To start, the number that matters most is 3-0. The Eagles are one of 3 undefeated teams after they beat Carson Wentz and the Commanders down in Washington. And by the end of the day, they could be one of two. If you are waiting for the shoe to drop, and for something to go wrong with the Eagles, you will be waiting at least another week. They clicked on all cylinders and beat down the Commanders in nearly every aspect of the game. So just how did it all go down? Here are 5 numbers that tell the story of the Eagles’ win in Washington.
You probably know that The Eagles’ pass rush got the Wentz 9 times. But what you may not know is that 7 of those came with a 4-man pass rush. And according to PFF, that is the most sacks without blitzing in a game in over 3 years. They were able to get to Wentz without selling out on defense. And while some of that may be bad O-Line play, or Wentz holding the ball, it’s incredibly promising to see this D-Line dominate. They did not do that very much last year. Especially on the edges. Outside of Josh Sweat, there was not much edge pass rush to speak of last year. In fact, edge rushers not named Sweat had just 3 sacks last year. Graham had 2.5 today. Add in Hasson Reddick’s 1.5. And the edge rushers outpaced their production last year in one game.
Brandon Graham had best game in long time. Stats eye-popping -- 2-1/2 sacks, 5 QB hits, 6 tkles, 2 TFLs, FF and a PBU -- but also aced eye test.— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) September 25, 2022
Was all over Carson Wentz.
His message before the game: “I just told him I hope he has a great year, but just not today.”
One of the most impressive things I have seen from the Eagles in the first 3 games is their 2-minute offense. They have not had to do it at the end of games yet, but they have had the chance at the end of the first half in all 3 games. And they have come away with points all 3 times. Against the Lions and the Vikings, they went down the field with little time left to set up a field goal. But in Washington, they went all the way down the field in under 2 minutes to score a TD. That is 13 extra points, where many teams often seem content to go into the locker room with a lead and not push it. It’s a good sign for their end of half ability, but also for what we may be able to expect should they need to score late in the game with the time winding down.
The Eagles created 5 passing plays of 25 yards or more in Washington. Three of those traveled over 30 yards in the air. This passing offense was not exactly explosive last year. But it has been this year. Whether it is Hurts letting loose a bomb, or the receivers making plays after the catch. This is officially an explosive offense. And they are getting that explosiveness from various sources. Quez Watkins, Devonta Smith, AJ Brown, Dallas Goedert, and Grant Calcaterra have all produced at least one such play. Smith had three of them today, and Brown has two to his name. Oh, and Hurts has one 25+ yard play on the ground. The Eagles’ 8 25+ yard passing plays put them in the top 5 of the NFL.
Let me first be clear that I don’t see this as a big issue. But the Eagles have only 14 pts in the 2nd half this season, with all 14 coming against the Lions. They have no points in the 4th quarter. Many will cite this as a major concern. And you can understand why. But let’s give it some context. They went into the second half in every game this season. If you watched it is pretty clear they took the foot off the gas substantially all 3 times on offense. Instead of running up the score, they focused on running out the clock. Despite scoring no points against the Vikings, they ran off over 16 minutes. As Stanley from The Office put it “This is a run out the clock situation.”
Obviously, it would be nice if they did put up points, but they have won each of the last two games by over two touchdowns. Complaining about this now feels like nitpicking. It should be said the defense has allowed just 6 pts in the last two weeks in the second half. It feels like Sirianni and Steichen don’t want to give too much away if they don’t have to. They run up the score early and then hold the rest back until they have to use it. This is still a VERY productive offense. So, for me, complaining about the second-half scoring is just looking for something to complain about. If they were letting these teams back into the game I would get it. But they didn’t.
The Eagles and the Dolphins each have two players in the top 10 for receiving yards. It’s no surprise both teams find themselves undefeated heading into week 3. And it’s extra impressive given that Devonta Smith had 0 yards in week 1. But then he came back with a 80-yard game, and then a 169-yard game in Washington. The pair of him and Brown is easily one of the best in the league, and we don’t have to say on paper anymore. And with Hurts turning into a star, there are plenty of targets for both of them, and then many left to go around to guys like Goedert, Watkins, and even Pascal. This team’s pass attack runs incredibly deep. Something you would have never thought you could say about the Eagles. But now the Eagles have 2 Batmans, as the team likes to put it.
Bonus Stat: 75%
Since the merger, 75% of teams that start 3-0, make the playoffs. And obviously, after their win in Washington, the Eagles are now in that category. There were two teams last year to start 0-3 and miss the playoffs. It happened to both the Broncos and the Panthers. But in their cases, they were both playing over their heads. That is not the case with the Eagles. They had high expectations, and they are perhaps exceeding them early on. But now the standard is higher than making the playoffs and winning the division. If the Eagles keep playing like this, the expectations will be a deep playoff run. Still, history is on their side that they will be playing Football at least into January.