Any victory earned by a contender during an NFL season is important, but not all of them are overly impressive. Sunday’s 51-23 rout of the Denver Broncos by the Philadelphia Eagles was beyond impressive; it was a beat-down of the team that entered Week 9 as the league’s No. 1 defense and No. 2 rushing defense.
In a word, wow!
A few thoughts and observations while watching the blowout victory:
Carson Wentz continues to dazzle. Ok, that’s obvious, but the second-year quarterback, who was the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Month for October (14 touchdowns, just 3 interceptions in leading the Birds to five straight wins last month), is off to a great start in November, too: four touchdowns and zero picks in the romp over the visiting Broncos.
The Eagles really can run the football. Remember how worried everyone was about the running game going into the season, a concern that was exacerbated when Darren Sproles was lost for the season with a Game 3 injury? Well, now all of a sudden, the Birds have a surplus of guys who can run the ball: LaGarrette Blount, their leading rusher this season, now has plenty of company, as undrafted rookie Corey Clement and the just-acquired Jay Ajayi were both very impressive in Sunday’s win. (Wendell Smallwood and Kenjon Barner are still around, too.) A big thumbs-up to Clement (pictured), who was somehow passed over by every team in the NFL in this year’s draft. He clearly belongs in the league. Three touchdowns for the South Jersey native on Sunday!
Doug Pederson can coach. I admit it: I was part of the majority of folks who questioned whether Pederson was the best man for the job when he was hired in early 2016. But he’s now one of the three or four guys in the running for Coach of the Year honors. Not only because he’s got a team that’s 8-1 heading into the bye week, but it’s clear that his team really likes playing for Doug. And he’s getting the most out of a lot of guys that were almost written off during the offseason — guys like Jason Kelce, Nelson Agholor, Mychal Kendricks and Patrick Robinson.
De-fense, De-fense! We knew the Eagles had a terrific d-line, but there was concern about the linebackers and a whole lot of worry about the cornerbacks. Well, even with star middle linebacker Jordan Hicks lost for the season, the LBs have players very well (Kendricks in particular), and the cornerbacks have been a very pleasant surprise (Jalen Mills is a Pro Bowl candidate!), and that group will be even better when Ronald Darby returns, presumably for the Birds’ next game.
No clunkers, not yet anyway. Even the best NFL teams generally have a game or two during the season when they just don’t have it. The 2017 Eagles have had a bad quarter here and there, a subpar second half against the Giants (before escaping with a win), but they have yet to have a total lemon of a game. Special request for the Birds: If you’re going to have one of those clunkers, please don’t let it be Nov. 19 in Dallas. There are too many Cowboys fans around here who would enjoy that way too much!
Howie, Howie, Howie! The only guy who has perhaps had as good a 2017 as Carson Wentz is the team’s executive vice president of football operations. With help from personnel chief Joe Douglas, Howie Roseman has pulled all the right strings over the last two years, right on through last week’s acquisition of talented running back Ajayi from the Dolphins in exchange for a 4th-round draft pick.
New favorite commercial. This has nothing to do with the Eagles, but I love the Geico “Game Night With a Sloth” commercial. Cracks me up every time I see it!
—Jim “Chet” Chesko
***Be sure to join Bill Furman and me for this week’s Philly Pressbox Radio Roundtable (Wednesday, 11/8, 7pm ET) when we’re joined by popular former Eagle Fred Barnett.