I hope everyone had as good a Thanksgiving as the Eagles had.
Every game went our way. The Bears winning made their first round pick, which belongs to the Giants, worse. The Cowboys losing put us back in the mix for the division. And the Bills winning helped us in the wildcard.
But there were also a lot of subplots that emerged from the games yesterday that we need to talk about. So lets dive right into them.
1. Jalen Hurts had a great day yesterday. Josh Allen looked pretty bad against the Saints defense in the first half, and was bailed out only because Trevor Siemian was worse. Dak Prescott wasn't great for most of the day. Yes, he was missing his best wide receivers. But he also missed a lot of throws, including one on a crucial third down in overtime. If anything, yesterday made a really good argument for the Eagles to draft a wide receiver in the first round. There are three prospects - Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Treylon Burks and Drake London - who are all ranked in the mid-first round, where at least one of our picks is likely to be. Yes, drafting another wide receiver in the first round would be frustrating. But it's like playing roulette, you can't let yourself be influenced by what the last spin was. Adding a wide receiver is a no-brainer to me. Smith and Goedert are clearly doing a better job than Reagor (and to a lesser extent Watkins) at getting open. So not drafting a wide receiver just to keep trotting Reagor out there makes no sense to me.
2. The Cowboys are in a tailspin. Yes, they were missing a lot of key pieces, but so were the Raiders. And while there were some bad calls that went against the Cowboys, the refs also blew a lot of calls that helped them as well. Desean Jackson was tackled on a play and Tony Romo said "you have to throw him the ball to get that call." Ummm, no Tony. That's not how that penalty works. There was an obvious block in the back on the Pollard TD. The false start penalty on the Raiders on their last drive in regulation basically kept Dallas in the game. But there are two numbers that are important. One is 64, and the other is 143. Those are the rushing yards for the Cowboys (64) against the 26th-ranked rushing defense and the number of yards the Raiders gained with their 28th-ranked rushing offense. Those numbers are really bad news for the Cowboys. If they can't run the ball and can't stop the run against a team that can't stop the run and can't run the ball, they are in trouble.
3. I feel a lot better about the offense right now. Watching the Bill struggle against the Saints made me feel a lot better about our performance. I already knew the Saints defense was good, but they gave up 150 yards in the first half against the Bills and had two interceptions. And that's with their offense basically unable to move the ball. After we played the Saints, I felt the offense was okay, but not anything to get that excited about. But watching them against the Bills, all I could think about was that we looked way better than an offense that is a legit Super Bowl contender.
4. I wish we had some "do overs." All I could think about watching the Raiders-Cowboys game was that we should have beaten both of these teams had we played a better scheme on both sides of the ball. Now, obviously both teams were much healthier when we played them, but I feel like we basically did everything we could to help them look as good as possible while putting our players in the worst possible position. And that gives me some level of confidence for the rest of the season. Before the season, I had a mental picture of what it would take for us to be a winning football team. And the keys were that we needed good QB play, the rookie class had to be really good and our vets needed to play to their contracts.
So let's look at how things have gone. Hurts has been really good at qb. He is averaging 260 yards of offense per game, with 21 touchdowns and 6 turnovers. Is that an MVP type season? No. Is it still pretty good? Yup. To me, the turnovers are crucial. He is not making killer mistakes.
Our rookie class has been really good. Dickerson is perhaps the biggest beneficiary of our run-heavy scheme. If you throw the ball 50 times a game, he is going to struggle. But running behind him and Mailata is almost like playing an unfair game. Smith has been excellent, and if nothing else, shows exactly why we can't be a team that throws the ball 50 times a game, since he is vastly better than our other receivers. Milton Williams has been really good for a third round pick. Stoll, Jackson and McPhearson have done well as role players and on special teams. In previous years, we were lucky to get one draft pick to be able to contribute. So this year feels like a miracle.
And finally, our vets are earning their paychecks. Kelce and Lane are among the best at their position. Darius Slay is having an all-pro season. Hargrave is a beast. And while Fletcher Cox hasn't put up great stats, the tape doesn't lie. He is still really disruptive and demands double teams.
One thing I didn't anticipate was poor coaching, and without a doubt our coaching was poor for the first part of the season. But credit to those guys that they figured things out. Our team isn't taking so many penalties, the scheme has obviously been better and we show up ready to go each week. You can't really ask for anything more (except to bench Reagor. Please, get him off the field or figure out how to use him better. But I am nitpicking at this point,)
Obviously, as soon as I start feeling good about this team, they find a way to pull my heart out through my nostrils, so I am prepared for the worst. But at least for now, this team is keeping me in festive spirits. Hopefully that trend will continue.