I really thought this weekend would be the week the Philadelphia Eagles proved they were headed in the right direction, but they weren’t quite ready to play with the big boys. Boy was I wrong, the Eagles destroyed the Steelers 34-3. This was not like the first two weeks when they trashed the Browns and Bears, we are talking about the Pittsburgh Steelers here. Look at a few facts real quick.
• The last time the Steelers lost a game by 31 or more points, their quarterback was Bubby Brister. It was 1989 and a 41-10 loss to Boomer Esiason and the Bengals at Riverfront Stadium.
• Wentz is the first quarterback in NFL history to throw 30 or more passes with no interceptions in each of his first three games. Only three others had done it twice.
• The Eagles are the 23rd team in NFL history to open a season with three straight wins by 15 or more points. Of the first 22, 18 went to the playoffs.
I think we all knew this defensive line was talented. But this? This group has played out of its mind so far. In all three games the opposing quarterback really had no chance by the second half. They are simply wearing people out, getting stronger and stronger as the game goes on and taking over in the second half. The Eagles still haven’t allowed a second-half touchdown this year. Look at net passing yards against the Eagles this year:
Browns 118 50
Bears 145 75
Steelers 138 84
They’ve been OK in the first half, but they are just destroying people in the second half. They have yet to allow 100 net passing yards in a second half. And that’s when teams that are trailing by double digits generally pad their passing stats. Ben Roethlisberger is a two-time Super Bowl winner, and by the second half, the Eagles’ defensive line was just teeing off on him, giving him very little opportunity to get the ball down the field. This has been an astonishing stretch from the entire defense, but the defensive line in particular has been playing at a breathtaking level. Once again I think everybody knew the strength of the Eagles defense would be the defensive line, but the linebackers and defensive backs have been amazing so far.
Malcolm Jenkins is playing at a pro bowl level, and the thing that has really stuck out with the Eagles is how well they are tackling this year.
On offense you know all about the amazing Carson Wentz, but you would think a slow start by Ryan Matthews would have hurt the running game instead, it may have just made them stronger as the Eagles’ found that they have two outstanding young backs. Rookie Wendell Smallwood ran 17 times for 79 yards and Kenjon Barner was 8 for 42, both career highs. Sunday, they combined for 25 carries for 121 yards. Very promising start for both backs.
Head Coach Doug Pederson has done an outstanding job of preparing this team. So are they for real? The block and tackle as well as anybody has so far, on top of that they swarm and play aggressively, when you add that all together I say yes they Eagles are for real!