Eagles Armchair: Wentz Takes Round Two

Going Deep

It was the biggest story of the week. 

Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott, the next great quarterback rivalry, were going head-to-head on prime time television in a battle for division supremacy. 

And both guys struggled. Prescott threw a pair of interceptions in the first half and Wentz went through a stretch where he completed just one of his 11 pass attempts as the Eagles and Cowboys limped to halftime with Dallas leading, 9-7. Like most heavyweight fights, it was messy as each team tried to find its footing, but after halftime, Wentz flexed his muscle and the Eagles offense delivered a series of knock-out blows as they ripped off 30 unanswered points on their way to a 37-9 drubbing.

The game ended up being less Wentz vs. Prescott and more the Eagles imposing their will on the Cowboys on both sides of the ball. The Birds ran for over 200 yards on 33 carries and sacked Prescott four times while also forcing four turnovers. The Eagles proved once again to be the class of the NFC, a balanced team led by an MVP front-runner, while the Cowboys looked like a team whose season will be over before the calendar turns to December.

There was no debate on Sunday night, Wentz was superior to his counterpart in every way. More yards, more touchdowns, less turnovers. Despite his struggles, Wentz still finished the game with quarterback rating of 95.9 while Prescott's was 30.4. 

This was the second time Wentz and Prescott met with the division on the line. Prescott bested Wentz in overtime a season ago, but this laugher of a game proved the Eagles are currently on another level compared to their rivals. The Eagles left Dallas with their sights set on more than just the NFC East crown, which they now have all-but-locked up, holding a four-game lead with six weeks remaining. The Birds are now focused on getting a bye in the first round of the postseason and home-field advantage for the entirety of the NFC playoffs. 

Wentz and Prescott will be in many more battles for the NFC East. The future seems to be laid out for the Eagles and Cowboys to dominate this division as the Giants and Redskins wallow at the bottom of the standings. But for now, in 2017, Wentz has the upper hand over his rival, and the Eagles odds for the season certainly reflect that.

Injury Report

Jake Elliott: The rookie kicker and Week-4 hero missed badly on a 34-yard field goal in the first quarter and ended up going into the locker room to be evaluated for a concussion. In his absence, the Eagles used Kamu Grugier-Hill on kickoffs and went for two on each of their second-half touchdowns. Moving forward, it will be interesting to monitor Elliott's status as well as Caleb Sturgis, who is eligible to come off the injured reserve.


4: The Eagles have put up 33 points in each of their last four games. That streak has been matched just twice in franchise history: in 1948 and 1949. Fun fact, the Eagles won the NFL Championship in each of those seasons. Doug Pederson keeps finding ways to get points on the board every week and the Eagles lead the NFL in point differential. It's amazing the turnaround his unit has made in just one season.

8: The Eagles had eight different players get a first down on Sunday night. Wentz, Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount, Corey Clement, Kenjon Barner, Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Brent Celek all moved the chains for the Birds. It's incredible to see how this offense doesn't rely on just one playmaker and can adapt based on what the defense is showing them. 

5: For just the fifth time in franchise history, the Eagles are 9-1. The other four seasons include 1949 and 1960, when the Birds won the NFL Championship, as well as 1980 and 2004, when the Eagles lost in the Super Bowl. So, book your tickets for Minneapolis and pack a scarf because I hear Minnesota gets pretty damn cold in February. 

Up-Down Drill

Up: Jay Ajayi

Through two games, Ajayi is averaging north of 9 yards per carry as an Eagle. He's clearly the most dynamic back in the Eagles rotation and his 71-yard dash in the third quarter set up a touchdown that effectively put away the game. Credit Howie Roseman for making the move for getting this guy midseason, but it's worth asking: What the hell were the Dolphins thinking?

Down: Zach Ertz

It's hard to believe, but Ertz really struggled all night, grabbing just two catches on five targets and finishing with just eight receiving yards. The Cowboys haven't done well defending opposing tight ends and were without the services of Sean Lee, so Ertz's disappearing act is rather surprising. Still, he's a Pro Bowl level player, so I would chalk this disappointing game up as an off-night and nothing more.

Up: Derek Barnett

Barnett lined up over Byron Bell most of the night and had his way with the journeyman left tackle, finishing the game with two sacks, two tackles for loss and three quarterback hits. The rookie tormented Prescott all night long and was the defense's top performer. As the season wears on, it is imperative the Eagles find more players who can contribute and the breakout of Barnett is a huge boost to the Birds' defensive line. 

Down: Nelson Agholor

Just like Ertz, Agholor had his worst game of 2017, catching one of his five targets for -2 yards. To be fair, he was just a few inches away from turning that loss into a ridiculous touchdown. However, Agholor had a pair of drops earlier in the game and was an overall disappointment. 

Three-Step Drop

1. Looking around the rest of the NFC, it's easy to see there are three other teams who are still contending for the Eagles' spot atop the standings: the Rams, the Saints and the Vikings. Of those three, I would put the Saints above the other two, simply because of their veteran quarterback and suffocating defense. The Vikings shut down the Rams high-powered offense yesterday, but the Eagles shouldn't be afraid of a Case Keenum-quarterbacked team. 

2. Ronald Darby saw his first action since the first quarter of Week 1 and he made it clear he's the top cornerback on this team. Darby finished with a game-high 8 tackles, 2 pass break-ups and an interception. Coming in to this week, I felt that it would be smart to ease Darby back into the starting lineup, especially with how well the Eagles secondary had played with him sidelined, but that was a foolish observation. Darby is capable of being a shutdown corner and played like it Sunday night.

3. Lane Johnson is clearly the best right tackle in football and his ability to shut down the litany of top-tier pass rushers he's faced in 2017 is impressive. Von Miller, Joey Bosa and DeMarcus Lawerence were all held without a sack against Johnson. He should be a Pro Bowler and first-team All Pro at the end of this season, which is a rarity for right tackles in the NFL.

Who's Next

The Eagles return to the Linc and will host the Chicago Bears, who are 3-7 after losing a close contest to the Lions yesterday. Rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has struggled mightily, barely completing 50% of his passes. The Eagles' defense should be licking its chops looking at film this week, although the combination of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen in the backfield will need to be stopped. However, outside of that duo, the Bears lack any real offensive threats.

Go to top button