June 5, 2023

3 takeaways after Eagles bounce back after slow start to destroy Giants


AP Photo/Matt Rourke

They couldn’t have played any worse before halftime. And they couldn’t have played any better after halftime.

But hey, a win is a win. And they have a playoff spot as the Eagles jumped over the Minnesota Vikings for the seventh seed in the NFC with a blowout 34-10 win over the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday afternoon.

Here’s three takeaways after the Eagles’ third straight win:

Dreadful beginning

The slow starts the last two weeks against overmatched teams are a concern. You can’t get away with that stuff against good teams.

Down 10-0 against Washington and 3-3 at halftime against the Giants, that’s not ideal.

But you have to love the way this team keeps fighting and doesn’t panic when things aren’t going well.

You learn the most about a team when things aren’t going well. How do they respond? How do they react? And you have to love how this team handles adversity.

As ugly as that first half was with three-and-out after three-and-out after three-and-out, bad play calling as they wouldn’t run the ball even though the Giants have the worst run defense in the league, you didn’t see any frustration.

And the Eagles erupted for 31 points after halftime, the seventh most second-half points the Eagles have ever scored.

This team just keeps battling for 60 minutes, and when you do that you’ve got a shot every week.

Defense performs

I absolutely loved the way the defense played.

I know they were going against a very bad quarterback. Actually, two of them. But they balled out Sunday all over the field.

Physical. Terrific coverage. Pressure. Big plays. Huge hits. Terrific tackling. Takeaways. A pick-six. The defense kept things under control in the first half until the offense finally woke up.

It was clear the Giants — much like Washington last week with Antonio Gibson — wanted to run the ball to take pressure off an inexperienced QB. But this is the best run defense in the NFL over the last two months, and the Giants just never got anything going on the ground with only 26 carries and an average of 3.0 yards per carry. That forced the Giants to throw and that was a mismatch.

Rodney McLeod’s interception on the second play of the second half was a tide turner.

McLeod has played really well the last few weeks, and that was a point where the Eagles desperately needed a big play on either side of the ball to wake up. Nothing was going well.

Six plays later, Boston Scott scored the game’s first touchdown and the floodgates opened.

The Eagles wound up scoring 31 points in 17 minutes, and it all started with the trusty old veteran safety.

Four days after missing the Pro Bowl for the first time since 2014, Fletcher Cox had another big day.

He’s playing the run really well right now and looks more active and more comfortable than he did earlier in the season.

Cox had two tackles for loss — he only had five all year — and had a lot to do with the Eagles shutting down Saquon Barkley, who ran 15 times for just 32 yards.

Cox may not be the player he once was, but after a sluggish start this year he’s been pretty good lately.

How about Alex Singleton? He was benched for Davion Taylor after the Las Vegas Raiders game but has been back in the lineup for five weeks and has played a lot better.

Singleton had his usual 11 tackles Sunday but also a 29-yard pick-six off Mike Glennon in the fourth quarter.

Offense bounces back after brutal start

One thing we’ve learned about Jalen Hurts is that he really has a terrific ability to shake off bad plays, bad drives, bad mistakes, and bad games.

In the first quarter, Hurts was 3-for-10 for 11 yards with a near-interception and a fumble.

After that? He was 14-for-19 for 188 yards with two TDs, no INTs, and a 139.8 passer rating. Just think what those numbers would look like without four drops.

What’s most impressive is that Hurts, who’s still not close to 100% with that ankle, made plays with his arm Sunday and not with his legs. He only ran twice for seven yards, but after the slow start was accurate, decisive, and productive.

He looked like a quarterback.

That’s back-to-back games where he’s been very good coming off that first Giants disaster. There’s a lot to like about how he’s playing right now.

Also, DeVonta Smith is really stinking good.

It was nice to see him involved in the offense in a big way after just seven catches for 77 yards the last three games.

Smith was 5-for-80 with a TD and made a couple crazy catches. His career-long 46-yarder was a thing of beauty. Smith was so aggressive coming back to the ball while leaping high over James Bradberry to snag Hurts’ bomb down the right sideline. And then his touchdown — once again he showed incredible ability to get both feet in bounds as he’s making a difficult catch, something college players don’t have to worry about.

It looked like the Eagles really made it a priority to draw up some plays down the field for Smith, and it paid off. They’ve got to keep doing it.

It was very encouraging that we’ve now seen flashes from Jalen Reagor two weeks in a row. He had a career-high 57 receiving yards last week against Washington Tuesday and gave the Eagles a real jolt Sunday with his season-long 39-yard punt return to set up Jake Elliott’s second field goal. He also had a nice 13-yard catch for a first down.

I know it’s not a ton, but considering how the first few months of the season went for Reagor, anything he gives the Eagles is a plus.  

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