December 9, 2023

3 takeaways after Eagles destroy Lions in all-around strong game


AP Photo/Paul Sancya

It’s been a while, but the Eagles looked like a football team Sunday.

It’s a good Halloween costume.

Nick Sirianni finally committed to the running game, the defensive line finally showed up, and the Eagles played smart with mistake-free football for 60 minutes.

They jumped on a bad team early and didn’t let up and left Detroit with a dominating 44-6 blowout.

A couple historical notes: The 38-point margin of victory equals the 10th-largest in franchise history and is largest since a 43-point win over the Chicago Bears (55-11) at Lincoln Financial Field in 2013. It was the Eagles’ most lopsided road victory since a 42-point win over the Cardinals (52-10) at Busch Stadium in St. Louis in 1981 and the fifth-largest road win in franchise history. It was the Lions’ 11th-worst loss ever and 5th-worst at home but second worst in Detroit since 1993. The Eagles’ 180-yard rushing margin (237-57) was their largest since 2013 and 4th-largest on the road in the last 70 years.

Here’s three takeaways.

They actually ran the ball

It took two months, but the message finally got through to Nick Sirianni.

“Run the freaking ball.”

Even without Miles Sanders, Sirianni attacked the Lions with constant running plays, and it paid off in a big win.

The Eagles ran for 237 yards and four touchdowns, their most on the road in seven years. But it wasn’t just the number of running plays, I thought Sirianni did a nice job mixing up the plays, using different backs out of different looks, and using that massive offensive line to wear down the Lions.

And when Jalen Hurts did throw, the Lions weren’t able to easily attack it because Sirianni had them guessing.

The Eagles’ offensive line — with Nate Herbig playing most of the game in place of injured Jak Driscoll — really took it to the Lions’ defensive line because Sirianni’s play calling allowed them to.

But, here’s the thing, it doesn’t mean anything if Sirianni doesn’t stick with it. Yeah, the Eagles ran it up the pipe on a winless team and Sirianni kept dialing it up because it kept working. With a young quarterback still trying to figure it all out, Sirianni has to commit to the run for the long haul. It has to be a staple of the offense all the time, not just when they have immediate success.

Also, it was amazing seeing Jordan Howard back getting the job done.

Think about his last two years — cut by the Miami Dolphins, thought his career was over last offseason, comes to training camp with the Eagles, gets cut, spends the first seven weeks of this season on the practice squad. He never quits, never stops believing in himself, never stops working, even though he knew he may never even get another chance.

Then Miles Sanders got hurt, and Howard finally got his shot. And he goes out there and rushes 12 times for 57 yards and two touchdowns in his most extensive playing time in two years.

Incredible perseverance and determination.

The way Boston Scott and Howard ran the ball does make you wonder why neither one has been a part of this offense so far this year.

Coming into the game, Scott had seven carries all season and Howard didn’t have any. All they did was combine for 117 rushing yards and four touchdowns.

The last time two Eagles had two rushing TDs in the same game was 41 years ago. It was Eagles-Minnesota Vikings at Metropolitan Stadium in Minneapolis week two of the 1980 season, when Wilbert Montgomery and Leroy Harris did it in a 42-7 win over the Vikings.

The Eagles are loaded at running back.

D-line wakes up

The d-line’s performance was the key to everything the Eagles accomplished Sunday.

They were animals.

They controlled the line of scrimmage, never let Jared Goff get going, and said no on the Lions’ running game.

Jonathon Gannon was more aggressive than he has been, which made sense against this offensive line and this quarterback. The Eagles constantly pressured Goff recording six sacks.

And although Goff completed a high percentage of his passes, most of them didn’t go anywhere.

Josh Sweat was all over the field. Definitely the best game of his career. It really showed why the Eagles gave him that huge contract. Even Derek Barnett got a sack for the first time in 11 games, Hassan Ridgeway picked up his first since opening day in Atlanta, and rookies Milton Williams and Tarron Jackson recorded the first sacks of their careers.

This d-line has underachieved all year. Linemen not named Javon Hargrave had just 3.5 sacks coming into the game, and they recorded six Sunday. This is one of the highest-paid defensive lines in the league and they playing like it Sunday afternoon.

Hurts did what he had to do

People for sure will find a way to complain about Jalen Hurts’ performance, since he only completed nine passes for 103 yards. But he did what he had to do. He didn’t miss any open guys, he made good decisions, he didn’t take any sacks, and he made a lot of plays with his legs.

Hurts ran seven times for 71 yards and three first downs and he did what he had to do to complement a massive ground attack.

There will be games the Eagles need Hurts to do a lot more and we can evaluate him more when that happens. But for now, I see a young kid who did everything he was asked to do in a game the Eagles won by 38 points.

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