The Eagles are 6-0 after beating the Dallas Cowboys! Time to hand out some winners, losers, and IDKs.
Undefeated. Watch out, 1972 Dolphins.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE HOPES
The Eagles are clearly the best team in the NFC right now. They’re in the No. 1 spot in the NFC playoff picture.
The Minnesota Vikings are second at 5-1 and the Birds have a head-to-head tiebreaker over them.
The New York Giants are also 5-1. They’re clearly better than people thought they would be but they’ve hardly looked unbeatable while only winning one-score games. The Eagles will have a chance to beat them twice.
The Cowboys are the only four-win team in the conference and the Eagles just beat them. Every other team is 3-3 or worse.
All of this is to say that the Eagles have a favorable path to clinching the No. 1 seed. There are plenty of winnable games remaining on their schedule.
Jimmy Kempski and I predicted when the Eagles might lose their first game on the latest BGN Radio podcast episode:
THE SECOND QUARTER EAGLES
From NFL Research:
The Eagles scored 20 points in the second quarter, bringing their total to 112 points scored in the second stanza in 2022, which is the most points by any team in any quarter in the first six games of a season in NFL history. It’s also more than 11 teams, including the Cowboys, Packers and Rams, have total points in 2022.
Read that again: “The most points by any team in any quarter in the first six games of a season in NFL history.”
What makes them so good in that time-frame? Hard to say for sure. But it’s undeniably where they hit their groove.
One could wonder if the Eagles are really good at testing out how their opponent is playing them in the first quarter and then adjusting to take advantage in the second. Some of it is also related to how successful they’ve been in end of half scenarios.
Now, if only the Eagles could be a little better in the other quarters!
CJGJ’s transition from nickel cornerback to safety hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing. There have been busted coverages. There have been missed tackles.
But CJGJ has a track record of making plays on the ball and that’s exactly what he did on Sunday night.
His first interception was largely created by an excellent pass breakup by James Bradberry. Still, CJGJ timed his jump well to go up and seize the ball.
His second interception was an impressive diving effort on a wounded duck from Cooper Rush created by pressure from Brandon Graham. I feel like a lot of defenders don’t make that catch cleanly and it instead winds up as an incompletion. But CJGJ made the play and he did it despite having to miss a decent chunk of playing time with a hand injury. His second pick essentially sealed the game. The Birds weren’t losing after that.
CJGJ is probably going to be the fourth NFC Defensive Player of the Week that the Eagles have had this season.
Slay was the Eagles’ second-highest graded defender by Pro Football Focus. He finished with one interception and allowed just one catch for two yards and a 56.3 passer rating. Slay’s pick was a result of him basically running the route for Michael Gallup.
Bradberry was targeted 10 times but only allowed three catches for 31 yards and a 40.0 passer rating.
Bradberry has allowed the fewest yards of any cornerback in the league this year, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. And not by a small margin.
He’s been a PBU machine, logging four in this game — including one to create CJGJ’s first pick — to give him nine on the season. At this pace, he’s set to eclipse his single-season career high of 18 that came during his Pro Bowl year in 2020.
The Eagles should send the New York Giants a Thank You card for simply releasing Bradberry. He’s arguably been their best defender this season.
Quarterbacks against the Cowboys’ defense this season:
Tom Brady in Week 1: 18/27 (66.7%), 212 yards (7.9 avg), 1 TD, 1 INT, 87.3 passer rating
Joe Burrow in Week 2: 24/36 (66.7%), 199 yards (5.5 avg), 1 TD, 0 INT, 89.9 passer rating
Daniel Jones in Week 3: 20/37 (54.1%), 196 yards (5.3 avg), 0 TD, 1 INT, 57.9 passer rating
Carson Wentz in Week 4: 25/42 (59.5%), 170 yards (4.0 avg), 1 TD, 2 INT, 56.7 passer rating
Matthew Stafford in Week 5: 28/42 (66.7%), 308 yards (7.3 avg), 1 TD, 1 INT, 862 passer rating
Jalen Hurts in Week 6: 15/25 (60%), 155 yards (6.2 avg), 2 TD, 0 INT, 104.6 passer rating
Hurts didn’t put up volume numbers against the Cowboys’ defense but he was relatively efficient and avoided turning the ball over.
When the Eagles needed a touchdown drive to answer the Cowboys cutting Philly’s lead down to three points, Hurts did his part to help the Birds find the end zone. The Eagles ran a lot on that final touchdown drive. But Hurts pitched in with two running first downs of his own. An accurate pass to A.J. Brown allowed the receiver to break off yards after the catch and get to the 7-yard line. From there, Hurts delivered a strike to DeVonta Smith in the end zone.
The Eagles have not struggled to put big scoring drives together when they’ve really needed them this season. Hurts is hardly the sole factor when it comes to the Eagles’ success in this regard. But there is certainly something to be said for his unflappable confidence and composure. It reminds me of the talk of Nick Foles having a calming effect on his teammates. Hurts offers the same sense of stability.
Though he no longer calls the plays, Sirianni is still very much contributing to the offensive game plan. And the Eagles did some pretty smart things, such as leaving Micah Parsons unblocked as the defender that the offense was reading. The coaching staff did their part to make sure the Cowboys’ best player wouldn’t wreck this game.
From a vibes standpoint, all indications point to Sirianni fostering a winning culture in Philly. The players seem to have good chemistry and enjoy playing for each other. Of course, there’s some chicken or the egg effect there with winning begetting positivity and positivity begetting winning.
Sirianni’s passion and intensity also resonates with fans:
Entering this season, I considered myself a Sirianni centrist. I didn’t think he was bad but I wondered if he gave the Eagles a significant edge in any area. And while the players deserve a lot of credit for their locker room culture, Sirianni does his part to have this group playing like a team.
The Eagles scored three touchdowns against a Dallas defense that hadn’t allowed a multi-touchdown game this year. The offense scored on four of their first drives in the first half and came up big when they needed a huge drive to extend the lead back to two possessions.
One could ague that Steichen’s best work was calling the play that caused Parsons to be in conflict and leaving a motioning A.J. Brown wide open. The Eagles OC used this to not only convert a 4th-and-3 on Philly’s first touchdown drive but then again for their second touchdown to go up 14 to 0. Love when a play-caller goes back to a play that worked well the first time. Why not make the opposition prove they can stop it?
The two Cowboys drives to start the second half were concerning. The Eagles sat back and watched Dallas go 79 yards in nine plays and then 93 yards in 15 plays to make it a three-point game. It felt like watching the 2021 defense.
But the Birds ultimately limited the Cowboys to 17 points, three of which were greatly aided by a bad special teams play. And they forced three turnovers. Not going to say it was an A+ showing for Gannon but he’s overseeing a defense that ranks 4th in EPA per play, 4th by PFF grade, and 5th by DVOA right now. Entering the season, we said he needed to produce a top quarter of the league defense given the talent he’s working with. And so far he’s done that.
He’s so good at getting yards after the catch. And not just because of his physicality but also because of how he work defensive leverage. No greater example than how Brown caught a short pass from Hurts and turned it into a 22-yard gain to set up a 7-yard touchdown on the next play.
Brown ultimately led the Birds in receiving with five catches for 67 yards and one score.
Not the sexiest stat line you’ll ever see: five catches for 44 yards and one touchdown. But DeVonta caught every target that went his way. And two of them resulted in first downs while another was a score. The touchdown grab was underrated to me because Hurts (perhaps unnecessarily?) threw a heater to him that he was able to snag.
Graham was the Eagles’ top-graded defender by PFF in this game. He notched three pressures on just 18 pass rush snaps. One of them was the hit on Rush that created the opportunity for CJGJ’s second interception.
Unfortunately, Johnson suffered a concussion that caused him to be ruled out of the game. We’re including him here, though, since it’s clear how important he is to this team. They’re just not the same offense when he’s missing. It’s easy to take for granted how awesome he’s been at right tackle. This game was a reminder that he deserves more appreciation.
Johnson did not allow a single pressure when he was in the game. He was ensuring that DeMarcus Lawrence and Micah Parsons were non-factors when it came to pressuring Hurts.
Hard not to give Howie credit with new additions like CJGJ and Bradberry balling out. He’s built the strongest secondary the Birds have had in some time.
I can’t believe the Phillies are in the NLCS.
I had a blast attending Game 3 against the Braves. The crowd was awesome. Altanta’s players look totally demoralized and defeated. That energy undoubtedly carried over to Game 4 and was also present at The Linc. That is, until the crowd got nervous when Cowboys trimmed the Eagles’ lead. But then it was back to being a party once the Eagles gave fans something to cheer about again.
I realize many here aren’t necessarily fans of the Fightins but the context is important to understand. The vibes in Philly are immaculate right now.
Make sure you’re following The Good Phight for your Phillies needs.
I used to keep track of the Eagles’ record when Embiid attended their games. I lost track but I know they were undefeated leading up to Super Bowl LII. If not still undefeated, they’re definitely really good when he’s in attendance. Good luck charm.
The Cowboys are 4-2 after losing to the Eagles.
Cowboys fans seem to be claiming a moral victory but that’s very dumb. This was a costly defeat:
What Sunday means: #DallasCowboys vs. #FlyEaglesFly— Aaron Schatz (@FO_ASchatz) October 12, 2022
NFC East: PHI 52%, DAL 45%, NYG 4%
1 seed: PHI 38%, DAL 28%, TB 12%
NFC East: PHI 87%, DAL 10%, NYG 3%
1 seed: PHI 73%, TB 8%, DAL 6%
According to FO season sims.
Playoff odds: https://t.co/zftXH38Nca
#Cowboys DeMarcus Lawrence: "Has he (Jalen Hurts) played us? All right. Different teams run different schemes. All y'all need to write is he hasn't played the Cowboys yet, so we don't know how good is he."— Nicki’s Cousin Friend w/ The Swollen Testicles (@marl0stanfield_) October 17, 2022
Also DeMarcus Lawrence: #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/H72qSC8y00
This is the literal version of talk shit, get hit:
.@Eagles @JasonKelce not everyone has a “flipper” the way Kelce does. Maybe it’s that star on the side of those helmets that makes him FLIP. This film room is electric today. #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/R0Uoqm5lyX— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) October 17, 2022
After the game, Lawrence naturally refused to give the Eagles credit.
“What I saw today was us beating ourselves. We gave them more opportunities to score the ball and I’ve got to be more disciplined on third-and-five. It’s all about getting back in it and cleaning it up, learning from these mistakes, and moving on. Like I said, I don’t feel like we should hang our hats on a game like this. We know we played tough and learned from our mistakes. We came in here and threaded at halftime and got better, so that’s all it took.”
RJ and I made a punishment bet entering Sunday night’s game. And since he lost, he now has to do two things:
1) Write an article for BTB where he talks about the Eagles’ greatness as the top team in the NFC. Once it goes live, I’ll be dropping that post on the front cover of BGN for you to enjoy.
2) Wear a shirt that says “Beat Dallas” that can be seen on both the YouTube version of this week’s NFC East Mixtape episode and the YouTube version of this week’s episode of The Look Ahead on The SB Nation NFL Show.
Always fun to pour some salt in the wound. Looking forward to dunking him on the Mixtape.
THE REF WHO OVERTURNED THE BLOCK IN THE BACK PENALTY
Bad calls are part of the game. They’re going to happen.
But sometimes they’re downright unconscionable. That was the case with “No Clear Recovery” that the Eagles got screwed by in 2018. And that was the case again when the officials initially flagged Tony Pollard for a clear block in the back (so clear that I called for it right after it happened from far away in the press box before I even aw the flag come out) ... only to confer and decide it wasn’t a penalty! How the hell did they come to this decision? It was clear as day in the moment, not just on replay.
That penalty was no minor deal, either. The Cowboys should’ve been at 2nd-and-19 from the Eagles’ 46-yard line instead of 1st-and-10 at the Eagles’ 20-yard line. Huge difference. Four plays later, Dallas scored their second touchdown to make it a three-point game.
You probably won’t be shocked to learn that Wallace was the Eagles’ worst-graded defender by PFF.
The Birds are truly in trouble if either Marcus Epps (who has not yet missed a snap) or CJGJ get seriously hurt. Wallace is far from an inspiring option as a backup safety.
Wallace did not play well in training camp. It was argued here that he didn’t deserve to make the 53-player roster. I would much rather see Reed Blankenship get a shot at that role. The UDFA safety has mostly been a healthy scratch despite showing more promise in camp and the preseason than Wallace has ever shown during his entire Eagles tenure. If not Blankenship, I’d be open to seeing Josiah Scott get a shot at the backup safety role. Just anyone but Wallace at this point. It can’t be him.
EAGLES SPECIAL TEAMS
KaVontae Turpin is a talented returner but the Eagles still did a bad job in kickoff coverage to allow a 63-yard return that sparked a 17-point run by the Cowboys. It would be nice if the special teams unit could be merely average instead of the liability it’s been early on this year. It feels like special teams is going to cost the Birds a game at some point.
This game was Ezekiel Elliott’s first with over 6.0 yards per carry since Week 4 of the 2021 season. They allowed him to gain 81 yards on his 13 carries. He had 4.69 yards after contact per attempt. For context, the current NFL leader in that category is Khalil Herbert with 4.51. So, not a good look for the Birds.
The Eagles entered Week 6 as one of the worst tackling teams in the NFL with 48 missed tackles. They “only” had nine on 67 snaps this week, which is actually their third best performance in terms of missed tackles allowed per snap. But even some of the tackles they were making were weak in terms of the Cowboys being able to power for extra yards. The Eagles need cleaner tackling.
The Saints currently owe the No. 5 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft to the Eagles. Tough look for them.
I DON’T KNOWS
Cox has gone quiet after posting three sacks in his first three games. He had zero sacks and two quarterback hits in his last three games. Going up against Zack Martin obviously isn’t a scenario where he’s primed to feast.
But it’s not like he was solely matched up against Martin. The Eagles should be able to expect better than this:
Fletcher Cox getting pushed 12+ yards out of the way by Terence Steele (notably NOT Zach Martin) on a #Cowboys rushing TD. Love the effort to make the tackle when the run spills his way too. pic.twitter.com/ikmtsjR8aK— Shane Haff (@HAFFnHAFF_TPL) October 18, 2022
Especially when it’s not even like Cox is regularly expected to play the entire game. He’s logged just 63.59% of the Eagles’ snaps this year.
Accounting for his dead money, Cox has the second biggest cap number on the team at $16.8 million. He’s only behind Javon Hargrave at $17.8 million.
PFF grades are hardly the be-all, end-all but Cox ranks tied for 69th out of 135 interior defenders this season. Jordan Davis, meanwhile, is 16th.
Davis should be able to eat more into Cox’s playing time if the veteran is not going to be productive. Feels like it’s time for the Eagles to stop limiting Davis’s usage to five-man fronts and allow him to actually attack the passer in four-man looks.
Editor’s note: Apologies for the absence of this weekly column after the past two games. I appreciate those who reached out to ask where it was. No good reason for it missing other than severe writer’s block on my end. Bad job by me. Aiming to do better moving forward.