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Birdfeed: Vol. 15.5

The Eagles put up 39 points, amassed over 500 yards and set a team record for 1st downs. Here’s what else they did well. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

The running game was productive. It took five weeks, but the ground game that was supposed to set the world on fire finally showed some embers. The Eagles rushed for 186 yards at 5.5 yards per carry. Though DeMarco Murray again fell short of a 100 yards, he showed signs of comfort and familiarity with a line that’s often left him stranded in the backfield surrounded by linebackers. Ryan Matthews continued to run the ball well, perhaps earning even more touches as he’s proven to be the more productive back through five weeks.

Despite a 1st quarter with two horrendous red zone interceptions, Sam Bradford rebounded for his best game as an Eagle. Even before the interceptions, I thought Bradford looked more confident than at any point this season. Maybe he’s finally settling in after nearly two years away from the field.

After giving Kirk Cousins insane amounts of time in the pocket last week, the Eagle defense was able to relentlessly pressure Drew Brees. They tallied five sacks and the consistent pressure was directly responsible for three of New Orleans’ four turnovers.

It was a complete win for Chip Kelly’s Eagles. They even won the time of possession battle by a decisive margin (9 minutes). However, despite a dominant effort, it’s too soon to declare the Eagles contenders, even in the dreadful NFC East. One can’t ignore that it took a truly awful opponent for the Philadelphia offense to finally spread its wings. Though the Eagles schedule is relatively soft, the Eagles won’t see a defense as bad as the Saints the rest of the season. There are other issues that remain a concern, too.

The Eagles are only converting about half their red zone trips into touchdowns. Receivers continue to drop passes at an alarming rate. Caleb Sturgis will absolutely cost the Eagles another game down the road. On the few occasions the pass rush didn’t reach a debilitated Drew Brees, he was able to dissect the secondary with relative ease. The Eagles defense is only as good as its pass rush. Without it, they’re totally neutered.

Obviously, the aforementioned concerns are nitpicking after a 22 point victory, but when you struggle all season and then beat up on what is probably one of the NFL’s worst teams, it’s plenty warranted. If the Eagles beat the Giants Monday night I’ll be more open to considering them a playoff team. Until then, they’re a “good bad” team that beats up on really bad opponents.

Also, I’ll take the Falcons (-3.5) tonight against the aforementioned horrible Saints.

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