SIX weeks in and we’ve gone from the bottom of the NFC East, to the top of the entire NFC. There are still 10 more games to play before the division is officially awarded to anyone, and no one has forgotten that. However, since the Eagles don’t play for another 11 days, it’s cool if we take two or three days to celebrate our milestone.
EAGLES 28 – Panthers 23
QB Carson Wentz (16/30 – 53.3% – 222 – 3 – 0) did his thing again. Despite being under constant pressure last night, Carson went sprinkling touchdowns like flakes in a goldfish bowl. TE Zach Ertz (2 – 18 – 9.0 – 2) didn’t catch a lot of balls, but each one he caught drew blood. The much maligned Eagles Secondary picked off Carolina’s QB three times and allowed him zero touchdown passes. (The Panthers one TD pass was against a back-up LB.) We also limited them to 80 yards rushing, 71 by their QB, and the other NINE yards were on 14 carries.
I hear you asking, “What about all the stuff that stats don’t reveal?” Well, that’s the reason for these “Four Things” articles. We introduce an idea of what needs addressing BEFORE the game, so that fans have to honestly answer questions about those things, AFTER the game. This helps to get us, and keep us, all on the same page.
So, of the Four Things we were looking for in this last game, what exactly did we see?
1) Dictate the action: My exact words were: “keep the Panthers offense in front of us, and tackle well.” Well, “RB” Christian McCaffrey (10rec – 56 – 5.6 – 1) and WR Kelvin Benjamin (9 – 99 – 11.0 – 0) were allowed routes in front of defenders and then tackled or pushed out of bounds quickly. We took away any chance for the Panthers to be explosive. (DONE)
2) Get pressure early: We did this not just early, but all game long. Fletcher Cox (0 – 0.5 – 0 – 0) with pressure up the middle, got a hand on a pass in the second quarter that resulted in an interception by rookie CB Rasul Douglas (2 – 0 – 1 – 0). It was one of three on the night. (A fourth was called back due to a penalty away from the ball.) (DONE)
3) Rip up the seams: Instead of Carolina going into their Nickel whenever WR Nelson Agholor (4 – 55 – 13.7 – 1) came on the field, they stayed in their base and were torched along the seams for all three of our touchdowns. Even Rookie WR Mack Hollins (2 – 38 – 19.0 – 0) had the biggest game of his young career so far. (DONE)
4) Send a message: It had to be proven that we could run against a top ranked run defense and we did. We use a balanced attack featuring 30 passes to 21 called rushes. RB LeGarrette Blount (14 – 67 – 4.7 – 0 – 0) getting the bulk of that work and doing it between the Tackles. Future opponents will see the way we did that against a stout Carolina defense, and think “Oh shit.” Overall we ran for 101 yards (3.7 per tote) against a team that had only given up 100 yards this year once before (against the Saints, who blew them out). Speaking of sending a message, did you see LB Nigel Bradham (7 – 0 – 0 – 0) out there? He was playing like someone owed him money. If we see the Panthers again in the playoffs, we now know how to tranq that kitty. (DONE)
Sweet bubbly Studebaker! That’s back-to-back weeks of 4 out of 4 scores. That brings the seasons running total to 21 of 24. Either I’m psychic or I really know my shit. Either way, when they do what I write, they win. So let’s hope they keep reading these articles. Especially next week, as we prepare to sweep the Redskins.
On The Whole:
As you can see, this was more or less the game I was expecting. I was momentarily thrown by the announcement that RT Lane Johnson would be out. However, after taking another look, I was sure of my pick, and reassured my friends and readers thusly.
On that note, something has to be done about protecting Wentz. I kept waiting to see Ertz moved in-line beside RT Halapoulivaati Vaitai. If only to help by chip blocking. There were some instances of it, but not nearly enough of them, especially early on, when RB’s were being asked to pick up blitzes. And can we PLEASE never ask RB Kenjon Barner (5 – 7 – 1.4 – 0 – 0/ 1rec – 9 – 9.0 – 0), to pick up anymore blitzes? Getting Wentz murdered because we trusted an undersized fill-in, to protect his blindside, will seem silly in hindsight. How about we just not go there?
Speaking of Barner, I have no idea why has to get so many touches on Offense. Last week it was 5 touches, this week it was 6. If he was really that great with the ball in his hands, he wouldn’t have been at home to answer his phone, after Darren Sproles was injured. Stop letting him steal touches from RB Corey Clement (2 – 2 – 1.0 – 0 – 0)!
Shit. Almost forgot to talk about the Panthers. People make a big deal out of their QB running, but when he does, he stops thinking about his team. As I said, “Old intel says that you don’t want Newton running, but that is very old intel, indeed.” You saw where he ran for a score and celebrated by showboating on a victory lap? Aside from that, when asked to be a leader, it was all slumped shoulders and interceptions.
The sad part is that now people will say that we’ve finally played someone respectable, even though we just faced the worst QB we’ve seen so far (in regards to leadership and intangibles). Whatever dude! Turn up the music and pass me an Angry Orchard. I’m celebrating my team’s climb from the bottom to the top. And will be doing so until at least Sunday.