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13 things we learned from the Eagles’ Wild Card win over the Bears

Key takeaways from Sunday’s victory.

Wild Card Round - Philadelphia Eagles v Chicago Bears Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Chicago Bears in the Wild Card round of the 2019 NFL Playoffs on Sunday, 16 to 15. Here are some final thoughts on this exhilarating win!

1 - This Eagles team is just incredible

Seriously, why would you ever bet against this group? They really do feel like a team of destiny … for the second year in a row. I don’t even know what else to say other than they’re fun as hell and there’s every reason to believe in them.

2 - BDN comes up in the clutch yet again

In a past life, I was known as a Foles doubter. Not anymore. I had exactly zero doubt he was going to throw a game-winning touchdown pass in this game, even after he struggled for a good portion of the night. I have the evidence to prove it:

Foles is just so incredibly composed and confident back there. I fully trusted him to deliver when the Eagles needed him most. I honestly wasn’t nervous at all.

Now, moving forward, hopefully Foles won’t squander earlier scoring opportunities so that the Eagles need to convert a touchdown on fourth down to go up by 1-point late in the game. His pick on a checkdown to Wendell Smallwood was a good play by the defense but he also could’ve done a better job of keeping it away from Roquan Smith. His interception thrown into quadruple coverage was just egregiously bad.

Overall, Foles did enough to win, so the Eagles will take it.

He Just Wins™.

3 - Doug just doesn’t lose in the playoffs

Doug Pederson is now a perfect 4-0 in the postseason. He already has the second most playoff wins by a head coach in team history, trailing only behind Andy Reid (10).

Pederson has been a strength for the Eagles in all of those wins. It’s not like they’re winning games in spite of him. They’re winning because he’s doing a great job of preparing for the opponent, motivating the players, calling the plays, and managing the game. He’s straight up outcoached the other coaches he’s gone up against: Dan Quinn, Mike Zimmer, Bill Belichick, and now Matt Nagy.

Just as Foles inspires confidence, so does Pederson.

4 - Treyvon Hester is a season saver

We’re probably not talking enough about how the Eagles’ fourth-string defensive tackle saved the team’s season. If Hester doesn’t tip that Cody Parkey field goal — even if it was just ever so slightly — the Eagles might not be going to the Divisional Round.

It’s wild to think Hester wasn’t even on the 53-man roster when the season began. The Eagles’ pro personnel department deserves props for seeking him out.

5 - The Eagles continue to kick ass in the trenches

The Eagles continue to prove that the old adage about games being won and lost in the trenches is very much true.

The offensive line did a great job of keeping Khalil Mack, who had zero sacks, in check. Jason Peters and Lane Johnson were both handling him one-on-one at times. Foles getting the ball out quick also helps, obviously, but pass protection did their job as well. Foles was getting opportunities with plenty of time to throw, as he has been for several weeks now.

The Eagles weren’t able to get much going with their run blocking but they did have a couple notable plays in that regard. A big block from Isaac Seumalo sprung Darren Sproles for 10 yards on 3rd-and-9 from the Eagles’ own 8-yard line.

Defensively, the Eagles didn’t post HUGE pressure numbers (two sacks, five quarterback hits) but it’s not like they let Mitchell Trubisky get super comfortable back there. There were several times where Trubisky looked straight up scared as he ran away from pressure and threw the ball out of bounds. Michael Bennett continues to be a huge contributor; he finished the game with three solo tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack, and one quarterback hit. The Eagles also didn’t let the Bears gain much on the ground with just 65 yards on 18 rush attempts (3.6 average).

I write it all the time but I’ll write it again: the Eagles won the Super Bowl last year largely because they’re so dominant in the trenches. They still have the ability to control the game up front and that gives them a real chance to win every single week.

6 - The Golden Tate trade suddenly doesn’t sting as much

I’m not exactly ready to call the Tate trade an unmitigated success since it did negatively impact the team for some time.

With that said, the trade certainly stings a whole lot less given that Tate just helped the Eagles win a road playoff game. His game-winning touchdown catch on fourth down was huge. So was the 28-yard reception he stretched out for knowing that he’d take a big hit.

It’d be great if Tate continues to make a big impact in the playoffs.

7 - Nigel Bradham didn’t want you to forget about him

It’s been a relatively quiet season for Bradham, who signed a five-year contract in March 2018. That’s not to say he’s been bad. It’s just that he hasn’t often stood out.

You can’t say that for his performance in Chicago, however. Bradham was very active from the jump. He was looking like a man possessed out there. It was similar to how he had a monster game against the Panthers in Carolina last season.

The Eagles counted on Bradham to play 100% of the defensive snaps against the Bears and he delivered: seven solo tackles, two tackles for loss, two pass deflections.

8 - Jim Schwartz deserves credit

The “Fire Jim Schwartz” crowd, assuming it still exists, needs to relax.

The defense isn’t without their issues at times but Schwartz’s unit is playing at a pretty high level, all things considered. They’ve only allowed one touchdown in their last eight quarters. They just held the league’s fifth best red zone offense to zero touchdown conversions on three tries (not to mention a stuffed 2-point conversion). Schwartz’s unit would’ve looked even better if Maddox and/or Sullivan didn’t drop interceptions that were right in their hands.

The Eagles are having success on defense despite the fact the secondary is missing their top three starting corners (Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby, Sidney Jones) and one starting safety (Rodney McLeod). The trio of Rasul Douglas, Cre’Von LeBlanc, and Maddox have stepped up. The player themselves deserve credit for that. So does the coaching.

On a related note, I can’t believe Schwartz isn’t getting any head coach buzz. I know offensive coaches are all the rage, and understandably so. But it feels like it’s at least worth giving the guy an interview given what he’s done with the Eagles’ defense.

9 - Eagles rookies are providing promise

Alexis covered this subject in more detail but I just wanted to briefly mention that Dallas Goedert and Avonte Maddox sure look like promising young studs.

Goedert’s ability to be a weapon after the catch is so much fun to watch. Keep getting him involved.

Maddox seemingly makes plays on the ball every week. His aggressiveness got him burned in coverage a few times but that same mentality almost got the Eagles a big pick if he had just been able to get two feet in.

10 - The Eagles have some things to clean up

The Eagles hardly played a clean game on Sunday. They’re not going to be able to regularly make those mistakes and win so they need to get those fixed.

Giving away the ball twice was obviously a big issue. Teams that were +2 in turnover differential heading into Sunday night’s game were 112-4 over the past 40 years. The Eagles are fortunate to be the fifth team to win out of 117 games.

Not capitalizing on turnovers could’ve been more costly than it ended up being. Avonte Maddox bobbled a sure pick that would’ve given the Eagles the ball at Chicago’s 21-yard line. Tre Sullivan dropped a pass that Trubisky threw right to him in the end zone on a drive where the Bears ultimately got three points. These are plays the Eagles need to make more often moving forward.

Avoidable penalties were also an issue. LaRoy Reynolds’ offsides penalty on a punt return allowed the Bears to pin the Eagles down at their own 1-yard line. Michael Bennett shoving Kyle Long in the face twice was just a dumb move by a veteran player.

Hopefully the Eagles will learn from these mistakes.

11 - Matt Nagy might regret his Week 17 strategy

The Bears made a big mistake to let the Eagles into the playoffs. Chicago should’ve just rested their starters against Minnesota once they saw the Rams get up big on the 49ers, putting a first-round bye out of reach. The Bears definitely would’ve defeated the loser Vikings at Soldier Field.

Too late now, though. The Bears’ mistake is the Eagles’ gain.

12 - Andy Reid probably doesn’t get enough credit

This is something I’ve been stewing on for a bit now. I don’t think we give Andy Reid enough credit for the foundation he laid in Philly and his everlasting influence on this team.

Without Reid, there’s no Doug Pederson in Philly. Reid was instrumental in recommending his former offensive coordinator to Jeffrey Lurie.

Without Reid, there’s no Nick Foles in Philly. The Eagles were the team most interested in Foles leading up to the 2012 NFL Draft. Reid also talked Foles out of retirement in order to play for Kansas City in 2016.

Pederson and Foles are the two most significant lasting figures of Reid’s legacy in Philly. But they’re not the only ones. Look no further than Jason Peters, Jason Kelce, Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham being key cogs for this team.

Note that all of those players are linemen. Reid’s philosophy of building through the trenches is still paying dividends for the Eagles despite the fact he got fired in 2012. And his philosophy is clearly still being executed by Howie Roseman, who has invested heavily in the lines.

Reid never won a Super Bowl with Eagles but his unmistakable influence certainly helped build a team that has a legitimate chance to win two titles in two years.

Thank you, Andy.

13 - The Saints better watch out

Because the Eagles are marching to New Orleans for revenge.

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