By Dylan MacKinnon
The Eagles are in first place in the NFC East. Not something you would usually say about a team just getting their first win in week 4, but it’s the truth. By beating the 49ers 25-20, and improving to 1-2-1, they take sole possession of the division lead. It has been, to put it mildly, a rough start to the year. Very little went right for them. But luckily for them, the rest of the division was just as bad. How did they pull off this win despite being massive underdogs in San Francisco? Let’s look at the numbers.
The Eagles’ defense finally forced a turnover, three of them. The defense forced 0 turnovers in 16 quarters of play to open the year, then had two interceptions, and a fumble. Two of those led to points, with the Cre’Von LeBlanc forced fumble leading to a TD, and then there was a Alex Singleton pick six. The other interception did not lead to any points, but it did potentially take points off the board as the Niners were in FG range. After being -7 in turnovers coming into the game, they were +2 in this game. Weird how you win games when you force turnovers.
Eagles Pass Rush has quietly been a bright spot this season. They added five more sacks tonight. They came into the game with 12 over the first three games. We haven’t talked about it much because it’s hard to talk about tiny silver linings when the team is winless, but they do deserve credit for getting after the QB. Derek Barnett specifically deserves a shout out. Its a small sample size, but when he has played this year he has started to look the part of a first round pick. Also worth mentioning, Josh Sweat has 3 sacks in these 4 games. The D line has being doing their part, at least in terms of getting to the QB. Against the run has been another issue, but you could make the argument that is more on the linebackers than the D Line.
Carson Wentz did not look amazing in this game, but he was steady. His QB rating was an passable 81.4. He had 193 yards, a single td, and only one interception. He was taking what he could get, and it was an admirable performance given what he had to work with at WR. He was mostly accurate, and did not make too many mistakes. Both those things were big issues in the first three games. He looked comfortable out there for the first time this year, and that may be in part due to them letting him play to his strengths. He was rolling out, and even taking off a few times. Even had a rushing TD to show for it. It wasn’t 2017 Wentz, but it was a big step up from what we saw in the last three games.
29 and 28
The Eagles had almost an even split when it came to Rushing and passing attempts. 28 passes, and 29 rush attempts. Coming into the game they were throwing it almost 63% of the time. That is fine when your passing game is working, but the Eagles passing game has not been working. Doug finally leaned more on the running game, which allowed the passing game to work better. Carson didn’t have to be a hero in this game, he could just play. That made a huge difference. The offense still under performed, but they didn’t lose the game on offense, which is a start.
They only allowed 3 sacks, which given the situation with all the injuries on the line, is kind of a win. Its certainly not great, but the backups filled in better than we would have predicted. The run blocking wasn’t ideal, and there was pressure, but it could have been so much worse. Jordan Mailata looked pretty good outside of a drive killing false start. Its patchwork, but the O line held their own against a good Niners defense given the circumstances.