Eagles

Eagles 31, Bears 3: Studs, duds, turning point and more

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AP Images

Eagles 31, Bears 3: Studs, duds, turning point and more

BOX SCORE

The Eagles are a machine. 

On Sunday, they were a steamroller. 

The Bears had absolutely no chance against them Sunday at the Linc. The Eagles bullied them on their way to a 31-3 win (see Roob's observations). This one was never close. 

With the win, the Eagles improved to 10-1 for just the fourth time in franchise history (2004, 1980, 1949). The Bears dropped to 3-8. 

The Eagles are just the 39th team in the Super Bowl era to win 10 of their first 11. The first 38 have all made the playoffs — 17 went to the Super Bowl and eight won it. 

The Eagles still have the best record in the entire league with five games left on their schedule. 

Carson Wentz had his fifth three-touchdown game of the season. He's just one away from tying Norm Snead's franchise record of six, set in 1967. 

The Eagles scored 30-plus points for the fifth straight game. It's the first time they've done that since 1953. 

But the real story of the game was the Eagles' defense. Jim Schwartz's unit was incredible against the lackluster Bears, who just couldn't get anything going. 

The Eagles crushed the Bears in the first half and went into the locker room with a 24-0 lead. That came after they shut out the Cowboys in the second half in Dallas. They had outscored their opponents, 54-0, in four quarters. 

Turning point
Once the Eagles scored first, this one was over. 

Key stats
The Eagles held the Bears to six rushing yards. That's the fewest rushing yards they've allowed in a game since 1946. 

The Eagles outgained the Bears 272-33 in the first half. They also had 16 first downs, while the Bears didn't have one. This was never a game. 

The Bears became the first team since the Chiefs in 2012 to fail to get a first down in the first half.

Offensive stud
Wentz continues to amaze. He was dazzling yet again Sunday (see report card). He finished his day completing 23 of 36 passes for 227 yards, 3 touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 109.4. He came out with 9:38 left in the fourth for Nick Foles. 

Offensive dud
While LeGarrette Blount and Corey Clement had nice days, Jay Ajayi didn't have much of an impact. He did have a 30-yard run in the fourth quarter but fumbled. Nelson Agholor was there to jump on it. 

Defensive stud
Brandon Graham picked up a sack and has a new career high with seven. He had a very good game again. 

Defensive dud
I dunno. 

Key plays 
• Corey Graham had a late interception to finish off the game. 

• Ajayi broke off a 30-yard run but fumbled near the goal line and the ball rolled into the end zone. Agholor was there to fall on it. The Eagles are even scoring on their fumbles. 

• The Bears broke up the shutout with a 38-yard field goal in the third quarter. They finally got a first down on the drive. 

• Wentz hit Alshon Jeffery for an eight-yard touchdown pass to end the half with the Eagles up 24-0. Jeffery jumped a little early but it didn't matter. He came down with a touchdown and celebrated by fake bowling and knocking down his teammates. 

• Jake Elliott made a 45-yarder to put the Eagles up 17-0. It was his first field goal since coming back from a concussion last week. 

• Wentz made an incredible play, avoiding a rusher and scampering for 16 yards and a first down on a third-down attempt. It was an incredible play. 

• The Eagles made it 14-0 in the second quarter, when Agholor caught a pass, made a man miss and flipped into the end zone. 

• On their second drive of the game, Wentz hit Zach Ertz for a 17-yard touchdown to put them up 7-0 and start the demolition.

Injuries 
Beau Allen (knee) and Trey Burton (back) both missed the game after being listed as questionable. Joe Walker left early with a stinger; Najee Goode replaced him. 

Up next
The Eagles will play the Seahawks in Seattle before traveling south to spend the week in Southern California in advance of the Rams game. Two tough road games on tap. 

Record-setting Saints offense laying in wait for Eagles

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USA Today Images

Record-setting Saints offense laying in wait for Eagles

What will the Eagles be dealing with this weekend in New Orleans?

One of the hottest quarterbacks in NFL history.

One of the highest-scoring offenses in NFL history.

One of the most productive wide receivers in NFL history.

That's all.

The Eagles, who fell to 4-5 Sunday with a home loss to the Cowboys, take on the hottest team in the NFL Sunday, the 8-1 Saints, winners of eight straight games. Kickoff at the Superdome is scheduled for 4:25 p.m. EST.

Here's a look at what the Eagles are up against:

• The Saints have scored 331 points, sixth-most in NFL history after nine games. That’s 15 more points per game than the Eagles have scored this year.

• The Saints have already scored 40 points five times, joining the 2013 Broncos, 2000 Rams and 1949 49ers as the fourth team to score 40 points five times this early in a season. The NFL record for 40-point games in a season is six by seven teams, most recently the 2013 Broncos.

• The Saints are averaging 37.3 points at home, which puts them on pace for the fifth-most points in NFL history at home. The Saints set the record of 41.1 in 2011.

• The Saints have 235 first downs, fourth-most in NFL history after nine games. The record is 259 by the 2012 Saints.

• Drew Brees is completing 77.3 percent of his passes, by far the highest in NFL history after nine games. The previous high was Tom Brady’s 73.2 percent in 2007. Brees has thrown 304 passes this year, and only 69 have been incomplete. In his last five games, Brees has thrown 13 touchdowns and 30 incomplete passes. 

• Brees’ 123.8 passer rating is third-highest in NFL history after nine games, behind only Brady’s 131.8 in 2007 and Aaron Rodgers’ 130.7 in 2011.

• In his career, Brees ranks second in NFL history with 509 touchdown passes (30 behind Peyton Manning), first in passing yards (73,046), fourth in wins (150), first in accuracy (67.3 percent) and ninth in interception percentage (one every 41.9 attempts).

• Brees has completed at least 66 percent of his passes in an NFL-record 11 straight home games and 20 of his last 21. 

• Brees and Brady share the NFL record with 123 career game with a passer rating of 100 or higher. 

• Michael Thomas has 78 receptions, second-most in NFL history after nine games. Only Julio Jones (80 in 2015) has ever had more at this point in a season. Adam Thielen also has 78 this year, and Zach Ertz has 75, fourth-most ever after nine games.

• Thomas has four 10-catch games this year. That’s the most in NFL history at this point in a season, tied with three players, including Ertz this year.

Film shows why screen didn't work, how Cowboys knew it was coming

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NFL

Film shows why screen didn't work, how Cowboys knew it was coming

After all that went wrong on Sunday night, the Eagles still had the ball with a chance to move down the field and at least tie the game late in the fourth quarter against the Cowboys. 

But first they needed to make this play and they couldn’t. 

With 2:00 left in the game, their screen pass on 3rd-and-2 from the Cowboys’ 30-yard line didn’t work. In fact, it lost five yards and set up a 4th-and-7 that they missed converting by less than a yard, pretty much ending their comeback attempt. 

We’re going to take a look at the screen play, why it didn’t work and why Cowboys rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch knew it was coming. 

Here’s what the play looked like at the snap. It’s Alshon Jeffery’s job at the top of the play to simply take away his corner. He’s running vertical. The other three — Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz — at the bottom are selling their routes, but are just decoys. Carson Wentz is going to look them off. 

The real key to this play is Halapoulivaati Vaitai’s letting the pressure through and then Jason Kelce and Brandon Brooks getting out in front to provide the blocks for Corey Clement. 

 

Just after the snap, it looks like Vander Esch is already seeing what’s going on. His man is Clement, so he’s not going anywhere. One thing that actually plays into the Cowboys’ favor on this play is they were running a stunt up front. So the right defensive tackle, Maliek Collins, is crossing and coming inside. That’s actually going to give him a head start in pursuit, which is going to be key. 

 

Here we are just as Clement catches the ball. Ideally, Brooks gets out there and blocks Vander Esch to the outside, so Clement can hit the hole and get a big gain. The problem was that stunt from Collins (circled) has given him an easier route in pursuit. And LB Jaylon Smith seemed to diagnose the screen pretty early too. Because of that, Clement makes the decision that he’s not going to be quick enough to hit the hole and now has to try to bounce it outside. 

 

At this point, Brooks is blocking Vander Esch, but that’s where Clement is going, trying to bounce it outside. Brooks could have gotten a better block, but ideally, Clement would break this inside and then Vander Esch is coming back toward Brooks, which makes it an easier block. Now, this play is going outside and the rookie linebacker read it perfectly and makes a nice diving tackle to take Clement down for a loss. 

If this play works, the Eagles pick up the first down and probably a lot more and maybe they score to tie the game. The problem with screen passes is that a lot of things need to go well and if one thing gets screwed up, the whole play can crap out. 

That’s what happened here. 

 

After the game, Vander Esch said he kind of knew the screen was coming there based on his own film study. 

He didn’t need to look back very far to see this on tape. Remember that touchdown on a screen pass to Wendell Smallwood two weeks ago in London? Same play. Or at least a really similar one that was just inverted. 

This is how the play is supposed to work when the spacing is right: 

 

That obviously didn’t happen on Sunday night against the Cowboys. Maybe it was too predictable. Maybe it’s just a bad idea to go backwards at all when all you need to do is go forward two yards in two plays. Both of those are valid gripes. And now the Eagles are 4-5 with dwindling playoff hopes.