, and that's not how the Eagles got to 10-1.

5. It’s really hard to question Jim Schwartz right now, but I didn’t get the zero blitz on the play that turned into Russell Wilson’s 47-yarder to Doug Baldwin down to the 1-yard-line. That play led to the Seahawks' TD that turned a 10-3 lead into a 17-3 lead. The Eagles were getting tremendous pressure the whole game, and Wilson is so good at finding his hot receiver when he’s blitzed. Again, tough to second guess Schwartz, who’s been phenomenal this year. But it was 3rd-and-10 near midfield, your pressure from the front four has been relentless, and that really turned into the pivotal play in the game.

6. We haven't seen the Eagles' secondary torched like this in a long time. Wilson was brilliant Sunday, doing exactly what Schwartz said he's most dangerous at - making plays on the run, especially after rolling backward, deep behind the line of scrimmage, and then reversing field and either running or throwing on the move. Wilson finished 20-for-31 for 227 yards with three TDs and no interceptions, and his 118.6 passer rating is the highest against the Eagles since Matt Stafford's 135.0 in Detroit last year. Good measuring stick game. The Eagles' pass defense has been so effective lately, but Wilson is just a uniquely talented quarterback, and now this secondary knows exactly where it stands. The two QBs who've beaten them -- Alex Smith and Wilson -- are both guys who can run and throw. If the Eagles are going to make a deep playoff run, they're going to have to beat some really good quarterbacks. They're going to have to play better than they did Sunday night.

7. Brandon Graham played out of his mind Sunday night. Playing on the same field as Earl Thomas, who eight years ago the Eagles bypassed in the draft to take Graham, he was an absolute beast. He picked up his career-high eighth sack of the year and got constant pressure on Wilson, forcing several errant passes and rushed passes, including one in the third quarter that should have been a pass interference. I thought Graham was the Eagles' best player Sunday night.

8. One quick note on Halapoulivaati Vaitai: He seems to struggle from time to time early in games, and Sunday night he sure did. He had a very tough first quarter. But he generally seems to bounce back, and he did again this time. Vaitai needs to figure out how to start off more effectively, but it is encouraging that he's able to figure things out and play better as the game goes along.

9. His performance will probably go unnoticed because the Eagles lost, but Agholor had a career game with seven catches for 141 yards. That's the most yards by an Eagles wide receiver since Jordan Matthews had a 159-yard game against Arizona in 2015, and the second-most yards anybody has had against the Seahawks this year -- DeAndre Hopkins had a 224-yard game in October. Last year, Agholor was so bad against the Seahawks he got benched the next week. That's how far this kid has come. Agholor is now sitting with 40 catches and 599 yards, both career highs with four games left. Good for him. He's overcome a lot and really become a weapon.

10. Finally, this: Big point now for the Eagles now. They're spending the week in Los Angeles, they have another very good opponent waiting for them in the Rams, and with the Vikings, Rams and Saints all in hot pursuit, the Eagles can’t afford too many more losses if they're going to snag a first-round bye, in particular the No. 1 seed. Big test. Big moment. There's a ton at stake here. The Eagles have answered all the big tests they've faced this year. They answered their only previous loss with nine straight wins. Let's see how they respond to this one. I have a hunch they'll respond positively.

Eagles-Bears: Roob's 10 observations

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Eagles-Bears: Roob's 10 observations

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They are so methodical, so thorough, so dominating right now it's almost like we're all dreaming, isn't it?

With their latest blowout win — 31-3 over the Bears Sunday at the Linc — the Eagles became only the fourth NFL team in the last 64 years to win four straight games by 23 or more points (see breakdown).

They gave up six rushing yards to the NFL's fifth-ranked rushing offense. That's the fewest rushing yards they've allowed in the last 71 years.

Their 24-year-old quarterback now has 28 touchdowns and five interceptions (see report card). Since Week 5, that's 22 TDs and three INTs. 

They're 10-1 with a nine-game winning streak, the last five by double digits.

They're annihilating people.

So let's go to Roob's 10 Observations and take a look at yet another blowout Eagles win!

1. What we're seeing right now is just flat-out scary. Honestly, I don't know how anybody is going to beat this team. I know the Patriots, Vikings and Saints are all really good, and there are some other capable teams out there, but the Eagles are just destroying teams right now, and I just don't see a weakness when I watch them. How do you beat a team that can score at will and isn't allowing its opponents to even breathe on offense? The Eagles have taken this thing to another level, winning these last four by an average of 27 points and allowing just three offensive touchdowns along the way. It's just such a pleasure watching football played like this. Aggressive. Unselfish. Physical. Disciplined. There's something special going on here, and, man, is it fun to watch.

2. What we're seeing from Carson Wentz right now is just off the charts. With all due respect to Donovan McNabb, he's playing at an unprecedented level in Eagles history. These last seven games, Wentz has 22 touchdown passes and three interceptions. That's in less than half a season. This is a 24-year-old kid. He's playing virtually perfect football every Sunday, and the stats, records and numbers are piling up faster than we can keep track of. But all he cares about winning, and the effect he's had on this team is remarkable. To see veteran guys like LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajayi and Alshon Jeffery, guys who've been stars with other teams, come here and just follow Wentz's lead is eye-opening. He commands that locker room and leads so naturally and effortlessly. The Eagles are playing with a lot of passion and joy right now, and it all starts with No. 11. He's just on another level right now.

3. One significant development over the last few weeks has been a gradually improving chemistry between Wentz and Jeffery. The last few weeks, Jeffery has really started to look like a No. 1 receiver. He's not putting up huge numbers, but he's distanced himself from the other wideouts as far as targets, production and just being that guy Wentz is looking for at big moments more than any of the other wide receivers. Also great to see Zach Ertz rebound with a huge game — 10 catches for 103 yards and his seventh touchdown. He's been a beast this year.

4. I was curious to see this matchup between the Bears' fifth-ranked rushing attack — averaging 132 yards per game entering Sunday — and an Eagles run defense that went into the game No. 1 in the NFL, allowing 71 yards per game. And wow. The Bears were under zero yards until a late 11-yard scramble by Mitch Trubisky. But even with that, they finished with 14 carries for six yards. That's the fewest rushing yards the Eagles have allowed in a game since 1946. You just can't run on this team. And then you have to chuck it, and that plays right into the hands of their pass rush and secondary. Six rushing yards? It's nuts.

5. Gotta give some props to Brandon Graham, who recorded his career-high seventh sack. Graham, now in his eighth year with the Eagles, has been through so much here but injects this defense with so much energy and life and passion. He came into the league as an under-sized pass-rushing specialist, but he's now really become a two-way player, the Eagles' best pass rusher on the outside and a willing and effective run stopper, too.

6. Doug Pederson has handled everything beautifully this year, but his handling of a potentially difficult running back situation has been brilliant. He has such an innate feel for what situations and plays are best suited to the different backs, and he's managed to keep them all happy and thinking team-first. Blount led the NFL in touchdowns last year. Ajayi was a Pro Bowler. But they've suppressed their egos, and whether those guys are getting the carries or Corey Clement or even Kenjon Barner, they're all supportive of each other and they're all genuinely happy for each other. I think it all starts with Blount. There were some questions about the guy when he got here, but he's been nothing but a team player here, and the other backs, the younger guys, just follow along. And Blount is running the ball great, too. 

7. The Eagles' defense allowed one touchdown in November. 

8. We don't spend much time talking about position coaches, but the improvement we've seen in every position group since last year, and ever since, the start of this year speaks volumes about the hands-on work being done at practice and in meetings by guys like Duce Staley, Mike Groh, Cory Undlin, Chris Wilson, John DeFilippo, Ken Flajole and the others. One of the underrated keys to the Eagles' initial success under Andy Reid from 2000-2004 was Big Red's first staff — position coaches like Ron Rivera, John Harbaugh, Brad Childress, Pat Shurmur, Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier, all of whom became NFL head coaches. This is the same sort of staff. Very hands-on, extremely engaged, tremendously respected in the locker room. And in a few years, several of these guys will be NFL head coaches as well. 

9. These next two games are going to be fascinating. The Seahawks have always been unbeatable at home, but they're not quite the same team anymore. And the Rams have been one of the NFL's hottest teams all year. But I think the Eagles win both games on this West Coast trip and get back to Philly 12-1 with only the Giants, Raiders and Cowboys standing between them and a 15-1 record and the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Beat the Seahawks and Rams, and the road to the Super Bowl will go right through the Linc.

10. Finally, I have to give a shout out to Brent Celek. He didn't catch a pass Sunday, but he did something much more meaningful. By playing in his 170th career game, Celek gained the distinction of playing in more games than anybody in franchise history who's never worn another uniform. Coming into the game, Celek was tied with Chuck Bednarik at 169. Celek, the only guy on the team who's played in a postseason win in an Eagles uniform, has represented that uniform and this franchise with so much class over the past 11 years. If anybody deserves to spend his entire career in Philadelphia, it's Celek. 

Eagles-Broncos: Roob's 10 Observations

Eagles-Broncos: Roob's 10 Observations

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How good is this team?

Super Bowl good. Believe it.

The Eagles are just rolling now after a 51-23 demolition of the Broncos, and they go into the bye week at 8-1 with a seven-game winning streak (see breakdown).

They're destroying teams. They've outscored their seven victims during this winning streak by an average of 33-19.

Just a shame we have to wait two weeks to see them play again.

Here we go with this Week's 10 Observations.

1. This is what a Super Bowl team looks like (see report card). Seriously, I don't want to get ahead of myself, but the Eagles are just steamrolling through the NFL right now, and the level they're playing at is what you expect from a legit Super Bowl contender. Now, the opponents will get more difficult after the bye. That stretch against the Cowboys, Bears, Seahawks and Rams — all but the Bears on the road — will tell us a lot. But right now, the Eagles are just better than anybody else in the league. And they're making it look so easy. And they're doing it in all phases. This is a Broncos team that came to town with the No. 1 defense in the NFL and the Eagles just shredded it, scoring 31 points in a 20-minute stretch of the first half on their way to half a hundred and one. They're winning so routinely and so convincingly it's really astounding. And they're doing it despite a pretty significant rash of injuries to key guys. If they keep playing like this, I don't know how you beat them.

2. Carson Wentz. He's now beyond having one of the best seasons ever by an Eagles quarterback or a young quarterback. He's having an all-time season. He's at the point where when the Eagles go three-and-out or have an ugly series, you're just surprised. Wentz threw four more touchdowns Sunday without a turnover. He's now got 23 touchdowns and five interceptions through nine games, and that puts him on pace for 40 TDs and nine interceptions. The only QBs in NFL history to do that in a season are Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. That's the level Wentz is playing at. That's where he's at in his career. That's who Wentz is. He's 24. He's started 25 games in his life. He was backing up Chase Daniel 15 months ago. And he's literally having one of the greatest seasons in NFL history. Howie Roseman could have drafted 100 Danny Watkins and it wouldn't matter. Finding a way to get this kid into an Eagles uniform makes up for everything.

3. I absolutely love the way Doug Pederson has been calling games, and this one was a masterpiece of offensive balance. The Broncos had been unreal against the run, allowing just 3.0 yards per carry and 72 yards per game through seven games. And they hadn't allowed a rushing TD all year. But instead of just deciding to chuck it every snap, Pederson challenged his offensive line to dominate one of the NFL's best defensive fronts, and the OL did just that. It hammered the Broncos up front, and did it without Jason Peters and even without Lane Johnson for a spell. The Eagles ran 37 times for 197 yards and three TDs against a run defense allowing 73 yards per game and no TDs. Incredible.

4. And how about Jay Ajayi? The dude was a Dolphin on Monday, got traded Tuesday, arrived here Wednesday, practiced three times and went out and ran eight times for 77 yards against a team that had only allowed two guys to rush for more than 46 yards this year. What were the Dolphins thinking? Who knows? Who cares? They're idiots. All I know is the Eagles got another weapon on a team already loaded with them, and all it cost them was a fourth-round pick. #Howie.

5. OK, this defense. What a performance. What a season. Their level of consistency is remarkable. They're smart, fast, physical, athletic and tackle better than any Eagles team since Jim Johnson was here. So much fun to watch this group just make opposing offenses miserable. And it all starts with their insane ability against the run. The Broncos came in with the ninth-ranked running attack in the league at 123 yards per game and seventh at 4.4 yards per carry, and the Eagles just stuffed them early, then forced them to pass all the time by building that big second-quarter lead. The Broncos finished with 19 rushes for 35 yards, and that's seven straight teams that have failed to rush for 100 yards against the Eagles.

6. Being able to run the ball and stop the run is one heck of a formula to win a lot of football games, and the Eagles have now gone seven straight games rushing for over 100 yards and holding the opponent to fewer than 100 yards. That is tied for the fifth-longest such streak in NFL history.  

7. I continue to be dazzled by Corey Clement and just amazed that 253 players were taken in this year's draft and he wasn't one of them. Here's a kid who was productive at a major college, works his butt off, can run the ball (eight carries for 43 yards Sunday), catch the ball (15-yard TD), block and is also a quality locker room guy. Clement had three TDs Sunday and now has five in his first nine games (see Rookie Report). As an undrafted rookie! He just seems to help the offense every time he touches the ball. I'm not sure what NFL teams are looking for in a running back if it's not a kid like Clement.

8. Was great to see big contributions from both Brent Celek and Trey Burton in the absence of Zach Ertz, who was unable to play after experiencing hamstring tightness at practice Thursday. Celek and Burton combined for five catches for 80 yards and a touchdown, and you can't ask for anything more from your second and third tight ends. Great depth at that position.

9. It's so impressive how prepared this team always is. Never looks past an opponent. Always ready to play. That's just so rare. And so hard to do. Even great teams have a letdown here and there, that one game where they're just looking ahead or not quite on their game. Such a credit to Pederson and his staff. Since those three ugly games last year — losses to the Seahawks, Packers and Bengals by a combined 43 points — the Eagles have played 13 games, gone 10-3 and their worst result was a seven-point loss at Kansas City to a Chiefs team that was unbeaten at the time. Just remarkable focus and maturity.

10. Two solid games in a row from Alshon Jeffery, who finally seems to be developing some chemistry with Wentz. Jeffery had two grabs for 62 yards with a 53-yard TD last week against the 49ers and followed up with six catches for 84 yards with two TDs Sunday against the Broncos. Not Pro Bowl numbers, but he's catching the ball when it comes his way, getting in the end zone and helping this offense shine. Good enough for me.