PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Eagles’ defense dominated, the offense struggled without its deep threat and luckily the Birds hired Doug Pederson in 2016. The Eagles’ gobbled the New York Jets, 31-6, on Sunday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field.
Overall, most would agree Sunday’s game was a snoozefest. The Jets are not good, so I would hold off on making any pronunciations about the Birds being back in the NFC driver’s seat. With that said, I just have to heap praise upon the Eagles’ offensive linemen. Here are my KoObservations from the win:
1. Brandon Brooks is a downright stud
Let’s not even talk about how the 30-year-old Brooks is dominating at his right guard position less than a year after snapping his Achilles’ tendon in the playoffs. But let’s talk about it. I turned 30 two months before Brooks did, and you know how I wake up every morning? Sore. Just in general. General soreness.
I will admit, reluctantly, that Brooks is a superior athlete, but to watch him pave blocking lanes is a thing of beauty. I don’t need Pro Football Focus to tell me that Brooks is the No 1 guard in the NFL, just watch him instead of the football on Sundays. (PFF has him ranked No. 1 in the NFL.)
Seemingly every snap he and Jason Kelce combo-blocked the defensive tackle in a one, two or three technique three or four yards down the field. That allowed Brooks to get to the second level and block the angles for the ball carriers.
Oftentimes, O-linemen at the second level just get in the way, barely making contact with a linebacker scraping over into a hole. That’s not the case with Brooks. This dude creates contact and locks in — frontside, backside, doesn’t matter.
This kind of initial push and secondary blocking creates massive lanes on the frontside and cutback lanes on the backside. It’s not as important for a straight-line runner like Jordan Howard, but a back who loves to jump around like Miles Sanders benefits from this.
Brooks is a dog in the trenches. He’s dominant and he’s probably not even 100% yet. In a game that lacked a ton of explosive offensive plays, move your eyes. Brooks is dominating week in and week out.
2. Ten sacks is a lot
Reported for the first and only time here and definitely nowhere else, the Eagles had just three sacks entering play Sunday. They came out with 10 in one game.
Brandon Graham had a career-high three, and that’s awesome. But the Jets are terrible. I’m chalking this up to a get-right game for the defense heading into a difficult three-game road swing.
They need to feel a little swaggy before heading to Minnesota, Dallas and Buffalo because those games will be slugfests that will rely on big defensive plays. I don’t believe Sunday’s performance is necessarily a precursor to continued defensive success.
3. Adam Gase has been hired as a head coach in the NFL twice
Nothing else to add here, just wanted to put it in bold. Gase practiced quarterback Sam Darnold with the starters all week until he realized he wasn’t going to play, throwing Luke Falk into a terrible situation.
That’s head-coaching malpractice. There’s zero evidence Gase can even be a mediocre head coach. I feel bad for Falk, I feel worse for Le’Veon Bell. I’m actually happy Bell took last year off to save his body for this season.
4. The Ballad of Corey Clement
A Super Bowl hero and only 24 years old, Clement was coming off surgery in the offseason, missed time in the preseason and has struggled to gain traction through five weeks with the Eagles’ offense. Firmly planted behind Sanders, Howard and Darren Sproles, his offensive role has been non-existent.
Clement’s yet to log a single carry or catch a single ball. He hasn’t even been targeted yet. The only stat on his game log sheet? Two kick return fumbles, both lost and both led to touchdowns. A locker room favorite, Clement can’t afford a third fumble as the fourth RB on the roster.
5. Eagles clearly miss DeSean
The second half of the Eagles’ win over Washington was a coming out party for their offense. DeSean Jackson hit two deep balls and showed the versatility the Birds would have working the intermediate and seam passing game, as well as the vertical game.
Since Jackson’s been hurt, it’s been an absolute slog trying to create explosive plays with the ball traveling more than 15 yards. It’s unclear when he’ll return to the field from his abdominal injury. The team clearly can’t stretch the field without him.
Here are the longest plays the Birds have had per game during his absence:
Week 2: 46 yards, Nelson Agholor Hail Mary in fourth quarter
Week 3: 40 yards, Sanders vs. a linebacker
Week 4: 20 yards, Howard TD reception
Week 5: 36 yards, Sanders vs. a defensive end
What does this list tell you? Three of the four longest plays of the Eagles’ passing attack since Week 1 are to running backs in plus matchups. That’s good coach, that’s good scheming. It’s also an indication that they don’t have the personnel in their receiving rooms to win down the field.
Kudos to Pederson and the offensive coaching staff for scheming ways to get Sanders against linebackers and defensive ends. But it’s indisputable they need Jackson back and back quickly to stretch defenses. Absent his vertical threat, teams can squeeze the Eagles and force them to go on patient, sustained drives.
That’s not always Pederson’s forte.
In addition to his blocking prowess, Brooks is very outspoken about the importance of mental health. An article from 2018 sheds light on his battle and how he’s helping others. For those who have followed me on social media, I have dealt with similar anxieties and depression my entire life. I’ve started a help group for people in broadcasting dealing with similar issues called Mix/Minus on Facebook. Brooks’ work has helped tons of people and he deserves to be commended for that as well.