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Eagles Get Back On Track With Dominating Win Over Denver

Three weeks ago, who would've thought that the Eagles completely change their identity from a pass heavy offense to run heavy offense? Well, I didn't, that's for sure. For the third straight week, Philly eclipsed 175 yards on the ground, as they ran it 40 times for 214 yards on the road against Denver, averaging a stunning 5.4 yards per-carry. Over the last four weeks, no team has rushed for more yards than the Eagles, and that is due to Sirianni’s sudden commitment to the ground game

Nick Sirianni and Jalen Hurts have progressed tremendously over the last couple weeks. And yes, I can already hear the group of purist Eagles fans complaining about Jalen Hurts not throwing for over 200 yards in each of the last three weeks. While the fact that Jalen Hurts has not thrown for over 200 yards in three straight weeks is a bit concerning, there are several things that need to be taken into account. First off, the Eagles only asked Hurts to win with his arm in the second half against Los Angeles, and the first half against Denver. In those two halves, Jalen Hurts played the best football of his life as he showed his ability to be a pocket passer and make NFL level throws that you want a franchise quarterback to make. What is even more encouraging is that Hurts is trusting his pocket and not bailing after his first read isn’t there, he is going through his progressions and trusting the play-calling.

Before we all jump back on the Hurts wagon, he only has played two full halves of football these past three weeks, and he will need to show that he can put together these kinds of performances on a consistent basis over the next three weeks heading into the bye before we start to consider him as the franchise guy. Overall, the offensive growth has been extremely encouraging and there is a lot to talk about as to the changes that have been made, but that is an article for another day, let's jump into the game recap!

In the first half, Jalen Hurts was a stifling 15/20 with 176 yards and 2 touchdowns through the air on 75% completion percent, to go along with 52 yards rushing and 0 turnovers. Late in the first half, Quez Watkins dropped a perfect touchdown pass in the end zone, which would have put Hurts over 200 yards and 3 touchdowns passing in the first half. Regardless, the Eagles had five drives in the first half, scoring points on four of the drives. It's also important to note that the offensive line did not allow a sack, not even one! Well, Kenneth Gainwell missed a free rusher out of the backfield leading to a strip sack, but that play was on the running back Gainwell for not picking up the free rusher.

Going into the game, many were curious about the matchup between former Alabama teammates and top ten picks, Patrick Surtain II and DeVonta Smith. On the second drive of the game, Hurts threw a contested ball to the right boundary of the end zone with Surtain in perfect coverage, but DeVonta Smith made arguable the catch of the year, mossing one of his oldest friends. Early in the second half, Hurts tried to force a contested ball into double coverage and Surtain nearly picked it, but DeVonta nocked it out at the last second, showing the elite cornerback skills he claims to have! Hurts did not target Surtain much more in the game, which was probably wise because Surtain has elite ball skills with the ball in the air. However, on his 23rd birthday, DeVonta Smith took advantage of the Broncos secondary, accounting for 66 yards and 2 touchdowns in the first half.

Dallas Goedert hauled in 2 catches for 28 yards early in the game, before going down with a concussion and not returning. Goedert will enter concussion protocol and most likely will be a game-time decision for next week. Tyree Jackson took over for the injured Goedert, but he didn't have a single catch and missed a few blocks. Nick Sirianni uses Goedert as a lead blocker for Jalen Hurts on outside zone run plays, but without Goedert, those plays were not as successful. Regardless, Sirianni adjusted, and the offense didn't miss a beat. Jack Stoll was used on most of the zone blocking schemes Sirianni loves to call, and he made some significant blocks.

Denver moved the ball efficiently, averaging 5.6 yards per-play, but the Eagles were able to get off the field when it mattered. Philly held Denver to a stifling 1/11 on third down, and 0/2 on fourth down. Jonathan Gannon also allowed Darius Slay and Steven Nelson to play press man coverage for the first time all season, and the Eagles defense only allowed the Broncos strong receiving core to total 11 catches for a combined 91 yards. Nelson lost his man a few times, but Bridgewater missed the open receiver a few times. The Broncos tight end duo was able to find success in the zones against the Eagles defense, which is a major weakness for the style of defense Jonathan Gannon plays.

The young linebacker Davion Taylor had the best game of his career, forcing two fumbles, one of which resulted in a touchdown for Slay. Taylor's running mate T.J. Edwards has also been extremely efficient in clogging the running lanes on first and second down. As Taylor and Edwards continue to grow, Jonathan Gannon can be more aggressive and scheme up more blitzes, which we have started to see more of lately. The Eagles defense rarely allows plays over the top, but they allow the quarterback to sit in the pocket and throw receivers open. With timely blitz calls on third down, it forces the quarterback to get rid of the ball quick, and we saw that on a key third down stop late in the game. Rookie defensive tackle Milton Williams has also continued to progress, and he has seen increased action over the past three weeks. Milton Williams allows the Eagles defense to have a different look because he can line up at defensive tackle and edge rusher. This allows for Jonathan Gannon to have defensive fronts designed to stop the run while also getting pressure on the quarterback with Milton’s pass rush ability.

The Eagles were able to come away with a dominating win over Denver, keeping their playoff hopes alive. Philly hosts Trevor Siemian and a struggling Saints team coming off back-to-back heartbreaking losses. Even though the Saints have struggled as of late, don't let that fool you, Sean Payton is an elite coach with an elite defense, and the Saints will always be a tough out for any team.

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