Get hot and healthy going in to the playoffs and anything is possible, right?!
They might not be healthy, at all, but the Philadelphia Eagles do at least meet one of those requirements. They needed every single one of their four straight wins for the Eagles to punch their playoff ticket, but now they’re aiming to join a select group of 9-7 teams to make it to the big dance. The 1979 Los Angeles Rams did it. The 2008 Arizona Cardinals did it. Heck, the 2011 New York Giants did it and won the whole shebang.
Does the film show a team that’s made the necessary strides to make a run? With a team that won a Super Bowl with Nick Foles at the helm, we’re already through the looking glass. But what does the film tell us? That’s what we try to break down on The Kist & Solak Show #165!
Carson Wentz is getting a lot of credit for his turnaround and calm in the storm while his supporting cast melts around him, and he absolutely should. In the last four weeks, Wentz has completed 67.6% of his passes (7th) for 1,199 yards (6th) with 7 touchdowns (t-6th) and 0 interceptions for a healthy 100.8 QB Rating (8th). With a quarterback playing like that, the Eagles can hang with anybody in January.
It’s not all Wentz, of course. Doug Pederson has taken a patchwork group and has produced one magnificent game-plan after another. One big change has been the balance they’ve found, which has shifted them from a horizontal-offense only to a team with excellent balance between their quick game and more vertical concepts. During their win streak, the Eagles are t-9th for explosive plays in the air with 16, largely due to their willingness to “let the bronco buck”.
This three-level flood includes some crafty action from the offensive line. “Same side power” is a staple of the Eagles’ run game in 2019, but here they utilize the look in their play-action game to great effect. Wentz is given time and space to survey the field and that time affords a group that struggles to separate the time needed to get open. This time it’s Deontay Burnett who finds himself on the receiving end of a gorgeous 40+ air yard pass from Wentz.
Another example of the benefits of getting Wentz into space and buying time came on Josh Perkins’ 24-yard touchdown.
Wentz and Pederson aren’t doing it on their own either. They’ve been helped by key performances from Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, Greg Ward, and Dallas Goedert have been boons for the offense. For his part, Goedert has shown the ability to come up with clutch catches in big moments, something the Eagles have lacked for most of the season.
Goedert finished the regular season with 58 catches, 607 yards (10th among TE), 5 touchdowns and PFF ranks him t-14th in yards per route run with 1.64. He’s shown he’s capable of taking the TE1 mantle when Zach Ertz goes down.
It’s been a true team effort with better complimentary play than we’ve seen all season. The Eagles defense has allowed under 20 points in seven of their last nine outings and are getting a similar influx of improbable performances from unlikely heroes. One of those heroes is Sidney Jones, who is becoming their football equivalent of a “closer” when somebody in the secondary invariably goes down.
"Forget this off coverage let me get tight and make a doggone play" YOU CAN'T MAKE ME QUIT SIDNEY JONES pic.twitter.com/LeO65uKSfY— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) December 30, 2019
The Eagles also got one of Avonte Maddox’s best games of the season, plus Cre’Von LeBlanc always seems ready to ball in December. Against the Giants they also got improved performances from the likes of Anthony Rush, Timmy Jernigan, and the returning Derek Barnett, who hit not just one, but two successful spin moves in an encouraging sign of film preparation and development.
We break down this film in deeper detail on The Kist & Solak Show #165! Listen on the media player below or click here if the player doesn’t load. New to podcasts?! Check out our guide on how to listen and subscribe to BGN! FLY EAGLES FLY!