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Roob's Obs: Offensive frustration, an unsung hero, and more


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Roob's Obs: Offensive frustration, an unsung hero, and more

his one falls into the category of … "All wins are beautiful things.”

Maybe the Eagles were lucky to escape Arizona with a win Sunday, but good teams find a way to win this sort of game, and the Eagles certainly found a way.

I’m not sure how. But they did.

They’re 5-0 for only the third time in franchise history – also 1981 and 2004 – with a huge national TV prime-time game against the Cowboys looming Sunday.

Eagles 20, Cards 17, and all of Philly exhaled around 7:30 p.m.

1. Yeah, it was ugly. The Eagles really didn’t do anything particularly well Sunday in Arizona. They didn’t pressure. They only had one takeaway. They didn’t stop the run. They were terrible defensively on third down. There was some dubious play calling. No touchdowns on their last six drives. Not one area – other than the kicking game – stood out. Yet they won a game against a talented team on the road and found their way to 5-0, and while there is plenty to fix and plenty to improve and plenty to do better, they’re still the only undefeated team in the NFL, and every team has a day like this where things just don’t come very easily and it’s a fight to the last second and you really have to find a way. The Eagles found a way on a day when nothing really went well. Good teams do that.

2. Seriously, how freaking tough is Jason Kelce? We all saw him hobble off the field late in the second quarter, and now you’re thinking, "OK, hopefully he’s back for the Cowboys, but if not, the Eagles have a bye week after Dallas and if we’re lucky we’ll get him back for the Steelers.” Then the Eagles get the ball to open the second half and … here comes Jason Kelce. Are you kidding me? And then on the first play of the half, he pulls! And obliterates linebacker Zaven Collins on a 15-yard Miles Sanders run. The dude redefines toughness. Hasn’t missed a game since 2014 and he’s barely missed any snaps. He’s going to be 35 in a few weeks, and he’s out there playing – and playing really well – on one leg. Just incredible.

3. Shane Steichen definitely got away from the run way too early. Hated that. At one point early in the fourth quarter, the Eagles had run 54 plays and only nine were runs by the backs. But on that monster 17-play, eight-minute game-winning 4th-quarter drive, it was almost all pounding the rock, and then that enormous 16-yard catch and run to Dallas Goedert down to the 20. And then more runs down to the 5-yard-line. Not only did those plays keep the sticks moving, they kept the clock moving. Sanders and Kenny Gainwell were 9-for-35 before that last drive and 9-for-45 on the drive. If Steichen had mixed in the run a little better the first three quarters the game wouldn’t have come down to a final drive.

4. We have to talk about Dallas Goedert. Play of the game for me was his 16-yard catch and run down to the 20-yard-line on the game-wining drive. Not only the catch but busting through linebacker Dennis Gardeck’s tackle attempt short of the sticks. Goedert caught nine of 10 targets for 95 yards, and they probably could have thrown to him a few more times. He is such a big-time player at big moments. He’s just about un-coverable and un-tackleable.

5. The Eagles should be better against the run than they have been. They haven’t been awful, but they came into Arizona allowing 5.0 yards per carry, which was 8th-worst in the league, and the Cards – who came in ranked 19th in the league in rushing - were able to move the ball pretty well on the ground, even after James Conner left the game with a rib injury. They finished 26-for-124 for 4.8 yards a pop, and that’s too much. With this defensive front? The Eagles should be shutting running games down.

6. It seems like Jalen Hurts makes a few impossible plays per game, but late in the 1st quarter he out-did himself. With the Eagles facing a 3rd-and-12 on their own 11, he was pressured out of the pocket, rolling to his left toward the sideline, linebacker Gardeck bearing down on him, and you figured, OK, there’s nothing here, he’s just going to throw the ball away. But he sees DeVonta Smith in the middle of the field and somehow throws across his body as Gardeck is about to him and threads the ball between Budda Baker and Byron Murphy for a 22-yard gain. Hurts broke about seven rules on the play, but when he does it you don’t mind. He’s so good he can get away with it.

7. Gotta give a ton of credit to Cameron Dicker, the Eagles’ emergency kicker. Hopefully, Jake Elliott is back next week, but you couldn’t ask for anything more from Dicker, the rookie from Texas. He got started with a couple PATs and he looked comfortable banging them both through. Then he crushed his first career field goal attempt, a 42-yarder in the third quarter, and then the 23-yarder with 1:45 left to give the Eagles a 20-17 lead. Takes some serious mental toughness to make those kicks filling in for a Pro Bowler in your first career game.

8. Hard to believe the Eagles are sitting here 5-0, and they only have a one-game lead in the NFC East. But here we are. The Giants beat the Packers in London to get to 4-1, and the Cowboys beat the Super Bowl-champion Rams in L.A. to get to 4-1. First time since 2008 three NFC East teams have been 4-1, and then it was the Cowboys, Giants and Washington. But the Eagles, who were 2-3, wound up going to the NFC Championship Game. In any case, it sure looks like the Eagles aren’t running away with the division, and honestly, I don’t think that’s a terrible thing. The last thing you want is to coast your way to the playoffs and get away from that mentality that every game is the most important thing in the world that day. Maybe if the rest of the division stunk, the Eagles would have an easier pathway to the division title. But if the goal is winning the Super Bowl, I don’t think a competitive division is a terrible thing.

9. It ended up not costing the Eagles, but, man, that play call on 3rd-and-goal from the Cards’ 5-yard-line with 1:52 left? Hated it. You rammed the ball down the Cards’ throats the whole drive with the running game. The Cards were gassed. You’ve held the ball from 9:43 to 1:52. And you roll Jalen Hurts out and throw into traffic to Quez Watkins? It was a play that never had a chance. Once Steichen finally started dialing up the ground attack, it got the Eagles down inside the Cards’ 10-yard-line and wore down the Cards. Why stop now? Fortunately, Dicker made the game winner from 23 yards out, and Matt Ammendola missed a 43-yarder. But the Eagles’ best chance to win that game was to hammer it on that third down.

10. Another very good game for Jalen Hurts, who’s now won eight consecutive starts. Only Carson Wentz, Donovan McNabb and Norm Van Brocklin have longer streaks in Eagles history. The numbers don’t jump off the page, but they were fine – 26-for-36, 239 yards, no TDs, no INTs, 61 rushing yards, two rushing TDs. But what’s most impressive is just the decision making. The checks he’s making – like into that huge 16-yard pass play to Goedert. The way he’s reading defenses. The way he’s using the whole field. The way he’s not making mistakes. I still think he’s running too much and taking too many hits and that’s a concern. A big concern. You can still use him on 4th-and-1 or at the goal-line because he’s virtually unstoppable on those. But the volume of runs has to go down. He’s taking a beating out there on a weekly basis, and it has to stop.


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