For the first time all year, the Eagles have a winning streak. Two games may not seem like a big deal, but it sure is at this time of the year. The Eagles have now beaten the Giants and Redskins in back-to-back weeks to even their record at 6-6. Last night's win keeps the Eagles very much alive in the hunt for the NFC East.
There is reason to believe.
Beyond winning, we are starting to see some positive signs. Let's start by talking about a group that never gets talked about enough -- the offensive line. The Eagles' success last year had a lot to do with the guys up front. The offensive line has been inconsistent this year due to a lot of injuries. The line has played its best football over the past two weeks and so has the overall team.
The big boys up front have really gotten the run game going. The Eagles ran for 127 yards last week and 130 more on Monday night. You absolutely have to give some credit to the running backs, but the line is a big reason for that success.
Jason Kelce did a great job on Darren Sproles' touchdown run. Kelce got wide and sustained his initial block. He was then able to take out another defender, giving Sproles a path to the end zone. Jason Peters got the best of defensive lineman Jonathan Allen on multiple run plays, opening big lanes for Corey Clement and Josh Adams.
The offensive line didn't give up any sacks against Washington. They gave Carson Wentz time to find his receivers and get them the ball. When the runners have room and the quarterback has time, the offense is going to come alive.
The Eagles scored 28 points on Monday night. They scored 25 points the previous week. This is the first time all year that the offense has scored 25 or more points two games in a row. This is another good sign.
Yards are important, but points are what it's all about. If you can't score, you're not going to win many games. The Eagles have struggled in both areas until recently. The points and winning streaks offer hope for the final month of the season.
The play of the running backs has been a huge boost to the team in the past two weeks. Adams is proving to be effective as the workhorse runner. He set a career-high with 84 rushing yards last week. He broke that on Monday night by running for 85 yards.
Adams is big and strong enough to be effective as an inside runner. I've been very impressed with his vision and lateral movement skills. He's able to cut back when the initial hole is clogged. Adams has the speed to bounce plays out wide and turn nothing into something.
Clement has really come alive. He ran for 27 yards and caught three passes for 47 yards. His burst is finally back. The Eagles are getting him the ball on screens and Clement is able to get good yards on those plays.
With Adams hitting his stride and Clement and Sproles getting healthy, the offense can now get big-time production from the backs. That is critical, especially at this time of the year. As the weather gets cold and sometimes nasty, you need productive running backs. The running and short passing games become very important.
Golden Tate had his first standout game since coming over from Detroit. He had a 19-yard reception that really jump-started the opening drive. Tate then got free in the end zone and hauled in a throw from Wentz to finish the drive with a touchdown.
That score put the Eagles up 7-0. They played with the lead for most of the game. This is another good sign. The Eagles didn't put the Redskins away until the fourth quarter, but it was good to see them out in front, even in a close game. The Eagles were at their best a year ago when they got up on teams early and took control of the game.
The defense limited Washington to 235 yards and 13 points. The Eagles dominated the line of scrimmage early on and got regular pressure on Colt McCoy. He broke his leg while scrambling from pressure on one pass play. Backup Mark Sanchez replaced him and struggled for most of the game.
The Eagles really clamped down in the second half, limiting Washington to 36 yards and no points. Every possession ended in a punt or turnover. That's how you want to play when you've got a lead and you're facing a backup.
There was one bad moment for the defense. They had the Redskins backed up at the 10-yard line. This was the first possession for Sanchez. Everyone in the world knew Washington would be running the ball. That's just what they did, and Adrian Peterson went straight up the middle for a 90-yard touchdown.
The Eagles didn't get down on themselves. Peterson ran five times after that play and only gained a total of 3 yards. You can't do anything about the long touchdown, but you can prevent making other mistakes. That's just what the Eagles did.
The front four pressured the passer and played the run well. The back seven tackled well, something that had been an issue over the past month or so. Linebacker Nathan Gerry picked off a pass and that set up a scoring drive.
This has been a frustrating season, to put it mildly, but there is reason for optimism with what we're seeing now. The offensive line is peaking. The running game is coming alive and the backs are making plays. Wentz and the passing game continue to make plays. The defensive line is getting regular pressure. Tackling is improving. The secondary is starting to get healthy.
There is reason to believe in this team.