Birds Roundup Week 16: Eagles dominate Giants after a sluggish start

The first half may have been the ugliest half of football I’ve seen all season, but once the third quarter rolled around, it was full steam ahead for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Philly rattled off 31 straight points in the second half, en route to a 34-10 demolition of the New York Giants.

There’s a ton to breakdown from this contest, so let’s get right into it.

Eagles defense leads the way

From the opening snap, it was clear that this Giants offense was going to struggle moving the ball against the Eagles defense all day. Starting a third string quarterback obviously didn’t help, but the Giants couldn’t muster up production from anyone on their offense.

New York totaled 192 yards on the day (108 through the air, 84 on the ground), and averaged just 2.6 yards per play. Jonathan Gannon’s crew also forced two turnovers, with one of them being an Alex Singleton pick-six.

The Eagles defense has been one of the better defensive units in the league over the past two months. They’re physical, opportunistic, and they have great tacklers at every level of the defense. Since Week 7, only one team has rushed for over 100 yards on Gannon’s defense. During that same time, they’ve allowed an average of 16.6 points per game.

They may not have played the elite offenses of the league during that span, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that they’ve been a dominant group for two months now. You play who you play, the Eagles can’t control that. All they can control is how they play these opponents, and as we’ve seen, they’ve played them all pretty damn well.

If Gannon’s group can carry this into the postseason, the Eagles will be a tough matchup for any NFC playoff team.

Jalen Hurts bounces back after slow start, but his limitations are still evident

It feels like I write this headline after every game. Jalen Hurts had his typical slow start against New York on Sunday, throwing a handful of ill-advised passes and nearly turning the ball over on a sack fumble. Only to turn it around once the offense got into a better rhythm and post a respectable stat line.

Hurt finished the day going 17-for-29 for 199 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions. But he did have three turnover worthy plays on the day and failed to make any big-time throws, according to Pro Football Focus.

As nice as it is to see Hurts bounce back from slow starts and still win ball games, it’s still pretty clear that he holds this offense back from being a prolific unit. And it’s the same development issues we’ve talked about all season. Failing to see the field, bad decisions, low accuracy. Fans can defend him all they want, and believe me, I want to defend him too. But he’s so clearly the weakest link on this Eagles offense right now.

It’s easy to write it off when he’s facing some of the worst teams in football, but come playoff time, when quarterback play is often the deciding factor, Hurts’ limitations will be clear as day.

DeVonta Smith continues to show out

It’s a pleasure watching DeVonta Smith week in and week out. He had his best game in a month against the Giants, hauling in five catches for 80 yards and a touchdown.

Smith is now only 179 yards away from eclipsing 1,000 yards on the year. Doing so would make him the first Eagles wideout to go over 1,000 receiving yards since Jeremy Maclin in 2014. Smith is also just 92 yards away from setting the Eagles record for most receiving yards by a rookie wide receiver.

We say it every week, and we’ll say it again — Smith needs to be an offensive focal point every week. He’s just too good not to be a featured weapon in this offense. Hurts seems to be at his best whenever Smitty is involved in the game plan.

Eagles now firmly in position to make the playoffs

With their win over the Giants, and the Vikings loss to the Rams, the Eagles are currently in the seventh and final playoff spot in the NFC.

The Eagles can actually clinch a playoff berth as early as next week. AP’s Rob Maaddi laid it out pretty well in his Tweet:

It’s all right there for the Eagles. At the end of the day, they control their own playoff destiny, and that’s all you can ask for in the NFL. They’ve handled their business thus far — now they’ll just need to close out the season strong.

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