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In Convincing Fashion, Eagles Roar Into Bye 8-1

Posted Nov 5, 2017

There is no immediate historical comparison or perspective here, because the Eagles have not gone out and dominated teams on such a singular basis. Seven straight wins, with an average margin of victory of 14 points. An 8-1 record overall. The most recent victory, 51-23 over Denver, may have been the most convincing of all coming against the No. 1-ranked defense in the league ...

There is no immediate historical comparison or perspective here, because the Eagles have not gone out and dominated teams on such a singular basis. Seven straight wins, with an average margin of victory of 14 points. An 8-1 record overall. The most recent victory, 51-23 over Denver, may have been the most convincing of all coming against the No. 1-ranked defense in the league.

Think about it this way: The Eagles laid a Ulysses S. Grant (former President, face of the 50-dollar bill) on the best defense in the NFL. And then one more point.

Now the Eagles have a bye week to enjoy every bit of the rest, relaxation and self-reflection with a Sunday prime-time game at Dallas ahead.

“The sky is the limit, man. We’re just working real hard, taking whatever the defense gives us,” said wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who had 6 catches for 84 yards and a pair of touchdowns. “We’re trying to execute on every play, working as a team.

“We just believe in ourselves. They said it was the ‘no-fly zone.’ I don’t know, man. The Eagles flew pretty high today.”

Look, the Eagles did everything right on Sunday to destroy Denver. Quarterback Carson Wentz threw four touchdowns passes against the vaunted Broncos’ pass defense, the Eagles cranked up the running game and gained 197 ground yards with newly acquired Jay Ajayi leading the way, and the defense took the football away from Denver two times and made life miserable for overmatched quarterback Brock Osweiler.

There wasn’t much suspense, really, not from the time Wentz took the offense 75 yards on seven plays and scored on a touchdown pass (32 yards) to Jeffery to answer a Broncos’ first-drive field goal.

The Eagles did what they’ve done all season – keeping the offense on the field by converting third downs, mixing the running game and Wentz’s brilliance, getting everyone involved with tight ends Brent Celek and Trey Burton combining for 5 catches 80 yards and a touchdown in the first half in place of the injured (hamstring) Zach Ertz and turning the ball-thirsty defense loose.

This dream season continues.

“We’re staying grounded, all the way,” right tackle Lane Johnson said after the offensive line held Von Miller quiet until the game was way, way, way out of hand. “We have a mature team, even though we’re pretty young in spots. We know what we’re capable of doing. It’s going to be a great bye week and then we get back to business at Dallas.”

It’s tough in moments like this to not think about the big picture, so why not for a moment or two? The Eagles are 8-1 and in firm command of the NFC East and they have the best record in the NFL. Wentz has been on fire – he now has 23 touchdown passes in nine games, the most-ever by an Eagles quarterback in that game span (Wentz, in fact, is the youngest quarterback in NFL history to have 23 touchdown passes and 5 or fewer interceptions in the first 9 games of a season). The entire offense has done its part, including an offensive line that has picked up the pieces since future Hall of Famer Jason Peters was lost for the season a few weeks ago. Each of the pass catchers has responded to Wentz with secure hands and the ability to separate from even the best secondaries, as Denver brought into the game on Sunday.

With Ajayi on the roster, the Eagles have another explosive element in the running game that has been productive with LeGarrette Blount providing the bash and Corey Clement (three more touchdowns on Sunday, catching a 15-yard screen pass to cap a 17-point first quarter and scurrying into the end zone from two yards away in the third quarter on a pitch play and then bulling forward from 4 yards out in the fourth) offering some dash.

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The defense has overcome some key injuries to do its part, particularly in the takeaway game. The two on Sunday gave the Eagles 16 takeaways for the season and the Eagles have turned those takeaways into 67 points. And, by the way, the defense should get cornerback Ronald Darby back in the lineup after the bye week; Darby hasn’t played since his Week 1 injury at Washington.

If there is an area to clean up it’s the operation on PATs, where placekicker Jake Elliott has missed three kicks in the last two weeks. But that’s minor stuff, and Elliott’s long-range game has been a major part of this 8-1 start.

Really, it’s been remarkable in every phase of the game.

“There is a great feeling of confidence in here. Yeah, it’s different than when things aren't going so well,” center Jason Kelce said. “We feel that big things are happening. We know it. We’re on that kind of roll and we just have to keep pushing each other and staying sharp.”

Now the Eagles have to keep it going. They’ve got seven games remaining in the regular season, with so much at stake. There is a division to win, playoff positioning to consider and the challenge of staying sharp in the final seven weeks.

All of that comes, of course, after a well-deserved and very welcomed bye week.

“It’s going to feel great,” safety Malcolm Jenkins said. “We’ve worked hard to put ourselves in this position. Now we can relax a little bit and then get back to business in Dallas. When that time comes, we’ll be ready.”

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