PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — This bit of attractive wordplay would work better if my name were pronounced “Kolb” — like the former Eagles quarterback — but alas, it is not. I’m not changing it.
Throughout the year, I’ll be providing my KoObservations on the Birds as they move through the season.
The Eagles showed in their 32-27 win over Washington on Sunday that they’re capable of overcoming slow — even terrible — starts against inferior teams.
The talent gap coming into the game was wide enough for the Birds to survive in the win column, but for those with eyes toward Vegas, the end result was a bit disappointing. That may fly against an NFC East bottom dweller, but it won’t in late December.
This isn’t a good and bad observation list, but just things I’ve noticed over the course of 60 minutes of football. What it means, what it may mean and what the guys in the locker room are saying. We’ll start with a hot button topic that doesn’t have to do with DeSean Jackson.
1. We Expected Some Sproles, Maybe Not … This Much Sproles
Darren Sproles came back to the Eagles late in the offseason, talked out of retirement by the Birds and his daughter for one last ride for a ring. A cute thought. The 36-year-old led the team in touches in the first half, which led many in the press box and the socialsphere scratching their collective “send tweet” buttons.
The Eagles drafted Miles Sanders in the second round and traded for Jordan Howard, who didn’t make an appearance until late in the first half. Sproles certainly has tons of wiggle left, but at his size and age, it was an odd choice from Doug Pederson. Pederson’s persistence paid off in the second half as Sproles opened the third quarter with four carries, including an eight-yard run and 17-yard run, but it’s hard to think they’ll be able to lean on Sproles as a lead back that often.
Here are the carry splits for the Birds: Sanders (11), Sproles (9), Howard (6), Carson Wentz (4), Alshon Jeffery (1).
I’d be surprised if this continued.
2. Return Of The DJax
I’m not sure what’s harder — catch eight balls for 154 yards and two touchdowns in your return home or get Chip Kelly trending on Twitter in 2019.
On second thought, Kelly has been trending pretty often. On a seemingly unrelated note, he also traded LeSean McCoy and is now back in college coaching a bad UCLA team.
D-Jax lit it up. He ran past guys, he cut his routes beautifully to create space on multiple outs. He found space in zone. He beat dudes in man. Every single guy we spoke with in the locker room was in awe of him, including Zach Ertz.
“I kinda knew the check when it was happening on the second (touchdown),” Ertz said. “I was like, ‘Man should I even run my route over here or should I just watch?’ I ran my route but I was peeking, waiting for the ball to go up in the air. I knew what the end result was going to be.”
It’s no secret the Eagles’ offense is better with someone capable of taking the top off the defense. Torrey Smith was that guy in 2017. Mike Wallace was not in 2018. 2019 brings the Return Of D-Jax and even more options for Wentz. More on that later.
3. Defense Stands Up Or Washington Gonna Washington?
It’s one thing to not get sacks. It’s another to not pressure the quarterback at all. The Eagles barely breathed on Case Keenum of 38-7 fame in the first half. He was able to pick them apart in soft zones. It was disgusting. That’s what makes Washington’s second-half performance so perplexing.
Washington’s first three series of the second half combined: 10 plays, five yards, three three-and-outs.
Here’s the breakdown:
Drive 1: 0-yard rush, minus-5 yard rush, dump-off pass on third down, punt
Drive 2: Incomplete middle, incomplete short left, incomplete short middle, punt
Drive 3: Short completion left, 5-yard rush, penalty after the play, short pass left
What is this?
Washington pushed the ball down the field consistently in the first half, max protected and slid protections for Keenum to give him time to process and for plays to develop. The Eagles kept Washington from getting into any sort of rhythm, but the play calling was objectively atrocious.
Bottom line: The Eagles’ D kept Washington’s offense off the field, and the Birds’ offense tired out Washington’s D. Talent won out from there — simple as that.
4. Carson Wentz, Pretty Good At Sports
In our preview article before the game, I said Wentz didn’t have to come out and throw for 300 yards and three scores, and I was totally right.
Wentz threw for 313 yards and three scores and the Eagles needed all 13 of those yards to win.
Seriously though, Wentz looked great. He was barely touched on the day. He was technically sacked once, but it was on a scramble. He worked the pocket throughout the game and extended plays in responsibly (safe) ways for his guys to break off routes and work back toward him.
Looks familiar pic.twitter.com/eCB1RUHa0E
— Dan Koob CBS3 (@DanKoob) September 8, 2019
I covered the Green Bay Packers for three-and-a-half seasons (not bragging, they didn’t win anything) and Wentz’s arm angles remind me of Aaron Rodgers. Not hyperbole. Wentz isn’t as athletic as Rodgers, but his slipperiness and ability to escape is very much like No. 12. He can make any throw from a variety of angles and that makes him one of the best quarterbacks in the game.
Speaking of Green Bay, Mike McCarthy used to have a ton of sayings. One of them was, “You can’t make the club in the tub.” Same applies to Wentz.
Keep him upright. Keep him healthy. Keep playing into February.
Extra Point: My Favorite Locker Room Quote
This was a toss-up between the love affair for Jackson and attending the Brandon Graham sex-ed class I assume he’ll be giving across the country at various middle schools upon retirement.
“Honestly, it always feels good. A win in the league. I won’t say it’s better than sex, but it always feels good,” Graham said.
— Dan Koob CBS3 (@DanKoob) September 8, 2019
All right then.