PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — After a dominant display by the defense in Sunday’s 31-6 rout of the New York Jets, the Eagles have arguably the hardest stretch of their schedule ahead of them. Starting Sunday, the team will be on the road for three straight games, needing to take a flight for each of them, while also facing their biggest intra-divisional rival.
First up are the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Then it’s a trip to Dallas for the first of two meetings with the Cowboys. And things wrap up with a trip to Buffalo to face the Bills. All three of those teams rank in the top 15 of the league in defensive efficiency.
That makes for a big test for an offense that wasn’t overly inspiring against the Jets. Quarterback Carson Wentz threw for just 189 yards and one touchdown, while running back Jordan Howard added 62 yards and a touchdown on the ground. The defense tallied as many touchdowns as the offense, with Nate Gerry taking an interception back for a score and Orlando Scandrick doing the same with a Luke Falk fumble.
That kind of defensive performance will certainly be helpful if it shows up once again in Minnesota, but the offense is more of a concern. The passing game hasn’t quite looked the same without DeSean Jackson in the lineup. But Inside The NFL analyst Steve Smith Sr. says that plenty of credit for the Birds’ back-to-back wins should go to head coach Doug Pederson. Smith Sr. believes that Pederson’s game plan of not putting too much on Wentz’s shoulders has allowed the Birds to find their form.
“It starts with Doug Pederson and corralling and also allowing Carson Wentz to do his job,” said Smith Sr. “Allowing him to continue to be the captain and the leader of that team but also not giving him too much leeway to where he can dictate pass or run.”
How Pederson and Wentz prepare for a Vikings defense that has been stingy against the run but less so against the pass will be an interesting watch. Will the Eagles continue to trust in their offensive line’s ability to move people off the ball? Or will the game plan skew more pass-heavy with Wentz shouldering more responsibilities against a Minnesota defense ranked 16th against the pass?
The answers to those questions will come on Sunday, Oct. 13 when the Eagles meet the Vikings with kickoff slated for 1:00 p.m. ET.
You can catch Steve Smith Sr. along with Ray Lewis, Phil Simms and host James Brown when Inside The NFL airs tonight at 9 p.m. Central Time on Showtime.