Eagles Overreaction Week 10: Sports are Good, Schwartz makes tackling great again

“Eagles Overreaction is a completely serious and well-reasoned analysis of Philadelphia Eagles games. All opinions expressed here are facts. Anyone indicating to the contrary is wrong. Anyone disagreeing with the aforementioned analysis is likewise wrong.” – Abraham Lincoln

What a week! While America was busy taking its biggest “L” since we let Canada burn down the White House, the sports teams that play in and around the city of Philadelphia were #Good and not #Bad!

So everything is fine!

The Sixers (1-8) are off to their best start to the season since 2013! The Flyers snapped a losing streak and Claude drunkenly beautifully sang “Fly Eagles Fly!” The Phillies made a trade that was fine and lost zero games! Penn State and Temple have good football teams! Villanova and Temple’s men’s basketball teams are undefeated! And the Philadelphia Eagles beat the very good Atlanta Falcons! Good things all around!

The Eagles won, so everything is fine.

Big ole ‘welp’ for Murica, but the Eagles won, so everything is fine.

 

If you took a poll asking who would win before the Eagles faced the offensively explosive Falcons, most of those polls would give Atlanta the edge. Of course, as we all know, polls are a stupid waste of time and more evidence that math is bad. Despite a few poor performances late in games against NFC East opponents, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and his players own good teams that are supposed to beat the Eagles. Against the Steelers, Vikings, and Falcons, the Eagles defense has given up just 28 total points. Coming into Sunday’s game, the Falcons averaged 33+ points per game, but were held to just 15. Overall, the Eagles defense has performed admirably, and is tied with Arizona and Baltimore for third place in points allowed per game with 17.8. Malcolm Jenkins and Brandon Graham continue to play lights-out for the Eagles, and the hamstrung cornerback Leodis McKelvin acquitted himself well after being forced into play when Nolan Carroll left with a concussion, Sunday.

More than anything, it has been the tackling of this defense that has stood out this season. For too many years the Eagles defenders have failed to wrap up their opponents, opting to hit (or attempt to hit) rather than using sound technique to prevent additional yards. This problem has not been limited to Philadelphia, but has been a league-wide trend for years – risking a missed tackle in exchange for the increasing odds of forcing a fumble and/or causing an injury with a powerful hit (especially a hit to the head). It has been slow work to reverse this trend, both in the name of player safety and good fundamentals. Schwartz has this Eagles team tackling as well as any team in the league. Linebacker Nigel Bradham (brought along from Buffalo by Schwartz) and Jenkins have been prime examples of this, but it has trickled down even to frustrating players like Mychal Kendricks who has shown marked improvement as the year progresses (at least tackling-wise, he still can’t cover anyone, but that’s a different issue). Tackling technique has clearly been a priority in practice and has begun to pay off on game day.

Offensively, Ryan Mathews is apparently no longer in a “time out” and can come play, again. That’s great news, because he has always been the best running back on this team (when healthy). Mathews contributed 109 of the Eagles 208 total rushing yards and scored two touchdowns and a two-point conversion. Also, the play calling from Doug Pederson dramatically improved – to excellent results. While the bubble screen didn’t completely die the death it most certainly deserves (what on earth was that nearly disastrous screen pass to Brent Celek about?), the Eagles balanced their attack by rushing 38 times and passing 36 times. It’s almost like they discovered that they had a rookie QB that shouldn’t be asked to throw 44 times (@ Dallas) or 47 times (@ NY) per game! As an added benefit of the effective running attack, the Eagles controlled the ball for 38+ minutes (somewhere Chip Kelly is screaming that he “doesn’t pay attention to time of possession”) keeping Matt Ryan and Julio Jones off the field. Carson Wentz played a badly-needed clean game going 25/36 for 231 yards and no turnovers. He was usually accurate, but didn’t really take any shots down field, despite the promise shown by speedy receiver Bryce Treggs.

Next Week

The Eagles travel to Seattle, who, having just won the Super Bowl in their heads, will look past the seemingly-lowly 5-4 Birds. Classic trap game for the Seahawks! Philly catches them napping, never loses again, and bankrupts the city with all their championship parades. RIP Philadelphia.

Eagles 27 – Seahawks 19


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