Maybe it’s time to get excited about the Philadelphia Eagles again.
The first month of the season was a bit of a slog. Uncharacteristic injuries sapped the team’s defensive depth. Disfunction and disarray marked the offensive effort. Something wasn’t quite right.
Maybe it was the rest of the league catching up to what the Eagles were able to do during a near-flawless 2022. Maybe it was the natural complacency that prolonged success can bring.
Whatever it was, the first four weeks of the Eagles season left area fans as off-kilter as the team itself.
Sure, the team was still winning, but it wasn’t dominating or destroying the will other teams had to play the game. You know, like last year.
Well, a trip to Los Angeles has changed all that. In the Rams’ (and Chargers’) new multi-billion-dollar football palace, the Eagles authored a near-total dismantling of the Rams.
The 23-14 win wasn’t filled with offensive fireworks. It didn’t have splashy defensive plays.
What it did have was the systematic demolition of a pretty good NFL team.
The Eagles went into their house and took apart, bit by bit, the L.A. Rams.
Piece by piece, here’s what the Eagles did.
They got Dallas Goedert into the act. The Eagles’ tight end was a statistical afterthought through the first four games.
Goedert still did his part in the run game. Don’t kid yourself, the thing that sets Goedert apart from his elite tight end peers is his blocking ability. But his production just wasn’t there through four weeks. This week he has eight catches for 118 yards and a touchdown.
Jalen Hurts mixed the run game back into his toolkit. Early this season the Eagles’ QB seemed to be thinking his way through the running part of his game. Not this time. Hurts was decisive, effective and punishing on 15 carries for 72 tough yards, plus the obligatory touchdown.
Oh, and Hurts threw for 303 yards, while controlling the clock for just shy of 38 minutes.
After a shaky start, the Eagles defense pitched a second-half shutout. Despite their fifth different starting lineup in the secondary in as many games, the Eagles adjusted to one of the league’s most innovative and varied offenses and shut it down.
Haason Reddick and Jalen Carter had two sacks each. Reddick’s sacks came on back-to-back plays that all but ended the game for good.
And Carter? Well, the University of Georgia rookie was the best defensive player in the building. That included future Hall of Fame Rams tackle Aaron Donald. Carter obliterated the Rams offensive line from his first snap to the last.
In just 39 snaps, Carter changed the game. Again. It’s not too early to start appreciating just how good this kid can be.
D’Andre Swift was effective when he needed to be, reeling off tough run after tough run that kept the chains moving and kept wearing down the Rams defense.
The offensive line, with Sua Opeta starting just his second game ever at right guard, allowed just one sack while giving Hurts almost unlimited time to pick apart the Rams defense.
So, it’s time to get excited again.
The Eagles haven’t quite put together the best version of themselves. But it’s coming.
With the Dolphins, Cowboys, Niners, Bills and Chiefs coming up, it couldn’t come at a better time.