Imagine doubting EVEN FOR A SECOND that the Eagles would win this game.
(please don’t listen to Kist and Solak Show Episode 162 or look at my weekly picks)
Last week, Carson Wentz put up some gaudy stats and key late-drive throws to cap off a roller coaster performance and win the game that made this game matter. He was a winner.
This week, Wentz didn’t put up nearly the flashy stats, but he did something far more important: he played mistake free football. He fumbled once on a great play from Robert Quinn and fell right back on the football; he only took the one sack, and never put the ball in harm’s way (a tipped pass was nearly picked). He took his check downs and threw great downfield strikes when the opportunity presented itself. He kept the offense humming after jumping out to an early lead and never — NEVER — started to push, which is his tendency during big games and big moments.
Congrats to Carson. A consummate, playoff performance.
I don’t have a list of head coaches who made the playoffs in three of their first four years on the job, but I’d imagine it’s small and includes some good company — Pederson is one game out from being one among them. Once again, Pederson made the best of a limited roster and adjusted to in-game injuries, turning out a quality late-down conversion rate despite some uncharacteristic decisions on fourth down.
But it’s what Pederson has done from a locker room perspective, mustering a team to a third consecutive “never say die” surge that is not depreciating in magic over time. Pederson’s teams get weirdly good at winning in December, and if there’s ever a month to be a winner, that’s the month to do it.
Doug Pederson as a head coach in the month of December— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) December 23, 2019
2019: 3-1 (NYG Week 17 not withstanding)
Last three years: 10-3
Jake Elliott has never missed a field goal.
How ‘bout it for the young man!
Miles Sanders is simply the only athlete left for the Eagles on the field, and accordingly he gets more touches than anyone else. Sanders led the Eagles in touches for every game since Jordan Howard went down, and it’s his dual-threat presence that makes the Eagles passing game hum despite the paucity at wide receiver.
Sanders posted 150+ scrimmage yards for the second game in a row, and has vaulted himself into eleventh-hour contention for offensive rookie of the year. He is far from perfect, but that’s only good news for the Eagles’ bell cow moving forward.
A bit battered this year by those expecting a more statistically dominant second-year explosion, Goedert delivered on the stat sheet this week. Goedert led the Eagles with 12 targets during a game in which Zach Ertz was generally gimpy, hauling in 9 for 91 and could have crested 100 if not for a cheap penalty calling back an explosive gain on a screen.
This was a career day for Goedert, but don’t get it twisted: a lot of what he did today, he’s done for much of the season. Today was just the volume day, given the absence of Ertz and the general lack of any other option. Hopefully, he continues to get these looks (rollout flats/crossers, slot fades, screens) into the playoffs.
Sidney Jones is suddenly the clutchest player in Philadelphia, and I have no explanation for you on that
A dominant performance from Malcolm Jenkins in a critical game for the Eagles defense? Let me pick my jaw up off the floor!
Jenkins hasn’t had as great a season in years past — Father Time comes for us all — but he did turn in a characteristically physical and instinctive performance across the middle of the field. With how checkdown heavy the Cowboys had to be given Dak’s injury, that was important for limiting YAC from good movers like Ezekiel Elliott and Jason Wit—nah, I’m just playing.
The Dallas Cowboys
It is objectively good in the long-term that the Cowboys fire Jason Garrett, and if a playoff berth would have secured his job for even one more year, Cowboys fans should work to take the long view and appreciate an opportunity to hire a more aggressive and impassioned head coach. A lot of people will want to work in Dallas.
The Dallas Cowboys
BUT FOR NOW ALL THEY DID WAS LOSE BABY 8-8 HERE YOU GO
What more can you say that hasn’t been said? Garrett is timid on fourth downs, obsessed with securing good field goal range, uninspired on his situational play calling and personnel. When Amari Cooper is out of the game in a must-win scenario, that starts with the head coach, I don’t care how injured Cooper was — he was playing for the whole game. When Dak Prescott is clearly limited but the offense doesn’t seem to adjust, that starts with the head coach, especially when you had so much time to prepare. The Cowboys are a poorly coached team, and that’s not all on Garrett — but that’s where the buck stops, no two ways about it.
Lame duck head coaches, rookie quarterbacks, some weirdly good play, in the frenetic NFC East. It feels like someone is gonna spoil something on Week 17. Hold onto your butts.