By Dylan MacKinnon
It was a bit iffy in the first half, but the Eagles eventually pulled out a double digit victory over Washington to keep the playoff hopes alive. This was another great game by the Eagles rushing attack, and a impressive game through the air too. It wasn’t pretty, but they don’t take style points into consideration when determining playoff berths. Here are the 5 Numbers that tell the story of the Eagles win over Washington.
The Eagles have rushed for at least 175 yards in 7 straight games. The first team to do that since the 1985 Bears. In those 7 games, they have nearly 1000 more rushing yards than their opponent. Tonight they had 238 yards on 41 carries. Miles Sanders had 131 on 18 carries. They are not just the best rushing team in the league. They are the best running team we have seen in a long time. Jalen Hurts can run the ball. Miles Sanders can run the ball. Jordan Howard can run the ball. And even Boston Scott can when called upon.
A ton of credit goes to the O Line. Even with no Landon Dickerson tonight they mauled the Washington defense in the run game. Lane Johnson and Jordan Mailata are often seeing mauling defenders, and future Hall of Famer Jason Kelce is on track for his 4th All Pro season. With talented RBs, and a elite O line, this team is set to be a amazing running squad for a long time. The offense just needs to be more consistent throwing the ball.
Jalen Hurts had only 3 incompletions that were not drops. Two of those drops were short passes to Goedert that would have gotten a ton of yards and perhaps TDs. That is in 26 attempts. Accuracy has been one of his biggest issues all season. And while last night he did have a couple inaccurate throws, some which still ended up being caught, it was a huge step in the right direction. Accuracy is a part of the game that can be improved with repetition. And if he can improve it, he has a good chance to be the franchise QB we all hope he can be. There would still be some holes in his game. I don’t think he will ever have an amazing arm.
But with his dynamic ability to run the ball, simply being an accurate QB, with a decent but not great arm, can make him a very capable QB still. Especially with a team that has such a good O Line. He still has work to do. He can also stand to improve his ability to read the field because he didn’t see a couple wide open guys. But last night was a great sign, and proof he deserves more time and even another season to grow.
Dallas Goedert has been a force since Zach Ertz was traded. In the games he has played since then, he is averaging 69.6 yards per game in that time. That is across 7 games he has played, not counting the broncos game where he was knocked out early with a concussion. Across a full season, that would mean 1,183 yards. 69.6 yards per game would put him 4th among Tight Ends, behind only George Kittle, Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews.
He got paid elite Tight End money, and he is playing like a elite Tight end. Even with a couple bad drops last night, he still dominated to the tune of 135 yards. Eagles took a risk paying him before he really proved himself. it is paying off. All he needed to starting dominating was to be the TE1. With his recent play, he is on the right track to prove he deserves to be listed along side the likes of Kelce, Kittle, and Andrews.
After scoring two more rushing TDs last night, Jalen Hurts moved into 4th in the League in rushing TDs, he has 10 of them total. He is first among QBs in rushing TDs, second in yards, and 3rd in yard per attempt. Now he is averaging 56.4 yard per game on the ground. He is an unreal threat with his legs, especially in the red zone. It is a big part of the reason the Eagles are top 10 in red zone efficiency. He perhaps at times is a bit too quick to run. There was a time he ran last night on third down, and came up short. He could have probably thrown it to an open Quez Watkins, who had a better chance of getting a first than he did. But it is hard to complain when he is so effective running it.
Plus, he is smart enough to do it and not take hits. Many running QBs will take a big hit to get an extra two yards. And while that is nice f it gets you the first, its less nice when it gets your QB hurt and now the backup is in. Eagles running QBs of the past, Donovan McNabb, Carson Wentz, Mike Bick, seemed to have an aversion to sliding or stepping out of bounds. it got them hurt a lot. Hurts will get what his legs allow, but than not take the hit. That is going to allow him a much longer shelf life than most running QBs.
Second time starter Garret Gilbert completed nearly 65% of his passes last night. He looked far too comfortable for a guy who has barley thrown any passes in the NFL. The talk going into the game was that the Eagles should feast on this 30 year old who has barley seen the field in the NFL. and while he didn’t look great, he looked too good considering he was just signed off a practice squad and had almost no time to learn their offense. The Eagles forced no turnovers, and were leaving some guys too open. The defense was by no means bad, but given the situation, they were not impressive. They did not get enough pressure on Gilbert, and they did not press the WRs enough.
It was another vanilla defense by coordinator Jonathan Gannon. 14 games in, I still cant decide if Gannon is a good coach or not. The numbers suggest he is decent. But the actual performance is less impressive. But is that his poor scheme, or a lack of talent to work with? He will likely get another year with hopefully more talented players to work with to be able to answer that question. But I can’t say I like the way he schemes on defense.
Bonus Number- .560
The Eagles two biggest competitors for the Wildcard are the Vikings, and the 49ers. The Vikings have the 6th hardest remaining schedule, the 49ers have the 16th hardest. Between the two of them, their SOS is .560. The 49ers play the Rams, Titans, and Texans. The Texans will be a win. But they could certainly lose the other two games. The Vikings play the Rams, packers, and bears. The Bears will be a win, but Rams and Packers will be two tough teams to beat.
The Eagles meanwhile get the injury depleted Giants at home, Washington, and a Dallas team who may or may not have something to play for in week 18. If the Eagles take care of their own business, they have a very good chance to make the playoffs. Whether it is over the Vikings or the 49ers, it feels unlikely both of them will survive their remaining schedule. The Saints, Falcons, and Washington are also in the mix, but the Eagles have tie breakers over all of them. Eagles can control their own destiny. Only question is can they step up and win these games they are supposed to win.