EAGLES INSIDER

Roob's Obs: Depth, run game shine in win, plus much more

/ by Reuben Frank
Presented By Bradford White
EAGLES INSIDER

It’s pretty simple why the Eagles won. On a cold, windy, rainy day, the Eagles dealt with the conditions better than the Jaguars did.

The Jaguars committed five turnovers leading to 23 Eagles points, and the Eagles committed one turnover leading to seven Jaguars points.

Ballgame.

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The Eagles improved to 4-0 Sunday, overcoming an early 14-point deficit to beat the Jaguars 29-21 at the Linc.

It’s the first time the Eagles have won after trailing by at least 14 points after the first quarter since 2014, when they trailed – believe it or not – the Jaguars 14-0 after the first quarter (and 17-0 at halftime) before winning 34-17.

The Eagles, already the NFL’s only unbeaten team going into play Sunday, are 4-0 for the sixth time in franchise history. They opened 4-0 in 1954, 1992 and 1993, 6-0 in 1981 and 7-0 in 2004.

Here’s our 10 Instant Observations off another win!

1. The biggest thing Nick Sirianni has brought to the Eagles is a certain calmness in the face of adversity, an ability to focus on the next play, the next snap, no matter how bad things seem to be at the moment. Sirianni said his college coach at Mt. Union, Larry Kehres, called him before his first game as a head coach and said, “If they score first? So what? Keep playing.” Nick has been able to get that across to his players, and they live it. The first quarter could not have gone any worse for the Eagles. Darius Slay and Jordan Mailata got hurt. The Jags scored on a pick-6 and an 80-yard drive before the game was 11 minutes old. The Eagles’ first three drives went INT-PUNT-DOWNS. You can just hear Sirianni telling his guys on the sideline, “Don’t worry about it, just keep playing, just keep fighting.” And that’s exactly what this team did. The Eagles outscored the Jaguars 29-7 the rest of the game. Incredibly focused team.

 

2. You’ve got to give a ton of credit to the Eagles’ makeshift secondary, which came into the game without ace slot corner Avonte Maddox and then lost Slay early in the first quarter with a forearm injury. Josiah Scott in the slot and Zech McPhearson at outside corner both struggled a bit early but they quickly settled down and did some decent things. Factor in safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson – who the Eagles acquired just before the season – and you really have three new pieces in the secondary. But Trevor Lawrence only completed 11 passes – only seven after the first quarter. Terrific stuff.

3. Very tough position for Jack Driscoll entering the game in the first quarter after Jordan Mailata hurt his shoulder on that pick-6. Driscoll was shaky his first two drives. He’s never played left tackle in the NFL and he never practiced there during training camp, but with Andre Dillard on IR he became the backup left tackle, and after an inauspicious start he really got comfortable and settled in nicely. I thought by the second half Driscoll was playing at a very high level. He’s a tough kid, versatile, and he had a lot to do with the Eagles running the ball so well in the second half.

4. After a sluggish performance by the running game Sunday in Washington, it was impressive to see the Eagles run the ball powerfully against Jacksonville’s top-ranked rush defense. The Jags were allowing only 55 rushing yards per game and just 3.1 per carry, but after a slow start the Eagles really took it to the Jaguars’ defensive line, finishing with 210 rushing yards on 50 carries – only the fourth time in the last 45 years they’ve had 50 rushing attempts. Miles Sanders bounced back with a monster game – 24 carries for a career-high 134 yards and just lots of tough inside yards against a stacked box. Considering everything, the best game of his career. To be a truly big-time rushing offense you have to do it against the best defenses, and the Eagles and Sanders definitely did that Sunday. 

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5. Here’s what I really loved about James Bradberry’s interception at the 7-yard-line late in the third quarter with the Jaguars driving toward what could have been a go-ahead touchdown: With Slay on the sideline, Bradberry became CB1, and he didn’t back down from that. He raised his level. He knew with Slay unavailable, he was more important than ever. And he came up huge with the game on the line. That interception was the result of preparation and film study. Bradberry saw Lawrence’s eyes lock onto Christian Kirk, and he left Marvin Jones because he knew where the ball was going and was able to leap in front of Kirk for what really turned out to be a pivotal moment in the game.

 

6. There is no way Jake Elliott was feeling close to 100 percent after getting hit late by Jacksonville’s Tyson Campbell on his late 3rd-quarter field goal attempt. The penalty gave the Eagles a 1st down on the Jaguars’ 13, and Sirianni did the right thing taking the three points off the scoreboard and trying to get in the end zone. When that didn’t happen, Elliott had to come back out pretty quickly and kick again, and he nailed it for the nine-point lead. That’s tremendous toughness by a kicker who just minutes earlier was limping off the field. The highest praise you can give a kicker is that he’s a football player, and Elliott definitely is a football player.

7. I’ve had nothing but the highest praise for A.J. Brown since the day he got here, but he’s got to be better on that Andre Cisco pick-6. Whether you’re running a pattern, blocking on a running play or turning into a defender on an interception, you’ve got to give maximum effort on every play, and Brown just let Cisco run past him at the Eagles’ 45-yard-line. I get that Brown isn’t a linebacker, but at least try to slow down Cisco until help arrives. I get that it’s a position wide receivers don’t find themselves in very often, but that’s no excuse. He’s right there. Make an effort. 

8. But my goodness, he is one hell of a wide receiver. In difficult conditions that made the passing game difficult, Brown caught five passes for 95 yards, which gives him 25-for-404 through four games. That’s 6th-most ever by an Eagle after four games and the most since T.O. had 506 in 2005. He’s just so tough and so steady and so consistent. It’s only four games, but he’s going to be one of the best in Eagles history before too long.

9. Jalen Hurts didn’t put up huge numbers, but this was a big-time performance from Hurts just because he really such a good job dealing with the conditions – something Trevor Lawrence was unable to do. Hurts had the early pick-6 but was smart and efficient after that, threw accurately, ran when he needed to, and that’s seven straight regular-season wins for Hurts, the eighth-longest streak in Eagles history. Norm Van Brocklin (1960), Donovan McNabb (2003) and Carson Wentz (2017) had nine-game streaks and Randall Cunningham (1992/1993), Ron Jaworski (1980) and Tommy Thompson (1948, 1949) had eight-game streaks. Hurts is 11-2 in his last 13 starts, and he’s finding that consistency that was missing last year. Conditions were terrible. Injuries were piling up. Jordan Mailata and Isaac Seumalo were both sidelined. And that was the NFL’s No. 4 defense on the opposite side of the ball. And Hurts found a way to deal with it all and put 29 points on the scoreboard.

 

10. I wanted to give some credit to Nick Sirianni, because it can’t be easy not only coaching against the guy you replaced but against a guy who’s a legend in this town. Sirianni handled the entire week perfectly, praising Pederson when it was appropriate but making sure to keep the focus on the football game and not Pederson’s return to the city he brought a Super Bowl championship. Pederson was one hell of a coach for this team, but Sirianni is proving he’s pretty darn good himself.