foleThe Philadelphia Eagles beat the New York Football Giants on Sunday. Time to hand out some winners, losers, and IDKs.
WILD CARD FEVER
The Eagles currently have a 62.2% chance of making the postseason, according to Football Outsiders’ playoff odds. They can actually clinch a berth as soon as next weekend, which is pretty crazy to think about following this team’s 2-5 start. Who thought the Birds might be resting starters in Week 18?!
The Eagles might not even have to settle for the lowest seed, either. Here are their chances at each wild card spot:
No. 5 seed — 7.6%
No. 6 seed — 27.5%
No. 7 seed — 27.1%
He probably won’t win the award ... but Sirianni has entered Coach of the Year conversation.
All told, Sirianni’s done a good job of maximizing the talent he’s been given to work with. The Eagles’ outlook didn’t look so amazing after a very disappointing four-win campaign last year. He’s really helped to turn things around.
And not just in the big picture but within this season. Sirianni definitely deserves blame for the Eagles’ struggles en route to a 2-5 start. But resiliency is one of the most important attributes for a head coach. It’s part of what made Doug Pederson so great.
The Eagles’ season could’ve really spiraled out of control. They looked dead in the water after the Las Vegas Raiders loss and there was thought the team might lose to the then-winless Detroit Lions. But they didn’t. Instead, the team responded well to adversity and they’re in position for a playoff spot.
One would be remiss to not mention how the Eagles’ resurgence has coincided with playing some truly awful quarterbacks. Only one NFL team has a weaker “strength of victory” percentage this season: the Atlanta Falcons.
Still, not every team dominates those inferior opponents the way that the Eagles have. As a result, the Birds rank +80 in point differential. A list of teams that rank higher:
Buffalo Bills +163
Dallas Cowboys +150
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +130
New England Patriots +128
Kansas City Chiefs +115
Indianapolis Colts +104
Los Angeles Rams +90
Arizona Cardinals +88
Cincinnati Bengals +86
That’s right, the Eagles are higher than the likely No. 1 seed in the NFC. The Green Bay Packers are just below at +59.
Given their struggles against higher quality opponents, there’s a pretty decent chance the Eagles won’t be raising the Vince Lombardi Trophy this year. But maybe they’ll be able to do that in the future with a head coach who has blossomed into a keeper.
The Eagles’ defense dominated the Giants offense.
It certainly helped that Gannon’s unit was facing the combination of Jake Fromm and Mike Glennon, who absolutely stink.
Still, if we take out New York’s final two garbage time drives when the Eagles put in most of their backups, the Birds allowed just three points. And it took a 54-yard field goal for the Giants to get them. The G-Men also managed just 90 yards gained on 50 plays, which is insane ineptitude. The Eagles’ defense generated seven points and 53 yards on two takeaways.
It remains to be seen if Gannon’s defense can hold up against one of the league’s better quarterbacks. In the meantime, his feats have reportedly caught attention elsewhere in the league. He might see some head coach interviews this offseason.
Johnson kicked ass as a blocker; he finished the game as Pro Football Focus’s top graded offensive lineman.
But it was his first career touchdown reception that was the highlight of the day. The Eagles got the ball to their starting right tackle on a play named after where Johnson is from: East Texas.
Alexis wrote a really good story about Johnson’s score and how happy his teammates were for him, you should check it out.
Really cool to see Lane get a score after what he’s been through this year. From going from “living in hell for a long time” to having a stadium full of fans cheering for his accomplishment, well, that must have felt nice. Well deserved moment.
Nick Sirianni says he doesn’t agree with Lane Johnson not being in the Pro Bowl.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) December 26, 2021
“I’ve never been around an offensive tackle as talented as this guy is.” #Eagles
Mailata could’ve had the worst game of his career and I’d still put him in the winners section after this quote.
Jordan Mailata on Lane Johnson’s touchdown:— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) December 26, 2021
“It was fu— I’m not going to swear, but it was fucking awesome.”#Eagles
DeVonta is what a WR1 looks like.
He can make catches that not just any receiver can pull off. His toe-tapping effort in the end zone was sensational. He also did a really good job of coming back to the ball and high-pointing it on Jalen Hurts’ underthrow for a 46-gain, the longest play of the rookie’s career. A better throw there likely would’ve resulted in a touchdown because Smith smoked his defender down the sideline.
We say it every week and we’ll continue to beat this drum: Feed DeVonta Smith. He’s good at football. #Analysis.
Hardly an all-around incredible game for Quez but his leaping contested catch for 39 yards probably saved an interception. Dating back to training camp, Watkins has demonstrated the ability to be a jump ball receiver. Not something you might expect from a 6’0”, 193 pound player who profiles as a field-stretching speedster. But it’s definitely something he can pull off.
Watkins finished with his sixth highest receiving total of the season.
It’s been a pretty quiet season for McLeod. A quietly disappointing one, even, considering he’s started to lose playing time with Marcus Epps rotating in.
But McLeod came up big on Sunday with an interception to give the Eagles the ball at NYG’s 21-yard line. The offense capitalized with a touchdown to make it a 10-3 game and it was all over from there.
McLeod also notched the pass deflection that created a pick-six for Alex Singleton to really seal the deal.
Nice to see McLeod making a positive impact during what could be the tail end of his Eagles career. He’ll be a free agent after this season and he turns 32 in June.
Singleton led the Eagles in solo tackles with 10 (!) and had 12 total. He also entered the end zone for the second time in his career. Nick Mullens and Mike Glennon simply don’t stand a chance when the pride of the Canadian Football League is on the field.
Speaking of tackling machines ... Edwards had 16 total in this game, six solo. He was everywhere out there and played a big role in the Giants’ run game failing to get going. Edwards also had a chance to log a pick but unfortunately dropped it.
Edwards was PFF’s highest-graded linebacker in the NFL from Week 16. He is their seventh-highest graded linebacker this season.
The defense as a whole has played well since Edwards entered the starting lineup in Week 8. Probably not just a coincidence.
Perhaps an underrated performer from the Eagles’ win. Sweat had a favorable matchup since he was facing the Giants’ second- and third-string options at right tackle. He took advantage of it by producing five pressures (one sack, four hurries), a forced fumble, and a pass deflection.
Sweat’s effort helped to set the tone for the game. He made some key plays on multiple third downs to force the Giants into punting.
With 2.5 sacks in his last three games, the Eagles can hope that Sweat is heating up down the stretch.
Williams picked up his first sack since Week 8 and the second of his career when he chose not to bite on a play-fake and instead pursue Fromm on his bootleg rollout. The correct decision resulted in a 10-yard loss for the Giants. Williams had an additional quarterback hit to go with one tackle for loss.
Good to see the rookie defender showing promise.
We’re feeling generous after an Eagles win so, hey, why not put Reagor in the winners section for the second straight week?! He only had two catches for 15 yards, he dropped a screen pass that may have went for a touchdown, and he had first punt return go for negative four yards.
BUT! He did have a return that went for 39 yards and set the Eagles up for a field goal to give Philly a two possession lead. He also made a good decision to not field a punt deep in the Eagles’ own territory and let it bounce for a touchback instead. Baby steps?
At the very least, the day ended better for him than it started.
Some boos for Jalen Reagor as he ran out during #Eagles player intros.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) December 26, 2021
Big cheers for Jalen Reagor after the WR had a 39-yard punt return. #Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) December 26, 2021
Of course, Reagor still has a long, long, long way to go. Not great how he’s taken a step back this year:
Sunday marked Scott’s first offensive touches since he had a costly fumble late in the Eagles’ Week 12 loss to New York. He didn’t totally light the world on fire with just 41 yards on 12 carries (3.4 average). But he did find the end zone, as he often does against the Giants.
And with Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard getting banged up, Scott could be trusted to be RB1 or RB2 moving forward.
It took quite some time for the Avery trade to finally bear some fruit. But, hey, it finally has.
Avery made a couple big plays in this game. He generated pressure on the pass that was a gift of a pick for McLeod (though could’ve been a penalty since he got some of Fromm’s facemask) and he made a really nice open field tackle on Saquon Barkley, who had a lane to work with.
Jonny Page has been highlighting some nice Avery moments in his weekly All-22 breakdowns for BGN lately. He’s quietly looking like a nice role player.
Perhaps an overly generous inclusion but JJAW did well to jump on the ball fumbled by Kenneth Gainwell on the game’s opening kickoff. The Eagles probably could’ve overcome the Giants scoring a touchdown there but who knows if the game might go a bit differently. We didn’t have to find out.
To a larger point, JJAW has done a nice job of rebranding himself as the hustle guy. Still not a good look for the front office who used a second-round pick on him. But JJAW doing the dirty work is a good look for himself and the coaching staff.
BLG giving credit to Howie?! Hell must have frozen over.
Look. I’m guessing I’m not alone when I say I still have some reservations about the Eagles’ general manager, especially as it relates to building a true championship contender and not just a mediocre team that can beat up on the bad opponents and lose to the actually good ones. And his numerous missteps that necessitated a “transition year” should not be so easily brushed aside.
But Roseman deserves credit for acquiring a number of the players previously mentioned in the winners section. While pushing for a playoff berth, the Eagles also currently have three first-round picks to look forward to in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Including the utilization of those selections, there a number of big decisions for Roseman to make moving forward. None bigger than identifying the right franchise quarterback for this team and succesfully building around him, something he attempted but failed with Carson Wentz.
In the meantime, only fair to give Howie some credit.
If you’ll recall, the buzz back in the offseason was that Lurie wasn’t sold on hiring Josh McDaniels to replace Doug Pederson as much as Roseman was. It was also said that Roseman didn’t even want Doug gone.
Lurie made an unpopular decision to get rid of his Super Bowl-winning head coach but, right now, it’s looking like he made the right call. Lurie’s strong track record of hiring good “unknown” coaches is only looking stronger with Sirianni showing encouraging promise.
BDN came up clutch (who would have guessed?) with a successful two-point conversion completion to help the Bears beat the Seattle Seahawks. This outcome made the Giants’ day even worse considering they own Chicago’s first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. The Bears pick dropped from No. 5 to No. 8 on Sunday. As a result, the Eagles’ Super Bowl MVP helped out his former team.
Saint Nick came through on Christmas weekend.
Judge is a natural fit in this category.
My BGN Radio co-host put it well:
The Eagles played better in the tank game than the Giants are playing today.— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) December 26, 2021
Jake Fromm is right up there with Luke Falk and Ben DiNucci as some of the many awful quarterbacks the Eagles have faced in recent seasons. 6/17 (35.3% completion), 25 yards (1.5 average), 0 TD, 1 INT, 19.5 passer rating, and a fumble. Just dreadful.
Mike Glennon went 17/27 (63% completion), 93 yards (3.4 average), 1 TD, 1 INT, and a 65.8 passer rating. And a good chunk of that production came against the Eagles’ backups late in the game.
The Giants are benching Jake Fromm for Mike Glennon, who was benched for Jake Fromm following a three interception game last week.#Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) December 26, 2021
New York Giants plan to bring back HC Joe Judge and QB Daniel Jones for the 2022 season, per sources.https://t.co/ssvWw87XJq— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 26, 2021
Kenny G got away with a really bad fumble on the opening kickoff. He also only saw just two offensive snaps and one touch despite Sanders and Howard getting hurt. The Eagles might need to use him more often with Sanders (and maybe Howard?) expected to miss some time. But the coaching staff seems to not have a ton of trust in him.
Lovato had a bad snap on Jake Elliott’s missed kick that broke his streak of 17 straight made field goals. Holder Arryn Siposs was forced to pick it up off the ground.
I DONT KNOWS
If the narrative is that Hurts struggled in the first half but it’s entirely forgivable because he played better in the seoond half, well, I think that’s letting the starting quarterback off easy.
Hurts was REALLY bad in the first half. His early game fumble, which was caused by holding on to the ball for forever, wasn’t a sign that he learned from his mistake against Washington just several days earlier. He forced a throw short of the sticks to Dallas Goedert that should’ve been picked off but was dropped. Hurts was very fortunate that those weren’t turnovers.
Watching the game from my angle in the press box, it looked like Hurts was going to be picked off when he aired it out to Quez Watkins. The receiver helped to bail him out, though, just like Goedert did in the Washington game. Hurts had another deep underthrow when he targeted Smith, who had to come back for the ball instead of continuing to streak down the sideline for a likely score.
DEVONTA SMITH WHAT A CATCH!!#Eagles #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/hbZnfnrsRR— Brodes Media (@BrodesMedia) December 26, 2021
These criticisms might come off as nitpicking but the reality is they’re issues that are going to be magnified against higher quality competition. The Eagles probably aren’t going to get away with those mistakes in the playoffs when the margin for error is much slimmer.
I don’t know if it was a “stock down” game for Hurts but it certainly wasn’t a “stock up” performance. It was the 10th time Hurts failed to eclipse 200 yards passing in game this season (he was just shy at 199, to be fair, and was replaced by Gardner Minshew). Three of his five games over 200 yards were boosted by garbage time (see: at Dallas, vs. Kansas City, at Las Vegas).
The weekly disclaimer applies: Hurts’ struggles don’t necessarily automatically disqualify him from being the Eagles’ franchise quarterback, or at least the starter next year.
And it’s not like he was all bad. He was indeed better in the second half, which has been a common theme this season. There’s something to be said for his resiliency (we gave Sirianni credit for the same attribute, after all).
Jalen Hurts went 10 of 12 for 105 yards and 2 TDs in the second half after opening 7 of 17 for 94 yards. https://t.co/AqQNB3nXrs— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) December 27, 2021
#Eagles QB Jalen Hurts' 1st half numbers this season:— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) December 27, 2021
135 of 221 (61.1 %) for 1,543 yds, 7 TDs, 5 INTs (83.2 rat.); 60 carries for 308 yds (5.1 avg.) and 3 TDs.
113 of 184 (61.4 %) for 1,387 yds, 9 TDs, 4 INTs (91.9 rat.); 72 carries for 419 yds (5.8 avg.) and 7 TDs.
He made a nice throw on the run to Smith for a touchdown and fitting a pass to Reagor in a tight window was good stuff:
A lot of talk about progression and growth.— FightPhillyFightNetwork (@FPFNetwork) December 27, 2021
Hurts stepping into throws and climbing the pocket is a completely different passer.
Absolute drop in the bucket on this play to Reagor. #FlyEaglesFly #Eagles pic.twitter.com/9FpgSjeDde
On the whole, though, Hurts needs to be significantly better than he was in this game.
The numbers don’t look bad: seven carries for 45 yards (6.4 average). But he also dropped a pass and suffered a broken hand that’s going to cause him to miss Week 17 (at least). Sanders’ durability is becoming a concern.
JoHo also got banged up in this game. Sirianni said his MRI came back good and the Eagles are “hopeful” about his chances of playing this week. But it’s hard not to worry about Howard suffering a stinger injury when the same issue caused him to miss more playing time than expected in 2019.
It’s also worth noting that Howard hasn’t been as good since he suffered a knee injury.
Pre-injury: 51 for 274 (5.37 avg), 3 TD
Post-injury: 24 for 106 (4.42 avg), 0 TD
The Eagles would like to be able to lean on Howard with Sanders missing time. Is he able to handle the workload and be effective?