By Kevin McGuire
The Philadelphia Eagles continue to improve on their NFL-best record. After blowing out the Denver Broncos 51-23 on Sunday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field, the Eagles improved to 8-1 on the season as they now head into their bye week. Some good challenges still remain, but the Eagles are leaving no doubt they deserve to be recognized as one of the best teams in the league. Carson Wentz looks like a true MVP favorite, and the addition of Jay Ajayi to the running game worked out quite well in the first game since the trade acquisition. The Eagles defense made Brock Osweiler’s first game back as the Denver starting quarterback one to forget.
Wentz passed for just 199 yards but tossed four touchdowns while taking just one four-yard sack. His four touchdown passes made Wentz the first quarterback this season to hit the 20-touchdown mark. Three different players caught a touchdown pass from Wentz on a day the Eagles were without one of their most reliable options, tight end Zach Ertz. Alshon Jeffery had two touchdowns on six catches with 84 yards. Trey Burton and Corey Clement each had a touchdown reception as well. Jay Ajayi rushed for a team-high 77 yards in his Eagles debut, with one touchdown, but Clement had an impact on the running game as well with 51 yards on 12 carries with two touchdowns. The Eagles got off to a fast start with a 17-point first quarter, and built a 44-9 lead going to the fourth quarter. The Eagles were four-for-four in the red zone.
While the Eagles offense was doing their thing, the defense was not giving Denver much opportunity to do anything, either. The Broncos ended their day with just 226 yards of offense and were held to three third down conversions out of 13. The Eagles defense did a solid job getting off the field. Philadelphia had three sacks and picked off two passes from Osweiler. The Eagles only allowed Denver three field goals in the first half and kept the Broncos out of the end zone until the fourth quarter. By that point, the game was already well in hand and all that was left to determine was the final score.
Special Teams: A
Kicker Jake Elliott was busy kicking extra points, making six of seven attempts, so he only had to kick one field goal all day. Elliott was called on for a 45-yard field goal and he nailed it. Given how many times he was out for an extra point, he can get a pass for missing one. Punter Donnie Jones also wasn’t too busy aside from holding the football for Elliott, but he averaged 54.0 yards on his two punts to help flip the field when sent on to kick. Kenjon Barner handled kick and punt returns and never managed to break a big one, but that may be the only real concern in this game. The punt coverage gave up a 44-yard return to Isaiah McKenzie on the one return he had against the Eagles.
The Eagles were superior in every facet of the game against a struggling Denver team that should have been favored across the board. But there was no playing down to an opponent and the Eagles were all business in going about their routine—and it’s looking darn impressive right now. The addition of Ajayi didn’t cause any issues with the offense right out of the gate. Doug Pederson has this team playing a high-quality brand of football, and going into the bye week at 8-1 is a testament to how much he has grown as a coach—as well as proof that the entire roster has been upgraded from Pederson’s debut season as a head coach. The Eagles are 5-0 at home and are making it a difficult environment for opposing teams to come in and win.
Up Next: The Eagles now get a bye week to prepare for their next game, and it’s a big one. The Eagles return to action in two weeks for a Sunday Night Football matchup on the road against the Dallas Cowboys. It will be the first meeting between the two rivals, and it could be the first chance the Eagles will have to bury the rest of the NFC East. A win to move to 9-1 would be incredibly difficult for the second-place Cowboys to catch in the second half of the season with just six weeks remaining, including the regular season finale in Philly against the Cowboys.