Improvements on the both sides of the ball, growth from young players, complimentary football. The Eagles put together their most convincing victory of the season in Mile High on Sunday, defeating the Broncos 30-13.
They looked like a legitimately good football team for a full four quarters, something we’ve rarely been able to say this season.
Let’s jump into some of the major takeaways from this Week 10 matchup.
Nick Sirianni called his best game to date
Over the past three weeks, Nick Sirianni’s offense has clearly found their identity. Lean on the rushing attack and put Jalen Hurts in favorable situations. It’s a simple premise, but when the play calling was as balanced as it was on Sunday it can become a lethal offensive attack.
In the first half, Sirianni called 20 passing plays to 20 running plays, a perfect 50/50 split. The Eagles put up 20 points in the process. It’s one thing to put up numbers against a winless Detroit team, or a middle of the pack Los Angeles defense, but to do it against Vic Fangio’s unit is undoubtedly impressive. Denver has a top-5 defense and they had only allowed 85.75 yards per game on the ground at home in 2021. That didn’t deter Sirianni from running it at all as he dialed up a total of 40 running plays.
Sirianni finally seems to have a grasp on what his players are good at. He hasn’t asked Hurts to do anything out of his comfort zone in almost a month now. He’s prioritized getting the ball into his playmakers’ hands (DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert). And he’s sticking to the strength of his team which is obviously running the football behind one of the best offensive lines in the game.
Tip of the cap to Sirianni. His improved play calling and game planning over the past three weeks has been encouraging to say the least.
Jalen Hurts played arguably his best game of the season
With the exception of two ill-advised throws in the second half (one of which being an interception), Hurts was lights out on Sunday. In the first half, he went 15-for-20 with two touchdowns and just about 170 yards. He should’ve had three touchdowns, but Quez Watkins dropped a gimme. That throw to Quez might have been the best throw of Hurts’ career.
We saw growth out of Hurts on Sunday, which is really all you’re asking for at this point. He looked more patient in the pocket than he ever has. He spread the ball around to seven different pass catchers. And he protected the football — for the most part. His second half interception was bad but it was the only blemish on an otherwise strong performance from the second-year quarterback.
Every time we discuss Hurts I almost feel obligated to talk about whether I think he’s the guy long-term or not. But I don’t really want to do that today. He played well and won the football game. Whatever the offseason holds for Hurts is still a long ways away. He’s proving to be a capable quarterback for this current offense. That’s all that matters right now.
DeVonta Smith, WR1
Every time I watch DeVonta Smith go to work I just get so happy. He’s the first legitimate WR1 this team has had… maybe ever? Certainly since T.O. was in town, and he’s clearly the best receiver the team has ever invested draft capital in.
His stat line wasn’t that crazy. Four catches for 66 yards and two touchdowns. But the stats don’t really tell the whole story. He’s proven to be capable of just about anything you’d ask of him. Run clean routes and consistently create separation, check. Go up and make contested catches over defensive backs, check. Turn into a defensive back when the ball is heading to a defender, check. He did all of that on Sunday.
It’s hard to imagine what this offense would look like without Smith on the outside. His chemistry with Hurts is improving every week and in turn the passing attack is taking steps in the right direction.
The Eagles finally got their hands on a legit WR1, and it feels so good.
The Eagles have one of the best rushing attacks in football
If it wasn’t clear already, the Eagles have a lethal rushing attack. They racked up over 200 yards against a Broncos defense that was only allowing 85 rushing yards per game at home. Boston Scott and Jordan Howard split carries on Sunday and they both averaged seven yards a pop, they both tallied three explosive runs, and they combined for nine first downs.
Hurts, as always, did damage with his legs as well. Excluding kneel downs, Hurts racked up 50 yards himself and recorded two runs over 10 yards.
Howard, Scott, and Hurts all deserve credit for the way this offense is rolling right now, but it really starts with the big guys up front. The Eagles ball carriers managed to accumulate 76 yards before contact, which comes out to about 35% of their total rushing yardage.
If the Eagles are going to make a playoff push down the stretch, their rushing attack will need to continue playing at this pace. You may think that’s unsustainable, and maybe it is, but the fact that their best runner in Miles Sanders is expected to be back within the next week or so makes that prospect more palpable.
Jonathan Gannon’s defense answered the call
We had seen steady improvement on the offensive side of the ball over the past few weeks, but Jonathan Gannon’s defense was still a question mark. On Sunday, they had one of their best overall performances of the season.
They continually held the Broncos offense to field goals and got off the field on third down. Denver only converted one first down on 11 third down attempts and they went 0-for-2 on fourth down. The play of the game came on the second of those fourth down calls and it essentially sealed the victory for Philly. Davion Taylor forced a Melvin Gordon fumble and Darius Slay picked it up en route to a remarkable scoop and score.
Teddy Bridgewater never really got into a rhythm. The defensive line took a little bit to get going, but they dominated the line of scrimmage in the second half. They tallied 16 total pressures and one sack. You’d like to see more of those pressures turn into sacks, but I’ll take what I can get at this point.
The defense held the opposing offense under 100 yards rushing for the third straight week as well after getting gashed nearly every week on the ground.
Gannon really needed this type of performance and his players delivered in a big way.