The Eagle defense beat Sam Bradford and the Vikings into submission in Week 6. The offense did juuuust enough. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)
The Philadelphia defense was perfect Sunday afternoon. Outside of a garbage time touchdown, the Eagle defense allowed only 3 points despite four turnovers from Carson Wentz and the offense. What the Eagle defense did off Eagle turnovers was the key to victory. Look at what the Vikings did with the Eagles’ 3 1st half turnovers:
Carson Wentz interception – Vikings run three plays from the two yard line. Eagles interception.
Carson Wentz fumble – Vikings run one play from Philadelphia 17 yard line, Eagles fumble recovery.
Carson Wentz interception – Vikings run six plays for 16 yards, punt.
Sam Bradford and the Vikings had two free red zone opportunities and walked away scoreless. That’s where the game was won. Even though the scoreboard read 0-0, the Eagles were on their way to victory. The defense would go on to finish with 6 sacks, 4 turnovers and and a special teams TD. The Eagles have a plethora of challenges ahead, but outside of two bad halves (one in Washington, one in Detroit), it’s safe to say the Eagles defense is really, really good.
As for the offense and Carson Wentz, well….. let’s just say there’s work to do. Sunday wasn’t a great display of offensive proficiency. One could argue it lacked offensive competency. There was an 11 play stretch in the 1st quarter between the two teams that featured 3 interceptions, 2 fumbles, and 2 penalties. Not great. The Eagles were limited to seven drives under 10 yards. The Vikings were held to six drives under 20 yards. Total, there were only five drives over 40 yards (2 for the Eagles, 3 for the Vikings). Very little about Sunday’s outing was encouraging for either offense, especially for Carson Wentz.
Wentz was bad again. His stats over the last two weeks have been very rookie-esque; 27/50, 54%, 317 yards, TD, 2 interceptions and a fumble. He dropped at least five snaps Sunday and cameras caught him struggling to get his mouthguard through his face mask. His accuracy disappeared on some crucial 3rd down throws as well. Rookies in the NFL often hit the wall around Week 10 or 11. Let’s hope Wentz is getting his rookie funk out of the way now.
Wentz wasn’t the only one struggling Sunday. The Eagles again dropped too many passes and were still flagged 7 times, lowering their average to 9.3 per game. Good enough for 31st in the NFL. Ryan Matthews also fumbled while nursing a 4th quarter lead for the 2nd time this season, which you know, is less than ideal.
As great as it was to see the Eagles dominate the Vikings Sunday, I’m not convinced this changes the season’s outlook, at least for me. The Vikings were an ideal matchup for the Eagles. Minnesota’s offense is too limited to put a defense on its heels. They need their defense to provide opportunities or at the very least, keep the opponent bottled up until Sam Bradford can muster a few points. Jim Schwartz’s defense will expose average offenses like this, especially those with mediocre quarterbacks. Though I love the Eagles having a dominant defense again, I’m still dubious about how the Eagle’s secondary will fare against some of the elite quarterbacks and receivers ahead. I know they contained Pittsburgh and Antonio Brown in Week 3, but they’ll have to recreate that effort several times over the coming months. Look at this gauntlet; Dez Bryant, Odell Beckham, Julio Jones, whichever wide receiver Aaron Rodgers favors that week, and AJ Green are on deck over the next six weeks. Outside of the Giants, the Eagles offense is unlikely to outscore any of those offenses without some help from their defense. If the defense is up to the challenge and able to wreak havoc as they did against Sam Bradford and Ben Roethlisberger, I will be proven wrong and the Eagles will be a playoff team. I hope I’m wrong.