Here are 10 things to be learned from this game. There is a lot to discuss, so let's get right to it.
1) The Sanchize steps up
Mark Sanchez was a big question mark heading into this game. Sure, he had looked competent in preseason, but that was just against backups. He showed positive flashes against the Houston Texans in Week 9, but he also threw two interceptions and had a few dropped picks.
Sanchez quieted his skeptics on Monday night with a real good outing: 20/37, 332 yards, 9.0 average, 2 TD, 0 INT, 102.5 rating. He had some iffy moments but he also had a few passes dropped by open targets. Sanchez's pocket presence was very impressive. Credit the offensive line for giving him time to throw but he did a good job of escaping pressure and stepping up in the pocket in order to deliver passes down field. Most importantly, he didn't turn over the ball.
To be determined if Sanchez can sustain this level of play. For now, it's certainly an encouraging sign.
2) Chip Kelly does it again
Kelly obviously deserves a lot of credit for the revitalization of Sanchez. The head coach called a good game and put Sanchez in a position to succeed. I'm sure Philadelphia fans especially enjoyed Kelly not being reluctant to run up the score despite having a big lead. After all, the plan is to: "****ing score points!"
Fun fact: The Eagles have scored 30-plus points in 200 total franchise games. Kelly is already responsible for 14 of those. That's 7%.
3) Jordan Matthews is breaking out
What a game for rookie wide receiver Jordan Matthews: 7 receptions, 138 yards, 19.7 average, 2 TD. It looked like Matthews could have have broken two plays even bigger had not he been brought down by a shoelace tackle in both instances.
The Sanchez-Matthews connection is no joke. Here's what I wrote prior to the game:
"Keep an eye on the Sanchez to Jordan Matthews connection. As someone who watched Sanchez during every training camp practice, it's not an exaggeration to say the veteran quarterback loved targeting the rookie wide receiver. He had no hesitation connecting with Matthews over and over again. As an added bonus, the two would stay after practice each day and get some extra repetitions together. It's clear there's a real chemistry between Sanchez and Matthews."
Yep. Matthews is good, and if defenses disrespect him by trying to cover him with a linebacker or safety, he's going to make them pay.
4) Connor Barwin is a really good pass rusher
It's hard to argue with the results: Barwin is tied for second in the NFL with 10.5 sacks. Only Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston has more. I've never thought of Barwin as a bad pass rusher but I didn't think he would be able to produce these kind of results. Barwin is really important to this Philadelphia defense. Definitely a great free agent signing by the Eagles' front office last season. Check out this video Barwin dominating a Panthers offensive lineman. Stud.
5) Bill Davis is a good defensive coordinator
Davis was far from a popular choice at the time of his hire. He's still far from perfect. For the most part, however, he's been an above average coordinator. He's really getting the most out of his unit. It's hard to point to players that are massively underachieving. The players that are struggling (see: Cary Williams, Nate Allen, etc.) aren't really playing below their talent level as much as they are just flawed players.
The Eagles recorded five turnovers on Monday night. They have now forced a turnover in 21 straight games. Give Billy D some credit.
6) Brent Celek is still a pass-catching threat
Whoa, who knew Brent Celek could still catch the ball? Celek was looking like he had lost a step this season until Monday night where he caught five receptions for 116 yards for 23.2 average. Heading into Week 10, Celek's season high was 45 yards. He more than doubled that figure due to help from Sanchez. While Celek has been primarily used as a blocker this season, Monday night serves as a reminder he's still a viable receiving threat.
6) Teams are still kicking to Darren Sproles
Why?! I mean, it's not like the Eagles are complaining. But the guy is a touchdown waiting to happen, both on special teams and offense. When the ball is in Sproles' hands, the opposition is instantly in trouble.
7) Brandon Graham continues to warrant a contract extension
Brandon Graham makes plays. He's not a full-time starter (yet), but the team is unquestionably better with him on the field. He can rush the quarterback. He can tackle. He can stuff the run. He can force fumbles. He has his limitations in coverage but that weaknesses alone shouldn't preclude the Eagles from re-signing him this offseason. That's right, the Eagles should give serious consideration to extending the former first round pick. If not, someone is going to pay Graham.
8) Who needs offense?
The Eagles have a team-record nine non-offensive touchdowns this season.
9) Casey Matthews can hold his own
The much-maligned Casey Matthews has really proved his worth this season. While he's a limited talent, he's done enough not to be a major liability. He finished with 7 tackles. He struggled to cover Greg Olsen deep on one play, but to be honest, I'm not sure DeMeco Ryans would have fared much better in that situation. In any case, coverage is clearly not his strength. But credit Matthews for forcing a fumble on Carolina's first drive. That turnover really set the tone for the defense. Matthews clearly took Ryans' advice to "take over the team" to heart.
10) Packers vs. Eagles should be a great game
The Packers absolutely crushed the Bears on Sunday Night Football. The Eagles blew out the Panthers on Monday Night Football. These performances have set the stage for an epic showdown at Lambeau Field in Week 11 when the Eagles travel to Green Bay to take on the Packers. Sanchez and the improved Eagles defense will be truly tested on the road against Aaron Rodgers. Both teams look like legitimate NFC contenders so it has the makings of an excellent match-up.