Birds Roundup: Week 13

Thanks to a 28-13 victory over the Redskins last night, the Eagles are right back in the NFC East race. Next week’s game against Dallas is the biggest game since the Super Bowl, and the victor will likely end up taking the division. Both teams are coming in with a lot of confidence, and it should be a great game. But before we dive too deep into that matchup, let’s look at what worked for the Eagles last night:

  1. Wentz is Starting to Look Like Himself Again.

I know I’ve said this before, but Carson continues to look more like himself with every game. Last night was perhaps his best performance of the year, and certainly his most consistent. Obviously his goal line interception was unacceptable, but other than that he looked like the Carson Wentz we came to know and love last season.

The opening drive was a thing of beauty and was all made possible because of some Wentz magic. His first pass to Golden Tate was incredible, along with his touchdown pass to him to cap off the drive.

Wentz’s mobility has been questioned a lot this season, and for good reason. Until last night, he hasn’t shown that play making ability that we came accustom to seeing last season.

He didn’t seem like he was pressing that much last night either, which was a good sign. If he continues to take what the defense gives him, we’ll be in good shape.

The one major concern that I noticed last night was Wentz’s inconsistent foot work. That’s been a problem for him all season, and I think a lot of it has to do with the loss of John DeFilippo and the fact that Wentz spent the entire offseason rehabbing his knee.

Footwork is such an under valued aspect of playing quarterback in the NFL. It can really make or break a QB from taking that next step into elite status. We didn’t see this type of sloppy footwork out of Wentz last year, or even his rookie year for that matter.

It’s something that Wentz definitely needs to work on, but I have faith that he’ll be able to correct it.

It’ll be hard to fully correct during the season, but one way to remedy it is getting Wentz outside of the pocket on play action and bootlegs. We saw just how dangerous he can be when moves around last night. It’ll be up to Doug and company to continue to put Wentz in favorable positions.

  1. Josh Adams is the Future of the Eagles Backfield.

I was excited when Doug announced that Adams would be the lead back moving forward a few weeks ago, and these past two weeks are exactly why. He’s the most complete back on the Eagles roster right now and definitely the best when it comes to running between the tackles.

His patience and vision are remarkable, especially considering that he’s an undrafted rookie. I don’t know how this kid went undrafted, but he’s making the most of his opportunity here and it’s great to see.

He finished with 85 yards rushing on 20 carries last night, making him the first Eagles running back to rush for at least 80 yards in back-to-back games since Demarco Murray. He’s the work horse back for the Birds right now and I’m glad that Doug is riding the hot hand.

I’m still confused as to why Doug keeps trying to use Adams in short yardage situations though. After last night’s failed 4th and goal attempt, Adams has had five chances on 3rd or 4th-and-1 and he has yet to gain positive yardage. Even though he’s the biggest back on the roster, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s the most powerful and the best suited for those situations. Doug doesn’t have the luxury of putting Blount in on those short yardage plays anymore and he needs to realize that Adams isn’t the same type of back.

Other than that, I like what I’m seeing out of Adams. If the Eagles want to continue their push towards the playoffs, Adams is going to need to continue being a big part of the offense.

  1. Zac Ertz Continues his Record-Breaking Season.

Last night, Ertz broke the Eagles single-season record for catches, passing Brian Westbrook’s record of 90 catches set in 2007. It’s insane how productive Ertz has been this season. Amongst all tight ends he ranks 1st in receptions (93), 2nd in receiving yards (978), 3rd in touchdown receptions (6), and 2nd in receiving yards per game (81.5). He’s also on pace to shatter Jason Witten’s single-season record for receptions for tight ends (103).

Ertz has been the best aspect of the Eagles this season, there’s no doubt about that. His overwhelming production from the tight end position makes you question why Howie decided to draft a tight end with their first pick in last year’s draft, but that’s a discussion for another day.

He’s been Wentz’s safety net all season and without him I don’t even know if the Eagles would be in a position to make the playoffs right now.

  1. Balance, Balance, Balance.

I probably sound a broken record at this point, but the balance on offense has been the key to their recent success and there’s no question about that. The Eagles ran 72 total plays last night; 39 passing and 33 rushing. Every great offense in the NFL utilizes a balanced attack and it’s what made the Eagles so lethal offensively last season. Now that Adams, Clement and Sproles are starting to find some rhythm, I’ll expect Doug to keep this balanced attack going for the rest of the season.

Although Adams took the majority of the touches last night, Clement made the most out of his touches as well, especially in the screen game. With Sproles back, I expected him to get more of those screen plays, but Clement seems to be getting comfortable in that role. He has a good feel for how the blocks are developing in front of him and he has the quick burst required to hit those holes when they open up.

It was great seeing Sproles get in the endzone too. He’s been dealing with nagging injuries all season, but hopefully he’ll able to stay healthy for the remainder of the year.

  1. The Offensive Line is Getting Back into Form as well.

It may have taken 12 games, but the offensive line is finally starting to play the brand of football they were known for last season. The line dominated the line of scrimmage all night and held Wentz upright.

The entire front played well for the first time all season. Jason Kelce had a handful of great blocks, most notably the one-arm push of Mason Foster and pancake of Ha Ha Clinton Dix on the Sproles touchdown. Lane Johnson looked like himself again too, holding Ryan Kerrigan at bay all night. Kerrigan has been an Eagle killer for most of his career, but Johnson shut him down. Even Jason Peters looked great; the veteran didn’t let up any QB pressures and he was effective getting down the field on screen plays.

Let’s not forget Brandon Brooks either, who’s quietly having another All Pro season at right guard. He’s been consistent all year and he doesn’t get enough credit for it. There isn’t a better guard in the league than Brooks.

The line will be tested next week against the vaunted Dallas front-seven, but I think they’ll be ready for the challenge. They’ve gained a lot of confidence the past two weeks. Although they were against two sub-par opponents, that momentum should carry over into the Cowboys game.

Doug’s offense runs through the offensive line. When they show up and play well, the rest of the offense usually follows suit. If the offense is going to continue to play well next week, the offensive line will need to dominate.

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