The Philadelphia Eagles are now 8-1 in the 2017 NFL regular season schedule after defeating the Denver Broncos by a final score of 51 to 23 (recap here). 51 to 23! Whew. And seven wins in a row! Here’s a look at everything we learned from this game.
1 - The Eagles are dominant
I mean, what’s left to say at this point? (Great way to start a nearly 2000-word post, BLG.)
The Eagles are leaving no room for doubt. They are the best team in the NFL.
We all knew this Broncos offense wasn’t very good. But what Philadelphia did to a Denver defense that ranked No. 2 in DVOA and No. 1 in terms of opponent yards per play is nothing short of remarkable.
The Eagles dropped 51 friggin points on the best defense in the league.
Philadelphia scored THREE rushing touchdowns on a defense that hadn’t given up a single rushing touchdown since Week 16 of the 2016 season.
Hats off to the offensive line for getting the job done in this one. They’ve been pretty great for most of the season. This was an especially impressive performance while going up against Denver’s front.
Quite simply, the Eagles dominated the Broncos on Sunday. The Birds are just a really good team.
Eagles ran for 197 yards against Broncos defense that ranked 2nd in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game (72.9).— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) November 6, 2017
The Eagles have won 10 of their last 11 games.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) November 5, 2017
The Eagles are on a 7+ game winning streak for the first time since 12/27/03-10/31/04.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) November 5, 2017
The Eagles are outscoring opponents 180-87 (+93) in their last 5 games.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) November 6, 2017
The Eagles have scored 25+ points in 7 consecutive games, which is the longest active streak in the NFL.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) November 6, 2017
The Eagles have scored 20+ points in 13 consecutive games, which is the longest active streak in the NFL.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) November 6, 2017
2 - The Eagles are going to the playoffs
While the Eagles haven’t officially clinched the playoffs, history tells us they’re a pretty safe bet. No team that gone started 8-1 has ever missed the playoffs in the league’s current format, per NFL Network. 35 out of 35 such teams have made the post-season.
At this point, the idea of making the playoffs really isn’t even that interesting or exciting. There’s no reason to think the Super Bowl isn’t within reach for this team. The Eagles should have their sights set on winning the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Lock up home field advantage and a first round bye.
Man. It’s been too long since we’ve been able to think about that.
3 - Carson Wentz is seriously the NFL MVP
I can’t believe there are morons who still doubt Carson Wentz.
I feel like I say it every week. The guy is the NFL MVP.
Wentz made the NFL’s top-ranked defense his bitch on Sunday. He threw a number of passes with great touch and accuracy.
The floater to Alshon Jeffery on the zone-read play.
The back-shoulder completion to Trey Burton in the front corner of the end zone.
Threading the needle in the end zone.
What more could you possibly want to see from this 24-year-old kid? He’s simply special.
Carson Wentz (24 years old) is the youngest NFL QB since 1950 to throw 23+ TDs and no more than 5 INTs through 9 games.#Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) November 6, 2017
Since 2014, only 4 QBs have had 23+ TD and 5- INT thru 9 games:— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) November 6, 2017
Carson Wentz: 2017
Matt Ryan: 2016
Tom Brady: 2015
Aaron Rodgers: 2014
Carson Wentz’s 23 passing TDs are the most ever by an Eagles QB through 9 games.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) November 6, 2017
In his last 5 games alone, Carson Wentz has thrown for more TDs (17) than he had as a rookie in 2016 (16).#Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) November 6, 2017
Wentz is just the 3rd Eagles QB since 1950 to produce 3 games with 4+ passing TDs in a single season. (McNabb in ’04, Norm Snead in 1967)— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) November 6, 2017
Wentz’s success is one of the best things about this season. Again, he’s only 24. He’s only in his second year. And he’s already deserving of being the NFL MVP.
Given how well the Eagles are playing, it’s hard to look beyond this year. But with Wentz at the helm, the reality is they’re poised to be in great shape for a long time.
4 - Doug Pederson is doing an incredible job
Coach of the Year! Seriously. As of right now, Pederson should absolutely win that award.
Sunday’s game was a perfect example of why. Pederson’s play-calling was excellent. Just re-watch some of those touchdown plays I posted above. He’s been consistently creative while keeping the offense balanced as well. The Eagles gained 222 passing yards and 197 rushing yards on Denver’s defense. Pederson also completely schemed Denver’s best player, Von Miller, out of the game.
There’s obviously a lot more that goes into being a head coach than play-calling. But Pederson has checked all those boxes as well. The players play hard the entire game. The locker room chemistry seems strong (more on that in the next point).
And really, it’s not just Pederson. The assistants are doing a great job as well, which ultimately reflects on the head coach.
The Eagles have all the signs of a well-coached team.
The Eagles are now 11-2 at home under HC Doug Pederson.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) November 6, 2017
5 - The Eagles have amazing chemistry
This feels like the most likeable Eagles team in quite some team. Winning obviously helps a lot. But it just feels like this a good group of personalities. There’s a good mix of veteran leadership and youthful excitement.
Just look at how much fun these guys are having.
The chemistry is really something that’s been going on all year. We’ve seen it in the Eagles’ group touchdown celebrations. We’ve seen it with the team giving Pederson a Gatorade bath in Week 1. We’ve seen it with Jake Elliott getting carried off the field after making a game-winning 61-yard kick.
This team plays together. That’s a testament to Pederson and the leaders in the locker room.
It feels like a special group.
6 - The Eagles have great depth
The Eagles didn’t just beat the crap out of the Broncos on Sunday. They did it without their leading receiver in all major categories: Zach Ertz. There was concern about Ertz being out since Denver’s defense is vulnerable to getting beat by tight ends. But it didn’t even matter. Brent Celek (3 for 39) and Trey Burton (2 for 41 and one touchdown) really stepped up. I still love Celek run after the catch. He’s so hard to tackle. So tough. Burton, meanwhile, more closely mimics some of Ertz’s receiving ability.
It’s not like Ertz was the Eagles’ only key absence. The Eagles were also without: Jason Peters, Darren Sproles, Jordan Hicks, Ronald Darby, Chris Maragos, Caleb Sturgis, Sidney Jones.
With Peters out, Halapoulivaati Vaitai stepped up at left tackle. His name wasn’t called all day, and that’s a good thing.
With Sproles out, the Eagles are still getting great production out of their running backs. LeGarrette Blount runs hard. Jay Ajayi was great in his debut (more on that soon). Corey Clement, a freaking undrafted rookie free agent, had three touchdowns (also more on that soon).
With Hicks out, the Eagles have been able to rely on Nigel Bradham and Mychal Kendricks to step up. The ever-so versatile Malcolm Jenkins has also gotten some playing time in a linebacker role.
With Darby (and Jones) out, the trio of Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson, and Rasul Douglas have really stepped up. This group went from arguably being viewed as the league’s worst to at least being competent.
With Maragos out, Dave Fipp’s special teams unit is playing great. The Eagles allowed a 44-yard punt return to Denver, which isn’t great, but at least Corey Graham prevented it from being a touchdown.
With Sturgis out, the Eagles have been getting great production out of rookie kicker Jake Elliott. (Now please just stop missing extra points.)
Heck, Nick Foles reminded us the Eagles even have some decent depth at quarterback. That was a great 35-yard throw by him to Nelson Agholor (also a great catch) late in the game.
The depth the Eagles have is a testament to Philly’s personnel department. Very nice job by Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas filling out this roster.
7 - The Jay Train arrived in Philly
I already wrote a post about Ajayi’s debut, so [check that out here]. I’ll just repeat here that this was a steal of a trade by the Eagles. Ajayi give the Eagles a home run hitting running back they previously lacked.
Philly’s offense was already so good to begin with. The presence of Ajayi makes them even better, which is crazy.
Jay Ajayi’s 46-yard TD run was the 2nd-longest rushing TD of his career. #Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) November 6, 2017
8 - The Alshon Jeffery game finally happened
This was the Alshon game. The team’s No. 1 wide receiver stepped up in the absence of Ertz and finished with six receptions for 84 yards and two touchdowns. That’s a pretty good day while going up against Aqib Talib.
Jeffery wasn’t perfect; he had a penalty and at least a drop or two. You’d ideally like to see that stuff cleaned up.
But make no mistake: Jeffery has been heating up recently. It seems like Wentz and him are starting to get on the same page.
The Eagles’ offense has thrived without Jeffery being hugely relied upon this year. So it’s scary to think how much better the team can be with the Wentz-Jeffery connection starting to click.
9 - Corey Clement deserves an apology
I’ve previously described Clement as JAG: Just A Guy. And before I praise him, look, he’s still averaging only 3.8 yards per carry this season. He’s not some superstar running back.
But that’s fine! He’s more than JAG; he’s JARGRP. That stands for “Just A Really Good Role Player” in case you couldn’t figure it out. Really rolls off the tongue. Clement finished the game with 12 carries for 51 yards and two touchdowns. He also had a 15-yard receiving score on a screen play.
The Eagles have a running back rotation worth getting excited about. Blount is a bruiser. Ajayi is also physical but he has the most big play ability. And there’s Clement, who just makes himself useful in a Correll Buckhalter kind of fashion.
Clement played the most snaps of any Eagles running back on Sunday. He was counted upon the most in pass protection.
Here's a rudimentary look at how the Eagles used their RBs on Sunday. pic.twitter.com/A0gZbzmYLb— Bo Wulf (@Bo_Wulf) November 6, 2017
Corey Clement is the first Eagle to record 2+ rushing TD and 1+ receiving TD in the same game since Brian Westbrook on 11/27/08 vs. Arizona.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) November 6, 2017
10 - The Eagles’ defense is really coming on
Jim Schwartz’s unit deserves a lot of praise.
Two interceptions. Three sacks. 11 quarterback hits. Constant pressure all game long.
All season long, really.
Per PFF: Eagles DEF is now averaging the #1 pressure rate in the NFL (42.4%)— John Barchard (@JohnBarchard) November 6, 2017
Eagles blitzed on just 27.3% on pass plays vs DEN (Avg 29.7%)
I wrote back in July that this Eagles defensive line was going to eat. And that’s exactly what they do. They absolutely feast on opposing teams. Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Fletcher Cox, Timmy Jernigan, Derek Barnett, Chris Long, Beau Allen, Destiny Vaeao. They’re all playing great football.
The run defense is incredibly dominant. The Eagles are only allowing 66.4 rush yards per game, which is the fewest in the NFL. The next closest team (the Panthers) is 12 yards per game away.
Philly’s ability to stop the run allows the pass rushers to get after the quarterback. Brock Osweiler’s sorry ass didn’t stand a chance in this game. The Eagles’ line has made life so much easier on the secondary. And let’s not forget the linebackers, who are doing a great a job as well.
This defense is just so impressive right now. The pairing of this unit with the Eagles’ offense is a deadly combo.
The Eagles’ 598 rushing yards allowed are their fewest allowed through 9 games since 1944.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) November 6, 2017
The Eagles have not allowed a 100-yard rusher since Week 6 of 2016.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) November 6, 2017
11 - The bye week is here
We made it, friends. The Eagles are 8-1 at the bye.
In some ways, it’s a bummer because the Eagles are playing so well right now. It’s going to be a boring Sunday without them.
But this is a great week for the Eagles to rest up and get ready for their Week 11 game against the Cowboys in Dallas. Win that game and the NFC East race is basically over (if it isn’t already).
The good news is the Eagles should return from the bye with some reinforcements. Darby will likely be back. Ertz should be ready to play.
The bye week should give the Eagles the perfect chance to refresh and get ready for this stretch run. If they continue to play well, they’ll be rewarded with another bye in January.