The Day After – Back to Winning

Posted: November 21st, 2022 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 3 Comments »

The best thing about Sunday’s game with the Colts is that the Eagles won. That’s sounds obvious, but it feels so true after losing on Monday night. With the Eagles being the last undefeated team, their loss got a lot of attention.

National and local media talked about everything that went wrong incessantly. Were the Eagles exposed? Was there a blueprint for beating them? Some people wanted to push aside the Eagles and talk about how good the Vikings were, despite the fact the Eagles had already beaten them convincingly.

Last week was not fun.

That made winning on Sunday even more important than usual. Obviously the Eagles wanted to win for football reasons. Those of us on the outside needed them to win to avoid all the negativity that would have come from losing. That would have made for a brutal week.

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Quez Watkins and Brandon Graham made critical mistakes in the loss to Washington. If Watkins doesn’t fumble, the Eagles had a very good chance to win the game. If Graham doesn’t hit Taylor Heinicke, the Eagles have a chance for a game-winning drive.

Instead…L.

It was great to see both players get a bit of redemption on Sunday. Watkins caught a 22-yard TD pass in the early fourth quarter. That cut the deficit to 13-10. Just as important, it gave the Eagles life. The longer you go without scoring a TD, the harder it seems to be. You start to wonder if this is going to be one of “those” games. Watkins suggested the play to Jalen Hurts. The Eagles had run it previously and he’d been open. This time Hurts hit Watkins for the score. Huge play.

Graham came up with a sack on third down on the Colts final drive. That basically sealed the game for the Eagles. Josh Sweat was the RDE for the first four plays of the drive. Sweat used his speed to get around the rookie LT. He couldn’t quite get to Ryan, but his speed was an issue. BG noticed that and decided he would try to bull rush. His thinking was that the LT would sell out to stop a speed rush. That’s what happened and BG was able to drive him right back into Matt Ryan and get the sack.

You love to see guys bounce back the way Watkins and BG did. You can’t control the past. Go make a play today.

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Miles Sanders has only one run of more than 25 yards this year, a 35-yard jaunt againts the Jags. Sanders is arguably having the best year of his career despite not having long breakaway runs like he did in the past.

Against the Colts, there were a few plays where it felt like Sanders was so close to breaking long runs. He got beyond the LOS and was tripped up with only one defender anywhere near him. That’s not a knock on Sanders. Defenders made critical plays to keep him from getting loose for big gains. You have to think he’ll break a long run before the year is over.

His numbers aren’t great this year, but I think Sanders is running smarter and tougher than ever. In the past he looked for big runs. It was great when he got in the open and delivered a 50-yard TD. But there were a lot of bad choices that lost yards and other plays where yards were left on the field. Sanders is being more decisive and is more focused on moving the chains than hitting home runs. That’s smart and has helped the offense to thrive.

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Jonathan Gannon’s defense is getting the job done in a big way.

Listen, Gannon’s style isn’t for everyone. His lack of aggression can be so, so frustrating. But Gannon isn’t paid for aesthetics. He’s paid for results. The Eagles are 2nd in the NFL in yards allowed. They are 7th in points allowed.

We’ll see how the season plays out. Gannon’s defense still has to face Aaron Rodgers, Derrick Henry, Saquon Barkley, Justin Fields and Dak Prescott. There’s also the postseason. These tests will help us to really get a feel for how good Gannon and his defense are.

So far, they’ve been outstanding.

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In the final three quarters of Monday’s game and the first three quarters of Sunday’s game, the Eagles scored one TD and one FG. That is 10 points over six quarters of football. Yikes.

Washington and Indy have good defenses. There were some turnovers. There were some injury issues. There was some bad luck. The bottom line…not good enough. The Eagles are going to face good defenses in the postseason. They might have to deal with adversity. They must find a way to get back to being more consistent on offense.

It was very encouraging to see the Eagles score 14 points in the fourth quarter. The offense came alive with the game on the line.

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Charles Davis was the analyst for the game on Sunday. He does a great job with NFL draft coverage and is universally loved as a person. He’s not universally loved as an NFL analyst. Davis didn’t say anything negative about the Eagles, but he acted like Sunday was Jalen Hurts first really good game in the NFL. Most people had Hurts as a Top 3 candidate for NFL MVP. Davis acted like this was Hurts coming out party.

Davis talked about the Eagles defense loading up the box. The camera then showed 4 DL and 2 LBs. Six guys is not loading up the box. That was a terrible bit of analysis.

Not his best work.

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Eagles TEs caught one pass for 7 yards on Sunday. Nick Sirianni talked about Jack Stoll having an outstanding game. Stoll is the TE who caught the pass and played the most snaps. I haven’t had a chance to study Stoll’s performance yet. Maybe he was open a lot. Maybe he blocked really well. I get that Sirianni is trying to build the confidence of his guys. That’s smart.

Still, the Eagles are going to need more production from the TE spot in the next few weeks.

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Very cool to see this.

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One of the things I’m happiest about is the schedule settling down. No more Thursday games. No more Monday games. The bye is in the past. The team can settle into a groove of playing on Sundays (except for Christmas Eve when they’ll play on Saturday).

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Last year Jalen Reagor was the Eagles #3 receiver and went 33-299-2.

This year Quez Watkins is the #3 receiver. Through 10 games, he is 14-224-2. He doesn’t have the number of catches, but is so much more of a playmaker. And it is hard to quantify his value as a field-stretcher. His vertical speed helps AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith to get open on underneath and intermediate routes. Reagor didn’t bring that to the table.

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