Well, that was a fun Sunday, wasn’t it? The Eagles terrorized the inept Jets, 31-6, racking up 10 sacks and two defensive touchdowns. Fans of the Midnight Green then returned to their dens in time to catch the Cowboys expose their shortcomings in a home loss to the Packers.
Two weeks ago, the Birds were 1-2, Dallas was 3-0 — and the season felt in jeopardy. Now, they’re tied for the NFC East lead at 3-2 and the good guys have the momentum.
All good. Still, let’s be honest here, even as we toast Brandon Graham, newcomer Orlando Scandrick and the rest of the brawlers who, for one afternoon, evoked Buddy Ryan’s brilliant Gang Green Defense.
This is not yet the team we anticipated heading into the season. And it’s not playing well enough — yet — for fans to make reservations for next February’s Super Bowl in Miami.
Please don’t take these words as my nod to Negadelphia, or my search for that mole above Cindy Crawford’s lip. I’m not saying the glass is half empty.
I’m just saying they’ll need to add a few more sips to that glass before hitting the road.
The Eagles’ upcoming three-week schedule will test their ability to recapture their rightful throne. They play at Minnesota, at Dallas and then at Buffalo. Those teams are a combined 10-5 (5-2 at home) and have outscored opponents by 100 points. There’s not a pushover in the pack.
Let’s say the Eagles survive that journey — maybe even escape with two wins. They then return to their friendly confines, only to take on the Bears, Patriots, and Seahawks. That trio is a combined 12-3 right now, although you could argue the Patriots’ 5-0 record is at the expense of Division III college teams.
Regardless, it’s as tough a six-game stretch as you’ll find this season in the NFL. (Good news: Powder puffs are waiting at the end of the schedule). And if the Eagles are serious about planning another Super Bowl parade, a few things need to get better immediately.
First on the list is offensive sloppiness. Asked if his team played well after Sunday’s 25-point win, Coach Doug Pederson said, “No, no. You saw on offense how average we played… The penalties just put us in too many long situations today: Second-and-long, third-and-long. We can’t make those mistakes and expect to win each week.”
Even as Carson Wentz’s biggest fan, I’ll admit the kid has been a bit off — missing early throws and taking too many hard hits rather than tossing the ball away. He’s got to play smarter.
The Eagles couldn’t throw the ball downfield Sunday. Alshon Jeffery had six catches, but for just 52 yards. Nelson Agholor, once again, was a non-factor. Please, DeSean Jackson, hurry back from that groin injury.
“I’m not going to take away from the win, because it really was a good team win,” tight end Zach Ertz said Sunday night. “But little things we can be better at as a whole, as an offense. And we will be.”
The defense was outstanding Sunday. The pass rush was resuscitated — breaking through the Jets’ tissue-thin line all day.
Again tougher tests lie ahead and the hope is that some of the cornerbacks will check out of the infirmary and into the lineup. Meanwhile, in one game Scandrick already achieved more than any ex-Cowboy the Eagles ever acquired.
The positive, again, is that the Eagles have momentum coming off these last two wins. Let’s hope they’re able to carry that energy aboard the plane to Minneapolis.