Things couldn’t be better for the Philadelphia Eagles.
No, that’s not sarcasm or the start of some kind of joke — the Birds are the best of the best in the NFL, and their three-phase dominant 51-23 win against the Broncos in Week 9 showed why.
Carson Wentz continued to play like the NFL MVP, the defense showed it’s one of the best five units in football, and Doug Pederson — heralded as one of the least qualified head coaches in league history — has done his job fantastically thus far.
Here is a look at what we saw in the last Eagles game until the Sunday before Thanksgiving:
Second to none secondary
Clearly motivated by musings all week about the strength of the Broncos defense, Philly’s defense was dominant against the Denver run, stuffing all three of their running backs and allowing just 35 yards (the Eagles ran for 197 yards).
But the secondary was the star, once again, highlighted by the play of Patrick Robinson. Likely in his last week in a starting role — as Ronald Darby nears his return — Robinson shrugged off a near interception in the first quarter with an interception later in that stanza. His pick in Broncos’ territory set up a screen pass to Corey Clement that found paydirt and a double-digit lead.
Rodney McLeod was playing centerfield when the Eagles got their second interception, a sailing Brock Osweiler pass that the safety corralled and nearly took to the house after a 50-yard return. Three plays later Wentz threw his fourth touchdown pass.
New faces, big plays
Wentz and Alshon Jeffery are singing the same tune — and it makes some beautiful music. The two connected on a pretty touch pass, flicked gently over Jeffery’s shoulder as he ran it into the end zone for 32 yards and a touchdown, and a 7-3 lead to start the scoring for Philly. A 44-9 lead was busted open in the third quarter when Wentz and Jeffery connected on a four-yard slant in the end zone.
Newly acquired Jay Ajayi wasted little time endearing himself to Eagles fans, finding daylight on a 46-yard touchdown spring late in the second quarter. The score was the first on the ground allowed all season by the Denver defense. In all, Ajayi led Philadelphia running backs with 77 yards on eight carries (confounding many who expected him to take it slow).
Jake Elliott continued to rake from deep, nailing a 45-yard field goal late in the first quarter to put Philly up a touchdown. Temple alum Brandon McManus showed he also loves kicking in the Linc from long range, drilling a 53-yarder and a 24-yarder in the second. A garbage-time touchdown catch by Demaryius Thomas came in the fourth quarter as did a strip sack score by Denver’s Brandon Marshall (with Nick Foles in the game).
Watching an MVP
Wentz only needed three quarters to show he was one of the best three quarterbacks in the NFL right now — and potentially the league’s MVP. Before being replaced by Foles to start the fourth quarter, Wentz tossed four touchdown passes, keeping him on top of the stat-sheet in that category. He went 15-for-27 for 199 yards in limited action.
In the second quarter — with more than nine minutes left to play — Wentz collected his third touchdown pass on a beauty of a 27-yard heave to Trey Burton, filling in for Zach Ertz. The tight end picked up right where Ertz left off as the corner end zone snatch put Philly ahead 24-6.
In the second half Wentz was brilliant for different reasons. After scrambling a yard short of the first down marker, inside the five-yard line, the sophomore quarterback completed a short pass to Nelson Agholor on a rollout for a first down. A play later on an option run, he tossed it to Clement for a touchdown and 38-9 lead. Clement (12 rushes, 55 yards) would tally a third touchdown on a short four-yard dart late in the fourth after a Foles-to-Agholor bomb.