It was just another day in the office for the Eagles this Sunday as they defeated the Bears 31-3. This marks the fourth straight victory in which the Eagles have won by at least 23 points. Since the merger in 1970, only three teams have accomplished that feat; the Eagles are now the fourth. To put it into perspective, the Cleveland Browns haven’t won a game by 23 points since they defeated the Steelers 31-10 in week six of the 2014 season. Not only are the Birds having a great season, they’re having an historically great season. They’ve dominated on both sides of the football in almost every game thus far. This past game against the Bears, the Eagles racked up 420 total yards of offense while only allowing 120 to Chicago. The physical domination that the Birds displayed this past Sunday has been a trend all season. They’re second in the NFL in margin of victory (+104), just behind the Rams (+134). They’re aren’t enough adjectives to describe how well the Eagles have played this season, really. Coming into the years, I thought 10 wins was a realistic goal; now, just 12 weeks in they’ve already reached double digits in the win column. I could gush all day about the Eagles, so without further ado let’s get into this week’s roundup.
Yup, you read that correctly. The Bears had a pathetic six yards of rushing against the Eagles this past Sunday. The Birds completely dominated the 7th ranked rushing attack, again proving they are by far the best rush defense in the NFL. They only allow an average of 65.1 yards per game on the ground, 10 yards fewer than Minnesota (the second-best rush defense in the NFL). The Eagles are on pace to allow only 1,041 yards of rushing this season. That would be the lowest rushing yardage allowed since the Steelers allowed 1,004 back in 2010. Even after losing their MLB in Jordan Hicks for the season, they’ve remained elite against the run. They’re really isn’t a hole in the front seven to exploit, Joe Walker has stepped up immensely in Hicks’ absence. The defensive line is one of the deepest in the league as well; they boast at least 3 starting-caliber players in the interior, and at least 4 starting-caliber players off the edge. Due to the amount of depth the Eagles have up front, the front 7 stays rested throughout the game, keeping them fresh for nearly every snap. With players like Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham getting ample amount of rest time, it’s not hard to see why they dominate up front week in and week out.
Listen, I get it. Coming out of the draft, Trubisky was this year’s version of Carson Wentz. Both were viewed as “projects” at the quarterback position, and both have big frames with a lot of athletic ability. It’s only natural for fans to compare the two. But, in all honesty, these two players aren’t even in the same category, and they never will be. Yes, both players are big quarterbacks who can move around and make things happen with their legs; but Carson Wentz has something that simply cannot be coached and that’s the “it” factor. People love to throw that phrase, “it factor”, around, so let me break it down for you. Carson Wentz live, breathes, and sleeps football. His entire existence is dedicated to his craft, he is obsessed with improving. He’s the first one in the NovaCare Complex and the last one to leave. Instead of heading to the bench to sit down when he’s not on the field, he immediately grabs the nearest tablet and finds a coach to breakdown the previous plays with him. He makes everyone around him better. All those things, are the “it” that Wentz possesses and Trubisky does not. I’m not taking a shot at Trubisky’s work ethic or anything like that either, there are very few players in the NFL that truly possess this “it” factor. I’m just glad that we have one of the few quarterbacking our team every Sunday.
3. This team has yet to get complacent with their success.
There aren’t many teams that wouldn’t be thinking Super Bowl after a 10-1 start, but the Birds have kept their focus week to week this season despite having the best record in the NFL. For how young this team is, it’s amazing how they haven’t gotten complacent with their success. That’s the sign of great veteran leadership and great coaching. During Doug Pederson’s post game press conference, he emphasized how hard his team practices every week leading up to Sunday. After nearly every question regarding the success of the team, Doug finished his answers with, “It comes down to the way we practice every week.” He has built a winning culture in his locker room, and this is only his second season as Head Coach. If he’s able to keep his team focused through the remainder of this season, the winning will continue for the Eagles.
I’m sure everyone remembers Howie Roseman’s first free agency spending spree in the summer of 2011. Vince Young famously labeled that team the Dream Team, and they were more of a nightmare than anything. Every major sports analyst had the eagles as a lock to win the NFC that season and some even had them finally winning their first Super Bowl. Unfortunately, they failed to even make the playoffs and it eventually led to the firing of Andy Reid. The team underachieved in almost every way imaginable, I could write a whole piece just on the Dream Team debacle alone. But while thinking about the whole Dream Team mess I started thinking about this year’s team. Then I thought to myself, isn’t this the way you envisioned the 2011 team playing? Completely dominating their opponents every week and having the best record in the NFL? This is how the dream team was supposed to be. Despite not spending nearly as much in free agency, this year’s team is stacked at almost every position. You can go down the depth chart position-by-position and it’s hard to see any weakness. Even with the injuries that the Birds have suffered, they’ve plugged in back ups who’ve played just as well as their starting counterparts. They have multiple starting caliber players at almost every position, it’s remarkable. Just look at the cornerbacks alone, there’s at least four starting corners in that group, and they’re all not even fully healthy yet! Remember when Nnamdi and DRC were supposed to be our saving grace in the secondary? I would take Darby, Robinson, Mills, Douglas, and Jones every single day of the week without question. The difference between this year’s team and the Dream Team speaks volumes about the maturation process of Howie Roseman. Sometimes, the best way to learn is from one’s mistakes and tribulations. Howie has clearly grown from his past, and now he’s making up for it tenfold.
The Eagles are going to be traveling to the west coast for the next two weeks as they face the Seattle Seahawks this upcoming Sunday night, and the LA Rams the following Sunday. These two NFC West opponents should be the toughest two-game stretch the Birds have to endure this season. Both are potential playoff teams, and both games will have playoff implications written all over them. The first of these games will be against the Seahawks and their 12th man. Three or four weeks ago, I probably would’ve had the Eagles losing this game to the Seahawks just because of the home field advantage alone. But now, I see this matchup as a very winnable game for the Birds. The Seahawks’ daunting 12th man has been weak as of late, they’ve lost 2 out of their last 3 home games to the Redskins and the Falcons. A lot of their struggles stem from the major injuries that they’ve suffered to their Legion of Boom defense. Both Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor have been lost for the season in recent weeks, forcing Seattle to sign and start Byron Maxwell in the secondary. Despite the injuries to their back end, this defense is still very sound across the board. They have a very good front 7 led by middle linebacker, Bobby Wagner, who’s having an all-pro caliber season. I expect this to be a low scoring affair, somewhere around 20-17 in favor of the Eagles.
The second of this two-game road trip will be in Los Angeles against a young Rams team who has surprised a lot of people this year. There’s a lot of similarities when looking at both the Eagles and the Rams. Both have second year quarterbacks who are playing well, both have young inexperienced coaches, and both play with a lot of energy and swagger. This very well could be the toughest matchup all season for the Birds. It’ll be a good test to see how elite our defense truly is. The Rams are 4th in the NFL in total offense and they lead the league in margin of victory at +134. They also have the 3rd leading rusher in Todd Gurley. I believe the Eagles will be able to hold Gurley in check for most of the game, and I suspect that Goff will most likely need to throw the ball down the stretch. If the Eagles can shut down the run game and force Goff to beat them, they should leave LA with another victory.