Eagles

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

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

BOX SCORE

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.

Injuries
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.

With Hall of Fame induction nearing, Brian Dawkins realizes he's just like you

With Hall of Fame induction nearing, Brian Dawkins realizes he's just like you

Brian Dawkins always had a symbiotic relationship with Eagles fans.

He loved them, they loved him, and there isn’t a single Eagle in the last 50 years who was as universally adored as Dawkins.

Try to find an Eagles fan that didn’t like him. You can’t do it.

In 18 days, Dawkins will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, and on Tuesday he talked about the Eagles fans who cheered for him about every autumn Sunday from 1996 through 2008.

"I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, but I believe if a Philadelphia Eagles fan had a chance to play, if all of a sudden they woke up and they woke up in the team hotel and they knew the game plan and they had knowledge of the system, athletic ability to run and to jump and they played the position that I played, the safety position, I believe the majority of them, if not all of them, would play the game the way that I played it,” Dawkins said.

“They would dance, they would be having a good time … and they would go out and enjoy the opportunity to be on the football field and show it and not be afraid to show their emotions, to play with passion and give everything that they have because that would be the only chance that they would ever get to play the game of football, and that’s how I played.

“I played with a chip on my shoulder, I wanted to have a good time, I danced, I celebrated after plays, I celebrated with my teammates, and they saw that.”

Everybody loves Dawkins. Not just because of his boundless ability, production in big games and peerless leadership, but because he connected on such a deep level with Eagles fans.

He wore his emotions on his sleeve, and you could tell he felt every loss just as profoundly as even the most rabid Eagles fan.

“It was genuine,” he said. “I was a genuine player when it came to, I’m going to give everything that I have, I’m not going to make excuses for anything. As a matter of fact, I’m going to take the burden upon myself. Even if it’s not my fault, it’s going to be my fault. I’m going to take it away from my teammates and put it on myself.

“I’m never going to make excuses. I’m going to try my best and never make those mistakes [again] that I made in the game. And I believe that they saw that, they recognized that, and the feeling is mutual.

“I love Eagles fans. Yeah, they’re crazy. They’re twisted in some ways. But I love them, because I am. There are a lot of parts of me that are twisted in a lot of different ways. That’s why I did some of the crazy stuff on the field that I did. So like, we fit. Like hand in glove, we fit.”

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Eagles 2018 training camp battles: Nickel cornerback

Eagles 2018 training camp battles: Nickel cornerback

As we get near the start of the Eagles’ 2018 training camp, we’re going to take a closer look at some of the key position battles to watch this summer. 

Today we’ll look at slot cornerback. 

Names to know

Jalen Mills, Sidney Jones, De'Vante Bausby, Malcolm Jenkins

What to watch

This should be interesting during training camp. The Eagles need to find a solid replacement after losing Patrick Robinson in free agency this offseason. Robinson, the veteran journeyman, was having a terrible training camp last summer before he was moved into the slot following the Ronald Darby trade. But once he got into that nickel corner spot, he thrived and went on to have a tremendous year. Losing him is big, but the Eagles actually have depth at the CB position, a departure from training camps in previous years. 

The Eagles have a few options in the slot. The only corner who hasn’t had time inside is Rasul Douglas; the team isn’t going to put him there. Even Darby took some reps inside during the spring. But Darby is likely going to stay outside too. 

That leaves Mills, Jones and Bausby battling for the spot. It appears that Mills is probably going to be a starter, but there’s a decent chance that he could line up at outside corner in the Eagles’ base package and move inside in nickel. That’s a lot to ask, but he has been in the defense for two years now and would be able to handle that extended responsibility. 

Jones is really talented and it would make sense to find a way to get last year’s second-round pick (who would have been a first-rounder without an Achilles tear) on the field. That will either come outside in the nickel package or inside. Jones took some reps there this spring and looked good. Ultimately, the team will want to make him a starter, but for now, it can bring him along slowly with a lot of depth at corner. 

Bausby is a name you might not be as familiar with. But after spending last year on the practice squad, he turned some heads this spring. He and D.J. Killings are long shots to win this spot, but Bausby isn’t a long shot to make the roster. I just can’t see Bausby keeping a talented player like Jones off the field, no matter how much the coaching staff likes him. 

The last possibility is to move Jenkins into the slot, which the team will do with certain bigger receivers and tight ends. But it seems very unlikely he’ll take over that role full-time, especially with more depth at corner than safety. 

Prediction

I think the three guys who will be on the field are Mills, Darby and Jones. The real question is how this manifests itself. If I were Jim Schwartz, I would start Mills and Darby and then slide Mills inside in the nickel package, leaving the second-year player to play at his strength position outside. I think Schwartz isn’t going to take my advice on this, though. I think it’s slightly more likely that Mills and Darby stay outside and Jones plays inside when the Eagles use their nickel package. 

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