Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Eagles - Washington Takeaways: Welcome to Carson City

Nothing But Blue Skies
Tonight in South Philly, the Eagles came out flat as a pancake in a division game with the Washington Racial Slurs. DC failed in the red zone, got caught up in the wash of bad flags from a camera-happy crew, and didn't play their best game either, but their offense was ripping off chunk plays, their QB (Kirk Cousins) was operating at a high level, and their running game wasn't so useless, as so many Eagle opponents have been this year, to become one-dimensional. At 10-3 DC after a walk-in score 20 minutes into the game, the road team had a 178-32 advantage in yardage, and this looked like it was getting away fast. Young team can't handle prosperity; a tale as old as time. Oh, and guys kept getting hurt, too. It wasn't looking good.

Then, safety Malcolm Jenkins made a form perfect stop on a 3rd and 1 in the flat. The offense sputtered for a first down running it, with QB Carson Wentz sneaking for one, then taking a terrible sack when he tried to make two men miss at once, rather then throwing it away.

Oh, and then Wentz hit rookie WR Mike Hollis on a warhead of a 64-yard strike. In a blink, the game was tied, the tide had changed, and the Monday Night Football audience saw what might be (shh!) the best QB in the NFL right now.

DC failed again on a third and one, showing that no down and distance would make them trust their running game. Wentz, suddenly smelling blood in the water, hit a deep ball to TE Zach Ertz, got closer with a DPI call on a corner ball to WR Alshon Jeffery, then connected with Ertz again in the flat for the score, Then he drove the home team out of the locker room on a drive, kept their heads in the game when star T Jason Peters left on a cart, and gave up his body on an absurd toss to RB Corey Clement, in the end zone at the tie. From 10-3 down to 24-10 up, in just over 8 minutes of clock time.

Oh, and no one is going to remember any of that in the long run, because it wasn't Wentz emerging from a mob of defenders to shake free for a back-breaking conversion off a scramble. That only set up his fourth TD of the night, the Eagles' second 14-point lead, and the de facto kill shot with 11 minutes left in the game.

The Eagles weren't a dramatically better football team tonight. If you look at the box score, it's pretty much a coin flip -- total yards, turnovers, time of possession, sacks allowed, penalties taken are all right in range with each other. There were also no dramatic special teams plays to sway the flow of the game.

But they had Carson Wentz, the best QB in the game right now, since Tom Brady can't run and Aaron Rodgers is hurt. He's just had the best two games of his pro career, in back to back weeks. He's the QB of the league's only team with one loss. He's 2.5 games up in the division, with a home game against a winless team next up on the schedule, with the 2nd and 3rd place teams playing each other.

You don't win anything for being the best team in football in late October. But it's sure a hell of a lot of fun regardless, and an incredible feeling to have a margin for error and flat play taking the snaps.

More stray thoughts from Carson's second straight national audience coming-out party...

10) Peters going down might be devastating, especially once this team gets back to hard games on the road. Kudos to the man for looking so calm and fired up on the cart, though. I hope like hell that's not the last time we see him in the laundry.

9) Watching TE Josh Reed shred this defense reminds one of the importance of linebackers. The Eagles were missing both of their best tonight, and won the game anyway. Useful.

8) If K Josh Elliott has to miss kicks occasionally, up 10 with 1:45 left is the time to do it, honestly.

7) The Eagle rushing attack sans QB: 25 for 64, and if you factor out the one time that RB LeGarrete Blount got loose late, it was 24 for 43. Add Wentz back in, and it goes to 33 for 127. Dude was everything tonight.

6) Is it me, or are the refs trying to justify their full-time salaries now by calling an inordinate amount of penalties? Tonight, the clubs went 14 for 110, and it only seemed like all of them came in the first half. It's getting hard to watch, honestly.

5) As good as DC played for much of the first half, they never got more than 7 points ahead, and were a bouncing fumble off a punt return from early disaster. They play hard, Cousins isn't bad and RB Chris Thompson is genuinely talented, but this club just doesn't seem to take enough advantage of good fortune to be dangerous.

4) If coming from North Dakota is the source of Wentz's super powers, as ESPN irritant Jon Gruden asserts, why don't more teams just hire guys from cold climates? Oh, right, because where you are from doesn't freaking matter. (Oh, and Jon -- if you are going to stick with this idiotic line of "analysis", please let us know which parts of the country aren't as tough as the Dakotas. Have at it, sir! Where are the wimp states?)

3) Nice to see DE Derek Barnett get into the action. Oh, and that's another fun point from Gruden -- the idea that the Eagles are the only team in football to rotate in fresh shock troops on the defensive line. As if.

2) Four guys with touchdown catches in this one, no one with more than 5 catches, because (a) the defense couldn't get off the field, and (b) HC Doug Pederson rarely wants to see this offense run tempo. Also, I think he's trying to kill your fantasy team. (Me, I have Wentz in my keeper league, and Jake Elliott wherever I can get him, and that's working out.)

1) I saw this game on an ESPN Desportes monitor in a gym while pedaling for three hours, with my phone giving me the English ESPN feed on a delay of about three to five minutes from what was happening on screen. Long story short... I've had worse times. At least the Spanish guys and teleprompter just fill my head with stuff I don't understand, rather than stuff I know is gibberish...

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