Game Review – PHI 24, MIN 7

Posted: September 22nd, 2022 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

Week 2. Monday Night Football. Vikings, Eagles. A big test for both teams. The Eagles shut down the elite receiver and made big plays on offense and defense. They won and sent a message to the rest of the NFC.

That happened back in 2004. That Eagles team ended up going to the Super Bowl.

Nick Sirianni’s 2022 Eagles team just beat the Vikings on MNF in Week 2. The Eagles shut down the elite receiver and made big plays on offense and defense. It sure felt like they sent a message to the rest of the NFC.

We’ve got a long wait before we’ll know if this team is Super Bowl worthy, but they were terrific on Monday.

I was quietly confident in the Eagles winning the game. Minnesota had a lot of hype after their win over Green Bay, but people seemed to be buying in a little too much. The Packers were missing both of their starting OTs. They were on the road. MIN had a new coaching staff so their schemes were going to be new. They had a lot of advantages in that game and that helped them to win, 23-7.

The Eagles were going to be a very different story. They have an elite pair of OTs. They had home field advantage. They had tape to study. Everyone focused on how the Eagles would handle Jefferson and Adam Thielen. Fair enough. But the Eagles do have three good corners. The Vikings had to handle AJ Brown, DeVonta Smith and Quez Watkins with Patrick Peterson, Cam Dantzler and Chandon Sullivan. Advantage Eagles. Big time.

This wasn’t a perfect performance by the Eagles. They didn’t score in the second half. They were sloppy on STs. They had a couple of blown coverages. But that also speaks to how good the team can be. They were dominant without being perfect.

Don’t write off the Vikings. They have some things to build off. They had some crucial dropped passes (one for a long TD). Make those catches and we’ve got a different game. They did tackle well. Dantzler was very good in space. LB Eric Kendricks was a pain in the butt all night long. The Eagles only had 4 plays go for more than 20 yards. Kirk Cousins only got sacked twice on 49 pass attempts.

COACHING

The Eagles out-coached the Vikings on offense and defense. Give Sirianni, Jonathan Gannon and Shane Steichen credit for putting together good gameplans.

Gannon got his guys to beat a good QB for the first time in his Eagles tenure. Say what you want about Gannon, but he’s put up big QB numbers in recent years and has done well against the Eagles. Holding him to 27-46-221 and coming up with 3 INTs is impressive. Gannon mixed up his coverages and let his guys blitz more. It worked really well. Also, the tackling issues from the opener mostly disappeared.

Sirianni did a great job late in the half. The Eagles got the ball at their own 5-yd line with 1:21 left. They got a first down, but slow-played the clock in doing so. They didn’t want to risk giving the ball back to MIN with a bunch of time left. The Eagles worked their way out to the 37 with :22 left. They called a timeout. That was good enough field position to be aggressive and enough time to still get something done. Hurts then hit Goedert for gains of 19 and 24 yards to get the Eagles into FG range. Those 3 points didn’t make a difference on the scoreboard, but that had to be very deflating to the Vikings.

Kevin O’Connell called a timeout early in that possession.  He wanted the ball back. Without that extra timeout, the Eagles might not have gone down to score.

OFFENSE

The Eagles were 7 for 13 on 3rd downs. They never had to go for it on 4th down.

They were 1 for 2 in the red zone.

The Eagles had a lot of offensive success despite terrible field position. They never got the ball beyond their own 25. They had 7 possessions start inside the 20-yard line. Nothing came easy.

QB

Jalen Hurts played the best game of his career, going 26-31-333 with a TD. He also was 11-57-2 on the ground. Hurts made a few throws on the move, but did most of his damage from the pocket. He made some impressive tight window throws. He worked the middle and the left side of the field. This is real, tangible progress from last year. All  that work on his mechanics has paid off.

Hurts made good decisions and spread the ball around. Four different Eagles had 69 or more receiving yards. Eight different players caught passes. He hit Watkins for a 53-yard TD. We’ve seen Hurts miss some of those in the past. His accuracy is better than ever.

The Vikings were able to limit Hurts as a runner. Take away his 26-yard TD run and he was 10-31 on the ground the rest of the game. As I mentioned earlier, they tackled really well.

As good as Hurts was, we also have to fault the Vikings coaches. They played a lot of 2-high looks and kept things pretty static. That made life easy for Hurts and his receivers. Hurts shredded them, which is what you’re supposed to do.

Hurts threw one INT. It was a screen pass that Kenny Gainwell bobbled and it went to a LB. Hurts threw a catchable pass. I thought he made a poor decision to throw the ball. The Eagles were up 24-7. There was 8:18 left in the game. The Eagles were at their own 24. You have to be smart in that situation. Think risk/reward. Gainwell had a DT right on him. Hurts had to throw the ball awkwardly to get it to him. Gainwell should have made the catch. No one disputes that. I just think the smart play would have been for Hurts to just run for a couple of yards and keep the clock running. Instead, the Vikings got the ball deep in Eagles territory and could have really changed the game.

RB

Miles Sanders is off to a strong start this year. He was 17-80 in this game and ran hard. He’s making the most out of the blocking. This hasn’t always been the case in the past. Kudos to him for that. Both Sanders and Gainwell had good blitz pickups. Love seeing those guys do such a good job on the dirty work. Sanders caught 3 passes but for only 6 yards. Good tackling. Boston Scott had a terrific 16-yard run on a draw. That was a great call with good blocking. And Scott executed it perfectly.

WR

The Eagles wanted to get the ball to DeVonta Smith. Seems like the Vikings wanted that as well. I saw him covered by LBs on some plays. There were at least 2 plays where guys wearing 90’s were on Smitty. He went 7-80 after going catchless in the opener.

Brown was 5-69. He had one highlight play.

Watkins was 2-69, including the long TD. Zach Pascal caught a couple of passes. Really good night for the WRs. They got open and caught everything that came their way.

TE

Dallas Goedert was 5-82. He had catches of 24, 19 and 18 yards. You throw it to him short and he just makes things happen. He’s really become a weapon. And his blocking is so good. One of the things I really appreciate is his blocking down the field. Look at his block on the Brown play above. Goedert didn’t try to kill anyone and draw a flag. Just got in their way and added yards to the play. Goedert had the key block on Hurts TD run. That was supposed to be a pass, but the defender stuck to Goedert so Hurts just ran it. Goedert paved the way for him to get near the goal line. Smart.

Quiet game for Stoll and Togiai.

OL

Jordan Mailata did not have a strong game. He gave up a sack, had a holding call and a false start. He got beaten a couple of times. Mailata won most of his battles and Hurts had time to throw on most attempts, but Mailata needs to clean some things up.

Landon Dickerson was called for being upfield on 2 plays, both legit. He’s got to clean that up.

Overall, the line played really well. The Vikings have some talented guys up front. The Eagles were able to get movement in the run game and protection in the passing game. I’ve been impressed by how natural Isaac Seumalo looks at RG. He’s fit in well there.

DEFENSE

The Vikings were only 4 of 12 on 3rd downs.

They were just 1 for 4 in the red zone.

They didn’t have any play go for 20 or more yards. They averaged just 4.5 yards per play.

DL

Jonathan Gannon talked about the DL winning a lot of matchups. I had mixed feelings on their performance. Josh Sweat and Javon Hargrave were the only two I would say had a good game. The other guys made a play here or there. Sweat was disruptive on a regular basis. He had one sack and lost another to a facemask penalty (legit call). He came close a couple of other times. He did have 3 TFLs.

Hargrave was the one DT who was disruptive on a regular basis. The stat sheet shows one tackle, but the film was better than that. He got a hand in Cousins face several times and forced errant throws.

Fletcher Cox had a strip sack. Brandon Graham got in on a couple of tackles. Jordan Davis was darn near silent. Tui outplayed him. Davis hasn’t looked the same since the first half of the opener. Did he get hurt? Are NFL blockers just giving him tough lessons? Weird.

Tarron Jackson only played a few snaps and was quiet.

LB

TJ Edwards had a great game. He led the team with 10 tackles. He had a TFL. He broke up a 3rd down pass over the middle. Edwards blitzed at least four times and got pressure on each one. He forced some bad throws. Edwards showed good range as a tackler, making several plays outside the numbers. And he tackled well. Really strong showing for him.

Kyzir White played well, but didn’t make any big plays. He was in on 5 tackles and I thought he also tackled well.

Haason Reddick is off to a quiet start. He was in on a couple of tackles and he broke up a screen pass, but he wasn’t all that disruptive as a pass rusher. He got beat by the backup TE in coverage for a gain of 17 and that set up their only TD. I have no problem with Gannon mixing up looks. Reddick just needs to be more aware when covering. He was locked in on the QB and lost the TE.

Patrick Johnson got some snaps. He had a couple of good rushes. I think he was at fault on the TD pass. Johnson engaged the TE and then let him to go the flat while he went after the QB. Easy TD. I could be wrong on that. So hard to know without the playbook.

SAF

Marcus Epps was in on 6 tackles but didn’t make any big plays. He had a big hit on the TE over the middle. Clean, tough hit.

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson was in on 5 tackles. Both he and Epps helped to limit the Vikings to underneath throws. They also helped shut down Jefferson.

CB

Big Play Slay was the star of stars on defense. He picked off 2 passes. He was credited with 5 PDs. By my count, he could have had 4 or 5 INTs. Cousins just kept throwing the ball in his direction. Slay was aggressive vs Jefferson and shut him down when they went head to head. Sometimes Slay got help, sometimes he was on his own. There was one negative. Slay bit on an underneath receiver and left a TE wide open for a long TD. Thankfully the TE dropped the ball. Slay should have played deep first. He got lucky.

James Bradberry had a TFL on the opening 3rd down to kill a drive. He covered well most of the night. Tackling remains an issue. He missed on a couple of them. You can’t have a starter missing as badly as he does.

Avonte Maddox had an outstanding game. He was in on 8 tackles and had a beautiful INT.

Beyond that pick, Avonte covered well. He was good in man or zone. He made life tough for Cousins. Avonte played with a lot of energy and performed at a high level. Really good game from him.

Zech McPhearson played late. He just missed getting his first NFL pick. He got his hands on the ball, but couldn’t get it under control before going out of bounds.

ST

The lone weak spot. MIN blocked a FG and returned it deep. Patrick Peterson came close on one attempt. They moved him to the other side and he blew by Noah Togiai for the block. Ugh.

The Vikings got good pressure on two punts. That could have been huge.

The Vikings kicked the ball short, which shows they don’t think much of the Eagles blocking on KOs. They were able to pin the Eagles deep each time.

The highlight of the game was Arryn Siposs chasing down the Viking after the blocked FG. Great effort, great tackle. Saved a TD.

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