I think if you would have told me midway through the second quarter that the Eagles would go onto win this one, I probably would have laughed in your face. But alas, the Eagles pulled out a great comeback and beat the Panthers 21-18.
We learned a lot of things about the Eagles today. I think the most important thing is that Jalen Hurts is not afraid of the moment. Hurts did not have a great game, finishing with a stat line of 22-37/198 Passing/0 TDs/1 INT/2 Rushing TDs. But when it mattered most, the Eagles down 5 with the ball deep in Carolina territory, Hurts stayed composed and rushed for a touchdown to put the Eagles ahead. I'm still completely on the fence with Hurts, but this game just felt like more good then bad to me.
DeVonta Smith is a star. Not that anyone really doubted it, but after Smith was a non-factor in two straight weeks, people doubted if he could make an impact in his rookie season. Not only did DeVonta catch 7 passes for 77 yards, he got the clutch 2 point conversion after the late Hurts TD run. This kid is going to singlehandedly win games for this team down the stretch. I'll give a quick shoutout to Quez Watkins as well, who caught that deep pass to set up the Hurts sneak in the 3rd. Heard someone say that Watkins reminded them of DeSean...
They didn't start well, but Jonathan Gannon's defense put on one heck of a show today. Honestly, the biggest thing for me is the turnovers. Darius Slay with two interceptions and Steven Nelson with one. Slay has been solid since he arrived in Philadelphia, but never really made any game changing plays besides from his INT in Week 16 last year. Today, he made two picks in big moments. Nelson's interception all but sealed the game. The defensive line also arguably had their best game so far this season. Javon Hargrave got another sack, Fletcher Cox got a sack, Josh Sweat got a sack and Ryan Kerrigan finally recorded a stat with a TFL. Even past the stat sheet, the Eagles just made Sam Darnold uncomfortable which led to those INTs and more. Darnold really disappointed me today as an unbiased football fan; he was really poor.
Special Teams! You gotta give credit where credit is due for Michael Clay, the Eagles special teams coordinator. When the Eagles defense stopped the Panthers once again, instead of getting the ball back in their own territory, TJ Edwards blocked a punt and Shaun Bradley recovered it. You don't get blocked punts without the special teams coordinator preparing you during the week, so good job to Clay.
How about some negativity? Well, the linebackers played awful again. Alex Singleton had a stupid late hit and overall is starting to make it seem like his 2020 season was an outlier. Eric Wilson didn't do anything notable. TJ Edwards had that great blocked punt, but I'm talking about linebacker play on defense. You know what, as I'm typing this, I now remember that Davion Taylor had a really good game. I don't know what his snap count was, but I do know that it needs to be higher. He's a 3rd Round Pick and is definitely not any worse then what the Eagles are trotting out there right now. That falls on Nick Sirianni, which is also a subject of negativity. Sure, Sirianni's guys rallied at the end and I give him complete credit for that. But his play calling in the first half was legitimately horrible. It seemed like there was a screen pass every other play, and it would never work. Again, the run-to-pass ratio was just not pretty. I just cannot fathom why it is so hard to get the ball into the hands of Miles Sanders.
The road ahead will not be easy. The Eagles have a short week, as they will play the 4-1 Buccaneers on Thursday night. But sitting at 2-3 going into that game instead of 1-4 is so huge. Washington lost today(now 2-3) and one of the Cowboys/Giants will take a loss. This game was ugly for most of the time, but the Eagles found a way to win and that is all that matters.
I'm not saying this team is elite, I'm not saying this team will win the Super Bowl, but if the offense can figure it out this is a good football team. And if you want to test yourselves after a big win, I don't think there can be any bigger test than against Brady and Tampa. I'll see you back here on Friday morning for the recap.